The Late Show
Day two of the Kalas Crisis fins Bill Conlin turning in an A-plus of a column on the Phils' latest PR disaster, even weaving in one of the best cinematic charcters of the last 10 years by referencing Harvey Keitel's The Wolf from Pulp Fiction. If only the Phils would now, "pretty please with sugar on top, fix the f!#&-ing franhcise." A must read. OK, enough of that.
Examining how the games will look in the second hour of play this year, Marcus Hayes pulls a rare rabbit out of his hat today by filing a decent story profiling the pitchers who vie for the presumed trio of open slots in the bullpen this season. Correctly, he identifies Tom Gordon, Arthur Rhodes, Rheal Cormier and Aaron Fultz and the already-ins. Curiously, much like Beerleaguer, Hayes sees righthander Geoff Geary as an inhabitant of "no man's land." Santana with his $800k guarenteed contract appears to have an inside track at a spot, with his full year of major league service and servicable numbers with Milwaukee last year. Unfortunately, it appears that Santana has reported to camp in the middle of a Brett Myers imitation -- heavier and not in shape.
Hayes reprises his article from Saturday by laying out a case for Ricardo Rodriguez to make the pen, despite having minimal major league relieving experience, major arm troubles the past two years, and no minor league options left. We disagreed with this previously. Randy Miller sees a man with the inside track at a spot. Ric-Rod is not a power pitcher of consequence and team already has a enough nibblers; ideally, he would be dealt for a prospect of some sort, although he could be lost to the waiver wire as well.
We have to say, career minor leaguer Chris Booker seems less impressive each time we read about him. He's taken nine years to get through the minors and is currently damaged goods. It's entirely possible that his 91 Ks in 65 IP last year are a AAAA phenomenom, but the Rule 5er is worth a look before he is given back to a division rival. Because of the urgency of his keep-or-give-back status, righthander Booker essentially subsumes righthander Aquilino Lopez in the pecking order, seriously jeopardizing any hopes of a Jethro Tull summer.
While Eude Brito seems to also have little chance of making the club, despite the startiong rotation needing a lefty, hayes best work of the column comes on his reporting of fireballer Yoel Hernandez's injury troubles, not previously known to CL. A closer in the making, Hernandez apparently has good stuff but is probably a year away from making the big club as a 7th or 8th inning man.
Finally Robinson Tejeda continues to be the most intriguing case of the spring, a spot starter last year with a 99 m.p.h. fastball screaming to be used in the 8th inning, but control problems which worry the management to no end. Tejeda has all but rejuvenated the terms "effectively wild" and "escape artist" in the local lexicon by squirming through a few months of outings last year. When Manual says "make us make a decision" about pitchers in spring training, he's probably looking no further than Tejeda and Gavin Floyd. It is not a stretch to say that the Phils need Tejeda to develop this year -- he's the hardest thrower in the organization and having lost Billy Wagner up the turnpike, the bullpen could seriously some heat. In short, he needs to be the '06 version of '04 Ryan Madson for the Phils to be serious this year, whether or not he pitches in the WBC. Otherwise, career starter Ryan Franklin could find himself giving up flyballs in the 5th, 6th, and 7th innings.