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.

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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…

Lidge Placed on the DL

Brad Lidge hoped to be ready for Opening Day, but that’s not going to happen.  The Phillies placed Lidge on the 15-day disabled list.  Given the Phillies are allowed to retro-act Lidge’s placement on the disabled list, the first day he will be available to the Phillies will be on April 5th in Cincinnati.

Although it’s a bummer that Lidge will not be available for Opening Day, starting the season on the disabled list isn’t a bad thing.  Lidge isn’t going on the DL due to knee pain.  His knee is pain free, so the surgery was successful.  Lidge just needs a little more time to build arm strength and to sharpen his slider.  Him joining the team in Cincinnati is a realistic option.

It also gives Charlie Manuel and Rich Dubee a little more time to sort out the final spots for the bullpen.  Given what is available, the Phillies will now probably go with the 11-man pitching staff, meaning Chris Snelling will make the team as a 25th man.  Clay Condrey and Travis Blackley should start the season in Philadelphia, barring a player isn’t brought in from another organization.

Tom Gordon will begin the season as the closer with Ryan Madson and JC Romero setting him up.

It’s Prediction Time

Although Grapefruit and Cactus League play continue, the season officially begins tomorrow when the Red Sox take on the Athletics in Tokyo.  That being said, I might as well get my 2008 predictions before the first official pitch is thrown.  Here ya go (*- denotes Wild Card):

AL East

  1. New York Yankees
  2. Boston Red Sox*
  3. Toronto Blue Jays
  4. Tampa Bay Rays
  5. Baltimore Orioles

The Red Sox are the obvious favorites, but Josh Beckett’s back is balky, and losing Curt Schilling will hurt.  Given the fact it’s the Yankees last season at Yankee Stadium, I predict some magic.

AL Central

  1. Detroit Tigers
  2. Cleveland Indians
  3. Chicago White Sox
  4. Kansas City Royals
  5. Minnesota Twins

Despite their bullpen woes, Detroit’s lineup is too good to keep them from winning the central.

AL West

  1. Seattle Mariners
  2. Los Angeles Angels
  3. Texas Rangers
  4. Oakland Athletics

I might be one of the 5 people in the country who’s not picking the Angels, but I like the Mariners team.  Richie Sexson should rebound for his terrible season last year, and Erik Bedard might be the best pitcher in the American League.

AL Champion:  Detroit Tigers

NL East

  1. Philadelphia Phillies
  2. New York Mets*
  3. Atlanta Braves
  4. Washington Nationals
  5. Florida Marlins

Call me a homer for picking the Phillies, but that’s not why I picked them.  The Phillies have less questions then the Mets.  Aging players, and the Pedro factor hurt their chances.

NL Central

  1. Chicago Cubs
  2. Cincinnati Reds
  3. Milwaukee Brewers
  4. Houston Astros
  5. Pittsburgh Pirates
  6. St. Louis Cardinals

The Cubs are the obvious favorite, and the only surprise here should be the Reds. I think they have a good young team, that Dusty Baker will get to perform.  The Brewers are slightly overrated in my opinion.  They still live and die by Ben Sheet who hasn’t had a healthy season ever…

NL West

  1. Arizona Diamondbacks
  2. Los Angeles Dodgers
  3. Colorado Rockies
  4. San Diego Padres
  5. San Francisco Giants

Every team outside the Giants has a shot to win this division.  All teams have strong pitching, but talent-wise I give the edge to Arizona.  The Wild Card should come out of the west given all the talent, but they also will be playing each other all season, which will balance out their records.

NL Champion:  Philadelphia Phillies

Okay, maybe now I’m being a homer, but the pitching is improved over last season, and while Aaron Rowand will be missed, Geoff Jenkins and Pedro Feliz will make out of his production.

2008 World Series Champion:  Detroit Tigers

See I’m not a complete homer.

Goodbye Francisco, Hello Clay

Yesterday the Phillies placed Scott Mathieson, Mike Zagurski, and Francisco Rosario all on the 15-day disabled list.  Mathierson is recovering from ulner nerve transreposition surgery and Zagurski is recovering from hamstring surgery.  Both players have seen no action this spring, and were expected to begin the season in the DL.  Rosario was a different story. Diagnosed with a right shoulder strain, there were no prior reports about an injury.  This does explain why he hasn’t pitched since March 14th.

Despite his 5.91 ERA this spring, Rosario was one of the favorites to land to the final (or two) spots in the bullpen.  He allowed 7 earned runs in 4 appearances, but 6 were in a start on March 14th, the last time he took the mound.

condrey.jpg Rosario’s trip to the DL opens the door for Clay Condrey.  Condrey is a pitcher who’s never impressed me, but hasn’t had a terrible spring.

Assuming the Phillies carry twelve pitchers, Condrey’s competition is limited.  Travis Blackley, JD Durbin, and Vic Darrenbourg would be his primary competition.  Given that Blackley and Darrensbourg are both left-handed pitchers, that would only factor in if the Phillies take the eleven man staff.  If you had to choose between Condrey and Durbin, it’s a no brainer, Condrey gets the nod.  I’m suprised Durbin is still on the roster.

The left-handed side is tricky.  I figured it was Blackley’s.  He’s a Rule 5 pick, so if he doesn’t make the team they lose him (unless the Giants don’t want him back).  Blackley has shown some great breaking pitches, but also shown that he’s unable to control them.  In yesterday’s rain shorted action, Blackley faced two hitters.  He hit one (Curtis Granderson, who was sent for x-rays), and walked the other.

At 37 Darrensbourg has plenty of experience.  A long shot to make the team (he hasn’t pitched in the major leagues since 2005), he’s had a strong spring posting a 2.57 ERA in seven innings.  But given his career numbers (8-17 4.96), what he’s doing in spring probably won’t be what we see this season.

It’s a tough call and this week is when the decisions will be made.  Once the Chris Snelling/Wes Helms situation is figured out, we’ll know more about the bullpen.  Since none of the lefties are really stepping up,  I’d think Condrey has the advantage to make the team regardless if the staff is 11 or 12 pitchers.

Quote of the Day

“Wow! All the way to Fort Myers.  Jesus Christ almighty. I’m not worried. God ****, I’m going to Fort Myers, too.”

Charlie Manuel – When asked about sending Adam Eaton to Fort Myers to start against the Twins.

I love Charlie Manuel…