Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Phils Improve to 14-6 in Grapefruit Leage Play

Phillies win two more today – 7-4 victory over the Detroit Tigers in Clearwater and a 5-2 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates in Bradenton. Time to dissect some spring training games for little to no reason whatsoever…

Aaron Rowand led off against the Tigers today and went 0-4 with a strikeout…he is hitting .174 on the season…I’m honestly not basing this off of spring stats and I am still very excited about seeing Rowand’s much hyped defense everyday in Philly, but I just hope Phillies fans remember how damn effective the Jason Michaels (.304/.399/.415 in 289 at bats) and Kenny Lofton (.334/.392/.420 in 367 at bats) platoon really was offensively. It can be argued that Rowand has the considerable offensive upside of the three players though - a point that I happen to agree with and not just to calm my nerves when I think about his .174 spring...

The Phillies big three in Clearwater today batted 3-4-5 in the lineup – RF Bobby Abreu, LF Pat Burrell, and 1B Ryan Howard. Abreu had a double to keep up his hot spring (I should clarify: his spring has been hot so long as he has been wearing a Phils uniform), Burrell hit a 2-run homer in the second, and Ryan Howard collected his 15th spring RBI.

Chris Coste just keeps on hitting…I don’t know how heavily the Phils will weigh spring stats when making a decision, but his awesome numbers (he is hitting .480 as of today) and versatility (yet another game with Coste playing some catcher, I love it) will make it hard for the Phillies to justify sending him down at this point.

Due to today’s games being split squad affairs, some interesting career minor leaguers and up and coming prospects were given a chance to take the field alongside some of the established big league Phils (the aforementioned Abreu, Burrell, and Howard trio come to mind). Ryan Fleming and Ryan Barthelemy both saw time playing the field (only Fleming got an at bat; he went 0-1 with a K) – Fleming is a 30-year old career minor leaguer and Barhelemy is a soon to be 26-year old infielder coming off a miserable year in AA Reading. On the more optimistic side of things, Mike Costanzo, Tim Moss, and Jake Blalock all got some playing time today – Costanzo played third and went 0-2, Tim Moss started at second and went 0-3 with a walk, and Jake Blalock came in to play leftfield when Pat Burrell had enough and proceeded to go 0-1. Costanzo is highly thought of in the organization, Tim Moss often gets mixed reports these days (power is developing nicely, but he struck out 129 times in 123 games as a 23-year old in the FSL), and Blalock needs to rediscover his pre-2005 power if he wants to fulfill his big league ambitions.

With all of that said, Gavin Floyd was, once again, the player who stole the show this afternoon. Floyd went 5 innings giving up only 2 hits, 2 walks, and striking out 5. Floyd is a slam dunk to open the season in AAA Scranton (along with Eude Brito and Robinson Tejeda) and, if he plays all his cards right down on the farm, could be the first starter called upon if (when) Ryan Franklin implodes.

For the Tigers…no real news to report outside of three guys with some kind of Philadelphia connection. Former Phillies farmhand Reggie Taylor went 2-4 and is hitting .389 on the spring. The outfield is crowded in Detroit, so it would take some shuffling for Taylor to make the Opening Day roster. Another former Phillie, RP Hector Mercado, pitched an effective eight inning while striking out 2 Phils in the process. His spring ERA stands at 5.14 at the moment. The last player with a Philly connection is Tigers 1B Carlos Pena. Pena, the pride of Northeastern University, has been mentioned as a possible trade pickup for the Phillies – if you believe the Phils are serious about adding some outside help to that bench (I don’t). Pena hit a 2-run homer in the 8th inning off of Eude Brito, but is still only batting .178 this spring.

The 5-2 win over the Pirates provided its share of good news as well…

Shane Victorino had a big day as he unloaded on Pirates pitching for 3 hits including 2 triples. On days he is in the lineup, having Victorino in the 2-hole looks pretty good to me.

A whole collection of fringe, minor league lifers took the field for the Phils in this one. Juan Sosa (30-years old with 10 major league at bats) played a little bit of shortstop, Bryan Hansen played some first (1-1 day, plus 1 RBI), Joey Hammond pinch ran and played second (walked and scored), Marc Tugwell pinch hit for Julio Santana in the 9th, and Jeff Inglin went 1-3 starting in leftfield. Important fact to remember – all of these guys are infinitely better at baseball than I am.

Chris Roberson is doing what he can to keep up with Chris Coste these days. Roberson had a rough day at the plate (0-3, 2 K’s, 3 men left on), but still managed to reach base twice on walks.

The hot youngster to watch in this game was Phillies LF Greg Golson. Golson managed to get two at bats (1-2, run scored) and was to said to have impressed – i.e. looked like he belonged a little bit (this little bit of info is from my secondary scouting reports, so take it for what its worth).

Cory Lidle had a successful outing that was eerily similar to the successful outing Gavin Floyd enjoyed down the road (maybe up the road, I don’t know my Florida geography) in Florida. Lidle also went five innings, allowed 4 baserunners (3 hits, 1 walk), and also struck out 5. Rocky outing for Julio Santana – he gave up 3 hits in the 8th and allowed the Pirates second run to score.

Phillies will actually be on television tomorrow (ESPN and MLB.TV) for their 1:05 contest against the Atlanta Braves. Ryan Franklin will be the starter for the Phils. The regular season opener is in roughly 11 days, 20 hours, and 45 minutes…but who’s counting?


Post a Comment

<< Home