Sunday, April 30, 2006

Phillies @ Pirates - Pittsburgh Seeks the Sweep

Big day for Gavin Floyd today, I can feel it...good thing too, because the Phillies will need it due to another unbelievably bad lineup put together by the manager. I'd say more, but you know how it goes - if you don't have something nice to say...

Philadelphia Phillies
SS Jimmy Rollins
2B Abraham Nunez
CF Aaron Rowand
RF Bobby Abreu
LF Pat Burrell
1B Ryan Howard
3B Alex Gonzalez
C Sal Fasano
SP Gavin Floyd

Pittsburgh Pirates
CF Nate McLouth
SS Jack Wilson
LF Jason Bay
RF Jeromy Burnitz
1B Craig Wilson
3B Joe Randa
2B Freddy Sanchez
C Humberto Cota
SP Oliver Perez

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Phillies @ Pirates

It's the weekend so all that gets posted is the lineups...for now. We'll see if I can whip something up/find something positive to say after last night's loss. Until then, starting lineups (Rowand third? Is Charlie trying to get himself fired?):

Philadelphia Phillies
SS Jimmy Rollins
2B Chase Utley
CF Aaron Rowand
RF Bobby Abreu
LF Pat Burrell
1B Ryan Howard
3B David Bell
C Mike Lieberthal
SP Cory Lidle

Pittsburgh Pirates
CF Chris Duffy
SS Jack Wilson
LF Jason Bay
RF Jeromy Burnitz
1B Craig Wilson
3B Joe Randa
C Ronny Paulino
2B Jose Castillo
SP Paul Maholm

Friday, April 28, 2006

Phillies @ Pirates

Tonight's starting lineups:

Philadelphia Phillies (9-12)
SS Jimmy Rollins
2B Chase Utley
RF Bobby Abreu
LF Pat Burrell
1B Ryan Howard
CF Aaron Rowand
3B David Bell
C Mike Lieberthal
SP Brett Myers

Pittsburgh Pirates (5-18)
CF Chris Duffy
SS Jack Wilson
LF Jason Bay
RF Jeromy Burnitz
1B Craig Wilson
3B Joe Randa
2B Jose Castillo
C Ronny Paulino
SP Ian Snell

I realized today that I rarely do game recaps after the Phils lose...go figure. Hopefully tonight will be different than last night's ugly loss. It seems like Ryan Franklin won't be available out of the bullpen today, so the Phils chances of winning is higher than it would be right from the start. Also, we have our first update on the Red Barons injuries from last night from the Times Leader:

Yoel Hernandez collapsed on the field, clutching his right arm after throwing a pitch to Chris Basak in the ninth inning. Russell and staff believe Hernandez strained a muscle but said that Hernandez will see a doctor for evaluation. ... Catcher Carlos Ruiz was hit by a pitch while batting in the eighth inning and had to be spelled by Dusty Wathan in the ninth. The Red Barons hope that it’s only a bruised forearm.

Still not the most detailed of reports, but it's a start. A strained muscle and a bruised forearm would seemingly be best case scenarios to each injury - check back for updates.

Minor League Update 4/27

The bit of minor league bad news that was alluded to in the previous post:

Yoel Hernandez was perfect in relief of Hamels in the eighth, but the right-hander left the game after facing two batters in the ninth due to an arm injury, which caused him to writhe on the ground in pain.

Hernandez's battery mate Carlos Ruiz also got hurt, leaving the game with one out in the eighth due to a neck and shoulder injury. Dusty Wathan replaced him and caught the rest of the game.

There is no question Ruiz should be a Phillie right now while a very strong argument could be made for Hernandez' inclusion on the 25 roster as well. These injuries are obvious setbacks although, as far as I know anyway, the severity of each is unknown at this point. Ruiz stayed in the game to run the bases and later catch a bit behind the plate before coming out. Hernandez came out immediately after his injury, which sounded bad per the Scranton radio broadcast...any info on either injury is appreciated, you know I'll continue to dig around and seem if I can find more to the story.

AAA Scranton-WB

  • Carlos Ruiz: 2-2, HR, 2 RBI, 2 R, 2 BB, HBP, SB
  • Chris Roberson: 2-5, 2 R, 2 SB
  • Josh Kroeger: 3-4, RBI, BB, K, OF assist
  • Danny Sandoval: DL
  • Brennan King: 3-5, 2B, K, E
  • Angel Chavez: N/A
  • Chris Coste: 2-4, 2B, 2 RBI, R, K

  • Lastings Milledge: 0-3, BB, K
  • Victor Diaz: 1-4, 2 K

  • Cole Hamels (W, 1-0): 7 IP 3 H 0 ER 0 BB 14 K
  • Yoel Hernandez: 1.1 IP 0 H 0 ER 1 BB 1 K
  • Ryan Cameron: 0.2 IP 0 H 0 ER 0 BB 1 K

Hamels and company ended Lastings Milledge's 11 game hit streak...Carlos Ruiz was on base all 5 times, while also flashing the power/speed combo (6th homerun, 2nd steal) that makes him so popular amongst Phillies fans - his season stats right now are .382/.436/.706 in 68 at you get the same feeling that I do about the way players, especially minor leaguers, raise their games when they know the big league club is watching? All eyes were on Hamels yesterday, and rightfully so, but the performances of Ruiz, Roberson, Kroeger, and King all surely caught the eye of any of the Phillies brass watching the game...

AA Reading - OFF

High A Clearwater

  • Mike Costanzo: 0-4, BB, 3 K, PO
  • Brad Harman: 2-4, 2B, R, K

Low A Lakewood

  • Greg Golson: 0-3, BB, 3 K
  • Welinson Baez: 1-4, 2B, 2 K
  • Lou Marson: N/A
  • Jeremy Slayden: N/A
  • Josh Outman (L, 1-2): 6.2 IP 5 H 2 ER 2 BB 6 K

  • Fernando Martinez (Mets): 2-4, 2 K, PO
For what it's worth, Martinez recently was the topic of discussion at Baseball America (during Jim Callis' Ask BA feature):

Mets outfielder Fernando Martinez is off to a strong start at low Class A Hagerstown as a 17-year-old, hitting .323/.408/.538 with one homer, eight RBIs and three steals in 17 games. If Martinez were a high school senior right now, where would he likely be drafted in June?

Jason Phillips

(Callis): Martinez signed for $1.4 million out of the Dominican Republic last summer. Though he was a free agent then and would be restricted to negotiating with one team in the draft, he'd do better this June.

In a draft crop that's very thin on position players and is getting the worst early reviews since the 2000 bunch, Martinez would be coveted. Realistically, he's at three years away from the major leagues, so that might keep him from going No. 1 overall, but he'd likely be one of the first five or 10 picks. He's better than any high school position player available, and you could argue him against the top college position players. Martinez has a higher ceiling than Long Beach State third baseman Evan Longoria, and scouts believe he's a safer bet to hit than Texas outfielder Drew Stubbs.

He's not a Phillie and still far from the big leagues, but it doesn't hurt to get a leg up on scouting the enemy early, right?

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Cole Hamels AAA Debut 4/27

7 IP 3 H 0 ER 0 BB 14 K...Red Barons win 5-0

Cole Hamels' fastball was sitting in the high 80's, low 90's (play-by-play guy said he was between 88-93 all game, hitting 90-92 more often than not) - he got it up to 94 MPH on a 3-2 pitch that got Lastings Milledge looking in the bottom of the sixth, then did it again to get Chris Basak swinging in the next at bat. Hamels' 14 strikeout performance will go down as the second highest single game K total for the Red Barons - besting Matt Beech's 13 in 1997, but falling just short of Joel Bennett's (wow, that's a name I haven't heard in forever) record of 15 K's in 1999. The change was really working for him today - back to back 3-2 changeups for strikeouts early on was pretty good proof of that. Hamels whiffed every starter in the Norfolk lineup, struck out six in a row at one point, and finished strong by getting 5 of the last 6 hitters of the game to go down on strikes. Of his 98 pitches, 66 went for strikes. There were simply no negatives about Hamels' performance today...if you had to nitpick, you could mention the weak Norfolk lineup - today's lineup featured top prospect Lastings Milledge, former and future major leaguer Victor Diaz, marginal prospect slugging first baseman Juan Tejeda, and not much else.

“The way he’s throwing today, he may not make that home appearance [in Scranton] on May 7th after all”

- Scranton radio play-by-play guy hinting at a very, very early (and unlikely) call up for Hamels

This may have been as close to perfect a start as possible for Hamels, but that doesn't mean it was all good news for the Red Barons today. More on that ominous bit of news coming up in the minor league update...

9-11...and Going for the Series Win

Madson’s Magicians? Ryan’s Hawaiians? Lame. Guess I shouldn’t really criticize because as lame as Madson’s Magicians were, at least they made it out to the game – all-time low attendance down in South Philly last night as only 19,182 showed up to watch the Phillies improve to 9-11 with a 9-5 win over the Rockies.

In about an hour, Aaron Cook (1-3, 3.67) goes up against Jon Lieber (0-4, 7.99) – today has got to be the day Lieber puts it all together and avoids that one nasty inning, right?

And finally, how about some love for last night’s player of the game…David Bell

It's easy to say this after he had his second very good game in a row, but David Bell looks completely different at the plate than he did at any point last year – he is no longer feebly trying to pull everything instead waiting that extra split second on the pitch and using the whole field. Even when he was struggling to start the year, he looked better. The longer he keeps it up, the longer Abe Nunez stays firmly planted on the bench – a very, very good thing for this club. Interesting post at Balls, Sticks, & Stuff today about Bell – do yourself a favor and check it out.

Minor League Update 4/26

AAA Scranton-WB

  • Carlos Ruiz: N/A
  • Chris Roberson: 1-4, R, K
  • Josh Kroeger: 0-4, 2 K
  • Danny Sandoval: DL
  • Brennan King: 4-4, HR, RBI, R, SB
  • Angel Chavez: N/A
  • Chris Coste: 0-4, K

  • Chris Booker: 1 IP 0 H 0 ER 0 BB 3 K

  • Lastings Milledge (Mets): 1-3, 2 R, BB, K
  • Jeff Keppinger (Mets): 2-4, R
  • Victor Diaz (Mets): 1-4, 2 K
Chris Booker's debut at AAA went well...Brennan King continues to be a pleasant surprise at third...

AA Reading

  • Michael Bourn: 1-5, RBI, R, K
  • Tim Moss: 0-4, 2 K, E
  • Jason Jaramillo: N/A
  • Bryan Hansen: 1-5, R, 2 K

  • Gio Gonzalez (W, 1-1): 6.1 IP 2 H 0 ER 3 BB 6 K

High A Clearwater

  • Mike Costanzo: 1-3, RBI, 2 K
  • Brad Harman: N/A
  • Julio De La Cruz (L, 0-2): 1 IP 0 H 5 ER 2 BB 1 K
Hard to give up five runs in an inning without giving up a hit, but JDLC managed to get it done...

Low A Lakewood

  • Greg Golson: 1-9, 3B, RBI, R, 3 K, OF assist
  • Welinson Baez: 2-9, 2B, RBI, 2 R, 3 K, E
  • Lou Marson: 3-7, RBI, R, BB, 2 K
  • Jeremy Slayden: 3-8, RBI, 2B, E
  • Carlos Carrasco: 4.2 IP 4 H 6 R 3 ER 5 BB 6 K
  • Scott Mitchinson: 3.1 IP 3 H 1 ER 0 BB 1 K
  • Andy Barb: 3 IP 2 H 0 ER 2 BB 3 K

  • Fernando Martinez (Mets): 3-9, 2B, RBI, R, 3 K

Game suspended after 17 innings…it will be picked back up starting with the top of the 18th on May 6...this was the debut this season for Jeremy Slayden, the Phillies 8th round pick last year out of Georgia Tech...good bit of pop in his bat, he's an advanced college hitter who should be watched...Golson hit a triple in his first at bat and then went hitless in his last eight chances...Fernando Martinez is tearing up the South Atlantic League with Hagerstown so far - pretty impressive for a kid who doesn't turn 18 until October...

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

8-11...and Minor League Wrap

Rough night for the Gavin Floyd and the Phillies last night...lots of stuff happened (best game recap of the year, right there, huh? Very descriptive...), but all the storylines afterward were connected back to Floyd. Soooooo, that's the direction we'll take today. Here's what I wrote about Floyd way back when (3/31/06):

Gavin Floyd making the team is complicated (to me anyway)...Phillies fans have followed his career closely since the time he was drafted, yet I don't think anybody can honestly say they know what to expect out of him this year. Making decisions based on spring stats can be a risky way of doing business - I hope the Phillies know what they are doing with Floyd. If he flops yet again...I'm not sure what the ramifications of that would be on his professional development. It is has well publicized that many of Floyd's struggles last season could be traced back to the lack of self-confidence that set in after he got beat down in the majors early on in the season (his own admission by the way). It is undeniably risky for Floyd to be on this team from a developmental standpoint, but it is a risk the Phillies were smart to take.

Has anything changed? When the Phillies decided to break camp with Floyd as the fifth starter, they locked themselves into sticking with him until it is 100% clear that his presence on the 25-man roster is hurting the team and hurting his own personal development as a pitcher. Some fans may think this is the case now, but I'll do what it always seems like I'm doing these days - allow me to preach on about the values of patience once again. Floyd has been terrible so far, but it's only been 18 innings - sending him back to AAA may help the team in the short-term (though who takes his spot in the rotation?), but it certainly won't help in the long-term. It's sink or swim time for the young righty. That fastball can't be as flat as it was last night, that curveball (as beautiful as it is) needs to be located with more consistency, and a third pitch (maybe a better change? Is a slider worth a risk? In a perfect world I'd love to see him incorporate some kind of splitter...but can any kind of new pitch really be added while keeping him in the bigs? Did I just contradict my whole point? Young pitchers confuse me...) desperately needs to be added to the repertoire.

Let's give the kid some time...what choice do we have?

AAA Scranton-WB

  • Carlos Ruiz: 1-5, R, 2 K
  • Chris Roberson: 1-4, 2B, RBI, CS, OF assist
  • Josh Kroeger: 1-3, RBI, R, BB, K
  • Danny Sandoval: DL
  • Brennan King: 2-4, 2 2B, RBI, K
  • Angel Chavez: 0-4
  • Chris Coste: 0-3, BB, 2 K
  • Bobby Scales: injured (DL?)
  • Eude Brito (W, 2-1): 5 IP 3 H 1 ER 3 BB 2 K
  • Brian Sanches (S. 2): 1 IP 0 H 0 ER 0 BB 2 K
  • Lastings Milledge (Mets): 1-3, R, BB (hitting .403)
  • Jeff Keppinger (Mets): 1-4
  • Victor Diaz (Mets): 0-4, K
10 wins for Scranton in a row...not bad...10/3 GO/FO for Brito for the night...also not bad. I wonder how much consideration Brito got for a big league spot? Chances are they want to keep him stretched out and in the rotation just in case, but still got to imagine his name was brought up as an option...Roberson's OF assist was on a play at the plate...

AA Reading

  • Michael Bourn: 2-5, 3B, 2 R
  • Tim Moss: 1-4, R, 2 K
  • Jason Jaramillo: 1-5, 3B, RBI, K
  • Bryan Hansen: 0-1
  • Daniel Haigwood: 6 IP 4 H 1 ER 4 BB 3 K

High A Clearwater

  • Mike Costanzo: 0-4, K
  • Brad Harman: 0-3, 2 K, 2 E (9)
  • Derek Griffith (L, 2-1): 6 IP 6 H 3 R 1 ER 0 BB 3 K
Very bad night for the two key bats, but Derek Griffith continues to impress...he may be buried by all the pitching depth in the system, but if keeps throwing well then he'll get his chances to move up...

Low A Lakewood – win in 13 innings, Golson’s assist saved the game

  • Greg Golson: 1-4, R, 2 BB, OF assist
  • Welinson Baez: 1-5, K
  • Lou Marson: N/A
  • Matt Maloney: 6 IP 5 H 2 R 1 ER 2 BB 10 K
Lakewood won this one in 13 innings...Greg Golson had a game saving OF assist at the plate in the bottom of the 10th...Matt Maloney opening some eyes, is a promotion forthcoming?

Santana Out, Condrey In

Phillies place RP Julio Santana on DL; Clay Condrey promoted

Clay Condrey is a 30-year old righthanded pitcher who has a 2.19 ERA with 1 save, 3 walks, and 9 strikeouts in 12.1 innings pitched. He has some big league experience (18 games, 60.2 IP, 5.69 ERA with San Diego in 2002 and 2003), but has spent the past two full seasons with Scranton/WB of the International League (5.46 ERA in 155 IP in 2004, 4.15 ERA in 132.1 IP in 2005). He hadn't done quite enough to merit a mention on our AAA players to watch list, but that was probably a mistake on our end as the Phillies have made no secret of their desire to look a players exactly like Condrey for the last bullpen spot.

"Fun" Facts About Clayton Lee Condrey:
  • Condrey will turn 31-years old on November 19 - the same day Ryan Howard will turn 27.
  • He is a graduate of McNeese State University - one of only 7 major leaguers who can say that. 4 of those 7 are now active big leaguers: Condrey, Bobby Howry, Ben Broussard, and Rockies catcher Danny Ardoin.
  • Originally a 94th round draft pick of the New York Yankees back in 1996 - the 1728th overall selection that year.
Condrey has worked out of the bullpen his entire pro career up until the Padres switched him to the rotation in AAA of 2002. He responded with one of his best minor league years, earned a promotion to the majors (with good results), and was considered a starter from that point forward. The Phillies wisely swapped him back to the bullpen this year, where the scouting reports have been positive - increase of velocity (sits at 86-88, touches 91), better command of the fastball, etc. Nobody is saying that Condrey developed great stuff at the age of 30, but he has done a better job of locating his pitches of late and could help the big league club if used properly. He certainly is at least as good an option as Julio Santana (if not quite as good as Yoel Hernandez could have been) for the time being.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

8-10...and Rockies @ Phillies, Game No. 18

Before we get to tonight's game, how about a quick look at last night's 6-5 win over the Colorado Rockies? Gold stars from last night's game go out to Chase Utley and Bobby Abreu (both for their standout defense), Pat Burrell (for swinging the bat as well as he has all year, he just looks better at the plate these days), and Cory Lidle (10 strikeout performance is hard to ignore). The bullpen (with the exception of closer Tom Gordon) remains a big worry as does the lackluster start of the bench - I'm not too worked up about the bench struggling because I think some of the guys are better ballplayers than they've shown...the bullpen has performed just about to expectations (which is a problem that will have to be addressed sooner rather than later).

The Phillies revamped starting lineup worked so well last night, it'll gets another chance tonight (and many future nights I'm sure). Hopefully the lineup can get off to the same quick start it did last night...Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, and Bobby Abreu were 5-5 through 3 innings. Another quick start like that is crucial to the ballclub's chances tonight with young righthander Gavin Floyd taking the ball - all pitchers are in favor of early run support, but it seems especially important to get some for the younger guys...for the mental edge if nothing else (plus you need to score to win, so why not score early?).

Tonight's starting pitcher for Colorado is Miguel Asencio. Asencio, as you'll hear about three dozen times on the broadcast tonight, was a former Phillies pitching prospect believed to have had a nice future ahead of him at one point. He was taken by the Royals in the Rule 5 in 2002 and was forced to spend the entire '02 season on the big league roster before he was ready to really contribute. He's had some injury troubles since that season of lost developmental time, but seems to have potentially found himself a good fit on a major league roster now that he is healthy and throwing again for the pitching starved Rockies. Asencio is a month and a day younger than tomorrow night's Phils starter Ryan Madson (his teammate in 2001 with Clearwater), so time is still on his side. We wish Miguel Asencio nothing but the best in his pursuit of major league success...just not tonight.

One other thing to keep an eye on...Bobby Abreu going for his 12th straight game with a walk. It's not a 38 game hitting streak (obviously...), but it's a streak nonetheless - and who doesn't love the occasional streak every now and then?

Tonight's starting lineups:

Colorado Rockies

CF Cory Sullivan
SS Clint Barmes
LF Matt Holliday
3B Garrett Atkins
RF Brad Hawpe
1B Eli Marrero
2B Jamey Carroll
C Danny Ardoin
SP Miguel Asencio

Philadelphia Phillies

SS Jimmy Rollins
2B Chase Utley
RF Bobby Abreu
LF Pat Burrell
1B Ryan Howard
CF Aaron Rowand
3B David Bell
C Sal Fasano
SP Gavin Floyd

Same lineup as last night except Fasano in to catch about a 7-5 Phillies win and a 2 hit night for David Bell?

Cole Hamels Video Clips and Minors Wrap

Videos of Cole Hamels (and some of top Reds prospect Homer Bailey) way back from his Clearwater days...(courtesy of friend of Phillies Baseball, POE):
  • 2 pitches from the bullpen cam - HERE
  • Video from the bullpen cam focused on Homer Bailey (Hamels throws his 2 pitches in the background) - HERE
  • In-game situation of Cole Hamels (including pickoff move) - HERE
  • 16 seconds of Hamels in the bullpen before his first start of the 2006 season - HERE
  • Cole Hamels in-game situation from behind home plate - HERE
  • 2 videos not of Cole Hamels, but of Homer Bailey...both from really cool over the shoulder angles and well worth a look - HERE and HERE
Keeping with our pitching theme, the three farm teams in action last night all enjoyed stellar starting pitching outings that contributed to eventual wins. Scott Mathieson, J.A. Happ, and Kyle Kendrick combined to put up a line that looks a little something like this:

22 IP 11 H 1 ER 3 BB 27 K

Not bad at all...

AAA Scranton-WB


AA Reading

  • Michael Bourn: 2-4, 2B, 3B, 2 R, BB
  • Tim Moss: 1-3, RBI, BB, K
  • Jason Jaramillo: 1-5, 2B, R, 2 K
  • Bryan Hansen: 1-4, 2 RBI
  • Scott Mathieson (W, 1-1): 7 IP 5 H 1 ER 2 BB 11 K

High A Clearwater

  • Mike Costanzo: 2-4, 2B, RBI, 2 K
  • Brad Harman: 1-3, R, RBI
  • J.A. Happ (W, 1-1): 7 IP 3 H 0 ER 0 BB 7 K

Happ got 7 of his 21 outs on strikeouts, 11 on ground outs, and only 3 on fly outs - tremendous game for the young lefthander.

Low A Lakewood

  • Greg Golson: 1-4, R, K
  • Welinson Baez: 1-4, K
  • Lou Marson: 2-2, 2B, 2 RBI, BB
  • Kyle Kendrick (W, 2-0): 8 IP 3 H 0 ER 1 BB 9 K
  • Andy Barb (S, 1): 1 IP 1 H 0 ER 0 BB 0 K

Monday, April 24, 2006

Minor League Weekend Update

The big news of the day comes by way of the Phillies announcement that LHP Cole Hamels will join the red hot AAA Scranton Wilkes-Barre Red Barons by mid-week. Joining Hamels in AAA will be RP Chris Booker, a possible Phillies bullpen candidate after posting decent numbers (his strikeout numbers were out of this world, though he struggled in other areas - par for the course for Booker) in Clearwater. As a Rule 5 pick on a rehab stint they have until May 11th to decide on Booker's future with the organization. Booker's promotion is one thing, but clearly the big news of the day is the rapid acceleration of Cole Hamels through the Phillies farm system. The jump to AAA was not entirely unexpected though some followers of the Phillies farm (myself included) thought the Phils would promote Hamels to AA Reading as his last stop before eventually seeing the bigs while never throwing a pro pitch on the artificial turf in Scranton. More to come on this story as it unfolds plus a whole bunch of videos of Cole Hamels pitching and warming up - now there's something to look forward to, right? Full weekend wrap (though not entirely full due to the rainy weather that seemed to follow all Phillies affiliates this weekend) of the minors is ahead...

AAA Scranton-WB

  • Carlos Ruiz: 4-10, RBI, R, SB
  • Chris Roberson: 4-10, 3B, 2 R, 3 BB, K, 2 SB, CS
  • Josh Kroeger: 2-7, RBI, K
  • Danny Sandoval: DL
  • Brennan King: 2-11, 2 2B, K
  • Angel Chavez: 5-13, 3B, 2 2B, 3 RBI, 2 R, 4 K, SB
  • Chris Coste: 0-6, R, RBI, 3 K
  • Bobby Scales: 1-5, 3B, 2 RBI, 2 BB, R, K
  • Brian Sanches (S. 1): 2 IP 0 H 0 ER 0 BB 3 K
  • Ryan Cameron: 0.1 IP 1 H 0 ER 1 BB 0 K
  • Yoel Hernandez (S, 6): 1 IP 3 H 2 R 1 ER 2 BB 2 K
The three players on this list closest to a big league job at this point (Ruiz, Roberson, and Hernandez) all played well this weekend. Ruiz and Roberson contintue to swing hot bats while Hernandez started the weekend off with his sixth save, but wound up struggling out of the pen by Sunday's doubleheader action. Angel Chavez, the waiver wire pickup from the Giants system, keeps up his hot hitting with a five hit weekend (3 for extra bases).

AA Reading

  • Michael Bourn: 0-4, 2 K
  • Tim Moss: 0-2, 2 BB, SB, K
  • Jason Jaramillo: 1-3, 2B, BB, K
  • Bryan Hansen: N/A
Rain washed the Saturday and Sunday games...there's really not much to say about the R-Phils this weekend...

High A Clearwater

  • Mike Costanzo: 5-10, 2 HR, 2B, 3 RBI, 5 R, 3 BB, K
  • Brad Harman: 5-11, 2 2B, 2 RBI, 3 R, 2 BB, 3 K, SB, E (7)
  • Julio De La Cruz: 3.2 IP 4 H 3 ER 4 BB 2 K
  • Chris Booker: 3 IP 1 H 2 ER 1 BB 9 K
  • Cole Hamels: 4.2 IP 4 H 4 R 1 ER 5 BB 5 K
  • Zach Segovia (W, 3-1): 5.2 IP 5 H 4 ER 3 BB 6 K

Cole Hamels started his fifth inning of work by walking the bases loaded. Then he whiffed the next two batters and appeared to be out of the jam after he induced an easy groundball out to second...unfortunately a Peeter Ramos error allowed two runs to score as the wheels came off for the young team. A man advanced to third on an interference call, Hamels was lifted from the game, and Threshers RP Joe Bisensius came on to allow an RBI single (counting as the last run on Hamels' pitching line). 1 ER in 4.2 IP isn't all bad, of course, but the 5 walks are no good...this start will hopefully be remembered someday as Hamels' last ever appearance below the AAA level.

Chris Booker's line for the weekend was crazy - he finished with an ERA of 6.00 spanning the three game series, but managed to get everyone one of his 9 outs by the K. Isn't that Chris Booker in a nutshell?

Lost in all the Hamels/Booker business is the excellent performances by Mike Costanzo and Brad Harman...could they be turning the corner? Costanzo has been very hot as of late and Harman is just now beginning to get comfortable playing in High A. The future looks bright for the left side of the infield at Clearwater...

Low A Lakewood

  • Greg Golson: 2-9, R, 3 K
  • Welinson Baez: 1-9, RBI, 5 K
  • Lou Marson: 2-6, RBI, 2 BB, 2 R, 3 K
  • Josh Outman (W, 1-1): 6 IP 1 H 0 ER 2 BB 6 K
  • Scott Mitchinson: 2 IP 2 H 0 ER 0 BB 5 K
  • Maximino De La Cruz: 7.2 IP 4 H 2 ER 0 BB 7 K
Great pitching, subpar hitting...what else is new?

Sunday, April 23, 2006

7-10 (not 9-9...sorry about that)

Next up...the Rockies (sans Todd Helton) come to town

Fellow 1993 Expansioners the Colorado Rockies come to town for a three game set beginning tomorrow night, but first a look back at that other, two-time World Series expansion squad from '93 and the rain shortened two game set they played against the hometown nine that went down in South Philly this past weekend...

Friday: worst loss of the season (though I'm not at all on the blame Jon Lieber bandwagon just yet)...after a loss like that though, I don’t want to get too deep into the particulars (plus it was a whole weekend ago, who can even remember such things?)...
Saturday: rain, rain, and more rain…and a rough night for R.J. Umberger and the Flyers in Buffalo
Sunday: 4-2 victory over the Florida Marlins in one of the most entertaining ballgames of the season…

That win on Sunday included one of the best first innings of baseball that I’ve witnessed in a good long some other good (and not so good) things:

*** Brett Myers’ battle with Miguel Cabrera in the first inning was something. I thought he showed something in his willingness to pitch around the dangerous Josh Willingham (and to a lesser extent Mike Jacobs) knowing full well he could handle the far, far, far, far, less dangerous Matt Cepicky (his wife is reportedly named Nikki, I kid you not) - none of the typical macho stuff out of Myers, just smart baseball. It can be argued that the two walks amounted to wasted pitches out of the Phillies starting pitcher on a day when they needed him to go deep in the game not to mention the dangers of loading the bases under any circumstances…those are good arguments and, quite frankly, I don’t have much of a counter. All I can say is that it looked like Myers knew what he was doing in the first inning as he was doing it…it’s mostly playing a hunch, I guess, but that’s how I saw the situation as it unfolded before me.

*** The Phillies’ half of the inning was even more eventful. A great at bat by Jimmy Rollins ended with a single to right on a 2-2 pitch. Later in the inning, Rollins was able to advance to third base after an error by Marlins catcher Miguel Olivo trying to throw him out on a stolen base attempt at second. All this happened during a fascinating Bobby Abreu at bat: Abreu got ahead 3-0, didn’t get the green light (I’m assuming) at a 90 MPH batting practice fastball on 3-0, was fooled on a 3-1 changeup in there for a called strike, and then struck out on the 3-2 pitch that Jimmy Rollins stole second and then advanced to third on. Chase Utley’s at bat was just as interesting: he got ahead 3-1 and then had to guess at what pitch Marlins starter Sergio Mitre would throw him…to make a rather large generalization, a hitter will look for a fastball in a situation like this…but Mitre had just thrown a 3-1 change to Abreu and had shown much better overall command of his changeup than his fastball on the afternoon. Utley guessed right and hit what looked like a sure single up the middle. Marlins shortstop Hanley Ramirez made a great play to get to the ball and an equally good throw to just barely get Utley at first and rob him of an RBI and the Phillies of a 1-0 advantage. Utley was not happy with the call (he had every right to be annoyed, it was not the right call), slammed his helmet, and got tossed from the game…Charlie Manuel was also ejected after he came out to both defend Utley and argue the call a bit himself. The first base ump has a bit of a history with the Phillies too…old friend Dan Iassogna was the man to blow the original call, overreact to both Utley and Manuel, and generally make a fool of himself as he is wont to do.

*** How about today’s number five hitter? The 496 foot homer by Ryan Howard to begin the second was a sight to behold…it was a dead center field shot, above the batting eye backdrop/brick wall, and up onto Ashburn Alley where it reportedly bounced off the face of the Dick Allen plaque. The only ball I’ve ever seen hit as far was a batting practice homer by, who else, Barry Bonds last season. To hit a ball as far as Howard did, in a game situation, after your cleanup hitter and manager have just been tossed…it’s just not bad for a second year hitter.
Howard’s second homerun of the game was just as pretty – one of his classic opposite field shots that really show how special a player he is. This was also apparently the first multi-homerun game for Howard in his young career.

***The Phillies seem to be running Aaron Rowand pretty much non-stop in the early going of this year including the situation in today’s game with Nunez up and Rowand on second in the second. It is a questionable strategy at best considering he was a 76% base stealer coming into this season, but the stats may not tell the whole story (as much as I hate saying that) because the coaching staff may know something about Rowand’s game that we don’t. It’s possible anyway…

***Baseball is a marvelous sport – as soon as Utley gets tossed and David Bell comes in, what happens? How about those four straight batted balls hit to Bell right after he comes into the game after the first inning…then he follows that up by coming through with an RBI single in his first at bat hitting for Utley in the cleanup spot…what a crazy game, no?

***Florida’s catcher Miguel Olivo made two very strong throws to second early on, but Phillies baserunners were four for four stealing bags after five innings…(for the record, they eventually finished the game 4 for 4).

***Mike Lieberthal has got to be a smarter hitter than he has shown. He can’t go up there swinging at a 1-0 changeup that is low and away with a man on second and the pitcher due up next. He has to know by now that he really isn’t going to get anything good to hit in the 8-hole and that he needs to show a little patience in that situation. It must stink hitting in the 8-hole, I can understand that, but you’ve got to make the best of it by just swallowing your pride and taking what the pitcher is giving you.

***6 pitches in the third for Myers against the 1-2-3 hitters of the Marlins lineup followed by only 13 in the fourth against 4-5-6, very important numbers because Myers really needed some quick innings after laboring through the first two frames…10 batters were sent down in a row sent down by Myers at that point as well.

*** In the third inning, Rollins took off and stole second on what was easily the biggest jump I’ve ever seen on a stolen base attempt by the young shortstop.

***The leadoff man got on base for the first four innings for the Phillies

***Myers’ 3-pitch strikeout of Miguel Cabrera in the fifth was gigantic…Cabrera represented the tying run with men on first and second and two outs in the inning. Myers stayed low and away as Cabrera fouled off the first two pitches, but stayed in the same spot to get the Marlins’ best hitter to strike out swinging.

***What was with David Dellucci’s throw home on Miguel Olivo’s RBI single to left in the sixth? It didn't wind up mattering in the grand scheme of things in the ballgame, but that was one bad throw.

***New Phillies lineup (and I'll try to keep it semi-realistic): Rollins, Utley, Abreu, Burrell, Howard, Rowand, Lieberthal, Bell, Starting Pitcher (unless it’s Madson, he’ll hit third on days he pitches…)

Sunday's Lineups

Florida Marlins

Hanley Ramirez SS
Dan Uggla 2B
Miguel Cabrera 3B
Josh Willingham LF
Mike Jacobs 1B
Matt Cepicky RF
Miguel Olivo C
Reggie Abercrombie CF
Sergio Mitre P

Philadelphia Phillies

Jimmy Rollins SS
David Dellucci LF
Bobby Abreu RF
Chase Utley 2B
Ryan Howard 1B
Aaron Rowand CF
Abraham Nunez 3B
Mike Lieberthal C
Brett Myers P

The main point of this post is to get that prediction of a sweep of the Marlins and .500 record for the Phillies out of the top spot. I think it's time to just stop making predictions altogether...though I won't of course.

Friday, April 21, 2006

6-9...but on the way to .500

I'm strangely okay after watching that 10-4 debacle last night. Ryan Madson pitched terribly, but young pitchers have nights like that. Madson should know that very well...he's had a night like that before (sorry, but you know it had to get at least a quick mention) - common link between Madson's two awful big league starts: David Bell hitting in the sixth spot in the lineup. Considering Bell being in the sixth spot in the lineup last night was at least a mild surprise, I think that this coincidence is at least a little freaky...meaningless, but freaky. As far as silver linings for the evening...well, there weren't all that many. Chase Utley continues to break out of his early season mini-slump with another multi-hit game and the bullpen looked decent as a whole even though Aaron Fultz did allow two more inherited runs to score (in his defense, it could have only been one run if Ryan Howard had caught that potential double play ball cleanly). It really was a tough night all around - Madson getting bombed, the offense only getting four hits, and the opportunity to sit Howard/Utley/Abreu against a lefty wasted.

The Phillies 6-9 record has a chance to even itself pretty quickly though with the Florida Marlins coming to town. The Phillies have the edge in all three pitching matchups as they bust out the big guns for the weekend series - Jon Lieber, Brett Myers, and Cory Lidle get to face off against Scott Olsen, Segio Mitre, and Brian Moehler respectively. By Sunday evening, this team will be at .500 on the season and preparing to extend the winning streak even further with the Rockies coming to town. It sure sounds good on'll be even better to see them go out and do it. On to the minors...

AAA Scranton-WB

  • Carlos Ruiz: 2-5, HR, 2 RBI, R, K
  • Chris Roberson: 2-5, 2B, R, 2 K
  • Josh Kroeger: 0-4, K
  • Danny Sandoval: DL
  • Brennan King: 2-3, 2B, RBI, BB, K, E
  • Angel Chavez: 1-5, 2 RBI
  • Chris Coste: N/A
  • Bobby Scales: 1-1, 2B, R
  • Ryan Cameron (W, 2-0): 1 IP 0 H 0 ER 2 K

Because the Phillies were down 9-2 after an inning and a half, it was easy for me to follow a good portion of the Red Barons game featured on MiLB.TV last night without feeling any of the guilt on skipping out on a competitive major league game...Kroeger's K in the eight was ugly - he swung and missed on three fastballs right around the plate...King followed that at bat up by striking out on a breaking ball though the Barons announcer lauded him for two "sparkling" defensive plays at third base...apparently Ryan Cameron has some kind of "special grip" that makes his changeup so effective (it's his best pitch) - every time I see him pitch I've come away impressed, I'm firmly entrenched on the Ryan Cameron bandwagon...all the attentive readers out there surely recognized the new name added to the list of AAA players to watch - I think it is high time we give Bobby Scales the credit he deserves. The 28-year old utility guy had an opposite field, pinch double that got the ninth inning rally going for the Red Barons - he came into the at bat hitting a ridiculous .419/.469/.721. Obviously those numbers can not possibly be kept up, but it's a great start for Scales nonetheless...Roberson struck out chasing a high fastball in the ninth with the tying run on second...Chavez had the game tying RBI groundout to score Scales after the Roberson K in the ninth...DH Carlos Ruiz then came through with a line drive down the left field line to win the was Scranton's three win over Columbus in a row...their record now stands at 9-6

Quick note about Carlos Ruiz (who continues to hit the heck out of the ball down in AAA) new, best possible scenario prognostication for him is...Paul Lo Duca...I think it's a pretty solid comparison...both players were late bloomers as pros, both with unconventional hitting styles for catchers, somewhat similar minor league stats, and, last but not least, extremely similar (in my mind anyway) batting stances and physiques...watching Ruiz at the plate reminds me so much of Lo Duca, it's scary...just a thought

AA Reading

  • Michael Bourn: 1-4, 2 RBI, BB
  • Tim Moss: 0-4, BB, 2 K
  • Jason Jaramillo: 0-0, 2 RBI, PO
  • Bryan Hansen: N/A

I'm still not sure how Jaramillo's 0-0 night resulted in 2 RBI' was a sacrifice fly, we know that much...but how did two runs score? Anybody out there with any insight on this? I was hoping it was a deep fly ball that Mike Bourn scored from second on, but unfortunately that wasn't the case (Bourn didn't score in the game thus ruining my fun)...

  • Bobby Korecky (BS, 1) (L, 0-1): 1.2 IP 2 H 3 R 1 ER 2 BB 1 K
Korecky isn't a Phillie, but he was a former Phil - he was the player to be named in the Eric Milton deal (the Phillies sent Carlos Silva, Nick Punto, and eventually Korecky to Minnesota for the honor of seeing a red "P" get inked on Milton's body). I remember hearing that Korecky could be the guy the Phillies regret losing the most...I have absolutely no recollection of who exactly was saying this or why, but I do remember hearing it. Just goes to show how tricky this prospect business can be, right?

High A Clearwater

  • Mike Costanzo: 1-4, K
  • Brad Harman: 0-4, K
  • Derek Griffith: 7 IP 6 H 2 ER 2 BB 5 K
The two most promising Threshers in the starting eight have really struggled of late...1-8 combined for Costanzo and Harman is not going to cut it...see, now that's the kind of insightful analysis you can only find at this here site...

Low A Lakewood

  • Greg Golson: 1-4, K
  • Tim Kennelly: N/A (sent down...)
  • Welinson Baez: 0-3, RBI, 2 K
  • Lou Marson: N/A
  • Carlos Carrasco: 6 IP 4 H 2 R 1 ER 1 BB 5 K
  • Andy Barb (W, 1-0): 2 IP 3 H 1 ER 2 BB 1 K
The Tim Kennelly situation is a weird one - I know he got sent down, but I'm not sure where exactly...seems to me he is in a kind of baseball purgatory for the time being...Batavia's season won't begin for a good bit, so I assume he is stuck in extended spring training or something...I'm honestly not sure. Time to get aggressive with Andy Barb - the Phils might need him to be Tom Gordon's primary setup man in another week or two...

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Minor League Update: 4/18 & 4/19

AAA Scranton-WB
  • Carlos Ruiz: 3-8, 2B, RBI, BB, 2 R, K
  • Chris Roberson: 3-9, 2B, RBI, 2 R, 2 K, 2 SB
  • Josh Kroeger: 1-6, BB, R, K
  • Danny Sandoval: N/A
  • Brennan King: 1-7, RBI, K
  • Angel Chavez: 2-8, BB, 3 SB
  • Chris Coste: 1-9, RBI, R, K, SB
  • Eude Brito (W, 1-1): 6 IP 1 H 1 ER 2 BB 3 K
  • Brian Sanches: 1 IP 0 H 0 ER 0 BB 0 K
  • Yoel Hernandez (2 S, 5 total): 2 IP 3 H 1 ER 0 BB 0 K
  • Ryan Cameron (W, 1-0): 2 IP 0 H 0 ER 0 BB 2 K

ERA's of a few potential Phillies bullpen options: Brito: 3.21, Cameron: 1.29, Sanches: 2.57, and Hernandez: 1.12. All but Cameron were mentioned by Mike Arbuckle in today's Phillies Notes section of the Inquirer:

But if the Phillies think they need to make a move at some point, they might have a few options at triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Righthander Yoel Hernandez has five saves in six appearances. Lefthander Eude Brito, who pitched for the Phillies last season, is 1-1 after a 2-1 win over Columbus last night.

"Hernandez is throwing the ball pretty well," said Mike Arbuckle, the Phillies' assistant general manager. "He may be an option for us. I don't know when that might be, but he's throwing well. Brito has thrown the ball pretty good. We're aware of them."

Arbuckle also said Brian Sanches (1-1, 2.57 ERA) "has thrown pretty well, too."

Pretty generic comments really, but good to see that Arbuckle acknowledges the fact that the organization is aware of three potentially helpful arms within the system...

The Clippers pitching staff featured a couple sleeper type players who did a nice job on Wednesday night. Matt DeSalvo took the loss for Columbus when he couldn't outduel Eude Brito even though he pitched well - 7 IP 6 H 2 R 1 ER 1 BB 4 K along with an eye-popping 15/1 ground out/fly out ratio. DeSalvo is a 25-year old pitcher in the Yankees organization capable of throwing five different pitches in any given at bat - fastball, curve, change, and two different kinds of sliders (different arm slots on the sliders). Baseball America ranks him as the Yanks 16th best prospect, John Sickels has him at 10th in the system, and Baseball Prospectus lists L.A. Angels reliever Scot Shields as his third highest rated PECOTA comparable. My own personal comparison (without ever seeing him throw) would be Cory Lidle with a higher K rate - i.e. someone that any team in the bigs could find a use for. It should be very interesting to see what the Yankees do with DeSalvo in 2006 - does he see the majors for New York? Is he trade bait come July? Will he spend his entire Age-25 season in AAA?

Clippers relief pitcher Colter Bean currently has a 0.90 ERA for the club - so much as been said about Bean over the years, I'm not really sure what more I can add. In 6 minor league seasons, he has an ERA of 2.69 with 471 K's in 371.1 innings pitched. The Yankees (and any other team in baseball I suppose) remain skeptical about his big league potential - he has a mediocre fastball and no real dominating secondary strikeout pitch. I think Sickels put it best when he wrote...

Good Old Colter Bean is still around. His main problem now is age. . .too old at 29 to be more than a Grade C prospect, but I think he could help a lot of teams in the bullpen.

Colter Bean will never be an All-Star...but can you honestly say you'd rather trot Julio Santana out there before giving this guy a chance? Maybe major league GM's really are that much smarter than the typical fan, but to be perfectly honest...I sincerely doubt it.

AA Reading

  • Michael Bourn: 2-8, 3B, RBI, R
  • Tim Moss: 0-3, RBI, 2 K
  • Jason Jaramillo: 2-8, R, 2 K, PB
  • Bryan Hansen: 1-6, RBI, BB, R, K
  • Daniel Haigwood (W, 1-1): 6 IP 3 H 0 ER 5 BB 6 K
  • Gio Gonzalez (L, 0-1): 6 IP 6 H 4 ER 1 BB 9 K

Haigwood helped himself yet again by knocking in his third run of the year - I haven't read anywhere about his hitting abilities, but he seems to be doing a nice job with the bat so far. Gonzalez had just an okay start by his standards, but the 9/1 K to BB ratio is encouraging. Gonzalez is really a special young pitcher, I truly believe that. Aaron Rowand has done a very nice job at the plate thus far for the Phils and Haigwood is more or less a sure bet to reach the bigs someday (I think he has the ceiling of a 4/5 starter or a solid bullpen arm personally), but Gio Gonzalez will be the guy fans look back on many years from now and point to as the greatest thing to come out of the Jim Thome trade.

High A Clearwater

  • Mike Costanzo: 1-8, 2B, 2 K
  • Brad Harman: 1-9, 4 K
  • Zach Segovia: 8 IP 2 H 1 ER 3 BB 4 K
  • J. A. Happ: 5 IP 5 H 2 ER 1 BB 5 K
  • Chris Booker: 1 IP 0 H 0 ER 0 BB 1 K
Segovia and Happ were both excellent. For some reason Segovia is forever linked with Kyle Kendrick in my mind - two big, strong high school righthanders picked early on in the draft. Speaking of Kendrick...

Low A Lakewood

  • Greg Golson: 2-7, HR, 2 RBI, 3 R, BB, SB
  • Tim Kennelly: N/A
  • Welinson Baez: 1-8, 2B, R, 3 K
  • Lou Marson: 3-7, 3 RBI, 2 R, 4 K
  • Kyle Kendrick (W, 1-0): 8 IP 2 H 0 ER 1 BB 12 K
  • Matt Maloney (W, 1-2): 6 IP 1 H 0 ER 1 BB 6 K
Two sparkling performances for these two young pitchers - Kendrick had the best game of any Phillies minor league pitcher this season and Maloney followed up with an similarily impressive outing. Good couple of nights for the Phils minor league teams, especially for many of the young talented pitching prospects.


Great Phillies win tonight over the Nationals in ten innings. The Phils scored three runs in the eight to tie the game up and then won it on a Ryan Howard RBI single to right in the tenth – final score: Phillies 7 – Nationals 6. Now…on to some random notes about the game (something I try to do whenever I can remember…):

  • Ryan Church with another homer for the Nationals…not bad, but he is no Brandon Watson. The decision by Jim Bowden to send Church down and keep Watson to start the year was so bad that I feel obligated as a fan of baseball to mention it every chance I get and help raise awareness to the incompetence of the Bowden regime in Washington.
  • Chase Utley laid down a damn near perfect bunt to get on base before scoring on the Ryan Howard homer early on. Old time baseball guys always advocate taking a shot with a bunt to try and get yourself that base hit that will snap you out of a slump. I like the logic…when it works anyway.
  • David Bell made a great backhanded play to snatch a short hop off the bat of Alfonso Soriano in the fifth inning. As nice as this play was, it was no match for the diving snag by Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman in the seventh. There aren’t too many big third basemen (believe the announcers said he is 6’3’’) that also have the range and athleticism to play shortstop – Zimmerman does. He is everything you want as a defender on the left side of the infield.
  • Sal Fasano did his pitching protégé no favors with the dropped foul pop behind home plate. With Gavin Floyd on the mound, things have to break right across the board for the Phillies – Floyd is still young enough (and shaky enough) to be the one guy in this rotation that needs an extra special outing from the rest of the team to help him out (both for his improved mental health on the mound and the practicality of putting up as many runs as possible for the most unreliable starting pitcher on the staff). His last time out, he got that little extra in the way of a big Phillies offensive first inning against Atlanta. This time out, he wasn’t so lucky. I guess the point is (and I realize it isn’t a great one) that this ballclub can never afford to give away outs – but they especially can not afford to do it with Floyd on the mound. (I think I know what I mean here, but it really doesn’t come across too effectively now that I’ve reread it…I’ll think on it and try to improve it later).
  • The Nationals announcers mentioned that Livan Hernandez has the goal of 25 hits. I assumed they meant for the season, but it appears Livan was trying to get all 25 this game. What is it with opposing pitchers killing the Phillies at the plate in the early going? Is this just something we as fans tend to notice because it is typically such a rare thing or are pitchers really hitting more effectively against the Phillies than most teams? I’d love to see some numbers on this.
  • The bullpen has nobody of real value besides Tom Gordon. I realize the pen had a solid night (the performance of Aaron Fultz and his allowance of two inherited runners to score notwithstanding), but there really is nobody out there that the team should have any confidence in right now outside of the closer. Geoff Geary and Fultz are league average guys at best, Santana isn’t even at that level, and my opinion of Ryan Franklin does not have to be rehashed for the hundredth time. Maybe Arthur Rhodes can step up and become a viable second arm out of the pen…but even if this occurs, his inability to pitch back to back days (something I’m not sure is even true at this point, though I suspect the worst) will become a problem down the line.
  • Gordon looked great in the ninth tonight. The decision to have him pitch in the top half of that inning was also a winner. Well done, Charlie.
  • Abe Nunez was once again the first option off the bench last night – this was not such a bad thing as he batted with two outs and nobody on (good situation for him, using Dellucci would have been a bigger waste in this situation), the fact that Manuel is so loyal to him as a top pinch hitting option is something to be watched.
  • Bobby Abreu is still the best hitter on this team and, in my mind anyway, it really isn’t that close a competition. His two-run homer in the eight inning was definitely “clutch”…even though it didn’t put the team ahead or even tie it up…and even though it was “just” the eight inning and not the ninth or extras…a big hit is a big hit at any point of a close game.
  • The second best hitter on the team had himself an excellent night as well. The two plate appearances by Chase Utley in the eight and the tenth were both things of beauty. Working those two walks to extend the inning against two different lefthander relievers – the whole thing nearly brought a tear to my eye.
  • That other young lefthander, Ryan Howard (third best hitter…now that’s a debate for another day), had himself an okay night as well. He had a great plate appearance against Joey Eischen in the eight (much like Utley’s) and then, of course, had the game winning RBI single to right field off of Mike Stanton in the tenth. His opposite field two-run homer off of Hernandez wasn’t bad either.
  • The three lefthanded hitters noted above were on base 9 out of 15 times tonight.
  • David Dellucci pinch hitting for David Bell in the eight was a very interesting decision by Charlie Manuel, was it not? It more or less worked out for him as Dellucci knocked in the tying run with an RBI groundout. Using Alex Gonzalez to bat for Sal Fasano right after the Dellucci at bat was questionable as it completely burned the Phillies bench in a tied game after eight innings. The whole issue with the roster mishandling will surely be swept under the rug, hidden by the euphoria of a thrilling Phillies comeback victory. I, for one, just wanted to see Ryan Madson make a pinch-hit appearance – somehow, someway.
  • Tom Paciocrek and Bob Carpenter were in the broadcast booth tonight for the Nationals. I know I probably spend far too much time making fun of announcers around here, but these guys are so bad at what they do that my brain would explode if I couldn’t vent about their ineptitude somewhere. Between the constant ripping of Philadelphia sports fans, the strange sudden shift towards blaming the umpire in the ninth inning onward, to the play by play guy constantly offering up his own asinine, old school baseball insight (Carpenter actually said that his ideal starting pitcher strikes out no more than 5 batters per 9 innings – this shows that “he is a pitcher and not just a thrower.” I have no idea what he is talking about here, it makes no sense at all – I wasn’t aware that “throwers” are the type of pitchers that tend to rack up the high strikeout numbers. I expect this nonsense out of the color guy, but it is even worse when it is coming at you from both analysts in the booth)
Hopefully this win was exactly what the Phillies needed to jumpstart their eventual 9-1 ten game homestand. The Phillies have the decided pitching edge tomorrow (Ryan Madson vs. Billy Traber), but the Billy Traber's of the world always seem to be the guys who give them the most trouble. I'm actually one of the few Traber fans out there, so the matchup may very well be a bit more tough than it will appear to the casual Phils fan. Or maybe I have no idea what I'm talking about and there is good reason that Traber is 26-year old pitcher who hasn't pitched in the big leagues since 2003. Here's hoping for a big Phillies win and another 3-hit day for Ryan Madson.

Minor league notes (for the past two nights) to come tomorrow...they should be up around early afternoon. Lots of good pitching news to report too, so please try to calm down and not refresh this page excitedly every 10 minutes hoping to see the freshly updated stats page. I mean, the whole world is waiting on these all important minor league reports...right?

Tuesday, April 18, 2006


The Phillies fall to 5-8 on the season after going down to the Washington Nationals in the first game of a three game set in South Philly by a score of 10-3. Not many positives to talk about after this loss, but we'll do our best to sort out some bright spots:
  • Starting pitcher Cory Lidle wasn't great, but he pitched well enough to keep the team in the game. Again, this is who Cory Lidle is - if you don't like the way he pitched tonight, you don't like Cory Lidle (which is fine, of course, but as a general rule I do question anybody who doesn't like a guy named Cory). Lidle slots in nicely as the fourth or fifth starter on a contending team - with Myers, Lieber, and Madson in the rotation with him, that is exactly where he stands at the moment.
  • Mike Lieberthal keeps on hitting - his batting average is at .364 with an OPS of .898. Isn't it time to swap him with David Bell in the lineup? He'll probably be a better hitter over the course of the season, but, even if he isn't, he is definitely the hotter bat right now. Charlie Manuel would be wise to milk Lieberthal's strong start for all that it's worth.
  • Pat Burrell had a sexy statistical night (see how confident I am in my masculinity to admit that?) - hitting homers (number 6 on the year) and gunning down runners on the base paths are undoubtedly two of Burrell's favorite things to do on the field. Of course, they don't compare to the fun of bottle cap baseball with JMike off the field...
  • Bobby Abreu had an action packed game in right field (not really a positive, but work with me), but still managed to get on base three times in four plate appearances. See how few positives there were from this game?
Now for the fun part...the negatives:
  • I have no idea how this URL address has not been snapped up yet...if it wasn't such a trendy way to title a blog, I'd definitely consider it as the new name to this site. I mean, come on, 'Phillies Baseball.' That's one terrible name. Sure, people know what they are getting, but it's so darn unoriginal. I think a change needs to be made at some point and Fire Bill Dancy does have a nice ring to it...
  • Bill Dancy really does need to go though - the decision to send Jimmy Rollins in the first inning tonight was one of the worse he has made yet...and that's really saying something. Alfonso Soriano should never, ever throw you out. Never. Ever.
  • First guessing time - why in the world did Manuel yank Lidle in favor of a pinch hitter in the seventh inning when the only job he wanted out of said pinch hitter was a sacrifice bunt? Manuel sent Abe Nunez in to bat for Lidle with nobody out and Mike Lieberthal on first in a one run game in the bottom of the seventh. If Nunez is up there to bunt, why not leave Lidle in to try it himself? He was only at 87 pitches on the night and still looked relatively strong in the 5th, 6th, and 7th innings (though I'll concede Schneider's double in the 7th may have been an indicator that he was finished). This wasn't a major blunder, but it was still a bad decision that showed a lack of understanding of how to best manage one's resources at hand.
  • The bullpen is a mess right now - Arthur Rhodes looks bad, Geoff Geary looks especially bad, Julio Santana is bad (always has been too), and Aaron Fultz seems to be well on his way to his inevitable regression to the mean (in a very bad, crash and burn kind of way). My feelings about the badness of Ryan Franklin (bad in a bad way, not the cool, hip way the kids use it...or at least used it 15 years ago) are well documented. That leaves a two man bullpen of non-badness - Rheal Cormier and Tom Gordon. That's bad.
  • My use of bad every possible space there was for an adjective - good.
  • Ryan Zimmerman...this guy, Miguel Cabrera, and David Wright are going to make Phillies fans incredibly jealous over the next half decade or so (at least). Chipper Jones is obviously still doing his thing for the Braves and, even with Andy Marte gone, they appear to have a decent in-house replacement ready to play third down the road (Eric Campbell). The Phillies are pinning their hopes on Mike Costanzo and Welinson Baez - both good prospects in their own right, but not nearly on the level of the three young NL East third basemen already in the majors.
Jim Bowden, the Nationals GM, is terrible at what he does. The fact that Ryan Church was in AAA the first two weeks of the season is just another piece of evidence to support that. Brandon Watson is not a major leaguer...maybe a fifth outfielder, but I'm not even personally convinced of that. Church can and will hit big league pitching as both his above rookie average numbers in 2005 and, sorry I just had to point this out (small sample size be damned) his grand slam in the ninth inning highlighted. He can hit, he can play a decent centerfield, he has a solid ballplayer soon before Bowden trades him for a package including one of Ruben Mateo, Alex Escobar, and Ruben Rivera?

Oh yeah, the Phillies also played some games in Colorado this past weekend...a pretty good weekend if memory serves. Brett Myers career numbers at Coors Field are phenomenal - of all the Phillies players that had memorable weekends, he deserves the special mention. The weekend seems so far in the past right now, I think it is somewhat pointless recapping all the I won't. All in all, winning four out of six on the road against the Braves and Rockies made for a positive week...too bad the Phils couldn't build on that success to open the series against the Nats, but there is always tomorrow, right?

Minor League Long Weekend Update: 4/18/06

Lots of baseball to catch up on over the holiday weekend...minor leagues first, major league recap to follow (mid-day Tuesday at the earliest, I'm behind I know...). All stats below are from the games played from Friday night to Monday night:

AAA Scranton-WB
  • Danny Sandoval: 2-6, 2B, RBI, E
  • Carlos Ruiz: 6-12, HR, RBI, 2 2B, 4 R, 2 K
  • Chris Coste: 3-15, RBI, 2B, 2 R, 2 BB, 3 K, CS
  • Chris Roberson: 4-15, RBI, 2 2B, 2 R, 3 K, 2 E
  • Josh Kroeger: 4-15, 3 R, 2B, 3B, HR, 4 RBI, BB, 5 K, E
  • Brennan King: 2-8, HR, 2 RBI, R, 2 K
Carlos Ruiz had a great long weekend, if he is healthy behind the plate (big if) then he is a better option than Sal Fasano as this team's backup catcher...Good to see King back into the lineup, even better after his Monday night homer...
  • Eude Brito: 5 IP 4 H 3 R 0 ER 2 BB 1 K
  • Brian Sanches (L, 1-1): 1 IP 1 H 2 ER 2 BB 0 K
  • Travis Minix: 3 IP 2 H 1 ER 1 BB 2 K
  • Ryan Cameron (S, 2): 2 IP 0 H 0 ER 0 BB 3 K
  • Yoel Hernandez (S, 3): 1 IP 1 H 0 ER 1 BB 1 K
Five potential bullpen candidates all pitched this weekend for the Barons in an open tryout for future jobs with the big club...they all passed, but Sanches...good weekend as a whole for the pen...

The Other Guys (Mets)
  • Lastings Milledge: 6-14, HR, 2 2B, 3B, 2 RBI, 3 R, 3 BB, 4 K, SB, CS
  • Jeff Keppinger: 4-13, 3 R, RBI, BB, K
  • Kaz Matsui: 2-8, 2B, R, 2 K
I think I'll try to highlight a couple players from the opposition each night...when I remember to do so anyway...Milledge is the Mets top positition player in the system...Keppinger is a big personal favorite of mine, I think he should have been given a fair shot at the second base job with the big club out of spring training...Matsui is trying to work his way back up and into the good graces of management...
  • Jose Lima (L, 1-2): 4 IP 11 H 9 ER 1 BB 6 K (8.40 ERA)
  • Heath Bell (S, 2): 2 IP 3 H 1 ER 0 BB 2 K
Bell is another personal favorite, he needs to be in a big league bullpen somewhere NOW...Lima gets a mention because it's always Lima-Time where I come from...
AA - Reading
  • Michael Bourn: 2-9, R, BB, 2 K, SB
  • Tim Moss: 4-12, 3B, 2 R, K, E, SB, CS
  • Angel Chavez: 4-8, HR, RBI, 2 R, K
  • Bryan Hansen: 2-9, 2B, RBI
  • Jason Jaramillo 0-6, 3 BB, 2 K, CS
Tim Moss got a hit...we can all breath a sigh of relief for the poor guy now...
  • Scott Mathieson: 7 IP 7 H 2 ER 1 BB 5 K
The Other Guys (Giants)
  • Eddy Martinez-Esteve: 1-5
Not a particular eventful night for the former Florida State Seminole, but EME is a player worth watching...he has a bat nearly ready for the big leagues, but can't play defense worth a lick...he is currently trying his best to fake his way through leftfield, but this guy has DH written all over him...

High A - Clearwater
  • Mike Costanzo: 1-8, BB, 2 K
  • Brad Harman: 1-8, RBI, 3 BB, 2 K, 2 R, SB, E
  • Chris Booker: 4 IP 5 H 3 ER 0 BB 7 K
  • Julio De La Cruz: 3 IP 8 H 8 R 6 ER 4 BB 2 K
  • Cole Hamels (L, 1-1): 4.2 IP 7 H 4 R 3 ER 2 BB 8 K
Hamels had his first subpar start out of three this season...8 strikeouts in less than five innings is a definite silver lining to an otherwise disappointing start out of the ace in waiting...What is going on with Chris Booker? The high K rate is still there, but he has been hit around a bit by A-ball players...we'll give him the benefit of the doubt since he is technically rehabbing an injury, but his performance bears watching - another bad outing or two and the Nationals may not even want the guy back...

The Other Guys (Reds)

Homer Bailey (W, 1-2): 5 IP 1 H 0 ER 2 BB 5 K

Bailey is the Reds' top pitching prospect...he has matched up two times against Hamels already this season...they've split the two games and have both pitched well in the early going...

Low A - Lakewood
  • Greg Golson: 1-8, R, 3 K
  • Louis Marson: 1-3, R
  • Tim Kennelly: 3-7, HR, R, 2 RBI, 2B, 2 K
  • Welinson Baez: 1-2, RBI
For as long as I do this in the early part of the season, Lakewood is going to get the shaft when it comes to this recaps...I run out of things to comment on by the time I get to Low A ball...maybe there is something to say about the pitching, let's check...
  • Carlos Carrasco (L, 0-2): 6 IP 7 H 2 R 1 ER 2 BB 7 K
  • Scott Mitchinson: 2 IP 3 H 1 ER 0 BB 2 K
  • Josh Outman: 4 IP 6 H 5 ER 1 BB 4 K
  • Maximino De La Cruz: 5 IP 6 H 2 ER 1 BB 2 K
  • Andy Barb (W, 1-1): 4 IP 2 H 0 ER 1 BB 5 K
...not much here either...I'll avoid the obvious Outman joke that should be made after his weekend struggles...Andy Barb has reportedly looked excellent out of the pen and his numbers seem to back it up...he is a young, interesting relief prospect in a organization that really ought to realize the value in developing young, interesting pitchers and sticking them into big league relief roles...

The Other Guys (Orioles)
  • Brandon Snyder: 3-12, HR, 2 RBI, 2B, 2 R, 4 K
Snyder was a first rounder of the Orioles last year...he's a catcher, he can hit, he's out of high school and doing well in Low A already...who out there is jealous?

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Phillies @ Rockies

If I have to see Clint Hurdle bounce that damn ball in the dugout one more time, I don't know what I'm going to do...

Friday, April 14, 2006


The Phillies put together their first winning streak of the year after downing the Braves 7-6 in Atlanta. That first inning was a thing of beauty – after getting ahead 3-1, Jimmy Rollins swung at a pitch to his liking and blasted it to the seats in right, Aaron Rowand followed with a double to right on a two strike pitch, Bobby Abreu hit an opposite field homer to knock in two, Pat Burrell rocketed a single to center, and Chase Utley hit a long fly to the deepest part of the ballpark in center out and over Andruw Jones’ reaching glove and the wall. 5 hits, 3 homers, 5 runs, 40 pitches thrown for the opposing starter – now that’s a way to start a ballgame. That’s a way to give your young starting pitcher some breathing room. It had to have been a great feeling for Gavin Floyd to come up to the plate in the top of the first inning, no?

Ryan Franklin…not good. I don’t have anything particularly insightful to say about his performance. He was just…not good. He’ll do far less damage to the team pitching poorly out of the bullpen than he would have as a starter, but it is a shame that his is an arm they count on to try to hold on to a potential Gavin Floyd victory. Floyd, by the way, was better than his line (which was good to begin with) – the Braves broadcast crew said his heater was hitting 94 MPH on the gun and his curve was working nearly all night. Maybe it is just the vision of that great curveball fresh in my mind, but I think a young Daryl Kyle makes for a pretty good comparison to Floyd – I think he could very well follow a similar career path…mid-rotation starter, “innings eater” type, occasional flashes of brilliance (hopefully like Kyle, Floyd will do it in a contract year and get paid), with the potential for an unusual late peak to the career as the pitcher finally puts it all together.

Abe Nunez is 3 for 13, Sal Fasano is 1 for 10, and Alex Gonzalez is still searching for his first hit as a Phillie (0 for 7). David Dellucci, the supposed top bat off the bench, is 1 for 11 with 5 strikeouts. Only Shane Victorino has an OPS over 700. And to top it all off, Tomas Perez hit a homerun for the Devil Rays today. It’s early. It’s early. It’s early. It’s been said dozens of times in this space already and will be repeated over and over again for the foreseeable future. It’s early. Beware small sample size. Sal Fasano is not a .100 hitter. David Dellucci is not an .091 hitter. Abraham Nunez is not a .231 hitter…oh…wait…he’s a .248 career hitter? That bad? Are you sure? Well I’ll be. Guess this is just about as honest Abe is going to get. Anyway, the point remains – the bench has been awful so far, but it’s a long season. If they still stink come mid-May, then it may be time to panic and propose all kinds of wacky ideas to fix the problem (bring back Dave Hollins! Just keep those spiders away…).

In minor league action…

AAA Scranton-WB

  • Carlos Ruiz: 2-3, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 2 BB, 3 R
  • Chris Roberson: 1-3, BB, 2 R, K
  • Josh Kroeger: 2-3, 2 RBI, R, SB
  • Danny Sandoval: 1-5
  • Chris Coste: 1-5, K

Brian Sanches (W, 1-0): 1 IP 1 H 0 ER 0 BB 2 K
Yoel Hernandez (S, 2): 2 IP 2 H 0 ER 0 BB 2 K

The bullpen keeps on chugging along...I love seeing a closer get a two inning save, it does my heart good...the game tonight started at 6:30 and was aired on MiLB.TV, so I caught the first hour or so while waiting for the Phillies to start - Ruiz looked very good at the plate and on the basepaths...impressive power/speed combination for him tonight and he now has 3 homers in his last two games...bad news is he was the DH again - I'm not sure what the story is there, but I figure it has something to do with lingering concerns about his health...if Ruiz can't catch, he won't be a big leaguer - simple as that.

AA Reading

  • Michael Bourn: 0-4, 2 K
  • Tim Moss: 0-3, BB, K
  • Jason Jaramillo: 0-3
  • Bryan Hansen: 0-4, K
  • Angel Chavez: 1-4, 2 K

Gio Gonzalez: 7 IP 5 H 0 ER 2 BB 6 K

Gio's final line also included 10 ground outs to 4 fly outs...too bad he didn't get any support at all from that lineup...guess he didn't learn from his buddy Dan Haigwood's performance last night...if you want something (run support) done, you have to do it (2-RBI single) yourself...

High A Clearwater

  • Mike Costanzo: 1-9, RBI, 4 K
  • Brad Harman: 1-6, BB, 3 K, E

J.A. Happ: 6 IP 4 H 3 ER 2 BB 3 K

20 innings! Thankfully, the marathon ended with a win for the Threshers as Costanzo hit the game winning RBI single in the top of the 20th. I don't think there will be too many nights when he'll get 9 at bats in his future...lost in the shuffle was the decent performance by the young lefty Happ.

Low A Lakewood

Greg Golson: 0-4, 2 K
Tim Kennelly: 0-3, K
Welinson Baez: N/A
Lou Marson: 1-4, K

Matt Maloney (L, 0-2): 5 IP 5 H 5 ER 2 BB 9 K

This team is terrible. I know the emphasis is on developing the young talent and not necessarily on wins and losses, but...this team is just flat out bad at everything. They fell to 0-8 on the season tonight (makes 3-6 seem a lot better) and did everything they could to finish with more errors (4) than hits (5)...guess they even failed at that too.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Phils Win and Some Minor Stuff

Phillies beat Atlanta 7-5 last night and now take aim at starting pitcher Kyle Davies and the rest of 4-5 Braves in an attempt to win their first series of the year. Gavin Floyd takes the ball for the Phillies...3-6 seems a lot better than 2-7, doesn't it? No pressure or anything, Gavin, I'm just saying...

"Maybe we can rattle off five [wins] in a row and show our fans that we're not going to lay down and die," Lidle said. (

I like Cory Lidle. He seems like a ballplayer who just gets it - gets the on-field aspect of the sport, gets the business side of the sport, gets what it takes to play in Philadelphia. He is not a star, but he is a useful big league starter - an increasingly rare commodity these days. Lidle had a fairly typical Lidle kind of performance last night: 6 IP 10 H 3 ER 0 BB 7 K with 62 of his 90 pitches thrown for strikes. You can get away with giving up 10 hits in 6 innings so long as you don't walk anybody...getting 7 strikeouts doesn't hurt either. Aaron Rowand came up big in two key at bats (the 2-run error on Renteria and his 2-run homer), Mike Lieberthal had an outstanding game defensively behind the plate (not to mention his two 2-out RBI in the second), and Jimmy Rollins extended his latest hitting streak to 5 games with another multi-hit performance (his fourth of the season). The bench still continues to disappoint and Geoff Geary suffered a setback coming out of the pen, but those are problems for another day. For now, we can just sit back and enjoy this second win of the season. That's what I'll do anyway. For now...

On to the minor about a sampling of opinions (okay, just 2) on Cole Hamels' latest performance:

Opinion 1:

"You could tell he's pretty polished--he had excellent command of all three pitches," Sarasota manager Donnie Scott said. "His velocity was good, his fastball had running, sinking action, and he showed a great changeup. That was just my first impression, so who knows, but he looked like (Steve) Carlton last night."

Opinion 2:

"He threw OK," Gillick said.

Both quotes seem very optimistic to me when you consider the source. Last night in minor league action...

AAA Scranton-WB (2-5)

  • Carlos Ruiz: 2-4, HR, 2 RBI, R, BB
  • Chris Roberson: 1-4, R
  • Josh Kroeger: 1-4, 2B, 2 K
  • Danny Sandoval: 1-5, R
  • Chris Coste: 0-5, RBI, R
The homerun by Ruiz was a welcomed is believed he'll hit with a decent amount of power, but it is seen more as gap power rather than homerun power. One homer doesn't change that, obviously, but it's a start. I'm not trying to put any undue pressure on Ruiz either, but he really needs to dominate AAA pitching this year - it's his big shot to make an impression for '07 and he should be an advanced enough hitter by now to feast on the typically lackluster collection of AAA arms.

AA Reading (1-6)

  • Michael Bourn: 1-5, R, K
  • Tim Moss: 0-4, K
  • Jason Jaramillo: 2-3, 2B, RBI, BB, R, PB
  • Bryan Hansen: 0-2
  • Angel Chavez: 0-4

Daniel Haigwood: 5.2 IP 6 H 1 ER 3 BB 6 K

No steals for Bourn tonight...he's slipping. Jaramillo just keeps on hitting...Along with the solid pitching line, Haigwood helped himself by going 1-2 with 2 RBI at the plate...good night overall for the kid.

Moss is 0-22 with 14 strikeouts - less said about that the better…Jaramillo’s batting average up to .364

High A Clearwater (4-3)

  • Mike Costanzo: 0-3, K
  • Brad Harman: 0-3, K

Zach Segovia (L, 1-1): 7 IP 8 H 2 ER 1 BB 3 K

Segovia’s ground out- fly out ratio was 14/4. He is still plenty young enough to make something of himself and he is proving some doubters wrong with two solid starts to open the year. Then again, maybe he isn't proving anybody anything...after all, it's been just two solid starts, right?

Low A Lakewood (0-7)

Greg Golson: N/A
Tim Kennelly: 1-5, 2B, K
Welinson Baez: 3-5, 2 2B, RBI, R, K
Lou Marson: 0-1, R, 4 BB, E

Marson is still looking for hit number one on the season, so it is impressive to see him take four walks on the night - you know it must have killed him to not get the chance to swing the bat and get that first hit, but he took what the pitcher was giving him and helped his team in the process…Baez’ average is up to .360...Golson didn't play last night, but was still the topic in Baseball America's Daily Dish. It's worth a read, though it isn't the most comforting of reports...

"He's got to work on getting loaded better," assistant general manager Mike Arbuckle told the Times. "He wants to hit with an aluminum-bat approach."

Kyle Kendrick: 5.2 IP 8 H 4 ER 3 BB 4 K
Brett Harker: 2 IP 1 H 1 ER 0 BB 2 K

Three good Phillies lefthanders take the mound today - Gio Gonzalez (Reading), J.A. Happ (Clearwater), and Matt Maloney (Lakewood). Hopefully, these guys can put some wins on the board and up that organizational minor league record of 7-21 (.250 winning percentage). The big club is 2-6...also good for a .250 winning percentage...weird.

Scranton is on MiLB.TV tonight at 6:30 Eastern, just click to check out Roberson, Ruiz, and the hot hitting Bobby Scales!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Rumor Courtesy of TBCTAT

"The Philadelphia Phillies are looking for a long-term replacement for catcher Mike Lieberthal, who can become a free agent at the end of the season. One of the young catchers the Phillies are eyeing is Pirates prospect Ronny Paulino, who is at Class AAA Indianapolis."

- The Beaver County Times Allegheny Times (or the TBCTAT as I like to call it)

There are no names attached to this rumor (click the link or just look above, whatever turns you on) from April 9th, 2006 other than Paulino’s, so it isn’t immediately clear what kind of player the Pirates would be looking for in return (though I’m just about 99% Robinson Tejeda would have been enough to get a deal done if the Phillies really wanted this guy…oh well). Paulino is a 25-year old catcher with a strong defensive reputation and an improving bat. He has always been considered to be a player capable of producing some power (strong build, long swing), but hadn’t shown it until his breakthrough performance at AAA last season. Paulino hit .315/.372/.538 with 13 homeruns in 273 at bats. He is hitting .278/.350/.389 for the AAA Indianapolis Indians so far this year.

John Sickels had this to say about Paulino in The Baseball Prospect Book 2006: “In the majors, he should be able to hit around .250 with enough power to be useful…He doesn’t have a lot left to prove at the minor league level, but I’m not sure where or how he fits into Pittsburgh’s plans. Someone should be able to use him if the Pirates can’t.” The comment about Pittsburgh not necessarily needing him touches on the catching depth the Pirates currently enjoy – they have both Ryan Doumit (25-years old as well, in fact he is only 18 days older than Paulino) and 27-year old Humberto Cota battling for at bats on the big league roster. They also spent their 2004 first round pick on a catcher (and Pittsburgh native) Neil Walker. Walker is seen as the long-term future at catcher by some though many outsiders don’t necessarily believe he’ll stick at catcher over the long haul.

Any way you slice it, catching is a definite organizational strength for that other team in Pennsylvania…they are deep enough at the spot to turn a talented young player like Paulino into a valuable trading chip. John Sickels believes Paulino could be a .250 hitter in the majors, but Baseball Prospectus is a tad more optimistic. Their projection system has Paulino as a player capable of hitting .265/.321/.415 with 12 homers in 452 plate appearances in the majors right now – a fairly similar comp to what the same projection system forecasts for Mike Lieberthal in 2006 (.267/.332/.416 with 11 homers in 414 plate appearances). This is of course a highly inexact science, but food for thought nonetheless.

Robinson Tejeda would almost certainly been enough to bring Paulino to Philly. Heck, even Jake Blalock could have been used in attempt to land him. Unfortunately, both of those options are long gone, so the Phillies will have to think of something else to make it work. As a point of reference, John Sickels has Paulino as the ninth best prospect in the Pirates system while Baseball America has him at number thirteen on their list. Without knowing exactly what the Pirates are currently seeking to add to their roster, some logical names that could be involved include minor leaguer second baseman Tim Moss (though his horrible AA start doesn’t help his value any), lefty Eude Brito, or reliever Yoel Hernandez.

The Phillies long-term outlook at catcher is a bit confusing. Mike Lieberthal figures to be gone after the 2006 season even though Phils top catching prospect Jason Jaramillo (in AA now) isn’t believed to be ready to take over the full-time job at that point. Carlos Ruiz may or may not be viewed by the organization as being able to hold down the job as a one year stopgap due to his checkered medical past and the simple fact the Phillies just don’t seem all that high on him. Paulino would potentially be able to step right in as a rookie in 2007 and start for the ballclub while also adding depth to the position depending on the futures of Ruiz, Jaramillo, and Louis Marson. This may have just been a small rumor in the Beaver County Times, but it is something to be remembered as the Phillies begin the inevitable search for a starting catcher for the 2007 season.