In his piece listing the 10 hottest issues the Phillies face this spring, phillyBurbs writer Randy Miller, reporting from Clearwater, says the left-fielder has taken some bad at bats, with shaky moments in the field.
The Phillies reached the halfway point of the Grapefruit League season yesterday, and Miller’s state of the union is well worth a look. Aside from the bits that receive prominent play here (bullpen, bench, trade speculation) Miller covered other bases, including a sobering truth about the team’s primary right-handed thumper.
Burrell is 5-for-18 this spring with a home run, but one should take Miller's grim assessment at face value. If he doesn’t look sharp in the eyes of officials, he isn’t sharp, regardless of what the Grapefruit League stats indicate. Burrell is coming off a season in which he hit a very respectable.258/.388/.502, but was benched in the heat of a Wild Card race. He continues to nurse a slow-healing foot problem that limits his mobility, and possibly more.
Burrell’s status could factor into any potential last-minute deals. Phillies GM Pat Gillick is publicly seeking veteran help in the bullpen, but may be reluctant to trade Aaron Rowand, for example, if Burrell doesn’t look fresh. Behind Burrell, Rowand is their best, everyday right-handed run producer. There’s no indication how much time Wes Helms will see at third base, but some expect it to be in the neighborhood of 70 percent.
However, in regards to the team's willingness to deal Rowand, Miller offered this intriguing line: "Rowand is available because the Phils like their replacement options."
Other stuff: Miller calls right-hander Joe Bisenius, who’s been lights-out this spring, a decent bet to come north and round out the bullpen. This jives with something Gillick said before spring training, that Bisenius was a darkhorse to make the club.
In addition, just about every beat writer considers Karim Garcia a solid front-runner for fifth outfielder, and for Michael Bourn to begin the season in Ottawa, which is very typical of how the Phillies operate.