The 32-year-old right-hander returns to the states after spending the last three seasons in Japan. GM Ruben Amaro Jr. announced the minor league signing today.
Vogelsong, a fifth-round selection of the Giants in the 1998 draft, went 10-22 with a 5.86 ERA in 120 games (30 starts) over a six-year career with San Francisco and Pittsburgh. He pitched on and off with the Orix Buffalos in 2009, taking time off midseason for a paternity leave and was given his official release in December. Before that, he had a good thing going with Hanshin, posting a 4.08 ERA in 32 starts between 2007-08. A product of Octorara Area High School in Atglen, Pa., and also Kutztown University in beautify Kutztown, Pa., he had been making his home in Rokko Island, Kobe, Japan.
Beerleaguer: I actually saw Vogelsong pitch when I was in Japan, but that’s another story. Always great when local guys join the fray; this will make Beerleaguer's senior coorespondent, a KU booster, very happy indeed. Now, here’s the interesting part: According to Amaro (via Jim Salisbury), Vogelsong will be in the mix for the final starter's job, along with Andrew Carpenter. I would be shocked if he's anywhere other than Lehigh Valley next season, but it's interesting that he's starting to name names.
Phillies stretching their dollar to fill in the gaps: Over the holiday, a lot of people asked my take on the Halladay deal. Most sentiments echoed the negative reaction I’ve heard the last month on talk radio during my commute from hell. My response is that I’m always skeptical of the popular opinion and that the Cliff Lee portion of the trade involved a number of complex factors, but that I see both sides of the argument.
My inner contrarian would like to take the same approach to a pair of earlier signings: Juan Castro, met with disdain, and Brian Schneider, accepted with aplomb. Castro, being the last man off the bench, is never, ever going to play. Eric Bruntlett never played. Neither did So Taguchi. In fact, Castro might play even less than those two since Placido Polanco can slide over to second. The Phillies, paper-thin with infield depth, sunk $750,000 into Castro’s glove, which can be used all around the infield. Other teams paid significantly more for the same tools (Omar Vizquel, $1.35M; Alex Cora, $2M; John McDonald, $1.5M). By his own standards, he hit well last year, posting a .277/.311/.339 (76 OPS+) in 121 plate appearances. Anything he provides offensively will be a bonus; the Phils added 2009 pinch hitting league leader Ross Gload to take care of that. He’ll join Greg Dobbs, who led the league with 35 pinch hits a year earlier. Meanwhile, people seem to believe the Phils added a starting catcher in Schneider. Don’t get me wrong; Schneider was a good get at two-years, $2.75 million, but age, injuries and that sub-Castro 67 OPS+ in ’09 suggest otherwise.
Counting today’s $5.25M, two-year announcement of Danys Baez, and the Phillies have invested just under $6 million for a utility infielder, a good pinch hitter, experienced catcher and eighth-inning reliever. That’s stretching your dollar.