So it looks like Danys Baez will win back his job in the Phillies bullpen.
A few weeks ago, I made a bet that if Baez makes the team, I’d order a custom Baez jersey and wear it to every game this season. Guess I’ll go with the batting practice reds. Baez pitched another strong inning yesterday and hasn’t walked a batter in 3 1-3 innings.
What’s worse than shelling out coin to have a small-time journeyman on my back is knowing that even after seven years, I’m making the same old mistakes, none greater than overvaluing prospects in the dead of winter. Justin De Fratus, Scott Mathieson, Mike Stutes – nice prospects and all – but none of them have the right amount of polish to overthrow a seasoned vet in spring training, especially on a team vying for it all. Not to mention that, historically, breaking in as a reliever has been harder than it has for starters. When was the last time a Phillies prospect bullied his way into the bullpen picture? You’d have to go all the way back to Ryan Madson, who was eased onto the club through the ‘pen in 2004, only to flop as a starter in 2006. After that, how does Geoff Geary grab you? And after Geary, one could make a reasonable case for Antonio Bastardo. The Phillies have been far more successful at grooming starters with any kind of staying power: Brett Myers, Cole Hamels, J.A. Happ, Kyle Kendrick among them. Barring a meltdown, Kendrick will make the squad as their longman.
Meanwhile, there’s a never-ending list of hot-handed relief prospects who’ve come and gone, and more than a few from this “Mathieson” class will inevitably join them. At least I didn’t pre-order a Zagurski jersey.