Wednesday, February 28, 2007

JJ to Join HK, LA, CW, and SF

Jim Jackson to join the Phillies broadcast team as the pre-game and post-game host:

"We are pleased to have a broadcaster of Jim's caliber in our mix," said Brooks. "He brings a lot of experience with him, and a passion for baseball that not too many people were aware of."

Jackson, 43, has been broadcasting hockey games for 20 years, the last 14 with the National Hockey League's Philadelphia Flyers, but this will not be his first baseball experience.

I've always liked Jim Jackson enough, so I'm fine with the move. It should be interesting to see what kind of implications this has on the future of the Phillies broadcast booth though...the battle between Scott Franzke and Jim Jackson to replace Harry Kalas may indeed be on.

Monday, February 26, 2007

El Pulpo

No comment necessary out of me.

Sethspeaks Speaks to Chris Coste has an exclusive interview with everybody's favorite underdog, Chris Coste. There is plenty of insight to be gleaned from the conversation, so I recommend checking it out here. In the meantime, some of the finer points:

Coste on leadership: Jimmy is a very vocal leader and could be considered the captain. Utley is an on the field leader and he makes everyone around him want to play at a higher level, kind of what Michael Jordan did for his teammates. Howard is on a level of his own. He is the guy that can take some pressure off the rest of the team because he is the guy that the other team will always focus on. He is also easy to root for because he always wears that big "Ryan Howard Smile." And the thing that I will respect about him is that he is a great person and teammate behind the scenes.

SethSpeaks: Back to the book, I know I am occasionally asked for an update on where you're at. Have you decided upon a publishing house yet, and is there a timetable for the release of your book?

Chris Coste: I recently signed a book deal with Random House Publishing for my autobiography. I am in the process of writing it and it will be released in spring training of 2008.

SethSpeaks: Have you set any goals for what you want to accomplish in spring training?


SethSpeaks: Have you set any goals for yourself for the 2007 season?

Chris Coste: I really want to be healthy the entire season because I know that even if I start out the season on the bench, I can work my way into a more important role, just the way I did last year.

The thought of Chris Coste sitting at his computer and pounding away "STAY HEALTHY AND MAKE THE DAMN TEAM!!!!!" in all caps greatly amuses me.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Curt Schilling to Test Free Agency in 2008?

Would a Curt Schilling-Philadelphia reunion make sense for either side?

Brett Myers, Cole Hamels, Adam Eaton, and Jamie Moyer are all under contract through at least 2008. While this does leave one rotation spot free, the team should also be preparing for the major league jump of J.A. Happ and Zack Segovia by then. It also necessitates the assumption that there is no real possibility of the team re-upping Freddy Garcia at some point between now and next offseason. Scott Mathieson's return from injury should make him a candidate to earn a starting spot out of camp next season. In other does not look likely that Schilling willbe retiring as a Phillie as I know so many Phillies fans had hoped.

But if you are a dreamer who longs for the glory days (well, glory year anyway) then this is news that warrants some excitement - though you have to suspend belief for a minute to make it all work out, it isn't entirely implausible a scenario. Myers and Hamels are locks to be here next season, Eaton is under contract but far from a slam dunk (mostly due to durability concerns) and hardly a guy that would preclude the signing of a pitcher of Schilling's caliber (assuming the guy is still pitching at a high level), and Moyer could, in theory anyway, retire (or be gently nudged out the door by Phillies management) at any given moment. Happ could prove unfit for big league service in '08 or the Phillies could decide they want to start his career off by using him out of the bullpen...this bullpen scenario is even more likely when it comes to Segovia.

So what does all this mean? I couldn't tell you (I say that a lot, don't I? Why do people keep this silly thing if I can't even answer my own hypothetical questions? Silly readers...). I will say this...I've always had the personal hunch that Schilling would end his career in Philadelphia. I have wavered on this opinion in recent years (being in Boston has helped me get a first-hand look at how much he really enjoys playing in such a baseball crazy environment), but I still think it is what he genuinely wants. Do the Phillies want him back? Will the Phillies even think that they need him back? There are still plenty of hurt feelings within upper management even with the general manager that traded him working in San Diego...the Ed Wade regime may be over, but many of his former staffers still are employed by the Phils. I had a feeling that Mike Mussina would end up a Phillie in 2007...I was wrong. I (and I'm hardly alone here, many people much smarter than I have maintained this belief for some time) still think that Curt Schilling will find his way to Philly once again...time will tell.

Friday, February 23, 2007

The Car Ain't Bad Looking Either

I am negative ten months out of the year when it comes to the Phillies, but even I deserve a break. If you can't be disgustingly optimistic in February and March, when can you be? On that note, I present to you the picture of Brett Myers arriving in Clearwater from last week. The man looks good, does he not? Every year we hear about players arriving for spring training in "the best shape of their careers" or the even more ridiculous "the reason I sucked last year had nothing to do with me, it was my crappy eyesight," so it's easy to dismiss such meaningless rhetoric after being let down time and time again.'s nice to have photo evidence to back up such claims, is it not? Myers looks to be in great shape (he also looked fit and trim at his press conference announcing his new deal) and, if I may be so bold, his new beard gives him almost a John Smoltz-ian appearance. I admit that the last comment may qualify as disgustingly optimistic, but...'tis the season.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Phillies Sign Player Born in 90's

I'm attempting to get back to doing lots of little posts rather than saving stuff up for mega-posts every few days like in the past. Spring training news stories lend themselves to this kind of treatment, so hopefully the change will work out. With that said, time for our first mini-scoop post: the Phillies latest international signing. Read all about it here (you'll need to click a link from that page and from there it opens up in a PDF...or you can just read what I wrote about it below).

Scott Mitchinson, Brad Harman, Tim Kennelly, Joel Naughton...all minor league talents that the Phillies have acquired through their very close working relationship with the powers that be involved with running baseball leagues, camps, and academies in Australia. The latest name to add to the list is outfielder Angus Roeger, a player signed just this past week by Phillies scout Kevin Hooker. Hooker first noticed Roeger while playing for the Australian U/17 team in Japan. He has said, "the first thing we noticed about Angus was his strong and powerful physique. Angus has an athletic frame, is a good runner for his size and tracks the ball well in the outfield."

All four of the previous big Australian signings listed above began their professional careers stateside with the GCL Phillies. Roeger is expected to spend 2007 finishing up his high school studies and attending the Major League Baseball Academy Program on the Gold Coast (upon further research, this program is entirely funded by MLB, runs for two months, is similar in style to spring training, and typically has all kinds of famous instructors including Chilli Davis and Rod Carew) with the eventual goal of reaching the U.S. and playing in the Gulf Coast League in 2008. The only financial terms mentioned in the article references the "lucrative Minor League Contract" that Roeger signed, but there is really no telling what that means - for a point of reference, Harman, arguably the Phillies most promising of the group of Aussies, signed for $50,000.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Catch Up

Less than week into spring training...what have I missed so far? Everything and real baseball news to report, but plenty of miscellaneous yet Phillies related stories to talk about...

  • Should the picture above concern anyone? It's spring training, he's always been a big guy, it could be just an especially unflattering shot...but then Will Carroll injected a bit of fertilizer onto the seed of doubt growing in my mind: "He has the look to me of someone who could become David Ortiz in a hurry, so he needs to make sure that he doesn’t put on much weight. (And by Ortiz, I mean an immobile power guy.)" Ortiz is a heck of a player, there is no arguing that, but that doesn't mean Phillies fans should want their 27 year old superstar National League first baseman moving up in weight class if he can help it.
  • Chase Utley, Social Activist: Political and social commentary aside (though the timing of this is quite funny if you ask me - here's why, in case you missed it), anybody else catch the story by Rob Maaddi of the Carlisle Sentinel that mentioned Utley has put on almost 20 pounds of muscle since the end of last season? He is listed at 185 pounds, but the reports claim he is now weighing in at a burly 204. All of the standard weight gain caveats apply (decrease in flexibility, alteration of swing mechanics, etc.), but I must admit I find the news exciting all the same - the prospect of a more powerful, more durable Utley is one that I can very easily get behind.
  • Any fans of either The Office or The Daily Show out there? Well, if you were truly a dedicated fan of either show then you'd know that Ed Helms (this guy) is a cousin of Wes Helms (this guy) it a small world or what?
  • "Pitching coach Rich Dubee has switched to uniform No. 30 in honor of former Phillie Cory Lidle." - It was the last line of the notes section of just another generic spring training article, but it's a very nice gesture that definitely deserves another mention. Good for Dubee.

  • And finally...Athletics Nation has a tribute to Hunter S. Thompson that is well worth a glance if you've got the time. Check it out.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Pitchers and Catchers Report to Clearwater

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Fake Post

So, I've been busy lately and I haven't been able to write about the issues that matter - mostly the Phillies fascinating pursuit of relief help. First, it was the rumored interest in Paul Shuey (offering him a minor league deal before he signed with the Orioles), then it was the last minute effort to retain Rick White (too late, he is an Astro now), then it was the rumored done deal with Rick Helling (I thought for sure this was set to be announced, but Helling changed his mind at the last minute and retired), and finally it's come down to the Dustin Hermanson sweepstakes (crazy that such a thing as a "Dustin Hermanson sweepstakes" exists, but here we are). Now that we are caught up to speed on the great reliever scramble of '07, on to the fake post - a rehash of my prospects post from a few days back, but this time with Baseball America's rankings in parenthesis next to my ranking (I just got the book today, so I'm excited...yes, I'm a dork). Oh, and I added my own comments at the there is some new content after all. Lucky reader.

1. RHSP Carlos Carrasco (top notch A-ball numbers, I'd love to see the Phillies challenge him with a double jump to AA...though skipping levels hasn't worked too well with Carrasco in the past)

Carrasco's 2005 was a disaster as he reportedly tried to overthrow every fastball and, as a result of that, lost all command on it whatsoever. It wasn't as though his walk rate was abnormally high, but his hit rate jumped because hitters knew they could wait on his breaking stuff since that fastball wouldn't be close (an example of the semantical difference of poor command rather than poor control).

In 2006, Carrasco excelled. What changed? Carlos himself has been quoted as saying he learned to slow things down on the mound and realize the importance of fastball location over velocity. That's all well and good, but perhaps more important was the development of another strong secondary pitch - his curveball. In '05, all he threw was a fastball-change combo...easy pickings for professional hitters. By 2006, he was throwing a fastball that sits in the low 90s (92-94 typically, but it can be a bit flat at times), a plus change, and a developing (slowly but surely) power curve.

As of now, Carrasco is a damn fine pitching prospect but now quite among the elite. If he can add just a tick more velocity on his fastball, he could really bust out in A+/AA in 2007. His 6-3, 180 pound frame combined with his youth (he'll be 20 in March) could allow for the heater to be cranked up to mid-90s consistently and if out.

A name that I haven't often heard him compared to, but I'll throw it out there anyway is Ryan Madson. Their minor league numbers are very similar, they have similar builds, and similar repertoires (low 90s fastball, plus change, curve needs work). People may be down on Madson these days, but I still think he'll be a quality big leaguer for a long time. Carrasco has a bit more long-term upside (his fastball has gone up a tick in velocity every year since he signed), but I think it's a decent comp for the time being.

2. RHSP Scott Mathieson (TJ surgery shelves him for all of '07...still a young guy with plus stuff, profiles as either a future starter or relief ace) (5)

3. RHSP Kyle Drabek (as high a ceiling as any other prospect in the system...Rookie ball numbers and lack of maturity are red flags, but his talent is undeniable...Cole Hamels only dropped to the Phillies because of injury/immaturity, Phillies hope lighting strikes twice with Drabek) (2)

4. LHSP J.A. Happ (big jump up in '06, could work his way into Phillies rotation once the inevitable Adam Eaton injury can't really blame Eaton though, those DVDs can be damn tough to open) (8)

5. OF Michael Bourn (old-school prototype leadoff man, would have been an ideal fit playing center field next to Burrell and Abreu...oh well, at least we now have C.J. Henry!...another year in AAA could serve him well as he'll indirectly compete with Shane Victorino to see who will be the Phils CF come 2008) (7)

6. RHSP Edgar Garcia (4)
7. LHSP Josh Outman (6)
8. 3B Michael Costanzo (12)
9. IF Adrian Cardenas (3)
10. OF D'Arby Myers (11)
(LHRP Fabio Castro) (NR)
11. RHRP Zack Segovia (14)
12. OF Greg Golson (10)
(C Carlos Ruiz) (13)
13. RHSP Justin Germano (NR)
14. LHSP Matt Maloney (9)
(LHRP Matt Smith) (30)
15. C Jason Jaramillo (24)
16. RHRP Joe Bisenius (16)
17. LHSP Daniel Brauer (22)
18. RHSP Kyle Kendrick (15)
19. OF Jeremy Slayden (26)
20. RHSP Jarrod Freeman (NR)
21. RHSP Drew Carpenter (17)
22. SS C.J. Henry (20)
23. C Lou Marson (19)
24. C Jesus Sanchez (NR)
25. 3B Welinson Baez (21)
26. OF T.J. Warren (NR)
27. RHRP Pat Overholt (23)
28. INF Jason Donald (27)
29. INF Brad Harman (18)
30. RHRP Brett Harker (NR)

Jim Ed Warden (25) and Heitor Correa (28) were both oversights on my part, they absolutely deserve spots on this list. Alfredo Simon was ranked 29th by BA; his inclusion on the list is also probably legitimate.

One Ranking I Liked: Jason Jaramillo (24) - I had him at 15, but would have been more than okay with dropping him down my list; BA went for it and had him way down in the lower third of the top 30. I just don't see it with Jararmillo - his floor is relatively stable (backup catcher), but his ceiling isn't really all the different in my mind (I just don't see him as a starting caliber catcher - below average hitting + average/overrated defense = nondescript prospect).

One Ranking I Did Not Like: Matt Smith (30) - Smith is already a quality major league relief pitcher and that should count for something; there are not 29 players currently in the Phillies minor league system that will have better careers than he will have. Guaranteed.

Looking back at my list I'd probably make the following edits (I originally compiled it in December and lots has changed since then in my mind): Drabek at 2 over Mathieson, Cardenas would move up a few spots, and Harman would leapfrog fellow middle infield prospects C.J. Henry and Jason Donald (I've long been a fan of Harman and I refuse to give up on him).

Friday, February 02, 2007

Myers Signs 3-Year Deal

Brett Myers is now under club control for three more seasons after signing a three year contract worth $25.75 million dollars. More to come on this deal later, but I'll say what I said after the Chase Utley signing - good job, Phillies front office. The length of this deal makes it less risky than the Utley contract, but there are plenty of other factors (only buying out one year of free agency, Myers' past legal troubles and generally surly disposition, the fact that Myers is a pitcher and the inherent risks that comes with the territory) that will lead to interesting talking points over the next few days. The risks are many, but ultimately I'm a big fan of Myers the ballplayer and am extremely glad to see him under club control through 2009.

No matter where you stand on the deal itself, it's nice to have something Phillies related to talk about as we inch closer to the day pitchers and catchers report.