Tuesday, May 16, 2006


I’m honestly not stealing from today’s Inquirer…even though it certainly seems like that's the case...oh well. I was sitting around last night thinking about the last four days (with no Phillies to watch I’m reduced to actually thinking…scary I know) and it dawned on me how amazing the past four days have been. Thursday night’s game was the rain-shortened win over the Mets that featured a pretty nice catch (not sure if anybody has heard about this grab yet…) by Phillies centerfielder Aaron Rowand (not to brag, but I was there – years from now, I’ll be able to say I was honestly one of the 100,000 or so Phillies fans that will claim to have seen “The Catch” live… for the record, in reality the paid attendance was 28,224)…Friday night was the debut of one of those minor leaguers we’re always hearing about, Cole Hamels…Jon Lieber’s bid for a perfect game on Saturday evening was made all the more nerve racking due to the Phillies radio broadcast on 1210 AM being full of static until we put a couple of miles behind us after leaving Baltimore (more on the road trip later)…and Ryan Howard’s dramatic two homerun performance on Mother’s Day capped off the most memorable long weekend of Phillies baseball in years.

The memorable weekend of baseball was by no means limited to exciting play on the field either. Plenty happened between my last real post (it’s been so long I don’t even remember when that even was) and now, we’ll go to bullets (parceled out in mini-posts over the next few days so I won’t feel guilty about not updating) to sum it up…

*** Roster Shakeup – Where to begin? In the last few days we’ve seen…Chris Booker lost on waivers, Cole Hamels promoted, Julio Santana activated from the DL, Geoff Geary sent down to Scranton-WB, Santana put back on the DL, Geary sent back up to Philadelphia (he actually never left town, but who’s keeping track?), Aaron Rowand to the DL with a busted up face, and Chris Roberson promoted to the big leagues. That’s a lot of player movement, no? We aren’t even done yet.

*** Minor League Movement – This site has become a decidedly friendly place for minor league news, so it gives me great pleasure to do my part to keep Phils fans up to date on the often ignored news from down on the farm. Promotions in the past week within the Phillies organization that have not directly impacted the big club include Kyle Kendrick’s call up from Lakewood to Clearwater and Zack Segovia’s elevation from Clearwater to Reading. Both young righthanders started for their new teams over the past few days – check the minor league reports on how they did (or read the cliff notes version here: Segovia was good, Kendrick was not).

*** 2006 Phillies VSL Roster - I fancy myself to be something of a minor league aficionado, but I will fully admit when there is something out there I know very little about (hardly an unusual scenario). The Phillies 2006 Venezuelan Summer League Team’s season has just begun – check out their roster here and the PhilliesPhans.com thread on the subject here (Squire knows what he is talking about, he’s one of the names you can trust when it comes to Phillies minor league reports).

*** Kansas City @ Baltimore – To show the lengths I go to give the best news updates I can on all things Phillies, I spent my Saturday traveling to Baltimore to take in an Orioles-Royals just to see former Phillie Chris Booker make his 2006 major league debut (there may have been other, significantly less insane reasons for my trip but those are boring and unimportant). Booker looked “good” – fastball was sitting consistently at 92 MPH (hitting 94 on the gun twice), curveball was in the mid-80s, and he even mixed in an 80 MPH splitter on occasion. All of those pitches sound “good” in theory (one of the reasons I was a big fan of his breaking camp with the Phillies), but it the real world it looked like batting practice for the O’s. Booker was rocked for 6 earned runs in just one inning of work; he walked three batters and gave up three homeruns while throwing 43 total pitches to get three outs (23 strikes/20 balls). I know next to nothing about Booker personally, but I couldn’t help but feel terrible for him professionally. The guy waited ten years in the minor leagues to get a chance in the bigs until finally getting a huge break by getting claimed by the pitching needy Royals. Finally, Booker was in a position to earn consistent innings out of the bullpen for a team that could afford to take a chance on a player with 608 strikeouts in 515.1 IP (coming into this year). After his performance on Saturday, the Royals put Booker back on the disabled list in an thinly veiled attempt to stash him away from the Nationals (Rule 5 conditions are still in effect) while they deliberate on his future. Good luck to Booker and the Royals – I hope everybody wins in this situation.

*** Phillies Third Base Quandary - In the 2004 Baseball America Prospect Handbook, the Phillies had 4 third basemen listed in their organizational top 30: Juan Richardson (9), Terry Jones (10), Kiel Fisher (12), and Welinson Baez (29). Travis Chapman was also in the organization and was thought reasonably high of after putting up a .861 OPS in AA in 2002 and a .771 OPS in AAA in 2003. Baez is still in the minor league system (you’d know that if you keep up with the minor league reports here), but now we can finally say the other four third basemen are officially no longer members of the Phillies organization (Jones was the most recent to leave the organization – he retired earlier this week). Here is what Baseball America had to say about the Phillies class “third basemen of the future” back in 2004…

Richardson: “When healthy, Richardson ranks behind only [Ryan] Howard for pure power in the organization. He probably won’t ever hit for much average, but he could produce 30-35 homers annually…The best all-around third baseman in the system, Richardson could take over in Philadelphia by 2005 if he stays healthy.”

Jones: “Phillies officials say Jones can be an above-average major league hitter capable of hitting .280 with 20-25 homers annually.”

Fisher: “He projects average to plus power and makes adjustments well enough to hit for a solid average…There’s no doubt his bat would play at a more power-driven position.”

I touched on the Phillies unlucky run on minor league third basemen about two months ago after Kiel Fisher was released…

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. Welinson 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.

Costanzo is currently hitting .250/.319/.389 with 4 homeruns, 12 walks, and 46 strikeouts in 144 at bats for High-A Clearwater. Baez is hitting .213/.228/.311 with 1 homer, 3 walks, and 46 strikeouts in 122 at bats for Low-A Lakewood. It’s early, but that’s not all that promising a start for either player. By the way, according to the 2004 BA Prospect Handbook, Baez reminded some Phillies of Juan Richardson “from a physical and mental standpoint.” It was a compliment at the time, but it is perhaps an unintended spooky premonition by the organization now that we can look back with the benefit of hindsight.

This post has gotten long enough...there isn't room to post updates on Bobby Abreu to the Yankees, Mike Lieberthal's bum knee, and the Cincinnati Reds non-stop chatter about Cole Hamels' debut.


Blogger GM-Carson said...

I was hoping to have my blog linked to your's, and then vise-versa.


Let me know if you link us, so we can do the same for you.

Carson Book

7:28 AM  
Blogger XXX said...

Done and done...I actually linked to you guys on the sidebar a couple of weeks ago, keep up the good work.

12:55 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home