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February 23 2007

There are still lots of things that may be more likely than not to happen before the '07 season starts that will help to shape the Phillies bullpen.  Jon Lieber could be traded for relief pitching.  Perhaps less likely is that both Lieber and Aaron Rowand will be traded, bringing the Phillies relief pitching and a corner outfielder that would allow the team to shift Shane Victorino to center.

And then there's the possibility that nothing happens and the team starts the year with the players it has available to them now.  Let's assume for a minute it does.

If you assume a 12-man pitching staff, most everybody would agree that Garcia, Myers, Hamels, Moyer, Eaton, Lieber, Gordon, Geary, Madson and Matt Smith are in and account for 10 of the 12 spots.  It seems that Antonio Alfonseca is going to make the team unless he pitches himself out of it during spring training, which doesn't seem beyond the realm of possibility.  If he does make the team, the 12th pitcher may be a lefty to bolster a pen whose sole southpaw could be Smith, who has 20 2/3 innings of major league experience.  With limited lefty options, you'd have to wonder if the Phillies would go with 22-year-old lefty Fabio Castro as the 12th man, who was brilliant at times for the Phillies in '06 and followed it up with a strong performance in winter ball.

Assuming again that there's nobody added from outside of the organization, and either Alfonseca or Castro fail to make the team, comments from Manuel would lead you to believe the Phillies would be filling out their pen with someone among these six players, whose minor league stats from last season are listed below.


Player Age '06 Level G GS IP ERA Ratio
E Brito 28 AAA 26 23 147.2 3.17 1.16
C Condrey 31 AAA 39 0 51.1 1.93 1.09
J Ed Warden 27 AA 55 0 59.0 2.90 1.08
B Sanches 28 AAA 36 0 43.2 1.85 0.85
A Garcia 25 RK, AA, AAA 42 1 70.1 3.84 1.29
A Simon 25 A, AAA 28 17 88.1 6.62 1.72

First of all, it's hard to imagine a scenario that has Anderson Garcia or Alfredo Simon on the team that doesn't involve some kind of bus accident.  Eude Brito, apparently doing all he can to help, has been slowed at the start of spring training coming off a car accident.  We'll have to wait and see how serious the situation is, but it can't help his chances.

That leaves three, Condrey, Sanches and Jim Ed Warden.  All three pitched very well in the minors last year.  Condrey and Sanches were both a little better at Triple-A than Warden was at Double-A.  Condrey and Sanches both pitched with the Phillies as well, with Condrey putting up mediocre numbers (he posted a 3.14 ERA but gave up 35 hits and nine walks in 28 2/3 innings) while Sanches got pounded, throwing to an ERA near six in his 21 1/3 innings.  Neither of the pair saw much in the way of big situations, but Condrey certainly came much closer to pitching in game-on-the-line scenarios than Saches did.  The bottom line for me is my guess would be that, among that group of six, Condrey may have the edge going into camp.

It's probably a moot point.  Chances seem good that Lieber will be gone by the time April rolls around, and a new reliever will take his place on the roster.  If they do the Phillies wouldn't have to go this deep to fill out their pen.  You have to wonder as well if the Phillies were able to add a reliable reliever and Alfonseca looked good this spring if they might decide to go with 11 pitchers.  I'd be surprised if they went with 11 if they didn't add someone they had a lot of confidence could be relied on.

This article lists the Phillies rotation as potentially one of the best in baseball.

Wes Helms thinks that an improved mental approach has helped him improve as a hitter.

In this article Jon Lieber talks about how his former catcher and '06 Marlins manager Joe Girardi gave him a tip last season that helped him put up better numbers towards the end of the year.

This article about Karim Garcia I linked to yesterday points out that Garcia can play all three outfield positions.  While playing with Baltimore in 2004 Garcia appeared in just 23 games, but 15 of them were in center field.  I'd still be surprised if we saw him anywhere but the corners if he makes the team.

More information about the Brito car accident in this article from the Phillies web site.  And here.

El Duque left Mets camp to have his neck examined.  He was diagnosed with arthritis.

"Davey Lopes teaches people how to run and steal bases" has my vote for story I'm most tired of in the early going.  This piece does include a Michael Bourn quote that might tell you a little something about the guy.  Just for giggles I wonder if anyone could get Bourn to proclaim the Phillies the team to beat in the NL East.

No truth to the rumor they're planning a soap opera based on the Brewers' outfield situation.  In this article, Kevin Mench says he'll "pitch a fit" if Milwaukee platoons him in left field.  Mench hit 230/248/317 in 126 at-bats with the Brewers last year, so he might pitch a fit but chances are good he wouldn't hit it.  I don't think the Phillies have room for any of the Brewers' outfielders unless they trade Rowand.

New Q&A with Chris Coste at Seth Speaks.

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