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Sunday, January 14, 2007

Comments

i am getting the feeling the phils think madson is their 8th inning guy. they might still add someone in a trade, sure, but if not, this guy is not the answer. he gives up hits, is not a stikeout pitcher and even in his career year in atlanta, his whip was close to 1.4. he typically keeps the ball in the park, anyway. a good year from madson would solve alot of things.

The new Ryan Franklin. A terrible signing. I wonder ig they had to pay an extra for that 6th finger? Ugh!

I think all of these veteran relievers are a crapshoot, but about half of them will wind up being pretty useful, the other half worthless. The trick is knowing which half.

Last year, Franklin was a disaster but Rick White wound up being useful. A couple years back, Fultz was the veteran flotsam and he wound up being very useful. Just have to hope the Phils major league scouts did their homework. If Madson can't handle the setup role, Alfonseca is a decent fallback if he's healthy plus he has closer experience in case Gordon is hurt.

I'm not smart enough to predict which of these old guys will succeed and which will flop (Sosa just signed with the Mets and if he reverts to '05, that's a smart signing) but you need guys like this in case Madson, Castro or Smith can't handle their increased responsibilities.

gr: I believe the Phils are on record that Madson is the 8th inning guy.

2 roster spots yet open with the likelyhood of 1 or 2 trades before season. Don't everyone panic yet. I don't believe Pat is filling that setup role with Alfonso. He may just end up as a long reliever anyway.

I still expect at least one quality reliever to be brought in

What exactly did Madson do last year that makes the Phillies want him to be their primary set-up man? I don't buy it. It's going to be set-up by committee in 2007.

So, another recent Ranger reject, eh? Alfonseca has had such an up-and-down career...I've always thought of him as a poor man's (sometimes very poor) Armando Benitez, or a younger Jose Mesa. It seems to continue the recent trend of signing players for vacant roles with no or nearly no major-league service in 2006. That said, Alfonseca is not exactly Alfredo Simon, and at least Gillick has done *something* in the way of trying to address the bullpen here. It could blow up in their faces, but I think it's at least as likely to be a good pickup. Alfonseca has a chance to really help the Phillies.

Not the kind of signing I was hoping for, but there is a slim chance that Alfonseca could do well. Paying 1.1 mil for a slim chance doesn't make sense to me, but hey I only claim to be a GM.

Typical Phils' move this offseason to fill out the bullpen or bench. Get a guy on the cheap since he is either damaged goods or a veteran retread. Maybe these moves work better than offseason but I am pretty skeptical.

I have such low expectations for Alfonseca that anything he brings will be a pleasant surprise. If he is healthy, he might bring something useful. Just hope that Foghorn does not abuse his arm by running him out there in too many back-to-back games.

The impression that I always had of Alfonseca was that he was terrible. The kind of guy who could get an inning of scoreless relief here and there and strike a couple of guys out, but who's just as likely to walk everyone he faces.

I need more details on this $1.1 million contract before giving any judgement.

tray.. Alfonseca does NOT have a High bb/IP ratio( about one every 2.5 IP) BUT.. he does give up a lot of hits ( a lifetime BA against of about .280). He strikes out only 5 per 9 IP all in all He's an average pitcher who is past his prime at age 36.. In other words.. another crapshoot.

Alfonseca is this year’s version of Arthur Rhodes…

Meanwhile in other Phillies news…

“Ryan Madson avoided arbitration on Sunday by agreeing to a one-year, $1.1 million deal with the Phillies, leaving the club with four arbitration-eligible players…The remaining four arbitration-eligible players are Geoff Geary, Brett Myers, Aaron Rowand and Chase Utley. Of that group, the team is considering a long-term deal with Utley that would essentially buy out his three arbitration years -- thus eliminating the yearly filing -- and perhaps delay his filing for free agency by a year or two.”

The Phillies have monetary question marks around the three players that make up the nucleus of this team for the future – Utley, Myers, and Howard. It is my hope that the Phillies do the right thing for Utley and sign him to a decent deal. He is a great player and amongst the best players to come out of the Phillies farm system.

Alfonseca is strictly a one inning pitcher, so he cannot be a long man. This reminds me of the Santana signing last year. Let's hope he is in better shape than Santana as I recall Alfonseca was never a thin man. I am indifferent to this move, assuming there is not enough guaranteed money that he can be cut. If you are going to go with a cheap, veteran one inning righty, why not Rick White ? At least he was a good clubhouse guy from all accounts. I am more concerned about the left handed spots in the pen.

Alfonseca is strictly a one inning pitcher, so he cannot be a long man. This reminds me of the Santana signing last year. Let's hope he is in better shape than Santana as I recall Alfonseca was never a thin man. I am indifferent to this move, assuming there is not enough guaranteed money that he can be cut. If you are going to go with a cheap, veteran one inning righty, why not Rick White ? At least he was a good clubhouse guy from all accounts. I am more concerned about the left handed spots in the pen.

Sorry for accidental double post.

Actually Antonio Alfonseca had some pretty good years with Florida. He had 45 saves one year (believe 2000). Florida was trying to resign him this year as their closer. I suppose the Phils are figuring him to be the backup if anything happens to Gordon

Jason, don't backtrack, have you actually looked at Alfonseca's #s?

Tray, your memory is correct.

Fljerry, ALfonseca's 45 save season was SIX years ago, and he managed to put up a sterling ERA of 4.24 that year.

THis is exactly the kind of singing I don't want, not because of money, but becase Alfonseca veteraness will mean he will make the team unless more than one of his 12 fingers falls off (I also can't believe I'm the first person to make a finger joke!)

Unless the Phils scouts believe he has changed drastically in his ability (very unlikley) there is just no reason for this...terrible, terrible, terrible, worse than Franklin, worse than Rhodes. The pitching equivilent of Alex Gonzalez terrible!

I can;t believe anyone who actually looks at statistics or watches baseball games thinks this guy would be imrprovement over Condrey or Sanches.

FWIW, here is Alfonseca's ZiPS projection for Texas:

26 IP, 31 H, 11 K, 13 BB, 5.88 ERA

i agree wholeheartedly with kdon. the thing i don't like about this signing is alfonseca's verteraness -- very very dangerous for getting innings he may not deserve.

I am expecting from Alfonseca something similar to Roberto Hernandez's 2004 season with the Phillies. But you never know. At this point, even adding a questionable arm is welcomed news. And really, he *can't* be worse than Julio santana...

I am expecting from Alfonseca something similar to Roberto Hernandez's 2004 season with the Phillies. But you never know. At this point, even adding a questionable arm is welcomed news. And really, he *can't* be worse than Julio santana...

Shoot. Blame it on typepad.

kdon and I are simpatico on this one. This is the type of guy who has been so erratic in the past, he'll fool everyone in ST. He'll look good, make the roster, and then implode and cost them enough games to be the difference between them making the playoffs and NOT.

Why? Why? Why? Why? Why?

IronPig - nice call comparing it to last year signing of Rhodes (who is still available...CAN'T IMAGINE WHY).

This signing is part of the emergency contigency plans with his past position as a closer. I would have to think they have some dialogue with teams going into ST regarding Lieber and have some idea of what he might bring in return.

Billy Mac discussed R.White among a few others and his salary last year was 600K so why not sign him too?

Yes, he certainly can be worse than Santana. Santana only pitched 8 innings last year. If ALfonseca is healthy, he can suck for a lot longer than Santana sucked.

Also, the choice isn't between AA and Santana, but between AA and Condrey/Sanches.

Every year we need a bullpen arm or two we can rely on to cost us multiple games a season, for example, Terry Adams, Tim Worrell, and Arthur Rhodes. Alfonseca will probably continue in these players' grand tradition of blowing up in high-leverage spots early in the season. The Phils will proceed to finish a couple of games out, and quality players will get blamed; no one really remembers April and May anyway.

Kdon – you and I have had our differences over PtB, but I am in total agreement with you here. This is another transaction in a baffling series of transactions by Gillick. Is it me or do the transactions that brought us Karim Garcia and Alfonseca seem a little on the desperate side? Correct me if I am wrong, but didn’t we win 85 games last year and just miss the WC? Shouldn’t we be signing players and making trades for players that will get us to that magical 90 win plateau that may assure the Phils with their first post-season appearance since ‘93? With the exception of Fredy Garcia, who are the solid guys that will get us to the post-season? Aren’t you tired of this team signing the leftovers and cast-offs from other teams? Just for once I would like to see us sign or trade for a player that has the potential to move us to the next level. Sorry, but after last night’s game I need to vent.

btw…has anybody looked at PG’s transaction history with other clubs? Is this his MO or an exception to the way he normally builds a team? Just curious.

The Eagles are gone, the Flyers and Sixers stink, and the Big 5 is having a down year - this is going to be a long winter.

IP, I actually woulnd't mind a bit of dumpster diving if it seemed like there was any payoff, for instance, the Rule 5 guys.

I don't neccesarily blame Gillick for not spending MORE money, because all indications seem to be that the Phils are at their budget, but he does seem to have a blind spot for veterans, assuming that simply because a player has put on a major league uniform, he is more valuable than a AAA player.

THe prime example of this last year was the decision not to keep Coste on the roster at the begining of the year, even though anyone who took the time to check baseball cube for two minutes could tell you Coste was a better hitter than A-Gone or Fassano. The reason they made the team was that Fassano and A-Gone were "established" players, even though all they had established was that they sucked.

It's odd, GIllick is kind of like a scouting version of Beane. Instead of exploiting undervalued assests seen in the statistical record, Gillick goes after unexploited ATHLETIC resources like Castro, Booker or the two rule 5 picks this year. It has it's own upside, but I really wish he understood that the difference between the Alfonseca's of the world and 15 guys he already has is close to nil.

gr: There's no question; this needs to be the season of the short leash when it comes to Charlie Manuel and his new staff.

AWH: kdon believes Sanches and Condrey are the solution to the holes in the bullpen. Do you agree with that?

Iron Pig: That's really the problem in a nutshell. We wouldn't need to debate whether veteran flotsam are better than fringe prospects in filling bullpen holes if PG would make a trade for a quality arm.

kdon: How many Rule 5 guys pay off each year? How many veteran FA relievers pay off each year? If you're going to play the odds, you should have a clue about the payoff.

Clout, I'll speak for myself, thank you. I don't think Condrey and Sanches are "the answer", only that they are as good a bet to perform well as veteran castoffs, are cheaper, will be judged only on their performance and ability, and not simply handed spots in the pen. Again, I'm simply astonished that you cannot understand this. It's not hard. Think more. Think better.

So, you like ALfonseca? Why don't *you* get back to *me* in June on this one.

As for the percentage of success, I think FA relievers are probably a better bet than rule 5 guys, but when you get to the bottom tier of FA (of which AA is certainly a member), it's not much. However, I don't think there is any difference between dozens of AAA relievers and Antonio Alfonseca.

I'll say one thing about Alfonseca, for what it's worth: he has closed games before. I'm not saying I want him to be the closer, not even for a week. But if there is an emergency, if Gordon's been used in back to back games, or if he has a tender-elbow, day-to-day thing, I think there are worse options than a guy who's been in tight spots and knows what it takes to be a closer. And that's at least one difference between him and the 15 AAA guys he's statistically similar to. It doesn't count for a *whole* lot, but it does count for something.

clout, to answer your question directly, yes and no. Condrey - yes, Sanches - no.

From what I can see in your and others' posts, you you would prefer we take the risk on an 'established' reliever. kdon and I would not.

I cannot speak for kdon, or you, but I can try to summarize my position as such.

Condrey, while historically a disaster as a starter, has proven to be effective in a limited role out of the bullpen. He pitched mostly in situations last year where the team was behind when he entered the game. As even the best teams get blown out and/or behind at least 50 time per year, someone has to fill the role.

The team was 5-16 in games he pitched. He lost 2 games, both in the 12th inning, a late game role both of us think he is ill suited for.

He pitched in 21 games. They were ahead in 4, tied in 4, behind in 13 where he came in.

In the games they were ahead, they were ahead twice, tied once, and down once when he left.

In games they were tied, they were tied thrice and down once when he left.

In all games they were down, they were still down when he left. Was that his fault or they hitters'?

He finished 10 games. In all of them, they lost. Only two were because he gave up the loss. Would you prefer they use the closer in this situation?

My point in going through this analysis is that Condrey, in the role he was and is likely to be used, is no worse than any expensive FA that is still out there.

If we can get a setup man/substitute closer through a trade, I'm all for it. I have always said I am.

What I am against is the signing of "established" vets who get the roster spot for no other reason than hey have "expereince".

While Castro is no Frankie Rodriguez, how much experience did K-Rod have in '02? How much did "experience matter?

At some point you have to give the young guys in your organization a shot. When, in your opinion, is that time?


While there are some decent arms on the rise, the Phils have no one in the wings like Francisco Rodriguez. An exceptional talent like that can perhaps be groomed on a fast track for a more important role, but this team has no one like that who can immediately step in and be entrusted with close-game situations.

People clamored all during the second half to use Castro in a more prominent role, and the one time Manuel did so, he blew it big-time. It's not fair to say that outcome would have occured every single time, but the result was probably telling to some extent. Castro could very well be used in late game situations down the road, and perhaps much sooner than later, but now is *not* the time to hand him a set-up role. He needs to work his way up to that. I know I might get lambasted all over again for suggesting the role of psychology in the game, but relief pitching is all about psychology. Not everyone can handle the tight spots. Castro has good stuff, but not dominating stuff. He has to make his pitches in order to get people out. I do not think a case can be made that the Phillies would do just as well to go with raw, unproven, moderately talented rookies in late-inning roles as they would with slightly more expensive, perhaps mediocre veterans. And it isn't fair to cite Franklin and Rhodes as converse examples, because I said 'mediocre', not downright horrible. And yes, Alfonseca may well end up being downright horrible. But he might not be. Who knows? Gillick might (could) have probably done better than Alfonseca, but if this is what's left, then it's the right move to make.

Who knows with Alfonseca? I have really low expectations but maybe the Phils will be able to coax a little something out of his arm similiar to what the Mets did last year with Oliver and Hernandez.

One thing that I am concerned about is Alfonseca being given a spot regardless of performance based upon his veteran experience. I totally advocate bringing in one or two veterans arms but that their performance is judged on merit and not experience.

If Alfonseca has an doesn't show anything in April and into May, then release him. I don't want him to have a spot judge because he is a veteran making a $1 million bucks.

Just theoretically speaking, if the average hitter hits .260 or so, and a certain pitcher yields a .280 opposing batting average over his career, isn't it safe to say that that pitcher is a substantially below-average pitcher, one who makes hitters better rather than worse? This seems pretty clear-cut to me.

"but if this is what's left, then it's the right move to make."

Only if there is no guarantee that he make the opening day roster. This is the problem and the fear.

AWH, kdon et al: I don't think our opinions are as different as they may appear. RSB summed up my view nicely: The Phillies do NOT, repeat NOT, have any prospects who are ready to step up and fill the key roles they need: #1 Top lefty; #2 Setup man and backup closer.

They DO have prospects who can fill the no-pressure mopup reliever roles and if the choice for that job is Condrey or Sanches or Castro vs. veteran flotsam, then I agree with going with the youngsters.

It's those important jobs I mentioned above that I'm talking about and I think putting Smith, Castro, Sanches (who I don't like at all), Condrey in those spots is far more risky than signing a vet who's done it before. Just as putting Floyd and Madson in the rotation was far more risky than signing Jamie Moyer.

Every year quite a few of these vet FAs, far more than Rule 5 picks, wind up helping teams. MG's example of Oliver & Hernandez is a good one. I think everyone agrees that the perefence is to trade for proven quality to fill those key spots. But if PG can't do that, we have to roll the dice and hope that Alfonseca and whatever other flotsam they might sign turn out to be Trever Miller, Roberto Hernandez, Todd Jones, Jorge Sosa, Villone (from 2 yrs ago), Borowski etc. etc. etc. from the long list of FA vets that are signed every year coming off bad records or injuries and wind up having nice seasons.

RSB -


Castro has good stuff, but not dominating stuff.

RSB, the numbers Castro has put up, K's, BB's, and ERA, are simply phenomenal, and indicate that he has dominating stuff. He's pitched with a sub 2 ERA in the Bigs, AFL and DWL.

There is nothing for this man to learnin Ottawa.

Clout -

I'm surprised at the lack of confidence in Geary coming off last season, truly, if I were to pick a setup guy from the staff, it would have to be him.

Is it concern about his workload last year? His
"stuff" may not be dominating, but he always managed to get the job done, with good peripherals.

He has to be one of the biggest surprises last year, and it seems to me that he earned the shot at a bigger role.

It's not that I think it is a bad signing (I would have passed), but I share the concern that he will be overused in crucial situations by Charlie Manuel. I still believe that this team will go nowhere with Charlie at the helm. He better be on a short leash this season!!

BTW, RSB was dead on with his comparisson of Alfonseca to Roberto Hernandez, and there is no way this guy is 34...

joe: I agree and I have no problem trying Geary or Madson in the setup role. But when you do that, who fills their prior roles of pitching the 6th and 7th? Or who steps in for them if they fail at their new roles? That's where the FA vets come in.

Regarding Castro, his numbers are super. What isn't is his experience. The kid pitched 31 innings of mopup relief. As RSB correctly noted, when he was thrust into a pressure situation he cracked. He's only pitched 17 innings above A ball. Put the kid in Ottawa as a starter and if he's light out, then you know he's ready. If he's not, then at least his confidence isn't wrecked by being thrown to the wolves at the major league level.

If the Phillies' starters average 6 IP/G, then the bullpen will have to cover about 480 inings or so.

Last season the team was involved in 42 blowouts (games decided by 5+ runs). They split those 42 games 21-21. Those 42 games most likely account for 100+ plus relief innings.
They also won 43 games that were not saved, meaning they won in their last AB or won by more than 3 runs.
So basically about a third of the relief innings will probably be relatively meaningless in terms of W-L. I see no reason to pay a washed-up veteran $1 mil+ to pitch any of those innings. Bring in the prospects and Rule 5 longshots and see who can win a job.

Of the remaining 300+ IP of 'meaningful' relief, let's project the following 2007 IP: Gordon (50), Geary (70), Madson (70), Condrey (30) and Castro (30). That counts on nothing from Matt Smith, and I think those IPs are conservative for all but Gordon and Geary.
So if Smith contributes nothing, and the starters average only 6 IP/G, Gillick needs to find another 50 meaningful innings somewhere in 2007. That's one (or more) serviceable arm. It's not such an impossible task to accomplish between now and April 1st.

I seem to recall reading somewhere that Alfonseca was in good shape, having lost a lot of weight and improved his fitness. Maybe he's not such a bad gamble after all, given the $$ and the Phillies' low expectations.

Be nice to pry Mike Gonzalez away from the Pirates.

lol, did anyone else used to get excited when Alfonseca would come in a game against the Phillies? Alfonseca vs. Abreu-Thome-Burrell usually meant a big inning for the Phils in the past, now that guy is on our team :-(

These are the types of guys we have to get when management says you can't spend more than X amount of dollars. Gillicks ATM is tapped out right now so we have to settle for the Karim Garcia's and Alfonseca's of the world and cross your fingers.

I know relievers are a lot of times luck. But it's nice to have some bonafide talent back there.

I don't get how we go from almost giving out a 90 million dollar contract to Soriano to signing Werth-Garcia-Alfonseca.

Same old Sillies.

George, nice analysis, but, as you say, up Condrey's IPs to twice that if he's on the big club all year. Madson's look about right if he's in the 'pen all year. Castro will be that if he's a mid-season call up which is what I expect. Then again, Gillick surprised me last year going with Madson/Floyd so he might get more. I also think Brito might make the team as a reliever. He's pitched pretty well in winter ball.

And, I think everyone agrees, we would love to have Gonzalez!!!

To all: If you missed it there is an article analyzing the Phils' staff on Phillies Pravda (Phillies.com).

I'm really suprised to see the "veteran" tag being applied to ALfonseca, that he could somehow be succesful simply because he was a closer. Listen, Wayne Gomes was a closer, Ricky Bottalico was a closer, lots of bad pitchers end up as closers for one reason or another. Alfonseca was the closer on the fire-sale Marlins (the first one) for Christ's sake, does anyone really think he was in a lot of pressure situations down there?

Also, I can;t repeat this enough, but he was HORRIBLE as a closer! Forget the 45 saves, how about the 126 baserunners in 70 IP or the sparkling 47/24 K/BB ratio!

Also, RSB, there was a study a few months back on the Hardball Times that compared save percentages between "established" closers and "non-established" closers. THey looked at the success rate of both these groups in 3-run games and 1-run games, and the NON-ESTABLISHED GUYS did just as well!

I don't know how to put this any other way, but the percieved benefits of "he has been there before" is just pure myth.

There may be the rare player like Pete Rose who can magically transform a clubhouse or add meaningful experience, but this group is very very small and sure as hell doens't include ALfonseca.

Let's put aside the abstract of veteraness vs. youth and just look at the player the Phils signed OK. Is anyone here willing to predict that he will have a good season?

kdon: I'm not smart enough to know which veteran free agents will be good this year and which won't. I am smart enough to know that the success rate of these guys is far higher than the success rate of untested rookies.

this is a fine move by the phighin's. the response of 'sign a bullpen guy - oh not that one' is odd though. what fa (especially now) did we expect? anyway, the guy throws hard and has a sinker. for 500k + incentives it's not a bad deal.

oh - and this: His extra toes and fingers earned him the nickname “El Pulpo,” Spanish for “The Octopus.”

Really, I'd be interested to see the slightest shred of evidence for this claim.

I'm not trying to make some abstract point about youth vs. experience, only the point that ALfonseca is a bad pitcher and will likely be bad for the Phillies in 2007. And I have A TON of evidence for that conclusion.


Jose Mesa pt II

Interestingly enough, Mesa has been somewhat effective since he left Philly. Just got a deal from Toronto.

Not a good WHIP since he was here, though.

Interestingly enough, Mesa has been somewhat effective since he left Philly. Just got a deal from Toronto.

Not a good WHIP since he was here, though.

oops. sorry.

Is it possible that Alfonseca is just here as "another arm" just to see if he has enough left to win a job? I don't see where he's been anointed as ANYTHING. If he doesn't make the team , you cut him and take the small economic loss..If he REALLY shows you something (doubtful), then PG looks like a genius. The signing is no big deal either way.

AWH writes, "you would prefer we take the risk on an 'established' reliever. kdon and I would not." Why is this an either/or situation? Why assume that a good spring by Condrey should overrule Alfonseca's established level of performance? (Like RSB, I would expect a year like Roberto Hernandez had in '05).

AWH also writes, "At some point you have to give the young guys in your organization a shot. When, in your opinion, is that time?" That time would be when the "young guys" are ready. Condrey is more of a retread than a young guy -- the years Alfonseca was having average MLB years, Condrey was failing to make the grade. And Castro is awfully young -- overpitch him now and you could burn him out permanently.

Joe writes, "the numbers Castro has put up, K's, BB's, and ERA, are simply phenomenal, and indicate that he has dominating stuff. He's pitched with a sub 2 ERA in the Bigs, AFL and DWL. There is nothing for this man to learnin Ottawa."
Short-term thinking there. Castro is awfully young -- what is he, 22 now? Overpitch him now and you could burn him out permanently. Seems like a foolish way to fill a low position in the bullpen.

Does anyone remember how shaky Castro was in the game in which he notched his only save, the 14 inning biter vs. washington? He was lucky to have gotten that save anyway, he was just about the only arm left. I think Alby's right, he's a bit too young.

Seems to me Kdon is stating that we need a pitcher to be a mopup pitcher and why get a veteran when we can use a Condrey at a cheaper price. I hope I am not misreading you Kdon?
BTW I definitely do not have any confidence in Madson being the setup man. He was actually horrible last year - Last year everyone was complaining, and this year all I hear is hes the one ??? Is it all trying to state because he was the starter at the beginning of season that screwed everything up - thats BS - he was horrible

kdon: All you have to do is pay attention. Make a list of the FA bullpen vets who changed teams. Then make a list of rookies that go north with the teams in April. Check back at the end of the year and see who did better.

In any event, while you say you don't want a vet, you also claim you don't think Condrey, Castro, Sanches are the solution. If PG doesn't deal for a top arm, the choice will be one or the other.

Joe, I agree there's nothing for Castro to learn in Ottawa, except maybe how to be a starter if the Phillies are really inclined in that direction. If he has a weak spring, he'll be cut. If he has a strong spring, he could make the team as a second left-hander. But he won't get the call in the seventh or eighth inning regardless. Paul, I'd forgotten that it was Castro who nearly blew that extra-inning game against Washington, 'inducing' a screaming liner that was flagged by Utley and turned into a game-ending DP. A second example of Castro being placed in a big situation and struggling. (He also lost the last game of the season in Florida in extra innings.)

I don't think Alfonseca is here as just another arm in the mix. I think he's Gillick's answer to the set-up/replacement closer equation, regardless of what we all think of him. If he's better than Tim Worrell, I can live with it.

kdon, I don't see how you can have 'evidence' for what hasn't happen yet. You have some projection based on past performance. Who's to say he couldn't (not that I'm saying it's likely) turn around and post the kind of numbers he did for Atlanta again? Most relievers, as has been widely noted, are wildly inconsistent from one year to the next. Okay, we know what we're getting to some extent: a flawed pitcher, one who's fairly hittable and walks too many hitters - but it's my contention that the Phillies *needed* more experience in the bullpen, and that alone adds a measure of solidity. You and your vast heaps of gerneralisized evidence may hold that the meaningfulness ascribed to experience is a myth, but I do not. Jim Leyland's closer last year (and all through the post-season), despite all those great young bullpen arms, was Todd Jones, and that ought to tell you something. I'm not saying that everyone in the bullpen needs to be a time-tested veteran, but it helps enormously if the back end is, and if there's at least a partial balance between experienced and inexperienced arms in a bullpen.

From today's DN: "...things with Myers could get sticky. He might be the team's best returning veteran pitcher, but, according to league sources, he is not pleased with the Phillies' 1-year offer."

What a shocker! This is a man who righteously defended the quality of his 11-11, 5.52 season of 2004, so he must now think he's Roger Clemens and deserving of a 15-year contract. Brett Myers: knucklehead supreme.

"kdon, I don't see how you can have 'evidence' for what hasn't happen yet."

This is just silly, RSB. Of course, I can have evidence to make a claim about the future. Like, say, the propositions that "the sun will rise tommorow" or "Manuel will use Gordon for a third straight day to protect a three-run lead."

Stop with the abstract and explain, specifically, what about ALfonseca you like. He hasn't been even an average pitcher since 2004. He gives up a ton of hits, has only once had a K/BB ratio above 2, is 35, and comming off two injury plagued seasons.

As far as I can tell, the major argument for Alfonseca is that he was once a closer, even though that was 5 years ago, he wasn;t particularly good at it, and he was pitching in front of 3000 fans who probably would have rather been laying out in Miami Beach.

As I have said, I would like to improve the pen, but Alfonseca doesn't do that. He isn't a good pitcher.

Also, Alby, the problem isn;t as cut and dried as you'd like to see it - very few teams will cut a player outright who is signed to a ML deal. If you think the team will pick players based on performance in the spring, you weren;t paying attention with Chris COste last year.

I can already see it...Condrey or Sanches outperforms Alfonseca and we get the quote..."well, we have some options left on Sanches, and Alfonseca has been here before." You are fooling yourself if you don;t think ALfonseca already has his spot on the roster sewn up.

Just to give the evidence for the precedent of an inferior veteran making the team over a clearly better player, here are some stats from 2006 spring training:

Player A: 36 AB, .472 BA, 8 EXBH
Player B: 35 AB, .257 BA, 5 EXBH
Player C: 59 AB, .254 BA, 2 EXBH

Player A is, of course, Chris Coste, who ended up being one of the key players in the Phillies turnaround last year.

B and C are Fassano and Gonzalez, who were the prime culprits in one of the worst benches in baseball last year.

Why did B and C make the team and not A? You guessed it, B and C had the "established" tag, which serves as a sort of teflon which prevents any actuall evidence about their sucktitude from sticking.

Or go back to 05, when Jose Freakin Offerman made the team, despite being just terrible for years.

Alfonseca is this years Offerman and Gonzalez...he may not last the season, but he will hurt the team significantly for the first two months of the season as we all realize how bad he is.

If/when Gordon gets hurt the thought of Madson in th 8th and Alfonseca in the 9th is pretty scary if you're a Phils fan. Two guys with ERA's over 5.00 and WHIPs over 1.60 last year!!!

By that logic, kdon, Alfonseca's 2004 was so aberrent and unforeseen that it probably still has statisticians' heads spinning in denial. We can predict and project all we want, but it is not evidence. To compare that to the 'prediction' that the sun will come up tomorrow is not legitimate. We have factual evidence for why the sun will come up tomorrow. We do not have factual evidence to suggest why many relief pitcher's performances fluctuate through their careers, or that they will automatically conform to projections based on what they've done in previous years.

Look, I'm not in live with ol' Twelve-toes here. I can already clearly envision yelling at my computer screen while he's walking the leadoff hitter or issuing a bevy of ill-timed hits in some eighth inning to come. I would have greatly preferred for Gillick to come up with a better option, and was still hoping it would come through a Lieber trade (and might not it still?). But I do have to say that I prefer a guy with experience pitching where experience is called for. If the Phils had a flamethrower wunderkind ready to step in and do that job, I'd say, 'experienced' be damned, let 'im loose - but they don't. Alfonseca is a better option than Ryan Madson or Brian Sanches (though perhaps not Geary) in the late innings, and that *includes* being the closer in a pinch. We know he's not a very good closer, but he *has* done it with some degree of success in the past and *is* comfortable in the role, and if they *have* to run him out there occasionally, I think they could do a lot worse.

Sadly, I think RSB is right and that Gillick is relying upon Alfonseca to take a key role in this bullpen next year as a primary set up guy/backup closer. That is the one role that I don't want to see Alfonseca automatically set in.

MG: According to what I've read, Madson is the choice for setup man with Geary pitching the 7th. Alfonseca is backup and will pitch the 5th or 6th unless otherwise needed.

kdon: Your logic works when you mention vets who failed like Fasano & AGon, but it doesn't work when you mention the much longer list of vets who succeeded. By your logic bringing in Moyer was a mistake because it stole starter innings from Floyd & Madson.

No it doesn't clout, because Moyer, unlike ALfonseca, is a good pitcher. He is much more similar to a guy like Gonzalez, just bad. In order to make your argument, you need to demonstrate why you think ALfonseca will be good.

You seem in this case to be unable to make the distinction between good and bad players. Very weird.

Listen, if Alfonseca really is a mop-up guy in the 5th or 6th inning, it won't be a disaster...most teams have below average players in this spot. However, I think there is a real chance that he is seen as more of a 7th or 8th inning guy and a potential closer, in which case, he would be a disaster. That this decision rests with Manuel does not ease my concern.

Alby, you're one of the nitpickers on this site aren't you? If you read the entire post it was never made out to be an either or situation.

Now, to nitpick back, you wrote "Condrey was failing to make the grade." How so? Have you looked at his history? Have you broken down his splits? Do you know what the difference in his performance was between relieving and starting? What organization was he in, and who might have been on the big club to block his rise? Was he ever hurt? I'd be interested to see what you come up with.

And, Paul, as far as Castro is concerned, are you really going to evaluate Castro on ONE save opportunity?

"it doesn't work when you mention the much longer list of vets who succeeded."

clout, name some names. Also, please compare it to a bunch of younger guys who were kept on the 25 man roster who 'underperformed' the vets.

"it doesn't work when you mention the much longer list of vets who succeeded."

clout, name some names. Also, please compare it to a bunch of younger guys who were kept on the 25 man roster who 'underperformed' the vets.

Kdon sez: "He hasn't been even an average pitcher since 2004. He gives up a ton of hits, has only once had a K/BB ratio above 2, is 35, and coming off two injury plagued seasons."

Think about that -- he was average in 04, then had two injury-plagued seasons. He was a workhorse before that, and I expect him to be one again, based on how frequently pitchers of his type bounce back to their pre-injury, league-average form. This is the answer to the question, "What should we most likely expect from Alfonseca this year?" I realize other outcomes are possible, but that's the bulge in the bell curve for Doc Ock.

Clout sez, "According to what I've read, Madson is the choice for setup man with Geary pitching the 7th. Alfonseca is backup and will pitch the 5th or 6th unless otherwise needed." Exactly - a bullpen set in sand, malleable as various arms step up or fail to. Alfonseca, his arm healthy for the first time in years, could come back strong and climb the set-up-man's ladder -- mop-up to behind-but-close to 7th-inning man and so on. Or he could have scar tissue and wash out fast, a la Santana last year. What I noticed about the construction of last year's bullpen was the frequent shifting as Chollie tried to find the best roles for people. I'm sort of sad The Beard isn't returning; his work down the stretch was better than most, either in Philly or on the teams they faced.


AWH, yeah, I know Condrey's record and history. He's 31 years old, hardly a youngster; his big break should have come in 2002, when he was 26 and toiling in the Padres system. He had his best year as a starter in AAA, going 10-4 with a 3.50 ERA. He earned a callup in late August; working mostly out of the bullpen he logged a 1.69 ERA and a 1-2 record in three starts, two strong ones at home and a shaky one in Frisco. He made the team the next spring, but bombed miserably in the 5th starter/reliever role and was back in AAA by May, then got hurt. Then it's two years toiling in mediocrity as a starter in Scranton. I do like the line as a reliever last year -- he actually started out as a reliever in the minors, was switched to starting after four years of declining performance as he moved up the ladder.

Do I think this guy can fill the same role as El Pulpo? Yeah, I do. Does that mean Gillick should have thrown El Pulpo back? Not in my opinion. For all we know, both will make the team, or neither will. Too many people are assuming that, given the choice between an effective Condrey and an ineffective Six-toe (a little Lezcano joke for the oldtimers), we'll go with the vet, who'll suck. I realize there are good reasons to mistrust on such a point, but we're a long way from that exact set of circumstances coming to pass.

Kdon sez: "He hasn't been even an average pitcher since 2004. He gives up a ton of hits, has only once had a K/BB ratio above 2, is 35, and coming off two injury plagued seasons."

Think about that -- he was average in 04, then had two injury-plagued seasons. He was a workhorse before that, and I expect him to be one again, based on how frequently pitchers of his type bounce back to their pre-injury, league-average form. This is the answer to the question, "What should we most likely expect from Alfonseca this year?" I realize other outcomes are possible, but that's the bulge in the bell curve for Doc Ock.

Clout sez, "According to what I've read, Madson is the choice for setup man with Geary pitching the 7th. Alfonseca is backup and will pitch the 5th or 6th unless otherwise needed." Exactly - a bullpen set in sand, malleable as various arms step up or fail to. Alfonseca, his arm healthy for the first time in years, could come back strong and climb the set-up-man's ladder -- mop-up to behind-but-close to 7th-inning man and so on. Or he could have scar tissue and wash out fast, a la Santana last year. What I noticed about the construction of last year's bullpen was the frequent shifting as Chollie tried to find the best roles for people. I'm sort of sad The Beard isn't returning; his work down the stretch was better than most, either in Philly or on the teams they faced.


AWH, yeah, I know Condrey's record and history. He's 31 years old, hardly a youngster; his big break should have come in 2002, when he was 26 and toiling in the Padres system. He had his best year as a starter in AAA, going 10-4 with a 3.50 ERA. He earned a callup in late August; working mostly out of the bullpen he logged a 1.69 ERA and a 1-2 record in three starts, two strong ones at home and a shaky one in Frisco. He made the team the next spring, but bombed miserably in the 5th starter/reliever role and was back in AAA by May, then got hurt. Then it's two years toiling in mediocrity as a starter in Scranton. I do like the line as a reliever last year -- he actually started out as a reliever in the minors, was switched to starting after four years of declining performance as he moved up the ladder.

Do I think this guy can fill the same role as El Pulpo? Yeah, I do. Does that mean Gillick should have thrown El Pulpo back? Not in my opinion. For all we know, both will make the team, or neither will. Too many people are assuming that, given the choice between an effective Condrey and an ineffective Six-toe (a little Lezcano joke for the oldtimers), we'll go with the vet, who'll suck. I realize there are good reasons to mistrust on such a point, but we're a long way from that exact set of circumstances coming to pass.

Gillick's latest signings are starting to look like bad charcters in another Major League sequel.... the Mexican outfielder who spent his last few seasons in Japan as a "swing for the fences everytime" type power-hitter, now the 12-fingered Dominican relief pitcher. Gillick's next move? I know Sammy Sosa's looking for a team.

Sorry Springer, it looks like the Rangers got him! ;-)

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