Saturday, April 21, 2007


I've had a hard time mustering up the energy to post my game notes detailing such depressing contests...last night's loss to Cincinnati taking the cake as the latest affront to good baseball put forth by this team. In staying away, however, I've missed out on the opportunity to comment on the big news that the team has generated in the past couple of days. My lightning round analysis on two big recent stories follows:

Charlie Manuel v Howard Eskin

Nobody is a winner in this matchup of two of Philadelphia's most polarizing sports personalities. I honestly can't blame Charlie for finally losing his cool and flipping out on Eskin - the guy really is a bottom feeder who lives to cause trouble by making his hatred for Philadelphia professional sports figures personal - in Eskin's world, Bobby Abreu was just another heartless, lazy Latin ballplayer, Allen Iverson was a punk who didn't learn a thing from the time he was drafted to the time he was traded, and Charlie Manuel is a player's manager who is clearly bad at his job because he stutters and speaks with a West Virginian accent. Manuel finally reached a boiling point and lost his composure after Eskin's persistent needling got to be too much

Besides Howard Eskin getting national television time as a result of the incident, the thing that upset me more than anything else is the idiotic notion put forth by Eskin (and sadly agreed upon by his legion of followers, the Philly "fan" base) that a good manager of men needs to berate his employees from time to time. I'm no fan of people that yell, so maybe my heavy personal bias come into play here...but you'll have a hard time convincing me that major league ballplayers need somebody to yell and scream at them to realize they should be playing better baseball.

And though it's really neither here nor there any doubt that the Phillies skipper wouldn't have kicked Eskin's ass?

Brett Myers to the Bullpen

Early season struggles or not, Myers has the track record that indicates he is the best starter on the Phillies staff. You want your best players on the field as much as possible, right?

200 innings in the rotation > 70-80 innings out of the bullpen

Terrible move, Phillies.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


I have a few random game notes scratched out on computer paper from the Astros series, but they hardly seem relevant with so much time having passed since the last Phillies game. In an effort to provide some big league content (and not just focus on the minors), I'll share some of the random, big picture thoughts that I gleaned from watching this past weekend's abbreviated series...

It's time to think about playing around with the lineup a little bit. I know, I know...lineup construction is pretty much meaningless in the grand scheme of things, but it's one of the few old school baseball traditions that I think is worth preserving, for the interesting discussion it sparks if nothing else. I don't have any concrete plan on what the new lineup ought to look like, but I'll provide some jumping off points: Jimmy Rollins, aka the best shortstop in baseball these days, might be best served hitting in the middle of the lineup than at the top; Aaron Rowand's shocking .458 OBP might look alright higher in the lineup (leadoff? 2-hole?) if he keeps it up; it's finally time to split up the two lefties in the middle of the lineup, no? If you'd prefer to see Rollins stay at the top of the lineup, then what's wrong with giving Pat Burrell at shot batting cleanup for a while?

If you want to worry about Ryan Howard's "slow" start, I won't try to talk you out of it. That said, I'm not in the least bit worried about the '06 MVP...sure, he's had a slower start than I'm sure many would have liked to see, but he really looked like the light came back on for him this past weekend against Houston. Watching him go the other way consistently is the easiest thing a fan can do to figure out whether he's going good or not - I'm hardly an expert on swing mechanics, but I expect big things in the coming week out of the big man based on what I saw this past weekend.

It was an absolute joke to see Michael Bourn sent on to the field on Saturday to run for Pat Burrell in the sixth inning of a tight ballgame. Burrell had just hit an RBI single and was standing on first base with two outs and a baserunner ahead of him when Charlie Manuel lifted him from the game. The potential advantage of such a move is so slight, it's almost not worth making at all...but when you consider the downside, it becomes 100% indefensible. The very next inning (bottom 7), Ryan Howard was intentionally walked to load the bases with 2 outs for...defensive sub extraordinare Michael Bourn. Bourn looked horribly overmatched as he struck out on 3 pitches. The temptation for Charlie should be removed, Bourn should be sent down (up?) to Canada to play everyday...and Chris Coste, a better bench bat, should get promoted. As long as Coste hits, he stays...if/when he goes cold, you can try again with another AAA bat.

Last but not least, Francisco Rosario made his Phillies debut on Saturday...the kid looked good. It was fastball after fastball (I saw 93-95...though I've heard some guns had him as high as 98), but it worked. He blew three fastballs right by Lance Berkman to strike him out in a huge situation in the 7th. Throwing the heater on 2-0, 3-1, and then 3-2 is a risky proposition, but when you are hitting 94/95, you can make it work. Rosario's progress will be fun to watch this year.

My word verification for this particular post - UTOOL. What's Blogger trying to tell me?

Minor League Update 4/16

Clearwater 4/16

Greg Golson (CF): 1-4, SB (5/5 on season)
Jeremy Slayden (LF): 0-3, BB, 3 K, E (1)
Clay Harris (1B): 0-3, BB, K
Welinson Baez (3B): 2-4
Brad Harman (SS): 1-4, 2 K
Lou Marson (C): 0-4, K

Though it's only been 19 at bats, Welinson Baez's hot start gives the Phillies at least another option in their sad race for third baseman of the future.

Pat Overholt: 5.2 IP 6 H 1 ER 1 BB 7 K HBP
Mike Zagurski: 1.1 IP 1 H 2 ER 2 BB 1 K HBP
Zac Stott: 1 IP 0 H 0 ER 0 BB 1 K

Overholt is looking more and more like the real deal as a future option for a job in the big league bullpen.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Minor League Update 4/13, 4/14, and 4/15

Ottawa 4/14 (DH)

Chris Roberson (CF): 2-4
Chris Coste (C): 1-3, K
Brennan King (3B): 1-3
Danny Sandoval (SS): 1-3

I'm ready for either Chris Roberson or Chris Coste to get called up to replace the not quite ready for primetime Michael Bourn. Bourn ought to be playing everyday in Canada, not serving as Pat Burrell's legs with the big club.

Zack Segovia: 6 IP 5 H 4 ER 2 BB 3 K wild pitch

12 groundouts to 3 flyouts for Segovia on the night, a silver lining on an otherwise unspectacular outing.

Ottawa 4/14 (DH)

Chris Roberson (CF): 1-3, RBI, R, BB
Chris Coste (DH): 1-4, 2B, 2 RBI
Brennan King (3B): 0-3, R, BB
Jason Jaramillo (C): 1-3, R
Danny Sandoval (SS): 2-3, 2B, RBI

Eude Brito: 0 IP 2 H 2 ER 1 BB 0 K
Yoel Hernandez: 1 IP 1 H 0 ER 0 BB 2 K
Brian Sanches: 1 IP 0 H 0 ER 0 BB 1 K

Brito's rough night leads to his ERA jumping to 18.00 through 2 innings.

Reading 4/13

Javon Moran (CF): 3-5, R, SB and CS (5/6 on year)
Mike Costanzo (3B): 0-4, K, E (6)

Kyle Kendrick: 6 IP 8 H 3 ER 1 BB 2 K
Nate Johnson: 2 IP 4 H 3 ER 1 BB 1 K

Reading 4/14

Javon Moran (CF): 2-6, RBI, 2 R, SB (7/8)
Mike Costanzo (3B): 2-3, 2B, RBI, R, 2 BB, K

With the two walk day, Costanzo now has a BB/K ratio of 3/14 through 35 at bats.

Bubba Nelson: 0.2 IP 0 H 0 ER 0 BB 0 K
Anderson Garcia: 2 IP 0 H 0 ER 0 BB 2 K

Clearwater 4/13

Greg Golson (CF): 1-4, RBI, K, E (1)
Brad Harman (2B): 0-4, 2 K
Jeremy Slayden (RF): 2-4, 2B, R, K
Clay Harris (3B): 0-4, E (2)
Welinson Baez (DH): 1-4, 2B, RBI, K
Lou Marson (C): 2-4, 2B, 2 R, E (2)
Fidel Hernandez (SS): 1-4

Carlos Carrasco: 3.1 IP 7 H 7 ER 1 BB 3 K wild pitch
Derek Griffith: 2.2 IP 0 H 0 ER 3 BB 5 K
Mike Zagurski: 1 IP 1 H 0 ER 0 BB 3 K
Will Savage: 1 IP 1 H 0 ER 0 BB 1 K

One plus in having Carlos Carrasco get shelled is that the bullpen guys get plenty of opportunities to impress. Griffith, Zagurski, and Savage all have kept opposing hitters at bay this season combining on 13.1 innings of scoreless baseball. Zagurski has a whopping nine strikeouts in his 4 innings of work so far.

Clearwater 4/14

Greg Golson (CF): 2-4, 2B, R, K, SB (4)
Jeremy Slayden (DH): 1-3, R, BB
Clay Harris (1B): 0-3, RBI, 2 R, BB, K
Welinson Baez (3B): 2-3, HR, 3 RBI, 3 R, BB, K
Brad Harman (SS): 1-4, 2B, 2 RBI, R, 2 K
Lou Marson (C): 0-3, RBI, K

Reports out of Clearwater claim that Welinson Baez is the early frontrunner for most improved player on the Threshers squad - his homer in this game was apparently a 420 foot bomb that got the attention of scouts in attendance.

Daniel Brauer: 6 IP 1 H 0 ER 3 BB 9 K
Zac Stott: 1 IP 0 H 0 ER 0 BB 1 K

Two great starts for Brauer so far and rumor has it that his velocity has seen a bit of a jump in the early going - it goes without saying, but a couple more ticks on his fastball make him an even more interesting prospect than he already is.

Clearwater 4/15

Greg Golson (CF): 2-4
Jeremy Slayden (DH): 1-3, 2 RBI, R, BB
Welinson Baez (3B): 1-4, 2B, RBI, R, K
Lou Marson (C): 2-3, RBI, K
Fidel Hernandez (SS): 0-4

It's early, but Greg Golson has been hitting and hitting with power. He is 14 for his 41 (.341 average) and 6 of those 14 hits are for extra bases (.561 slugging). His BB/K ratio still leaves something to be desired (1/10 ain't gonna cut it), but it's been a nice first 10 games for the former first rounder.

Andrew Carpenter: 7 IP 3 H 0 ER 0 BB 5 K
Brett Harker: 1 IP 3 H 2 ER 0 BB 0 K

Carpenter followed up fellow 2006 college draftee Dan Brauer's stellar start with a pretty damn impressive outing of his own. Brett Harker has been a disaster so far this year, I can't help but wonder if he is hurting.

Lakewood 4/13

Quintin Berry (LF): 2-4, 2B, 2 R, K
Jason Donald (SS): 2-4, 3B, RBI, 2 R, K, 2 CS (now 0/3 on the year)
Adrian Cardenas (2B): 2-5, 2B, 3 RBI, 2 R, K
Tuffy Gosewisch (C): 2-5, 2B, 2 RBI, R, 3 K
Jay Miller (DH): 3-5, RBI, R, K
Gus Milner (RF): 2-4, RBI, BB
C.J. Henry (3B): 0-4, BB, 2 K
Julian Williams (CF): 0-3, RBI, R, K

Great day for the BlueClaws lineup, you'll win a couple of games when you're first six batters all have multiple hit days. Cardenas' batting average (.333 through 7 games) may be a tad empty (only one extra base hit and 2 walks), but it is still damn impressive for a 19-year old in full season ball.

Darren Byrd: 4 IP 5 H 4 ER 3 BB 5 K HBP
Ben Pfinsgraff: 3.1 IP 2 H 0 ER 2 BB 3 K
Andrew Cruse: 1.2 IP 1 H 0 ER 1 BB 2 K wild pitch

Ben Pfinsgraff continues to make me look like an ass by pitching so well at Lakewood - 7.2 scoreless innings so far for the former Maryland Terrapin.


Friday, April 13, 2007

Minor League Update 4/11 and 4/12

I'm still coming down from my Felix Hernandez at Fenway high, so my game notes from the past few Phillies contests are sparse. However I am proud to say that I was unquestionably the only fan inside of Fenway Park on Wednesday night rocking the XM satellite radio so I could listen in on the Phillies-Mets game. I'm incredibly thankful I thought to do this...who knows when the Phils will win another game. On to some minor league notes from the past two evenings...

Ottawa 4/11

Chris Roberson (CF): 1-6, 3B, 3 RBI, R, CS (1)
Danny Sandoval (2B): 2-3, 2B, 2 R
Chris Coste (C): 1-5, RBI, R, BB
Brennan King (3B): 3-5, RBI, 2 R, SB (1)

Fabio Castro: 2.2 IP 1 H 0 ER 2 BB 2 K
Joe Bisenius: 0.2 IP 2 H 2 ER 1 BB 0 K
Brian Sanches: 2 IP 1 H 0 ER 0 BB 0 K

Jim Ed Warden has pitched a couple of times in the series for Buffalo (Cleveland) and now has allowed two earned runs in two innings of work. Oh Jim Ed, what might have been…

Ottawa 4/12

Chris Roberson (CF): 2-4, RBI
Chris Coste (DH): 1-3, 2B, BB
Brennan King (3B): 0-4
Danny Sandoval (SS): 1-4, K
Jason Jaramillo (C): 1-3, BB, K

Two hits for Chris Roberson…what an exciting night for the Lynx!

Reading 4/11

Javon Moran (CF): 1-3, 2 R, BB, SB (4)
Mike Costanzo (3B): 0-4, 2 K

Julio De La Cruz: 1 IP 3 H 2 ER 0 BB 1 K
Anderson Garcia: 1 IP 0 H 0 ER 0 BB 1 K

Reading 4/12

Javon Moran (CF): 2-4, 3B, 2 R, BB, SB (5)
Mike Costanzo (3B): 2-4, BB, E (6)

Matt Maloney: 6.2 IP 5 H 2 ER 3 BB 5 K
Bubba Nelson: 0.1 IP 3 H 2 ER 2 BB 0 K
Julio De La Cruz: 0.1 IP 1 H 0 ER 0 BB 0 K

Andrew McCutchen (CF): 0-4, R, BB
Neil Walker (3B): 2-4, 2 RBI, R, BB

Check out Nelson’s line on the night…notice how terrible it was…process the fact that he actually wound up getting the win for Reading…and then realize there isn’t a whole lot of value of measuring a pitcher’s personal performance using wins as an indicator. Oh and Javon Moran? All he does is hit.

I added McCutchen and Walker’s numbers on the night because they are the top two bats in the Pirates system; McCutchen is the clear cut best prospect in the chain and Walker is attempting to regain some luster as a prospect while trying to make the transition from catcher to third this season.

Clearwater 4/11 (DH)

Greg Golson (CF): 2-4, 2B, RBI
Brad Harman (2B): 2-4, 2B
Jeremy Slayden (LF): 0-3
Clay Harris (3B): 1-2, BB
Lou Marson (C): 0-3, K, E (1)
Fidel Hernandez (SS): 0-2, R

Pat Overholt: 5 IP 7 H 3 ER 2 BB 3 K
Mike Zagurski: 2 IP 1 H 0 ER 0 BB 5 K

Zagurski stole the show with his two nearly flawless innings of relief (5 strikeouts is no joke), but Overholt’s effort should not be overlooked – he may have been tagged with a loss, but he managed to put up a GO/FO ratio of 11/1.

Clearwater 4/11 DH

Greg Golson (CF): 0-2, BB, K, SB (3)
Brad Harman (2B): 0-3, 2 K
Jeremy Slayden (DH): 0-2
Clay Harris (1B): 1-2, HR (2), RBI, R
Fidel Hernandez (SS): 1-2

Zac Stott: 3 IP 0 H 0 ER 2 BB 2 K
Derek Griffith: 2 IP 1 H 0 ER 2 BB 2 K

Nice job by Stott (acquired in the Rheal Cormier deal) and Griffith to shut down the Tampa bats.

Clearwater 4/12

Greg Golson (CF): 0-4, 3 K, OF assist
Brad Harman (2B): 0-4, K
Jeremy Slayden (RF): 1-3, R, BB
Clay Harris (3B): 0-2, R, 2 BB
Lou Marson (C): 1-4, HR (1), RBI, R, 2 K
Fidel Hernandez (SS): 1-3, RBI, K

Josh Outman: 4.1 IP 4 H 1 ER 4 BB 3 K
Will Savage: 1.1 IP 0 H 0 ER 1 BB 1 K
Brett Harker: 1 IP 0 H 0 ER 0 BB 2 K

Rough night for many of the Threshers position players, including the three strikeout performance by Golson. Will Savage continues to throw well out of the bullpen.

Tim Battle (CF): 2-9, 3 R, 2 BB, 6 K, 3 SB (4), E (2)
Jose Tabata (RF/DH): 3-9, 3 BB, 3 K
Marcos Vechionacci (3B): 1-7, 2B, R, BB, 3 K
Ian Kennedy (SP): 6 IP 3 H 1 ER 2 BB 4 K wild pitch

I included a handful of players from Tampa for a couple of reasons: I saw Battle and Vechionacci play at Charleston two years ago and have been tracking their progress ever since, Tabata is far and away the most attractive hitting prospect in the Yankees system (especially now that the Phils have C.J. Henry…ha), and Ian Kennedy was a first rounder out of USC last year. So there you go.

Lakewood 4/12 (DH)

Quintin Berry (LF): 0-5
Jason Donald (SS): 1-4, R, E (2)
Tuffy Gosewisch (C): 2-4, 2B, K
Jay Miller (DH): 2-4, RBI, 2 R
Gus Milner (RF): 2-4, R, SB (2)
C.J. Henry (3B): 1-4, 2B, RBI, R, SB (3)
Julian Williams (CF): 1-4

Carlos Monasterios: 4.1 IP 7 H 2 ER 2 BB 4 K
Michael Dubee: 1.2 IP 0 H 0 ER 0 BB 2 K

Monasterios rebounded nicely from his opening day disaster while Dubee continues to make a case that he should get a chance pitching in a full season rotation somewhere.

Lakewood 4/12 (DH)

Quintin Berry (LF): 1-3, R, SB (2)
Jason Donald (SS): 2-3, RBI, R, E (3), CS (1)
Adrian Cardenas (2B): 2-3
Gus Milner (RF): 0-3
Jay Miller (DH): 0-3
Joel Naughton (C): 1-3, E (1)
C.J. Henry (3B): 0-3, 2 K
Doug Morales (1B): 0-3, K
Julian Williams (CF): 0-2, K

Edgar Garcia: 5 IP 8 H 2 ER 1 BB 3 K

The entire BlueClaw lineup last night was filled with nine players that can be designated prospects depending on how you perceive them – granted, a good part of this is the fact that in A ball, everyone is so young that you can have at least a smidge of justifiable hope for practically every player. Great to see Edgar Garcia acquitting himself well to full season ball so far.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Minor League Report

The Phillies will try for elusive win number two tonight as Adam Eaton takes the mound for the good guys looking for his first win as a member of the team that drafted him. He'll be opposed by the erratic, but talented lefthander Oliver Perez. I'd say more, but I've got tickets to see Felix Hernandez vs. Daisuke Matsuzaka tonight at Fenway. Since you're probably jealous, I offer up a hearty dose of Phillies minor league action to read all about - fair trade, no? Boy, oh boy, can't wait to see how the Lynx did last night! Suckers.

Ottawa 4/10

Chris Roberson (CF): 0-4, 2 K, E (3)
Chris Coste (1B): 0-3, 2 BB
Brennan King (3B): 1-4
Danny Sandoval (SS): 0-4
Jason Jaramillo (C): 0-3, BB

J.A. Happ: 5 IP 0 H 0 ER 3 BB 6 K
Joe Bisenius: 0.2 IP 2 H 3 ER 1 BB 0 K
Eude Brito: 1 IP 3 H 2 ER 1 BB 1 K
Yoel Hernandez: 1.1 IP 1 H 0 ER 0 BB 0 K

Happ impressed with five innings of no hit ball, only to see Bisenius and Brito find ways to blow the lead against Buffalo. J.A. kept up his crazy flyball tendencies by getting eight of his nine non-strikeout outs on balls hit in the air. Terrible night by the Lynx position players, especially Roberson (3 errors already?).

Reading 4/10

Javon Moran (CF): 2-5, 2B, RBI, K
Mike Costanzo (3B): 0-4, K, 3 E (5)

Nate Johnson: 1 IP 3 H 1 ER 0 BB 0 K wild pitch
Nick Evangelista: 1 IP 4 H 3 ER 0 BB 2 K
Anderson Garcia: 1 IP 3 H 1 ER 0 BB 2 K wild pitch

Wow, at least Ottawa had good performances out of Happ and Hernandez; Reading was terrible last night. Johnson, Evangelista, and Garcia all got hit hard, and Mike Costanzo had an epically bad night – his 3 errors (2 fielding, 1 throwing) give him 5 on the year and his strikeout gives him 10 in 20 at bats. At least Javon Moran keeps up his hot hitting; another double tonight gives him 5 in 21 at bats, a pretty impressive feat considering he only had 13 in 293 last year (I know I mentioned this previously, but it boggles my mind for some reason).

Lakewood 4/10

Quintin Berry (LF): 1-5, R, K, E (1)
Jason Donald (SS): 3-5, 2B, 2 R, K
Adrian Cardenas (2B): 1-3, R, BB, 2 K
Tuffy Gosewisch (C): 0-2, R, 3 BB, K
Jay Miller (DH): 0-2, RBI, 2 R, BB, HBP
Gus Milner (RF): 3-5, 2 2B, 5 RBI, R, K, OF assist (1)
C.J. Henry (3B): 1-4, 2B, RBI, BB, 2 K
Doug Morales (1B): 1-4, BB
Julian Williams (CF): 1-4, RBI, R, BB

Kyle Drabek: 6 IP 5 H 1 ER 2 BB 4 K
Alex Concepcion: 2 IP 1 H 0 ER 1 BB 2 K
Justin Blaine: 1 IP 2 H 0 ER 0 BB 1 K

Lakewood drilled West Virginia last night behind big hits from Jason Donald and Gus Milner, and a strong starting turn by last year’s first rounder Kyle Drabek. Speaking of Drabek, from the April 1 edition of Future Shock from Baseball Prospectus:

2006 first-round pick Kyle Drabek had a tough pro debut with the Phillies, and one scout in Florida was unpleasantly surprised by the righthander when he saw him pitch for the first time. "I just expected much more out of him," he said. "There's no way, no how he's six feet tall. He's maybe 5-foot-10, and stocky and muscly, and there's just nothing to project on." And the stuff? "The curveball is good, but he was like 88-92 mph and I was not impressed--I don't see him as much more than a reliever."

This more or less directly contradicts reports from spring training published by Baseball America, so take it with a grain of salt. I’m still certain that no player in the Phillies system has more star potential than Drabek, though admittedly his skill set makes him a bit of a boom-or-bust kind of prospect. For what it’s worth, unsubstantiated reports from last night game had Drabek hitting the mid-90s with his fastball while trying to work in his newly refined changeup (in the low 70s), a “show me” slider (mid 80s), and his best pitch, the spike curve (76 mph – 82 mph).


Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Look on the Bright Side...(Ver. 2.0)

Check out recaps of Phillies prospects currently at Ottawa and Reading right here. See what's going on at Clearwater and Lakewood below (interesting numbers and pitching lines in bold).

And because I had nowhere else to put it, the Phillies made some roster moves over the past few days that I keep forgetting to mention. Chris Coste, Joe Bisenius, and Zack Segovia are all now with Ottawa; Jon Lieber and Francisco Rosario are Phillies; and Joe Thurston was promoted from Reading to Ottawa after the Phillies traded Brent Abernathy to Washington. Now that you are all caught up, on to the minors...


Greg Golson (CF): 3-4, 3B, 2B, RBI, 3 R
Brad Harman (2B): 2-4, HR, 2 RBI, 2 R
Lou Marson (C): 0-0, R, BB, HBP
Jeremy Slayden (DH): 2-3, 2 RBI, BB
Clay Harris (3B): 0-2, 2 RBI, E (1)

Chris Coste (C): 1-2, RBI, R
Freddy Garcia: 3.1 IP 3 H 0 ER 1 BB 7 K

Pat Overholt: 4.2 IP 3 H 1 ER 2 BB 4 K
Mike Zagurski: 1 IP 0 H 0 ER 0 BB 1 K

Overholt is a 23 year old, short righthander coming off of a very good year spent between Lakewood and Clearwater; biggest challenge facing him going forward will be his coming to terms with shoring up his spotty control. Zagurski is a 24 year old short lefthander coming off a dominating season pitching out of the bullpen in Lakewood; as a college draft pick (University of Kansas), Zagurski has to pitch well enough to convince the Phillies to pick up their timetable with him or risk becoming the classic example of an older minor leaguer feasting on less experienced players.

Clearwater 4/6

Greg Golson (CF): 2-5, 2B, R, K, 2 SB (2)
Brad Harman (2B): 0-5, R, 3 K
Jeremy Slayden (DH): 3-5, HR, 2B, 3 RBI, R
Clay Harris (1B): 2-5, HR, RBI, R, 2 K
Welinson Baez (3B): 1-4, R, HBP
Fidel Hernandez (SS): 2-4, 2 E (2)

Slayden can hit, that much should now be obvious. The next step for the Phillies is to keep him in Clearwater a bit longer, let him get some time at first base and the outfield corners, and then finally promote him to Reading. I know he is a butcher in the field (or so I’ve been told), but if he can at least pretend to play those few positions then he’d make a very valuable (and cheap) bench bat for the Phillies in a year or two.

Chris Coste (C): 1-4, 2B, R, K
Jon Lieber: 3.2 IP 4 H 1 ER 0 BB 4 K

Derek Griffith: 0.1 IP 0 H 0 ER 1 BB 0 K
Josh Outman: 2.1 IP 7 H 6 ER 3 BB 3 K wild pitch

Griffith is a giant 24 lefthanded pitcher who is a marginal prospect…at best. Outman is a 22 year old lefty who seemingly has a future as a big league reliever…at worst.

Clearwater 4/7

Greg Golson (CF): 1-5, HR, RBI, R, 2 K
Brad Harman (2B): 0-5, 2 K
Jeremy Slayden (DH): 2-4, R
Clay Harris (3B/1B): 0-4, RBI, K
Lou Marson (C): 1-3, BB, K
Fidel Hernandez (SS): 1-4, RBI, K, E (3)

Chris Coste (1B/3B): 2-4, R

Carlos Carrasco: 5.2 IP 3 H 0 ER 3 BB 4 K HBP
Will Savage: 2 IP 2 H 0 ER 0 BB 2 K
Brett Harker: 1 IP 3 H 2 ER 1 BB 1 K

I wrote in the Lakewood portion below about how exciting the debuts of Drabek and Edgar Garcia were; Carlos Carrasco’s was right up there with them. I compared Carrasco’s development to Ryan Madson’s a few months ago (the good Ryan Madson, for the record), so I’m anxious to see what kind of performance he puts up in his Age 20 season in advanced A ball. Savage is arguably the best relief prospect to come out of the 2006 draft for the Phillies, he has legitimate bullpen sleeper potential.

Clearwater 4/9

Greg Golson (CF): 1-4, RBI, K, PO (1)
Brad Harman (2B): 3-4, 2 R
Jeremy Slayden (RF): 1-3, 2B, RBI, R, BB
Clay Harris (3B): 1-4, R, K
Lou Marson (C): 2-4, 2B, 2 RBI

Dan Brauer: 5 IP 6 H 1 ER 2 BB 3 K
Andrew Carpenter: 4 IP 3 H 1 ER 3 BB 4 K

Very encouraging night for the Threshers. 2006 draftees Brauer and Carpenter teamed up to hold Dunedin to just two runs, Brad Harman busted out with 3 hits, and Jeremy Slayden was freed from his personal designated hitter prison. It’s only been 15 at bats, but Slayden has a line of .533/.588/.867 on the year so far. Greg Golson is right there behind him with a line of .389/.368/.778 through 18 at bats.

Lakewood 4/5

Quintin Berry (LF): 1-5, RBI, R
Jason Donald (SS): 2-4, RBI, R, BB, K
Adrian Cardenas (2B): 1-4, RBI, R, BB, K
Tuffy Gosewisch (C): 0-4, BB, 2 K
Jay Miller (DH): 1-5, RBI, R, 2 K
Gus Milner (RF): 1-4, K
C.J. Henry (3B): 2-4, 2B, 2 RBI, 2 R, 2 E (2)
Julian Williams (CF): 0-3, R, BB, K

Carlos Monasterios: 0.2 IP 5 H 7 ER 1 BB 0 K
Justin Blaine: 4.1 IP 3 H 2 ER 1 BB 3 K
Jarrod Freeman: 1 IP 3 H 2 ER 0 BB 1 K
Alex Concepcion: 2 IP 3 H 0 ER 1 BB 3 K
Ronald Hill: 1 IP 0 H 0 ER 0 BB 2 K

Monasterios, one of the prizes from the Bobby Abreu deal, had as bad a debut performance as you’ll ever see. The 21 year old righthander has an ERA of 94.50 to start off his season and somehow managed to throw 3 wild pitches while throwing to 9 batters; nowhere to go, but up…right?

Blaine is a big 23 year old lefty out of San Diego. Freeman is one of my favorite prospects in all the organization, a deep sleeper with a projectable frame (6’3”, 195) who suffered from a lack of exposure leading up to last year’s draft (not too many scouts plan trips to watch high school ball in Utah). He joins Adrian Cardenas as another teenager on the Lakewood squad (he’ll be 19 all season long). The organization is reportedly very high on the 22 year old native of the Dominican Republic, Alex Concepcion; it should be interesting how he does in his first crack at full season ball stateside. Ron Hill is a fringy minor league bullpen arm that is old for his league (24), but was a nice draft pick a few years back by the Phillies – I like the idea of targeting underused collegiate arms in the very late rounds of the draft and sticking them in the bullpen. Growing your own bullpen arms is all about quantity, quantity, quantity…if you have a good idea of what to look for and you try multiple ways of searching for it, good things will happen.

Lakewood 4/6

Quintin Berry (CF): 2-4, 2 R, BB, K, SB (1)
Jason Donald (SS): 2-5, 2B, 4 RBI, 2 K
Adrian Cardenas (2B): 0-4, RBI, R, 2 K
Tuffy Gosewisch (C): 2-4, HR, 2B, 2 RBI, R
Jay Miller (DH): 0-4, K
Gus Milner (RF): 2-4, 3B, R, 2 K
C.J. Henry (3B): 1-3, 3B, 2 R, K, HBP, SB (1)
Julian Williams (LF): 1-2, 2 R, 2 BB
Doug Morales (1B): 0-1

Edgar Garcia: 7 IP 4 H 1 ER 0 BB 5 K
Kyle Drabek: 1 IP 0 H 0 ER 0 BB 3 K
Garet Hill: 1 IP 0 H 0 ER 0 BB 1 K

See, there is hope after all. Garcia and Drabek represent a whole lot of what is promising in the organization. The teenage duo (Garcia doesn’t turn 20 until September, Drabek won’t get there until December) were both sensational in their debuts.

Lakewood 4/7

Quintin Berry (CF): 1-4
Jason Donald (SS): 1-4, E (1)
Adrian Cardenas (2B): 2-4, K
Tuffy Gosewisch (DH): 0-4, 3 K
Jay Miller (LF): 1-4
Gus Milner (RF): 2-4, 2B, R
Joel Naughton (C): 1-3

Great to see Naughton get a start behind the dish, the Phillies have high hopes that the young catcher out of Australia will have a strong year in full season ball.

Darren Byrd: 4.1 IP 3 H 3 ER 4 BB 3 K
Mike Dubee: 1.2 IP 2 H 0 ER 0 BB 0 K
Ben Pfinsgraff: 2 IP 0 H 0 ER 1 BB 1 K
Andrew Cruse: 1 IP 0 H 0 ER 0 BB 3 K

Cruse may take exception to the comment I made about Will Savage emerging as the best relief prospect the Phillies took in 2006; I’m surprised the Phils decided to start him in Lakewood rather than Clearwater though. I like Dubee way more than most, but am still very apprehensive about labeling Pfinsgraff a real prospect despite his success as a pro thus far – prove me wrong, Ben, prove me wrong.

Lakewood 4/9

Quintin Berry (LF): 1-4, BB, CS (1)
Jason Donald (SS): 0-4
Adrian Cardenas (2B): 1-4, R, K, CS (1)
Tuffy Gosewisch (C): 1-4, 2B, RBI, K
Jay Miller (DH): 1-4, 2B, R, K
Gus Milner (RF): 0-3, R, BB, 2 K, SB (1)
C.J. Henry (3B): 1-3, 2B, RBI, R, BB, SB (2)
Julian Williams (CF): 2-3, 2B, 2 RBI, BB, SB (1), CS (1)

Berry, Williams, and Milner must make up one heck of a defensive outfield - 2 natural centerfielders and a man with a rocket in right.

Jarrod Freeman: 4.2 IP 5 H 3 ER 3 BB 6 K
Ben Pfinsgraff: 2.1 IP 1 H 0 ER 0 BB 1 K
Ron Hill: 1 IP 0 H 0 ER 0 BB 1 K
Andrew Cruse: 1 IP 0 H 0 ER 0 BB 2 K

Jay Miller is well on his way to being dropped from the daily minor league updates…nothing personal, buddy. Jarrod Freeman didn’t have a great start by many standards, but the six strikeouts in 4.2 innings is a nice sign. Pfinsgraff continues to impress, I love being proved wrong in cases like this.

Berry is a 22 year old outfielder drafted out of San Diego State last year who struggled adjusting to professional ball at Batavia.

Henry turns 21 at the end of May and it is believed that he is repeating Lakewood to both adjust to third base and to finally get a taste of some professional success at an age-appropriate level.

Milner is a very athletic 23 year old outfielder taken out of the University of Kansas last year. He is raw for a college player but has an interesting blend of speed, size, and power that makes him a name to keep in the back of your mind.

The 22 year old Donald is the best shortstop prospect in a system very thin in that area.

Adrian Cardenas is the best looking young hitter in the organization. The Phillies were relatively aggressive in promoting him to full season ball as a teenager (he is 19 years of age), but his All-Star season in the GCL last year forced their hand. Cardenas is ready to handle the challenge at Lakewood.

Gosewisch was reportedly ready to either repeat Clearwater or advance to Reading, but was instead left behind in Lakewood to serve as the veteran backstop for the promising BlueClaws rotation. While it may be a bit of a tough break for Tuffy, it stinks to be in A ball as a guy turning 24 in August, but it’s a very bright move by the organization to think of their group of talented Lakewood starting pitchers first and foremost.

Williams will be 24 in July and is an A ball repeater. Miller was drafted out of Washington State last year and will be 24 in August. Both players ought to be hopeful of careers as minor league mercenaries because their major league futures are simply not bright. I’ll keep track of their progress for now, but it won’t be long before I lose the will to talk about such marginal A ball players. Sorry, guys.


Look on the Bright Side...

Or if not the bright side, at least look to the future anyway. I've been slacking off on reporting about the goings on in the world of Phillies minor leaguers, but no more. We'll kick things off with a report on the Phillies AAA and AA squads in Ottawa and Reading in the afternoon and then follow up with the A+ and A ball teams in Clearwater and Lakewood. Without further ado, Ottawa and Reading (interesting numbers and pitching lines are in bold)

Ottawa 4/7

Chris Roberson (CF): 1-4, 2B, 2 RBI, K, 2 E (2)
Danny Sandoval (SS): 1-6, K, E (1)
Brennan King (3B): 1-5, 2B, 2 RBI, R, 2 K
Jason Jaramillo (C): 2-4, 3B, 2 RBI, R, BB, K

Fabio Castro: 1 IP 1 H 0 ER 0 BB 0 K
Yoel Hernandez: 1 IP 4 H 3 ER 0 BB 0 K
Eude Brito: 1 IP 0 H 0 ER 0 BB 1 K
Brian Sanches: 1 IP 1 H 2 ER 0 BB 2 K wild pitch

Wacky opening night for Ottawa, but good to see the two most important prospects on the team (Jaramillo and Castro) play well.

Ottawa 4/9

Chris Roberson (CF): 1-5, RBI, OF assist (1)
Brennan King (3B): 1-4, E (1)
Jason Jaramillo (C): 1-4, K
Danny Sandoval (SS): 2-4, 2B, R

Not a single interesting pitcher to discuss threw for Ottawa…good times.

Reading 4/5

Jovan Moran (CF): 2-4, 2B, RBI, R, K, SB (1)
Mike Costanzo (3B): 1-4, HR (1), RBI, R, 2 K

Julio De La Cruz: 1 IP 0 H 0 ER 0 BB 0 K
Bubba Nelson: 1 IP 0 H 0 ER 0 BB 2 K
Anderson Garcia: 1 IP 0 H 0 ER 0 BB 0 K

Jovan Moran was reacquired this offseason from the Cincinnati Reds in the Jeff Conine swap. The 24 year old can run really, really fast and does a good job of never striking out and never taking a walk; what a fun player. Costanzo is the Phillies most advanced hitting prospect who is facing a gigantic year in his development as a 23 year old at AA. How Costanzo hits this season will undoubtedly have a great impact on how the Phillies approach the 2007/2008 offseason with regard to shopping for a third baseman.

Garcia and De La Cruz are both 26 years old, and Bubba Nelson is 25; all three guys were obtained in different have taken different paths to Reading, but they all represent the beauty that is the fungible relief pitcher. I’d personally like to see Nelson, a free agent pickup at the end of spring training, to make an appearance in the Phillies bullpen before all is said and done.

Reading 4/6

Jovan Moran (CF): 2-4, 2B, RBI, R, BB
Mike Costanzo (3B): 2-4, HR (2), RBI, R, K

Matt Maloney: 5 IP 2 H 2 ER 4 BB 3 K
Nate Johnson: 1 IP 0 H 0 ER 0 BB 0 K
Anderson Garcia: 1 IP 0 H 0 ER 0 BB 1 K

Maloney had a decent debut at Reading after jumping from Lakewood to AA; the 23 year old looks to convince the powers that be that he isn’t necessarily destined to a future in the bullpen with a great 2007. Nate Johnson is 25 years old and needs to keep throwing well to have a chance to make it to Philly someday; for whatever reason, I have a rather large soft spot for the guy.

Reading 4/7

Javon Moran (CF): 2-4, 2B, 3 R, 2 SB (3/3 on year)
Mike Costanzo (3B): 1-4, 3 K

Kyle Kendrick: 6 IP 5 H 2 ER 0 BB 3 K wild pitch
Nick Evangelista: 1.2 IP 2 H 1 ER 0 BB 3 K
Julio De La Cruz: 1.2 IP 0 H 0 ER 0 BB 1 K

Good first start for Kendrick and Moran keeps on hitting…even though the R-Phils are devoid of prospects for the most part, they’ve played what appears to be some entertaining ball so far. Although basing an assumption on that on box scores alone seems a bit silly, come to think of it…oh well, it takes too much effort to delete, so it stays.

Reading 4/9

Javon Moran (CF): 1-4, 2B
Mike Costanzo (3B): 0-4, RBI, 3 K

Bubba Nelson: 2 IP 1 H 1 ER 0 BB 3 K

Moran had 13 doubles in 293 minor league at bats last season; he has 4 in 16 so far in ’07. Costanzo has a whopping 9 strikeouts in 16 at bats through 4 games, not a great sign.


Phillies @ Mets - Game 7

Mets 11 - Phillies 5

Phillies fall to 1-6 in one of the most frustrating games I've witnessed since...well, pick almost any loss against the Mets last season. I have nothing more to add.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Phillies @ Marlins Series Wrap

Disappointing weekend for the Phillies in Miami. Read all about it below (and in case you missed a ton of words wasted on a slew of nobody relievers, check it out here):

Phillies 8 – Marlins 2

I probably should be keeping track of this statistically, but it seems to me that the shift that teams put on when Ryan Howard comes to the plate has worked out a whole bunch of times the first week of the season. In the second inning of Friday’s game, that’s exactly what happened; Howard scorched a ball to right field but it was exactly where the defense was playing him.

Carlos Ruiz is a starting catcher, there is no doubt in my mind about it. Who is clearly better in the National League? Brian McCann, Michael Barrett, maybe Russell Martin and/or Paul Lo Duca, Chris Iannetta soon enough…that’s about it as far as I can see. Now obviously Ruiz isn’t a cornerstone kind of player that you lock into a role and forget about upgrading for the next 5-6 years (see Utley, Chase), but he is a fine option as a starting catcher in the here and now. Hopefully Phillies management feels the same way and we see Ruiz get the vast majority of the time behind the dish in 2007 (nothing personal Rod, it’s just that you kind of stink at baseball).

Pat Burrell made a very nice diving catch in the bottom of the fourth inning on Friday. I don’t bring it up so much to talk about the catch (in fact, a couple of days later I don’t really remember it all that well…all my notes say are “great diving catch in left”), but the fact that he was in a position to make it in the first place. Burrell is moving so much better in left field than he has in prior seasons. It looks to me that he is slimmer this year than last and more athletic both in the field and on the base paths. He made a nice hustle play getting to a foul ball on Thursday against the Braves only to get charged with an error (and the ensuing symphony of boos) for not catching it.

In a perfect world, I’d do recaps every series of the visiting team’s broadcast crew – a full analysis, pros and cons, what makes each partnering unique, etc. The world is clearly not perfect and I know this because of the very existence of Rich Waltz and Tommy Hutton, the Florida Marlins broadcast team. They are terrible. I have nothing more to add. Let’s move on.

Even though Miguel Olivo runs a lot better than I remembered, it was still pretty inexcusable for him to ignore a stop sign at third and try for an inside-the-park homerun. Poor guy was out by 20 feet, easy.

The bottom of the fifth inning was unquestionably the turning point of the game. I was soooooo wrong about Jamie Moyer being a bad matchup against Miguel Cabrera and the Marlins – the ancient former Mariner put on a clinic against the youthful Florida lineup. With men on first and third, Moyer completely went into his own personal version of Operation Shutdown…only not nearly as evil and infinitely more effective. Moyer slowed the game down, paced around the mound between pitches, threw over to first an inordinate number of times…and before you knew it, three Marlins (Aaron Boone, Hanley Ramirez, and Dan Uggla) had popped up and the Phillies were out of the jam. Watching Cole Hamels pitch is the ultimate in pitching excitement when it comes to the Phillies and I can’t wait until his start against the Mets on Monday, but I’m now almost as excited to see what Moyer does on Thursday.

Marlins 8 – Phillies 5

Highlight of the game for the Phillies was obvious – Jimmy Rollins’ inside-the-park homerun was a sight to see. It was made about a million times better by Harry Kalas’ awesome call, so if you haven’t seen the highlight yet I suggest checking it out.

Another thing I’d like to start tracking, but won’t because I am too lazy is the number of times players swing at 3-0 pitches and in what situations they do so. Maybe I’m crazy, but it seems as though the Phillies have swung at a ton of 3-0 pitches in the early part of the year (most notably Ryan Howard, Pat Burrell, and Shane Victorino). Baseball Prospectus has begun doing a manager profile in their yearly annual and I think a great addition would be the inclusion of green lights on 3-0 pitches. I wish I had thought of this before the season, I would have been more than happy to keep track for the Phillies…maybe next year.

To continue what I said earlier about Pat Burrell being in better shape, did anybody else notice the play he jetted back to first on a ball Aaron Rowand hit that was caught in the gap? Burrell started on first, but was well past the bag at second when he realized the ball wasn’t going to drop. He then proceeded to run as fast as he could (well, presumably it was as fast as he could…how would I know either way?) until he made his way back to first.

Shane Victorino is a noticeably better outfielder than Aaron Rowand and it is a crime that he isn’t playing centerfield everyday. Rowand’s defense was one of the things I looked forward to most heading into 2006, but outside of a highlight reel catch of two he has been pretty average out there. Victorino has more range, a vastly superior arm, and a better idea of how to play certain hitters (I’m guessing on that last one, but it frustrates me to no end when I see Rowand play so damn shallow for EVERY SINGLE HITTER).

Gary Matthews referred to a current major league ballplayer as “Junior” during the broadcast. There is no way that I was the only one who thought of Ken Griffey Jr. rather than Gary Matthews Jr., right?

Two wasted opportunities for the Phillies summed up the entire night for me. In the fifth, Jimmy Rollins doubled and Shane Victorino followed it up with a walk; Chase Utley and Ryan Howard both went down stranding the two runners. In the sixth, Burrell and Wes Helms lead off the inning with back to back singles; Rowand, Carlos Ruiz, and Jayson Werth went down 1-2-3.

Marlins 6- Phillies 4

The ultimate in frustration for a Phillies fan – 7 hits + 11 walks adding up to 4 runs scored. Take heart, Phillies fans, I guarantee that some of those baserunners will result in runs before long. Teams with high number of guys left on base also happen to be teams with high numbers of, wait for it because this is earth shattering, guys getting on base in the first place. When you have lots of guys who get on base, surprise surprise, eventually things begin to even out and the “clutch” hits with runners in scoring position begin to start falling in. Patience.

I listened to this game on my XM while attending the Boston College-North Carolina game…at least the Phillies kept things closer than the Golden Eagles did against the Tar Heels (15-6 final, UNC finished off the 3 game sweep).

So the Marlins radio crew is an interesting one…the discussion on beer pong was quite enlightening. The announcer brought up the fact that Aaron Rowand as his “Beer Pong Champion” wristband. Unfortunately for the listening audience, he then attempted to explain the intricacies of beer pong to his older, less hip partner. Despite being a college student, I’m hardly an expert on beer pong…but I was damn confused listening to this guy’s explanation. According to him, beer pong is played with a paddle and a ping pong ball. There are two cups on each side of the table and players take turns trying to hit the ball with a paddle into a cup on the fly. Maybe this is a version of the game I simply hasn’t seen, so if anybody knows more about this let me know.

Zack Segovia’s father in-law is former big leaguer Darnell Coles. Who knew? Not me…

Bring on the Mets…I’m not just being a huge homer, but I think the pitching matchups favor the Phillies by a lot…here comes the sweep that turns April around. If not…Davy Johnson should make sure to frequently check his email.

1-4 Start Has Phillies Seeking Bullpen Help

The Phillies continual search for bullpen help has been an interesting one with four names featured prominently over the past week. How about a closer look?

Ron Villone - PASS

The Phillies talked to Ron Villone and agent Scott Boras but passed on signing the veteran lefty reliever released last week by the Yankees, who offered Villone a minor-league deal with an out by May 1. [NY Post: 4/4]

Talk to him, check him out, see if he has anything left...and then decide he's not a good fit. I support the process and am glad the Phillies looked into adding a potentially helpful guy. It's also encouraging that management didn't rush into making a bad signing just because of a perceived hole in the bullpen that just haaaaad to be filled up by a "proven" reliever rather than another, more creative option - in prior seasons, the powers that be might have rushed out to sign Villone even if they weren't convinced he would be a real improvement simply to get another veteran arm in the pen (something that sadly appeases many "fans" of the team).

Dustin Hermanson - IN LIMBO

General manager Pat Gillick said the Phillies might take another look at righthander Dustin Hermanson, who was released Sunday by Cincinnati. The Phils saw Hermanson in the off-season but weren't impressed. He had a 7.36 ERA in eight appearances this spring for the Reds. He started well, but struggled late in the spring. Hermanson missed much of last season because of back problems. [Philly Inquirer 4/7]

The Phillies worked him out about a month ago and passed, but apparently absence makes the heart grow fonder - life without Dustin has proved just far too difficult for Pat Gillick to bear. If they think Hermanson is better than what they currently have on the roster, he could be in Phillies pinstripes by the end of next week. One can't help but wonder what has changed in the past few weeks that could have changed the Phillies mind about Hermanson - if his stuff really has deteroriated as much as the rumors surrounding him lead you to believe, would he really be an upgrade over a reliever who has been relatively effective, but lacks great stuff like Clay Condrey?

Francisco Rosario - WELCOME TO PHILLY

Plenty to say about Rosario, the newest addition to the roster after the Phillies snatched him from the Blue Jays for a mere $100,000. Rosario had a legitimately great 2002 minor league season between A and A+ ball. Unfortunately, he was not given a chance to immediately build on his success because he went under the knife after hearing a pop in his elbow while pitching in the AFL. He missed the entire 2003 season and the first six weeks of 2004 with an unrelated upper-arm injury. Rosario started in the minors up until the Blue Jays converted him into a reliever in August of 2005.

His current repertoire is explained in the quote from the 2007 edition of the Baseball America Prospect Handbook, but his progression of "stuff" has been a fascinating one. Using all kinds of resources both electronic and print, I've managed to put together the following: Plus fastball (92-97 MPH pre-injury with "exceptional command," 93-96 MPH post-injury with "solid command"); above average 86-88 MPH changeup with late action; pre-injury he threw a slurve, post-injury it was more a slider (85-88 MPH). Below are quotes taken from Baseball America that track Rosario's progress over the years:

Baseball America 2004 Prospect Handbook (ranked 5th, ahead of Aaron Hill, Dave Bush, and Jayson Werth): "Rosario would have been the Jays' No. 1 prospect last year if not for the surgery."

Baseball America 2005 Prospect Handbook (ranked 4th, only behind Brandon League, Aaron Hill, and Guillermo Quiroz): "Rosario has the power stuff to be a top-of-the-rotation starter."

Baseball America 2006 Prospect Handbook (ranked 8th): "Some observers think he pitches as if he fears hurting his elbow again."

Baseball America 2007 Prospect Handbook (ranked 6th): "Rosario employs true power stuff: a mid-90s fastball peaking at 98 mph with life, an 85-88 mph slider and a hard split-grip changeup."

From Baseball Prospectus 2007:

Once considered a high-upside guy, Francsico [sic] Rosario has had his share of arm troubles and has gotten older without the upside coming around, but he could be salvaged as a decent arm out of the bullpen if he maintains the uptick in control he experienced with Syracuse last year.

That's a lot of information to digest, but the bottom line is fairly clear: Rosario had great stuff and command pre-injury, has good to very good stuff and command post-injury, but still hasn't put it all together at the big league level. He is at the point of his career where he needs to be given a shot to sink or swim in the majors and I'm extremely happy to see the Phillies as the team willing to give him that shot.


The Phillies added inventory to their relief corps yesterday when they signed free-agent righthander Rick Bauer to a minor-league contract, pending a physical. Bauer, 30, went 3-1 with two saves and a 3.55 earned run average in 58 games for Texas last season, but the Rangers released him March 28. He had a bad spring. He went 0-1 with a 15.63 ERA in five appearances. In 61/3 innings, he allowed 19 hits, 15 runs (11 earned), 4 home runs, and 4 walks. He hit two batters and struck out four. [Philadelphia Inquirer 4/7]

The move itself is nothing to jump and down with excitement about, but the context of such a signing is pretty exciting. You build a good bullpen by getting as many interesting arms as possible (and ideally for as cheap as possible) and letting them sort themselves out - if Bauer looks good up in Ottawa, great; if not, what have you lost? There is no commodity in baseball quite as fungible as the relief pitcher and moves like the Bauer put this theory to work.

In fact, just as I was about to put this post to bed I stumbled across Bauer's comment in Baseball Prospectus 2007. I think it really reinforces the point made in the preceding paragraph plus it adds an interesting projection for '07:

Relievers are a volatile lot. Maybe it's that luck plays a bigger hand in their results given the small sample sizes of their annual workloads, maybe it's that it's more difficult to maintain all the different mechanical aspects of pitching when you only throw so many pitches at a time, or perhaps that lack of consistency is what put many relievers in the pen in the first place. Bauer is actually one of the more consistent relievers within his range; he's been a more or less league-average pitcher since 2001...PECOTA sees his unimpressive K/BB rate catching up with him in 2007.

The blurb also mentions Bauer's ability to adjust to pitching in Texas last year by his marked improvement in GB% (from 45.2% in 2005 with the Orioles to 54.5% with Texas). It should also be noted that Bauer only gave up one homer in 146 batters faced in 2006, certainly an encouraging skill for a pitcher with dreams of pitching in South Philly at some point in '07.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Braves @ Phillies: Game 3/162

Braves 8 - Phillies 4

Today's game was a complete disaster, so in an effort to minimize the negativity, the recap is a good bit more random than last night's. I also decided to mix things up by ditching the bullets - I didn't like the look as much as I thought I would. Instead of ugly round circles, please enjoy a series of disjointed paragraphs that appear as though they were written at a fifth grade level (if that). Happy reading!

Phillies starter Adam Eaton got knocked around, yes, but I'm here to tell you that his performance was not quite as bad as his final line (4.2 IP 7 H 7 ER 4 BB 3 K) looks. He was unquestionably bad, no doubt about that, but there were a few positives here and there if you really squinted hard. Let's see...what went well for Eaton today. Well, first off it's nice to see that he's managed to stay healthy so far - I was half-expecting him to find a way to swallow the rosin bag and have to go on the 15-day DL while recovering from getting his stomach pumped. What else went well for Eaton? Truthfully, his stuff looked solid when it wasn't getting smacked all over the field. His fastball was hitting 93 MPH on the gun and his curve (76-79 MPH) showed signs of being a solid secondary offering. It's not a whole lot, but at least it's something to build on.

I commented on Ryan Howard starting and ending a beautiful 3-6-3 double play last night. In the first inning of today's game, Howard found himself fielding a groundball that put him in the exact same position of being the man to start a key inning ending 3-6-3 double play. Unfortunately for all involved (except for those anybody out there associated with the Braves, of course), Howard's throw to Jimmy Rollins covering second was the SINGLE WORST THROW IN THE HISTORY OF NOT ONLY MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL, BUT THE SPORT OF BASEBALL ITSELF. Do yourself a favor and see if you can track down a replay, it was that bad. If you didn't know any better, you would honestly think that Howard wasn't throwing to Rollins at all but was instead trying to hit Pat Burrell out in left field. The big man now has two errors in three games and could have easily been given the error on the play Wes Helms botched last night. Subpar fielding like this is a heck of a lot easier to take when you are hitting...something Howard isn't doing a whole lot of at this point. Again, please keep in mind that I say all of this knowing full well that it's only been three need to panic about Howard's game quite yet.

By the way, that error on Howard cost the Phillies big time. You can't assume the double play (something I find dumb so I'll ignore), but if you were the type that enjoyed assuming things (hey, like me!) then you'd realize the Phils would have been out of the first inning unharmed. The error continued the inning and Eaton gave up the first 2 runs of his 2007 campaign. Perhaps a teeny bit more evidence that Eaton pitched a tad better than his line indicated (I'm really reaching to find positives here, folks).

Jimmy Rollins lead off the game with a great at bat against Chuck James and never looked back. The Phillies shortstop was 2-4 with a walk on the day and has now walked 4 times in the first 3 games. His approach at the plate is noticeably different than in years past and

Chuck James really has a heck of a changeup. Fans who watched the Phils-Braves series had the pleasure of seeing three of the best changeups in the National League - Cole Hamels and Chuck James are both young lefty starters with plus changes, and the 0-2 Ryan Madson's best offering remains his filthy slow ball (it's hard thinking of synonyms for changeup).

Braves first baseman Scott Thorman made a sensational play on a mile high (literally, a mile...maybe three) Ryan Howard pop up in the bottom of the fourth. The wind was making every ball hit in the air an adventure, but Thorman handled Howard's rainmaker with aplomb.

Great to see Joe Bisenius make his major league debut - his fastball impressed (91-93 MPH with movement) and his slider looks like a legitimate strikeout pitch. Bisenius was rather rudely greeted to the bigs by Atlanta, but after surrendering a leadoff double he settled down quite nicely.

Clay Condrey: 2 IP 0 H 0 ER 0 BB 5 K

Maybe I'm wrong, but I think the addition of Francisco Rosario put as much pressure on Condrey to perform as it did Bisenius. Everybody assumes that Bisenius will be the one sent down (and I don't disagree), but I think a bad outing today by Condrey would have made the Phillies wonder whether he was worth keeping around anymore. I'm glad he pitched well, glad he'll stick around, and I look forward to future successes by the underdog reliever with the fringy stuff.

Ryan Howard had too shots to make the game interesting with a deep fly in today's game, but couldn't deliver. I'm not knocking the guy, in fact it's quite the opposite - expectations are sky high based on his 2006 MVP season, I almost expect him to a hit a home run in every big spot. The fact that he struck out in both the fifth and seventh with two men out each time was disappointing, but hardly a reason to think the sky is falling.

Top of the 8th inning, Citizens Bank Park, Phillies vs. Braves: "Burrell Sucks" chant breaks out in the crowd. I'm not going to obsess about the Burrell bashing like I did last season with all the Abreu hatred because it's simply not worth the time and effort getting mad about people who don't have a clue about what makes a good ballplayer. For the record, Burrell went 2-4 on the day with a BB, R, and RBI.

Antonio Alfonseca looked shockingly good. I know I've been saying this a lot lately, but it was just one game...even still, it was a pleasant surprise seeing El Pulpo hitting 94 MPH with his fastball. I liked the signing of Alfonseca at the time (low risk, relatively high reward) as long as the Phillies show they are willing to cut bait if he struggles. Hopefully, he'll continue to impress and it will never come to that. Keep it up, Pulpy.

I realize I never gave a full 2007 Phillies preview of any kind during the offseason, so I think a lot of my predictions/concerns dealing with the coming months will trickle out over the course of the next few game recaps. Having said that, let me now point out that I am absolutely terrified about the prospect of Jamie Moyer getting the ball every fifth day. I hope more than anything I am proven wrong, but I have a sinking feeling in my gut that '07 will be a season to forget for the ancient former Mariner. Tomorrow night's matchup against Miguel Cabrera has already got me worried and the first pitch won't be thrown until just about 20 hours from now. Prove me wrong, Jamie.

I'd also like to point out that Thursday was opening night in the minor leagues. If you can remember back to last season, this site got quite minor league heavy in coverage at times. It was pretty well received, so I'm hoping to keep it up into the 2007 season. Hopefully that will officially start up tomorrow. We'll also take a closer look at the addition of Francisco Rosario...a trade that gives me hope that the game hasn't quite passed Pat Gillick altogether.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Braves @ Phillies: Game 2/162

Braves 3 - Phillies 2

Lots to say about one of the better played baseball games I've seen in a while, so no time wasting filler, just the finest in random bulleted observations:

  • Ryan Howard and Chase Utley both hit balls in the first inning that would have been long gone on a warmer day. It was a cold day, so they were just long, loud outs.
  • Wes Helms is a bit of a butcher at third, no? The lack of range was definitely expected, but I was disappointed by his noodle arm whipping balls in slow motion across the diamond. I'll keep in mind it was just one game, but I'll admit that I'm going to be nervous on every ball his way until he gives me a reason to trust his defense.
  • Tim Hudson's stuff looked better than I've seen it since he has arrived in Atlanta - he looked like the Oakland version of Hudson, a great sign for Braves fans going forward. The Neyer/James Guide to Pitchers has Hudson's repertoire classified as 1) low-90s sinker, 2) splitter, 3) change, 4) slider, and 5) curve. That low-90s sinker was absolutely working for Hudson against the Phillies, he was sitting on 93 MPH consistently on the Philly Comcast SportsNet gun. Baseball Prospectus foretold his demise a few years ago (abnormally high percent of stranded runners in '05, pitcher friendly home ballparks in Oakland and Atlanta, and lefties beginning to hit him extremely hard), but I'm not so sure he can't have a heck of a rebound year in 2007. I have to believe that rib cage injury hurt him more than he let on last year and if he is 100% healthy, watch out.
  • The Phillies broadcasters (specifically Wheels) continuously mentioned Charlie Manuel telling them that he was very comfortable with Carlos Ruiz catching Cole Hamels on a regular basis. Ruiz's two hits (his monster home run to left and then a pretty opposite field single to right) certainly were a welcomed sight as there is no doubt in my mind that he should see the bulk of the time behind the plate this season.
  • Maybe I'm crazy, but Harry Kalas sounds really happy this year. Maybe it's early season excitement, maybe it's the new three man booth dynamic...I don't know. Whatever it is, I like it. I know Phillies fans are beginning to make some noise about HK retiring based on his many jump the gun home run calls, but if you are watching the game then why should these calls bother you? I'm quite happy judging for myself if a ball has home run distance off the bat while I sit back and simply enjoy Harry's excitement.
  • Another minority opinion of mine: I enjoy the middle innings with Chris Wheeler and Gary Matthews working together. They both drive me nuts at times, but I think they actually complement each other well.
  • Matthews is still extremely rough around the edges (he mumbles, he rarely speaks in complete sentences, he is constantly either stating the obvious, mispronouncing names, or reading off of the screen), but his lack of polish appeals to me - you honestly never know what the guy is going to say next. Last night he told viewers "you gotta have some bucks if you want to go to Pepperdine." For better or worse, I promise you that you won't hear many other color guys making such weird, random statements as that. Sarge also made a pretty decent point when talking about the progression of Hamels and how you can already see how he is beginning to get all kinds of strike calls on balls hitting the corners - when you are around the plate as consistently as he is, you begin to get the benefit of the doubt.
  • Bad call on the third inning pickoff play where Jimmy Rollins was called out. I'm not hear to whine about bad calls because things balance each other out in the long run (more or less anyway), but it's frustrating when you don't need a replay to see the umpire blew a call. If I can see it in real time, the umpire should be able to get it right as well.
  • Gotta love Jeff Francoeur - the guy went from wildly overrated after his hot callup two years ago to wildly underrated now that he is coming off a lackluster 2006 (29 homers and 100+ RBIs are nice, but that OPS+ of 89 and -1 VORP are hard to swallow). Francoeur just turned 23 in January...the kid has plenty of room to grow as a player. Sure, he'll never have Bobby Abreu's plate discipline, but his raw power is still pretty special. For what it's worth, PECOTA has him pegged for a 2007 line of .284/.327/.498...and his list of comps include Andre Dawson and Albert Belle.
  • Now that I've built Francoeur up, allow me to knock him back down a few pegs (it's the American way). Francoeur got himself out on two fastballs at his eyes against the Phillies last night. He swung and missed on an 86 MPH Cole Hamels' fastball in the seventh and then popped up weakly to Abe Nunez on an 87 MPH Ryan Madson heater. Chasing nearly unhittable balls at eye level would probably qualify as one of the downsides of the swing at everything approach, right?
  • Brian McCann is really, really good. Unfortunately, I've already said as many positive things as I am permitted to say about the Braves in any one given night. So sorry, Brian, but we are going to focus on an at bat where Cole Hamels got the best of you. Fourth inning, one out, man on first - the pitch sequence in this scenario was insane. 81 MPH change for a called strike on the outside corner, 90 MPH fastball in on McCann's hands, another 81 MPH change away, and finally an 82 MPH change in on his hands that was hit softly into an inning ending double play. Cole Hamels is fun to watch.
  • Speaking of Hamels...I loved the exchange between the young lefty and Craig Wilson. Hamels fell behind the Blonde Bomber, a notorious lefty killer, 2-0 before freezing him with back-to-back-to-back changeups (all in the 76-78 MPH range). It was a thing of beauty.
  • Speaking of Hamels (version 2.0)...his dominating performance was made all the more amazing due to the fact that he was really only getting by with two pitches (88-92 MPH fastball, 76-82 MPH changeup). He bounced enough nasty curves (73-76 MPH) in the dirt to keep the Braves honest, but for the most part he just threw perfectly located fastballs and changeups over and over again.
  • I heard Shane Victorino looked on opening day, at least until he redeemed himself with a double late in the game. Funny story. I saw Shane Victorino looking bad last night, at least until his eighth inning RBI double against tough lefty Mike Gonzalez. The doubles are nice, of course, but the guy still looks badly out of sorts at the plate. We're only two games in, so it's not a real concern...just making conversation (although really I'm just rambling semi-coherently to myself).
  • Back to Hamels...the kid did an amazing job of staying on his feet on Craig Wilson's dribbler back to the mound in the seventh. I thought for sure he was either going to fall without making a play OR, even worse, fall while making the throw and send the ball flying down the right field line.
  • If Michael Bourn's role on this team is to run for Pat Burrell in the seventh inning of one-run ballgames, then he needs to pack his bags for Ottawa as soon as possible. It's obviously not Bourn's fault, but as long as he is around Charlie will be tempted to use him to run. Bourn wound up getting two at bats hitting in Burrell's fifth spot in the lineup after coming into the game...that shouldn't happen.
  • Comcast has a weird new in-game interview feature that kind of blew my mind tonight. HK, Wheels, and Sarge were talking to Hamels just minutes after he came out of the game. The idea is pretty cool in theory (I love that the walls are coming down between athlete and fan...especially in the electronic print media), but it was a bit intrusive to have an interview going on in the middle of a tight game. For what it's worth, the only interesting thing I got out of the interview is that Hamels has been working hard on his hitting with Jimy Williams. Who will have the higher OPS by the end of the year - Hamels or Abe Nunez? I think you could guess which player I'd bet on.
  • Watching Nunez ground out weakly in his first at bat made me feel all warm and fuzzy. In these crazy mixed up times, it's good to know that some things never change.
  • Jimmy Rollins (or J.R. as Matthews hilariously calls him) had some of his finest at bats in a Phillies uniform tonight. I know that sounds crazy hyperbolic, but I believe it - his approach at the plate thus far has been mighty encouraging. His at bat against Mike Gonzalez in the eighth stands out as an especially good one in my mind.
  • Ryan Howard started and ended a very pretty 3-6-3 double play in the ninth inning. Nice to see the big man redeem himself in the field after failing to scoop a low Wes Helms throw in the early going (Helms got the error on the play and rightfully so, though it's a ball most 1B should be able to make a play on).
  • Tonight was a huge outing for Ryan Madson on a personal level - how damaging would it be to be to a still young pitcher's psyche to be the man on the mound who blew the first two games of the season in extra innings to a division rival? Well...hopefully not all that damaging. Subpar performance aside, Madson's stuff looked pretty good: low 90s fastball that hit 93, 78-82 MPH changeup, slightly improved looking 83 MPH curve. Madson's problem tonight (and on opening day based on the highlights) was command - he is getting ahead of hitters, but then clearly missing his spots. Two strike, two out pitches should not be 82 MPH changeups that hang right out over the plate.

  • I can't be the only one terrified of the possibility of Flash Gordon 2007 = Joe Table 2003. I don't think Gordon's skills have fallen off a cliff quite like Jose Mesa's, but I am still going to be extremely anxious every time Gordon is out on the mound until proven otherwise. Where's Billy Wagner when you need him?

If you've made it this far, good for you - I only barely made it myself. Hopefully somebody did stick around because we've yet to touch on what will surely be the big story to come out of last night's game - the crazy bottom of the eighth inning. I can't say I really understand Shane Victorino attempting to steal third with one out, Ryan Howard at the plate, and only a two run lead. The explanation behind that (who decided Shane should run? Manuel? Lopes? Did Victorino himself decide to take off [my personal guess]?) will have to wait until the morning papers come rolling in.

The other big play in the eighth came after Chase Utley hit a gapper into right-center field. Ryan Howard, the baserunner on first at the time of the Utley's double, was waved around third and came barreling home only to be tagged out by Brian McCann on a close play at the plate. Victorino trying to steal third is hard to defend, but I'm actually quite alright with Howard being sent home on this play. It took a nearly flawless relay to get the big man at the plate (Francoeur to Kelly Johnson to Brian McCann - all three Braves made great plays to get Howard), so there isn't much you can do but shake your head and hope your "All-Star" closer can protect your 2-run lead. It didn't quite work out that happens.

What I'm less alright with is the fact that part of the reason I don't mind the Phillies taking a chance was because they put themselves in a position where it behooved them to take the risk - with Burrell coming up with 2 on, 2 out then maybe I hold Howard up and take my chances with my five-hole hitter. With Michael Bourn coming up, trying to score Howard makes a lot more sense. Fact is they should have never been in that position in the first place. Tactical mistakes like this need to be minimized if this team is to go anywhere this season...they simply aren't talented enough and are in too tough a division to just skate on by.


Teams lose two games in a row all the time, it just looks and feels worse when they are at the start of a season. But it's a long season and things will get better. They have to...right?

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Thanks MLB.TV

I knew I was going to miss the start of the Phillies-Braves Opening Day game yesterday at 1 o'clock due to reasons well beyond my control. I wasn't happy about this, but I accepted my fate and tried my best to move on. Rather than sulk about missing the first real, meaningful major league baseball game in 5 months, I decided to come up with a backup plan - not a very intricate nor an altogether original backup plan, but a backup plan nonetheless. See, one of the perks of MLB.TV is the archival game footage. Miss a game? No problem, just fire up MLB.TV and you can watch it at your leisure in it's entirety. That was my master plan. Avoid any news about the game all day, then come home and watch the archived game as if it were an opening night game rather than an opening day game.

Needless to say, my plan went kaboom. As of 7:30 last night, the video version of the game was still not archived yet. Me, being the impatient lad that I am, decided to just go ahead and listen to the archived game on the uploaded radio broadcast whilst I waited. I did everything I could to avoid seeing the score at or MLB.TV or on the MLB.TV Gameday Audio screen I loaded...I literally held my hand over the computer screen so that all I could see where the necessary buttons to start the radio feed up.

Then, proving that I am not only impatient but also a dope, I let my guard down. I remembered that on archived games, MLB.TV is courteous enough to hide the box score from the viewer - you have click on it if you want to see it. Nice feature, right? Remembering this, I slowly let my hand descend from it's position perched alongside the monitor. And there it the lower lefthand side of the MLB.TV screen, a list of highlights from the game I so desperately wanted to watch.

"Renteria's game-winner"

Now my love of baseball is surely well documented by now, so much so that I don't even need to go into it again. Keeping that in mind, there was still no way in hell that I was going to invest three plus hours of my life to watch a game with the eventual outcome already known to me..."Renteria's game-winner." I know life is all about the journey and not the destination, so there still would have been some enjoyment in watching the game...but I couldn't bring myself to do it. So instead of a recap of what looked like a pretty exciting opening day game, all I can provide is the whiny tale of how I didn't get to watch the game. Lucky you!

I do realize that there has to be some humor in the fact that the longest post I've written in months just so happens to be one giant annoying string of complaint after complaint. But now that I have all of that off of my chest, I think I'm ready for some quick season preview stuff along with predictions. So keep an eye out for that.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Opening Day 2007

It's about damn time.