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Remember the bullpen buggy? They would drive a relief pitcher to the
mound so they were not out of breath and tired before they got to the
mound. Old school relievers like Terry Forster who had a few extra
pounds on them really appreciated that I am sure. Although they did not
want all that exercise getting to the mound, one thing was sure, they
never complained about being there.
Baseballs rubber men, a name given to relievers because they could
bounce back day after day and pitch, have become soft. Ryan Madson
joined this group of new era
relievers when he told the Phillies his recent soreness in his arm was a result of pitching too much.
On April 3rd and 4th he pitched 23 and 35 pitches respectively and felt
the discomfort. He decided to voice his opinion about being over used
and took a jab at Phillies manager Charlie Manual and pitching coach
“If we could have monitored it a little like I wanted to prior to the
season, I don’t think I’d be in this situation,” said Madson. “I think it was just the number of pitches, throwing
back-to-back days, on 100-percent-effort pitches, not like Spring
What happened next improved my opinion of both Manual and Dubes.
Charlie Manual was quoted as saying, “It’s tough when players tell you
how much they can play and how much they can pitch. That doesn’t sound
right to me.”
Then Dubee added sarcastically, “When does he want to pitch? Once a
week? Once a month? We’re concerned about him, but sometimes,
unfortunately, you only have so many pitchers out there. Sometimes you
have to work around things. Sometimes a guy has to get through an
inning to save somebody else.”
While I appreciate Madson’s concern for his health, I applaud Manual
and Dubee for not backing down. It is there job to win ball games and
when pitchers tell you they can not pitch on multiple days, it makes
managing all that much harder and being strategic almost impossible.
Mitch Williams on Comcast Sportsnet last September was questioned about
using pitchers on back to back days. He said he threw every day as did
all of the other relief pitchers. Where did things change that a relief
pitcher was put into a rotation like a starter? Maybe next they too
will only want to pitch every fifth day!
Phightin’ Phils Phorum has a new home. Bookmark it today!
A rumor circulated at the end of Spring Training that the Phillies and
Giants were discussing a deal that would bring left handed relief
pitcher Steve Kline to the Phillies for possibly Wes Helms. Helms was
then traded to the Marlins and the lack of depth in the Phillies bullpen continued.
As it turned out, the Giants released Steve Kline at the end of Spring
training and the Phillies were able to sign him to a minor league deal.
In 2007, Kline 4.70 ERA in 46 innings and the 35 year old veteran could
prove to be a viable option for the Phillies.
This is a good signing for Pat Gillick’s team as it is a low risk high
reward situation. If Kline does well the Phillies bullpen will be that
much stronger. If he falters, they have not spent a lot of time or
money on him and can pursue other options. Chances are Kline will be
serviceable but not the entire solution to what ails the pen.
Kline will begin his tenure with the Phillies as a minor leaguer and if
the team likes what it sees, they will recall the southpaw. He will
report to Triple-A Lehigh Valley next week.
Seanez pitched in a career high 73 games last year with the Dodgers
where he had a 3.79 ERA. Hopefully the Spring is not an indication of
what he has to offer and he can repeat his performance of a year ago.
Most Phillies fans who feel snake bitten after after acquisitions like
Freddie Garcia may be skeptical about Seanez’s health. The Phillies
hired an additional doctor so we will see if it pays off in this case.
Phillies fans may remember Seanez as he pitched for the Braves and was
effective when healthy. Again, sounds like he will fit right in to this
staff. Hopefully this is a short term solution!
Brad Lidge’s knee is feeling fine. He is ready to plant on his leg and has no pain. So why may he not go North with the team? His arm speed is not where it needs to be and he is concerned about some of his pitches. Lidge is throwing between 90-92 MPH but needs his fast ball to be closer to 95 MPH to really be effective. He also has been disappointed in his slider and fastball and hoped to work on them in a few games. With that being said, he may need some extra time to be ready for the season.
Without Lidge, the Phillies will count on Tom Gordon to close being set up by J.C. Romero and Ryan Madson. Madson lost the first two games for the Phillies last season while Gordon blew two saves. Hopefully they will redeem themselves this year if called upon in the first week of the season.
The rest of the bullpen will include Chad Durbin, and two candidates coming from Clay Condrey, Travis Blackley, J.D. Durbin, Vic Darensbourg, and Gary Knotts. A trade would make the bullpen much stronger. Of the group of candidates Blackley and Darensbourg may be the best suitors although the team may be more likely to go with Condrey.
Assistant GM Mike Arbuckle commented about the possibility of a trade saying, "We’re still looking every day. We’re constantly
looking for ways to improve the club. We know what we have in camp, but
we’re still having conversations. It’s a pretty fluid conversation,
because everybody else is in the same boat we are. They’re trying to
figure out how the pieces this last week of camp. If something shakes
lose somewhere else, we’re still interested in taking hard looks."
I think I speak for all Phillies fans when I say, get a deal done and bolster our bullpen!
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The Phillies bullpen was the biggest question mark for the team going into 2007. Going into 2008, the bullpen again has some big concerns. Will Brad Lidge return to form and be one of baseballs top closers or has the Albert Puhols homerun ruined him forever? Will Tom Gordon be healthy and able to pitch in 70 plus games effectively or have the years caught up with him? Which J.C. Romero will we see? The one from 2007 or the one with a 6.70 ERA in 2006. Will Ryan Madson be healthy? What about effective? Who will fill out the rest of the pen?
Assuming Lidge, Gordon, and Romero can handle the 8th and 9th innings when the team has a lead, the bullpen beyond them is weak. Ryan Madson could be effective to set up on days Romero and Gordon can’t pitch but he is by no means someone the team can bank on. Beyond that, the pen has options in Clay Condrey, Mike Zagurski, Chad Durbin, Lincoln Holdzkom, Scott Mathieson, and Fransisco Rosario.
Unless the Phillies sign a free agent or better yet two or make a trade, their bullpen will be almost as thin as it was coming into 2007. Let us hope that Pat Gillick can work his magic and upgrade the bullpen.
Brad Lidge is the new closer, Brett Myers has returned to the rotation, and J.C. Romero has resigned with the team. How does the rest of the bullpen look? Tom Gordon will return as a set up man with J.C. Romero. The tandem did a great job during the stretch run to get the ball to Brett Myers. Other pitchers returning that could fill out the bullpen are Ryan Madson, Mike Zagurski, Clay Condrey, Julio Mateo, Fransisco Rosario, Matt Smith, and Scott Mathieson. Of this group Ryan Madson is the only bonafide major league pitcher. Zagurski may be ready as a 5th or 6th inning guy but is a question mark. Rosario, Smith, and Mathieson are also question marks as they are returning from injury. Condrey was good at times for the team in 2007 but lacked consistency. The jury is still out on what Mateo brings to the table.
For the 2008 team to have what they need to have an effective bullpen, they need pre Puhols homerun Brad Lidge, the return of 2007 J.C Romero, a healthy Tom Gordon and Ryan Madson, one of the other pitchers listed above with Condrey and Zagurski being the front runners, and a newly acquired pitcher that can serve as another set up man. This new acquisition needs to be an impact pitcher in the pen that can give the team 65 to 80 quality innings.
Overall, the 2008 Phillies bullpen should be better than the pen they had in 2007. The hope is that Charlie Manual will be able to make the call to the pen and be confident that the pitchers he has can get the job done.