The games will count soon for the Philadelphia Phillies, and Domonic Brown may finally have arrived. However, there are still many interesting aspects ahead before April. What unexpected magic will appear at the Bank?
My articles are designed to represent a baseball man’s thinking, the view from the dugout and the GM’s box. Most fans do not consider the budget, prospects on the radar, the club’s weaknesses, the track record, the competition and the other intangibles. Please go to my author archives or Phillies page for my most recent coverage. Scroll down to Tal’s Handy Links at the bottom. Thank you.
I will continue the process of the previous Monday’s approach, if appropriate. For early birds Sunday evening is post time. Due to a strong response and a complicated offseason, my reviews will be weekly until spring training ends. The new summer schedule will allow me to publish the best 3 storylines each week, but there will be an updated calendar included with each feature: Posts involving commentary, polls and stats will be listed for the upcoming 7 days.
|December to April||Baseball-Fix Monday||Weekly|
|December to April||Story-poll||2-4 Times a Month|
|April to Season's End||Nitecap Insight||3 Times a Week|
|April to Season's End||Story-poll||3 Times per 14 Days|
|April to Season's End||Tal's Handy Stats||3 Times per 14 Days|
This review is updated (2nd posting).
MARCH BASEBALL FIX
Questions, Answers and Madness:
March’s numbers count for the open-job candidates, especially if they still have options.
Doc Halladay, Ryan Howard and Chase Utley are not in that category, because they will move at their own pace. Like the other veterans, their statistics will not matter at all. In fact, you should mostly watch Brown and Darin Ruf among the position players until almost May. With Delmon Young recovering from ankle surgery, both will probably make the squad until the new right-fielder returns.
The process of eliminating the non-shockers continues with the 5-man staff, the endgame studs, Chad Durbin and Antonio Bastardo. That leaves 3 seats in the bullpen and 12 arms for those roles. Phillippe Aumont, Jeremy Horst, Raul Valdes, Justin De Fratus and Mike Stutes have shown something already to the brain trust. B.J. Rosenberg, Jake Diekman, Joe Savery, Tyler Cloyd, Rodrigo Lopez, Aaron Cook and Kyle Simon have a shot as well.
Performances worth observing are future fan favorites, who will be sent down for more experience to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. They include rookie talent for 2014 and their 2013 to keep an eye on. 3B Cody Asche will probably be a September call-up, Jonathan Pettibone is a rotation hopeful, and C Tommy Joseph is the expected replacement for Carlos Ruiz. Meanwhile, Kevin Frandsen has earned a utility spot unless he ruins it, while Steven Lerud and Humberto Quintero will battle for the reserve backstop role.
It is doubtful that the unexpected standout will come from Frandsen, his 3 challengers for a bench seat, or the 2nd catching job. Freddy Galvis was mentioned by Charlie Manuel as his first choice, while Yuniesky Betancourt, Pete Orr and Michael Martinez are in the hunt to be the 2nd reserve. Also, Lerud, who appeared briefly last year, or Quinterro will fill a roster position for the first 25 contests. Quinterro has hit .234, .240 and .232 respectively during his playing time over the last three 162‘s.
Unless Brown continues to light it up in Clearwater for a starting opportunity, he and Ruf could make the club until Young is activated. However, in that case their stats for March and April will be factored into the final decision on them. John Mayberry Jr. is out of options, is the best outfield glove for late-inning defense, and became the right-handed stick off the pine when Ty Wigginton wasn’t re-signed. Laynce Nix is the left-side pinch hitter, who might be moved if Ruf remains after Young returns.
The young guns near the back of the pack are the most likely candidates to surprise. That stated, Aumont and Horst are at the front of the line. Aumont has the best pure stuff and strong closer potential; however, his control stands in his way. Horst is first for the 2nd southpaw in the mix, can provide 6-8 outs during an appearance, and has that job to lose.The final opening on the relief corps will be the hardest decision for the general manager, the manager and the pitching coach.
De Fratus put together a solid September, while the Phils mounted a late-season comeback to challenge for the 2nd wild-card berth. Stutes missed most of 2012, which means he is amped up to be back on the hill, and I would not bet against him. Also, Valdes did a fantastic job last summer and a 3rd lefty is preferred.
Cloyd or Lopez would stun the experts if they secured that last slot for long relief; however, Rosenberg is the main multiple-frames candidate. Diekman is a lefty specialist with command difficulties, and he needs to harness his adrenalin on the bump. Simon was traded here for Jim Thome, the higher-ups converted him into a reliever, and he was lights-out in Double-A Reading after doing the same at Single-A Clearwater. Aaron Cook and Joe Savery are on the outer edge of the bubble.
Baring dismal spring performances, the favorites are Aumont and Horst, while Valdes is a solid fallback plan for that last slot. The long shots are Diekman, Simon, Cloyd, Cook, Savery and Lopez, requiring earth-shaking results for them to make the cut. On the other hand, Rosenberg would need some jaw-dropping outcomes to do so. Considering the competition, the surprise should be De Fratus or Stutes.
Until solid efforts from Stutes, De Fratus and Diekman on March 6, the puzzling jolt has mostly been the lack of excellence for the jobs among the ‘pen candidates. Aumont has distinguished himself with only 2 opportunities, and Horst has been shaky. Valdes and Rosenberg have also struggled, while today’s 3 youngsters might now make some noise. Hopefully, 2 of these 6 will claim a spot along with Aumont.
|RH Phillippe Aumont||03.24||08.1||08||4||1||3|
|LH Jeremy Horst||04.24||17.0||12||7||2||3|
|RH Mike Stutes||08.10||10.0||09||5||0||4|
|LH Raul Valdes||04.15||17.1||08||4||0||4|
* Final WBC stats.
Games are split into good, okay & bad outings.
So far, only Brown has provided the anticipation of a budding star–during his third camp. Ruf, like the green studs in the bullpen, has shrunk under the pressure of his first grapefruit-league contests. Unfortunately, Brown is another left-handed stick, which means that 3B Young (5th) will bat between Howard (4th) and Brown (6th). Until Delmon returns, Rollins frequently may have to be penciled into the 2 hole.
The question, the answer and the madness are where the shock value is the highest, which could be Revere in the leadoff role.
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There are 18th storylines for 2013. Check out my recent publication (The Next Chapter) on the Phillies page or my author archives, where there is an excerpt photo. Also, my new feature is Suds or Studs. The last one was Select One of Each.
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