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March 30 2007

One of the many problems the Phillies had in April of last year was the miserable start for the guys on their bench.  In their first 57 at-bats, the primary bench guys managed just seven hits (.123) and struck out 16 times.  I wrote about the early struggles of the bench players last season in a post on April 17 of last year that you can read here.

The Phillies roster won't be finalized for a couple more days, but the bench looks like an area where the Phillies are likely to be weaker in '07 than they were in '06.  The '06 Phillies could call on Dellucci or Victorino off the bench -- the '07 team it looks likely to start the season with Jayson Werth as the best offensive option off the bench.  Werth's career numbers are bad in part because he played so many games while dealing with a wrist injury.  He seems likely to produce far better numbers this season. 

It was a given coming into this spring that the bench was going to be weaker offensively this season without any way to replace a hitter the caliber of Dellucci.  Still, when you look at the numbers the guys who may be on the bench to start the season for the Phils they are rather unimpressive:

 

Player Career AB AVG OBP SLG
Werth 721 245 333 420
Ruiz 69 261 316 435
Nunez 2,232 243 313 318
Dobbs 222 257 291 351
Bourn 8 125 222 125

There's a good chance that Chris Coste will be in the picture for opening day.  His career numbers are much better.  In 198 at-bats he has hit 328/376/505.  The scenario where Lieber and Garcia both start the year on the DL and the Phillies go with 14 hitters, including Coste and Ruiz, is seeming plausible.

The Phillies are one of three teams that made an offer to the Blue Jays for 26-year-old right-handed pitcher Francisco Rosario.  The linked article says they are unlikely to get him.

Shane Victorino thinks the Phillies are going to score more runs this year than they did last.  I hope he's right (but I'm pretty sure he's not).

This article points out that Jimmy Rollins posted a .493 on-base percentage this spring.  He was tied with three other players for seventh in spring training walks with 12.  One of the other three players was Abraham Nunez.

The Phillies played the Pirates to a 5-5 tie yesterday in a game that was called after nine innings.  The Phils head home for a two-game set with the Red Sox tonight and tomorrow afternoon before opening the season on Monday against the Braves.  They are 11-16 with three ties in spring training.

The Phillies scored twice in the first on an RBI-double by Utley and an RBI-single from Howard.

Howard and Burrell went back-to-back with solo home runs in the third.  It was the third spring home run for Howard and the fourth for Burrell.   Nice to see Howard hitting the ball -- he was 2-for-3 with a strikeout on the day.  Burrell was 1-for-3 with two strikeouts
and raised his average to .222.

In 68 spring plate appearances Burrell has struck out 16 times and homered four times.  If he struck out and homered at that rate this season and got as many plate appearances as he did last year (567) he'd strike out 133 times and hit 33 home runs.  Last year he struck
out 131 times and hit 29 bombs.

Michael Bourn was 2-for-5 with two stolen bases.  He was also caught stealing and left five men on base.  For Bourn it was his eighth successful steal of spring training.  He was only caught once.

Dobbs was 0-for-4.

JA Happ got the start for the Phils and did was hit hard.  He went just three innings, allowing five runs on six hits and three walks.  Five of the six hits went for extra-bases, all doubles, and his ERA puffed to 7.45.

After getting the first two men in the bottom of the first Happ allowed back-to-back doubles that got the Pirates on the board at 2-1.  He shut Pittsburgh down in the second, but in the third they scored three times on two walks, a single and back-to-back-to-back doubles.

Geoff Geary followed Happ and went two scoreless innings in which he allowed just one hit, a leadoff double in the fourth.  He lowered his spring ERA to 2.61.

Matt Smith threw a 1-2-3 fifth.  Alfonseca followed Smith in the six and set Pittsburgh down 1-2-3 on three ground balls to lower his spring ERA to 5.40.

Tom Gordon pitched the eighth and kept the Pirates off the board despite allowing a single and a triple.  His ERA dropped to 1.17.

NRI Ryan Cameron pitched the bottom of the ninth and walked two but did not allow a run.  He's allowed one earned run in five innings this spring (1.80 ERA) while allowing three hits, four walks and striking out five.

It was another nice day for the pen.  As a group, the non-starters went six scoreless innings, allowing three hits and two walks.

The Phillies play Boston tonight in Philadelphia.

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