Right-hander Tim Lahey, a converted catcher who has never pitched in the Majors, was claimed off waivers from the Cubs. Utility veteran Chris Woodward, who had been in Yankees camp, signed a minor league deal. In other news, J.D. Durbin, infielder Ray Olmedo and outfielder Chris Snelling were outrighted to Triple-A Lehigh Valley.
(From a Phillies news release) Lahey, 26, went to Spring Training with Chicago after being selected in December's Rule 5 Draft from Minnesota and appeared in 11 spring games. He was originally drafted by Minnesota in 2004 as a catcher and was converted to a pitcher after the season. Last year between Double-A New Britain and Triple-A Rochester, Lahey went 8-4 with 14 saves and a 3.65 ERA in 52 games.
Woodward, 31, hit .393 (11-28) in 15 games this spring for the Yankees. He spent last season with Atlanta and has also played for the Mets (2005-06) and Blue Jays (1999-2004), who originally drafted him in 1994. In 607 career games, Woodward has a .243 average with 33 home runs and 186 RBI. He has played every position on the diamond except pitcher and catcher.
Beerleaguer: Spring training experimentation will spill into the regular season, as our scouting department strikes again with yet another Rule 5 shot in the dark. Lahey, a big ox at 6-5, 250, has been added to the 25-man roster and will serve as the last man in the bullpen, at least temporarily. Today's transactions also mean Wes Helms will be on the team, barring a last-minute trade.
As usual, the Phils fill a need with the bare-minimum, and someone completely out of the blue. According to Cubs' officials after December’s draft, Lahey has "tremendous life on his fastball, a great sinking fastball and the makings of a good slider." He sounds a lot like fellow Rule-5er Lincoln Holdzkom, whom the Phillies let go earlier in camp. Only Holdzkom had more experience.
Moves like these are why we spend so much time pissing and moaning on this site. Performance, experience, success is absolutely, positively secondary to scouting reports. This move absolutely reeks of Phillies. They see something they like and assume everyone else got it wrong. It isn’t possible to be more disappointed in how the Phillies handled this.
The Woodward signing is interesting. He was an awful hitter last season (39 OPS+). There’s only a marginal difference between Woodward and Eric Bruntlett overall. They’re both right-handed and play multiple positions. Bruntlett is the better middle infielder. I don’t think Bruntlett has trade value, and I like Bruntlett better, but I definitely look at Woodward as a precursor for something – perhaps a move involving Wes Helms. Woodward, who signed a minor league deal, gives them another reservist who can man the corners.
Update: Olmedo refused his minor league assignment, according to the Inquirer. That's probably the main reason why Woodward is here.