Monday, March 20, 2006

Phils Improve to 12-6...and Other Stuff

We're all over the map today with Phillies/generic baseball news, so here it goes:

*** Phillies beat the Minnesota Twins today 8-5 to run their record to 12-6 for the spring. Bobby Abreu and Chase Utley continued to get back in to the groove at big league camp with successful afternoons at the plate, Abe Nunez struggled yet again, both Alex Gonzalez and Tomas Perez saw time in leftfield, and Geoff Geary impressed with 2 innings of 1 hit, 1 strikeout ball to pick up his 3rd save of the spring and lower that all important spring ERA to 1.80. Good day all around.

*** John Sickels at Minor League Ball is running a series of young pitcher profiles with today’s entry being about today’s Phillies starter Brett Myers (Myers went 5 solid innings and was said to have made locating his changeup his primary focus of the day). Some of Sickels' more familiar historical comps for Myers include Joey Hamilton and Alex Fernandez. The active comps are slightly more encouraging - Jeff Weaver (makes sense in that both have been extremely durable), Chris Carpenter, Wade Miller, and, my favorite one, Brad Penny. Something about Penny and Myers always seemed similiar to me, I can't quite put my finger on it - body type, pitching style, funny facial hair - I'm really not quite sure what it is, but I do see a connection between them somehow. I'm a huge Myers fan who happens to think he'll be very solid for a long time with a nice stretch of great peak seasons (think maybe a year or three of sub 3.00 ERAs). The possibility of injury exists, however, and Mr. Sickels mentions the possibility of Myers flaming out shortly after turning 30.

Sickels' Young Pitcher Symposium series has been fascinating so far and is definitely well worth a look if you are so inclined. This ain't no plug, either - I'm merely a fan of his work.

*** had some useful information yesterday that deserves a mention - even if it is just some minor league notes about the Phils:

Lefty Cole Hamels made his second start at the Minor League complex, allowing one run on three hits in three innings against the Blue Jays' Triple-A Syracuse club. He walked none and struck out two.

Every time that Hamels pitches and comes out of the game feeling okay is a darn good day for him at this point of the season in my book.

Minors news: The Phils' patience with Kiel Fisher ran out on Sunday, when the team released the injury-riddled former prospect.

A third-round pick in the 2002 First-Year Player Draft, Fisher had limited success in the low Minor Leagues, batting a combined .332 in 193 total at-bats in the Gulf Coast League and Class A Batavia in 2003.

He missed the 2004 season because of a back injury and barely hit or played at Class A Lakewood in 2005.

In other Minor League news, the Phillies acquired outfielder Jonathan Johnson for the Cubs for no compensation. With Class A Daytona last year, Johnson batted .261 with 10 homers and 50 RBIs.

The Kiel Fisher era is over; long live the Jonathan Johnson era. There were high hopes back when the Phils drafted Fisher and, unfortunately, it looks like he'll never get the chance to live up to them. Fisher’s chronic injuries, questionable dedication to rehabbing said injuries, commitment to the game itself, and other undisclosed off the field issues all seem to have played a part in his release. Just goes to show you how cyclical these minor league matters can be – Fisher, Terry Jones, and Juan Richardson were all pegged as third basemen of the future types at one point during their respective times with the organization. Welison Baez and Mike Costanzo now represent the future at third. Will they follow the paths of Fisher and Richardson (the jury is still out on Jones to a degree)? Or will they be Phils minor league success stories like Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, and Ryan Howard? Only time will tell…

And, yes, I do realize the irony of the Phillies releasing a former “third basemen of the future” the day after going off about the very bright future crop of third basemen in the majors and high minors. At least Baez and Costanzo give us hope at third…can’t ask for much more than that really.

For the record, Jonathan Jermaine Johnson (he goes by J.J.) is a 24-year old A ball player – he looks like an organizational guy added to fill a roster spot somewhere in the system. Fun name though.

*** I take credit for being somewhat prophetic when it comes to today’s news coming out about the Cincinnati Reds dealing OF Wily Mo Pena (who I somehow forget to mention put on the best show in batting practice out of Edwin Encarnacion and Adam Dunn that day at RFK) to the Boston Red Sox for SP Bronson Arroyo. I said this yesterday,

Aaron Harang was impressive for Cincy today...he really isn't all that bad a pitcher (coming off a successful 2005, plus a Baseball Reference sim score very close to Jon Lieber through their respective Age-27 seasons), but it must be a little disheartening for Reds fans to know that Harang will be their Opening Day starter.

I haven't bothered to read up on this at all, but I'll just go ahead and assume for now that Harang will remain the Reds Opening Day starter. So, I guess my point really hasn't changed though adding Arroyo does make the rotation better. Arroyo has a career ERA+ of 100 - the guy has been just about as average a big league starter can be. Average big league starters (especially those at a cheap, fixed rate) are damn useful though - not sure I think they are as useful as 24-year old power hitting outfielders (especially when the pitcher in question is a flyball pitcher going to a tiny ballpark with subpar defensive outfielders), but useful nonetheless. Funny that, on the same day, the Mariners and White Sox completed a similiar, though far less excting (for good reason as far less talent was exchanged) trade with a toolsy outfielder (Joe Borchard) going from Chicago to Seattle in return for a pitcher with plenty of questions (Matt Thornton). In both cases, I side with the teams getting the outfielder - the Red Sox picked up a talented bat while trading from strength and the Mariners added an outfielder that has yet to put it all together for basically nothing (my apologies go out to the whole Thornton family for calling him "nothing," but it's true).

*** Two useful things from today’s Inquirer:

1) The Phils continue to monitor the trade market in search of a bat. They have recently scouted Dustan Mohr, a non-roster outfielder in Boston's camp.

2) Sal Fasano will serve in the old Todd Pratt role of personal catcher for soon to be announced Opening Day (Charlie keep playing games about this, but you know it’ll happen) starter Jon Lieber.

No real surprise about only seemed like a matter of time before this was made official. The Dustan Mohr rumor is sure to pick up some steam after the Red Sox added two outfielders in two days (Pena today, Juan Gonzalez yesterday), but we'll wait and see what becomes of him before going into more detail.


Anonymous malphie said...

What's the story with Brett-Brett's '06 facial hair? This is the kind of stuff the Zoleckis of the world exclude from their otherwise hard-hitting reports.

11:20 AM  
Blogger XXX said...

Dood, if you think ole Brett has some funny facial hair then you will flip your lid when you see Sal Fasano and, to a lesser extent, Rheal Cormier. Fasano's look can not be's just too much. Cormier is clean shaven, but with a little chin thing - weird change of pace to see him like that.

Oh yeah...Cormier. Assuming he makes the team, this will be his 6th year as a Phillie...doesn't that make you feel old?

11:34 PM  

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