Saturday, December 17, 2005

No Big News, But All Kinds of Smaller Things...and Cop Punching!

The title of the post says it all - nothing big is going on, but the Phillies continue to make news one way or another. A few of the more interesting notes from Friday, December 16th...

  1. Jason Michaels finally had his day in court on Thursday and it appears his cop punching days are over. This is truly the end of an era. An era of cop punching. Anyway, Michaels was placed in a program for first time cop punchers and could see all charges dropped (just like the cop he punched) if he complies with all the rules of the program. There is absolutely nothing funny about a story where a ball player punches a cop…except maybe three things - 1) Mug shots are always funny 2) Michaels attorney is clearly straight out of a Charles Dickens novel (quick book plug: read Great Expectations if you haven’t). I can’t believe his attorney is seriously named Barnaby C. Wittels. I refuse to believe it. Amazing that this isn’t even the funniest thing about J-Mike punching a cop because of 3) He actually punched a cop. I don’t advocate it, but it never ceases to be funny to me.
  2. Team president Dave Montgomery said work has begun on moving the fences back in left-center field. They will be moved back five feet and raised 2 1/2 feet. This will result in the removal of 174 seats from the ballpark. Burrell could lose a few cheap ones to left, but none of the lefthanded power on the roster has much to worry about at all.
  3. Pitching update: The Phillies apparently went as high as 2-years, $8 million to RP Braden Looper, but refused to top the Cardinals 3-year deal. Again, this was a smart non-move by the Phillies. It does leave some questions up in the air that need to be answered. The Phillies manager (see number 4) seems to think Ryan Madson would be a very good fit in the starting rotation this year and that SP Cole Hamels has a shot to win himself a job in spring training. It is only December, so talk of Hamels making the club out of ST should not be taken all too seriously but it is good to know Charlie thinks so highly of him and he is at least on the Phils radar. The bullpen situation is just as up in the air as the rotation. There is some speculation that the Phillies have targeted a trade for P Miguel Batista or a signing of free agent RPs Jeff Nelson or Rudy Seanez. Batista is worth looking into at least on an exploratory basis and Seanez would be a good fit at the right price. Nelson is a guy I wouldn't touch at all. Current Phillies RP Aquilino Lopez is also being talked about as a potential late inning relief candidate. He might be the best option of all the names mentioned thus far. We have a long ways until the Phils pitching situation works itself out.
  4. Charlie Manual had a couple of interesting things to say on Daily News Live today. The previously mentioned tidbits on Madson and Hamels were probably the most important things he had to say, but there were others. He apparently mentioned his fondness for two of the Phillies newest additions - INF Abraham Nunez and backup C Sal Fasano. Charlie would like to see each guy get plenty of time and even said it was possible Fasano could play in 80 games this year. Play in 80 games, not start 80 games - important clarification. It doesn't make the news all that better, but hopefully things change on this front between now and April as both Nunez and Fasano are below average major leaguers. One last Charlie note - he somehow managed to break his wrist golfing. I'm no golfer so I don't know exactly how that works, but I can't for the life of me figure it out. Maybe he fell out of the golf cart or got a little dizzy on the 19th hole...
  5. More on pitching: It appears that the bullpen has another definite member as RP Aaron Fultz has avoided arbitration with the club by signing a fresh 1-year, $1.2 million contract. It is a good deal for everybody involved and it is really really nice to see the Phillies not go crazy and give him a 3-year deal or something. Give Fultz another year, see if he can get the job done again, and then decide on his future. I'll give credit when credit is due and this is a shrewd move by the Phillies.
  6. More on pitching and the aforementioned Aquilino Lopez: Lopez was removed from the 40 man roster today after being sent outright to the AAA Red Barons. Don't be alarmed by this move - the Phillies will still invite him to spring training and he is still a legit candidate to earn a big league job. They took him off the 40 man roster because they could. That's all. The obvious question is why take him off at all. There is no easy answer for that, but it is something that is fun to speculate on. It is often the case that a guy is removed from the 40 man roster only when the team has a plan to add someone to take his place. Do the Phillies have somebody in mind? Will it be through a trade? Will it be a new free agent reliever? Are these the same questions that have been repeated over and over everyday now for the past week? I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know, and yes. Is it just me or is this the first time we are even talking about something like this in a while – the Phillies making a subtle move and then we all anxiously wait for the other shoe to drop. Gillick seems like a far sneakier GM than Ed Wade ever was. Good or bad, it seems like he makes moves with future moves already in mind. I have to imagine this is the way a real GM operates, but it is a method that is only good in theory and can be botched pretty horribly in execution. If Gillick were to drop Lopez from the 40 man to add…another backup catcher or another equally useless player (Jeff Nelson maybe?), it would be a bad move. Nice overall plan, poor execution. For now, I’ll give ole Pat the benefit of the doubt, but I should point out I was against the move from the start (Dayton Moore would have been a nice choice…).
  7. I should point out that there could be a new addition to the 40 man roster any day now as the Phillies are still deciding on whether to accept Texas P Ricardo Rodriguez or minor league (pre-minor league actually considering he has yet to play a pro game in the U.S.) INF Julio Gonzalez as compensation for SP Vicente Padilla. Rodriguez would take up a spot, but Gonzalez would not. Maybe this means they are seriously leaning towards Rodriguez. If they don’t make their decision by tomorrow maybe I’ll have time to put up a post about which player I would choose if I was king of the Phillies.
  8. Vicente Padilla – pretty as ever, don’t you think?


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