Around the Horn

Time for a fresh post to throw around what has been going on in Clearwater this week.  The latest injury to Brad Lidge will clearly have an impact on how the roster is constructed next Friday.  While Madson and Contereras will be sliding into the closer role, who does this open the door for?  The givens in the bullpen are now Madson, Contreras, Kendrick, Romero and Baez with presumably two positions now open for the Bastardo, Herndon, Mathieson, Zagurski group? Feel free to discuss if the names come from that group or if the Phils dip into the Carpenter Complex to the group who have been very impressive this Spring including Mike Stutes, Michael Schwimer or Jason Grilli.

A few notes from the games yesterday: Chris Frey continued playing well for the AAA team, leading off and going 1-3 with two runs scored and a stolen base.  Dan Meyer got a rare start and went just 1.1 innings and allowed 4 runs while throwing 56 pitches.  Michael Schwimer continued his Spring Training scoreless streak which has now reached 10 innings after two more scoreless yesterday.

It was another impressive outing for Josh Zeid who threw 4.2 perfect innings in the AA game, while Darin Ruf was a force at the plate going 3-4.

Trevor May allowed just an unearned run in 5 innings yesteday in the High A game, and was followed up by Eric Pettis and Jake Borup who threw scoreless innings of their own.  The Pettis and Broup team also took it to the Jarad Cosart/Jon Pettibone team on the links during the late afternoon. Jonathan Singleton, Kyle Lafrenz, Brian Gump and Adam Buschini all had multi hit games.

A decent outing for Jesse Biddle who gave up just a run in four innings of work in the Low A game.  His batterymate, Cameron Rupp homered, while both Aaron Altherr and Anthony Hewitt went 2-3.

72 thoughts on “Around the Horn

  1. I know, I know – we all get sucked in – but any rumblings about how Hewitt has looked down there?

  2. I like that I’ve seen Hewitt’s name in a couple of the write-ups from FLA. I’m not on the bandwagon. I’m not even near the bandwagon. But it is nice to see.

    In the bullpen, if the Phils go with 12 pitchers then one of those will be a lefty. I’d take Bastardo over Zags but is Bastardo fully healed and ready to go? If the other guy is just a ROOGY, then I’d rather see Herndon than Mathieson on the big club. Matty should continue to get innings instead of playing once a week. Stutes should also continue to get innings in the minors.

  3. Bastardo vs Zags is a real competition. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Zags win it, for now. I assume it will just be Matheson vs Herndon for the other spot with Matheson winning it since he’s pitched great and because Herndon basically had that spot last year. The Lidge situation really puts more pressure on Baez who will now be forced to pitch in key 7th inning spots. In the minors, I remain intrigued by the battle for playing time in the Lakewood OF, the C Water rotation, 2B battles, plus the multiple battles for pitching spots at every level. I like to see competition and we are definitely seeing it. Lots of pitchers are throwing well and lots of guys are hitting well. Fun stuff which will be resolved soon.

  4. While I am at it… I will be the first to jump on the Hewitt bandwagon… I know, I know… thing is, it is now or never…. he was a 1st round pick and he has the tools, is he finally putting it all together?? Has he learned to hit a breaking ball?? I say ‘hell ya’ … 2+ seasons under his belt…breakout season here we come! 🙂

    1. He’d better. He’s clogging up the Lakewood OF. There are a ton of toolsy guys in the organization who want and need to move up. Let’s get Tony pushing some guys in CLW or Reading.

    2. I seem to remember a period of time early last year where Hewitt just RAKED and everyone thought he was breaking out. Then the rest of the season happened.

  5. Honestly, although I feel very bad for Brad Lidge, who seems like a genuinely good and decent person, this injury is probably a huge blessing in disguise. Lidge is just about through (perhaps he is through) and the Phillies are loaded with young relievers who just need a chance. The Phillies may have their share of problems and shortages, but relief pitching is not one of their issues. These young guys are ready to go. Have at it gentlemen.

    1. I second this entire statement, Philly has the option for 2012 on Lidge which most likely wont get picked up and he can walk(to Texas next year to replace Neftali Feliz?). With some of these young guns trooping through like Mathieson and hopefully Aumont will show more signs of dominance to be a stud closer. Time to bring in some more youthful players sounds good to keep the major league machine moving!

    2. I third this statement. I really think Madson is ready to step up and be not only a closer, but a really good one. I also think if not Baez, one of the younger pitchers when given a chance will step up and be a good 7th inning option. I also think Lidge is a good guy and we’ll always be thankful for his 2008 and what it meant to us, but he is not that guy anymore and moving on will bring good things to the organization.

    3. It would be a real blessing if they have insurance on Lidge and can use some of that money at 2b or RF.

  6. IF Hewitt is going to help the Phils, he’s *got* to break out this year. He was drafted as a 19-year -old, and has one less year to be “safe” from the Rule 5 draft.

    1. I think hes “safe” from the Rule 5 draft for quite a while. Cant see too many teams keeping him on their 25 man roster for an entire season.

  7. I am certainly waiting for one of these relievers to ‘break out’. Madson is the only decent homegrown relief pitcher the Phillies have had in the last 5+ years. (Geary is next?)

    I know that I want to see Bastardo capitalize on what appears to be some significant talent. His ceiling could even be in a closer role, but his health issues make him completely unreliable. I’d prefer the Phils put him on the DL rather than use an option year on him. Zagurski deserved a chance, not sure he is going to gain much in the minors. He is likely nothing more than a Loogy so why not give him a chance against so top notch hitters and see what he does.

    I want Stutes to stay in the minors. He still can probably gain something from getting more innings and in not taking up a roster spot. I am not sure what the plan with Herndon is. I assume he is staying as a reliever and therefore not developing another pitch. In that case, I consider him a 3 year option guy. Just shuttle him back and forth as needed.

    Mathieson is the wild card. He probably only has so many pitches left in his arm. He was pretty dominant in the minors so the only thing to improve is to force him to throw his secondary pitches down there. He is also in his last (complicated) option year. If the Phillies are convinced he does not have an acceptable secondary pitch then they either need to send him down or trade him. I’d prefer that he stay in the Majors to see if he can move into a the 7th inning role ahead of Baez.

    (Not really sure what to do with Kendrick. He might end up in a Durbin type role, 7th inning, multiple innings. But I might think it would be better to have him in the minors as a starter, though very unlikely now with Lidge out.)

  8. I agree with catch here. Be nice to see some of the young relievers take advantage of this opportunity.

    As an aside, I’m not a Castillo fan, but I love his approach at the plate. Maybe it’ll rub off on Jimmy and Vic. One can hope.

  9. I don’t see a problem with having Zags + Bastardo. From what I can remember, Zags pitched very well last yr against righties.

  10. I agree that I’m looking forward to seeing a couple of the young guys get a shot at the bullpen, but there’s no way that Lidge’s injury is good news for the Phillies. Even accepting that he’s never going to be 2008 Lidge again, when he’s healthy and effective, as he was during the second half last year, Lidge is very good reliever with one of the best sliders in the game. Mathieson/Herndon are intriguing guys with some promising upside. But there’s no way this is anything other than a net loss for the Phillies. On the other (other, other) hand, it happens in one area where they do have some strength on the farm, so it’s maybe not quite as devastating as a season-ending injury to, say, Polanco would be.

  11. Yeah, but here’s the problem with Lidge. First, he’s always on and off the disabled list – which creates real problems with setting up the bullpen. Second, while the slider remains a great pitch, he is losing velocity like crazy. Last year alone he lost 3 MPH off his FB. This year, he looks like he may have lost another 2 MPH or so. He’s running on fumes and I don’t think his command of any pitch is good enough for him to remain effective with a slider being his only decent pitch, particularly since he gets outs on that pitch when he throws it out of the strike zone.

    I think a reliable bullpen with some of the young guys and the experienced relievers they have now will be more consistent and better than a bullpen with Brad Lidge blowing every third or fourth game. I really don’t care to re-live 2009 and, with the arms we have now, there’s no reason to do that.

    1. Good points all, and I’d love for the young guys to get a chance in the pen too. However, Charlie has never been one to trust young guys in the pen with any meaningful innings. So, not having Lidge means seeing a LOT more of Madsen, and I fear his arm may be the next to go.

      Bottom line, if Lidge isn’t healthy, there will be more injuries to come from that pen.

      1. That’s very true to an extent. Contreras was very good most of the year last year. He pitched great at the beginning, was then overused, got tired and pitched poorly, and then rested and pitched great down the stretch. I wish I knew what to expect from Baez because I think Lidge’s injury forces Charlie to use Baez in important situations and that scares me. I don’t see Matheson or Herndon, whichever one wins the suddenly open spot, getting used in the 7th before Baez. He may have to blow a couple of games first. Luckily its a long year and I think we could see Matheson, Herndon, Schwim and Stutes pitch in Philly this season (and maybe even DeFratus) and that is alot of depth.

  12. Hooray! We may finally see how Mathieson’s straight fastball (high in the zone) plays in the major leagues.

    1. Gavin Floyds’ fastball is straight or at least it was with the Phillies, and he’s had some sucess in the majors.

      1. Even though it’s straight, if he can find the strike zone with it and command and carve the plate with it it’ll be a double plus pitch.

      2. Floyd also has one of the best curveballs in baseball. That tends to make up for it.

        Mathieson’s success will be determined by his splitter, not his fastball.

  13. Count me in the camp to keep Michael Martinez.

    Martinez is a plus defender up the middle and plays with a high motor, exactly the kind of energy our aging roster needs. Beyond Victorino, Martinez, Mayberry and Rollins, the Phillies don’t really have much speed. Castillo and Rollins will need plenty of rest and no one will be shocked if both of them miss a fair chunk of time. We need another solid option to play shortstop in extra innings considering Valdez will probably be playing a lot already.

    Among the other candidates, switch-hitting Delwyn Young has the most pop and experience but he isn’t nearly as versatile in the field as Martinez. The emergence of Mayberry makes Delwyn Young a bit more expendable since you have Gload/Mayberry for pop off the bench. I like Young but his skillset isn’t too tough to replace. His proven approach to pinch-hitting will be missed, but not excessively.

    I’m high on Barfield’s bat but he really needs to improve his glove work before he’s ready for a key role. If his defense were just average Barfield would make a decent option to start in place of Utley and we could have passed on Castillo. So close, yet so far.

    The decisive factor for me is that we just don’t have the organizational depth at SS to let Michael Martinez go back to the Nationals. He brings speed and defense to a pitching-based team, so I think we need him more than Young.

    With Lidge out I like Madson as the closer, Bastardo over Bronco Zagurski as the LOOGY and Herndon for the final spot.

    Just my 2 cents.

    1. I tend to agree. Castillo had an excellent day today though. Really like his patient approach.

      1. I think Castillo could really help. As long as he maintains decent range, he’s sure handed enough to hold down the fort. He knows how to turn a nifty double-play. His approach at the plate will fit our lineup well: taking pitches, fouling them off and making the pitcher work, coaxing walks, making contact, moving runners. Who knows, maybe the change of scenery really will bring out the best in him. Everyone loves to play for a winner. Besides, nothing would please me more than to see Castillo become a nightmare to the Mets.

    2. I think they could possibly offer Martinez back and the Nats may say keep him and send the money. I do not think he is in their future plans. Could make a deal for him with Nats too, offer Mathieson. He could be a nice piece in the org when Valdez crashes.

      1. There’s no way Martinez is worth Mathieson. I don’t see the appeal of Martinez really. Could be your utility player but he doesn’t offer skills that quite a few guys don’t already have. What makes him better than say, Pete Orr?

        1. Pete Orr has shown a much better game than I would have guessed. I am impressed. But he can’t play shortstop. Martinez can. Big difference. Plus speed.

          1. Orr can’t play short? He played more games at shortstop last year than Martinez. Orr and Martinez played on the same Syracuse squad last year, and Martinez wasn’t their shortstop. I wish I had handy gamelogs so I could see who played short when Martinez played second.

            1. Fair enough, Orr plays short. But not as well as Martinez. And he’s a good bit slower, not the speed threat Michael is. Martinez’ rule 5 status means use him or lose him. Orr can be stashed away without a hitch.

  14. Charlie Manuel has never been great at really managing a bullpen. He likes to get pitchers into clearly defined roles where their usage pattern is obvious. This works well when you have solid relievers. It becomes an issue when pitchers struggle though as we saw in most of ’07 and part of ’09. Hopefully Madson takes the closer’s job and runs with it.

    As far as the bullpen, I see Bastardo deserving a role. He’s been pitching, he’s taken the mound every third day recently and he’s getting the job done. As long as he’s healthy he’ll take the spot and if he’s hurt, he’ll just take a DL slot. No harm there.

    Last spot should go to Mathieson. Yeah, Mike77 hates his stuff. But he absolutely dominated AAA last season. As the 12th man on the staff, give him a shot and see what he’s capable of. A guy of his nature is always a small adjustment away from absolutely blowing away the competition.

    1. I like Mathieson, too, but Herndon’s sinker and slider give him the edge. Give Charlie the groundball pitcher who can go multiple innings. Mathieson isn’t really a two-inning option and his secondary stuff still needs work.

    2. “Dominated AAA last year”
      I don’t think a 2.80 ERA, 1.135 WHIP and 1.1 HR/9 for a 1 inning pitcher is dominant. But his numbers are the least of my concerns.
      Whether you are a fan of his, or not, it is hard for me to believe anyone that has watched Mathieson pitch, think that he will be some kind of nasty, back-end, reliever. He doesn’t throw any secondary pitches near the strike zone, and his fastball is always up and straight.

  15. Any Matt Anderson sightings? 100 mph fastball with no control anymore. Maybe a darkhorse closer if we are desperate?

  16. 7th Baez
    8th Madson
    9th Contreras
    Long relief Kendrick
    JC Romero
    Mathiason

    If they carry 7 tgen add herndon

    Am i missing someone?

  17. Bastardo and Mathieson: add them to the pen.

    With all the proximate relievers now at AAA and AA, the new guys could be worked into the pen in 2011 if/when needed and be ready to compete for the pen in ’12, thereby “relieving” the team’s expenditure of big money there.

    We all hope that the team uses more $$ to spend on draftees and Hispanic prospects. Our pitching and outfield futures are being worked on in our system, but infielders outside of first base are not being prepared at any place in the system. It is a real weakness in the system that needs to be addressed sooner rather than later.
    Significant steps in that direction should be made in the draft of ’11, the signing of Hispanic prospects, and in a trade such as Blanton at the July trade deadline. Prospects there needed.

  18. We spent a lot of money for 4 aces, the bullpen better not wear down. They should be going 7+ therefore saving the bullpen wear and tear. We should be worried about Utley’s chondromalacia. Not good.

  19. Anyone seeing how the year is going so far and that person having even a monkey brain realizes that as long as Polanco is at third and not second , he is at a high risk. This what I don’t get about Charlie why the incredible need for thing to stay the same when obviously they are not. Wake up Charlie.

    1. What do you mean by high risk? For Polanco to get injured? Isn’t it generally accepted that second basemen are at the highest risk of injury?

      1. I am not sure Alan but I think it is a shorter throw from second rather than third. He has a SORE ARM.

        1. Polanco’s problem is with his left elbow. Not his right (throwing) elbow/arm. It’s his left elbow that was hyperextended this spring. It was his left elbow that was HBP last year, and which was giving him problems all last year. To the best of my knowledge there is nothing wrong with his right (throwing) arm.

    2. And more importantly, who plays third base? What’s the point of moving Polanco when your options for third basemen are worse than those for second basemen? What’s the point?

      1. The only one who can’t play third among the second basemen is
        Castillo. Go get some coffee.

      2. Kelly Johnson is a FA 2nd baseman next year. I realize he’s another Lefty, but he has a career lifetime .300 average against Lefties. If Utley has the arm he needs to replace Raul in LF next year, IMO.

  20. With no clear cut option materializing at second base don’t be suprised if amaro pulls the trigger on a deal for young. The season is in jeopardy and it hasn’t begun. Amaro knows a deal needs to be made. I hate to see cosart go but more and more it looks like it will happen. Just my opinion.

    1. What has happened, that makes trading Cosart for Michael Young seem likely? Where has this silly rumor been written?

    2. It is so funny that some are for a trade of our best pitching for a player like Michael Young. Willing to give up a top prospect, for the right to pay Young 24 million over 3 years. The same guys clamoring for this ridiculous deal are some of the same guys who have been critical of Raul Ibanez’s presence on the team for 3 years/30 million.
      I don’t get it. Can’t wait for Ibanez to get off the team, but want to trade major assets for a player, who may be worse than Ibanez, for similar money?

    3. When the Phils signed Lee, it looked like they would win the division in a cakewalk, even with the loss of Werth and even with a trade of Blanton, which was expected at the time of the Lee signing. When the team announced they would keep Blanton, the season looked as though it would be a real laugher for the Phils.

      As ST started, we learned that Utley has a knee problem with an uncertain prognosis. Instead of a cakewalk for the Phils, the division race now should be a dogfight. The Phils are still the favorite to win the division; the improving Braves are still a team with flaws.

      We are an even bigger favorite to win the WC. I’m OK with either the division or the WC. My eye is on the big prize, the World Series and the world championship. No team is better equipped to win the whole thing than the Phils with their four aces.

      Fortunately, the fans do not make personnel decisions. At the first sign of adversity, some would decimate the farm system and adopt an “all-in” attitude. Although the Phils have made some bold moves the last couple of years that involved trading some good prospects, the team is not run by impulsive gunslingers who shoot first and ask questions later.

  21. Young is tempting but we need a young or fairly young third baseman or a one year fillin.
    I wouldn’t trade good prospects unless I get a “his future is now” player.

  22. Let’s see 16 million a year for Michael Young for this year, and the year after, and the year after that. That would put this season’s payroll at around $180 million. Yankee level, luxury tax, don’t see it. And traded for with a guy with no MLB salary for awhile.

  23. From Twitter:

    ToddZolecki

    Phils option Mathieson and Zagurski.

    ————–

    Officially that leaves 14 pitchers on the active roster. Lidge and Schlitter will likely hit the DL, so we may have our 12. Bastardo of course, David Herndon unless the Phillies head north with an 11 man staff. I don’t see an NRI making the staff since the Phils haven’t used one to pitch significant ST innings.

  24. As much as I appreciate Lidge as a person & his capabilities, when healthy. I also think if might be better, if they find something wrong with his shoulder that shuts him down for the long term, if not the season. As (Catch?) noted earlier, Lidge is a yo yo when it comes to the disabled list, so the most important job is to make absolutely sure he’s healthy (90+ fb healthy). Leave him on the DL until they’re completely sure, because also as noted earlier(Alan?), Charlie is loyal to a fault when it comes to assigning spots in the lineup or the bullpen. So, if Lidge is on the active roster, Charlie will want him to close. Give the ball to Maddog or Contreras in the 8th & 9th (whatever order) and let them go, until Lidge is completely healthy, even if it takes 60 days! Add Bastardo & Mathieson to the bullpen with Zags & Stutes/Schimmer waiting @ AAA, if either of them falter. I think I heard Amaro & others state with Lidge out they most likely will be going with a 12 man bullpen. Leave Herndon @ AAA. They shouldn’t need 2 long relievers (assuming Kendrick) on the major league roster with the starters we have. I saw on David Murphy’s blog that Herndon’s slider is very much improved & he’s working on a change, which has some potential. Let him continue to work on those @ AAA, who knows they might even try him in the AAA rotation??

  25. Herndon has looked good in ST so far, his control has been a touch spotty at times, but he’s getting the job done. There was a nice write-up in yesterday’s Daily News thats worth a read. I’m kinda jumping on both sides of either keeping him or sending him to AAA for more work. At least in AAA he’ll be pitching more and not every 2 weeks like he was at times last year. Then again, he did manage to hold his own last year, and other than a few rough outings, I think pitched very well for being (at the time) a middle of the pack AA pitcher.

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