Monthly Archives: March 2007

It’s official…sort of. Bourn has made the roster

Not that this is a surprise, but this is a blog, I try to keep up with current events, and this morning The Inquirer ran an article saying Bourn has basically made the squad, and could actually see some spot starts at times, as opposed to just a late inning replacement. While I would not want him taking AB’s away from Burrell in the first 8 innings of a game, having him start a game or two a week in center instead of Rowand might not be a bad idea, and Rowand at least gives you some pop off the bench as a pinch hitter. Both Jon Lieber and Freddy Garcia will start the season on the DL, which means Zach Segovia will remain with the team. Should Garcia need to miss his first start on either April 7th or 8th, then Segovia will probably be the guy. Once Garcia returns, Zach might shift to the pen until Jon Lieber returns.

All in all, it was a spring with some positives and negatives. James Happ’s numbers looked bad, but in the innings I saw him pitch, the stuff looked good. He was probably nervous more than anything, and a bit of time in AAA can’t hurt him, though I do wonder if he might not be more valuable pitching in the big league pen this year, and then going back to starting next year. Joe Bisenius got some quality work in, but he still needs to refine his control a bit more. Jason Jaramillo probably opened some eyes and showed he might be closer to the bigs than was expected when spring training started. On the flip side, Jim Ed Warden was a disappointment, and my first “bad guess” of 2007. Fabio Castro looked rough, and will probably need some time in the minors to get himself back on track. The Alfredo Simon experiment was brutal, and waiver signing Anderson Garcia didn’t look too great either. Greg Dobbs, though no longer a prospect, had a great spring, and could be a 5 year younger version of Chris Coste. That will just depend on how focused he remains and how hard he continues to work. Speaking of Coste, a rough spring for him, both hitting and healthwise. He could get the last spot on the 25 man roster, at least until Lieber comes back, or he might find himself on another team in a week. We’ll see.

The votes are in, goodbye Aaron Rowand

In a vote that surprised me a bit, 19 of you that voted, 41%, said that we should trade Aaron Rowand and make Michael Bourn the everyday centerfielder. Obviously, some of you are very confident in his ability right now, or Michael had some free time in the clubhouse and just kept voting over and over again. Either way, here’s how the votes have lined up so far:

46 votes

19: Trade Rowand, make Bourn the starter
11: Make him the 4th/5th OF
11: Send him to Ottawa
5: Trade him for a young reliever

If you haven’t voted yet, please do so, and feel free to leave your comments either here or in yesterday’s post. We’ve had some good discussions here in the last week or so, and I’m hoping as the season progresses we get even more interaction.

The Phillies conclude their preseason with two games against Boston in Philadelphia tonight and tomorrow. Jon Lieber didn’t make the trip north, which means Zach Segovia will probably be on the team, even if only briefly, unless the Phillies make a trade. Right now, the Phillies 25 man roster looks like this;

C – Barajas
1B – Howard
2B – Utley
3B – Helms
SS – Rollins
LF – Burrell
CF – Rowand
RF – Victorino
C – Ruiz
INF – Nunez
INF – Dobbs
OF – Bourn
OF – Werth

SP – Myers
SP – Hamels
SP – Garcia
SP – Eaton
SP – Moyer

CL – Gordon
SU – Madson
RP – Geary
RP – Smith
RP – Alfonseca
RP – Condrey
RP – Lieber

If Lieber starts on the DL, that probably means that Segovia gets his spot, unless the Phillies go with Coste on the bench (when healthy) and only use 11 pitchers. When Lieber returns, one of them will have to go. Condrey is out of options, so if he’s sent down, he must clear waivers. If the Phillies trade for Rosario or another reliever, Condrey might also be let go. On the bench, Dobbs seems like the most expendable of the group, but he also had the best spring, and it’s tough to see him losing his job to Coste, especially since he can play both INF and OF.

I wouldn’t put a deal past Gillick at this point. If you remember back to last season at this time, we still had Rob Tejeda, who was traded at the 11th hour to Texas for Dave Dellucci. Should be interesting to see what happens. At this point, it looks like Bourn is going to be the only prospect to make the team out of camp, but Joe Bisenius is probably still the best bet to be the first prospect called up this season, barring an emergency start from either Happ or Segovia.

Also, one quick mention. I’m going to be writing all of the affiliate reports (except the VSL/DSL) for the start of the season, since I haven’t really had time to get everything coordinated, but as the season progresses, I should be able to integrate others into the mix. I want to try and create a uniform method for my madness before opening it up to everyone else. I’ve got big plans for this blog, but I need to make sure everything is running smoothly before branching out into a bunch of different directions. For those who have contacted me, thanks for the interest, and I will get more details to you at a later time.

What should the Phillies do with Michael Bourn?

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With the latest round of cuts yesterday, it appears Michael Bourn is closer to making the big league team out of camp. Bourn has generated a bit of buzz this spring, I wrote a profile on him a while back, and in my prospect grades, I gave him a B-, noting his great speed, but his fringy offensive skill set. I’m going to attempt to turn this into a poll and see if we can get some idea of what people are thinking. I’ll give my thoughts and rationale under the poll, so you can vote before reading my take on it.

Go here to vote, then come back and keep reading.

To me, Bourn is a really risky guy going forward. As I have highlighted in the past, he’s going to realistically need a .400+ OB% to be an offensive asset in the majors, which will allow him to utilize his speed. Defensively, he seems fine, but he has very little power, and the small dimensions of Citizens Bank Park will likely rob him of a few doubles and triples because of the narrow power alleys. The Phillies can’t really be sure what they have in him, so it seems unlikely they’d just turn over an everyday job to him. At the same time, there is an argument that says he should be getting regular AB’s in Ottawa, but to me, I don’t know what benefit that will be. If they view his offense as fringy, is it really going to improve batting against a lot of minor league mercenaries in AAA? He hasn’t shown any power since his days in Low A, and that probably won’t change. As it is, he’s probably a valuable 5th OF now, able to play defensively at any of the 3 OF positions as well as pinch run in later innings. You also have the notion that other teams may value him because of his speed and defense, and a team like Florida has been mentioned as a possible suitor, mainly because they have no good in house options.

Anyway, I’m curious as to what people think, so please vote, and if you’d like, leave feedback in the comments section.

Phillies targeting Rosario?

rosario1.JPG

Before I get to the new tidbit about the Phillies interest in Francisco Rosario, I wanted to dig into the construction of the 25 man roster a bit, as it was mentioned in depth in this mlb.com article. The article basically outlines the makeup of the Phillies opening day roster, barring any more unforeseen developments. If Jon Lieber starts the season on the DL, the two open spots in the bullpen will likely be filled by Clay Condrey and Jim Ed Warden. The two bench spots will likely be filled by Karim Garcia and Greg Dobbs, with Chris Coste being the odd man out, mainly due to logistics and his hamstring tweak. It also appears that Jason Jaramillo will stick with the team if Carlos Ruiz isn’t ready for opening day, and that Michael Bourn could stay up with the team for the first few games if Freddy Garcia starts the year on the DL, allowing the Phillies to carry an extra player.

So, are these the right decisions? First, I think keeping Condrey over Segovia might be a mistake. However, if Condrey is going to just be a mop-up guy, then I guess it’s understandable. Segovia is still young and still has some promise, Condrey is your typical AAAA pitcher who is easily replaceable. Warden, because he’s a Rule 5 guy, is a bit of a different case. He’s had some rough outings and some solid outings this spring. Again, my hope is that the Phillies work out a trade with Cleveland where they get to keep Warden and option him to the minors so he can get comfortable before being thrust into the majors. The Phillies should contend for the division from Day 1, they can’t afford to use a 24 man roster and just hide Warden for the season like they did with Fabio Castro last year. As for the outfield, I’d prefer they kept Bourn over Garcia, mainly because I don’t think Garcia is going to sustain any type of success in the majors over the course of the season. Then again, if Aaron Rowand is traded, which has been a rumor basically since the winter meetings, then Bourn will almost assuredly get a spot in the OF. Dobbs has performed well this spring and has almost been the 2007 version of Chris Coste. Hopefully the Phillies can catch lightning in a bottle for the second year in a row.

Also, according to the Inquirer, the Phillies had scouts at the Blue Jays game keeping an eye on RHP Francisco Rosario. Rosario is out of options, which means if he isn’t kept on the Blue Jays 25 man roster, he must clear waivers before being sent to the minors. Kevin Goldstein at Baseball Prospectus ranked Rosario as the Blue Jays #5 prospect, saying

The Good: Tommy John survivor thrived in a move to the bullpen at Triple-A and finally reached the majors after a minor-league career that was long in years, but consisted of less than 500 innings. Rosario’s velocity is the best in the system, sitting at 93-95 mph and touching 98. As a reliever, his other primary pitch is a hard slider with good depth.

So, there is some talent there. Rosario, who turned 26 in June, has been slowed down with injuries, and as noted above, Tommy John surgery, hence him being out of options before he’s really made a mark at the big league level. He proved to be fairly unhittable at AAA last season, allowing only 29 hits in 42 innings, while striking out 50 and walking 13. He also kept the ball in the park, allowing only 2 HR, and posted a 50:28 GB to FB ratio. His big league debut wasn’t very good, largely because he allowed 16 walks in only 23 innings, but we can write that off to nerves and adjustment.

Rosario is a guy that can probably step right into the major league bullpen, and might be a better option going forward than a guy like Warden or Condrey, but the question is going to be what will it cost. With so many teams starving for arms, he surely won’t clear waivers, so the Phillies would need to make a deal for him. Stay tuned.

UPDATE ——> Per delewareonline, the Phillies released Karim Garcia. That puts an interesting twist on things, and could clear the way for Bourn as the 5th OF, or could assure Coste of a spot on the roster.

UPDATE 2 —-> The Jim Ed Warden experiment has ended, as he was re-claimed by the Indians today.

Two more quick hits

Busy day today, huh?

Buried at the bottom of this article, it mentions Michael Dubee will open at Lakewood. I’m not sure whether this is an oversight or whether it’s true. Back in January, I guessed on the Lakewood roster (which you can see by clicking on the left side of the page) and predicted Dubee would get a spot. I had my doubts, but felt he might get a slot in the rotation based on his pedigree and his last name, and it appears he could.

Also, an MLB.com article released an hour ago talks about Condrey and Warden battling for a shot at the big league pen. Condrey has been good except for one awful outing, Warden has been up and down. They also mention that either Segovia or Happ could be needed as a 5th starter if both Lieber and Garcia aren’t able to make their normal turns. Segovia will pitch on Saturday and be stretched out so he could pitch on Thursday if needed, Happ will start this Thursday and could be stretched out as well. Dennis Deitch waxes poetic on Happ in this article, comparing him to Randy Wolf. Should be quite an interesting final week of spring training.

New VSL and DSL players at minor league spring training

Here are the players from the DSL and VSL who were on the minor league workgroup lists. Note that Moises Melendez was the only one who was on workgroup 4, so he may have a shot at something higher than GCL. He impressed in the senior Venezuelan winter league this fall.

Francisco Murillo – 1B/C – age 20 – VSL
Freddy Galvis – SS – age 17 – new signing
Jamie Morales – SS/2B – age 23 – VSL
Ambiorex Rincon – 2B – age 20 – DSL
Arlon Quiroz – OF – age 20 – VSL
Sergio Escalona – LHP – age 22 – VSL
Antonio Florentino – RHP – age 19 – DSL
Miguel Matos – RHP – age 19 – DSL
Mauricio Romero – RHP – age 20 – VSL
Moises Melendez – LHP – age 20 – VSL

6 total from the VSL (which was the league champ) and 3 from DSL. Melendez is the most polished and probably will merit at least a starting role at GCL. Matos and Florentino are intriguing projectible arms with good seasons in 2006. Murillo is the player most likely to make an offensive impact. Quiroz, a speedy OF, has been mentioned in several of the early spring training game reports.

More players cut, including Castro and Bisenius

Hmmmm, the picture is becoming a bit clearer now. Today, the Phillies announced that they were sending Fabio Castro, Eude Brito and Joe Bisenius to minor league camp, along with non-roster invitees Brennan King, Dusty Wathan, Rob Calloway, and Brett Abernathy. This is surprising, for a few reasons. First off, Bisenius has some of the best numbers of any pitcher in camp this spring, I can understand him not breaking camp with the team, but have they already decided who is staying and who isn’t? If this move is based on merit, it’s tough to understand, but if it’s based on managing the 40 man roster, then it makes more sense. However, as I mentioned in the Bisenius piece a few days ago, the Phillies have plenty of room on the 40 man roster at present. It’s also kind of surprising that both Brito and Castro were sent down. Castro has struggled mightily this spring, but the reality is that he was probably going to spend the majority of the season in Ottawa anyway, most likely as a starter. Brito is a bit surprising though. After showing up late to camp because of an injury, he’s pitched decent enough, and he’s one of the only viable lefthanded pitchers the Phillies had for the bullpen. Matt Smith has been, well, not so good, and he’s our only LHP at the moment in the pen. Brito has little value as a major league starter, but I think some value as a reliever…..apparently not though.

So, let’s take a look at how this latest purge affects the bullpen. If we do a tally, we have 8 starting position players, 5 starting pitchers, that’s 13 spots. The norm is a 5 man bench, so we’re up to 18 spots, which means a 7 man bullpen. Here are the “locks”

CL – Gordon (RH)
RP – Madson (RH)
RP – Geary (RH)
RP – Smith (LH)
RP – [Lieber] (RH)
RP –
RP –

So, theoretically, there are 3 open spots. However, you have to assume, barring a trade, that Lieber will occupy one of those spots, unless Garcia’s injury is more serious that believed to be at this point. So, for now if we assume Lieber will open in the bullpen (or traded for a reliever), we have two openings. Here are the potential fillers in those spots

Segovia: 10 IP, 2.70 ERA
Condrey: 10.2 IP, 4.22 ERA
Warden: 6.1 IP, 5.69 ERA
Alfonseca: 6.1 IP, 5.69 ERA
Happ: 16.1 IP, 6.06 ERA

You almost have to assume that Alfonseca is going to get a spot, simply because he’s dripping with veteranacity, even though he isn’t a very good pitcher. On merit, Segovia probably deserves the last spot, but with Warden being a Rule 5 guy, he’s probably going to end up sticking unless he implodes in the final week and Segovia dazzles. Keep an eye on today’s game, as Segovia is starting against the Yankees.

Brief update on minor league ST games

I’m not much for following the results of minor league spring training games, mainly because there isn’t a whole lot of info available on these games in most cases, and mainly because they are really an extension of Instructional League, and you can’t really “learn” much from them, as they are more an exercise in education than anything really “important” in terms of numbers or results. However, if you head to the Reading Phillies website, they have brief blurbs broken down by day on the games. So far, some good performances from Carlos Monasterios, one of my sleeper arms, as well as D’Arby Myers and Kyle Kendrick.

Joe Bisenius, will he or won’t he?

bisenius5.jpg

I’ve commented on Joe at length in the past, and as spring training has progressed, the buzz surrounding him has started to grow. The question everyone is asking is, will he make the team out of spring training? I wanted to look at the three determining factors, in my mind, which will ultimately lead to that decision.

His spring performance.  9 IP, 2 ER, 4 H, 6 BB, 6 K. As I mentioned whenever talking about Bisenius, his control is the last missing piece, and it doesn’t appear to be there just yet. 6 walks in 9 innings is WAY too many, especially considering it is spring training, and he’s not always facing quality major league hitters. No one really questions his stuff, the mid 90’s heat is there, the hard slider is there, but unless he can command it, he’s going to frustrate his manager, his teammates, and all of us. Pitching to contact isn’t what you want out of your high leverage relievers, but you also don’t want a guy walking 2 in every appearance. If will be interesting to see how his numbers look at this time next week, and ultimately, that will probably go a long way in determining his immediate status.

The performance of everyone else. The Phillies bullpen was obviously wide open this spring, but few have really taken advantage.  Of the non-certainties, only Zach Segovia has pitched well (2.70 ERA in 10 IP), while the next best performance is Clay Condrey’s 4.82 ERA in 9.1 IP. Hopefuls Jim Ed Warden (5.69 ERA), Brian Sanches (6.75 ERA), Alfredo Simon (12.47 ERA, already offered back to Texas), and Anderson Garcia (9.00 ERA) have disappointed. Couple that with Alfonseca’s disappointing spring (7.20 ERA), and Bisenius looks like he HAS to be included. The Phillies surefire guys have to be Gordon, Smith, Geary, and Madson. That’s 4 slots, and there will be at least 2, probably 3 more spots to fill. Alfonseca is probably going to get a spot on the team until Gillick is forced to release him due to suckitude of the highest order. That means 1, maybe 2 spots to fill. Bisenius and Segovia seem like slam dunks, barring any kind of trade.

The 40 man roster.  At present, the Phillies have 4 spots open on the 40 man, so this doesn’t seem like a factor. Also included in that number are Warden, who may be removed and sent back to Cleveland. Segovia is already on the 40 man roster, so he has one less obstacle to overcome, but there is plenty of room there, so it shouldn’t be a means to keep Bisenius in the minors.

So, I suppose it all comes down to the last week of spring training. If I had to handicap it right now, I’d say there’s a 60% chance of him breaking camp with the team. The other 40% involves them keeping Warden, at least for now, Castro making the bullpen despite his poor spring, or a trade bringing in a reliever from another organization. However, with Alfonseca’s performance so far, I doubt it’s very long before Bisenius makes his way to Philly.

Also, is it just me, or does he look like Jeremy Bonderman’s twin brother?

Plans for the blog as we get closer to opening day

I don’t have time to write a new profile today, not much in the news department, but I wanted to just briefly share some plans and ideas for the site as we get closer to meaningful minor league games. If you’re a repeat visitor, thanks for constantly checking in and seeing what I have to offer, and I hope you continue to do so once the season starts. I’d also appreciate you passing the site along to those you feel might enjoy the content, the readers are the reason people even have blogs. If this is your first time finding the blog, thanks for checking it out, and hopefully you come back. Now, onto the details…

If you look on the left side of the main page, you know about all of the tags, some for various features, and then a player specific tab for most prospects. The main tags you’ll want to keep an eye on once the season starts will be the Game Writeups, Transactions, Rosters, and a new section which will be added in a few days, the “Affiliate Reports” section. I’ve enlisted the help of a few people to help on covering the affiliates in detail, and once a week, we’ll be writing more in depth reports on the happenings at each level. Think of this as your one stop shop for the rundown on each level of the Phillies system. Tentatively, Lakewood will be Tuesdays, Clearwater on Wednesdays, Reading on Thursdays and Ottawa on Fridays. Once the short season leagues start, there will probably be one report for both leagues on Mondays.

In addition, every Monday I’ll be writing a who’s hot/who’s not feature covering the 5 or so best performers of the week, and the 5 worst. I’ll also be creating an online photo album, in which people can share their digital photos from minor league games throughout the season. I’m also open to any other suggestions anyone may have, so if you have an idea for the site, or something you’d like to see, or an area you’d like to help with, please either leave me a comment or drop me an e-mail. I’m extremely happy with the traffic and response I’ve gotten so far, and I can only hope it continues as the season kicks off. Thanks again for checking in.