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30,000 pounds of bananas and two more Phillies
March 17 2006

The Phillies have optioned catcher Carlos Ruiz and outfielder Josh Kroeger to Triple-A Scranton Wilkes-Barre.

Kroeger hit .211 in 19 spring training at-bats with one home run.

Ruiz was just 1-for-3 in spring training with the Phillies.  Most of his time this spring was spent with Panama's team in the WBC, where he went 0-for-6.

Hasta luego -- Abreu uninjured as Venezuela eliminated from World Baseball Classic
March 16 2006

Venezuela has been eliminated from the World Baseball Classic.  Phillies Bobby Abreu and Tomas Perez are expected to be back in camp on Thursday.  The WBC was a bit of a disappointment for the Venezuelan team, who many expected to advance to the semifinals. 

Venezuela finished their second round games at 1-2, in third place in their pool behind Cuba and the Dominican Republic.  Venezuela beat Puerto Rico 6-0 in the second round, but lost to Cuba 7-2 on Sunday and 2-1 to the Dominican Republic on Tuesday.

Dominican Republic and Cuba play on Saturday.  The winner of that game will play the winner of the semifinal game between undefeated Korea and the second-place finisher in Pool 1, who will be determined after tonight's game between the USA and Mexico.

Abreu was one of several Venezuela players who struggled mightily through the WBC.  He hit just .150, going 3-for-20 with three singles and struck out seven times.  He did have six walks and did not make an error while playing center field.  Tomas Perez barely played during the Classic as Venezuela put Miguel Cabrera at third, Omar Vizquel at short and Edgardo Alfonzo at second for most games.  Tomas ended the tournament just 0-for-2.

Chase Utley and the USA team are still alive and have a chance to advance to the semifinal round with a win tonight against Mexico.

Eude Brito and Robinson Tejeda are still in the WBC with the Dominican Republic.  They have pitched 2 1/3 innings combined in the tournament thus far.

If Matt Kata is the answer, what was the question?
March 15 2006

Apparently the question was "Who did Cincinnati claim off of waivers today?"  Kata is no longer a Philly -- here's some of the players left and competing for spots on the Phillies opening day roster, assuming they go with 12 pitchers and 13 fielders:

Pitchers

Fielders

1 Lieber Geary 1 Lieberthal Perez
2 Myers Santana 2 Fasano C Roberson
3 Lidle Rodriguez 3 Howard S Garrett
4 Franklin 4 Utley Coste
5 Madson Lopez 5 Bell Kroeger
6 Gordon Tejeda 6 Rollins Sandoval
7 Rhodes Brito 7 Burrell
8 Fultz Hernandez 8 Rowand Bergeron
9 Cormier Sanches 9 Abreu Thurston
10 Condry 10 Victorino Scales
11 Floyd 11 Nunez Tugwell
12 Minix 12 Gonzalez
Booker 13

I believe Geary and Santana are still the frontrunners for two of the three open pitching spots in the pen.  I think Rodriguez has a good chance to win the final spot, although his numbers have not been great so far.  Here's a look at how some of the guys competing for spots have pitched this spring:

Player IP H BB SO HR ERA
Santana 6.2 4 3 4 0 2.70
Geary 7.0 7 0 2 0 2.57
Rodriguez 8.0 11 2 3 2 3.38
Floyd 6.2 6 5 4 2 4.05
Lopez 4.0 7 0 5 1 6.75
Condry 4.0 4 0 2 1 6.75
Hernandez 4.0 6 3 4 0 4.50
Tejeda 2.2 3 0 1 0 0.00
Brito 1.2 3 3 1 0 10.80
Minix 2.1 2 0 2 0 0.00
Sanches 3.2 5 2 5 0 0.00

I'd still love to see Robinson Tejeda start the year with the team, but I expect he's headed to the minors.

On the fielders side, Bell's back is a big question mark.  He makes his spring debut tomorrow -- if he were unable to go at the beginning of the season there would be an additional slot available.

I continue to see Tomas Perez as the likely winner of the last slot for a fielder -- as of today he is still a Philly and if he doesn't get moved to Florida or elsewhere I would expect him on the roster come April.  Here's a look at how some of the other contenders have done this spring:

Player AB AVG OBP SLG HR RBI
Roberson 27 296 296 556 2 5
Garrett 24 250 308 542 2 6
Coste 19 421 476 632 1 4
Kroeger 19 211 286 368 1 2
Sandoval 19 316 316 421 0 0

Of these five, Kroeger and Garrett have been seeing time defensively at the corner outfield positions and first base.  Roberson has played all three outfield positions.  Coste has played first, third and catcher while Sandoval has played short almost exclusively.

I think Kroeger and Garrett are long shots.  If they are considering Sandoval in a utility role, I'm surprised we haven't seen him anywhere but short yet.

Coste's ability to catch may appeal some, especially with Lieberthal's struggles this spring.  Roberson had a nice year at Double-A last year, and his ability to play center may give him and edge over Garrett or Kroeger.  He doesn't have a walk in 27 at-bats this spring, however, which is hurting his otherwise good offensive numbers.

There's still a ton of spring training games to go before the final decision is made.  What happens with Tomas Perez will have a big impact, as well as how Bell's back responds when he starts to play regularly.

Aaron Fultz and the case of lefty-righty splits
March 15 2006

The good news is that threat of Scooby Doo 3, the next in the series of movies staring Sarah Michelle Gellar and Freddie Prinze, Jr, seems to have died off.  Rumor has it all involved have promised never to do it again and instead are working on I Still Remember What You Did Six Summers Ago, But It's Starting To Feel A Little Less Important Every Day. The bad news is I have no idea who we're going to get to explain the mystery of Aaron Fultz's splits from 2005.

The Phillies picked Fultz up off of waivers in October, 2004, and he was absolutely awesome for the Phillies last year, posting a 2.24 ERA and a ratio of 0.97.  This coming off of a five-year career in which he was generally not terrific -- a lefty specialist who could get lefties out but never posted an ERA below league average or even below four.

So what happened with Fultz in '05?  Well, there's at least an answer if not an explanation.  At age 31, after five years in MLB in which he was pretty good against lefties but got absolutely hammered by righties, something changed:  He got really good against righties, even better than he was versus left-handed batters.  Here's a look at his numbers from the last three years:

    Overall     vs lefties vs righties
Year Team W-L ERA IP H BB SO

AVG/OBP/SLG

AVG/OBP/SLG
                   
2003 TEX 1-3 5.21 67.1 75 27 53 218/295/311    345/406/599
2004 MIN 3-3 5.04 50.0 50 23 37 212/293/271 314/388/500
2005 PHI 4-0 2.24 72.1 47 23 54 220/312/354 170/243/281

It's hard to be successful when righties are slugging .500 against you.  The question is whether this is a fluke or a trend.  The Phillies sure need Fultz in what might be a shaky and injury-prone pen, especially since it is looking like a near sure thing that Madson will be moving out of the pen and into the starting rotation.  So let's hope it's a trend, taking a lesson from those meddlesome kids who taught us so much, but especially to always accentuate the positive, like in this tender moment from the classic, Scooby Doo 2:  Monsters Unleashed:

Shaggy:  We're gonna die!
Daphne:  Think positive!
Shaggy:  We're gonna die quickly!

Boof blasted
March 14 2006

Boof Bonser, defying common sense and numerous warnings, threw a baseball in the vicinity of Ryan Howard today in Florida.  Unfazed by the questionable judgment, Howard smashed his eighth home run of the spring season.  It was only part of the bad news for Boof, however, as the Phillies mauled him and his fellow Twins, 8-3.

Aaron Rowand had two hits, including his second spring homer, and four RBI.  Aaron was in an 0-for-20 slump prior to the second inning home run.  Fellow spring slumper Mike Lieberthal also had a hit, going 1-for-3.

Abraham Nunez went 2-for-4 with two doubles.  Danny Sandoval was also 2-for-4 but made an error at short.

Brett Myers started the game for the Phillies and went 3 2/3 scoreless innings.  He allowed three hits and three walks and struck out four.

Travis Minix, a non-roster invitee, pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings to keep his ERA perfect for the spring.  Minix will be 29 in August but pitched well at AA and briefly at AAA in '05, posting a sub-two ERA at each stop.  Most of his work was at Double-A Reading where he threw 58 2/3 innings, allowing just 44 hits and 15 walks while striking out 55 and posting a 1.84 ERA.

Santana pitched a scoreless inning, but both Cormier and Fultz had rough outings.  Cormier allowed a run in 1 2/3 innings, allowing two hits and two walks.  Fultz allowed two earned runs in 1 1/3 on four hits and a walk to push his spring ERA over nine.

How 'ya going to keep 'em down on the farm when they've sat through a five hour sludge delay?
March 14 2006

The Phillies reassigned ten players today.

Pitchers Zack Sergovia and Scott Mathieson were optioned to Double-A Reading.

Outfielder Michael Bourn and pitcher Dan Haigwood were optioned to Triple-A Scranton Wilkes-Barre.

Reassigned to the minor league camp were pitchers Aaron Myette, Jeremy Cummings,  Matt White, Gio Gonzalez and catchers John Vanden Berg, and Jason Jaramillo.   Jaramillo and Gonzalez will likely start the season at Double-A Reading.

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