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Thursday, March 29, 2007

Comments

Carson, what does PattyG have up his sleeve? I think we're all happy they didn't keep any no-talent ass-clowns on the roster, or at least players who are not yet ready.

It looks like the BP is set for now, and Mad Dog will be the 8th inning guy. The slider must be working. I say that because he's one of the few guys I new saw pitch this ST.

The only other question - barring a trade - is whether they'll decide to keep 12 pitchers all season. If they get decent innings from their starter early, maybe they trim it to 11. I bring that up only because I'm still not sold on the bench, even with Bourne in the mix. Specifically, I'm not convinced they have a RH PH option off the bench in Werth, Ruiz and Nunez (yeah, right!). I'd be a whole lot more comfy if Coste were in the mix to PH late in games. Werth could convince me, but right now the sample size is too small.

I'd love to see a Ruiz trade - with Jarmillo coming up, what we've seen from Barajas, Coste and now Werth, if he can get us something I think PG should go for it. I'm wondering if they'll consider trading him.

Scott Strickland, the former Expo/National, got released yesterday by bullpen-rich San Diego. Anyone think he's worth taking a flier on? Possibly giving him the Condrey slot in the pen?

Who else is starting to get excited? It's been a looooong spring training. What's the weather forcast for next week?

Bullpen: I am constantly in an ebb and flow state of mind with the bullpen. One morining I wake up with a streak of extreme paranoia, thinking that the Phillies ship is going down if they don't do something. Other times I think, it's not like the guys that the Phils have in the bullpen are going to be suddenly throwing slow pitch softball out there. Today is the latter. The ultimate redeeming factor in all of this pitching debate is that the rotation is much stronger now than last year. Many of us, myself included thought that the Phils had significant rotation and bullpen issues at the beginning of last season. Our skepticism about the rotation was not unfounded, however the bullpen was surprisingly strong for most of the year.

Bottom Line: If the Phils score a good number of runs this year and the rotation is half-three fourths as good as is widely speculated, the bullpen is a splint and a tourniquet away from being servicable and not costing the team that much. If the Phils make the playoffs, or are steamrolling in that direction at some point in the season this matter will, and should, garner greater attention. Although I believe that the Phils can contend for the playoffs with the current bullpen, I think they would be a lame duck in the playoffs, especially considering the transpirings of the last few years. The teams that have won have had strong bullpen performances in the playoffs and needed that to win, it was not just a luxury. If there is one thing that I think we can all agree on about Pat GIllick, is that when this team shows that they have a chance to compete during the season, he is willing to make moves to get them over the next obstacle in their way. Regardless of what you think of the late moves Gillick made last year to boost the Phils into the playoffs, one has to admit that they were savvy and they damn near worked out. I think Gillick could either take a wait and see approach with the pen, as is, until the All Star Break or until it becomes blindingly obvious that it is taking an otherwise really good team down, and then make a move to push the Phils over. (May not work but I think he will do it).

P.S.: I still think something is happening by Friday.

Dukes: What is there to be happy about? Whatever decisions the Mets make, their bullpen is far more solid than ours. Ditto Atlanta.

I'm not sold on this idea of having a reduced need for relievers this season because starters are going to go deeper into games. Myers' lack of a strikeout pitch has hampered his ability to go deep, even when he's pitching well. Moyer loses effectiveness the more times he goes through a lineup; except for rare occasions, he's only good for 6. Eaton's career average is less than 6 innings a start. Garcia has been a workhorse, but we can see where that's gotten him; I'm certainly not counting on him throwing another 200 innings this season, because I think he'll spend some time on the DL. Hamels is an unknown, but I don't think we should automatically pencil him in for 7 innings per start. In short, I like the rotation's depth, but I'm not at all sold on its durability. Unless Madson reverts to his rookie form and Alfonseca suddenly remembers how to pitch, we could lead the league in blown leads.

Dukes: Why in the world would you think that Jaramillo could be an improvement over Ruiz?

Alby, I do think we could use a better bullpen. My point is that instead of going to the bullpen when the team is down by 4-6 runs (See starts by Floyd, Madson, Lieber early in season, sometimes Lidle), they might be going into the bullpen with a lead or at least tied or close. I don't trust this bullpen to be great this year. What I do think is that if the pen is going to give up some runs, hopefully and unlike lasty year, they may be giving up runs when the Phils have a lead. THe Phils made some great comebacks last year to get back into games, sometimes the bullpen held sometimes it didn't. My point is that the team doesnt put as much pressure on a bullpen if the rotation is giving up less runs early, and consequently there is not as much of a hole to climb out of for the offense. THus, assuming the bullpen does give up its share of runs, hopefully the team will be in a position to still have a lead, or will be within striking distance or tied late in a game. It's not easy trying to climb out of a seven run hole everytime Gavin Floyd or Ryan Madson start. THose issues are gone, and my hope is that, largely , the rotation can keep the runs down going into the pen.

Jersey79, you took the words right out of my mouth. Absolutely take a shot with Strickland. He's healthy again, had a good spring, but there was just no room in SD great bullpen. They'd better do something or this bullpen is going to suck.

From Ken Rosenthal's latest:

The Phillies are one of three clubs that have made trade offers for Blue Jays right-hander Francisco Rosario, who is out of minor-league options.

Rosario has very little major league experience, just 23 innings with Toronto last year, but put up some very good numbers in the International League before that and has had a very good spring in Dunedin.

Outside of inexperience and a checkered health history, Rosario has the type of stuff the Phillies could use in their bullpen right now. His fastball reaches 96 and misses bats, something even good pitchers in the Phillies pen don't do a lot.

It might be worth the low-level prospect the Jays would want.

the best news of the day (releasing garcia is a close second for me), is that madson will be the "8th inning guy." (i'd personally like to see him used in more 1+ innings and split those late game situations with geary on alternating nights, so their two best non-closers get most of those important innings, but that's a whole separate issue.)

this is the right move. his 06 struggles behind him, he still has good stuff and is the best choice to be closer understudy or whatever you want to call it.

i finally learned to use paragraph breaks, by the way.

Alby and Clout...
Excuse me for trying to point out some possible positives.

I wasn't trying to prove that our bullpen is better than the Mets bullpen. It is not. I was merely trying to point out that their bullpen isn't as good as everyone thought, including them. It was a positive article as a Phillies fan and I was merely passing it on.

I also was not saying that Jarmillo is better than Ruiz. We have no way of knowing that. I was trying to say that we have depth at catcher right now (and no depth in the bullpen) so it seems Ruiz might actually be able to get us something of value. I'd be comfortable with Barajas/Coste or maybe even Barajas/Werth if Werth proves he can catch once a week. Would I rather have Ruiz? Yes. But sometimes you have to trade from depth. I'd rather have a solid bullpen than a solid backup catcher.

Lots of stuff going on, my head is spinning. Jim Ed and Karim are gone. Good! I'm still pessimistic about the OF and bullpen. Still sitting on the fence about this team.

Great news on Madson, it just keeps getting better and better! WHile I'm as big a fan of Geary as anyone here, he has been great in the 6th/7th innong role, so if you can keep him there, the better.

Alfonseca really looks like a useless part now. He can only go 1 inning at a time, so he can't be mop-up. Hopefully, Lieber's return will send the Octopus packing.

Does anyone get the feeling the Phils are listening to Beerleaguer recently? I can't remember our little community in such agreement over a series of moves in a while!

I propose a new Beerleaguer drinking game: Every time the phrase "small sample size" is posted, take a shot.

Although we have not seen much of Freddy Garcia it only gets better today that Gavin Floyd will be riding on more buses to get to his games.

I guess the ChiSox's magic wand is no better than the Phillies.

Since Karim Garcia is looking for employment along with Randall Simon, and since it appears Zach Segovia will get a look, I would be remised not to give a hat tip to the senior correspondent, who predicted these events two months ago.

As for Rosario, the only thing there is to like is that he's a fireballer, because they could definitely use one. But that's it.

Rick Bauer was just released by Texas.. Anybody know much about him? Even though he is 6'6" and 225, he doesnt appear to be a strikeout guy. lifetime ERA of 4.34 in the AL..I still feel that Bisenius could help now rather than later. I'd give Alfonseca the finger.

Let's hope a Francisco Rosario acquistion isn't the only thing Patty G has up his sleeve. Rosario is raw yet. He can't be all that good if the Blue Jays are willing to get rid of him, falls into the Germano and Condrey category.

Rob: If I'm the Phillies, I send a scout to every team with players like Bauer and put in claims for most of them. What role would a 29-year-old reliever with a 3.55 ERA in 71 innings at Arlington play on the Phillies? Probably a more significant one than Alfonseca and maybe Geary.

Three team interested in trading for Rosario? Man teams are desperate for pitching.

Strickland might be worth a look if he is healthy but if Rosario is attracting that much attention there much be at least more than one team interested in Strickland.

Dukes: I'm not criticizing your posting of the story on the Mets' pen, I just didn't see much there to take comfort in. The way I read it was that Burgos was good enough so they can 86 Chan Ho Park; I might have taken heart if the story said they both looked lousy.

Jason: How "low-level" a prospect would it take to get Rosario? And should I assume he would take Condrey's place in the mix? How do you feel about Strickland?

Rob: The worst thing about being El Pulpo is that he can never give anyone his middle finger.

Alby: Hard to say what they would give up for him. They're going to cut him anyway. The teams ahead of the Phillies for the claim could wait on what else becomes available, so the Phils may get him for very little. As for Strickland, I would look into it. The Phillies bullpen is so thin, they need to weigh everything.

By my calculation, Condrey is sixth in the depth charts, Segovia is seventh and Lieber trumps them both once he's healthy. I wouldn't rule out a late-spring shocker, either, like the release of Alfonseca.

To change gears a bit, the Phils OF doesn't thrill me right now.(no shocker there).I think if our IF provides the majority of the power,then maybe the OF should cover ground defensively, hit for avg and/or steal bases.. This leaves Burrell AND Rowand, both of whom don't do enough of these things..doesn't mean they're useless.. just a bad fit for this team and they have become trading pieces.. I'd really like to see (at minimum) a platoon OF (for either player) so they can maximize them while they're here

Rob,

Assuming that Werth, Dobbs and Bourn all come north, I think you can pretty well expect to see a borderline platoon situation across the outfield. “The Bat” is eternally nursing one injury or another, Rowand is not hitting and his style of play will lead to more then one bruise that will lead to a seat on the bench, and although I have high hopes for Vic, let’s face it; he is coming into his first year of full time use and if he struggles, the leash will be fairly short.

All of that said, I think we’ll see all six of those guys getting playing time. What it comes down to is Cholly going to be able to use these guys correctly? They all have strengths and weaknesses, but if used in the proper roles they can all excel to some degree.

Jason - I am hoping once the roster is official you will be doing a comparison of 2006 vs 2007 opening day squads.

In the course of one year there has been many changes with the coaching staff, players, expectations, attitudes, waistlines, truck sizes, etc.

Should we be cautiously optimistic or realistically pessimistic?

Is anyone going to game this weekend?

It's just spring training, but I still like seeing it when guys trying to make the team, such as Bourn, continue to produce consistently. In the first two innings of today's game Bourn provides a spark on both offense and defense. On offense, in the 1-hole, a single, stolen base (7th of spring) and a run. On defense, an outfield assist double play.

basically, this is bullpen right now:

Closer: Gordon
8th: Madson/Geary
7th: Alfonseca
LOOGY: Smith
6th/Longman: Condrey
Mop-up: Segovia
First call-up: Bisenius

Lieber, when he's healthy, probably takes 6-finger's spot or geary's and bumps geary down a slot. i think the former, since he hasn't pitched in relief in a decade. let him work up to something and show he can stay healthy.

I think we all know this bullpen's average at best. Segovia will probably get shielded, like Castro was last year, being the new guy, but he could be thrown into the rotation mix through injuries, like Scott Mathieson was last year. Expecting anything more than the bare minimum of competency from Zegovia probably isn't wise or fair. That makes Alfonseca/Lieber or any acquisition the true determiner of the bullpen's quality.

Howitzer & The Bat, back to back homers. It's the perfect time for those two to get things going.

back to back HRs by howard and burrell.

I received a Google alert about a possible catcher-for-Ricardo Rincon swap in the works.

yt, I really don't think Cholly will make the entire season anyhow.. I think PG is looking for any hint of long-range problems to can him and put a guy w/ a clue as to how to manage..I just hope he doesn't wait too long..

I was surprised he made it through the winter, given that he isn’t PG’s guy. I’m concerned that if they decide to make the move they will take too long to do it. If done in April or May after a rocky start, it could make a difference, but it is more likely that if it happens the axe falls around the all-star break. In the latter case we would likely be too far gone already.

And the other obvious question; who do you bring in?

Jason:
Could this be the Ruiz deal that Deitch alluded to this morning?

Ooo... Coste or Ruiz? I think that Ruiz has the "better upside"....

This one said Coste actually, but made mention of the Deitch piece with Ruiz.

I think giving up Ruiz is too much for Rincon. Coste makes more sense to me.

Rincon is an interesting name. He is almost as pure a LOOGY as Myers, great against lefties and almost useless against righties. Rincon is the perfect player for a playoff team, but I think over the course of a season, you would be better off with an average RH than an extreme specialist.

A cheap catcher who can probably hit for league average is also a lot to give up for someone who will maybe give you 25 quality innings.

Dealing a Catcher makes sense. It's the one position the Phils actually have some depth at (when healthy). What if Segovia can take advantage of not being needed to start in the first two weeks, due to the schedule lining up favorably, to get some 'pen exposure and see just how desperately we NEED to move someone? Just a thought.

The makeup of this team largely defies the "typical" structure that many on this site alluded to at the end of last season (i.e. power in the OF, leadoff man who takes a lot of pitches, etc.). That being said, I think I like the fact that this team is "different." I just don't think I like the fact that we have an obvious black/white baseball traditionalist making the decisions in game.

By the way, there's still plenty of room on the Pat Burrell Bandwagon - Come one, come all!!! ;)

I guess Rincon is back to 100% after his surgery?

As long as Rincon is healthy, I deal Ruiz. The Phils absolutely need another lefty out of the pen. Placing this pressure entirely on Smith is asking an awful lot and really no alternative lefty at Ottawa or Reading.

This rush to deal Ruiz or Coste is a far cry from the feeling of the posting literati when Barajas was signed - I'm glad you all have come around. They should make this trade, since Smith has not inspired confidence as the sole lefty and Jaromillo is the future at catcher more than Ruiz - or at least that is what we all thought last August - and I still think he has the better upside over the long haul. Getting rid of one or the other helps both Ruiz's and Coste's careers.

I look at Ruiz for Rincon as a kneejerk reaction. Ruiz looks like he can hit and receive a little. Even if he's a career backup, isn't he worth keeping instead of an aging, one-dimensional reliever and getting back in the habit of signing Todd Pratt, Gary Bennett, Sal Fasano? If I'm Gillick, it's worth stepping back to consider this one. Coste makes more sense.

I don't quite understand the sudden Jaramillo lovefest. He may be the future of catcher, but right now he hasn't shown he can hit above A-Ball.

Gentlemen, you're upsetting our senior correspondant. Before posting, please consider Jason's man-crush on Ruiz. Thanks.

Jason: On the money again! Jaramillo is nothing special as a prospect. If it makes it at all, it will be as a backup. He does not project as an everyday player. I see him as a 3rd stringer at best, not nearly the upside of Ruiz, not that Ruiz is a stud.

Rincon is coming off TJ surgery and he's like 37 years old. I don't like any of the names being thrown around: Rosario & Astacio have serious command problems and Rincon is high risk and old.

WP: It's not that I wouldn't consider Man Crush/Rincon, but St. Louis is getting way more value in that deal. Ruiz is good enough to slide in and start many games because Molina and Bennett don't hit. If they want to make it fair, kick in more than Rincon.

I heard it's Coste for Rincon.

Preacher, you haven't been paying attention this ST to the new, reconstituted, leadoff hitter, Jimmy Rollins. Lotsa walks, high OBP and everything.

gr, if the bullpen is "average" this year I'll take it.

Alby, giving his middle finger is EXACTLY what EL Pulpo can do that people with a normal number of digits cannot. Not counting thi thumb, that is.

zach - small sample size small sample size small sample size small sample size small sample size small sample size small sample size small sample size small sample size small sample size small sample size

Enjoy your afternoooooooooon!

jason.. funny you should mention Gary Bennett.. He is the very catcher (assuming the trade) that Coste/Ruiz would fight to back up Yadier Molina..I think that Barajas ends up catching 70-75 pct of the games regardless of trade. He hits just enough and his arm is well above-average.

Commenting on the Coste rumors, here's a blurb from Nick Fierro at nj.com:

"Not now. He has too much value, especially with projected backup catcher Carlos Ruiz trying to shake off biceps tendinitis. Now the organization looks at Coste as someone it needs to keep around even if he doesn't make the big club out of spring training."

Link here:

http://www.nj.com/columns/expresstimes/fierro/index.ssf?/base/columns-0/1175141189325210.xml&coll=2

Nice to see Howard and Burrell go yard today.

Jason, I just saw this from above:

"What role would a 29-year-old reliever with a 3.55 ERA in 71 innings at Arlington play on the Phillies? Probably a more significant one than Alfonseca and maybe Geary."

Where's the love? I know you said "maybe," but Geary has done nothing the last two years that would indicate a middling AAA reliever would be better.

The guy pitched 91 innings of 2.96 ERA last year! That is incredibly valuable, good for the third most valuable pitcher on the staff last year.

Sure he give up hits, but he had a 3:1 K/BB ratio and only gave up 6 HR.

I think his true potential is closer to around a 3.50 ERA, and Manuel may burn the guy out, but right now he is a much better option than Alfonseca or Bauer. Geary is a major asset to this team, no question about it.

i wouldn't hesitate to trade ruiz - even though i like him a lot - but their is no way i'd trade him for rincon.

i can't figure out how everyone is deperate for pitching but a lieber deal can't get done.

If its Coste, knowing the history of the phillies, He'll hit .400 this year with 45 HRs.

kdon: I hear you. No question Geary was a horse. I just can't shake my suspicion that Manuel took him past the limit.

When I ventured up to Scranton last year, Ruiz and Bourn really stood out to me. Ruiz, it seems to me, provides us with some youth behind the plate as our other two options are 34 and 31. I'm not sure that is the kind of depth that we need for the season. I agree with J, my argument would be to keep him so that we have some sense of continuity at catcher, much like what Lieby provided the team.

Jason, on that, we agree. I've already resigned myself that Madson and Gordon are going to be working back-to-back-to-back games a lot this year while protecting 3 and 4 run leads.

Meanwhile Alfonseca will be in there in the bottom of the ninth in a tie game.

Well, I'm probably not resigned...I'll be ranting on here the first time Cholly does it.

kdon: Do you expect Geary to repeat his performance of last season?

Completely off the subject, in yesterdays Reading Phils spring training game. "new aquired" Joe Thurston got 2 hits. No word yet on Bobby Scales.

kdon, I actually don't have that resignation. As bad an in-game, NL, tactician Manuel was his first year, he has shown some ability to learn from mistakes. Additionally, let's not forget that there is a new bench coach in town who might make a difference.

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