I thought it might be a
nice change of pace to take a break from worrying about the guys who aren't
in the pen and worry a little bit about the guys who are. Like Tom Gordon.
Gordon was very good last season. He finished fourth in the NL in saves
with 34 and threw to a 3.34 ERA. He was an All-Star and struck out 68
hitters in 59 1/3 innings.
But, and there always seems to be a but, he turned 39 in November and, just like last year, the 2007 season is sure to bring many questions about whether Gordon can stay effective for an entire season. Especially given that last year he struggled badly after the All-Star break. Here's what he did before and after the break:
Gordon was simply great
before the All-Star break and not after it. That bodes poorly for the
Phillies this season because 1) given his age, there's a very good chance
that he'll be great again early and struggle late and 2) even with a healthy
Gordon, the pen that was a strength of the team last season is now, a very
few exceptions, weak and inexperienced.
Gone from the '07 Phillis are a slew of names, none of which was particularly dominant in relief last year, including Ryan Franklin, Aaron Fultz, Rick White, Arthur Rhodes. Among the things that they all have in common, however, are that Manuel was willing to use them and the Phillies presumably thought they were the guys in their organization that gave them the best chance to win. Now they have to try and replace them basically with the same guys they thought weren't good enough last year.
Whether the Phillies were wrong or right or made a mistake by not giving more time to other relievers in '06, they're in a bit of a pickle now with a lot of questions to be answered in the bullpen. The good news is that a trade is no doubt coming that will boost the pen. When it does it will be a critical one.
Back on Gordon, another curious thing about his numbers from last year was that he was so much better away from Citizens Bank Park than he was at it.
And, as you may have
guessed, his numbers at home after the All-Star break were particularly
Aside from all the hits the home runs are alarming. Flash allowed five at home after the break in 11 innings after allowing just two at home in the 19 innings he threw before the break.
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