The Philadelphia Phillies have 1 possible path to bring back Roy Oswalt, while Antonio Bastardo leads a slew of young guns into Camp Clearwater. The baseline from Triple-A to the majors is 50%, who will stick with the parent club and who will miss that last jump? There are 8–including Michael Stutes–and 4 each will fall on different sides of the centerfield fence.
I am doing a weekly Baseball-Fix Monday until the end of March. Also, I’ll publish after every game that is not washed out during the summer. My format will remain the same in 2012 with Nitecap Insight, The Precap (restructured as the Precap Pitch), and The Apocalyptic Horsemen. Cap-Size Hindsight will feature certain players plus participants who warrant mention, good and bad, for what they have done in the contest or clubhouse. Penthouse Occupancy will cover all remarkable plays along with solid performances during critical moments by the locals. The best of those will receive The Crystal Champagne Toast. Cholley’s Doghouse is filled every now and then with a slacking effort. The Outhouse is for something that stinks, like a bad ump call. The Glass House is a stone’s throw away for a man who blows his opportunity to nail a juicier role. The Miniature Mansion is for off-field excellence, like a locker-room influence. However, these houses don’t have visitors after every battle: Some do and others don’t.
New wrinkles this season are: The Kangaroo Court House, Fun House Of Mirrors and Rally Tal & Cap. The Big House Key will lock some in and reveal The Rising Son on others. My heckler, Sporty Rant, is back. I call him that for his unsportsmanlike ranting. Thank you, Sporty, for the following inspiration. My Critic’s Choice: Precap Pitch is an innovative non-stat-oriented approach.
Oswalt’s Return Route:
Firstly, I have written longer-than-normal articles recently instead of breaking them into 2 or 3 parts. If they were too long for some, they won’t have to fret about coming here with too much reading material in one bite.
There is 1 trade partner who wants a solid pitcher and that is Pittsburgh. They were turned down by Oswalt and Edwin Jackson. They are even considering a swap for A.J. Burnett. However, the Yankees are pushing for a decent prospect and half of his $33M black hole. The NL Central is up for grabs with a Milwaukee squad that doesn’t have Prince Fielder, while Ryan Braun misses the first 2 months. The Cards said goodbye to Albert Pujols, the Cubs are reworking their roster, the Astros are rebuilding for the AL West, and the Reds have changed a couple pieces. The black-and-gold had their 2011 run stopped at The Bank during that last series for July. They offered Jackson 3 tours, and have talked about eating $10M of Burnett’s contract with two 162’s left on it. Our northern neighbors have an obvious need and a visible reason.
The red pinstripes could receive a marginal Double-A talent, and pay $2.5M of Joe Blanton’s $8.5M, if the Steel City would take him. Little Roy could sign for $6M plus a 2013 club option with a $2M buyout to equal $8M. Rube Amaro would not go over the $178M threshold with Oswalt. The ‘13 amount would be the $2M, and they could set it up as $4M for each campaign on the competitive-balance-tax AAV (Average Annual Value). With a procedural move, the Phils would decline the option and Roy would receive $8M total for 6 months of work. Kentucky Joe could have bartering value in July for the Pirates, and a 3rd organization could pick up a prorated $2M on his deal. In that case, the Bucs could have him for 4 months at $4M total. Don’t expect mystery-team Rube to say anything except it cannot happen, even if he has this and other possibilities.
Bullets And Targets:
The Grapefruit League opens next week with the days of stretching, running, exercising and drills. The snowbirds are on their way to Clearwater for the first brews at Frenchy’s Tiki Pavilion beyond the leftfield fence. It also means that the time has come to approach the coming battles for the few remaining roster spots. It isn’t what it used to be 10 years ago but injuries can change that dynamic in a hurry. Baring that, there are 2 bullpen slots open with Stutes and Dontrelle Willis at the front of the line. There are 2 bench seats: backup infielder (Freddy Galvis or Michael Martinez) and the 26th man. That will be Juan Pierre or Scott Podsednik. That said, there are also many green wings in camp.
One in three signed pros makes it to AAA but half of them cannot stick the final hurdle. That doesn’t mean they get past middle relief to set-up and closing. You’ve probably already forgotten Mike Zagurski, Scott Mathieson and Andrew Carpenter. If I go back to 2007 (5 tours), there are these: Sergio Escalona, Joe Bisenius, Fabio Castro and Yoel Hernandez. For those seven there were 4 who made it: Ryan Madson, Bastardo, Geoff Geary and Brian Sanches. Only 2 out of 11 reached the endgame action.
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Stutes and David Herndon fall between Triple-A Lehigh Valley and South Philly. Both have shown they can get outs, albeit not consistently enough to beat out someone with fewer poor outings. Did the league catch up with Stutes, did he feel the August heat–not the temperature–or was his control at issue? Growing pains would mean that he will open the campaign up north. Herndon has learned but he has been too streaky to hold down a role, if others are successful. He could earn a place on the relief corps with a solid spring, depending on the competition.
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These 3 will probably fire their first fastballs for the Iron Pigs, but one or two of them may stand atop the Bank mound after June 30. Phillippe Aumont has the best shot at seeing meaningful innings for Cholley Manuel, because he has learned to intimidate opponents with his size. That is the mark of a hammer. However, nailing the door shut at Triple-A is many rungs removed from the ladder’s top in the Fall Classic. Justin De Fratus is highly touted, could surprise, but he probably needs a complete summer up the road. Michael Schwimer seemed to be overwhelmed last September, but he may calm down during his 2nd go-round, if he gets that chance before the call-ups.
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The 3 southpaws are very interesting to say the least. Jeremy Horst had the numbers at AAA and Cincinnati. That said, he had a 3.72 ERA–9.2 hitter-friendly frames–at home and the Bank. The other parks (5.2 innings) showed a 1.59 ERA: Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Colorado and St. Louis. That may be what made him expendable. Joe Savery is our version of Rick Ankiel at the Triple-A mark. A guy who is this determined will eventually find a fit in the MLB. He went 4-2 with a 4.38 ERA for Lehigh Valley in the 2009 rotation, and hit .438 as a DH there the following campaign. Now, he is a lefty specialist and he will push the D-Train and Horst for that ticket to Philadelphia. He will force a difficult decision on the brain trust. He could even make it a tug-of-war with Stutes. Jake Diekman is the longest shot despite his stunning fall-league results, and he’ll probably spend the season with the Iron Pigs.
There may only be a few jobs that are not locked up, but those few will be races worth witnessing. Amaro has worked hard this off-season to create these competitions. In March, I’ll start breaking down the feedback from Florida. One thing I’m sure of is that Cholley and Rube will have some sleepless nights, agonizing over the choices between two excellent options. There may be 4 openings but there could be 5 brain-teasing determinations.
Deluxe Rotations is ( Philadelphia Phillies Storyline: Pitching Puzzle ) my previous publication. Bullets And Targets is the 11th storyline for 2012 that can be found on the Phillies page ( Philadelphia Phillies ) or my author archives ( Tal Venada ).
The Phillies finished 42 games over .500, which equaled a season of many positives. I will have many summer-long highlights of puzzle pieces, especially important after drubbings and defeats. I alternated the 2011 ERA For The NL East ( Philadelphia Phillies: 2011 ERA For The NL East At Game 162 And Final ) and 2011 ERA For The MLB 5 ( Philadelphia Phillies: Final 2011 ERA For The MLB 5 At Game 162 ) with the last 2 in the links. Thank you, to all who bookmarked the Phillies page, because feeds are erratic at times. Many visitors come from these outlets, and it is always obvious when one of those didn’t work. Tal’s Handy Stats is daily coverage. The 2012 MLB 5 may feature the Halos or Cardinals, while the Sox and Dodgers may be replaced.
Note: A site format change slightly altered the original ERA postings, but I’ll adjust my material accordingly for 2012. Two photos were used for game 162 on both, where 1 to 161 (1 picture) experienced only minimal distortion, unlike the finals.