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October 12 2006

The Phillies released Julio Santana yesterday.  Santana was signed to a one-year contract prior to the '06 season but ran into elbow problems early and was sidelined.  He had Tommy John surgery in June and wound up throwing just 8 1/3 innings for the Phillies. 

Things went bad for Santana starting with his first appearance as a Phil.  When Jon Lieber got blown up by the Cardinals on opening day, Manuel called on Santana in the fourth inning.  It wasn't exactly a great situation.  Bases loaded and one out with Albert Pujols at the plate and the Phillies down 5-1.  Santana got Pujols to hit a sacrifice fly to make the score 6-1 and Edmonds was walked intentionally.  Scott Rolen was next and hit a grand slam, putting the Phils down 10-1.  It was the only home run Santana would allow on the year.

His next appearance, on April 7 against the Dodgers, was his best of the year.  He went 3 1/3 innings without allowing a hit, surrendering just two walks.  On April 14 he got pounded again, however.  With the Phillies up 10-4 in Colorado, Santana came in to throw a scoreless eighth but returned for the ninth and things got ugly.  Hit by pitch, walk, single loaded the bases and Matt Holliday followed with a three-run double.  Santana would leave the game, but a fourth runner he was responsible for would score before the Phillies finally won the game on a play that saw defensive replacement Shane Victorino throwing out Jason Smith at third base of all places.  There didn't look like there were a whole lot of cause for confidence in Santana, and he appeared in just two more April games, throwing two scoreless innings.

He didn't pitch the next month until May 10, and when he did come in it was to pitch the top of the ninth in a game the Phillies were losing 12-4 against the Mets in New York.  He gave up a run on two hits, including a double to Chris Woodward, and a walk and the Phillies lost 13-4.  Santana's ERA sat at 7.88 for the year.

He made his last appearance of the year on May 12, the day that Cole Hamels made his debut in Cincinnati.  Manuel brought him in in yet another situation where it looked like he couldn't hurt the club, with the Phillies up 8-2 in the ninth.  Walk, fly out, walk, error by Bell, loaded the bases, and then Santana walked Felipe Lopez to force in a run.  And that was it for Santana, for the game and for the year.  Gordon had to enter the game in what was now a save situation and the Phils got out with an 8-4 win.  Santana allowed two runs on the day, both of which were unearned thanks to Bell's error, so he lowered his ERA to 7.56 by getting the one out.

All in all, it was a disaster.  The Phillies were certainly counting on Santana this season, and from day one he just couldn't get it done.  You have to wonder if maybe Aaron Fultz was one of the casualties.  If you assume that you saw Manuel use Santana on opening day in the way he would have like to use him all season long, as a long reliever, it quickly became apparently that he could be relied on.  By April 14 he had pitched in three games and been blown up horribly twice.  Here's some pitch counts Fultz, who is most-definitely a poor candidate for long-reliever, tallied in the early going:  April 20, 56 pitches.  April 25, 41.  May 10, 61.  May 19, 41.  And he was pitching well in April (3.68 ERA) and May (3.45).  But in June (6.00), July (5.73) and August (6.75) he clearly was not.  Those outings should have belonged to Santana, not Fultz, and the Phillies paid for it later in the year.

In other moves yesterday, the Phillies sent Joe Thurston and Randall Simon to Triple-A, leaving them just 37 players on their 40-man roster.

Ryan Howard and Chase Utley will be part of the All-Star Series next month in which a team of MLB players will play a five-game series against a team of Japanese All-Stars.  The games will be played Nov 3-8 in Japan.

In the Arizona Fall League, the Big Cacti pounded the Scottsdale Scorpions 15-9 to improve to 1-1 on the year.  If the AFL has nothing else to offer, at least we'll all learn how to spell "scorpions."  No a.  Who knew?  JA Happ started for the Saguaros and was charged with three runs on two hits and two walks in 1 1/3 innings.   The lefty Happ will be 24 a week from today and made 25 starts this year between Clearwater and Reading.  At Clearwater he went 3-7 with a 2.81 ERA in 13 starts, allowing 63 hits and striking out 77 in 80 innings.  At Double-A Reading he was 6-2 with a 2.65 ERA in 12 starts.  At Reading he allowed just 58 hits in 74 2/3 innings while striking out 81.  Impressive.  And now he can wow 'em with his 20.25 ERA in the Arizona Fall League.

Zack Segovia also pitched in the game.  The 23-year-old righty threw a perfect inning, striking out two.  Zegovia was a second-round pick of the Phils in 2002 and spent most of '06 at Double-A Reading.  Between Reading and Single-A Clearwater he went 16-6 with a 2.82 ERA, allowing 129 hits and 36 walks in 156 1/3 innings.

In playoff action, the Tigers beat the A's 8-5 to go up two games to none in the ALCS.  Detroit pounded Esteban Loaiza for seven runs in six innings, banging out nine hits.  Todd Jones started the ninth inning for Detroit with a three-run lead and struck out the first two batters he faced before allowing three straight singles to load the bases for Frank Thomas.  Thomas flew out to center to end the game.

Tigers first baseman Sean Casey looks likely to miss the rest of the ALCS.  Last night Neifi Perez (243/260/316) started at short and the Carlos Guillen played first.  28-year-old Alexis Gomez (272/318/388 in 103 at-bats) was a surprise starter at DH for Detroit and had a big game, going 2-for-4 with a home run and four RBI.

The Tigers are 5-1 in the playoffs this post-season.  Game three is tomorrow.

Game one of the NLCS was rained out and will be played tonight.  This is a break for the Cardinals, who can opt to move Carpenter up to pitch game two rather than game three.

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