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Monday, March 21, 2011

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This could be the fastest Spring Training game of all-time.

HighCheese tweets:

Jose Contreras has a corneal abrasion and will miss a few days, per Phillies

Is Ibanez the bad guy in WWE wrestling now?

ESPN says the Angels are looking for a 5th starter since Kazmir looks cooked. THey are also lousy with middling middle infielders. Kendrick for Marcier Izturis?

Good eye there by BenFran. He'll be our starting RF this year.

Coste to work some pre and post game on CSN according to philly.com.

Good for Coste.

JBird: KK might help us get Callaspo, but not Izturis.

I'd love it if we got Callaspo.

Add Francisco vs. Teixeira to the list of upcoming fights (Hamels vs. Hall was first on the list). Reports David Murphy:

Here's one of those he-said, she-said stories I hate to cover as a reporter. But Mark Teixeira apparently was upset with Ben Francisco yesterday after the Phils' outfielder ran into him on the base path. I made a mental note of the moment when it happened. Teixeira was obviously mad. He gave Francisco a pretty hard stare-down as the outfielder ran back to the dugout. Of course, Francisco's back was toward him.

"That's not a hustle play, there is no reason for it," Teixeira said of the contact the two made after the first baseman fielded a weak ground ball yesterday and waited for him in the base line. "He could hurt me or he could hurt himself. That's not baseball."

So, whatever. I'm sure I'll have to stand in front of Francisco and get his reaction today. Because somebody out there likes this sort of stuff.

*******************

I saw the play live and was surprised by the contact. It wasn't much, but Benny was a dead duck going down the first base line.

Doc is DEALING.

Luis Castillo has already succeeded in turning CJ into me. I hope he is as successful at transforming the Phillies' offense.

Callaspo is entering his Age 28 season and he's posted the following line over the past 3 seasons

.286 AVG/.335 OBP/.743 OPS.

That's far above what our current options would give us.

Was at the ballpark McFaddens on Friday. There is an awesome banner of Doc hanging over the 3rd base gate entrance, reads CY YOUNG WINNER and stretches pretty much across the entire entrance. An awesome surprise when you first see it.

Pitchers batting for the first time this spring. Halladay lays down a bad bunt (too hard to the pitcher), but Lester fails on the throw and Schneider is safe at 2nd.

This would be a great bunting situation for Castilla if he were there.

Replay shows Schneider was out at 2nd, bad call from the ump. 1st and 2nd, no one out and the lead off hitter, Victorino, lays down a sac bunt to move Schneider and Halladay up.

The RBI opportunity goes to? Michael Martinez. Here we go.

"Any thoughts on stashing Garrett Atkins in Allentown for a few weeks and see what happens? Might be nice to be able to stick Polanco and 2B and Atkins at third if he can find his swing."

Why not? On a MiL deal he represents little or no risk. Chances are that with Utley's health he could see some playing time if Charlie moved Polly back to 2B. He's a RH bat who's also tall enough to play 3B.

awh: How did Valdez age 2 years between 2008-2009?

goody, it was a typo. should have been "Through 2007" not 2008.

And Martinez does his job. Charlie will be smiling. He flies out to right and gets the run home.

I don't think we'll see Vic sac bunting at the top of the order very often this year, but maybe this is the new Phillies.

And Rollins goes down looking.

How did we get our run?

Schneider walk. Halladay sac bunt, force out throw at second a little wide, ump made bad call with Schneider safe. Vic sac bunt. Martinez sac fly.

Just how you draw it up!

@lorecore

Which was several months ago for me. It's been up there all offseason!

Pedroia lines one to right field... whoa, what's that? Snared by Howard. Hardest hit ball by the Sox so far.

Chicks dig the small ball

My sources have just twiddled me that Utley's Corpse will recieve Ted Williams surgery as soon as Amaro decides which player in the organization will be decapitated to recieve Utley's Head. No word on the rehab time.

And Ortiz gets the Sox first hit on a liner to center. Close to being caught, but tough liner for Vic.

Doc gets out of the inning after a liner to third is snared. Some harder hit balls that inning, but just one hit and one walk through 4 for Halladay.

Lester is on pace for the dreaded no-hitter loss. I call it The Andy Hawkins.

Ibanez can't catch up to 91mph fastballs.

I think pitchers were batting last week as Lee got a base hit on Thursday. But even so, I was wondering why don't they spend more time in spring training on hitting instruction for the pitchers? They are so often up when they could do some damage in games during the regular season. Also definitely they should spend more time on the art of the sacrifice bunt. As far as I can tell, only Oswalt is a good bunter of the Phillies pitchers. We are talking about the need for more small ball and manufactured runs for the Phils this year.

NEPP - Nothing new there. He couldn't handle fastballs that were belt-high in the 90s most of last year either.

awh: Maybe Valdez lied about his age when he was 14 to get signed. He is now just entering his prime.

PhilliesDude - Hamels is too. You kind of expect Lee & Halladay to struggle just given their sheer lack of practice & experience. Blanton is really the only guy who probably should have improved by now but still stinks.

Red Sox tie it up on a sac fly of their own. Good throw from RF by Francisco, but Schneider closed his glove early it seems and the ball squirted away. Initially called out, but then called safe when the ump saw the ball.

Vic down..super.

Vic and Raul collide. Swell.

OMG...

Shane Victorino is down. May have caught an Ibanez knee to the head. Bad collision going for a short pop up.

1. Callaspo would be an upgrade, but he will not come cheap. My guess: Angels will want more for him than Phils are willing to give.

2. Brandon Wood is the AL version of Andy LaRoche except now LaRoche is in the AL too so we need another comparison.

3. If there's anything that truly sucks about the Phils offense with Werth and Utley gone, it is their OB. Neither Young nor Orr nor Mini-Mart nor Valdez is capable of an OB above .310. Castillo can do .340 asleep. If he's healthy this season (he wasn't last year) he could do .360. I'm guessing that's why RAJ is taking a chance on him. He gets 10 days to prove himself and if he doesn't impress, he's gone.

4. Reading between the lines on Charlie's comments in today's papers, I'd say he's lobbying RAJ pretty hard to get another player, either RF or 2B.

The Hawaiian is down!

Looks like Vic took an elbow to the head. He has a cut above his eye, but he's up and smiling.

That could have been A LOT worse.

He's got a hard head. He'll be OK.

MG, Joe Blanton hit a HR in the WFS! :)

He rakes.

He's cut! He's cut! The Hawaiian is cut!

Thx MG - and Blanton should def try to improve because they are often down a run or two when he come to the plate for his first at bat.

clout: good post. I think the Angels would rather part with Izturis before Callaspo.

I learned earlier today from Beerleaguer that Josh Barfield can only play 2B and LF. Which is confusing because in today's spring game, he just moved from 3B to CF after Vic got hurt.

Someone should tell Charlie.

PhilliesDude - Moyer was actually probably the best bunter on the team last year although Oswalt is pretty good too. KK is 'ok' but he seem to struggle at it too at times.

lorecore: Why would they part with Izturis first? Izturis is their starter. Callaspo is a backup.

PD: Halladay said he got his black eye the other week when the pitching machine malfunctioned while he was practicing bunting,so at least one guy is working on it. I have the feeling that nobody would believe Bret Myers if he gave that excuse.

CJ: Barfield has played 3 games in CF in the minors and 31 at 3B. He is below average defensively everywhere, but probably more below average at those two spots.

Doc does it all... ends the no-hitter.

clout: Sure... but he plays them. Luis Castillo only plays 2nd. Which was my point when I was told Barfield only plays 2B and LF.

I'm not sure I'd pick Barfield over Castillo for this team, but it's close.

Callaspo was not very well liked by the fans when he was on Arizona - especially after his arrest for beating up his wife although the charges did get dropped. The Diamondbacks shipped him away at the end of that year.

Goody: With good reason because Myers was a lousy bunter.

PhilliesDude: "especially after his arrest for beating up his wife although the charges did get dropped."

Commonly known as The Brett Myers around these parts.

CJ: I read the Angels are going to start Aybar over Izturis at SS, and Callaspo to start at 3B. And Izturis is making $7M over the next two seasons.

CJ: Izturis has never started more than 87 games at a position in a single season in his career, and that was back in 2006.

He's really a super-sub guy, usually gets 300-350 ABs at 3B-SS-2B. He will not be the starter at 3B.

lorecore: Where'd you read that? LA Times reported just yesterday that Izturis and Aybar were atop the depth chart at 3rd and short with Callaspo as the backup.

CJ: No question Barf is more versatile than Castillo. I still think this move is all about OB, a skill neither Barf nor any of the other options possess.

I suppose I read it wrong... I'll have to go back and find it. The article suggested that Callaspo may be let go since his contract isn't guaranteed if the Angels wanted to hold on to Wood (who is out of options). Hard to believe they'd just release their starting 3rd baseman.

Can we just agree that all of our utility IF options pretty much suck?

This is like comparing different piles of dung and saying "Well, that one is less green and doesn't smell as bad".

CJ: RotoAuthority - so based of fantasy implications moreso than team press.

NEPP: I've never suggested otherwise... but Castillo ISN'T A UTILITY INFIELDER. He's a no-hit, no-field second baseman. That's all I'm trying to say.

clout: I get that... I just think his negatives outweigh his one positive.

Re: Francisco/Teixeira, it looked to me like Ben was slowing up and then stumbled as he got close, resulting in kind of running into him to brace himself. I think it's much ado about nothing.

For those unable to watch and follow, what is going on with Vic? Did they take him out? Are there any reports on an injury?

Ibanez knocks in J-Roll who got to third after a Howard single and a steal of third. Phils lead 2-1 with runners on 1st and 2nd.

Does Blanton really have that much value to net anyone of significance? And I'm not too keen on continually selling off the farm system to try and keep the creaky ship a float.

Unless Rollins, Ibanez, and Howard revert to yesteryear, the offense is going to be pretty average. Odds are its going to be pretty frustrating.

Now a mediocre offense took the Giants to the title on the backs of superior pitching, but the Giants got the clutch hits in September and October.

I think you have to go to war with the current roster and see what happens.

Personally for the right deal I'd trade anyone on the team not named Halladay or Hamels with an eye on 2012 and beyond.

krukker: Took an Ibanez elbow above the eye in an OF collision. Vic sustained a cut over his eye, but was up smiling after laying on the field for a minute or two. He was taken back to the clubhouse, but it doesn't appear serious.

"Luke Hochevar named Royals Opening Day starter." - wow that's bad.

At least, I want superior defense out of any sub infielder - especially anyone filling in for Utley. Our pitching staff should keep us in many, many games this year. I think they and the Phillies deserve to know that the double play is going to be turned and some balls hit in the hole are going to wind up being outs. I'm prepared for somewhat less offense this year, I know our outfield won't be as good defensively w/o Werth, I'm not ready to give up defense in the infield.

Stark tweets:

One slight difference between Chase Utley & Luis Castillo: Castillo 33 XBH TOTAL over last 3 yrs. Utley 34 by all-star break in '09!

CJ: If Castillo is no-hit, what the hell do you call orr/barfield/martinez?

And Barfield knocks in two runs with a soft liner to left field. That's 4 runs through 5 1/3 against Lester with the bases loaded.

And that's it for Lester. Not a bad day for the Phils offense considering how effective Lester was for the first 4 innings.

lorecore: Do you see me clamoring for Orr/Barfield/Martinez to start at 2B?!?!? I accept that we'll have a no-hit player on our bench. I'd prefer that he could play more than one position.

Phils say Victorino left the game with a left eye bruise and a sore jaw.

CJ: If Castillo is "no-hit", how does he have a higher OBP over the last 3 years than Ryan Howard?

CJ: Other than possibly Martinez, none of the other more versatile options are going anywhere. If someone gets hurt and we need that sort of versatility, they're a bus ride away.

You've got a cheap lottery ticket that Castillo may bounce back from his disastrous Mets career. What's the harm in seeing how that pans out?

Jack:

Ryan Howard OPS: .881, .931, .859
Luis Castillo OPS: .660, .732, .604

You can peddle stupid somewhere else. I'm not buying.

Roy Halladay is probably the most professional pitcher I've ever watched pitch. He does EVERYTHING right.

Will: I've told you the harm. He sucks and still makes the team. I have ZERO confidence in Luis Castillo. I hope I'm wrong, for the sake of the Phillies. I hope I'll have to eat my words.

Frankly, I think Ryan Howard's contract is the sole cause of all the problems this team is having right now.

Doc is cruising through 7 IP with 5 H, 1 BB, 1 ER. Had said he wanted to go 100 pitches today. That could mean a complete game!

CJ: Please. I understand that. My point was that Castillo DOES do something well--get on base (which happens to kind of important).

As Clout said, Castillo has the potential to provide something that this team lacks--a patient hitter that gets on base. That's more than any other guy vying for that spot can claim.

Again, please explain how someone who is "no-hit" can have a higher OBP than the current best hitter in the lineup?

NEPP: No matter how pessimistic I might seem, there's really very few things as enjoyable as watching Doc pitch.

He's an absolute master.

Definitely clout. Without Howard's $20 million, we'd easily have traded for Cano, kept Werth and picked up Hanley Ramirez as a utility infielder.

Can Castillo play great defense? Met fans are all saying he has limited range and spark out at second base. Maybe they,re pre-disposed against him...I don't know. I didn't see him enough last year.

I loved watching Doc pitch as a BlueJay. Watching him pitch in Phillies Red is just fantastic. Even a year later and its still an event every time he takes the mound.

Was the run that Doc gave up today his first of the pre-season?

When the Phils acquired Francisco, the scouting report on him was that he was above average defensively in the corners and league-average in CF.

Yet he's never looked very good defensively here and over the past 2 years his UZR has been sucky, although that may be more of a small sample size problem.

I wonder if the reports were off or if he's just declined in the field.

I think the reports were off. BenFran was weak even right after the trade. His instincts are terrible.

Jack: I'm not having this discussion with you. It's about as stupid as you get. Perhaps we should just have a lineup full of Luis Castillo's and his awesome OBP. I mean, it was only 16 points lower than Howard's OBP last year.

You've reached idiot stage with your defense of Castillo. And that's my last comment on Howard vs. Castillo.

Clout: I've wondered that too. He seemed like he should be a plus defensive guy, but he hasn't been here. My guess is that he's declined.

I've seen (though don't have a link to) major studies that show that defense declines earlier than offense--which makes intuitive sense, given that it's based more on pure athleticism. Using a variety of defensive stats (which if you're wary of, you'll obviously be wary of this as well, which is warranted) all show peaks in the mid-20s, which is earlier than hitters peak (late 20s).

PhilliesDude: Castillo's range has become significantly limited over the last few years. His UZR/150 over the last three seasons is -5.1.

PhilliesDude: From what I've read, Castillo no longer has any range at 2B. Three-year UZR confirms a decline. The question is how much of a decline has it been? That's why we need to see him play every day for 10 days.

CJ: Step off the ledge my man. Why are you freaking about Luis Castillo? I don't get it. Plenty of other people have made this same point--he brings at least something to the table, he can get on base. No one else in the competition brings anything. So the Phils are giving him a chance.

Is this like a Davthom thing where you have a personal connection to Michael Martinez or something?

Damn, CJ, can I get a can of that vitriol the next time I write mt congressman about the deficit?

Castillo in uniform tomorrow morning per Rube.

We'll see him every day until then.

Rube just said he'll release him if he doesn't show anything.

The way Rube is talking about Martinez, it sounds like we'll try to hold onto him.

Bad news for D. Young and Barfield?

Jack's just messing with you at this point, CJ.

Doc just freezes the hitter with a sinking fastball for the K...just freezes him.

And Doc is done after 8.2 IP.

CJ: Think of Castillo this way: In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.

The thing that this team sucks at right now is OB. Outside of Howard & Chooch and to a lesser extent, Ibanez, they got nothin.'

Now if Castillo's glove has decayed as much as the Mets fans say, then his OB won't be worth the tradeoff. That's what we need to find out.

Jack: I've stated my point rather clearly. Folks keep questioning me on it. I don't keep bringing it up.

Luis Castillo would be a worse choice to start than Wilson Valdez. Valdez has a much better glove and his slugging is higher.

Luis Castillo is a bad bench choice because he has no defensive versatility and has sulked in the past when not an every day player.

That's what I'm saying. I'm not sure why it's so hard to understand.

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