Clay Condrey and Chris Coste are learning that when you're the last man on a championship roster, everyone is gunning for you.
I've consulted a leading publication for help in predicting the seasons of Condrey and Coste. According to Field & Stream, Condrey will bag two quail, one whitetail, two turkey and a goose this year. They're expecting bigger things from Coste. The magazine sees the North Dakota native bagging an elk, grouse and mortally wounding a prairie dog, with Coste performing better in the freshwater fishing category, where he is expected to reel in a 19-pound walleye from the mighty Missouri. Condrey maxes out with a modest black bass caught using some crankbait down in the Texas Panhandle.
The road-game roomies may be big-game hunters in the real world, but they're hunted inside the boundaries of their own team. Coste is locked in a battle for catcher with Ronny Paulino, with Lou Marson pounding on the door. Considering how much time the other bench candidates are getting - players such as Marcus Giles, John Mayberry and others - it's tough to picture a scenario where Charlie Manuel breaks camp with three catchers. Think about the severe drop in Coste's productivity last season; his 36-year-old bat is no longer enough to save him from the causalities of roster war.
Condrey is in a safer place, but not by much. The big Texan managed to do something he never did before in sticking with a Major League roster all season. He did so because he never screwed up badly enough or long enough to be put on waivers. In fact, he was perfectly adequate, posting some of the best groundball totals on the team. You'd think his 69-inning, 3.26 ERA performance would buy him immunity. It does, but to what extent is it canceled out by the presence of capable veteran righties Gary Majewski, Mike Koplove, along with a handful of talented prospects?
For Coste and Condrey, the comforts of 2008 could turn into a most dangerous game in 2009.