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Monday, March 12, 2007


maybe I'm crazy, but I'd rather go into the season with Alfonseca (yes, Alfonseca) or Madson closing games than flail at some desperation trade for a mediocre Proven Reliever. if there's one thing we can all take away from The Trade, it's that Gillick is not very effective when he's dealing with his back against the wall.

realistically, a 3.5-4 ERA will still close out games successfully more often than not. if Gordon is really the only guy we have who can hit even that low standard, we're screwed no matter what. (well, unless he turns into Mike Marshall overnight.)

"Straight-shooting assistant GM Ruben Amaro Jr."


ae, good point (you seem to be on a roll). Considering the way Cholly uses his closer (i.e, always with 3-run leads but never in tie games), the difference between Gordon and Alfonseca isn't as great as we might think. As long as Madson and Geary are pitching in the tie games and while the team is trailing by a run, Alfonseca can rack up the cheapy saves the way he did in Florida.

Obviously a bullpen with Gordon is better than one without him, but I agree we shouldn't go crazy trying to land an 8th inning guy.

i was going to say exactly what ae and kdon have. if healthy alfonseca is fine (i'm seriously typing that). it's not an ideal situation, but neither is giving away rowand.

maybe gordon starting the year on the dl allows them to keep germano.

let me clarify. "fine" means can get by for a couple weeks.

"fine" does not mean let the team fall 10 behind the mets after lossing 5 leads in two week and not doing anything about it.

the young arms have to step up. there is no way around it.

LIEBER would make a fine closer !!! Might not be a bad career move considering his age

yes, kdon, PRICELESS. That's probably the funniest line JW has written on this blog.

ae, I have to agree. I'd rather go into the season with El Pulpo and Madson than get raped in a trade done out of panic. Besides, Madson's slider seems to be coming along - he struck out the side today. I'll take the risk that he'll refine the pitch even more. He's due for a rebound.

A bad trade where decent prospects or MLB players are traded for an eighth inning guy, IMO, hurts this team this year and in the future.

A healthy Flash is, OBVIOUSLY, a key to this team's '07 success, and maybe it's just precautionary. Maybe, the Straight-shooting assistant GM is actually telling the truth. They are more than concernced, yes, but it may be the case of sending someone to th ER with a cold. I.e., they did it because they KNOW they can't afford to lose him, so if he has a minor ailment they're going to go the extra step just to be safe.

We'll see.

BTW, along the line of this discussion, Brendan Roberts has an article on titled

"Spring buzz about pitchers is mostly nonsense"


He is of the opinion that adding a pitch doesn't really help a pitcher. So much for my reliance on Madson!!!

glad to hear I'm not alone...someone send this thread to Amaro.

the question is, which is more valuable -- competant starting pitching or relief pitching? i think the phils can still deal from a position of strength. because of the wildcard, there are that many more teams that have a shot at the postseason, thereby that many more teams who need a healthy jon lieber. i mean, really, look at jeff suppan. is he really that much better than lieber? is he better at all? a bunch of teams will need such a pitcher soon enough.

I'd like to see them think outside of the box for once and try out Bisenius as the closer. Granted, he hasn't had any experience at it above the minors, but I'd rather see them try that out than get raped by somebody. I hope they don't go for that MacDougal, he had arm problems not long ago.

I'm going down on the 22nd for 4 days to see 3 games, I can't wait! Already signed up for the Sunday season ticket plan.

Come on now... I haven't been around Beerleaguer that long... but there's no way this group can be in that much of an agreement.

But, add me to the list. The Phillies should not panic and deal Lieber and Rowand for a little bullpen help. Lieber has value... and someone will want him sooner rather than later. And dealing Rowand creates a huge hole in our outfield. I'm slightly concerned with OF production now... imagine if we had Bourn or um... Garcia out there!

Don't make a panic move.

I agree Phils should not trade out of weakness. Plus, we don't really know about Gordon. As long as he keeps getting on the mound and being effective, the Phils should be ok.

However, I think people who has posted earlier on this thread have been taking too many nips from the spring training booze. Satisfied with Alfonseca or Madson? Are you kidding me? Did anybody watch last September when you got to watch meltdown after meltdown by Rhodes and co.?

I am more optimistic about Madson but I have almost zero faith in Alfonseca. Alfonseca is the classic Phils pickup on the cheap who will eventually let down and disappoint Phils' fans.

Or imagine if we had Abreu out there!

Good thing we traded that guy away so the team could finally succeed...

I agree with MG. If you all think a sketchy bullpen-by-committee is going to fly here, you are sadly mistaken. None of these guys are good enough to close. Let me repeat: none of these guys are *remotely* good enough to close. Could we live with Alfonseca? For a week or two, maybe. That's it. Gordon is a ticking time bomb. Gillick needed a replacement all along and he *did not address it*. This isn't about panicking, it's about reality. This team goes nowhere! NOWHERE. With a bullpen this sad-sack. If you want to believe relievers are merely interchangable parts - oh sure, let's throw Bisenius in there - I hope you'll enjoy what you see after the sixth inning this year. You don't win with this great a deficiency in any one area of your roster.

Of course, we all hope Flash is okay. But this seems for all the world like a revealing omen. He could go down at any moment. You cannot count on getting through the season with him; in fact, such a prospect is a total longshot at this point. It's the same on March 12 as it was on November 12. Lieber *needs* to be traded. I don't know what they're thinking with Rowand, but at the very least Lieber needs to be dealt for relief pitching, without a singular doubt.

Very nice and relevant article about Phils' starters and the number of innings they might pitch.

If the Phils do manage to have Hamels and Myers each go near 200 innings and Garcia get there, it will go a long way to cover up some of the deficiencies in the bullpen.

The other thing about the article are the quotes by Barajas. Judging by the quotes/article, I am willing to bet Barajas is the personal catcher for Hamels this year. Myers will probably see a mixture of Ruiz/Barajas.

No need to panic. Flash isn't out for the season. 6 starters and a shaky closer situation. We don't even have an answer to his woes yet. Alfonseca aint that bad is he? To fill in for a while? If a trade isn't the answer, should the Phils revisit that spring thought of Myers closing for a while. Most of us think he has the capacity. Could he handle the in and out of the bullpen or would we end up with another 06 Mad-dog situation?

Gotta love the pre-season drama. Either way. To me. The Phils are solid.

Any way I look at it, this "routine exam" sends an "OH CRAP!" message to my brain.

Put me in the MG and RSB group. I'm not okay with Alfonseca closing games even for a week. The last time he saved a game was five seasons ago. They need better depth than that. Not to mention the inexperience of the left-handers.

By all accounts, this is a team built for a run at a title in every area but bullpen. It would be a sad shame to blow it there.

Thats the message my brain received. But then I calmed myself. Long way to go yet. Lets see what happens.

You guys know way more than me so I will always trust your judgements. I'm just trying not to worry.


On a totally unrelated note - what are people's feeling on Gabe Gross with the Brewers? Supposedly don't have a roster spot assured with them and I wouldn't seeing the Phils try to get him as a LH-bat off the bench to play the outfield. Certainly fills a need and is an upgrade over current rabble.

Often one finds that what normally would be considered secondary news sources actually provide more and better information than the "trusted" major outlets. The Gordon Affair seems to be one such case.

Dennis Deitch, in this morning's Trentonian, provides us with additional info not found in the Inky or DN.

The pertinent quote:

"Gillick said that the checkup was routine and that Gordon flew to Philadelphia for it because Ciccotti had a scheduling conflict that wouldn’t allow him to make a trip to Florida for the examination. Gordon spent three weeks on the disabled list in August and early September last season with a sore shoulder, and the Phils have been very conservative in bringing him along this spring. Gordon didn’t pitch in a spring game until last Tuesday; however, in his two appearances in Grapefruit League games Gordon has been strong, allowing no runs in two innings.

Last spring, Gordon experienced some elbow and forearm tightness that prompted Dr. Ciccotti to pay a visit. At the time Gordon said that the tightness was a typical issue for him during spring training, but it was 17 days between Grapefruit League outings for him (although Gordon did make two minor-league appearances in there)."

Link here:

OK...scheduling conflict. Do we believe PG? Or is he doing his best Ruben Amaro imitation?

Also, the other pertinent fact is that Gordon experienced the same stiffness last year. (I vaguely recall that to be the case - did a google news search but couldn't find anything that old).

This still begs the question - if it's the same 'routine' stiffness, then why is it necessary to fly Flash back to Philly?

Any thoughts?

Obviously the Phils are being very careful here. Gotta check these things. Remember Hamels told a coach he felt something in his shoulder. Had a week off when he was fine.

Deep breath everyone. Good thing this "happened" (not sure what really is up with his shoulder) now and not 3 wks or 6 wks from now.

cue moving Myers to closer rumor

Everyone including my 96-year old mother-in-law knew going into this season the Phils' bullpen was not adequate to make a playoff run. All of this talk about six starters and 200 plus innings from as many as three of them flies in the face of how the game is played these days. A strong setup man and closer are critical and the Phils possess neither. Lay the blame for this failure to act squarely on Pat Gillick's shoulders. Now, if anyone is willing to listen to him, the price has reached an altitude comparable to that of the plane carrying Flash Gordon back to Philadelphia for his "routine" exam.

*Frail, delicate, brittle, flimsy, breakable, fragile...What are synonyms for Tom Gordon? He's heading back to Philly for a "routine exam"...oh crap!

if our bullpen is really as atrocious as some posters seem to think, trading Lieber for a single extra arm is not going to make a bit of difference. it's not like we can trade for Bruce Sutter (or the aforementioned Mike Marshall) - few closers throw more than 60-70 innings. that leaves a lot of bullpen innings on the table for Madson, Geary, Alfonseca (who I have no illusions about suddenly turning into an All-Star, BTW), etc.

Oakland's closer had a 3.31 ERA last year. St. Louis, 3.55. Detroit, 3.94. Chicago nearly made the playoffs with a 4.00 ERA from Jenks, and Houston nearly did the same despite Brad Lidge's 5.28.

of course it would be nice to have Rivera or Hoffman or whoever closing games, but it's not going to happen, even in any kind of best case scenario. we are much better off waiting until we can deal from a position of strength, even if it takes several months.

Definately smells like something is wrong. I'm not going to get to worried now but if opening day comes around with Gordon still "iffy" then the Phils are going to be pressed to deal Lieber for any relief help they can get. I don't want to see them throw away a blue chip like that but they may have other choice.

to be fair to gillick - there was a bunch of used up bums closer wise as free agents this offseason. tradewise it's not like we had anything near laroche to trade for gonzalez. i know he could have done something, but some other teams garbage is probably no better than ours.

MYERS is not going to the bullpen ... It'll never happen. If Gordon had to ride the medical pine for a few weeks, then El Pulpo would probably get the nod to close. If Gordon was placed on the DL for a long eriod of time, then the Phils would probably pull a fast trade this spring. However, I don't think the organization should go into PANIC mode ... lets not forget that the Phils relief core last year had the third lowest ERA in the NL (eigth in all of baseball). DON'T GIVE LIEBER AWAY!!!

I also think it would be a terrible idea to trade lieber for a RP that isn't proven.

I think it is nuts to not try him in the pen because he has problems fielding bunts. Give the guy some fielding practice. It is a BUNT, it is moving at 2 MPH.

If wickman can field well enough to close, then Lieber can as well.

Give him a shot unless you can get an Otsuka or the like. But that is obviously not going to happen.

MG, as far as Gabe Gross is concerned, he has been battling some hamstring problems this spring. If not for that though, he could be a solid platoon player in the outfield; he is absolutely terrible against lefties batting .093 against them in the last 3 years.

gr: What an incredibly easy question. Lieber sucked last season. Suppan helped lead his team to the World Series championship. Glance at the stats.

Cholly said in the paper this morning that Gordon will pitch on Friday

RSB: I agree with your post 100% and am glad you finally came around. At the end of last season there were only a handful of us who said the number one thing the Phils needed to address was pitching. They needed another starter and a setup man/closer type to stopgap Gordon, ideally lefthanded since you can't trust rooks like Smith & Castro.

As I recall you led the discuission about how the biggest need was a big bat so Howard could have "protection."

kdon: Since you think the Rangers will give Wilkerson straight up for Lieber, there should be no shortage of quality setup/closer types the Phils can get, no? I mean if Lieber has that kind of trade value, no problemo.

Straight-shooting Ruben Amaro?? That's funny. One of the funniest things I ever read was his personal quote on his Baseball-Almanac web page. The guy may have a degree from Stanford, but he's flunked Baseball 101.

On WIP this morning Ken Rosenthjal thinks the Linebrink and Otsuka rumors still have legs whereas the Rios rumors were some writer's imagination. I think the Linebrink deal is dead because Termel Sledge is hitting around .450 in ST I DO think Otsuka will get all pissy because Gagne is throwin 91-92 right now.. Lieber and Germano for Otsuka? Thoughts?

I am not interested in being "fair" to Gillick. The Phils' number one weakness at the end of last season was in the bullpen and their GM failed to make a deal to improve that area in any meaningful way. He managed to work a deal for another starter and obsessed publicly about so-called protection for Howard, but all the while he did nothing significant to improve the greatest area of deficiency. If Flash starts the season on the DL or with a tender arm, a quick start in April could be in serious jeopardy unless you believe in Alfonseca, which I do not!

Any way you look at it, Gillick has come up short for the second off-season in a row. I suppose I should possibly wait until the end of this month to fully judge, but as it's been pointed out, the Phillies' trading leverage has been shot to hell with this report of Gordon flying back to Philly.

RutgersESQ starts his post by saying, "MYERS is not going to the bullpen" and closes by saying "DON'T GIVE LIEBER AWAY!!!" Guess what: if Gordon goes down, it's one or the other. And I *still* say, don't be shocked if they hold onto Lieber and anoint Myers the emergency closer. I think that remains a distinct possibility.

I may disagree on the strategy Gillick should take now, but I agree 100% that there is absolutely no excuse for not dealing with the bullpen in the offseason. taking chances on Rule V picks is fine, but that's not plan A, that's like plan K or L.

the Red Sox were in a similar situation and also collected some long-shot candidates, but did a much better job - the odds of Pineiro, Donnelly, Tavarez, or Timlin matching their peaks are not very good, but they beat hoping for Jim Ed Warden to turn into a major leaguer.

Possibly clout. I don't know if you caught my post in the last thread, but you significantly overvalue Wilkerson.

Again, his lifetime OPS+ is 108! He had a very good season at 27 (when most players peak) but other than that has been the definition of average. Oh yeah, and he is comming off a major injury and his worst ever season.

I know he was a stat-head god in 2005, but he just isn't the same player now. If B-PRO, who has consistently praised Wilkerson, thinks that Lieber => Wilkerson is reasonable, why don't you?

On the bullpen.

I'm having a hard time finding the link, but the Hardball Times did a great study about a year ago where they compared the save percentages of "proven" (guys who had saved something like 30 games in a year) and "untested" closers.

I has always thought the closer was a bit overated, but this study blew me away. Not only did the "untested" guys have as good a record in 3-run games, but also in 1-run save situations. The point basically, is that it is more important to have good pitchers than a good closer.

All of this is not to say that we wouldn't miss Gordon...he is a very good pitcher. However, his loss would be about as bad as if we lost Geary. I'm concerned about being down a good arm in the pen, but not because we lost some sort of "proven" closer to mop up 3-run leads in the ninth.

I can't believe I'm doing this, but I have to defend Gillick a little.

When clout says that last year's problem was pitching, he's right, but it was *starting* pitching.

The Phillies rotation is *the* number 1 culprit for failing to make the playoffs, and it isn't really close. So what did Gillick do? Well, he turned a weakness into a strenght. That's pretty good.

We've talked about the pen before, but the only name on the FA market I liked was Spier, and he got snapped up early to play in LA.

I have to disagree ae about Boston - giving $4M per year to a guy who was DFAd last year (Piniero) is not a good strategy for any team with a budget. The bullpen is shaky, but if there is *one* place where you don't throw around money just to throw around money, it's the bullpen-to much volitility from year to year.

just saw the Mets released Alay Soler - wonder if he could be effective in relief.

The Sox also have the option of moving Papelbon back to closer.

kdon, I didn't realize Boston was paying Pineiro that much. you're probably right that those kind of contracts are not smart for a team on any kind of budget, although I was thinking more in general than specific terms.

To put things in perspective, consider the pitching staff to open 2006:


Yes, the bullpen is still an area of concern, but considering how close they came with the 2006 staff, the sky is not falling.

A lot of scrubs starting in today's game against Tampa Bay. Phil's lead things off with some base stealing in the top of the first: Victorino steals third (his 3rd of the spring) off Kazmir/Riggins and Dobbs thefts second. 1-0 Phils as Eaton goes 1-2-3.


BB, word in Boston is that the trainer's think the pen is bad for Paplebon's arm, so that's no longer an option.

Just to flesh out the Boston argument, they are paying $13M this year for:

Piniero, Donnelly, Timlin, Taverez, Romero

Meanwhile, the Phillies will be paying $8.8M for:

Gordon, Geary, Madson, Alfonseca, Smith

Not only is the Phillies group better, but significantly cheaper. The Sox went the "veteran" way, and it is almost certainyl going to backfire. $5M may not seem like much, but hey, your almost halfway to paying for Abreu right there!

He says (of course he does) he's fine. When Joel freakin' Pinero is your closer, Paps will be in the 'pen by All Star break.

I'll grant significantly cheaper, but I'm not convinced it's any better. in fact, I think it's arguably worse. (without getting bogged down in a debate that nobody probably cares about, I think Timlin =/> Gordon, Donnelly > Madson, Romero = Alfonseca, and Geary >/= Tavarez. Pineiro and Smith aren't really comparable, I'm sure the Sox have some youngster with a role more similar to Smith's. maybe Delcarmen or Hansen. Eaton is probably more like our Pineiro.)

I doubt Pineiro's actually going to be Boston's closer for more than a day or two (see Foulke last year). with Delcarmen and Hansen they have other young guys who can step into that role while still letting Papelbon pitch, and Timlin can do a perfectly satisfactory job temporarily while they're shopping/letting one of the youngsters get acclimated.

anyway, the point is I'd trade Boston's bullpen situation for ours in a second.

kdon: You seem to be suggesting that anyone can be a closer. If Gordon goes down, we'll find out if that's true.

Timlin in 2003 or 2004 might have been equal to Gordon. And if speaking about staying healthy, Timlin is more durable, obviously. But flat out pitching ability? Timlin last year didn't compare to Gordon.

Timlin also had a 2.25 ERA for 2005 and a 2.59 ERA the first half of last year. and I don't think you can discount durability and health when you're talking about relievers.

Clay Condrey is falling back to earth.

But Calloway is rising like a Star...

ae & RSB, I agree that Gillick didn't adequately address the bullpen in the offseason, but in his defense, I suspect, I'm sure, actually, that budget constraints set by the Giles/Montgomery cabal had something to do with it.

Gagne and Dotel were both available coming off of injuries - same as El Pulpo - but both got lots more $oug$ than the Phils had avaiable and both wanted to close again. There were others as well.

What I don't understand is that the team was willing to spend $10MM/per to keep Wagner for 3 years, but after spending only $6MM on Gordon, they wouldn't put the other $4MM into a stud setup man [fill in the name] who I think we all would agree can be just as valuable, especially if your closer has health issues. There seems to be a little disconnect in that thinking, but hey, we're not running the team.

kdon, I would modify your point about the "unproven" guys being able to pull the weight is a good one. One need look no further than the ChiSox closer situation in '05. Jenks finished the season after being called up. The Cardinals won it all last year without Isringhausen.

The problem is - who steps up from the group of this years unproven Phils?

Jenks and Wainwright weren't exactly duds coming up through their respective farm systems.

... my point being that I don't see any pitcher in the Phillies farm system of their caliber or hype, unless we have a pitching prospect I don't know about.

Josh, that was my point.

John M,

That's a good point-where are the Phils future closers in the organization? Perhaps one of these young guys can do it, but I wouldn't mind seeing them draft a college closer, like the Nats did with Cordero.

Randy Miller has a nice article on Bourn today (don't know if it was previously mentioned). The not-so-funny thing that wasn't mentioned is Bourn could be the last position player the farm system produces in a couple years.

Sad day for Chris Roberson yesterday. Probably starting to realize he's hit his ceiling in the eyes of officials.

"Bourn could be the last position player the farm system produces in a couple years."

Say it ain't so, J.

I just saw the coolest f'n commercial ever, with John Krunk as an 80's metal singer and Petter Gammons rockin' out on the guitar for ESPN fantasy leagues...awesome!

AWH: Except for Bourn, it might be more than a couple years. One of the reasons so many minor league free agents and non-roster players are in camp is because the farm system is devoid of position player talent.

As Conlin noted yesterday in the Daily News, the Phils have 39 players in camp who were with other organizations last year. "The Phillies organization is suffering from position-player malnutrition," Conlin wrote.

Flash is fine. Read Radano's blog from today. he's already back in Clearwater

"kdon: You seem to be suggesting that anyone can be a closer."

As always clout, close but misleading. Any *good* pitcher can be a closer.

And, for the record, Jenks wasn't a dud, but he was hardly *proven*. I think Geary and Madson are both capable of closing.

Ae, were you saying you do like Boston's pen better than the Phils? It was a little unclear. Boston tried this route in '04 loading up on Embree, Howry, Fox, Mendoza, and Timlin and it was a disaster. Mediocre *proven* vets are one of the most dangerous species of baseball player.

FWIW, here is my Boston/Philly comp, and I think the matchups better reflect each teams best pitchers:

Gordon over Timlin (PHI)
Geary over Donnelly (PHI)
Madson over Piniero (PHI)
Taverez over ALfonseca (BOS)
Smith/Romero (PUSH)

I'd really like to hear any debates on those first 3.

Flash may be fine for now, which is great, but long term he doesn't make me feel good.

yes, clout, and the year before, lieber was decent. so, what's your point? glance at the stats yourself. suppan has a career whip of over 1.4 while lieber's is about 1.2. so suppan pitched well at the right time last season while lieber was bad then hurt. i suppose there's nothing in lieber's history that would suggest he would pitch well for a contender down the stretch. only each of the last 3 seasons, that's all. someone will want lieber, because he's good enough to make a difference. if jeff suppan is your watermark for good starting pitching, lieber is comparable.

"Flash is fine."

That's good news. He can now resume his once-a-week, limited pitch count schedule, to gear up for his once-per-series call to action during the season. Word is he renegotiated his contract to replace the traditional bullpen car with servants carrying him to the mound via giant red decorative pillow. The stipulation is they can't take it along on road trips, since Prince of France Ruben Amaro Jr. would have nowhere to sit back at the office.

kdon, like I said above, I don't really want to get drawn into an argument about the bullpen of a team we're probably never going to even play this year...

I'll just say that given how difficult it is to predict bullpen performance aside from a very few very good pitchers, neither of whom play for the Red Sox or Phillies, both teams are in a bad spot and picking one over the other is pretty much a coinflip. not to be sarcastic, but I'd really like to hear any debate on that.

(that should have said none, not neither. didn't mean to imply that there's only two good closers in baseball.)

gr: My point is this: The market values Suppan far more highly than it does Lieber. That's just a fact. And there's good reason for it.

Suppan has been the superior pitcher the past two seasons. He was 12-7, 4.12 last year (not including even better post-season stats) while Lieber was 9-11, 4.93. Suppan had a better season in 2005 as well (16-10, 3.57 vs. 17-13, 4.20 for Lieber).

Now, if you want to say that Lieber has had a better career than Suppan, we agree. But facts are facts and Suppan has been better than Lieber for two straight years. Lieber turns 37 next month. Suppan is 32. This isn't rocket science. It's obvious.

Sorry, ae, I'm just using the example you provided.

A lot of posters have been on Gillick for *not* signing these guys, so I'm trying to make a larger point about how you construct a bullpen, not just picking on you.

And c'mon man, you used Boston as an example, then tried to compare bullpens by matching up one of our best pitchers (Geary) with one of Boston's worst (Tavarez).

Not to be too snotty, but you claimed Boston had "arguably" a better pen, I presented my counter opinion, and you replied with "oh well, never mind."

kdon, what's your larger point about constructing a bullpen? I KNOW!... draft, develop and sign good pitchers.

Unless you think Gillick, and the rest of the organization, are some sort of teflon men who are above criticism, then they deserve the mild shots they've taken across the bow regarding the deficiencies in the bullpen.

I's be interested to know what your opinion is regarding the point I made earlier. That is, if they had $10mm budgeted to re-sign Wagner, yet only spent 6 of it on Gordon, who they knew was older and had a history of elbow and shoulder problems, why didn't they do something 'constructive' like adding a setup guy with the saved money.

Or, do you think they were counting on Urbina getting released from jail?

AWH, there wasn't any saved money. Gillick spent nearly $4M on Arthur Rhodes, $2.6M for Ryan Franklin and another $800K for Julio Santana. $7M wasted. His action thus far in 2007 to improve the bullpen has been Alfonseca, Warden, Simon, and A. Garcia. Not nearly enough. Gillick deserves criticism.

hey, fair enough. I am happy to defend myself, I'm just not sure everyone else wants to listen. here you go:

realistically, Tavarez and Geary are not that different. put Tavarez's 2004/2005 against Geary's 2005/2006. Geary pitched more innings in '06, but Tavarez was clearly better both years. plus, Tavarez was just as solid in 2003, while Geary only has a 2-year track record of quality relief. and at 30, it's not like Geary is actually much younger, even tho Tavarez has been in the league much longer. so I'm not convinced that Tavarez won't be as effective as Geary next year, given how up-and-down setup pitchers are. if that's really our best vs. their worst, we're in a lot of trouble.

if you'd rather use your matchups, I'd take Donnelly too - more consistent record of performance. Donnelly is trending negative and he's relatively old, but even in his "worst" season, he had a lower WHIP than Geary. his K rate remains strong and his HR rate is pretty constant at just over 1 per 9.

going along with what I posted re Timlin & Gordon: maybe I'm being pessimistic, but I think we can expect more post-ASB Gordon than pre-ASB Gordon. Timlin, on the other hand, has been extremely consistent - not at the level of a Rivera obviously, but you can pretty confidently pencil him in at 70-80 innings with a 3.5ish ERA. Gordon *may* do much better, or he may spend half the year on the DL and be incredibly inconsistent the rest of the time. I'll take the better bet when it comes to a reliever.

Madson vs Pineiro I think is much closer than you think. in fact, they had extremely similar seasons in relief last year - Madson with a 4.50 ERA (but .841 opponent OPS), Pineiro with a 4.81 (but .672 opponent OPS).

that's why I think Boston has arguably a better pen. the key there's obviously arguably. bullpen performances from most pitchers out of the top tier isn't very predictable. but I really think that the success/failure odds for Boston and Philadelphia are very close.

(of course as you pointed out above, Boston spent much more than we did. which is an important factor for us, but not so much for their team.)

My defense of Gillick, AWH, is really only for this offseason. The way I see it, he had three options:

1) The Red Sox/Orioles Way

This basically involves signing a whole bunch of mediocre veterans to long term deals.

2) The Ed Wade Way

This involves trading players for mediocre veterans.

3) The Pat Gillick Way

This involves bringing in a whole bunch of players from untraditional backgrounds, young kids, and Rule 5 pick ups.

Now, I think we can all agree that none of these options are particularly good.

The problem with #1 is that relievers fluctuate *a lot* from year to year and this past offseason was a sellers market - lots of money being thrown around at not much talent. The only name I saw that was capable of being any better than Geary or Gordon was Spier. The rest of those guys are practically indistiguishable from the guys we have now, only they cost a lot more.

Maybe a project like Gagne would have worked out, but the other project (Foulke) is already gone.

The problenm with #2 is obvious to any Phillies fan who has been paying attention the last seven years, you give up players for career years from veterans, who then revert to mediocrity. Plus, because these players were traded for, they are immediately put in roles where they do not belong (Cook, Wendall, Urbina, Rhodes, etc.)

Now #3 may not be so good either (we haven't really seen it in action), but it does have two big advantages: a) it's cheap and b) it's very easy to change. Geary is already this kind of player, and I think Condrey and Castro have the ability also to become decent relievers. We'll see. I'm not saying it's great, only that it is defensible.

So, considering the options, I'm okay with GIlilck choosing option 3.

Now, there may also be an option #4 (The A's way) that AWH mentions (good, young arms through the draft), but we can't fault Gillick on this...yet.

kdon, Are you saying there was not one lefty reliever available via trade or free agency that you would prefer over Castro , Smith, or Brito ?

ALright ae! Sorry to bait you, but I really do like having these kinds of arguments (everyone who is uniterested can skip it!)

You use a lot of different statistics, but I think I'll just use ERA+ for the last three years...this takes the noise out of the data and is a fairly good tool.

Note: I haven't actually looked it up yet, so we'll see.

Gordon vs Timlin

G - 139, 173, 204
T - 106, 197, 118

Winner: Gordon. Considering their ages, you have to make the injury risk a push, and Gordon clearly wins on statistics.

Geary vs. Donnelly

G - 157, 122, 80
D - 111, 113, 153

Well, in '05, this is a lock for Donnelly, but considering the way these trends are going, its a small win for Geary. Observation: Geary was the better pitcher the last two years, and much better last year. Conclusion: Geary is better this year

Madson vs. Piniero

M - 81, 109, 186
P - 68, 77, 92

Now Piniero gets a bit of a break because he was a starter for a lot of this time, but really, the guy is cooked. And if you want to talk about track record in the pen, Madson blows him away.

Alfonseca vs. Tavarez

I'm not running the numbers. AA sucks, Tavarez is better.

FWIW, here is how ZIPS projects the bullpens.

Gordon: 75, 2.88
Geary: 82, 3.73
Madson: 114, 4.97
Alfonseca: 26, 5.88
Smith: 68, 5.16

Timlin: 71, 4.31
Donnelly: 58, 4.34
Pineiro: 164, 5.10
Tavarez: 81, 4.67
Romero: 61, 4.43

first of all, I think that projection for Gordon is ridiculously optimistic. but even given that, I'm not sure the projected Phils bullpen is much better. clearly, it's better at the top. but there's absolutely no depth. even if you knew Gordon would do that well, would you take that bullpen? either Gordon's arm falls off or we lose as many games late as we would with a deeper, more balanced (or, to put it another way, mediocre) bullpen.

as far as rookies who could contribute, ZIPS projects Condrey at 75/4.56 and Castro at 64/4.92. the system sees the Red Sox with more options: Mike Burns at 73/3.95, Craig Breslow at 79/3.99, Manny Delcarmen at 71/4.06, Bryan Corey at 68/4.10, and Craig Hansen at 78/4.73.

gillick could have addressed the back end of the bullpen at the expense of not improving the rotation as much. i'm glad he did what he did.

this is the first year in 15 that the braves have had a pen like this. every other year it's stud rotation/junk/closer. and a lot of those years the closer was nobody special.

the only reason the mets did what they've done with their pen is because their rotation is laughable.

i think it's time for a collective chill pill.

I guess we're overlapping each other here - I'll just say that I think you may be right on some of these pitchers, but ultimately, like I said above, both teams' options are not really great...

kdon: Your argument break down at #3. EVERY team tries to use their young talent for bullpen roles. That's not Pat Gillick's way. It's Ed Wade's way (Madsen) and the Red Sox way (Papelbon) and every other GM in baseball.

The issue we're debating is what do you do when you don't have ENOUGH young talent and you're a couple arms short: Sign or trade for mediocre vets or hope to get lucky with minor league free agents and Rule 5 picks. You favor the latter. But don't go using Geary as an example of how that works out. He isn't. Castro, Condrey, Warden, Kane Davis, Jim Crowell are.

BM, not really.

Walker was good, but not 3/12 good.

Mike Gonzalez is a stud, but who exactly are we trading for him?

Schoenweiss at 3/10? No. Kline, I don;t know maybe, but he is going downhill.

Myers. Well, if we had LaRussa maybe, but Cholly can't mix-and-match very well.

Romero? Villone? Don't make me laugh.

Seriously, other than Gonzalez (who we would have had to trade a ML piece for), I don't see any lefty out there who is anything but marginally better than Smith.

kdon, not that the Phils would ever have spent the money on relief the Orioles did, but here's a link to the early results on their new relief corps:

Billy Mac, that oney was spent LAST year. This is 2007. Granted, they tried last year and it failed, but there were a couple of arms available this year that they didn't pursue who could have helped, Spier being the best example.

BTW, Arthur Rhodes has a 0.00 ERA, 1H, 2BB, 3K in 4 innings pitched this year.

I like it ae, we ran some numbers and basically figured out a couple thing.

1) The Phillies top guys are better than the Sox.

2) The Sox have more depth at the AAA level.

I guess which pen you takes depends on whether or not you are a gambler.

I remember those ZiPS projections and they are pretty bad. One I strongly disagree with is Smith, however.

Since 2005:
AA - 2.80 ERA (54 IP)
AAA - 2.60 ERA (27.2 IP)

AAA - ~2.08 ERA (35 IP)
Majors - 0.87 ERA (20.2 IP)

I'm not a computer program, and I know the guy is older than your average prospect, but I see no way he posts an ERA above 5 this year. Since he moved to being a reliever, he has been fantastic.

Good link AWH...I guess I forgot to mention that if you have Mazzone, you can do whatever option you want to.

BTW ae, do you ever post on Primer? I go there a lot but it's tough to get enough Phils fans together to make posting as fun as it is here. And the Mets fans are really intolerable!

kdon, Matt Smith and Fabio Castro have 50 innings combined in the major leagues. I wish I had the confidence in them that you do. A sharp GM could work a trade for a mediocre vet lefty without trading a key piece. Of the names above, Schoenweiss is a good name. Heck, I would be fine now if we resigned Fultz for 1 year.

kdon, what's Primer. I'll get your back if Muts fans are there. I agree, they really are intolerable.

I read mutsblog every other day, and I have to say, the discussion on this blog is much higher-end. We may disagree, but it's far more civilized - and posters here bring facts when they disagree, not the baselss polemic you see there.

AWH, My point about Rhodes et al is that Gillick mispent money last year on the pen, and has not shown an ability to assemble a bullpen nor a bench. I agree with you that counting on Rule 5 guys, minor league free agents, or players with less than 30 innings at the major league level has left this team exposed.

Bill Mac, I don't speak for kdon, but his argument reminds me of Bill James' point that minor league stats have a fairly good track record of predicting major league performance.

No one is saying Smith is the second coming of John Franco, but there is no need to be pessimistic about his potential.

BM, I think what happened is they signed Eaton at $8MM+, and lo and behold, Gillick got a rental on Freddie Garcia $10MM for the high price of Gavin Floyd and Gio Gonzalez. I believe if he had made the Garcia trade first, they wouldn't have signed Eaton.

That extra money on either Eaton or Garcia cost them the chance to add an FA reliever or two. Now they're stuck with trying to trade Rowand (which I'm not in favor of) or Lieber to get the bullpen help they could have already added.

Let me put it this way:

Would you rather be going into the season with a rotation of Myers, Hamels, Garcia, Moyer and Lieber, with a pen that had Spier and maybe Jamie Walker? (They could have afforded them both if they hadn't signed Eaton.)

Or would you rather have Myers, Hamels, Garcia, Moyer and Eaton, with a bullpen of whoever you can get for Lieber?

State your preference.

kdon - You have a point that the closer is overrated but I have to disagree about the job Gillick has done in assembling a bullpen. Gillick hasn't acquired quality arms or brought in enough quantity. If everything, Gillick actually brought in less guys this year to bolster the pen.

For two season now, Gillick has chosen to fill the bullpen and the bench with "blue-star" specials. Marginally-talented guys or veteran retreads who come cheap. Part of this is due to Phils' unofficial salary cap and the lack of ready minor-league prospects.

I am not blaming Gillick for that but you do have to look at the guys Gillick has brought in to round out the pen and bench and kind of stratch your head. It totally backfired last year and I am willing to bet we get more of the same this year.

Just hope that the starting pitching and stellar offense from a few key players is enough to overcome the other deficiencies. Plus, this team has essentially no depth right now at any position except for maybe starting pitching. Any significant injury to either Rollins, Utley, or Howard and this team will struggle to even .500.

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