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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

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Ugh. After an offseason full of talk about a running start and an improved rotation, a spot start by Zach Segovia in the first 5 games would be... not encouraging.

Heard on CSN yesterday that the way the Phils schedule works out, they don't NEED 5 starters till the middle of april, so I think Segovia would be bullpen bait.

Zach: We don't need a 5th starter the first two turns through the rotation because of off days.

Obviously, Gillick has something up his sleeve. All we can do is narrow it down to three teams: White Sox, Rangers, and Blue Jays, the three teams Gillick always deals with.

Agreed with the notion that a trade or waiver acquisition is on the horizon.

Ah, good news (about the scheduling).

Too much to keep track of. Ok, recap- Karim Garcia gone (so what), Jim Ed Warden gone (no biggie), Urbina jail time (he's a criminal, he deserves it), Gillick's next move?....to be determined.

Segovia to "make" the team just to fill out the roster while Leiber/Garcia are on the mend? Potential to never even have to step foot onto the field if the schedule plays out in conjunction with one of them returning.

In the interim, Gillick can work on a more "permanent" solution to that roster spot?

Urbina jail time (he's a criminal, he deserves it)

Slave driver seems more like it.

Regardless of his employment practices, he's a better solution in the 'pen than 1/2 of what we have to work with right now.

Maybe the corrupted Venezuelan Government can be persuaded to let him loose for a fraction of his salary.

If I looked at the schedule correctly, the first day the Phillies would need a 5th starter would be April 16 at home against the Mets. Hopefully Garcia and/or Lieber will be back by that point.

It is definitely encouraging that Karim got the boot. In previous years, he would be playing the pivotal Jose Offerman/Alex Gonzalex useless veteran role.

Jeltzie: Bingo. Dobbs got his spot as power bat off the bench, I guess.

So now that it's over, what to make of the Great Rule 5 (not Rule V) experiment?

Well, the only downside -- unless you think losing $50,000 matters to owners who light their cigars with Hamiltons -- is that Big Jim Ed and Alfredo Simon ate up some spring innings that would have gone to other pitchers, presumably prospects. The main casualty IMO was Germano, who might have come in handy if Lieber and Garcia both came up lame for longer than now expected and a third starter missed a turn or two. With more spring innings he might have made a stronger case for himself.

While the media likes to focus on the rare Rule 5 steals, the large majority of players go back to their original teams. Taking two in one year struck me as unusual, but I guess there were two factions in the front office and the owners said, "Sure, we'll light our cigars with fives for awhile."

BTW, you younger readers should look up George Bell, known as Jorge at the time Toronto stole him from the Phillies in -- gosh, was it 1981? My connection is too slow to look it up at the moment. The Phillies will have to find several gold nuggets before they come out on the plus side of the all-time Rule 5 ledger. Anyone recall players the Phillies have gotten this way who went on to actual careers? I was thinking Wes Chamberlain, but then remembered that was a waiver wire snafu by Pittsburgh. There must be some, but my mind's a blank.

I think Jayson Stark did an all-Rule 5 team at one point, maybe last year; I think Dan Uggla could crack that team's starting lineup if he puts up a few more years like 2006.

Jeltzie: Bingo. Dobbs got his spot as power bat off the bench, I guess.

So now that it's over, what to make of the Great Rule 5 (not Rule V) experiment?

Well, the only downside -- unless you think losing $50,000 matters to owners who light their cigars with Hamiltons -- is that Big Jim Ed and Alfredo Simon ate up some spring innings that would have gone to other pitchers, presumably prospects. The main casualty IMO was Germano, who might have come in handy if Lieber and Garcia both came up lame for longer than now expected and a third starter missed a turn or two. With more spring innings he might have made a stronger case for himself.

While the media likes to focus on the rare Rule 5 steals, the large majority of players go back to their original teams. Taking two in one year struck me as unusual, but I guess there were two factions in the front office and the owners said, "Sure, we'll light our cigars with fives for awhile."

BTW, you younger readers should look up George Bell, known as Jorge at the time Toronto stole him from the Phillies in -- gosh, was it 1981? My connection is too slow to look it up at the moment. The Phillies will have to find several gold nuggets before they come out on the plus side of the all-time Rule 5 ledger. Anyone recall players the Phillies have gotten this way who went on to actual careers? I was thinking Wes Chamberlain, but then remembered that was a waiver wire snafu by Pittsburgh. There must be some, but my mind's a blank.

I think Jayson Stark did an all-Rule 5 team at one point, maybe last year; I think Dan Uggla could crack that team's starting lineup if he puts up a few more years like 2006.

My prediction for the reliever we will acquire in a spring training 11th hour deal: Armando Benitez.

Wasn't Victorino a Rule 5?

Yes, Victorino was a Rule 5 who the Phillies sneaked down to the minors - or more accurately, no one claimed before he reached the minors.

remember, the guy the Phils supposedly wanted in this year's Rule V was troubled slugger Josh Hamilton, who could still put together a very good career - especially the way he's been hitting this spring.

Josh: To be precise, Victorino was passed over by every major league team on waivers and then the Dodgers elected not to take him back. This allowed the Phillies to send him to the minors.

Dave Hollins was the best Rule 5 Phillies pickup I can recall, drafted in Dec 1989. For those who don't remember, in 1993 he was an All-Star third baseman and the clean-up batter for the last Phillies team to win the NL Pennant. The previous year he tied with teammate Darren Daulton for 4th in the league in home runs and finished 2nd to Barry Bonds in runs scored.

As long as the Phillies are willing to pay the money, no one should be bothered by giving Rule 5 picks a look. It is the essence of spring training. Bear in mind there are ballgames happening all the time at the minor league complex to look at guys like Germano.

It's like George S. commented in an earlier thread, you give players like Garcia, Warden, Simon and Germano a look, and when it doesn't work, you move on.

Funny how the subjects of months of blog entries and hundreds of comments just vanished today.

Oh well. Next subject ...

I have no problem with going out and trying to find a useful arm or two to round out the pen. Unfortunately, Warden and Garcia didn't pan out. It happens.

Besides having a host of bullpen issues (which has already been well documented), I am just as concerned about the lack of ready alternatives in the minors.

This was exactly the same problem the Phils had last year with their starters. When Floyd and Madson struggled, their really wasn't any viable alternative. Instead the Phils had to rush Hamels and Mathieson.

Pretty much the same thing this year with the bullpen. Besides Brito, there isn't an experienced minor league guy or veteran journeyman who might be able help the bullpen. It really makes me stratch my head and wonder why the Phils didn't bring back White and just discarded Germano.

Instead it means that the Phils will have to rush the younger guys like Bisenius and Segovia to fill the gaps. It may pan out but that is asking for alot.

Guarantee the Phils will be stiffing the waiver wire all season long to fill out the bullpen due to guys ineffectiveness and injury.

The only possible upside I see to this bullpen is that Gordon & Geary stay healthy. If that happens, at least the Phils will have 3 reliable arms with Gordon, Geary, and Madson and they can cobble together the rest.

Jason, it is funny how they vanish, and man of us are happy certain players have vanished. That's precisely what all the fuss and complaints were about.

I'm a little surprised they released Garcia, as I was in the camp that thought they would take him north.

If you look at the probable bench - Ruiz, Nunez, Dobbs, Werth and ??? (assuming 12 pitchers), it looks like there is not a lot of speed on that bench which would seem to favor Bourne over Coste. I wonder if the only way Coste makes the roster is if they decide Bourne needs 30-60 days at AAA.

"Funny how the subjects of months of blog entries and hundreds of comments just vanished today."

Funny? More like euphoric! We're about to start a parade down Broad Street here. Things seem a little brighter in Phillies-land today. It doesn't hurt that the team is finally starting to gel during the last week of exhibition games, and that Myers, Hamels, Moyer, and Gordon all look ready to go. It also doesn't hurt to see that we (or the Phils) no longer have to waste energies decrying two of the winter's more baffling pickups. It helps the mood considerably when Gillick starts tightening up and making a little sense.

Not that I'm going to suddenly reverse course. (Who, me?) I still say 86 wins.

PS - Carson, "Urbina's Alibi" is a brilliant name!

Phillies start out in CBS Sportsline's first power rankings of the season at #5.

http://cbs.sportsline.com/mlb/story/10091830

I'm still puzzled by that Ezequiel Astacio rumor and now the Francisco Rosario rumor. These guys are two peas in a pod. Both Dominicans. Both hard-throwing RHP. Both now old for a prospect (both turn 27 this season). Both still struggling with command.

No way would you turn over a key bullpen role to either of them. Not saying you'd do that with Germano either but at least Germano didn't struggle with command. The last thing you need in a bullpen is someone who walks people or gives up HRs because he can't put the ball where he wants to consistently. If one or the other suddenly figures it out, they've got the stuff to succeed. But how do you predict that?

RSB, I have to hand it to you. A few weeks back, you said the Phillies will take the best 25 north, which at the timed seemned prepostorous if Garcia made the team.

I know it's just a couple bench moves, but I am very entusiastic that the Phils cut Garcia. It shows that they saw him as a *very* fringe candidate to make the team, and that they wouldn't be persuaded by a handful a ST at-bats. This is very very encouraging.

Unlike last year, when Coste failed to make the team over Alex Gonzalez, this year it looks like the Phils identified their best 25.

I'm starting to get excited. I can't remember the last time I agreed with so many Phils decisions - cutting Garcia and Warden, keeping Condrey - at one time.

Wonder if anyone's predictions changed already?

Check out the Mets blog below to get a little caffeine hit for tonight:

http://www.metsblog.com/blog/_archives/2007/3/28/2842370.html#comments

How sweet will it be if the boys cash the checks they are writing.

What a difference a week makes. Sounds like the METS went from the love boat to the Titanic:

http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20070328&content_id=1863407&vkey=spt2007news&fext=.jsp

The comments on mutsblog seem to be in response to this article on espn.com...

http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/spring2007/news/story?id=2816444

I saw an Oregonian (daily newspaper) lying face up today and I did a double-take when I saw a picture of someone in a Phillies hat on the front page! Alas, it was Ugie Urbina. So much for Philly pride...

kdon, I was the last one who believed my own prediction as the weeks wore on. I'm as surprised as anyone.

RSB- thanks for the compliment...I was beginning to think we weren't on speaking terms.

I'm strangely feeling optimistic about the season right now, and I'm not sure why. I'm happy with the decision to cut K.G. and Warden, and interested in what Patty G has up his sleeve.

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.

Wouldn't a Scott Strickland make more sense for the pen?

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