caught looking

a blog about the philadelphia phillies. not to be confused, exactly, with "caught looking" the debut album by independent/unsigned/unheard of singer/songwriter greg roth, who is, coincidently, yours truly.

Friday, March 31, 2006

Beer Here

CBP does indeed have a grand beer selection and Joe SixPack has it covered here.

So you fools Monday.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Judgement Day

Previously, we lobbied for spring surprise Gavin Floyd to start the year at AAA in order to show us more consistency. The Phils, however, have awarded Floyd's recent improvement on its merits with a spot in the rotation. Furthermore, they have shirked the natural, reflexive tendencies that have haunted them in the past and used some progressive thinking to keep their homegrowns in the starting ro' while moving their free agent acquisition to the pen.

So, for now, the word has been heard and it is good.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Let the Maddogs Lie

The controversy today follows the continuing saga of the back end of the Phils rotation, namely who will constitute the #4 and #5 slots in the rotation come next week. The assumed undercard has Ryan Madson at 4 and Ryan Franklin at 5, with Ricardo "No options" Rodriguez as the defacto long man out of the pen and spot starter, leaving Gavin Floyd on the outside looking and and awaiting a chance while hopefully pitching well at AAA. And that is exactly the way it should be, for reasons argued previously.

However, conflicting reports in the Philadelphia newspapers have Manager Charlie Manuel cryptically saying that he has already made a choice and that recent events will not effect his decision. While the some reports have the sound of Madson moving back to the pen, Marcus Hayes' story has a completely different tone, one of Madson having reached a point of safety with rotation status, a theory all but corroborated completely by Randy Miller's piece on the same subject.

Last night, Madson made his best case yet for staying put. He cruised into the 7th inning against the Yankees and their expected starting linup on 72 pitches, yielding a palty 4 hits a walk and no runs. At one point, he threw 15 pitches to 8 batters, all for outs. His comments reveal a young pitcher who wants some ownership and his performance over the 4 last months demonstrates that he has earned it, pure and simple. This talk of needing him in the bullpen is disengenuous. Look at this staff and this division: Is he not needed in the starting rotation?

To address this proposition once and only once, let us be clear -- there is no way in Hell that Ryan Madson should not be starting a game in the first week of the season. He has been the Phils' best pitcher in the preseason and the increasingly popular argument of 180 innings starting being more valuable than 70 innings in relief certainly holds water here. If the Phils have 4 pitchers who can log 180-200 innings, then one or twice a week, they won't even need a 7th inning guy. What makes anyone think that Maddog, after two years an appreentice to the eighth inning first to Tim Worrell, then to Ugueth Urbina, would want to and should want to again take up the mantle of Assistant Manager of the Eighth Inning to one Auther Rhodes? Madson, has done everything -- yes everything -- one would ask of a young arm battling to make the starting rotation.

Furthermore, the memories of Madson's knockout 2004 out of the pen have faded with a surprisingly average 2005, including the last month of the season when his arm was shot. The notion that the bullpen needs Madson instead of, say current projected 7th inning guy Julio Santana, is not that strong a case. Consider (WHIP/ Avg / ERA):

Madson: 1.25 / .259 / 4.14
Santana: 1.26 / .221 / 4.50

While Santana is by no means a dominant pitcher, he actually posted a better batting average against than Madson last year, albeit with a higher ERA. Santana has a career GF/FB ratio of 1.25, although it dipped last year under one. The Phils would certainly do well to monitor this situation, but to start the season, some combination of Santana, Fultz, Cormier, and Geary should be able to handle the seventh inning when it's necessary. Booker and Tejeda, also, are waiting in the wings for an opportunity to do so. Plugging Madson back into the role would not be the wisest use of available resources.

Whatever happens with Gavin Floyd, Madson's status should remain unaffected. Finding some combination among Franklin, Rodriguez, and X AAA pitcher is a completely different problem. Solve it indepently of this one.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Goin' Up North

In honor of Opening Day (capitalized for importance), Deadspin is running a series on 4 things you don't know about each team in MLB. Today just happens to be Phillies day on the site. Cast your vote for most painful stat below: is it the 10,000 losses or the 97 -year World Series championship drought from 1883 to 1980.

Well, Gavin Floyd has done. He's gotten basically the entire cadre of Phillies watchers -- media and bloggers alike -- on his side to begin the season on the opening day roster. A million to one shot you say? A miracle, you theorize? Neither. All it took was exactly three good spring training starts. It took 15 innings. Suddenly, the prospect many love to doubt is the team's #4 or #5 hurler.

Wouldn't it be great if it were true?

Unfortunately, a few things stand in Floyd's way, at least initally. First and foremost, The Phils have exactly five starters ready to begin the season: Jon Lieber, Brett Myers, Cory Lidle, Ryan Madson, and Ryan Franklin. Remember that rotation; chances are, it's going to change by mid-season. However, for now, that is exactly what it should be. Floyd, along with Robinson Tejeda, should go north on Opening Day and continue going north, past the Delaware Valley, into the Poconos. Here's why:

For the first time in God knows how long, it could be the Phils' who are playing the depth card on the mound in the division as opposed to the Braves. Laughing yet? Think about it. This year, with a handful of decent prospects at both AAA and AA, the club would do well to get the most out of it's more experienced arms (Lieber, Lidle, Franklin) before they potential breakdown or stink up the joint by mid-season. Last year, Lieber was terrible in mid-season, while Lidle and Padilla both spent time on the DL or away from the club for "personal reasons." Franklin, while a below average pitcher, is durable and throwing well early on. Likewise, Ricardo Rodriguez, the de facto long man on the staff is a converted starter projected out of the pen. While neither of these pitchers are great, they could have some use in the big picture. They are capable of having good games and are going to be paid. Why not try to maximize them as assets? What sense does it make to throw them in the fire now? Better options avaialble, you say? Well, consider the next point.

A 162-game season is a long race for which the team will need the horses. How nice would it be to have some extra arms to throw into the mix as the season progresses and the stretch run begins. Remember Eude Brito's great start against the Braves at home last year? Tejeda's stretch of shaky but quality starts in mid-season. Neither of those were going to be duplicaqted through a full season. But used in moderation, these contributions were key. Until pitchers like Floyd, Tejeda, and Brito finetune their offerings, they should be viewed and utilized as essential role players. As fallback options, they should only be promoted to full-time status as actual fallback options. Releasing Ric-Rod or moving Franklin to the pen (where he will undoubtedly be less happy and possibly even less effective as a guy with no one good pitch) would leave the club with no recourse should plans fall flat. Bad move in general. Really bad move this early.

It hasn't been given much attention, but there has got to be a very realistic skepticism about how much Ryan Madson can give a team as a starter. By all accounts his spring has been encouraging. He seems to have the head and the arms to be a quality starter. But he hasn't started full-time since 2004 and that was at AAA ball. What are the chances that he lasts a full season and throws 180 innings in his first year as as starter? Maybe 50/50? This means that there WILL be opportunities to the next in line throughout the season. Would it kill the club to have a few hungry wannabes ready to go a step down from the show? How many times have we seen the Braves call up "nobodys" who contribute down the stretch?

The prospects, Floyd in particular, but Tejeda as well, need to demonstrate sustained success and control before they should be called on to be major contributors again. While the franchise has also operated in a methodical fashion in the area of player development (and "methodical" might even be an understatement), in this case, it's the right thing to do. Keep those arms warm. Be ready to go soon.

Not yet, though.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Everybody's Talkin' At Me

Two fantasy drafts, two selections of Ryan Howard. So, we'll be following ther big fella pretty closely this year, as if that weren't always the case.

However, the biggest story of the weekend, besides our good fortune on draft day (and in non-baseball news, George Mason U.), was Howard's jawing episode with Boston crybaby Josh Beckett (Cory Lidle: "Nobody likes him" which is interesting since Lidle did the same thing last year after surrendering a gopher ball). It went like this:

-Beckett throws pitch.
-Howard swats it to CF, stares at it.
-Beckett tells him he looks like an idiot.
-Howard tells him to relax and goes to dugout.
-Beckett continues talking from dugout next inning.
-Howard drops glove and begins walking toward Beckett.
-Beckett pursues acting career by feigning toughness.
-Benches empty, Sal Fasano leads the 5th brigade in from the bullpen.

Making too much of this is for beatwriters and birdbrains, so we'll just say this: all efforts will be made to secure tickets for regular season showdown between the Phils and the Sox in South Philly in May and at Fenway in late July. Craigslist will be scoured. A high dollar amount will need to be paid. Good luck will be needed.

Elsewhere, Howard gets some recognition nationally, intimating that the kid used to be in the marching band, needs to develop a proper showboating technique (please, no) for his homeruns, and is quite capable of never forgetting an offhand remark on the field.

Elsewhere, Marcus Hayes asks a completely legit question with no real answer: What else can Chris Coste do? The Phils' own version of Crash Davis has been, besides Ryan Howard, the team's best hitter this spring is seriously threatening to take Thomas Perez's spot on the roster. Such a move will probably ruffle a few clubhouse feathers and quite possibly, signal to Bobby A that the time is indeed nigh, but even if its for the first month of the season until Coste comes back to planet earth, it's the right move. Grabbing another Michael Tucker or Jose Offerman would not get the team anything more than promoting Coste, except perhaps, some one could roam the outfield twice a month. We hope this one plays out along the lines of yesterday's NCAA cinderella story. I mean, how can you not root for this guy?

Finally, what is keeping college kids from wearing the big white P? The team think it's direct attention. Prepare for Rooftop Thursdays. Moreover, check out the new features at CBP this season. Mechanical bull?

Friday, March 24, 2006

Tomorrow Can't Come Soon Enough

One big reason the major league club continues to fritter about with their third base situation is plus-prospect Mike Costanzo, the Phils' top pick in the 2005 draft. Costanzo is the answer to the dryspell at the hot corner since Scott Rolen left town and the franchise is more than willing to fast track him, thinking he will be the franchise's next Mike Schmidt, as opposed to the next Rick Schu.

Costanzo made his pro debut last season at short-season Batavia. He got off to a slow start, but finished hitting .330 during the final month. He wound up batting .274, with 11 home runs and 50 RBI in 73 games.

However, he wasn’t happy with his overall performance. He committed 21 errors and led the New York-Penn League in strikeouts with 89.

At 6-3, 215lbs, the 22-year-old has got nice size and power for both the hot corner and the middle of the lineup, most likely Pat Burrell's spot in 2-3 years. More than that, Coatanzo is the Anti-Burrell a Philly native with the fire of Pete Rose as opposed to the laisse-faire attitude of a west coast prickly pair.

But time will tell. Coatanzo is still slated to start off in high single A ball.

Scott Graham's HR Call, Put on A Loop

OK, let's not get our hopes up, shall we? What makes us think a below league average pitcher for virtually his entire career (in a picther's park) is going to be anything but Cory Lidle on a bad day this season? I'm not exactly sure how the Phils will get rid of Frankln, because it appears that he stays healthy and is durable innings-wise, but there is NO WAY this guy turns in a good season pitching in this ballpark. Look at Lidles home vs. away number for a year ago:

HOME: .323 / .831 AWAY: .262 / .730

Quite a diffrence. Keep in mind, most would agree that Lidle is a BETTER version of Franklin. You want to trot Franklin out for nothing but away games? Great idea. You want to move him to mop up duty, we'll see how he reacts, but he is not and will not be an effective pitcher for this club in this ballpark this saeson. It would take a miracle. Here's Franklin in Safeco and the road last year:

HOME: .276 / .781 AWAY: .283 / .795

Franklin's numbers are comparable in Safeco to Lidle's on the road. His away number will probably stay about the same, though there's no way to really know this. They may benefit slightly from a switch in leagues for the first half of the season along with the lack of a DH in the NL. However, consider one final stat, the dreaded groundball to flyball ratio, career-wise, for each pitcher:

Lidle: 1.77
Franklin: .80

That, my friends, is going to be a problem. What sets Lidle apart, besides the fact that he is better than Franklin at keeping the ball down, is probably his preparation. As Lidle himself has even said in interviews, he does not possess the greatest stuff; he's gotten this far based on his work ethic in studying hitters, game preparation, and pitch mixing. Chances are, this is what Franklin has never fully developed: craftiness. Maybe Lidle's techniques will rup off on the newcomer to the NL. More likely, however, in 3-game sets when a team gets to face Lidle, then Franklin presumably 2 nights later, pitchers with similar styles, Franklin will get hammered.

And that is bad news for the Phils, unless it's good news i the form of either gavin Floyd, Robinson Tejeda, Scott Mathieson, Daniel Haigwood, or most unlikely, Cole Hamels.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Hold the Jethro

Dammit. The AQUALUNG was touched up for 3 ERs in one inning of work today. The AQUALUNG wasn't touched up in that fashion all season last year. He still has the third most career saves on the team. His spring training stats are now:

G: 8
IP: 9
H: 15
ER: 6
BB: 3
K: 10
Sv: 3

This game was also subjected to a rain delay. Let's hope Manual, Dubee and company were looking the other way.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Dark Side of the Moon

A week off from blogging was necessitated not by any sort of baseball-related reason or even immersion in the NCAA (although it should be noted, we are in second place in a 50-person plus pool thanks to our upset special picks, namely Syracuse, Iowa, Kansas, and Tennessee -- yup we got those all taken care of). Nope, we were on vacation in the south. In our absense, we didn't receive a word of update on baseball. Certainly, major developments are order.

There is, however, no reason to panic. When we last left Gavin "Pink" Floyd, he was still struggling with his command, yet in one week, optimism has made a grand re-entrance. Sort of.

Now, after two solid starts, the talk is back about moving Floyd into the big league rotation. Mike Arbuckle is back to trotting out marquee names (Chris Carpenter and Jon Garland) as comparables to the Floyd. Cooler heads, however (and no offense meant), know this is just the beginning of what Floyd needs to do. He needs to command a spot in that rotation by owning hitters at the AAA level. His fastball needs to get back up into the 90s consistently, his curve needs to return and be dialed up anytime anyhow, and the walks have got to disappear. This kid, whether he is soft or not, is very close to Vicente Padilla in terms of his tendencies and problems. He walks too many. He abadons a game plan. He has a great arm and potential. He shows flashes of promise. He appears to not be mentally up to the challenge in jams.

The good news is, Floyd not only speaks English and communicates with those around him, heappears to be open to taking critiques. In the case of Kerrigan, that was a bad idea. In the case of this year, it can only be good. For those that have seen him pitch, Floyd's mechanics have been his downfall for the better part of the last two years. He became wooden and hesitant. It was painful to watch him throw at times. Perhaps letting the talk of not being a power pitcher get to him, he began the pursuit of pinpoint location, which he has never achieved with anything even approaching consistency the last two years.

Now, with a seemingly reborn lease on life, Floyd is taking it easy and it is coming easier. Perhaps someone handed the kid a Malcom Gladwell article or two, or perhaps having people ahead of him in the pecking order and a full year of struggling under his belt finally led to an epiphany. Whatever it is, there is little doubt that the big club will need re-enforcements on the mound at some point this season and, like Robinson Tejeda last year, Floyd's best chance to re-establish himself will almost certainly come by mid-season audition. This particular prospect represents alot of the unfilled promise of the Phillies' farm system as a whole. If the franchise is to take a leap forward in the next three years from doorstep to dance, Floyd is one of the primary chips that need to fall into place. Perhaps 2006 will be for Floyd what 2005 was for Brett Myers.

For now, we'll be watching this story at AAA ball.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006


Everything you need to know about the World Baseball Classic can be summed up in this sentence: Endy Chavez starts for the Venezuelan team. Thus far, he is 2 for 12 with 2 HRs.

Monday, March 13, 2006

A Breathless Ninth

Phils come from behind today to best the Tigers split squad (no Polanco) 3-2. Ryan Howard launches his 7th HR of Spring Training. We don't have a count on Ks, but believe he has Ked less than 7 times. Not tremendously meaningful, but encouraging perhaps. Ricardo Rodriguez got the start in place of the announced Jon Lieber, who opted to do a bullpen session to work on his changeup. Ric Rod worked into the 4th and gave up a 2-run dinger, for a line of 4 IP, 5H 2 ER 0BB 1 K. Yoel Hernandez worked a scoreless 8th for the win, despite yielding 3 hits and a walk. However, today's big news:


There's no breathing for the opposition when the Aqualung makes an appearance. 1-2-3 in the 9th for the save.

Tomorrow: Cole Hamels, the greatest pitching prospect in the history of Major League Baseball (that's TGPitHoMLB in case you're Tom G), will face batter off the mound with a baseball in his hand for the first time since July. Hamels said recently that he feels "awesome."

Friday, March 10, 2006

Second Hands News

There is a long tradition of players coming to Philadelphia with high or at least respectable expectations, stinking up the joint, then recovering somewhat, following their leaving town for rosier pastures. In fact, it has happened so much that there should be an award for the player who, each year, personifies this when-in-Rome, burn-it-down, see-you-when-I-come-back-to-town epidemic. Let's call this the Lance Parrish Award for the time being, in honor of his 1990 in Anaheim after the misery of '87-'88 in Philadelphia. Most prevalent on the mound in recent years, past winners of this award could include:

2002: Andy Ashby
2003: Johnny Estrada
2004: Jose Mesa
2005: Co winners Roberto Hernandez and Todd Jones

Could be that throughout the season, the Lance Parrish Award Watch will take effect if there are a mulitude of candidates. Right now, Tim Worrell and his constant belly-aching are front runners (yes, they count as a tandem) for the award if he can piece together a 2006 resembling the second half of his 2005, post-Philly. However, early projections should not ignore non-roster invitees Brandon Duckworth and Terry Adams, who are attempting to comeback (...again...) from beyond nowhere on the barren fields of the Pittsburgh Pirates major league club. Adams so far this spring has thrown 3 innings and yielded nothing but a walk, a very un-Adams like statline. Duckworth has pitched five innings this spring, allowing only one run while fanning seven, earning serious consideration for starting job. In the majors.

While it's still too early to call, we'll be monitoring this situation into the regular season. Duckworth and Adams, consider yourself "on notice."

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Multilateralism Between the Lines

I'm sure we all saw it last night. Over and over on the highlights if you, like me, were near a TV with Sportscenter on. Chase Utley swinging, Chase Utley celebrating, Chase Utley retired for the third out. Soon after, the U.S. retired as a team to that bastion of marquee names and baseball talent, Canada. Canada?

Sure, why not? With names like Eric Cyr, Chris Begg, Ryan Radmanovich, Adam Loewen, and whoever that single-A ball guy was who pitched the 9th for Canada against guys like ARod, and Texiera, what's to stop Canada from besting the multi-million doallar players of these great United States? Seems pretty intuitive! Aren't the hitters supposed to be way ahead of the pitchers at this point? Granted, when Scott Mathieson and Chase Utley eventually report to Phillies camp, they probably have the making of a nice running joke in the locker room, but should the Scott Mathieson's of the world be able to be the Chase Utleys of the world (even if it took a slack of 406 feet) on an international stage?

Could be that this is exactly what Bud Selig wants: someone besides the U.S. to win. A broader appeal world wide for the American national pasttime. It would be good for the sport! Maybe. But then again, who cares what Bud Selig wants? What could it possiblly do for a sport that already draws the best from every corner of the globe? Who cares about an international baseball tournament in March? Who cares about another format where players make their living in the U.S. then return to their native country swearing their undying allegiance to their (in most cases) birthplace for the sake of a few weeks of competition? If I wanted to watch this type of boundry-bending backstabbing, we already have the U.N. and its pet network, NPR.

Congratulations, Canada. There's nothing wrong with being the world's tallest midget. Now, bring on the real baseball, please.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006


Why, oh why, did I buy the package for spring training if they're not going to show the spring training games on it? Second day in a row, afternoon start, no video. In anycase, Ryan Howard has already parked an HR in his first at-bat of the day. Madson pitching.

UPDATE: Phils win again. Ryan Madson with another apparently strong outing, pitching 3 innings and giving up 1 hit and 1 ER and walking no one. The Aqualung, in relief, allows two hits and a run, but claims the victory. In two innings of work, Lopez has 5 Ks!

Cue the Jethro.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Grand Opening

Thanks to the bench as well as some depleted opponants, the Phils record looks really nice after the first weekend of Spring Training. Some interesting players are making something of a name for themselves in the early going, including career minor leaguer Chris Coste and Tim Worrell trade property Matt Kata, neither of whom seem destined to make the club nor have their last names pronounced correctly. Peter Bergeron is an intriguing player while Josh Kroeger hasn't made too much of an impression yet. After moving from first to third on a wild pitch yesterday, Michael Bourne might just be the living incarnation of Willie Mays Hayes.

If this is to be the year, the heart of the order -- Abreu, Burrell, Utley, and Howard must all deliver. The outlying areas of the lineup will go through their streaks. The Big 4 simply can't. Call it a premature preseason assessment, but it stands to reason, with the pitching the way it is and the bottom of the order essentially the same, this team will not be able to endure cold spells from the big boppers. They must hit good pitching better than they did last year.

So far, Utley and Howard appear to be in midseason form, while Burrell could be in for a surprise consistant year if his foot holds up. Reports are he slugged on one foot all season in '05.

In other news, Abreu seems to be his old steady self. A 14-year-old kid -- now a proud owner of a Biobby bat and autograph -- is thankful for that.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Play-by-Play: Game #1

At 1:15 pm, the Phils opened their Spring Training preseason against the NY Yanks. Thanks to the miracles of live-blogging and and my lunch break, here's what happening:

Starting Line-up:
Shane Victorino......rf
Pat Burrell..............dh
Chase Utley............2b
Abraham Nunez......3b
Alex S. Gonzalez.....1B
Josh Kroeger............lf
Mike Lieberthal......C

RHP Sean Chicon vs. Ryan Franklin

Top 1: Phils go in order. Sean Chicon throws about 10 pitches.
Bottom 1: Johnny Damon doubles on second pitch off Ryan Franklin. Jeter, Sheffield and A-Rod go in order. Damon left at 3rd. Franklin throws about 15 pitches. He is definately a nibbler.

Top 2: Utley and Rowand pop up, Nunez gets first hit, single to right. AGonz works full count and walks. Wild pitch, runners at 2nd and 3rd. Kroeger grounds out to end inning.
Bottom 2: Giambi and B Williams single off Franklin, runners at 1st and 3rd. Posada gets SacFly, Williams to second. RBI single by Cano, Williams scores. This is what Ryan Franklin does. He gives up hits and runs. 2-0, 1 out. Damon singles.

**we duck into a meeting and we miss the Phils' two spot in the top of the third, thanks to a homer from Pat Burrell. Thoughts from here will be more recap-ish, less real time.**

I missed most of Madson's appearance, but, from what I did catch, he appeared to be throwing well. Reserves Chris Roberson and Shawn Garrett give the Phils a 5-3 lead after 6 innings.

Santana has shaky defense behind him, but gets out of top 7th with a DP. Mostly AAAA and AAA types in now. Missed Gavin Floyd's performance -- fanboards say he looked shaky and he gave up an oppositefield HR to Phillips. He did get out of the fifth by retiring A-Rod. Not as good as Madson, but much better than Franklin. Top of head guess: 2 IP, 2H 1ER, 1 BB, 1 HBP, 1K.

Bottom7: Chris Coste hits solo HR off single-A pitcher. 6-3 Phils.

Top 8: Geary pitches scoreless inning. Sal Fasano give preview of his ability to allow pitches hit the backstop at anytime. Could be a tough year behind the plate. Sandoval does not look ready to play infield with the big league club.

Phils win 6-3.
WP: Floyd
LP: Mike Myers
SV: Geory

HRs: Burrell and A. Phillips


Save for some unforseen outlandish occurrance, we won't be blogging about the upcoming WBC because it's a fraud event. This is spring training time, have the international minds no comprehension of what that means? It means equal parts anticipation, excitment, newness, hope, and some good weather sprinkled in, just as seasoning.

But enought of that nonsense. News from the Phils camp is light today. How light? Light enough that Jim Salisbury writes about Larry Bowa, the Yankees' new third base coach. Well, at least we don't have to suffer the uncomfortable nature of his analysis of the Phillies on ESPN's Baseball Tonight. Such inciteful phrases like "Welcome to arena baseball!" and "Philadelphia's a tough place to play." Thanks, LB. Waive that guy around, will you. Congratuations on your new job, baseball's version of a road construction "Slow/Stop" signholder.

Meanwhile, Ryan Madson is starting to get some serious ink as a serious starting candidate, although his move out of the pen is far from a done deal. Trouble is, Madson is exactly what the bullpen is missing right now. However, Madson is exactly what the rotation is missing at the same time: a young, crafty right hander with good stuff --up to 3 out pitches -- and a driven demanor. His presense ini the pen would calm a few folks down and make everyone better by virute of more suitable roles. His presense in the starting rotation would almost certainly push Brett Myers to improve more. If the Phils are serious about both Myers and 2006, not to mention Madson, then starting rotation it should be. 180 IP is better than 80 IPs any year and Madson has already demonstrated success all the way up the minor league ladder as a starter. No hyperbole here: He is as much the key to the season as anyone else on the team, perhaps the frontrunner.

One things that's nice to see, if even for the sheer preceived novelty of it, is Mike Lieberthal taking chage of Madson's repetoire, showing him how to most effectively use his various pitches. Certainly, pitching in relief and starting a game are two different animals with two different pitch selection styles, but does this not sound like the battery mates' first conversation ever? Almost makes one forget Madson has been in the league two-plus years already.

Elsewhere, David Bell has a bad back and Pat Gillick thinks he should have traded A-Rod instead of A-Griff back in his Seattle days. Most likely, there will be no such second thoughts about the Thome-Hopward mini-kerfuffle.

Finally, today's entry closes with probably the greatest example of truthiness ever witnessed on the Colbert Report, CL's absolute favorite show at the moment. Witness the genius, as our hero interview political commentator and Sharon Osborne look-a-like Arianna Huffington:

Colbert: I understand you have a blog.
Huffington: Yes, it's called the Huffington Post Blog.
Colbert: Quick question -- Which is easier to start, a blog or a lemonade stand? Because my seven-year-old son has done both.