Well the season hasn’t started as a I hoped.  Probably not how any Phillies fan had hoped. 


Sure it’s early, and I know there’s still 158 games left to play, but right now we’ve all been treated to some ugly Phillies baseball.  The Phillies have been outscored 29-16, and if not for an eight-run seventh inning on Wednesday would be 0-4. 

The pitching, the key to last years success, has been a total abomination.  Starters have a combine ERA of 10.61, and as a staff, they’ve allowed nine home runs.

The offense has yet to find any type of groove.  The teams table setters (Jimmy Rollins & Shane Victorino), are a combine 4 for 34.  Blame it on the WBC, blame it on lack of concentration.  All I know it it’s bad baseball.

The boo-birds have already started to come out (and not just becasue Adam Eaton was in town).  It lasted about 18 minutes before the first boos rained down on Citizens Bank Park.  It’s definately a good thing we’re World F. Champions, or fans would start to panic.  This is Philadelphia, we do that. 

Again, it’s early, I understand that.  I’m not jumping ship or trying to bash the club, I’m just saying it would be nice to see a Phillies club for once have a prosperous April.

It’s been four games…  Four long games… 

While the Marlins find themselves 4-0, the Braves 3-1, and the Mets 2-2, the opposing fans are already starting the chatter away.  Let them, that’s fine by me.  There’s 158 games left, and if the past couple season have taught me anything, it’s not to panic in April.

Lidge Debuts With Threshers

The Clearwater Threshers opened their Florida State League season today, and their starter was none other then Phillies closer Brad Lidge.  Lidge’s start was his final test in his rehabilitation from knee surgery.  While his knee has been feeling fine, Lidge started the season on the DL so he can gain some arm strength.

Lidge threw one inning where he allowed one run on two hits, but struck out two.  While he did give up a run I’m not concerned.  he was focusing on arm strength and his two strikeouts outweigh his one earned run.

Lidge will come off the disabled list on Saturday and take over the closers role.  The timing could not be better since Tom Gordon has pitched on a highwire in his two outings this season.

Quote of the Day

"I don’t know… We’ll see when we get there. We’ve got plenty of time. [Next] Saturday’s a long way off. ****, I might be dead by then,"

Charlie Manuel regarding Adam Eaton’s status as the team’s fifth starter.

It’s Time To Head North

The Grapefruit League has come to an end.  Today the Phillies will board a flight to the City of Brotherly Love, and play two games against the Blue Jays, then one final tune up against the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs on Sunday.  On Monday they welcome the Nationals to Citizens Bank Park as the 2008 season kicks off.

Even though spring training has come to a close, this is still a big weekend for the Phillies when it pertains to their roster.  The Phillies have until Sunday at 3:00 to make final cuts, but as it stands now, the Phils have 10 pitchers and seven bench players.  Pat Gillick & Co. will be following the waiver wire closely looking to add an additional relief pitcher.

Then there’s Wes Helms.  They’ve tried to deal him, and have been unsuccessful.  They couldn’t even get a leftover like Steve Kline for him.  That’s when you realize what little value Helms really has.

Let’s not forget about Chris Snelling.  He hasn’t shown much this spring, but he’s been getting a lot of play recently.  Will he make the team, and the Phils start with an 11-man pitching staff, or will he join Helms on the scrap heap, so the Phils have an extra reliever if they need him?

The questions will be answered in the next 72-hours.  My call is Helms will be release on Sunday ifhe cannot be traded.  The Phillies will pick up a reliever off waivers (probably Rudy Seanez), and Snelling will stay with the team until Brad Lidge comes off the disabled list.

I’m rarely right with these things, but we shall see…

Waive Goodbye to Real Deal

The Phillies have placed pitcher JD Durbin on waivers.  The self-proclaimed "Real Deal", has been nothing but a disappointment in his short time with the Phillies.  Okay, he did have two strong outings on the West Coast least year, but aside from that no lead was safe when Durbin took the mound.

This has been a long time coming, and frankly I’m a bit relieved.  Given the recent cuts (Travis Blackley, Vic Darrensbourg, Gary Knott), it appeared that Durbin actually might break camp with the Phillies.

Odds are Durbin will clear waivers and begin the season at Triple-A Lehigh Valley, but what does this pose for the bullpen?  With Durbin out and Lidge on the disabled list the Phillies have ten pitchers on their roster.  At minimum, the pitching staff will eleven to start the year, so expect an acquisition in the next day of two.

Benson Reaches New Deal

It pretty much went unnoticed, but Kris Benson’s window to opt out of his contacts opened and closed this past Tuesday. The Phillies had until Tuesday to add him to the 40-man roster, otherwise he could opt-out of his deal, and join the free agent ranks. While Benson wasn’t added to the roster, Benson had no intention of leaving the Phillies.

At least yet…

Yesterday, a new deal was struck for Benson, giving both Benson and the Phillies another time-line to make it back to the big leagues. His new out-clauses are as follows:

  • If by May 15th Benson pitches at least 10 minor league innings and still isn’t on the 40-man roster.
  • If Benson hasn’t been added to the roster by June 1st.

Benson has said himself he’s 5-6 weeks away from being able to join the Phillies, so both out-clauses seem realistic. These new deadlines were added due to his "setback" from bicep tendonitis.

Regarding his "setback", while the news wasn’t good, it might not be the worst thing in the world. Because the Phillies are so pitching starved, the media and fans watched every move Benson made. When you’re coming back from a major surgery, such as a rotator cuff, being under the microscope doesn’t make the rehabilitation process any easier. Now that the season is about to start, Benson can get ready for the season without everyone paying attention to every outing.

I’m a big believer in depth, and one thing I really like about this Phillies team is the depth they have on the bench. While the pitching staff still leaves something to be desired, a healthy Benson will be able to give the Phillies rotation, and pitching staff another arm they can turn to during the long summer stretch.

Maybe I’m an optimist, apologist, or what have you, but I still expect Benson to join the Phillies sometime in mid-May.

Rumor: Phils/Giants talking

MLBTradeRumors.com  is reporting that the Phillies are talking with the Giants about a possible swap of Wes Helms for Steve Kline.

This trade would make sense.  The Giants need a third baseman and the Phillies need a left-handed reliever.  While Kline isn’t a great bullpen arm, he’s a sinkerball pitcher, who could be effective at Citizens Bank Park.

Mike Stanton has also been rumored, but the Reds have Edwin Encarnicion at third base and Ryan Freel can back him up.  There’s really no room for Wes in Cincinnati.

The Phillies pitching staff is far from set.  Look for more developments in the next couple days.

Aaron Fultz Anyone?

Okay, maybe I’m still struggling with the fact that JD Durbin is still on the Opening Day roster, but I simply can’t believe that Pat Gillick doesn’t have any moves in the works.  One guy who might be able to contribute to the bullpen is reliever Aaron Fultz.

Phillies fans should remember Fultz from his prior stint in Philadelphia.  In Fultz’s two years with the Phillies he went 7-1 with a 3.36 ERA.  This was in 128 appearances.

While Fultz had a good year in Cleveland last year (4-3, 2.92), he struggled upon his return from a strained rib cage.  He faired no better this spring posting an ERA over 11.00, before the Indians released him.

While Fultz isn’t an over-the-top reliever, he’s serviceable and is better then The Real Deal, or Clay Condrey.  Gillick has said the Phillies aren’t interested, but he also said they had no interest in Pedro Feliz, and Brett Myers would be the closer.  Unlike guys like Hank Steinbrenner, Gillick doesn’t show his hand.

Blackley Waived

tblack.jpgAs the season draws near, the final cuts are beginning to come.  Left-handed pitcher, Travis Blackley was one who didn’t make it.  This comes as a bit of a surprise.  Blackley was a Rule 5 pick, therefore he must be offered back to the Giants, and while he did have his struggles, he’s a left-handed pitcher, who could be more useful then the likes of JD Durbin (it puzzles me how he’s still on the roster), or Clay Condrey.

In all fairness, Blackley was given plenty of opportunity to claim a spot on the Phillies pitching staff (he even was considered to be the #5 starters), and he floundered.  He showed some glimpses of some dominating breaking pitches, but was unable to control them.  In his final appearance, one of his breaking pitches broke too much, and broke the hand of Tigers center fielder Curtis Granderson.

There’s still a chance Blackley will stick with the Phillies.  In Randy Miller’s blog, he breaks down the process:

If the player clears outright waivers, he then is given a contemplated outright to both the Lehigh Valley and Fresno Triple A clubs. This form gives the player two choices:

1) Accept the assignoment
2) Reject the assignment and become a free agent.

The player must choose for both organizations what he wants to do. (If he chooses to become a free agent then he relinquishes any salary he might have had if he were assigned to the minors).

Once the player has chosen, then he is offered back to the original club. That club has 24 hours to decide whether or not to take the player back. (The risk for that club is that the player (without their knowledge) may have chosen free agency and thus that club would have to pay $25,000 back to the drafting club and could still lose the player to free agency).

Once the club decides whether or not to accept him back, then everyone will know where the player will end up.

While complicated, Blackley may very well start the season as Triple-A Lehigh Valley.

As the roster stands, there’s only one left-handed pitcher in the bullpen (JC Romero), and The Real Deal, could very well go to Philadphia (given the fact Brad Lidgeis on the disabled list).  This tells me that Pat Gillick has something in the works.  Whether it be via trade (Steve Kline, Royce Ring), or recent cut (Aaron Fultz), I have to believe Gillick has something up his sleeve.

It’s Time to Let JD Go…

Realdeal If I told you I was ever a fan of JD Durbin, I’d be lying.  The self-proclaimed "Real Deal", had three or so good starts for the Phillies last season, but if not for the injuries had no business being on the major league roster.

Any major league roster…

Well Durbin is proving to the world this spring that he’s better suited for an automotive career rather then a professional pitcher, and after his latest mess on the mound might have finally pitched his way out of the red pinstripes.

Durbin entered last night’s game against the Yankees in the fifth inning.  The game was tied 3-3.  When the Phillies went to bat in the top of the sixth, the game was 9-3.  In his one inning, Durbin allowed six runs on six hits an a walk.  He struggled with location, and pitches that were over the plate, were right over the plate.  Ask Robinson Cano and Melky Cabrera, who both took Durbin deep.

Durbin has said publicly he doesn’t possess the mental tool that a guy like Brett Myers has, but can focus enough to be a contributing pitcher.

I beg to differ…

Here’s Durbin’s spring line (in six appearances):

0-4, 12.33ERA, , 8 HR’s allowing (in 15.1 IP), 2.09 WHIP

After looking at that, Adam Eaton doesn’t sound all that bad.

It looks like it’s the end of the road for Durbin, and today might be his day of reckoning.  Kris Benson can opt out of his contract if he’s not placed on the 40-man roster by days end, and there’s no room for him right now.  There will be if Durbin is designated for assignment.

Nice knowing you JD…