Following the season from hell, elbow and knee surgery proved to be the difference in helping Brad Lidge turn out the lights in the ninth again.
That which doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. Brad Lidge knows it well. He rebounded from the house of horrors (0-8, 7.21, a Major League worst 11 blown saves) when a lesser closer would have never escaped the funhouse in his own head. Turns out, the physical pain was far worse than any mental anguish. Not only was he teetering on a bum knee, which everyone could see, he was also pitching through a torn flexor tendon in his elbow. He went under the knife to fix both ailments, which delayed his season by a month. By August, he was beginning to show signs of recovery and consistency, and by September, he was back to being lights out, punctuated by a trifecta of chilling saves in the Phillies’ sweep of Atlanta. He allowed two earned runs, total, over the final two months, holding hitters to a bewildered .131/.232/.155. He skinned his slider more than ever, using his money pitch over 60 percent of the time, a personal record, according to Fangraphs.com. A 2-mph dip in fastball velocity didn’t seem to matter since he was throwing strikes, getting ahead and working through his previous-season hang-up of seemingly melting down with men on base.
Even in his worst pre-Phillies seasons, Lidge has been a strikeout machine. He finished 2010 with a strong 10.2 K/9, but nothing close to the elite numbers from earlier in his career. Is this the new normal? Or will his career take another wild spin, up or down, like it has in previous seasons?
Phillies swap Escalona for Houston 2B: The Phillies have found a taker for Sergio Escalona, trading the left-hander to Houston for minor league second baseman Albert Cartwright.
Cartwright, 23, hit .294/.355/.472 with 10 home runs and 119 strikeouts between Class A and Double A last season, stealing 31 bags, while defensively committing 29 errors. His numbers took a drastic dive after his promotion to Double-A, where he hit only .229/.289/.271 in 154 plate appearances for Corpus Christi. Over his career, he has racked up 112 RBI and 71 stolen bases in 284 games. Although he is not considered a prospect, it's a fair trade-off for Escalona, who was designated for assignment by the Phillies this weekend. A right-handed hitter, Cartwright is a product of the Bahamas.
Incidently, toolsy shortstop Jonathan Villar, who was traded to Houston in the Roy Oswalt deal, was rated as the third-best prospect in Houston chain by Baseball America last week. The scouting magazine believes that Villar, 19, can develop into a Gold Glove-caliber shortstop some day.