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Monday, March 24, 2008

Comments

J: Shouldn't that be retroactive to March 21st? It confused me at first...

* Retroactive to March 21 ?

Even though it was expected, starting off with Flash as the closer is pretty bad news.

I would like to see Madson in the role (or at least in the high leverage situations) until Lidge returns.

Considering Lidge's injury, my current confidence factor in the pen is:

Madson
Lidge
Condrey
Gordon
Romero
Durbin
Some Dude

"Some Dude"

I thought we traded that guy.

Helms gets consideration on MLBtraderumors again - from the Braves - who are looking for a bat off the bench and have relievers to spare:

http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/
2008/03/braves-expect-t.html

Apparently, he was given back to us.

dude, it's like 4 games at the very beginning of the season. it can't be that bad

Wes Helms, welcome to the opening day 25-man roster. The Phillies should go back to 12 pitchers as soon as Lidge returns. Wouldn't be surprised to see Helms dealt by then.

The part I don't like about this is that the beginning of the season is very important for this team's psychology. Another 4-11 start, another losing April, it'll seem like nothing's changed. But if this team starts hot right out of the gate, I think they'll be able to get to the next level. Just imagine what a couple blown saves by flash, coupled by one or two nasty encounters with VD, could put the Phils (and us) through.

Yesterday's Phillies Notes in the Inqy said that his velocity, and not the knee, was the major concern. Either way, I'm still surprised that knee surgery went so well. My initial expectation was that he would return June 1.

And although it is a problem in almost every Beerleaguer's mind, including myself, Flash Gordon thinks he has no problem pitching the ninth.

his knee operation was extremely minor. just cleaned out his cartilege. it'll affect him when he's 40 but not now

I thought Some Dude was only rumored to be dealt. Or maybe that was Some Other Dude?

E - Don't know where you've been, but this is an injury to a Phillies relief pitcher. "Full disclosure to the public" is a phrase mocked by the front office, not some sort of standard operational procedure.

I understand that Mike H. but if the guy was hurt, they wouldn't have him pitching.

E, you are awfully optimistic. I would say the knee has affected Lidge this last month, a little before age 40.

You are familiar with the names Garcia and Gordon, right?

Gordon has a partially torn labrum
Garcia has either a partially torn rotator cuff or labrum

Lidge has some miniscal tears. that is basically nothing and the moronic Astros physician decided to repair it instead of remove it in the first place. the knee has not effected Lidge except that his arm is behind because he missed time in camp. I'm not gonna sit here and make up stuff that the guy tore his knee up because if it was anything even significant, he wouldn't be able to pitch

May I introduce to you Exhibit A - Adam Eaton, and Exhibit B - Freddy Garcia.

I want to believe you, brother, but I can't say for certain what shape Lidge's knee is in. I also can say for certain that the FO and the trainers lie.

this would have been a good clout day article. I was a tad shocked by the ending.

http://www.hardballtimes.com/main/article/trade-review-bobby-abreu/

E, I don't think anyone is asking you to "make up" anything (whatever that means), it just seems you are shockingly caviler in your attitude to the Phils reporting on injuries.

Lidge threw *one* pitch before this last setback, so excuse some of us a little hesitation on pronouncing him fully healthy.

Not that shocking, Thrillhouse. The author runs Chop-n-Change, the Braves blog. Nuff said.

So basically, the Phils are going to begin the season with two reliable arms in the pen this year (Madson and Romero). This is exactly one more than last year (Madson). Congratulations Gillick and Co. Another excellent offseason.

Here is hoping that Lidge can get by the middle of April and be effective (beginning to have more doubts as the days pass).

I don't understand that Hardball Times article. The author throws about twenty variables in the last two paragraphs and pronounces it a tie.

Why? Because Abreu wouldn't have helped the Phillies beat the Rockies?

If the standard for a bad trade is that you have to give up a player worth 3 wins in a five games series, you would basically have to trade Bonds 2001 year for Abe Nunez to qualify as a bad deal.

You're beginning to have doubts, MG? I believe you've had doubts since November 1.

Exactly I was shocked that someone would call it a tie. Also surprised that Abreu wouldn't have been enough to get us into the WC in 2006. I wonder if they accounted for Lidle as well. I didn't pay that much attention to the math

The problem thrillhouse is that the guy just assumed the Yankees could have signed someone like Abreu on the FA market, as if premium RF were going for 1 year, 14M contracts with a team option.

I'm all for statistical analysis, but this dollars per win figure is just horseshit. There isn't infinite pool of avialble RF talent that is neccesary to make these economic models works.

There are real free agents, and the Yankees weren't getting anything close to Abreu for those dollars without the Phils handing him to them.

Bummer about Lidge not being ready. I agree with the BL Grand Poobah that it is better to sit Lidge for a week and pitch Flash & Flicker Out Gordon. I'm excited that baseball is starting soon. I'm not excited about the Phils prospects when the games count.

I just found out that my neighbor across the street was a closet MLB subscriber. I've known this guy, a retired Tulane University Professor, for 20 years. We're always outside talking to each other and not once has he mentioned that he's a baseball fan. Unfortunately, he's originally from Rhode Island and subscribes to MLB to watch the Red Sox!

I agree about the whole abstract price per win stuff.

And you can't use the NY overpaying in dollars as a reason to call it a tie. When do they ever pay fair market price for anything?

Mike H - Yeah I have been. Just frustrating though to watch this team take a half-assed approach though and largely waste this amazing talent on this team. Cared less when this team was horrible and I would just be happy if the Phils were going to be respectable.

kdon: Madson doesn't have the stuff and command to be a closer. This is in the same league with your "Geary is a quality setup man" fantasy.

The problem isn't that Gordon is now the closer. He can do that job. The problem is they have no one qualified to be a setup man. They'll have to alternate Madson and Romero and hope they get lucky. And of course that moves everyone else up an inning so we wind up with guys like Condrey pitching to key batters in the 7th. The problem from Day One of the offseason is that there's is zero margin for error with a bullpen that is mediocre at best and just one or two injuries from being downright horrible.

I'm just helping you cover your position, MG. I wouldn't want anyone to assume you're late to the "Half-Assed GM Moves for Pitching in the Offseason" dance. You have - and rightfully so - been all over the FO this winter.

I would still be surprised if Helms made the team even with the newly freed roster spot for the first few games.

Ben: Given the lack of options, with Lidge out, who would be the 12th pitcher? It's just for 4 days. I think they'll keep Helms, trying to trade him, for as long as possible. The alternative is to release him, eat his salary and then someone else signs him for the major league minimum.

Clout - Gordon is cooked. He is arguably the biggest problem in the pen since the Phils are relying upon him to be their quality setup guy when Lidge comes back. It is not because he has shown he can do it the last year and half.

It is because the Phils are paying him big dollars ($5.5 M plus another $1M they are going to owe him on his buyout next year).

If the Phils had a healthy Lidge and Gordon (along with Romero and Madson), they can could afford to live with their crappy middle relief. Unforunately, they don't and the bullpen will likely be a large factor to why this team gets out to a slow start again in April.

"Madson doesn't have the stuff and command to be a closer."

Yeah, he probably doesn't have the heart of a lion either.

I'm not interested in these abstracts "closer" necessities, I'm just talking about who I would feel best about getting three out in the ninth inning if Lidge were not available.

There is no talent required to close games aside from the ability to retire batters. As it stands now, with Lidge on the DL, Madson is the pitcher with best ability to do that.


Ohhhhhhhhh, baby!

I smell amother kdon/clout catfight coming.

Honey, throw some popcorn in the microwave!

If clout wanted to nominate someone else on the current staff he would take over Madson to pitch the ninth, I'd like to hear it.

clout: I agree with you to a point about Gordon, but I would tack on "except for any extended period of time at this point in his career" to your "he can do that job". I'm ok with him in that role for a few games, and I'll go on record as being ok with Madson/Romero as the setup man for a few games and a few games only. Unfortunately, when Lidge comes back, Gordon is only one arm tweak away from putting JC/Ryan in that role for a long period of time.

In the comments section of the last post, krub floated the idea of moving Donald to a different position was brought up. To respond, Lauber wrote a piece earlier in ST on Donald and Harman being blocked by Rollins and Utley, Donald says "Heck, I'd play any position to get to the big leagues. If I had to be a bullpen catcher, I'd do it.” Lauber noted that Donald had 25 errors at SS last season in low- and middle-A, and that he had not been asked to try any other position. Harman has already been giving third base a shot in A and will most likely try 3B in Reading this year.

Ok, guys and dolls. The Phillies play exactly 4 games BEFORE April 5th, and 5 including the 5th.

Assuming Lidge is ready to pitch the 6th, he will miss 5 games.

The question then is:

How many games could Lidge's absence potentially cost the Phils?

Assuming he started the season, he could pitch games 1, 2 and 3, and maybe game 5. IMO, with his knee and arm still building strength, there is no way the Phillies are stupid enough to use him 3 days in a row.

So, realistically, is the rest of the 'pen going to blow all four of the games in which he would have pitched?

How many?

kdon: I'm not arguing intanglibles. I'm arguing stuff and command. Madson doesn't have it, just as Geary didn't, nor Sanches nor Smith nor any of the other mediocrities you've promoted on this board. There is no one on the staff other than Lidge or Gordon with the stuff to be a quality closer for any length of time.

Mike: You're right. It is extremely unlikely that Gordon could handle the job for an entire season without breaking down. And that's been the problem with this bullpen since the season ended in October. There's no safety net.

AWH: Just like last year's bullpen, they will blow 2 out of the first 5 games.

phila fan in dc: Good post. I saw that too and meant to respond but didn't have time. Donald projects as a potential utility INF in the bigs because of his bat. His glove isn't very good. Scouts say 2B is actually his best position, but you could get away with him at SS and 3B in small doses. I question how much of a career he'll have since most teams lean toward the good field/no hit types when employing a utility INF. But if he's able to put up an .800 OPS in AA, he'll have value, likely as trade bait.

Doesn't Cardenas have 2b? I had heard the plan is to move Chase to 1b when they end up trading Howard and Cardenas joins. My guess is Cardenas or Donald make the bigs with another team since we'll likely need to package them for pitching.

Feliz seems to be a more patient hitter with men on. I've seen him take some pitches something he doesn't seem to do when no one is on base.

I haven't heard that much bad about Donald's fielding, and I'm surprised to hear that people would think 2B his best position--he supposedly has a very good arm, which suggests left side of the IF, and if his bat progresses, I think he's easily more than a utility man.

That said, it's premature speculation, both about Donald and Cardenas...Slocs' suggestion makes the most sense now, but it depends on way too many factors--does Cardenas make it? Do the Phillies trade Howard, as opposed to caving and giving him an excessively large contract? How much does Utley decline? If Cardenas is ready in 3 years and Utley is still solid at 2B, no way you move him.

Re: the bullpen, I don't understand the histrionics. Bullpens are so variable...given how Gordon performed down the stretch last year, I have trouble believing he's cooked through and through, unless his shoulder gives out entirely, but just a few bad spring innings are enough to erase that. With good luck on our side, I think the bullpen will be fine, and perhaps even good if Charlie utilizes it right--continuing to use Romero as more than a LOOGY, going light on Gordon and allowing Madson opportunities to setup, etc. I don't think the loss of Lidge for 5 games will swing one, let alone 2 games. One 1 inning pitcher doesn't have THAT big an impact, especially if he hasn't finished his recovery and is still throwing 91 mph.

"I'm arguing stuff and command. Madson doesn't have it"

I would say Madson's career 3.22 ERA in 265 IP as a reliever, along with a 3/1 K/BB ratio and giving up fewer than one hit per inning would argue otherwise.

Does Borowski posses stuff and command Madson doesn't? Did Alfonseca?

To the "it's only 5 games" crowd I would say, so far.

If and when Lidge returns and actually pitches a few innings, the "histrionics" (or, as I prefer, historically sound reasons for concern) will stop.

"I don't think the loss of Lidge for 5 games will swing one, let alone 2 games. One 1 inning pitcher doesn't have THAT big an impact, especially if he hasn't finished his recovery and is still throwing 91 mph."

I like this logic. We won't miss Lidge because it's only a few games...and he won't be that good anyway.

That should be it for Chad Durbin. Good luck in LV.

Er, JD. The other Durbin. But Chad should be done too.

^I don't think Chad Durbin is "done", at least not yet. JD certainly is. I think he'll pass waivers at this point and be on the AAA team.

As for Lidge on the DL, it really depends on how well he pitches when he comes back. If he pitches great afterwards then it was worth it to put him on the DL. If Lidge still isn't ready the bullpen is going to be much worse than it is now...

With good luck on our side, I think the bullpen will be fine...

A rare glimpse into the mind of Ruben Amaro Jr.

How is what happened in 5 games to start last year "historically sound reasons for concern"? I could pull any 5 game sample from last September--when the personnel was the same, MINUS Madson--and make a case that the bullpen is one of the best in baseball. And what I said about the 5 games is, pretty much, correct--the max that Lidge would throw in those games is maybe 3 IP. Maybe 1 or 2 of those, on average, will be high leverage, with little room for area. Clearly, the bullpen is better with Lidge, and he is better than the other options in those situations, assuming health and a head screwed on straight; but he's not SO much better that we want to throw him in there when he hasn't thrown for a month, in any real game situations, without either of his pitches at top speed...especially if resting him to start the season prevents a breakdown later on.

God, please don't compare me to Amaro...anything but that. Honestly, it was a silly thing to say, as it's true of any bullpen, but the thing is, our bullpen is better than last year's (on paper), we have Mathieson coming back later in the year...if you want to bash the front office, go to town on the rotation. I think the bullpen is fine. Are you forgetting we had Alfonseca CLOSING for us last year? You certainly won't be seeing that in 2008.

"If Cardenas is ready in 3 years and Utley is still solid at 2B, no way you move him [to 1B]."

Unless Howard still isn't signed long-term and the team is preparing for him to pull a Rolen.

VD STRIKES AGAIN

With reality on our side, I think the bullpen will be no better than mediocre, at best. Especially in the first week. Mediocre, of course, means league average. Last year's relief pitching league ERA was 4.08. Phils relief pitching ERA was 4.50.

Bullpen in first five games in last five years:
2003 - No blown saves, no bullpen losses
2004 - Two bullpen losses - Rheal Cormier
2005 - Three bullpen losses - Cormier, Todd Worrell, Madson
2006 - One bullpen loss - Gordon
2007 - Two bullpen losses - Madson
2008 - ?????????

I wouldn't mind seeing this year the Alfonseca that won 9 games and did the whole leg kick thing at the end of the inning...

Saved nine games... duh...

acutally i've heard rumor of Cardenas getting shifted to the outfield long term as scouts say his bat profiles as big enough for a corner OF spot. His arm however, is not strong enough for RF

I'm guessing the Yanks used adequate barrier protection tonight, based on how easily they defeated VD.

Also guessing ol' Vic's in jeopardy of another AAA season.

Goodbye JD, see ya Vic (no not the Flyin' Hawaiian). Kinda pathetic having both of these guys still around this time of spring...

"Are you forgetting we had Alfonseca CLOSING for us last year? You certainly won't be seeing that in 2008."

Maybe not, but I wouldn't say it's impossible somebody of that ilk ends up filling in the way El Pulpo did. Lidge isn't healthy yet, Gordon is healthy only for the moment. What happens if Lidge actually isn't ready for 10 games, and the Phils have to trot Gordon out there 3 days in a row? Or choose not to put that strain on his arm -- who's the backup closer then? Kdon might be OK with Madson, but that's a crapshoot, considering how often he's crapped the bed when thrust into high-pressure situations (let's not forget who was blowing those games for us last April). Romero? Cripes, we're already down to Condrey, aren't we? And what if Lidge doesn't bounce back to his previous form?

We all might have our ideas of who the FO should have signed this off-season, but many people here have made the point over and over: There were several low-cost, low-risk, guys on the market this winter (the Matt Wise type, signed for $1M on a one-year contract). If you're in the Spend More camp, there were many more options (David Riske type, signed to a multi-year pact at roughly $4M/per). Either way, the lack of MLB-ready talent paraded to the Carpenter Complex mounds this spring is nothing less than a disgrace.

Flash did have the curve working tonight.

Here's a very practical and timely example - LaTroy Hawkins. He was had for one year $3.75M by the Yankees. Watch him and Joba be the bridge to Mariano this year with painful effectiveness...

Gookie sighting...

kdon: I'd say that Madson's career OPS of .808 vs. lefties and his career OPS of .804 when pitching in the 9th inning argues that he can't. (By the way, Borowski's career OPS numbers are .705 vs. lefties and .693 in the 9th so you're ridiculously wrong on him, as usual.)

But numbers don't always tell the whole story. He doesn't have the killer pitch a closer ought to have (Hoffman's change, Wagner's fastball, Gordon's curve, Rivera's sinker etc.)

Either way, the lack of MLB-ready talent paraded to the Carpenter Complex mounds this spring is nothing less than a disgrace.

Alby, dead-on target.

Adam, I realize you retracted (somewhat) your comment about "luck", but man....you must be a college kid 'hanging with Mr. Brownstone" to have even remotely thought what you wrote. Ugh.....you and Rube.....I'll bet you'd make a great pair.

I agree with the above poster who predicted tonight's performance will keep Darensbourg off the team. I think the Bad Durbin was already gone. I also predict the Phillies will trade for or waiver claim another bullpen arm before the season opens.

Hat's off to Jason for posting the Iron Pigs roster a couple threads back. I was surprised there wasn't more comment on it. It really looks like an Indy ball team although with more recognizable veterans. Only a couple of those guys ever figure to be of any help to the big team.

Adam - You're kidding right? Lidge is eligible to come off the DL on April 5th who knows if that actually happens. I wouldn't be surprised if it comes a bit later. Lidge still has to prove that he can stay healthy (and I am willing to bet that he sees at least another trip to the DL this year).

As far as Gordon is concerned, he is done. The Phils might get some useful stretches out of him this year like they did last year for 3 weeks in Sept. but there is no way he holds up the entire season. In fact, I am willing to make a prediction (not a bold one) that Gordon goes on the DL by May 15th, doesn't give the Phils 50 innings this year, or finish with an ERA under 4.00.

Even if Lidge and Gordon were fine (including Madson and Romero), the Phils will still likely need to find at least 275+ innings from other guys in their bullpen. My bet is they get some effective relief here and there but for the most part this group will be a disaster.


Wow, I certainly didn't expect this reaction.

A few seperate thoughts:

1. About my comment concerning luck--no, I don't fully retract it. Bullpens are largely about luck. Relievers vary in performance more, year to year, than any other position on the field. Look at Rheal Cormier during his time here. Look at Lidge over the last few years--his stuff hasn't deteriorated, but he went from being top closer, to replacement level, to above average. In fact, look at every reliever we're relying on. Madson has been alternately great and mediocre. Romero's 2002 was one of the best seasons of the decade by a setup man, according to a recent article on Baseball Prospectus, yet we got him off the waiver wire, only to have him return to that form. Plenty of relievers have had years as good or better than Mariano Rivera or Trevor Hoffman, but just about none have their success year in, year out, which is what makes them HoF caliber.

Just look at last SEASON, let alone a period of years; there was tremendous in-season variance. So luck has a LOT to do with it. Gordon obviously has the injury issue, but Madson, Lidge, and Romero especially have a large range of performances in their past, and their luck as much as the bullpen makeup will define the success of the 'pen.

2. That said, you obviously want to collect some good arms, especially power arms. In what is a pretty ironic turnaround, now that Ed Wade is gone, suddenly we aren't signing ENOUGH free agent relievers. FA relievers are way overpriced (just look at the contract we gave Romero....yikes). I'll agree that not going after a guy like Matt Wise is puzzling, but with a LaTroy Hawkins, why pay $3.75 mill. when you might get a season like his 2006 (mediocre) instead of his 2007? Same with Riske--he's been inconsistent, I can't say I 100% agree with where the Phillies HAVE put that money saved, but bullpens are best built on the cheap.

Which gets me to another point: last year's bullpen was "built on the cheap," yet completely sucked, and required the services of Myers. The problem is, the Phillies are not drafting with an eye towards adding to their bullpen. I'm not advocating drafting guys destined for the bullpen right from college, but most teams manage to fill out the bullpen from within, and the Phillies have failed completely at that. The only homegrown guy in the bullpen is Madson. Hopefully Mathieson and Zagurski can come back soon. I think people are discounting the potential of one or the other coming back and giving the pen a lift.

3. About Lidge: I know you can't trust the players on this, but Lidge says he's completely healthy, and didn't expect to be put on the DL to start the season. He doesn't have a significant injury history, and the issue is more he hasn't gotten the work in he was supposed to get in ST. Take the best pitcher away from any bullpen, and you'll probably have problems. If people here are so convinced Lidge's injury situation is dire, well, maybe there is a problem, but I see no reason for that concern. In fact, for all the crap I'm getting about predicting luck being the overriding factor, everything negative being said about the season is entirely speculative, and based on bad luck--that Lidge will have trouble returning from injury, that Gordon will succumb to his shoulder woes and be ineffective, etc.

Pretty much the point I want to make is this: the bullpen isn't perfect. It isn't necessarily a strong suit, even. But on paper, it's certainly not TERRIBLE, and it's a LOT better than what we went into last year with. Given how hard it is to predict bullpens, I can't make any predictions farther than that, but it seems like everyone here has a bizarre fascination with the worst case scenario, and a very short memory overall.

(I wouldn't have posted at such length, but being accused obliquely of doing heroin--not to mention being discriminated against on the basis of my youth--got me a bit fired up)

Adam - There is some element of "luck" or variation in a bullpen. Don't disagree with that. Also agree that the Phils haven't done a good job of being able to develop bullpen pitchers.

You are placing way too much emphasis though to "luck" or variation. Go back at the career numbers for Hawkins or Riske or even Wise. Yeah there is some fluctuations in there performances from year to year but overall they have either been slightly above average to well above average generally. Plus, they don't have injury problems or a history of being overused recently.

More importantly, you are grasping at straws when trying to find strengths for this bullpen. Maybe Lidge is healthy but his numbers the past 2 years haven't been outstanding.

Your faith in Gordon is entirely misplaced. Gordon has a torn labrum, has looked poor this spring, and has essentially had 2 decent stretches of pitching (Sept. '06 and Sept. '07) since June 2006.

Just consider this. You have 39-year old who has had 2 injury plagued years (with a torn labrum) and a poor spring training. Would this reliever even be considered for a closer or primary setup role? If the Phils didn't owe him over $6M, I highly doubt it.

As for help from holdovers, again there might be some help there but I highly doubt it. Besides C. Durbin, the Phils essentially added nothing here to a group that a was a disaster last year. Maybe Mathieson or Zagurski come back to give this team a lift but neither one of these guys have proven anything at the MLB level. I frankly don't understand why everyone mentions Mathieson so much considering that he has been plagued by injuries the past 2 years and has hardly pitched.

Almost every bullpen has 1 or 2 weak arms. That would be fine if that was the case with the Phils. It isn't. They are likely to have 3 or 4 arms in there pen then can best be described as marginal all season (and yes I am putting Gordon in this group).

I can stand a lot of what was just written. With one exception.

Everything negative being said about the season is entirely speculative.

We have linked serious, sobering articles chock full of statistical analysis and probability theory about the 40 man roster to this blog. When the vast majority make the argument that Pedro Feliz is a Human Out Machine, we don't have some sort of bias toward third basemen who play in Philadelphia not named Mike Schmidt. We back up arguments with the cutting edge of baseball stats that take all factors of a game into consideration.

You seem like a smart person. That said, I recommend going to Amazon and picking up a paperback copy of any baseball book that goes into sabermetrics or advanced statistics.

Adam, get "a bit fired up". Just put down the crack pipe when you're through.

Seriously, though...you are correct in your assessment of variance in performance of bullpen pitchers.

However, when you reference pitchers like JC Romero or Madson, I think you need to seperate them from the other pieces that Ruben Gillbuckle have been trying to pass of as MLB level talent.

You don't seriously think variance in performance of a pitcher like Vic Darenbourg can be compared to Romero, do you? Romero has been more than a journeyman pitcher at the MLB level.

Madson and JD Durbin's variances? Please don't comapre those two either.

The variances in performance that the Romero and Madsons have, occur at a much higher level than the Durbins and Darensbourgs' variances. Essentially, the bad stretches are at a higher level than the bad stretces of the marginal guys.

The problem with the Phillies bullpen is that Ruben Gillbuckle has failed to construct a pen that has 7 pitchers with MLB talent. At best there are 4: Lidge, Gordon, Romero and Madson. The rest are marginal MLB talent - capable of getting hitters out for stretches, but just as likely to blow a game...or several.

That's the problem with the pen. There are only four pitchers who can be counted on, and only one of them hasn't been injured in the last 12 months.

We really don't know what we're going to be watching from the rest of the pen, implosions or mere adequacy.

(And this is a Condrey fan posting, but I'm not delusional about the level of talent he possesses.)

MG, nice post. You beat me to it.

That said, the Giants IF is a mess right now particularly Fransen going done today. I know there isn't much interest in Helms but still wonder if the Phils wouldn't be able to work out something for a guy like Kline (know he isn't great but he clearly would be upgrade over a guy like Darensbourg).

Adam - I agree though that this bullpen does have the potential to be "ok" if there top 4 (Lidge, Gordon, Romero, Madson) guys can stay healthy/effective. It just isn't happening.

This bullpen will also probably be better than the one that started last year but that is not exactly setting the bar high. Phils' arguably had one of the worst bullpens to start the year last year and it completely melted down in April.

Last point on last year's bullpen in April:

Went back and looked quick. I was surprised to find that overall the bullpen last year didn't post horrible stats in April. Geary, Madson, and El Pulpo actually pitched relatively well for the month.

The problem was the Smith couldn't throw any strikes (or get anyone out for that matter), Gordon was a mess, and the rest of the bullpen struggled.

So basically, I see a repeat this April (mixed results overall because the Phils will likely only have 2-3 effective arms in the pen again). Maybe Lidge changes the equation.

Have to wait and see I guess but an opening day bullpen of Gordon, Madson, Romero, C. Durbin, Condrey, Some Dude (acquired for A Dude to be named later by Gillick) looks eerily similiar to last season's Opening Day subpar bullpen.

Adam: First of all, don't be scared off by the response. This isn't one of those blogs where rooting for the home team overrides critical analysis; nothing will get you shot down faster than voicing vague hopes that things will turn out OK. Think of this as a hazing.

Now let's talk about "luck." When Gordon has to be shut down, will it be "bad luck" or an easy-to-predict result of pitching with a labrum tear? If Romero reverts to his 2006 form, will that be "bad luck," or a reasonable probability based on his past performance? And so on.

The frustration among Beerleaguers comes from the apparent belief in the front office that it's OK to build a major-league team -- a contending team, mind you, not some space-filling garbage barge like Pittsburgh or KC -- by trusting to luck. The way real front offices operate is by building some depth. It's a rare team that gets through a season with fewer than 18 pitchers these days -- 7-8 starters and 10-11 relievers. Who is Philadelphia's 10th reliever? We don't know, because he has yet to be released by his current team.

That is no way to construct a contending team.

I can't say that I'm thrilled to have Gordo closing again, but if he shows up as the same pitcher that he was at the end of last season, it won't be that bad. On the other hand, if he looks similar to the beginning of last season or the end of 2006, it will be a long 6 days until Lidge returns. I'm certainly glad that the Nats are the opening series and not the Mets or Braves (or any other team that is expected to contend).

If Lidge is ready come April 5th, that's only 5 games Gordon will blow assuming we have the lead. Gosh, I can't believe Gordon and Eaton make something around a combined 14 million dollars...disgusting!

Alby: This is so good and so on target, it must be reposted:

"The frustration among Beerleaguers comes from the apparent belief in the front office that it's OK to build a major-league team -- a contending team, mind you, not some space-filling garbage barge like Pittsburgh or KC -- by trusting to luck. The way real front offices operate is by building some depth. It's a rare team that gets through a season with fewer than 18 pitchers these days -- 7-8 starters and 10-11 relievers. Who is Philadelphia's 10th reliever? We don't know, because he has yet to be released by his current team.

That is no way to construct a contending team."

In this discussion of picking up the tenth (and eleventh?) reliever(s?) off the waiver wire, I had a thought (yeah, that actually happens occasionally) overnight. My recollection is that waiver claims are made in draft order. So, to pick up a relief pitcher at the end of ST, he has to have passed by all the other NL teams other than Arizona. If it's an AL team, he has to have cleared the entire AL. So, basically, any guy we get will be "Some Very Unwanted Dude."

If that recollection is correct, we might be better off, at this point, getting VD...

Which then leads to the question: during the off-season, when Riske, Wise, Mahay, Knight, et al were still available, did Gillick spend too much time partying as "Client Number 10?"

It's nice to arrive at work just in time for a 4-4 game in the ninth.

Andy: Your description of how the waiver claim system works is correct.

Here's my fantasy: Helms for Tyler Yates. The Braves are oversupplied in the pen and are looking for a decent bench bat. Yates is out of options and (according to Rotoworld) is the reliever most likely to be traded.

Yates isn't very good, of course, but he does get righties out and would be fine as an 11th or 12th man in the pen. And would allow Helms to brag that the Phils got more in a trade for him than for Abreu.

I'd take Yates for Helms.

Good stuff in this thread. Put me in the pessimist column. I have no faith in:
Luck
Gillick
Amaro, Jr.
Flash Gordon
Lidge being 100% on April 5th
Eaton
Dos Durbins, and
All the rest of the bullpen arms.

Ha ha

LF:
In the "no faith in" list you may wish to include

the Phils ability to find anyone worth paying on the waiver wire (especially when picking second last)

And, LF: surely you have Some faith in Some Dude?

Bad news for the Zag: On the Phils website: Zagurski may need left elbow surgery

He's how the starting pitching rotation lines up againt the Phils in the home opening series at Shea:

Tues 4/8 Pedro
Wed 4/9 Ollie Perez
Thurs 4/10 John Maine

Hey QueensMetsFan...

That was discussed at some length in a previous thread. Imagine... a Met being behind ;-)

Good point Andy. So it comes down to whether or not we'd choose "Some Very Unwanted Dude" or VD. I'd have to imagine that the Mets are quaking in anticipation of that decision. Let's play ball!

"it might make sense to go with a six-man bench rather than cart around an extra pitcher everyone knows will stink."

That's like going to a junkie on the street and saying "it might make sense to not shoot up." The Phils are going to go with 12 pitchers, regardless of logic, baseball history, and poor bullpen results from multiple years of such a large staff. Manuel wouldn't know what to do with six guys on the bench, anyway.

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