Former Phillie Rheal Cormier is back in the NL East after signing a minor league contract with the Atlanta Braves. Cormier will join Triple-A Richmond's bullpen beginning today.
Meanwhile, the Phillies, who’ve essentially been without a left-handed reliever all season, continue to search for answers. One solution could be veteran left-hander Ron Villone, a name kicked around Beerleaguer for the better part of two months.
Villone, currently pitching in Triple-A, can opt out of his minor league deal tomorrow. According to the New York Post, super agent Scott Boras says there’s "ample major league interest in the veteran." The Yankees are unlikely to make room for him in their bullpen.
One can never believe Scott Boras, but if teams are calling, the Phillies could be one of them. The Phillies pushed their only left-handed reliever, Fabio Castro, into a bases-loaded jam yesterday and he walked in a run. Still just 22-years-old, Manuel and the Phillies have shown even less faith in the former Rule 5 pick than last season. Castro has had command problems since spring.
Down on the farm, answers are few. J.A. Happ is the highest-rated left-hander in the system, but the Phillies would prefer to keep him tuned as a starter. Reliever Matt Smith has barely gotten his feet wet in Ottawa after pitching himself out of a job in Philadelphia.
Zagurski promoted, makes Double-A debut
The Phillies answered our request to move Michael Zagurski along at the earliest possible date. The left-hander made his Double-A debut yesterday and made it a memorable one. Zagurski pitched two shutout innings, striking out two and allowing just one hit.
Thinking out loud on the roster
The Phillies shouldn’t be real interested in keeping Fabio Castro or Yoel Hernandez around to see if it works out, so when Ryan Howard is lifted from the DL, perhaps it’s time to keep the extra bench player handy in the form of Chris Coste.
It wouldn’t be so necessary if Manuel could trust outfield reservist Jayson Werth. The fact is, Werth doesn’t look capable of producing at this level.
Around baseball – from Jack Cust in Oakland to Willie Harris in Atlanta – teams are finding outfield production off the scrap heap, AAAA players with less pedigree than Werth. I don’t know whether dipping into the dry farm system is the answer (Gary Burnham and Lou Collier are both hitting). The point is, the time has arrived when teams can accurately assess what they have and what they don’t, and what they don’t have is a fifth outfielder they can trust. Werth, badly flawed at the plate, does not look like a player who will improve, especially with restricted playing time.
Note to the Phillies: Get him out of here and try something different. Other teams have started cleansing their roster of players who aren't helping, and it's time to start doing it here.
The Phillies should also show flexibility in their bullpen, as in, make a spot available to the hottest hand. Castro, like Smith, cannot throw strikes. What’s the point? Hernandez might have been a bad call-up. What’s the point?
Maybe instead of scouting the discarded refuse of other teams (Francisco Rosario; J.D. Durbin; Rick Bauer), send those scouts to Reading (Former Braves prospect Bubba Nelson, 20 1-3 IP, 22 SO, 7 BB, 1.31 ERA) or Ottawa (Kane Davis, 2.03 ERA, 13 IP, 17 SO, 10 BB; Joe Bisenius, no runs his last 13 2-3 innings).
Are they the answers? Who knows, but why not keep it in mind? It always seems other teams reach deep and pull out surprises, and they aren’t necessarily reaching for the blue-chip prospects or players with years and years of minor league experience. And unlike the Phillies, they do it without much hesitation.
Just a thought. If the Phillies keep getting it wrong over and over, then the opposite instinct must be right.