Iron Pigs Bullpen Report

Look for the ‘Pigs bullpen to be almost completely revamped from the Pen of last year, with a number of free agent signings that have Major League experience.  Although probably almost totally devoid of any big time prospects, the Lehigh Valley bullpen should provide the Phillies with some reliable depth if any of the relievers on the big club are down for a significant period of time.

32 year old Philadelphia native Mike Koplove, joins the organization with 222 games of Major League experience with a big league ERA of 3.82 and a WHIP of 1.31, both decent numbers.  Koplove spent last year in the Dodgers organization, going 2-1 in 41 games for AAA Las Vegas.  He had a 3.46 ERA and a WHIP of 1.12 in his 54.2 innings pitched, striking out 46 with 9 saves.

29 year old RHP Gary Majewski is a familiar name to Phillies fans, having pitched 229 games in the National League over the last 5 seasons.  He had a difficult year with the Reds last year, going 1-0 with a 6.53 ERA in 40 appearances last year with an atrocious WHIP of 1.90. Majewski also through in 22 games for Louisville (AAA), going 2-1 with a 3.76 ERA.   If Majewski can return to his 2005-06 form where he threw over 140 games at the Major League level with an ERA right around 4, this would be a very good depth pick up for the Phils.

Along the same path as Koplove and Majewski, comes 32 year old Dave Borkowski, out of the Astros organization, having appeared in 130 Major League games in relief over the last 3 years.  Borkowski was 0-2 with a 4.25 ERA in 26 appearances last year for the Astros, with a high WHIP of 1.88.  He threw in another 27 games at (AAA) Round Rock, going 2-2 with a 2.43 ERA and an impressive WHIP of 1.16.

Soon to be 31 year old, local product Blaine Neal may have the inside track on the closers position having saved 26 games last year for AAA Toledo.  Neal was fantastic last year, going 1-0 with a microscopic 1.21 ERA and an equally impressive 1.10 WHIP.  A very large, 6’5, Neal has consistently struck out a batter each inning in the minors.  Neal last appeared in the Majors in 2005 with the Rockies, having amassed 113 appearances between 2001-05 in the Major leagues.

27 year old lefty Jake Woods pitched at Tacoma (AAA) in the Seattle organization last year, going 6-1 with a 4.08 ERA in 32 appearances.  He had a WHIP of 1.42 to go along with 54 strikeouts in 64 innings.  Woods was called up to the Mariners for a short while, going 0-0 in 15 games, with a very high 6.16 ERA.  Woods showed a good deal of promise back in 2006 with the Mariners appearing in 37 games including 8 starts, goign 7-4 with a 4.20 ERA.

Joe Bisenius, 26, has been a mystery for the Phillies.  He has fallen off the prospect radar screen a bit, with two consecutive difficult seasons in the minors.  Bisenius was a combined 3-5 with a 4.66 ERA in 33 appearances between Reading and Lehigh Valley last year, with most of his success coming in Reading.  His WHIP was a high 1.55 and he walked 42 and struck out 54 in 63.2 innings pitched.  While he has very good stuff, he must show more consistency this year to reappear on the true prospect screen.

24 year old RHP, Scott Nestor, was acquired from the Marlins organization in the off-season and also figures to play a role in the ‘Pig bullpen.  Coming off a difficult season in AAA last season, Nestor is hoping to reestablish the potential seen in years prior.

Finally, 29 year old Jason Anderson, was re-signed by the Phillies organization after putting up good numbers at Lehigh Valley last year.  Anderson went 3-2 with a 3.89 ERA in 30 appearances (44 innings), giving the ‘Pigs some fairly reliable depth when needed.  Anderson is not considered a prospect at this stage, however was a useful resource for a Lehigh Valley team in desperate need of innings last year.

24 thoughts on “Iron Pigs Bullpen Report

  1. I think a couple of those guys have the chance to come into camp and give clay a run for his money. There is a lot of major league experience there as well as a few once promising arms that have real potential for a bounce back. Anyone know more about Blaine Neal? i know he isn’t a prospect or anything, i was just wondering how he was in the majors because his numbers last year were nice.

  2. I think Woods is the only lefty mentioned…I assume they’ll carry two…with a good Spring I wonder if Escalona starts the season in the Pigs bullpen…also, depending on how Zagurski’s rehab is doing, he may end up in LV.

  3. I think this is the weak area of the whole Phillies system – the bullpen. It would be great if a good, solid reliever could be developed every two years or so. The last good one was Madson, who was basically a starter throughout his minor league days.
    But, have no fear, Gillick may have already done this, selectively drafting guys like Shreve, Sampson, Worley, Stutes, Knapp, ect. all hard throwers who might be better suited to relief.

  4. In a word . . . “blechh”!

    That’s a Yiddish saying which means “golly, this is bad.”

    But, seriously, this is a taxi squad. With minor exceptions, AAA has become a finishing school for a few prospects (Carrasco and Marson), but, other than that, it’s storage closet of not quite good enough back-ups who are there if something goes really wrong at the big league level.

    AA is now the league with the big prospects.

  5. In a straight up numbers comparison, Koplove has been significantly better than Clay Condrey from the first time he picked up a professional baseball. I would say the same for Majewski, but his injuries may have changed the equation. Koplove put up a 3.46 era in Las Vegas, which is a worse place to pitch than Coors. Take a look at his team’s overall ERA.

    Scott Nestor is garbage, but everyone else on this list seems like a potentially useful pitcher. Kudos for the Phils finally trying to realize the Padres way of building a bullpen. That being said, when you see one of them pitch like Rudy Seanez, for god sakes don’t keep him around for the veteran presence. These guys are cheap and disposable for a reason.

  6. Clay Condrey’s big league job is there for the taking. He’s not safe by any means, although it also wouldn’t surprise me if he hung around another year or two.

    If Robert Mosebach or one of the other young arms is impressive, Condrey might be gone when J.C. Romero returns to the team.

    By the way, on Mosebach, has anyone actually seen him pitch. His statistics are putrid (not even a high strikeout ratio) in moderate competition, so he must throw in the mid to high 90s or have great movement on his pitches. Has anyone seen him pitch who can comment?

  7. After April 6 Condrey did avoid the blow up games that marked 2207 but didnt seem do do well in pressure situations. Good spot for Park since he go for more innings

  8. You guys greatly underestimate Condrey’s ability to sit for weeks and then come in and do a decent job in long relief. He signed a major league guaranteed contract which means he won’t be cut and none of these guys are better than he is. If you check his stats, you’ll see that he gave up most of his runs in a few appearances and rarely pitched bad when he got into a competitive game. His spot is guaranteed going into the season. Neal is the only one who put up good numbers last year. The other guys are all just “arms” but you do occasionally see guys with “arms” suddenly figure something out or just plain get hot for an extended period of time. They’re all just short term injury replacements over the course of a long season. I still expect Kendrick to win the last starter’s spot and to see Happ in the bullpen but we’ll see.

  9. I’m with you Murray on the roster. Kendrick will likely be starter number 5, Park and Happ will be in the pen, and Carrasco will be in AAA.

  10. I strongly disagree that Stutes is better suited for the bullpen. Barring injury, he’ll be a solid 4th starter within a couple years. I realize how ambitious that prediction sounds, but if he picks up where he left off I look forward to seeing him at LV this year.

  11. Murray
    we can agree to disagree on Condrey but he can be traded

    Kendrick may win but not on merit. I do like Happ also as
    a Romero sub. Look at Happ’s starts last year what else can he do right. Relief ok but one maybe two innings
    PS Happ will be going past the magic 18 month date from his last injury so he will be stronger

  12. I think they are doing both Happ and Kendrick a disservice if they put Happ in the pen and Kendrick in the rotation. Last year showed me that, while Kendrick has tremendous personal courage and a fair amount of ability, he needs to go down to the minors for the good part of a season and develop more pitches and a better plan of attack.

    Happ, in my view, is ill-suited for the bullpen. He’s a starting pitcher, he can be a good number 4 or 5 man in the majors right now, and I think they won’t get his best if he’s doing the long relief job.

  13. I have to agree that Happ just doesn’t seem suited to the Bullpen. He’s done well when he’s been on a regular schedule and starting every 5th day. Some guys just can’t pitch out of the pen, Happ seems like one of them. Personally, I’d rather see Happ as the 5th starter out of camp with KK in AAA.

  14. I agree with Catch and Nepp. I’d like to see Kendrick open with LV and see how far his secondary pitches have come against real competition. If he’s ready for another shot in the majors, great, but if that comes at the expense of Happ, I think we’d be better off moving Happ for another asset thats suited for the role in which he’d be placed.

    I like Koplove and Majewski in the AAA pen as low risk/nice reward signings. Majewski was a very effective reliever until his injuries and there’s still some chance he could rebound.

  15. Can we reexamine Happ’s relief shots
    Aug 5 runs 4 innings 2 He hadn’t pitched in nearly a month
    Sept 1 runs 0 innings 1
    Sept 9 runs 3 innings.3.1 Pitched great for 3 inning tired in 4
    sept 28 runs 0 inning 3 1.2
    Oct 12 runs 1 innings 3
    The game he hadnt pitched in a month aside really is a good
    record and btw Manual had declared him a starter right before
    the appearence
    Also note in general he tended to fade quickly which may have been corredted by age and lapsed time from three
    injuries in 2007

  16. Wait a second – in relief he had two very good outings, one decent to good outing and two pretty bad outings. That’s not a good history for a relief pitcher.

    But my reasons for preferring him in the starting role go beyond those appearances. I just think he has think of repertoire, build, approach and demeanor that translate better to a starting role. I mean, take a look a the guy and his stuff – there’s very little about him that says “relief pitcher.”

  17. my typing fails me – I meant to say “I just think he has the type of repertoire, build, approach and demeanor that translate better to a starting role.”

  18. I agree Catch…but I think the Phillies need him more as a reliever than they do as a starter right now. Just as they needed Myers to be a starter last year and not a reliever. Sometimes you have to sacrifice for the team.

  19. Catch22 You have to admit he has misused and has had very poor support from the manager and pitching coach. They were so intent on proving a overweight Myers could pitch (50 lbs is a lot to lose)
    The point is I think he could do either
    three shut out innings isnt a bad outing its a pitching coach who doesnt know his (.) from a hole in the ground. Just like
    2007 when Happ was coming off rehab and he tried to get another inning out of him
    All I am saying is dont reinvent the wheel and give the guy a fair shot.

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