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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

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This has the makings of a bad game for the Phils.

Durbin victory and raking of Padres the last few games might cause a typical overconfident letdown against a weaker team after a day off.

Kendrick has been playing with fire on occasion and this could unexpectantly be one that gets away from him.

Phils sweep

I understand that Kendrick has looked bad and a lefty is coming up... but why are we going to our bullpen in the 6th with him at only like 80 pitches?

Beerleaguer power restored: Beerleaguer's second-party server went dark from about 4:45 to 8:45 this evening. Comments have now been restored. I apologize for the inconvenience.

Brian Schneider: Phillie killer.

I'm also surprised that Kendrick wasn't allowed to finish out that inning.

Acta shoulda left the leftie in here against PtBB & Dobbs.

emerson: KK has been having trouble with lefties. Schneider was coming up so Cholly wanted the lefty.

Power down again?

not ARow's

Had KK gone 6, it would be 6 quality starts out of 8 starts. Another good job by the kid.

I hope Alfonseca can nail this down. If they can hold on and win, tomorrow's papers are sure to describe it as a "crisp" victory.

Clutching up Rowand. Wooooo!!!

Lets go 6 fingers. Close it out!

Helms - what a joke. He's got to let Bourn steal.

Phillies have so many offensive weapons right now. If Utley and Howard don't get it done, Rollins and Rowand do.

Not a bad showing by the bullpen, either. Although with Alfie out there for the ninth, I run the huge risk of speaking too soon.

I'm guessing the limited comments had something to do with the power outage in California. It's no Limerick Township out here, that's for sure.

El Pulpo time. Should already be pulled for walking the leadoff batter.

How old is Helms? How many years has he been playing? Does Chollie really have to grab him by the throat to get him to take a pitch or two? Ugh!

All-star play there by Utley. Saved our ass.

Where's Gordon? Start getting loose!

Bacon Pants! Chase!

Great game.

As bad as this bullpen has been, if it weren't for Alfonseca, this team would've been dead long ago.

Aside from ARow's game on O and D, Madson gets major props for this one.

I see D.C. has become the graveyard for Braves rejects.

I'm almost starting to believe in this ragtag team. Even Sarge is sufferable when we're winning. Who knows, maybe we could get the wild card. With Arizona falling out of it, it's probably just the Padres (or Dodgers), Braves, Cubs (or Brewers) and us in the race.

TCB. Beautiful play by Utley in the 9th. Great job by the 'pen.

Still don't think they have enough to win, but it's a virtual cinch that these next two months will be fun. I like the way they've been playing.

Yep, that was a crisp win alright. They didn't bring their offensive fireworks tonight, but they won the way good teams are supposed to win: with timely hitting, good situational hitting (i.e., Burrell's sac fly), decent starting pitching, and good work from the bullpen. Was that really the Phillies I was just watching?

If that's what a letdown game looks like, I'll take it.

Nice job by Kendrick and the bullpen tonight.

TCB. Beautiful play by Utley in the 9th. Great job by the 'pen.

Still don't think they have enough to win, but it's a virtual cinch that these next two months will be fun. I like the way they've been playing.

Well clout, I'll give credit where it's due. You were the one who was the most 'vocal' supporter of the Alfonseca signing in the offseason. I thought it was wasted money. So far, I am wrong.

PtBB good game. Single, 2 walks and a clutch sacrifice fly. Good to see!

A Phillies win without Beerleaguer comments is the proverbial tree falling in the forest. Did it make a sound?

Nice win considering nothing from 2-3-4 (other than a "Web gem nominee" from Utley). With the bullpen, Kendrick/Durbin (and Rowand!) performing like this, it's a lock there'll be no trade, and that may be the right (non-)move.

Rowand has been remarkably consistent this season; I can't remember any prolonged slumps.

I'm not sure where to look this up (but I'm sure someone else here does) but I think he's probably hit over .300 every month of the season. I'd love to be his agent right about now.

Clout - Actually didn't think that Kendrick pitched all that well tonight. It seemed like he really struggled with himself to throw strikes consistently tonight (82 pitches and 46 strikes). He also gave more fly ball outs (8) to than ground outs (5). A better lineup would have likely made Kendrick pay.

Guess what matters though is that he pitched well enough and Rowand came through for the Phils. Plus, the Nats had to use nearly their entire bullpen tonight. Phils are positioned nicely to take 2 of 3 or even sweep.

Jeltz, go to baseball-reference.com

You can look at individual game logs, and actually compile monthly stats on the gamelog page.

Actually, he hit .274 in May and .297 in June. But he has definitely made himself millions of dollars this year.

The tide appeared to turn on the Burrell sac fly, because before that, they looked dead.

What a night for Rowand. He's been a major producer all season and it often gets lost in the other discussions here. He came to play tonight, and tracked down a couple nice balls in the outfield. Alfonseca and the bullpen came out strong tonight.

He may be overweight, he may look lke he waddles, but boy, would I like to have Ray King as the LOOGY on the Phillies!

AWH/BAP, thanks.

Not as good as I thought but still, if your worst month is .274 that's not too shabby. He probably takes a backseat reputation-wise to Utley, Howard, and Rollins, but he's been invaluable to this team, especially stepping into the 5 hole.

was that our bullpen? thank you Madson.
And Rowand.... good game all around.

Gavin Floyd tonight...
Pitchers IP H R ER BB SO HR PC-ST ERA
G Floyd 4.2 11 7 5 0 5 1 96-60 9.58

I'm torn on whether KK had a good start. I'd say it was average for what I've come to expect from him. A well deserved no decision. He got burned on Schneider's three-run double and he was also behind in the count a lot. On the flip, he wasn't missing by much and didn't allow a base-runner until the third.

Nice job tonight, Rowand!

Now if only Gio Gonzalez tanks, then we can just pretend the whole Garcia deal didn't happen.

They were bound to have a little letdown after beating up that stellar SD staff, and flying across the country. Good job working this wind against the spoiler Nats.

Rowand does seem to be spacing out his lame outfield plays a little more lately, and if he hits a little it's easier to feel that love we supposedly already feel for him.

Always a good harbringer when the opposing team has to use 5 guys out of the bullpen to pitch 5 2/3 innings (86 pitches) in the first game of a series. This offense can chew up pitchers quickly.

Jason, Kendrick was throwing strikes early on, but then, in fairness to him, I think he got squeezed a little bit by the ump.

He wasn't the only pitcher who felt that way. Ayala thought he had Rowand K'd on that breaking pitch, and then gave up the dinger.

I've been reading this great site for awhile, but am posting for the first time.

Following up on Rowand...why should it be a forgone conclusion that he's walking away. Sure he may be having a career contract year..or he may be on the upswing. Either way, Gillick and co. stumbled around all off-season looking for that right-handed bat to protect Howard before coming up with Helms. Turns out that right handed bat was here all along.

Not even approaching him or his agent...to me...gives me flashbacks to the Ed Wade/ Billy Wagner debacle a few years back. Right now, we don't even have a clue what it would take to keep him...and I do not believe we can easily replace him with Bourn and not miss a beat.

what would it take to sign rowand? 3 yrs/45M?

PADRES STARTING PITCHER CHRIS YOUNG LEFT THE GAME AFTER WARMING UP FOR THE THIRD INNING WITH AN UNDISCLOSED INJURY

Biggest surprise of the night was Madson giving them a crucial inning plus tonight in a close game. Still don't like seeing Madson late in a close game.

3 years 30 mil would get it done for sure I would think... and I'd bet we could get him for slightly less than that. Juan Pierre cost 5/45 on the open market. Rowand has said he's willing to sign here now, and is the type of guy who wouldn't feel the need to wait til the offseason for the highest offer. We'd be stupid to not try and get the hometown discount now.

I'm convinced that Kendrick is Cory Lidle risen from the grave. But you know what? They've won 6 of his 8 starts.

Rowand sure does seem to be hitting well in the 5 hole. maybe you even go for a longer contract with him, with the intention of moving him into LF to replace PtB.

section 102: Why do you think Bourn would replace Rowand? My guess is that Vic would. Then they'll sign a slugger to play RF. Makes sense.

i like vic's arm in right. it stops a lot of 1st to 3rd's.

joe: The CF gets to more balls than the corners.

What slugger would they sign for RF? They did a great job of finding one last year...and would this slugger for right field cost more or less than Rowand now? Why mess with the offense that seems to be working pretty well?

Gillick was a guest on DNL tonight. He reiterated the asking price for pitching is very high and maintained that a healthy Gordon and Myers would make the bullpen strong.

Conlin was a panelist and had him back on his heels about Drabek and overuse. Gillick tapdanced around the issue as best he could. Then Barkann changed the subject to Durbin or something.

The most striking part of the discussion - for me anyway - was how much he talked about upgrading the corner outfielders to get more power from the position. Even though he mentioned how much offense they're getting from 2B to make up the difference, it was still pretty surprising.

Considering how many runs they're scoring, this wouldn't even be on my radar. I actually think Vic is having a rather good season considering the type of player he is, and Burrell has starting showing signs of life.

I get a sense Gillick despises Burrell with every ounce of his being.

It was also probably the most revealing piece I've seen on Gillick's take on Manuel. He says Manuel is doing a good job, has kept his players motivated, but actually said something like "we may not agree with his strategy from time to time."

section 102: Rowand is going to be a free agent. Neither you nor I know how much he will cost or whether he will be re-signed. So whoever is playing next year, including Rowand, will cost a helluva lot more than Rowand costs now. If they decide he's not worth the price or can't sign him, moving Vic to CF and signing a RF makes sense. That was my point.

Brian G: More and more I'm coming around to thinking we should re-sign Rowand before the season ends. I don't see anyone else they realistically will bring in in the offseason who will upgrade the OF.

My thinking is this: next year again you go with Burrell/Rowand/Vic with Bourn as the 4th OF which has worked out OK so far this year. You have the possibility of trading Burrell at the deadline next year (when his salary will be less of an issue) and going with Bourn/Rowand/Vic for the remainder--all depending on the team's circumstances next year.

I'm sure clout will tear me a new one about the lack of power in a Bourn/Rowand/Vic outfield but given that the team has above average power at 1B, 2B, and SS I think they can get away with it. Then you have Burrell's money coming off the books so you could sign a power-hitting OF for 2009 if Bourn and/or Vic totally crap the bed in '08 (and even if those two do fall off a cliff, neither one of them has a salary that prevents trading them or putting them on the bench).

In response to section 102, this is the only year Rowand's ever hit like this... he's always been quite mediocre, with the exception of 2004 I guess. So if you give him big money for a fluke year, like the Angels did with Sarge Jr. (who has pretty similar career numbers to Rowand, by the way), you could end up being pretty disappointed. Just like the Angels currently are. Really we'd be "messing" with the offense more if we kept the guy expecting a repeat performance than if we went out and signed someone with a longer track record of being a good hitter. A power bat would be nice too.

MG - I've been kind of bewildered by people being down on Madson this year. He's been pretty good overall - and damn good on the road. ERA at 3.21 (2.73 road), record at 2-2, 5 HR surrendered (all at CBP) in 53.1 innings over 35 games. My anxiety level does raise when he comes in at home, but overall, he's a better sight on the mound than most of the dreck we've had in the bullpen this year - and I'd venture one of the better plus-inning relievers around.

Jeltzie: I don't expect the Phillies to be contenders next year, so I wouldn't have any problem with a below average offensive OF. It wouldn't matter. This team needs 3 SPs, a closer and a 3Bman in the coming offseason and I don't think they'll spend to get them.

Clout: Re-reading, I see your point.

I guess my point is...Rowand isn't a free agent yet. We're the only team who can negotiate with him, and we have months to figure out whether we can bring him back. Once the free agent season starts, all hell breaks loose. And we know from last year that they were totally caught off guard by the Soriano offer by the Cubs. I just believe not even picking up the phone and talking seems inexcusible.

ajc: You feel that way because Madson has gone 5 straight appearances without allowing a run. Prior to that he allowed runs in 3 of 4 appearances.

section 102: It sounds like you and I agree.

Clout: Yup

Yes, this is Rowand's best year and it would be surprising if he repeated it. But it isn't like he hasn't had good years before, he hit .310 last year pre fence-face, and it's not an unreasonable age for him to be putting it together. If we can get him for the type of discount the Sox got Buerhle (relatively speaking, like the 3/27-30mil i mentioned) then we should do it. He's the type of guy who will continue to work his ass off and he's starting to look like his old self defensively again as well. Like S102 said, we're the only team that can negotiate with him, take advantage of that. Anyone else will cost a fortune in the offseason, and that means less bucks to spend on pitching, preferably a closer so we can bring Myers back to the rotation.

Clout/MG - He had a bad June, I'll grant you that. Still, look at his ERA splits ...

Mar/April 3.45 (15.2 innings)
May 3.86 (7.0)
June 4.34 (18.2)
July 0.75 (12.0)

Home 3.80
Away 2.73

Take away the CBP effect, he's been pretty good. I'm looking at the full season here, not just the last few starts. As I said, I more nervous about him at home, because he seems to try to be too fine with his pitches, but overall I don't think there's much to complain about there.

last few appearances, not starts - BAAAAAD typo

Put me also in the camp of wanting to sign Rowand ASAP. Yes, he's having a career year, but that career ain't too shabby - .286 hitter and .986 fielder - and he's got the intangibles every one else has cited before.

I don't think anyone expects Rowand to be a .900 OPS guy. but if he can maintain a decent walk rate, like he's developed this year, I think there's a pretty good chance that he can be in the .800-.850 range - not bad at all for a CF. he's still under 30, so there's no reason this has to be a fluke, especially combined with his strong non-injury performance last year. I'd do 3/$30 no problem.

Jeltz - we do get well above average power from 2B and SS and above average power from 1B, but that's a terrible excuse for writing off the other 5/8 of the lineup. Ruiz-Helms-Bourn-Victorino-Rowand isn't quite writing it off, but it's not good.

July's almost done, so lets take a look at a line :
.391/.525/.696 - for an OPS of 1.221.

For comparison, Utley's is 1.051. Bourn's over the same time period is .797 - and July was his best month! The line above is, of course, Pat Burrell's. Burrell admittedly had a horrid June, and he isn't going to maintain such a extraordinary level of performance. People were really overeager to pronounce him as worse than Bourn or even completely done as a baseball player, though, and clearly he isn't.

In Mike Rutsey's piece in today's Toronto Sun, under the headline, "Ricciardi quells Towers rumours", the following was reported:

Josh Towers remains a Blue Jay and the Pittsburgh Pirates' Jack Wilson will not become one.

Those were the answers that Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi gave regarding the trade rumours surrounding the Philadelphia Phillies being interested in Towers and Wilson being acquired by the Jays.

That doesn't mean Ricciardi isn't willing to listen to offers.

'We'd listen on anybody, we'd be foolish not to listen,' he said with the non-waiver deadline just nine days away. We're not going to trade Josh Towers for a bag of donuts. I've got to get something back who is a very good player for us to say, 'Hey, we can hang our hat on this guy.' I don't need somebody who's going to come to the big leagues right away, but I'm also committed to winning as many games as I can here and Josh gives us that opportunity."

Ricciardi . . . said he has had no discussions with the Phillies regarding Towers . . . "

Good win for the Fightin Charlies. I get nervous every time we play the Nats. Hopefully Hamels can do it up right tomorrow on his bobblehead night.

I'm not sold on resigning Rowand yet...but I am getting there pretty quickly.

Yeah, with today's performance Burrell is 18th in all of baseball in on-base percentage, at .400. Tied for fifth in baseball in walks with Jim Thome. He hasn't actually hit so well but he's really turned a corner with his strike zone judgement. He's striking out much less than he used to.

ae: but if this team had some pitching we wouldn't even need discuss run production. And hopefully, if we can get average pitching, this offense can compensate. Even with the 6-8.

Weitzel - Thanks for the updates on DNL tonight. I was surprised that Gillick mentioned power from the corner outfielders. He has a point but once again it is the offensive production from 3rd that is a drag on this team:

Power Numbers:
1. LF (Phils - 14 HRs vs. NL AVG - 15 HRs)
2. RF (Phils - 13 HRs vs. NL AVG - 12 HRs)
3. 3B (Phils - 7 HRs vs. NL AVG - 13 HRs)

ae-I'm not writing it off. Really, I think Rowand provides about average power for a CF (actually this year he's 4th among NL CFs in HRs and 3rd in RBIs--not saying he'll repeat that necessarily but should still be at least around the middle). Ruiz is below average right now but I'm thinking he'll develop more power in the next couple years and be at or near league average for a catcher. I could be wrong but I don't see him becoming an offensive liability, especially projecting him as an 8 hitter.

I'm in total agreement that they need to upgrade 3B one way or another.

I think though people take Howard's production for granted (somewhat) because 1B is supposed to be a power position. If you look at the NL power numbers this season, it's really Pujols, Fielder, Howard, and then everyone else. After those 3, the highest HR total is 16 (Delgado, 11 behind Howard) and for RBIs it's Berkman (61, 20 behind Howard and actually one more than Pujols). And this is all taking into account Howard's stint on the DL and horrendous slump to start the year. So I think it's fair to say they don't get just "above average" power but "well above average" power from 1B.

But really, scoring runs isn't the issue. This team needs pitching to have any chance now or in the future.

I'm not sure why anyone would think this team will not be in playoff contention next year, even at the level they are now (some may say they still don't have a chance). That may be one of the silliest things I've read so far.

Madson has been a nice player for the Phillies for most of the season. He had the bad 3 outings to start teh season... which killed the momentum for the start of the season.

He's been very successful as of late. Has 5 Holds on the season... with just one blown save. One of his holds he did give up 2 runs.

In those previous 3/4 outings where he gave up runs. One was the blown save. the other two: one the Phillies were down 2 when he came in... down 3 when he left. The other the Phillies were ahead 7 when he arrived, ahead by 6 when he left. Not terrible.

His biggest problem has been walks in my opinion. His first 2 years, he walked batters once every 4 innings. This year, despite his success overall, he's walked batters once every 2+ innings. That's fairly significant.

In his first 2 seasons, he gave up homers once every 9 innings or so. This year, that's better at once every 10 innings. Last year? once every 6.7 innings.

I think he's really settling back into the bullpen. And should be used in pressure type situations as we continue towards September.

Dave X - Yeah Burrell is having a nice July so far but he still has had a poor year overall. His OPS of .829 is still only 10 of 12 among NL qualified LFs.

Plus, I would be willing to bet that Burrell is one of the worst defensive LFs in the game. Yeah, he has a good arm but its not great. As for range, Burrell has none. If a ball is hit everywhere near the line or in the gap, it will drop for extra bases.

Don't advocate trading Burrell for absolutely nothing I do bet that the Phils would be better off next season with a stopgap veteran solution (e.g., Luis Gonzalez-type vet) who put up similiar type of production to Burrell yet only would make $7-$8 million next year. You could then take that $7-$8 million to either resign Rowand or go out and get another starter.

Until we see what happens in the off-season, it's impossible to say whether the Phillies will contend next year. But I don't see why they shouldn't. We've managed to remain on the fringe of contention this year despite getting absolutely nothing from Lieber or Garcia, a dismal year from Eaton, and a bullpen that has been absolutely horrendous for most of the year.

Next year, the core guys on offense will be back except possibly Rowand. I'm sure Gillick wants to move Burrell but it remains to be seen whether he can. If he can, it's more money to resign Rowand or someone comparable. And if he can't, well, the law of averages says that Burrell should have a much better year next year.

The bullpen is an area they definitely CAN address in the off-season, as there are a lot of very good relievers available on this year's FA market. Myers will presumably be back in the rotation next year, which should give them a better 1-2 punch than they've had this year. We're stuck with Eaton but, using his career numbers as a gauge, I think he'll be better next year (which is not to say good, but at least not this horrible). If Moyer doesn't retire, I'd look to trade him. Kendrick & Durbin could battle it out for one starting spot & the other can be landed via free agency or trade.

The end result should be an offense that is about equal to this year's, a pitching staff which is better or, at least, no worse, & a much superior bullpen. Or maybe SirAlden just slipped some of those mushrooms into my glass of beer this evening.

"the law of averages says that Burrell should have a much better year next year."

didn't we say that last year?

Braves just blew a 4-0 lead in the 9th.Tied 4-4 bottom of the 9th
I still think the Phills need to win 5 of 6 vs national/Pirates. Losing 2/3 to washington last year in the final week & the Umps blowing the Utley HR still bothers me.

By the way Steve Smith still blows

I didn't. I figured him to do about the same as last year which, in the final analysis, was a pretty strong offensive year. He probably won't get there, but there's really no reason to think he isn't going to come back with a typical Pat Burrell season in 2008 -- i.e., .260, 25 homers, 95 RBIs, .400+ OBP.

Like many other posters, I've grown tired of riding out Burrell's prolonged streaks of haplessness, which do seem to grow longer and longer each year. For this reason, I'm still in favor of trading him in the off-season, if the right deal comes along (which it probably won't, since my definition of the "right deal" would require us to get something pretty good in return). But Burrell has previously rebounded from a season that was a lot worse than this one &, at his age, there is no reason to think he won't rebound from this one as well.

Re: Burrell - I'm extremely encouraged by his improved BB to KO ratio (69/64 so far), but heavily discouraged by his slugging % (429) being about 50 points below his career average. Will the power return next year? I have serious doubts. And for those who think he should go to a AL team to DH, I must remind you that he absolutely has sucked as a DH and PH (.136 combined average for 2004 season to date - 9 for 66 with 2 HR and 9 BB).

Should the Phillies re-sign Rowand? Well, let's assume for the sake of argument that Rowand wants to stay and that the two sides can actually come close on dollars and years. Should the Phillies do it? Seems like a no-brainer. Yes.

Not so fast. Yes, if the Phillies keep Victorino. If they intend to trade Victorino, then don't re-sign Rowand.

At first glance this would seem to be the opposite of what you should do: if you trade Victorino, you NEED Rowand even more out there.

But I believe that for Rowand to be effective defensively, and to remain healthy, he needs a complimentary glove in the outfield along with him.
With Vic out there, Rowand can play under control, better position himself, and cheat a bit to help a weaker glove in LF. When the outfield consisted of Abreu and Burrell (and guys like Michaels, DeLucci), Rowand was on afterburner on every fly ball. He was trying to do too much. He was trying to catch everything in the OF (sometimes risking injury to not only himself); he was often playing too shallow, etc.. He ended up hurt, twice.
In my opinion it is no accident that Rowand is having such a solid season this year with Shane Victorino in RF.

Gillick's comments about improving the power in the outfield might mean replacing Vic. If he does, then Rowand will be less effective in the field, at the plate, and will be much more likely to end up injured. Without a good glove in either LF or RF, don't sign Rowand to a longterm deal. You will not be getting the 2007 Rowand, but the 2006 edition.

Nice analysis bay... Interesting interview with Amaro on MLB who says that Myers wants to be in the pen and for as long as he is committed to them as a Phillie he is going to be in the pen.

I think he should be in the rotation but Myers and management have decided we have a mini Papelbon on our hands in Myers, and having to bear down works with his mindset.

I also see Victorio as the Centerfielder of the future, Andruw Jones said he thought Victorio is one of the best centerfielders he has ever seen.

Rowand or more likely Byrnes of the Diamondbacks will be the right fielder next year. Byrnes has been a 30-30 guy like Rollins, and imagine adding another speed burner to Victorio, Rollins, and Bourne to the line-up.

And don't forget the minor leagues will have the talent from Clearwater moving up to Reading next year. The first time Reading will not be a joke in the last five, thanks to getting rid of Ed Wade.

"more likely Byrnes of the Diamondbacks will be the right fielder next year."

Alden, on what information to you base the above comment, or is it merely gross speculation on your part?

Additionally, your comment vis a vis Reading next year is speculation. You have no way of knowing what that squad will look like next year - trades, injuries - these all can happen. Perhaps you think Kyle Drabek is going to be in the Reading rotation?

Byrnes? 30-30? When? Or did you just make that up? Again.

About the only thing we agree on is Vic in CF next year. As much as I like Rowand and want him to stay, I don't think Giles/Monty and the rest of the Incomp-Crew are willing to pay him what his market value is likely to be.

Should we play a round of "guess the team"?

"Gillick did admit to having more serious talks regarding a pitcher with one team.

"One situation, we're further down the road than others," he said. "We know our parameters and they know ours. That club is in a good position because there's not a lot of pitching out there."

Gillick would not name the other team, though he did say the proposed deal could involve someone from the Phils' 25-man roster. Best guess: Bourn.

http://www.philly.com/philly/sports/phillies/20070725_Jim_Salisbury___Time_is_growing_short_for_Gillick_in_his_quest_for_pitching_help_.html

With the names floating around on the trade market, I'm more inclined to stick with what we have already. *By the way, no team is going to want our garbage for a useful player (ie. no Barajas for a reliable reliever). With Myers hopefully back this weekend the bullpen will be the strongest it's been all season. Zagurski and Romero are serviceable lefties, Madson has been much better, Gordon is back, Myers will be back, 6-Finger-Ant has been decent, and Mesa has been better than most realize.

I did read a scary rumor- Phils interested in Kenny Lofton if they end up trading Shane Victorino for a pitcher. Unless this pitcher is a proven winner, has no arm problems, and will remain under our control at least next season too, I say don't trade Vic!

MG: And Luis Gonzalez is a good defensive outfielder? He's horrible. I'd rather have Burrell, who doesn't quite have LG's well-below average range but at least can throw the ball. LG can barely get it to the SS.

Dave X: Your words about Burrell are true, but the "Burrell is done" crowd which dominates this board will not acknowledge them. Burrell will end the season with an OPS close to .900 and the posters here will be begging for a replacement with an OPS of .780 and think it's an upgrade, the way they thought Conine was an upgrade over Abreu.

VOR: Really? The team will be a contender next year? OK, praytell, what's the rotation, who plays 3B and who's the closer and setup guy next year? You are aware they have a bunch of free agents, right? Perhaps your crytal ball tells us who those rep-lacements will be. Absent that information, this team is not a contender. I'll be happy to change my mind once I know the answers to those questions. Since you have inside info, please respond.

davthom: That is indeed good news. I want no part of Josh Towers.

Who played 3b this year? Who are their starters this year? Setup guy? Heck, they've piece-mealed it so far this year, I have a little more confidence that they can add something next year. You're right, we do have to wait and see, and the both of us throwing out names of available offseason names is not worthwhile, but to rule them out with this nucleus is silly.

VOR: We don't know if they can re-sign Rowand, we don't know if Durbin is a permanent answer, we don't know who the setup man and closer is, we don't know who replaces Garcia and Lieber, who will both be gone, we don't know if they'll re-sign Alfonseca, we don't know who plays 3B (Nunez is gone) except that Helms, who we know is not the answer, will be back on the bench, and we don't even know what the middle relief will look like. Those are a lot of holes to fill. Until I see who fills them, they're not a contender. Some would argue (although I disagree) they're not really a contender right now, that these hot streaks will end and KK and Durbin will fall back to earth. We shall see.

the Phils have been lucky to stay in the race this year, with the rest of the NL East having off seasons as well. it's not a good bet that this situation is going to repeat itself next year: the Mets have more than enough money to fill in the holes in their lineup, the Braves are going to be major FA players and will see their young guys continue to develop, and the Marlins have the luxury of either trading guys like Willis for more young impact players or watching their core improve.

the Phils, on the other hand, have a number of major holes (as listed by clout) with little to no young players ready to step in and not much unused salary to fill them all. sure, they'll still be a reasonably competitive team - with this offense they're always going to win some games - but the race in the division is just going to get more competitive in coming years.

ae: You've said precisely and more articulately what I've been trying to say all along. And it's why I think they should go for broke this year. When the playoffs are within your grasp you go for it, because you never know when they'll be within your grasp again. Things don't always pan out the way you think. See Drabek, Kyle and napkin, cocktail for reference.

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