Wednesday, December 12, 2007

So I've been in Australia the past four months...did I miss anything good?

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Did Andy Ashby Clear Waivers?

If Adam Eaton starts another game this year for the Phillies (and he will, of course), then it's pretty clear to me that this organization has no idea of what it takes to field a team that can pick up the extra handful of wins necessary in order to go from a squad that is "competitive, exciting, and likable (all great things, by the way), but with just enough deficiencies to miss out on the wild card in the final week yet again" to a team with a historically awesome offensive attack and just enough non-horrible pitching to play some meaningful baseball games into October.

I don't love relying solely on ERA to make a point (we've evolved past that), but I think Eaton's horrible ERA serves as a simple way to get across the basic premise of the post: Adam Eaton stinks at pitching right now.

Eaton in 2007 (as of 8/11): 94 earned runs allowed in 133 innings pitched - 6.36 ERA

The Phillies pitching staff in 2007: 545 earned runs allowed in 1042 innings pitched- 4.71 ERA

According to Baseball Prospectus, the average pitcher in the National League has an ERA of 4.32. This doesn't account for starters vs. relievers and all kinds of other important variables, but, again, it's simple and I'm lazy so it will have to do for now.

If we completely eliminated Adam Eaton from the 2007 Philadelphia Phillies, the team ERA would drop from 4.71 to 4.46. If Eaton was replaced by a hypothetical league average pitcher, the team ERA would drop from 4.71 to 4.44. By the way, starters who fit the statistical mold of "league average pitcher" based solely on ERA (important caveat) and our self-imposed innings pitched quota (around the 133 Eaton has pitched) include Wandy Rodriguez (4.34 ERA, 139 IP), Jarrod Washburn (4.30, 142.1), Carlos Silva (4.30, 150.2), and James Shields (4.32, 164.7) - no real point to naming names other than to establish some frame of reference.

Check out this list of starting pitchers...or occasional starting pitchers: Cliff Lee, Rick Vanden Hurk, Wes Obermueller, Rob Tejeda, Horacio Ramirez, Vicente Padilla, Jose Contreras, Jae Seo, and Casey Fossum.

Those nine men are the only pitchers in baseball with lower VORPs lower than Adam Eaton's -10.4 (minimum 50 IP).

If Adam Eaton starts another game this year for the Phillies (and he will, of course), then it's pretty clear to me that this organization exists solely to make enough idiotic decisions that all but force me to dust off this old web address and vent to an audience of a dozen loyal (crazy?) readers.

By the way, the team has been playing great baseball lately and I'm very optimistic about their postseason chances at this point. At the very least, they've had a string of some of the most entertaining games I've seen in a long while. So excuse the sporadic nature of my posting, excuse the negativity of this particular post, and join me in enjoying a team handicapped by all kinds of injuries as they make yet another push for the postseason.

I like to end on a positive note when I can. Go Phillies.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Damn, this team can really hit.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Trade Rumor

Latest rumor has Kyle Lohse and David Weathers coming over from Cincinnati for a package of prospects to patch the Phillies holes in the rotation and back of the bullpen, respectively. This one appears to have legs, but who the heck knows...

Monday, July 09, 2007


If you haven't seen it yet, do yourself a favor and check it out. I don't know how long any one link will last what with the YouTube police going crazy after MLB broadcasts, so hopefully you'll get a chance to watch the tarp video (or one of the other tribute videos already popping up) soon.

Friday, June 29, 2007


Ryan Howard is the fastest man to ever play baseball to hit 100 homeruns in the major leagues. The man hit 100 homers faster than anybody else in the history of the sport and it's not even close...unless you consider a 60 game difference close. Damn...Howard is a tremendous power hitter, no doubt about it. As #100 sailed over the batter's eye in center, I got to thinking about Howard's future. Ryan Howard is 27 years old.

How many homeruns does he finish his career with? Any guesses?

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Joe Savery 2.0

I love the pick of Savery and it makes perfect sense to make comparisons between this year's first rounder and the Cole Hamels/Kyle Drabek duo.

As I'm sure 98% of my reading public knows, I follow all four major sports teams in Philly pretty closely. When you watch enough sports and obsess about it like so many Philly sports fans do, it gets easy to spot a well run organization from an incompetent one. It's easy to make the comparison between the well-oiled machine that is the Philadelphia Eagles front office/ownership group and the rusty outdated model of the Phillies, but it works in almost all areas when considering how the two teams are run. With one exception, of course - the way the two teams approach drafting.

To their credit, the Phillies have approached the past few drafts with Joe Banner's draft mantra in mind - value, value, value. Picking in the second half of the first round year after year is a real challenge for any pro sports franchise, and the best way to succeed is by thinking outside the box and taking calculated gambles on talented players sliding down the board. You don't get such obvious talents as Cole Hamels and Kyle Drabek where the Phillies got them without good reason; Hamels fell due to injury concerns and Drabek slipped due to worries about his bad makeup. Savery's arm is major league quality, but it was no surprise to see him slip in the draft because of the questions concerning his recovery from surgery to remove a bone growth from his labrum.

Joe Savery is a very good baseball player. Here are some of the basics...

Close to major league ready? I'd let him take the rest of 2007 off after he finishes up with Rice, then start him in Lakewood or Clearwater next year depending on how he progresses in the offseason. It's no stretch to say that if he's healthy, he could be in the big league rotation by the end of the 2009 season. I'll say that a timetable like that is worth of a check. Check.

Good size? 6-3, 215? Check.

Lefthanded? I'm a sucker for young lefties, you can really never have enough. Check.

Athletic? Savery gets high marks across the board for his athleticism and would have been a legit prospect as a first baseman with pop even if he didn't pitch (though obviously not a first rounder). Check.

His velocity was down after the surgery, but he has been quoted as saying he's had his fastball clocked in the mid-9os again as his arm has rounded back into shape. Prior to the injury, he sat 91-93 MPH and could touch the mid-90s; a return to that velocity makes him a heck of a lot more interesting. He also has a plus-plus changeup (and thus the comparison to Hamels) that really is a special pitch and a curveball that rates a 60 on the 20-80 scouting scale (pretty damn good). A three-pitch mix like that with the potential to command all three for consistent strikes? I'm excited.

So now that I've built Savery up into this great pitching prospect, how in the world did he fall to 19th overall? Not only that, but why do some fans I've already heard from consider selecting him at 19 an ugly overdraft? What's his flaw? Broken arm in high school like Hamels? Attitude problems like Drabek? To put it simply: injuries, injuries, injuries. He's damaged goods. He's a pitcher from Rice, a school with a weak recent history of protecting their most talented arms. That's the argument against, but take a deep breath - I have good news.

His combination of fastball-changeup-curveball does not portend future arm woes, especially the way he emphasizes the use of his fastball and change. His mechanics are a thing of beauty, so pretty that it is hard to imagine his easily repeatable delivery putting any additional undue stress on his arm.

I know this all sounds overwhelmingly positive, but if you can't be positive on draft day when can you be? Savery isn't the perfect pitching prospect, but he's got enough positives to be plenty excited that he is now a member of the organization...or will be when he gets signed.

Joe Savery

Joe Savery, lefthanded pitcher from Rice, is the Phillies first round pick in 2007. I like the pick. A lot. I'll elaborate later, but pick 37 is quickly approaching. It figures that the Phillies will look towards the high school ranks, probably hoping to grab the top hitter left on their board. Who is still out there? Tons of fun names to consider, here's a long list of guys that I ought to condense but won't because I'm lazy.

Also, my goal this year is to shadow draft for all of the Phillies picks - with my number one pick, I take RHSP Michael Main. Just for fun.

Matt Harvey
Josh Smoker
Kyle Blair

Brett Cecil
Todd Frazier
Julio Borbon
Matt Mangini
Sean Doolittle
Josh Donaldson
Mitch Canham
Kyle Russell

Michael Burgess
Yasmani Grandal
Kentrail Davis
Travis d'Arnaud
Justin Jackson

Josh Horton
Neil Ramirez
Kellen Kulbacki
Cole St. Clair
Nevin Griffith
Will Middlebrooks
Jon Gilmore
Jon Lucroy
Angel Morales

The Philadelphia Phillies are on the Clock

YES - Rick Porcello (this would take huge guts on the part of management due to the rumored 10 million dollar bonus Scott Boras seeks, but it would be a move with a gigantic potential payout)

YES - Michael Main (Main has long been one of my favorite high school arms, high risk/high reward kind of player but worth the gamble to me)

YES - Josh Smoker (high school guy who knows how to pitch, good value for the spot)

NO - Julio Borbon (collegiate centerfielder who profiles as a leadoff man with no power and a noodle arm...pass)

NO - Mike Burgess (toolsy high school outfielder...maybe in the supplemental if they love the guy, but please not at 19)

Who will it be?

Updated Board

6 picks between now and the Phillies. Here's who is left on my personal reordered board:

RHSP - Rick Porcello
OF - Jason Heyward
C - Devin Mesoraco
RHSP - Michael Main
RHSP - Matt Harvey
3B - Kevin Ahrens
RHSP - Blake Beavan

Porcello is the dream, but his signability could quickly turn him into a nightmare; Heyward needs to get by the Braves at 14; Mesoraco and Ahrens would both instantly become the top hitting prospect in the system; Main, Harvey, Beavan...take your pick out of the righthanded pitcher grab bag.

I'm cautiously optimistic at this point.

UPDATE (3:30 PM):

Heyward did not get by the Braves at 14. The updated big board:

RHSP - Rick Porcello
C - Devin Mesoraco
RHSP - Michael Main
RHSP - Matt Harvey
3B - Kevin Ahrens
RHSP - Blake Beavan
LHSP - Josh Smoker
3B/OF - Todd Frazier

Ahrens to the Reds has been talked about for weeks, but we'll see about that shortly. Mesoraco is the most realistic player to hope for at this point, but one of the high school arms (again, take your pick between Main, Harvey, Beavan, and Smoker) looms large. I remain cautiously optimistic...just say NO to Julio Borbon and Michael Burgess.

UPDATE (3:40):

Not a good couple of picks for the Phillies - Mesoraco to the Reds and Ahrens to the Blue Jays. I think it probably comes down to this question at this point - which high school arm do the Phillies like best at this point?

Running Draft Day Commentary

David Price, lefthander from Vanderbilt, gone to Tampa at pick number one. This one was a no-brainer as Price is everything you want out of baseball prospect - mid-90s fastball, plus slider, developing change, plus command of all three pitches, superb makeup, great frame, dominance at collegiate and U.S. national team level, he's not a Boras client...the list goes on, but it's almost all overwhelmingly positive stuff. We've said it for years now, but watch out for Tampa - that's a franchise on the rise.

Kansas City is on the clock

Mike Moustakas to Kansas City, as reported by Jim Callis earlier in the day. Two picks in, two picks predicted by the experts (and by experts I pretty much just mean Callis). I'm not sure I buy Moustakas as the second most talented guy in this draft, in fact I know I don't, but Dayton Moore knows what he's doing in KC so I'll give him the benefit of the doubt.

The Cubs are on the clock...Jarrod Parker? Josh Vitters?

Great pick by the Cubs, Josh Vitters is a heck of a player. Vitters continuously proved himself against high end competition in high school and during the showcase season. Now what? Pittsburgh is on the clock and it's really not clear what direction they are leaning. They could cause a major shakeup by nabbing Devin Mesoraco here. If not him, maybe Ross Detwiler?

Dan Moskos to the Pirates...interesting. Moskos switched from the bullpen to the rotation near the end of the season for Clemson, but his future is at the back of a big league pen someday - his stuff plays much better that way. Whenever the Pirates grab a pitcher, you can't help but get nervous...their track record with keeping guys healthy is pitiful. Moskos represents the first player drafted that I've seen in person, so that's exciting...I'll see if I get dig up my old notes on him.

Next up is the Orioles, another team that could really shake things up in this draft. Detwiler is the safest choice on the board, but they could really surprise some people by going after one of the top talents that have slipped (i.e. Wieters)...

Wieters to Baltimore, sensational pick. I saw Wieters play in a three game set up at Boston College during his sophomore year and it was clear he was the best player on the field by a long shot. Unlike a lot of the talking heads out there, I have zero doubt that Wieters can stick behind the plate - he excels in all phases of the game defensively, with his rocket arm standing out as a plus plus tool. At the plate, his bat is good enough to play anywhere on the field.

I think Matt Wieters is the best player in the draft this year.

I also think the Nationals wanted him at pick six. What now for Washington? Aumont? Porcello in a shocker?

Ross Detwiler to the Nationals at pick six. Detwiler is not a name I had on the radar for the Nats, but he makes a lot of sense in hindsight (especially with Wieters off the board)...the Nats have a gaping hole in their big league rotation and the convergence of need and Detwiler's sheer talent made this pick a good one. I love that the biggest knock on Detwiler is his weight - he's too damn thin (6-4, 180).

Milwaukee at seven is fascinating to me. The rich have a chance to get a whole lot richer here. With the infield set (Fielder, Weeks, Hardy, Braun) for the next half decade, they can afford to look at pitching first and foremost. Or if they look offense, they could surprise with Mesocaro or Jason Heyward. If they stick with pitching, they'd be wise to snap up Jarrod Parker.

First draft shocker here - Milwaukee takes Matt LaPorta at seven. I can't wait to hear the reasoning behind that one because I'm stumped.

Colorado grabbed college closer Casey Weathers at pick eight. This pick was speculated by many because the Rockies wanted to keep Weathers away from the Giants and Padres...weird rationale for picking a guy and I'm sure there is way more to it than that, but interesting all the same.

Arizona picking Jarrod Parker is the example of the rich getting richer route that I thought the Brewers would take. Parker may be the top high school pitcher in this draft, great value at nine.

Madison Bumgarner to the Giants with their first of three first round picks. Now I've got 20% of the top ten picks right, nailing the bookends at 1 and 10. Paaaaathetic. Time to knock this off for a bit and focus more on the Phillies upcoming pick at 19.

Draft Day 2.0

The Phillies pick 7 times in the first five rounds of the draft. The picks are:

Round 01A (#0019)
Round 01B (#0037)
Round 02 (#0083)
Round 03A (#0107)
Round 03B (#0113)
Round 04 (#0143)
Round 05 (#0173)

We'll focus on the club's first pick for now, pick number 19. I'd be more than happy with a top 19 board that looked a little something like this:

David Price
Matt Wieters
Josh Vitters
Rick Porcello
Mike Moustakas
Jason Heyward
Ross Detwiler
Matt Harvey
Blake Beavan
Michael Main
Madison Bumgarner
Devin Mesoraco
Matt Dominguez
Jarrod Parker
Kevin Ahrens
Phillippe Aumont

Those are the top 16 most talented guys as I see them at this point and I would be thrilled if the Phillies drafted any of them. The guys at the top don't have much of a realistic chance of being there at 19, but you never know. Realistically, here's the best case scenario for the Phillies first pick, depending on what you'd like to see them do:

If you want a catcher, pray for Mesoraco to fall.

If you want a third baseman, Dominguez and Ahrens are the guys you should hope slip.

If high school arms are your fancy, you've got plenty to choose from. Harvey, Beavan, Main, Bumgarner, or Aumont all have a shot at being there.

If you are a big dreamer, then you are still holding out hope for Wieters (C), Porcello (RHSP), or Heyward (OF) dropping down the board.

There's a group of other players that intrigue me enough to be in the discussion at 19. They are:

Beau Mills
Josh Smoker
Dan Moskos
Andrew Brackman
Todd Frazier
Chris Withrow
Kyle Blair

7 more names that I wouldn't hate at 19 - Mills is a hitter, but profiles best as a 1B in the pros; Smoker is a personal favorite who gets high marks for his "pitchability;" Moskos could be a quick riser as a near-ready relief prospect; Brackman has dropped like a stone in recent weeks and would be a major project; Frazier is another favorite who can hit a ton and should settle in nicely at either 3B or a corner outfield spot; Withrow and Blair are high school arms long on potential.

This should be fun.

Draft Day

Playoff baseball. I know October is still four months away, but the last two games against the Mets in Queens had as close to a playoff atmosphere in June that a fan could ask for. I know I'm forgetting plenty of great games from early on in the year, but I don't think it's a stretch to say that the best three games of the season have occurred over the span of the last four days - Shane Victorino's walkoff against San Fran, the 11th inning win to start the series against the real team to beat, and last night's extremely tense Jimmy Rollins led takeover of a ballgame. Lucky for me, I was at two of the three game (Sunday and Tuesday) so my mood concerning the ballclub is pretty upbeat these days.

And now for something totally different. One of the reasons this site has gone quiet for such long stretches over the past six months finally comes to a head this afternoon at 2 PM on ESPN2 - the MLB draft is finally here. I've spent a good chunk of my free time working on compiling information on prospective draftees, going to college and high school games across the country, and talking to those in the know about the rising and falling talent in the amateur ranks. There is really no point doing a mock draft considering Jim Callis is the best in the business (I love Baseball Prospectus as much as the next guy, but trust the people who cover the draft all year long - Baseball America and PG Crosschecker lap the field when it comes to prospects/amateurs), but here's my take based on all I've read, heard, and inferred - enjoy:

1. Tampa - LHSP David Price
2. Kansas City - 3B Josh Vitters
3. Chicago (NL) - RHSP Jarrod Parker
4. Pittsburgh - C Devin Mesoraco
5. Baltimore - LHSP Ross Detwiler
6. Washington - C Matt Wieters
7. Milwaukee - UT Mike Moustakas
8. Colorado - LHRP Dan Moskos
9. Arizona - RHSP Phillippe Aumont
10. San Francisco - LHSP Madison Bumgarner
11. Seattle - LHSP Nick Schmidt
12. Florida - CF Julio Borbon
13. Cleveland - RHSP Blake Beavan
14. Atlanta - OF Jason Heyward
15. Cincinnati - 3B Kevin Ahrens
16. Toronto - 3B Matt Dominguez
17. Texas - RHSP Rick Porcello
18. St. Louis - OF Kyle Russell
19. Philadelphia - RHSP Michael Main
20. Los Angeles - RHSP Matt Harvey
21. Toronto - C J.P. Arencibia
22. San Francisco - 1B Beau Mills
23. San Diego - 3B/OF Todd Frazier
24. Texas - RHSP Chris Withrow
25. Chicago (AL) - SS Justin Jackson
26. Oakland - 1B Matt LaPorta
27. Detroit - RHSP Andrew Brackman
28. Minnesota - OF Michael Burgess
29. San Francisco - SS Pete Kozma
30. New York (AL) - LHSP Joe Savery

There are some things I like about that mock and some things I don't. I still have no clue where Wieters will wind up, I can't imagine Heyward and Mills falling that far, and slotting in all of the high school arms is an exercise in futility. I do think some of the picks are logical (notably Borbon, Frazier, and Savery), but where some of the top end talent (Wieters and Porcello) could change the complexion of the draft in a hurry.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Fire Rod Barajas

It's 8 in the morning and I've got to go to work. If the man on the right is not released by the time I get home this afternoon, I'm going to be sorely disappointed. Last night's game might have been one of the worst wins in Phillies history; it certainly featured the most painful to watch half inning of Phillies baseball since the top of the ninth against Houston a few years back (Bell error, Biggio homer, Wagner implosion). At least they won the game, right? Right???

Friday, May 11, 2007


First things first, the answer to the question wondering what happened to Phillies minor league pitcher Derek Griffith. From

Derek Griffith, a lefty who threw two scoreless innings for the Barnstormers in spring training, is expected to join the team today and is scheduled to pitch the second game of the doubleheader at Long Island on Saturday. Griffith was released by Clearwater (the Phillies Class A affiliate) last month.

Griffith's last game in the Phillies organization was April 17th. He had pitched 7.1 scoreless innings with Clearwater (High A) out of the bullpen this year, but I guess the Phillies didn't see much of a future out of a 24-year old still in A ball. Hopefully, Griffith pitches well enough for Lancaster to catch the eye of another big league organization down the line.

I always appreciate any questions, comments, or concerns and I do my best to respond to everyone, so keep at it. With that taken care of, I'd like to announce a bit of history here on the site - today is the first day I've ever posted from a desktop computer. Pretty exciting stuff, I know - the assassination of Kennedy, the Challenger disaster, first post from a desktop...those are all moments that people can't help but remember where they were when they happened. Anyway, I did have a point in there somewhere...give me a minute, it'll come. Ah yeah, it's just a lame preemptive excuse in case updates are sporadic in the future - desktops are a whole lot less convenient than laptops. It's a cop-out, but if you've read the site regularly then you know that's just how I operate.

Now with that taken care of, we can talk about the Phillies. After dropping 2 of 3 in Arizona and 6 of 10 on the past road trip, they return to South Philadelphia with a record of 15-19, 4 games under .500. Before Ryan Howard's pinch-hit grand slam, the case could have been made that the most exciting part of watching non-Cole Hamels Phillies baseball of late has been Abe Nunez. Nunez has been public enemy number one around these parts since signing before last season, but he is currently putting up his best stretch of baseball as a major leaguer - a fact that is both a testament to his strong recent play (7 for his last 15, with 3 the usual outstanding defense at third) and his horribly below average big league career (his 2007 OPS+ of 87 is the best of his career...ouch). Nunez has outhit fellow third baseman Wes Helms this year and is unquestionably the better option in the field. It would be foolish to expect Helms to continue to lack both power and patience at the plate, but it's hard to argue with the notion that Nunez should be getting more starts now while he's going good at the plate - especially on days a groundball pitcher (Jon Lieber, Cole Hamels, maybe Adam Eaton) takes the mound.

Cole Hamels vs Rich Hill tonight in yet another exciting matchup between two young pitchers.

Monday, May 07, 2007


In between coverage of the Hank Aaron/Barry Bonds "controversy," Willie Mays' 76th birthday celebration, and Roger Clemens returning to baseball, they played a baseball game last night on ESPN. It wasn't a bad game either: Phillies 8 - Giants 5

Game notes follow...

*** Tim Lincecum got hit around a bit, but I'd still call his debut a success for San Fransisco. I consider that a pretty interesting statement, the more I think about it. It reminds me of a quick back and forth I had with somebody in one of my fantasy leagues about Billy Butler. I commented that Butler reminded me a ton of a young Manny Ramirez (a tad hyperbolic, maybe, and a huge thing to say about a 21-year old, but a comparison worth talking about, I think) and a fellow owner responded by talking about Butler's 4-12 start at the plate not being all that reminiscent of a young Manny. I guess I honestly don't know how to respond to something like that - if you want to judge a young player strictly on early results, you're putting unnecessary limits on yourself as a baseball fan. Lincecum's results weren't there in his first start, but his stuff looked good - the fastball had a ton of velocity (95-97 MPH) and movement, and his curve is already a plus pitch. A top-3 NL offense hit him around in his first major league start on national television...the sky is not falling.

*** When the Giants starter went to the plate for the first time since high school, my only thought was this: Tim Lincecum = Henry Rowengartner

*** My other player comp from the game: Vinnie Chulk, Giants reliever = Travis Lee, big loser...they could be brothers, right?

*** Cole Hamels was getting squeezed in the first inning - he threw four strikes to Ray Durham (2 called balls) and appeared to have Pedro Feliz struck out on a perfectly placed changeup. He also got no help in the first from Wes Helms, the freaking statue masquerading as a big league third baseman. Hamels looked pissed off as he headed into the dugout and I thought for sure that the one run he allowed in the first was going to be all he'd give up on the night. I was wrong, but the young lefty still pitched brilliantly.

*** Hamels went into last night's start 20th in baseball in Baseball Prospectus' pitcher abuse points. Then he threw 118 pitches, his 4th category 3 start out of 7 overall. This isn't necessarily cause to freak out quite yet, but the Phillies should wise up and start being more careful with their young ace.

*** Joe Morgan, a guy that I have ripped countless times in this space, had a decent point when he brought up Ryan Howard's change in batting stance this year. I'm no hitting coach and I won't pretend to be, but it seemed like Howard had an uncanny ability to let the ball get as deep on him as possible during his hottest stretches in 2006. Howard would wait, wait, wait...and then hit the hell out of the ball just when it looked like the pitch was about to find it's final destination in the catcher's mitt past him. I'm not 100% sure if there's anything to all that, but it's a theory that jives with Howard's crazy success hitting the ball with authority to left and center field - you need to be able to wait on the ball to hit it the other way, right? Anyway, Joe Morgan's observation is that Howard is setting his feet unnecessarily early thus locking himself into swinging earlier than he ought to. Howard has enough sheer natural talent to delay locking his feet in as late as possible. When he starts doing this again, we should see more of the dead center field shots that Howard hit in the third inning of last night's game.

*** I don't understand why Rod Barajas has been granted the role of Cole Hamels' personal catcher. I know Barajas has a great reputation when it comes to dealing with pitchers and I know a lot goes on behind the scenes with regard to the pitcher-catcher relationship that we are not privy to, but I also know that I hate the way Barajas has called Hamels last few starts. You need three good pitches to succeed as a big league starter and lately Hamels curveball has been ignored - as good as his fastball/changeup combo has been, he's going to need to further develop that curve if he is to become the pitcher we all expect him to be. No need to go crazy and move completely away with what has worked so beautifully thus far, but I still think that it will be hugely beneficial in the long run if hitters are made well aware of the curve as a weapon.

*** Speaking of Barajas, he still stinks, but his plate discipline this year has been a pleasant surprise - the Phillies multi-million dollar backup catcher is well on his way to topping his career high of 26 walks with 9 already this season. I have no idea why I threw that in there, just felt like saying something nice about's a nice change of pace from continually knocking the poor guy. Rod, if you are reading (and you know he is)'s not you that I'm mad at, I know you are trying your best; it's management's fault for signing you, I'm mad at them and maybe sometimes I take it out on you. Nothing personal, big man.

*** Michael Bourn had his best appearance of the year - two steals and a heads up jaunt home on a grounder to shortstop. I got this text message from a friend after Bourn scored: "bourn is a speedy fucker." Just about says it all, right?

*** Amazing fact that completely slipped under my radar: Cole Hamels is sixth all time in strikeouts spanning the first 30 starts of a pitcher's career since 1900. I knew he was awesome, but I didn't realize how historically fantastic he's been so far.

There's more to say (Shane Victorino's hilarious rundown, Freddy Garcia's hilarious injury, other hilarious things that I'm sure happened but I can't recollect)...but it's time to wrap things up. Phillies go to Arizona next, should be fun.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Phillies @ Giants - May 6, 2007

This site has gone far too long without an update for all kinds of reasons, and for that I apologize. To make it up to my adoring public, I present you the most intriguing pitching matchup of the season thus far (and, yes, this is coming from somebody who actually attended the Felix Hernandez-Daisuke Matsuzaka start at Fenway)...prepare yourself for tonight's epic battle between Cole Hamels and Tim Lincecum. Every time that Cole Hamels takes the mound, it's a special occasion...but to oppose Tim Lincecum in his first ever major league start...that's special. And you know it's special when I can't write a coherent sentence without busting out the ellipses...I love ellipses, they are the perfect writing tool of the lazy man.

If you don't know about Lincecum yet (and you should), here's the quickest possible breakdown I can write 10 minutes before the game:
  • His junior year line at the University of Washington: 125.1 IP 75 H 63 BB 199 K
  • His AAA line this year at Fresno: 31 IP 12 H 11 BB 46 K
  • His listed height and weight: 5'10, 160 lb.
The guy is a physical marvel, there's really no getting around it. I have no idea how his career is going to shake out, he truly is a one of a kind prospect - I can't think of a single comparison for him that I think is legit. Watch him throw and make your own conclusions.

To end on a positive excited as I am to watch Lincecum pitch, I'm more excited for Hamels. Lincecum may be the hot new young starting pitcher, but it wasn't so long ago (in fact, almost exactly a year ago if memory, all kind of caveats in that sentence...that's what you get when I don't feel like looking something up) that Cole Hamels was the hot new young starting pitcher in the NL. I know the Phils are facing a rookie pitcher tonight, but I've got the weird feeling that tonight's game could be big - the kind of game that can turn a season around. Just a feeling though...this post could look awfully stupid in the morning.

Saturday, April 21, 2007


I've had a hard time mustering up the energy to post my game notes detailing such depressing contests...last night's loss to Cincinnati taking the cake as the latest affront to good baseball put forth by this team. In staying away, however, I've missed out on the opportunity to comment on the big news that the team has generated in the past couple of days. My lightning round analysis on two big recent stories follows:

Charlie Manuel v Howard Eskin

Nobody is a winner in this matchup of two of Philadelphia's most polarizing sports personalities. I honestly can't blame Charlie for finally losing his cool and flipping out on Eskin - the guy really is a bottom feeder who lives to cause trouble by making his hatred for Philadelphia professional sports figures personal - in Eskin's world, Bobby Abreu was just another heartless, lazy Latin ballplayer, Allen Iverson was a punk who didn't learn a thing from the time he was drafted to the time he was traded, and Charlie Manuel is a player's manager who is clearly bad at his job because he stutters and speaks with a West Virginian accent. Manuel finally reached a boiling point and lost his composure after Eskin's persistent needling got to be too much

Besides Howard Eskin getting national television time as a result of the incident, the thing that upset me more than anything else is the idiotic notion put forth by Eskin (and sadly agreed upon by his legion of followers, the Philly "fan" base) that a good manager of men needs to berate his employees from time to time. I'm no fan of people that yell, so maybe my heavy personal bias come into play here...but you'll have a hard time convincing me that major league ballplayers need somebody to yell and scream at them to realize they should be playing better baseball.

And though it's really neither here nor there any doubt that the Phillies skipper wouldn't have kicked Eskin's ass?

Brett Myers to the Bullpen

Early season struggles or not, Myers has the track record that indicates he is the best starter on the Phillies staff. You want your best players on the field as much as possible, right?

200 innings in the rotation > 70-80 innings out of the bullpen

Terrible move, Phillies.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


I have a few random game notes scratched out on computer paper from the Astros series, but they hardly seem relevant with so much time having passed since the last Phillies game. In an effort to provide some big league content (and not just focus on the minors), I'll share some of the random, big picture thoughts that I gleaned from watching this past weekend's abbreviated series...

It's time to think about playing around with the lineup a little bit. I know, I know...lineup construction is pretty much meaningless in the grand scheme of things, but it's one of the few old school baseball traditions that I think is worth preserving, for the interesting discussion it sparks if nothing else. I don't have any concrete plan on what the new lineup ought to look like, but I'll provide some jumping off points: Jimmy Rollins, aka the best shortstop in baseball these days, might be best served hitting in the middle of the lineup than at the top; Aaron Rowand's shocking .458 OBP might look alright higher in the lineup (leadoff? 2-hole?) if he keeps it up; it's finally time to split up the two lefties in the middle of the lineup, no? If you'd prefer to see Rollins stay at the top of the lineup, then what's wrong with giving Pat Burrell at shot batting cleanup for a while?

If you want to worry about Ryan Howard's "slow" start, I won't try to talk you out of it. That said, I'm not in the least bit worried about the '06 MVP...sure, he's had a slower start than I'm sure many would have liked to see, but he really looked like the light came back on for him this past weekend against Houston. Watching him go the other way consistently is the easiest thing a fan can do to figure out whether he's going good or not - I'm hardly an expert on swing mechanics, but I expect big things in the coming week out of the big man based on what I saw this past weekend.

It was an absolute joke to see Michael Bourn sent on to the field on Saturday to run for Pat Burrell in the sixth inning of a tight ballgame. Burrell had just hit an RBI single and was standing on first base with two outs and a baserunner ahead of him when Charlie Manuel lifted him from the game. The potential advantage of such a move is so slight, it's almost not worth making at all...but when you consider the downside, it becomes 100% indefensible. The very next inning (bottom 7), Ryan Howard was intentionally walked to load the bases with 2 outs for...defensive sub extraordinare Michael Bourn. Bourn looked horribly overmatched as he struck out on 3 pitches. The temptation for Charlie should be removed, Bourn should be sent down (up?) to Canada to play everyday...and Chris Coste, a better bench bat, should get promoted. As long as Coste hits, he stays...if/when he goes cold, you can try again with another AAA bat.

Last but not least, Francisco Rosario made his Phillies debut on Saturday...the kid looked good. It was fastball after fastball (I saw 93-95...though I've heard some guns had him as high as 98), but it worked. He blew three fastballs right by Lance Berkman to strike him out in a huge situation in the 7th. Throwing the heater on 2-0, 3-1, and then 3-2 is a risky proposition, but when you are hitting 94/95, you can make it work. Rosario's progress will be fun to watch this year.

My word verification for this particular post - UTOOL. What's Blogger trying to tell me?

Minor League Update 4/16

Clearwater 4/16

Greg Golson (CF): 1-4, SB (5/5 on season)
Jeremy Slayden (LF): 0-3, BB, 3 K, E (1)
Clay Harris (1B): 0-3, BB, K
Welinson Baez (3B): 2-4
Brad Harman (SS): 1-4, 2 K
Lou Marson (C): 0-4, K

Though it's only been 19 at bats, Welinson Baez's hot start gives the Phillies at least another option in their sad race for third baseman of the future.

Pat Overholt: 5.2 IP 6 H 1 ER 1 BB 7 K HBP
Mike Zagurski: 1.1 IP 1 H 2 ER 2 BB 1 K HBP
Zac Stott: 1 IP 0 H 0 ER 0 BB 1 K

Overholt is looking more and more like the real deal as a future option for a job in the big league bullpen.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Minor League Update 4/13, 4/14, and 4/15

Ottawa 4/14 (DH)

Chris Roberson (CF): 2-4
Chris Coste (C): 1-3, K
Brennan King (3B): 1-3
Danny Sandoval (SS): 1-3

I'm ready for either Chris Roberson or Chris Coste to get called up to replace the not quite ready for primetime Michael Bourn. Bourn ought to be playing everyday in Canada, not serving as Pat Burrell's legs with the big club.

Zack Segovia: 6 IP 5 H 4 ER 2 BB 3 K wild pitch

12 groundouts to 3 flyouts for Segovia on the night, a silver lining on an otherwise unspectacular outing.

Ottawa 4/14 (DH)

Chris Roberson (CF): 1-3, RBI, R, BB
Chris Coste (DH): 1-4, 2B, 2 RBI
Brennan King (3B): 0-3, R, BB
Jason Jaramillo (C): 1-3, R
Danny Sandoval (SS): 2-3, 2B, RBI

Eude Brito: 0 IP 2 H 2 ER 1 BB 0 K
Yoel Hernandez: 1 IP 1 H 0 ER 0 BB 2 K
Brian Sanches: 1 IP 0 H 0 ER 0 BB 1 K

Brito's rough night leads to his ERA jumping to 18.00 through 2 innings.

Reading 4/13

Javon Moran (CF): 3-5, R, SB and CS (5/6 on year)
Mike Costanzo (3B): 0-4, K, E (6)

Kyle Kendrick: 6 IP 8 H 3 ER 1 BB 2 K
Nate Johnson: 2 IP 4 H 3 ER 1 BB 1 K

Reading 4/14

Javon Moran (CF): 2-6, RBI, 2 R, SB (7/8)
Mike Costanzo (3B): 2-3, 2B, RBI, R, 2 BB, K

With the two walk day, Costanzo now has a BB/K ratio of 3/14 through 35 at bats.

Bubba Nelson: 0.2 IP 0 H 0 ER 0 BB 0 K
Anderson Garcia: 2 IP 0 H 0 ER 0 BB 2 K

Clearwater 4/13

Greg Golson (CF): 1-4, RBI, K, E (1)
Brad Harman (2B): 0-4, 2 K
Jeremy Slayden (RF): 2-4, 2B, R, K
Clay Harris (3B): 0-4, E (2)
Welinson Baez (DH): 1-4, 2B, RBI, K
Lou Marson (C): 2-4, 2B, 2 R, E (2)
Fidel Hernandez (SS): 1-4

Carlos Carrasco: 3.1 IP 7 H 7 ER 1 BB 3 K wild pitch
Derek Griffith: 2.2 IP 0 H 0 ER 3 BB 5 K
Mike Zagurski: 1 IP 1 H 0 ER 0 BB 3 K
Will Savage: 1 IP 1 H 0 ER 0 BB 1 K

One plus in having Carlos Carrasco get shelled is that the bullpen guys get plenty of opportunities to impress. Griffith, Zagurski, and Savage all have kept opposing hitters at bay this season combining on 13.1 innings of scoreless baseball. Zagurski has a whopping nine strikeouts in his 4 innings of work so far.

Clearwater 4/14

Greg Golson (CF): 2-4, 2B, R, K, SB (4)
Jeremy Slayden (DH): 1-3, R, BB
Clay Harris (1B): 0-3, RBI, 2 R, BB, K
Welinson Baez (3B): 2-3, HR, 3 RBI, 3 R, BB, K
Brad Harman (SS): 1-4, 2B, 2 RBI, R, 2 K
Lou Marson (C): 0-3, RBI, K

Reports out of Clearwater claim that Welinson Baez is the early frontrunner for most improved player on the Threshers squad - his homer in this game was apparently a 420 foot bomb that got the attention of scouts in attendance.

Daniel Brauer: 6 IP 1 H 0 ER 3 BB 9 K
Zac Stott: 1 IP 0 H 0 ER 0 BB 1 K

Two great starts for Brauer so far and rumor has it that his velocity has seen a bit of a jump in the early going - it goes without saying, but a couple more ticks on his fastball make him an even more interesting prospect than he already is.

Clearwater 4/15

Greg Golson (CF): 2-4
Jeremy Slayden (DH): 1-3, 2 RBI, R, BB
Welinson Baez (3B): 1-4, 2B, RBI, R, K
Lou Marson (C): 2-3, RBI, K
Fidel Hernandez (SS): 0-4

It's early, but Greg Golson has been hitting and hitting with power. He is 14 for his 41 (.341 average) and 6 of those 14 hits are for extra bases (.561 slugging). His BB/K ratio still leaves something to be desired (1/10 ain't gonna cut it), but it's been a nice first 10 games for the former first rounder.

Andrew Carpenter: 7 IP 3 H 0 ER 0 BB 5 K
Brett Harker: 1 IP 3 H 2 ER 0 BB 0 K

Carpenter followed up fellow 2006 college draftee Dan Brauer's stellar start with a pretty damn impressive outing of his own. Brett Harker has been a disaster so far this year, I can't help but wonder if he is hurting.

Lakewood 4/13

Quintin Berry (LF): 2-4, 2B, 2 R, K
Jason Donald (SS): 2-4, 3B, RBI, 2 R, K, 2 CS (now 0/3 on the year)
Adrian Cardenas (2B): 2-5, 2B, 3 RBI, 2 R, K
Tuffy Gosewisch (C): 2-5, 2B, 2 RBI, R, 3 K
Jay Miller (DH): 3-5, RBI, R, K
Gus Milner (RF): 2-4, RBI, BB
C.J. Henry (3B): 0-4, BB, 2 K
Julian Williams (CF): 0-3, RBI, R, K

Great day for the BlueClaws lineup, you'll win a couple of games when you're first six batters all have multiple hit days. Cardenas' batting average (.333 through 7 games) may be a tad empty (only one extra base hit and 2 walks), but it is still damn impressive for a 19-year old in full season ball.

Darren Byrd: 4 IP 5 H 4 ER 3 BB 5 K HBP
Ben Pfinsgraff: 3.1 IP 2 H 0 ER 2 BB 3 K
Andrew Cruse: 1.2 IP 1 H 0 ER 1 BB 2 K wild pitch

Ben Pfinsgraff continues to make me look like an ass by pitching so well at Lakewood - 7.2 scoreless innings so far for the former Maryland Terrapin.


Friday, April 13, 2007

Minor League Update 4/11 and 4/12

I'm still coming down from my Felix Hernandez at Fenway high, so my game notes from the past few Phillies contests are sparse. However I am proud to say that I was unquestionably the only fan inside of Fenway Park on Wednesday night rocking the XM satellite radio so I could listen in on the Phillies-Mets game. I'm incredibly thankful I thought to do this...who knows when the Phils will win another game. On to some minor league notes from the past two evenings...

Ottawa 4/11

Chris Roberson (CF): 1-6, 3B, 3 RBI, R, CS (1)
Danny Sandoval (2B): 2-3, 2B, 2 R
Chris Coste (C): 1-5, RBI, R, BB
Brennan King (3B): 3-5, RBI, 2 R, SB (1)

Fabio Castro: 2.2 IP 1 H 0 ER 2 BB 2 K
Joe Bisenius: 0.2 IP 2 H 2 ER 1 BB 0 K
Brian Sanches: 2 IP 1 H 0 ER 0 BB 0 K

Jim Ed Warden has pitched a couple of times in the series for Buffalo (Cleveland) and now has allowed two earned runs in two innings of work. Oh Jim Ed, what might have been…

Ottawa 4/12

Chris Roberson (CF): 2-4, RBI
Chris Coste (DH): 1-3, 2B, BB
Brennan King (3B): 0-4
Danny Sandoval (SS): 1-4, K
Jason Jaramillo (C): 1-3, BB, K

Two hits for Chris Roberson…what an exciting night for the Lynx!

Reading 4/11

Javon Moran (CF): 1-3, 2 R, BB, SB (4)
Mike Costanzo (3B): 0-4, 2 K

Julio De La Cruz: 1 IP 3 H 2 ER 0 BB 1 K
Anderson Garcia: 1 IP 0 H 0 ER 0 BB 1 K

Reading 4/12

Javon Moran (CF): 2-4, 3B, 2 R, BB, SB (5)
Mike Costanzo (3B): 2-4, BB, E (6)

Matt Maloney: 6.2 IP 5 H 2 ER 3 BB 5 K
Bubba Nelson: 0.1 IP 3 H 2 ER 2 BB 0 K
Julio De La Cruz: 0.1 IP 1 H 0 ER 0 BB 0 K

Andrew McCutchen (CF): 0-4, R, BB
Neil Walker (3B): 2-4, 2 RBI, R, BB

Check out Nelson’s line on the night…notice how terrible it was…process the fact that he actually wound up getting the win for Reading…and then realize there isn’t a whole lot of value of measuring a pitcher’s personal performance using wins as an indicator. Oh and Javon Moran? All he does is hit.

I added McCutchen and Walker’s numbers on the night because they are the top two bats in the Pirates system; McCutchen is the clear cut best prospect in the chain and Walker is attempting to regain some luster as a prospect while trying to make the transition from catcher to third this season.

Clearwater 4/11 (DH)

Greg Golson (CF): 2-4, 2B, RBI
Brad Harman (2B): 2-4, 2B
Jeremy Slayden (LF): 0-3
Clay Harris (3B): 1-2, BB
Lou Marson (C): 0-3, K, E (1)
Fidel Hernandez (SS): 0-2, R

Pat Overholt: 5 IP 7 H 3 ER 2 BB 3 K
Mike Zagurski: 2 IP 1 H 0 ER 0 BB 5 K

Zagurski stole the show with his two nearly flawless innings of relief (5 strikeouts is no joke), but Overholt’s effort should not be overlooked – he may have been tagged with a loss, but he managed to put up a GO/FO ratio of 11/1.

Clearwater 4/11 DH

Greg Golson (CF): 0-2, BB, K, SB (3)
Brad Harman (2B): 0-3, 2 K
Jeremy Slayden (DH): 0-2
Clay Harris (1B): 1-2, HR (2), RBI, R
Fidel Hernandez (SS): 1-2

Zac Stott: 3 IP 0 H 0 ER 2 BB 2 K
Derek Griffith: 2 IP 1 H 0 ER 2 BB 2 K

Nice job by Stott (acquired in the Rheal Cormier deal) and Griffith to shut down the Tampa bats.

Clearwater 4/12

Greg Golson (CF): 0-4, 3 K, OF assist
Brad Harman (2B): 0-4, K
Jeremy Slayden (RF): 1-3, R, BB
Clay Harris (3B): 0-2, R, 2 BB
Lou Marson (C): 1-4, HR (1), RBI, R, 2 K
Fidel Hernandez (SS): 1-3, RBI, K

Josh Outman: 4.1 IP 4 H 1 ER 4 BB 3 K
Will Savage: 1.1 IP 0 H 0 ER 1 BB 1 K
Brett Harker: 1 IP 0 H 0 ER 0 BB 2 K

Rough night for many of the Threshers position players, including the three strikeout performance by Golson. Will Savage continues to throw well out of the bullpen.

Tim Battle (CF): 2-9, 3 R, 2 BB, 6 K, 3 SB (4), E (2)
Jose Tabata (RF/DH): 3-9, 3 BB, 3 K
Marcos Vechionacci (3B): 1-7, 2B, R, BB, 3 K
Ian Kennedy (SP): 6 IP 3 H 1 ER 2 BB 4 K wild pitch

I included a handful of players from Tampa for a couple of reasons: I saw Battle and Vechionacci play at Charleston two years ago and have been tracking their progress ever since, Tabata is far and away the most attractive hitting prospect in the Yankees system (especially now that the Phils have C.J. Henry…ha), and Ian Kennedy was a first rounder out of USC last year. So there you go.

Lakewood 4/12 (DH)

Quintin Berry (LF): 0-5
Jason Donald (SS): 1-4, R, E (2)
Tuffy Gosewisch (C): 2-4, 2B, K
Jay Miller (DH): 2-4, RBI, 2 R
Gus Milner (RF): 2-4, R, SB (2)
C.J. Henry (3B): 1-4, 2B, RBI, R, SB (3)
Julian Williams (CF): 1-4

Carlos Monasterios: 4.1 IP 7 H 2 ER 2 BB 4 K
Michael Dubee: 1.2 IP 0 H 0 ER 0 BB 2 K

Monasterios rebounded nicely from his opening day disaster while Dubee continues to make a case that he should get a chance pitching in a full season rotation somewhere.

Lakewood 4/12 (DH)

Quintin Berry (LF): 1-3, R, SB (2)
Jason Donald (SS): 2-3, RBI, R, E (3), CS (1)
Adrian Cardenas (2B): 2-3
Gus Milner (RF): 0-3
Jay Miller (DH): 0-3
Joel Naughton (C): 1-3, E (1)
C.J. Henry (3B): 0-3, 2 K
Doug Morales (1B): 0-3, K
Julian Williams (CF): 0-2, K

Edgar Garcia: 5 IP 8 H 2 ER 1 BB 3 K

The entire BlueClaw lineup last night was filled with nine players that can be designated prospects depending on how you perceive them – granted, a good part of this is the fact that in A ball, everyone is so young that you can have at least a smidge of justifiable hope for practically every player. Great to see Edgar Garcia acquitting himself well to full season ball so far.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Minor League Report

The Phillies will try for elusive win number two tonight as Adam Eaton takes the mound for the good guys looking for his first win as a member of the team that drafted him. He'll be opposed by the erratic, but talented lefthander Oliver Perez. I'd say more, but I've got tickets to see Felix Hernandez vs. Daisuke Matsuzaka tonight at Fenway. Since you're probably jealous, I offer up a hearty dose of Phillies minor league action to read all about - fair trade, no? Boy, oh boy, can't wait to see how the Lynx did last night! Suckers.

Ottawa 4/10

Chris Roberson (CF): 0-4, 2 K, E (3)
Chris Coste (1B): 0-3, 2 BB
Brennan King (3B): 1-4
Danny Sandoval (SS): 0-4
Jason Jaramillo (C): 0-3, BB

J.A. Happ: 5 IP 0 H 0 ER 3 BB 6 K
Joe Bisenius: 0.2 IP 2 H 3 ER 1 BB 0 K
Eude Brito: 1 IP 3 H 2 ER 1 BB 1 K
Yoel Hernandez: 1.1 IP 1 H 0 ER 0 BB 0 K

Happ impressed with five innings of no hit ball, only to see Bisenius and Brito find ways to blow the lead against Buffalo. J.A. kept up his crazy flyball tendencies by getting eight of his nine non-strikeout outs on balls hit in the air. Terrible night by the Lynx position players, especially Roberson (3 errors already?).

Reading 4/10

Javon Moran (CF): 2-5, 2B, RBI, K
Mike Costanzo (3B): 0-4, K, 3 E (5)

Nate Johnson: 1 IP 3 H 1 ER 0 BB 0 K wild pitch
Nick Evangelista: 1 IP 4 H 3 ER 0 BB 2 K
Anderson Garcia: 1 IP 3 H 1 ER 0 BB 2 K wild pitch

Wow, at least Ottawa had good performances out of Happ and Hernandez; Reading was terrible last night. Johnson, Evangelista, and Garcia all got hit hard, and Mike Costanzo had an epically bad night – his 3 errors (2 fielding, 1 throwing) give him 5 on the year and his strikeout gives him 10 in 20 at bats. At least Javon Moran keeps up his hot hitting; another double tonight gives him 5 in 21 at bats, a pretty impressive feat considering he only had 13 in 293 last year (I know I mentioned this previously, but it boggles my mind for some reason).

Lakewood 4/10

Quintin Berry (LF): 1-5, R, K, E (1)
Jason Donald (SS): 3-5, 2B, 2 R, K
Adrian Cardenas (2B): 1-3, R, BB, 2 K
Tuffy Gosewisch (C): 0-2, R, 3 BB, K
Jay Miller (DH): 0-2, RBI, 2 R, BB, HBP
Gus Milner (RF): 3-5, 2 2B, 5 RBI, R, K, OF assist (1)
C.J. Henry (3B): 1-4, 2B, RBI, BB, 2 K
Doug Morales (1B): 1-4, BB
Julian Williams (CF): 1-4, RBI, R, BB

Kyle Drabek: 6 IP 5 H 1 ER 2 BB 4 K
Alex Concepcion: 2 IP 1 H 0 ER 1 BB 2 K
Justin Blaine: 1 IP 2 H 0 ER 0 BB 1 K

Lakewood drilled West Virginia last night behind big hits from Jason Donald and Gus Milner, and a strong starting turn by last year’s first rounder Kyle Drabek. Speaking of Drabek, from the April 1 edition of Future Shock from Baseball Prospectus:

2006 first-round pick Kyle Drabek had a tough pro debut with the Phillies, and one scout in Florida was unpleasantly surprised by the righthander when he saw him pitch for the first time. "I just expected much more out of him," he said. "There's no way, no how he's six feet tall. He's maybe 5-foot-10, and stocky and muscly, and there's just nothing to project on." And the stuff? "The curveball is good, but he was like 88-92 mph and I was not impressed--I don't see him as much more than a reliever."

This more or less directly contradicts reports from spring training published by Baseball America, so take it with a grain of salt. I’m still certain that no player in the Phillies system has more star potential than Drabek, though admittedly his skill set makes him a bit of a boom-or-bust kind of prospect. For what it’s worth, unsubstantiated reports from last night game had Drabek hitting the mid-90s with his fastball while trying to work in his newly refined changeup (in the low 70s), a “show me” slider (mid 80s), and his best pitch, the spike curve (76 mph – 82 mph).


Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Look on the Bright Side...(Ver. 2.0)

Check out recaps of Phillies prospects currently at Ottawa and Reading right here. See what's going on at Clearwater and Lakewood below (interesting numbers and pitching lines in bold).

And because I had nowhere else to put it, the Phillies made some roster moves over the past few days that I keep forgetting to mention. Chris Coste, Joe Bisenius, and Zack Segovia are all now with Ottawa; Jon Lieber and Francisco Rosario are Phillies; and Joe Thurston was promoted from Reading to Ottawa after the Phillies traded Brent Abernathy to Washington. Now that you are all caught up, on to the minors...


Greg Golson (CF): 3-4, 3B, 2B, RBI, 3 R
Brad Harman (2B): 2-4, HR, 2 RBI, 2 R
Lou Marson (C): 0-0, R, BB, HBP
Jeremy Slayden (DH): 2-3, 2 RBI, BB
Clay Harris (3B): 0-2, 2 RBI, E (1)

Chris Coste (C): 1-2, RBI, R
Freddy Garcia: 3.1 IP 3 H 0 ER 1 BB 7 K

Pat Overholt: 4.2 IP 3 H 1 ER 2 BB 4 K
Mike Zagurski: 1 IP 0 H 0 ER 0 BB 1 K

Overholt is a 23 year old, short righthander coming off of a very good year spent between Lakewood and Clearwater; biggest challenge facing him going forward will be his coming to terms with shoring up his spotty control. Zagurski is a 24 year old short lefthander coming off a dominating season pitching out of the bullpen in Lakewood; as a college draft pick (University of Kansas), Zagurski has to pitch well enough to convince the Phillies to pick up their timetable with him or risk becoming the classic example of an older minor leaguer feasting on less experienced players.

Clearwater 4/6

Greg Golson (CF): 2-5, 2B, R, K, 2 SB (2)
Brad Harman (2B): 0-5, R, 3 K
Jeremy Slayden (DH): 3-5, HR, 2B, 3 RBI, R
Clay Harris (1B): 2-5, HR, RBI, R, 2 K
Welinson Baez (3B): 1-4, R, HBP
Fidel Hernandez (SS): 2-4, 2 E (2)

Slayden can hit, that much should now be obvious. The next step for the Phillies is to keep him in Clearwater a bit longer, let him get some time at first base and the outfield corners, and then finally promote him to Reading. I know he is a butcher in the field (or so I’ve been told), but if he can at least pretend to play those few positions then he’d make a very valuable (and cheap) bench bat for the Phillies in a year or two.

Chris Coste (C): 1-4, 2B, R, K
Jon Lieber: 3.2 IP 4 H 1 ER 0 BB 4 K

Derek Griffith: 0.1 IP 0 H 0 ER 1 BB 0 K
Josh Outman: 2.1 IP 7 H 6 ER 3 BB 3 K wild pitch

Griffith is a giant 24 lefthanded pitcher who is a marginal prospect…at best. Outman is a 22 year old lefty who seemingly has a future as a big league reliever…at worst.

Clearwater 4/7

Greg Golson (CF): 1-5, HR, RBI, R, 2 K
Brad Harman (2B): 0-5, 2 K
Jeremy Slayden (DH): 2-4, R
Clay Harris (3B/1B): 0-4, RBI, K
Lou Marson (C): 1-3, BB, K
Fidel Hernandez (SS): 1-4, RBI, K, E (3)

Chris Coste (1B/3B): 2-4, R

Carlos Carrasco: 5.2 IP 3 H 0 ER 3 BB 4 K HBP
Will Savage: 2 IP 2 H 0 ER 0 BB 2 K
Brett Harker: 1 IP 3 H 2 ER 1 BB 1 K

I wrote in the Lakewood portion below about how exciting the debuts of Drabek and Edgar Garcia were; Carlos Carrasco’s was right up there with them. I compared Carrasco’s development to Ryan Madson’s a few months ago (the good Ryan Madson, for the record), so I’m anxious to see what kind of performance he puts up in his Age 20 season in advanced A ball. Savage is arguably the best relief prospect to come out of the 2006 draft for the Phillies, he has legitimate bullpen sleeper potential.

Clearwater 4/9

Greg Golson (CF): 1-4, RBI, K, PO (1)
Brad Harman (2B): 3-4, 2 R
Jeremy Slayden (RF): 1-3, 2B, RBI, R, BB
Clay Harris (3B): 1-4, R, K
Lou Marson (C): 2-4, 2B, 2 RBI

Dan Brauer: 5 IP 6 H 1 ER 2 BB 3 K
Andrew Carpenter: 4 IP 3 H 1 ER 3 BB 4 K

Very encouraging night for the Threshers. 2006 draftees Brauer and Carpenter teamed up to hold Dunedin to just two runs, Brad Harman busted out with 3 hits, and Jeremy Slayden was freed from his personal designated hitter prison. It’s only been 15 at bats, but Slayden has a line of .533/.588/.867 on the year so far. Greg Golson is right there behind him with a line of .389/.368/.778 through 18 at bats.

Lakewood 4/5

Quintin Berry (LF): 1-5, RBI, R
Jason Donald (SS): 2-4, RBI, R, BB, K
Adrian Cardenas (2B): 1-4, RBI, R, BB, K
Tuffy Gosewisch (C): 0-4, BB, 2 K
Jay Miller (DH): 1-5, RBI, R, 2 K
Gus Milner (RF): 1-4, K
C.J. Henry (3B): 2-4, 2B, 2 RBI, 2 R, 2 E (2)
Julian Williams (CF): 0-3, R, BB, K

Carlos Monasterios: 0.2 IP 5 H 7 ER 1 BB 0 K
Justin Blaine: 4.1 IP 3 H 2 ER 1 BB 3 K
Jarrod Freeman: 1 IP 3 H 2 ER 0 BB 1 K
Alex Concepcion: 2 IP 3 H 0 ER 1 BB 3 K
Ronald Hill: 1 IP 0 H 0 ER 0 BB 2 K

Monasterios, one of the prizes from the Bobby Abreu deal, had as bad a debut performance as you’ll ever see. The 21 year old righthander has an ERA of 94.50 to start off his season and somehow managed to throw 3 wild pitches while throwing to 9 batters; nowhere to go, but up…right?

Blaine is a big 23 year old lefty out of San Diego. Freeman is one of my favorite prospects in all the organization, a deep sleeper with a projectable frame (6’3”, 195) who suffered from a lack of exposure leading up to last year’s draft (not too many scouts plan trips to watch high school ball in Utah). He joins Adrian Cardenas as another teenager on the Lakewood squad (he’ll be 19 all season long). The organization is reportedly very high on the 22 year old native of the Dominican Republic, Alex Concepcion; it should be interesting how he does in his first crack at full season ball stateside. Ron Hill is a fringy minor league bullpen arm that is old for his league (24), but was a nice draft pick a few years back by the Phillies – I like the idea of targeting underused collegiate arms in the very late rounds of the draft and sticking them in the bullpen. Growing your own bullpen arms is all about quantity, quantity, quantity…if you have a good idea of what to look for and you try multiple ways of searching for it, good things will happen.

Lakewood 4/6

Quintin Berry (CF): 2-4, 2 R, BB, K, SB (1)
Jason Donald (SS): 2-5, 2B, 4 RBI, 2 K
Adrian Cardenas (2B): 0-4, RBI, R, 2 K
Tuffy Gosewisch (C): 2-4, HR, 2B, 2 RBI, R
Jay Miller (DH): 0-4, K
Gus Milner (RF): 2-4, 3B, R, 2 K
C.J. Henry (3B): 1-3, 3B, 2 R, K, HBP, SB (1)
Julian Williams (LF): 1-2, 2 R, 2 BB
Doug Morales (1B): 0-1

Edgar Garcia: 7 IP 4 H 1 ER 0 BB 5 K
Kyle Drabek: 1 IP 0 H 0 ER 0 BB 3 K
Garet Hill: 1 IP 0 H 0 ER 0 BB 1 K

See, there is hope after all. Garcia and Drabek represent a whole lot of what is promising in the organization. The teenage duo (Garcia doesn’t turn 20 until September, Drabek won’t get there until December) were both sensational in their debuts.

Lakewood 4/7

Quintin Berry (CF): 1-4
Jason Donald (SS): 1-4, E (1)
Adrian Cardenas (2B): 2-4, K
Tuffy Gosewisch (DH): 0-4, 3 K
Jay Miller (LF): 1-4
Gus Milner (RF): 2-4, 2B, R
Joel Naughton (C): 1-3

Great to see Naughton get a start behind the dish, the Phillies have high hopes that the young catcher out of Australia will have a strong year in full season ball.

Darren Byrd: 4.1 IP 3 H 3 ER 4 BB 3 K
Mike Dubee: 1.2 IP 2 H 0 ER 0 BB 0 K
Ben Pfinsgraff: 2 IP 0 H 0 ER 1 BB 1 K
Andrew Cruse: 1 IP 0 H 0 ER 0 BB 3 K

Cruse may take exception to the comment I made about Will Savage emerging as the best relief prospect the Phillies took in 2006; I’m surprised the Phils decided to start him in Lakewood rather than Clearwater though. I like Dubee way more than most, but am still very apprehensive about labeling Pfinsgraff a real prospect despite his success as a pro thus far – prove me wrong, Ben, prove me wrong.

Lakewood 4/9

Quintin Berry (LF): 1-4, BB, CS (1)
Jason Donald (SS): 0-4
Adrian Cardenas (2B): 1-4, R, K, CS (1)
Tuffy Gosewisch (C): 1-4, 2B, RBI, K
Jay Miller (DH): 1-4, 2B, R, K
Gus Milner (RF): 0-3, R, BB, 2 K, SB (1)
C.J. Henry (3B): 1-3, 2B, RBI, R, BB, SB (2)
Julian Williams (CF): 2-3, 2B, 2 RBI, BB, SB (1), CS (1)

Berry, Williams, and Milner must make up one heck of a defensive outfield - 2 natural centerfielders and a man with a rocket in right.

Jarrod Freeman: 4.2 IP 5 H 3 ER 3 BB 6 K
Ben Pfinsgraff: 2.1 IP 1 H 0 ER 0 BB 1 K
Ron Hill: 1 IP 0 H 0 ER 0 BB 1 K
Andrew Cruse: 1 IP 0 H 0 ER 0 BB 2 K

Jay Miller is well on his way to being dropped from the daily minor league updates…nothing personal, buddy. Jarrod Freeman didn’t have a great start by many standards, but the six strikeouts in 4.2 innings is a nice sign. Pfinsgraff continues to impress, I love being proved wrong in cases like this.

Berry is a 22 year old outfielder drafted out of San Diego State last year who struggled adjusting to professional ball at Batavia.

Henry turns 21 at the end of May and it is believed that he is repeating Lakewood to both adjust to third base and to finally get a taste of some professional success at an age-appropriate level.

Milner is a very athletic 23 year old outfielder taken out of the University of Kansas last year. He is raw for a college player but has an interesting blend of speed, size, and power that makes him a name to keep in the back of your mind.

The 22 year old Donald is the best shortstop prospect in a system very thin in that area.

Adrian Cardenas is the best looking young hitter in the organization. The Phillies were relatively aggressive in promoting him to full season ball as a teenager (he is 19 years of age), but his All-Star season in the GCL last year forced their hand. Cardenas is ready to handle the challenge at Lakewood.

Gosewisch was reportedly ready to either repeat Clearwater or advance to Reading, but was instead left behind in Lakewood to serve as the veteran backstop for the promising BlueClaws rotation. While it may be a bit of a tough break for Tuffy, it stinks to be in A ball as a guy turning 24 in August, but it’s a very bright move by the organization to think of their group of talented Lakewood starting pitchers first and foremost.

Williams will be 24 in July and is an A ball repeater. Miller was drafted out of Washington State last year and will be 24 in August. Both players ought to be hopeful of careers as minor league mercenaries because their major league futures are simply not bright. I’ll keep track of their progress for now, but it won’t be long before I lose the will to talk about such marginal A ball players. Sorry, guys.


Look on the Bright Side...

Or if not the bright side, at least look to the future anyway. I've been slacking off on reporting about the goings on in the world of Phillies minor leaguers, but no more. We'll kick things off with a report on the Phillies AAA and AA squads in Ottawa and Reading in the afternoon and then follow up with the A+ and A ball teams in Clearwater and Lakewood. Without further ado, Ottawa and Reading (interesting numbers and pitching lines are in bold)

Ottawa 4/7

Chris Roberson (CF): 1-4, 2B, 2 RBI, K, 2 E (2)
Danny Sandoval (SS): 1-6, K, E (1)
Brennan King (3B): 1-5, 2B, 2 RBI, R, 2 K
Jason Jaramillo (C): 2-4, 3B, 2 RBI, R, BB, K

Fabio Castro: 1 IP 1 H 0 ER 0 BB 0 K
Yoel Hernandez: 1 IP 4 H 3 ER 0 BB 0 K
Eude Brito: 1 IP 0 H 0 ER 0 BB 1 K
Brian Sanches: 1 IP 1 H 2 ER 0 BB 2 K wild pitch

Wacky opening night for Ottawa, but good to see the two most important prospects on the team (Jaramillo and Castro) play well.

Ottawa 4/9

Chris Roberson (CF): 1-5, RBI, OF assist (1)
Brennan King (3B): 1-4, E (1)
Jason Jaramillo (C): 1-4, K
Danny Sandoval (SS): 2-4, 2B, R

Not a single interesting pitcher to discuss threw for Ottawa…good times.

Reading 4/5

Jovan Moran (CF): 2-4, 2B, RBI, R, K, SB (1)
Mike Costanzo (3B): 1-4, HR (1), RBI, R, 2 K

Julio De La Cruz: 1 IP 0 H 0 ER 0 BB 0 K
Bubba Nelson: 1 IP 0 H 0 ER 0 BB 2 K
Anderson Garcia: 1 IP 0 H 0 ER 0 BB 0 K

Jovan Moran was reacquired this offseason from the Cincinnati Reds in the Jeff Conine swap. The 24 year old can run really, really fast and does a good job of never striking out and never taking a walk; what a fun player. Costanzo is the Phillies most advanced hitting prospect who is facing a gigantic year in his development as a 23 year old at AA. How Costanzo hits this season will undoubtedly have a great impact on how the Phillies approach the 2007/2008 offseason with regard to shopping for a third baseman.

Garcia and De La Cruz are both 26 years old, and Bubba Nelson is 25; all three guys were obtained in different have taken different paths to Reading, but they all represent the beauty that is the fungible relief pitcher. I’d personally like to see Nelson, a free agent pickup at the end of spring training, to make an appearance in the Phillies bullpen before all is said and done.

Reading 4/6

Jovan Moran (CF): 2-4, 2B, RBI, R, BB
Mike Costanzo (3B): 2-4, HR (2), RBI, R, K

Matt Maloney: 5 IP 2 H 2 ER 4 BB 3 K
Nate Johnson: 1 IP 0 H 0 ER 0 BB 0 K
Anderson Garcia: 1 IP 0 H 0 ER 0 BB 1 K

Maloney had a decent debut at Reading after jumping from Lakewood to AA; the 23 year old looks to convince the powers that be that he isn’t necessarily destined to a future in the bullpen with a great 2007. Nate Johnson is 25 years old and needs to keep throwing well to have a chance to make it to Philly someday; for whatever reason, I have a rather large soft spot for the guy.

Reading 4/7

Javon Moran (CF): 2-4, 2B, 3 R, 2 SB (3/3 on year)
Mike Costanzo (3B): 1-4, 3 K

Kyle Kendrick: 6 IP 5 H 2 ER 0 BB 3 K wild pitch
Nick Evangelista: 1.2 IP 2 H 1 ER 0 BB 3 K
Julio De La Cruz: 1.2 IP 0 H 0 ER 0 BB 1 K

Good first start for Kendrick and Moran keeps on hitting…even though the R-Phils are devoid of prospects for the most part, they’ve played what appears to be some entertaining ball so far. Although basing an assumption on that on box scores alone seems a bit silly, come to think of it…oh well, it takes too much effort to delete, so it stays.

Reading 4/9

Javon Moran (CF): 1-4, 2B
Mike Costanzo (3B): 0-4, RBI, 3 K

Bubba Nelson: 2 IP 1 H 1 ER 0 BB 3 K

Moran had 13 doubles in 293 minor league at bats last season; he has 4 in 16 so far in ’07. Costanzo has a whopping 9 strikeouts in 16 at bats through 4 games, not a great sign.


Phillies @ Mets - Game 7

Mets 11 - Phillies 5

Phillies fall to 1-6 in one of the most frustrating games I've witnessed since...well, pick almost any loss against the Mets last season. I have nothing more to add.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Phillies @ Marlins Series Wrap

Disappointing weekend for the Phillies in Miami. Read all about it below (and in case you missed a ton of words wasted on a slew of nobody relievers, check it out here):

Phillies 8 – Marlins 2

I probably should be keeping track of this statistically, but it seems to me that the shift that teams put on when Ryan Howard comes to the plate has worked out a whole bunch of times the first week of the season. In the second inning of Friday’s game, that’s exactly what happened; Howard scorched a ball to right field but it was exactly where the defense was playing him.

Carlos Ruiz is a starting catcher, there is no doubt in my mind about it. Who is clearly better in the National League? Brian McCann, Michael Barrett, maybe Russell Martin and/or Paul Lo Duca, Chris Iannetta soon enough…that’s about it as far as I can see. Now obviously Ruiz isn’t a cornerstone kind of player that you lock into a role and forget about upgrading for the next 5-6 years (see Utley, Chase), but he is a fine option as a starting catcher in the here and now. Hopefully Phillies management feels the same way and we see Ruiz get the vast majority of the time behind the dish in 2007 (nothing personal Rod, it’s just that you kind of stink at baseball).

Pat Burrell made a very nice diving catch in the bottom of the fourth inning on Friday. I don’t bring it up so much to talk about the catch (in fact, a couple of days later I don’t really remember it all that well…all my notes say are “great diving catch in left”), but the fact that he was in a position to make it in the first place. Burrell is moving so much better in left field than he has in prior seasons. It looks to me that he is slimmer this year than last and more athletic both in the field and on the base paths. He made a nice hustle play getting to a foul ball on Thursday against the Braves only to get charged with an error (and the ensuing symphony of boos) for not catching it.

In a perfect world, I’d do recaps every series of the visiting team’s broadcast crew – a full analysis, pros and cons, what makes each partnering unique, etc. The world is clearly not perfect and I know this because of the very existence of Rich Waltz and Tommy Hutton, the Florida Marlins broadcast team. They are terrible. I have nothing more to add. Let’s move on.

Even though Miguel Olivo runs a lot better than I remembered, it was still pretty inexcusable for him to ignore a stop sign at third and try for an inside-the-park homerun. Poor guy was out by 20 feet, easy.

The bottom of the fifth inning was unquestionably the turning point of the game. I was soooooo wrong about Jamie Moyer being a bad matchup against Miguel Cabrera and the Marlins – the ancient former Mariner put on a clinic against the youthful Florida lineup. With men on first and third, Moyer completely went into his own personal version of Operation Shutdown…only not nearly as evil and infinitely more effective. Moyer slowed the game down, paced around the mound between pitches, threw over to first an inordinate number of times…and before you knew it, three Marlins (Aaron Boone, Hanley Ramirez, and Dan Uggla) had popped up and the Phillies were out of the jam. Watching Cole Hamels pitch is the ultimate in pitching excitement when it comes to the Phillies and I can’t wait until his start against the Mets on Monday, but I’m now almost as excited to see what Moyer does on Thursday.

Marlins 8 – Phillies 5

Highlight of the game for the Phillies was obvious – Jimmy Rollins’ inside-the-park homerun was a sight to see. It was made about a million times better by Harry Kalas’ awesome call, so if you haven’t seen the highlight yet I suggest checking it out.

Another thing I’d like to start tracking, but won’t because I am too lazy is the number of times players swing at 3-0 pitches and in what situations they do so. Maybe I’m crazy, but it seems as though the Phillies have swung at a ton of 3-0 pitches in the early part of the year (most notably Ryan Howard, Pat Burrell, and Shane Victorino). Baseball Prospectus has begun doing a manager profile in their yearly annual and I think a great addition would be the inclusion of green lights on 3-0 pitches. I wish I had thought of this before the season, I would have been more than happy to keep track for the Phillies…maybe next year.

To continue what I said earlier about Pat Burrell being in better shape, did anybody else notice the play he jetted back to first on a ball Aaron Rowand hit that was caught in the gap? Burrell started on first, but was well past the bag at second when he realized the ball wasn’t going to drop. He then proceeded to run as fast as he could (well, presumably it was as fast as he could…how would I know either way?) until he made his way back to first.

Shane Victorino is a noticeably better outfielder than Aaron Rowand and it is a crime that he isn’t playing centerfield everyday. Rowand’s defense was one of the things I looked forward to most heading into 2006, but outside of a highlight reel catch of two he has been pretty average out there. Victorino has more range, a vastly superior arm, and a better idea of how to play certain hitters (I’m guessing on that last one, but it frustrates me to no end when I see Rowand play so damn shallow for EVERY SINGLE HITTER).

Gary Matthews referred to a current major league ballplayer as “Junior” during the broadcast. There is no way that I was the only one who thought of Ken Griffey Jr. rather than Gary Matthews Jr., right?

Two wasted opportunities for the Phillies summed up the entire night for me. In the fifth, Jimmy Rollins doubled and Shane Victorino followed it up with a walk; Chase Utley and Ryan Howard both went down stranding the two runners. In the sixth, Burrell and Wes Helms lead off the inning with back to back singles; Rowand, Carlos Ruiz, and Jayson Werth went down 1-2-3.

Marlins 6- Phillies 4

The ultimate in frustration for a Phillies fan – 7 hits + 11 walks adding up to 4 runs scored. Take heart, Phillies fans, I guarantee that some of those baserunners will result in runs before long. Teams with high number of guys left on base also happen to be teams with high numbers of, wait for it because this is earth shattering, guys getting on base in the first place. When you have lots of guys who get on base, surprise surprise, eventually things begin to even out and the “clutch” hits with runners in scoring position begin to start falling in. Patience.

I listened to this game on my XM while attending the Boston College-North Carolina game…at least the Phillies kept things closer than the Golden Eagles did against the Tar Heels (15-6 final, UNC finished off the 3 game sweep).

So the Marlins radio crew is an interesting one…the discussion on beer pong was quite enlightening. The announcer brought up the fact that Aaron Rowand as his “Beer Pong Champion” wristband. Unfortunately for the listening audience, he then attempted to explain the intricacies of beer pong to his older, less hip partner. Despite being a college student, I’m hardly an expert on beer pong…but I was damn confused listening to this guy’s explanation. According to him, beer pong is played with a paddle and a ping pong ball. There are two cups on each side of the table and players take turns trying to hit the ball with a paddle into a cup on the fly. Maybe this is a version of the game I simply hasn’t seen, so if anybody knows more about this let me know.

Zack Segovia’s father in-law is former big leaguer Darnell Coles. Who knew? Not me…

Bring on the Mets…I’m not just being a huge homer, but I think the pitching matchups favor the Phillies by a lot…here comes the sweep that turns April around. If not…Davy Johnson should make sure to frequently check his email.

1-4 Start Has Phillies Seeking Bullpen Help

The Phillies continual search for bullpen help has been an interesting one with four names featured prominently over the past week. How about a closer look?

Ron Villone - PASS

The Phillies talked to Ron Villone and agent Scott Boras but passed on signing the veteran lefty reliever released last week by the Yankees, who offered Villone a minor-league deal with an out by May 1. [NY Post: 4/4]

Talk to him, check him out, see if he has anything left...and then decide he's not a good fit. I support the process and am glad the Phillies looked into adding a potentially helpful guy. It's also encouraging that management didn't rush into making a bad signing just because of a perceived hole in the bullpen that just haaaaad to be filled up by a "proven" reliever rather than another, more creative option - in prior seasons, the powers that be might have rushed out to sign Villone even if they weren't convinced he would be a real improvement simply to get another veteran arm in the pen (something that sadly appeases many "fans" of the team).

Dustin Hermanson - IN LIMBO

General manager Pat Gillick said the Phillies might take another look at righthander Dustin Hermanson, who was released Sunday by Cincinnati. The Phils saw Hermanson in the off-season but weren't impressed. He had a 7.36 ERA in eight appearances this spring for the Reds. He started well, but struggled late in the spring. Hermanson missed much of last season because of back problems. [Philly Inquirer 4/7]

The Phillies worked him out about a month ago and passed, but apparently absence makes the heart grow fonder - life without Dustin has proved just far too difficult for Pat Gillick to bear. If they think Hermanson is better than what they currently have on the roster, he could be in Phillies pinstripes by the end of next week. One can't help but wonder what has changed in the past few weeks that could have changed the Phillies mind about Hermanson - if his stuff really has deteroriated as much as the rumors surrounding him lead you to believe, would he really be an upgrade over a reliever who has been relatively effective, but lacks great stuff like Clay Condrey?

Francisco Rosario - WELCOME TO PHILLY

Plenty to say about Rosario, the newest addition to the roster after the Phillies snatched him from the Blue Jays for a mere $100,000. Rosario had a legitimately great 2002 minor league season between A and A+ ball. Unfortunately, he was not given a chance to immediately build on his success because he went under the knife after hearing a pop in his elbow while pitching in the AFL. He missed the entire 2003 season and the first six weeks of 2004 with an unrelated upper-arm injury. Rosario started in the minors up until the Blue Jays converted him into a reliever in August of 2005.

His current repertoire is explained in the quote from the 2007 edition of the Baseball America Prospect Handbook, but his progression of "stuff" has been a fascinating one. Using all kinds of resources both electronic and print, I've managed to put together the following: Plus fastball (92-97 MPH pre-injury with "exceptional command," 93-96 MPH post-injury with "solid command"); above average 86-88 MPH changeup with late action; pre-injury he threw a slurve, post-injury it was more a slider (85-88 MPH). Below are quotes taken from Baseball America that track Rosario's progress over the years:

Baseball America 2004 Prospect Handbook (ranked 5th, ahead of Aaron Hill, Dave Bush, and Jayson Werth): "Rosario would have been the Jays' No. 1 prospect last year if not for the surgery."

Baseball America 2005 Prospect Handbook (ranked 4th, only behind Brandon League, Aaron Hill, and Guillermo Quiroz): "Rosario has the power stuff to be a top-of-the-rotation starter."

Baseball America 2006 Prospect Handbook (ranked 8th): "Some observers think he pitches as if he fears hurting his elbow again."

Baseball America 2007 Prospect Handbook (ranked 6th): "Rosario employs true power stuff: a mid-90s fastball peaking at 98 mph with life, an 85-88 mph slider and a hard split-grip changeup."

From Baseball Prospectus 2007:

Once considered a high-upside guy, Francsico [sic] Rosario has had his share of arm troubles and has gotten older without the upside coming around, but he could be salvaged as a decent arm out of the bullpen if he maintains the uptick in control he experienced with Syracuse last year.

That's a lot of information to digest, but the bottom line is fairly clear: Rosario had great stuff and command pre-injury, has good to very good stuff and command post-injury, but still hasn't put it all together at the big league level. He is at the point of his career where he needs to be given a shot to sink or swim in the majors and I'm extremely happy to see the Phillies as the team willing to give him that shot.


The Phillies added inventory to their relief corps yesterday when they signed free-agent righthander Rick Bauer to a minor-league contract, pending a physical. Bauer, 30, went 3-1 with two saves and a 3.55 earned run average in 58 games for Texas last season, but the Rangers released him March 28. He had a bad spring. He went 0-1 with a 15.63 ERA in five appearances. In 61/3 innings, he allowed 19 hits, 15 runs (11 earned), 4 home runs, and 4 walks. He hit two batters and struck out four. [Philadelphia Inquirer 4/7]

The move itself is nothing to jump and down with excitement about, but the context of such a signing is pretty exciting. You build a good bullpen by getting as many interesting arms as possible (and ideally for as cheap as possible) and letting them sort themselves out - if Bauer looks good up in Ottawa, great; if not, what have you lost? There is no commodity in baseball quite as fungible as the relief pitcher and moves like the Bauer put this theory to work.

In fact, just as I was about to put this post to bed I stumbled across Bauer's comment in Baseball Prospectus 2007. I think it really reinforces the point made in the preceding paragraph plus it adds an interesting projection for '07:

Relievers are a volatile lot. Maybe it's that luck plays a bigger hand in their results given the small sample sizes of their annual workloads, maybe it's that it's more difficult to maintain all the different mechanical aspects of pitching when you only throw so many pitches at a time, or perhaps that lack of consistency is what put many relievers in the pen in the first place. Bauer is actually one of the more consistent relievers within his range; he's been a more or less league-average pitcher since 2001...PECOTA sees his unimpressive K/BB rate catching up with him in 2007.

The blurb also mentions Bauer's ability to adjust to pitching in Texas last year by his marked improvement in GB% (from 45.2% in 2005 with the Orioles to 54.5% with Texas). It should also be noted that Bauer only gave up one homer in 146 batters faced in 2006, certainly an encouraging skill for a pitcher with dreams of pitching in South Philly at some point in '07.