In February, it didn’t appear that this would be the battle the Philadelphia Phillies envisioned for Michael Stutes. And they did not expect him to be on the losing end either. However, many in this cast of characters will wear hats at 2 different baseball levels during 2013.
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.
For early birds Sunday evening is post time. 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.
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Now and Later:
After many recent camps that had little or no intrigue, this March there were jobs to be won, young talent in line for them, but the script was flipped.
An army of green fireballers came to Clearwater, and a three-way tussle was anticipated on the horizon. There might even be a surprise mixed in for good measure. Despite the first horrid outings by most of them, there was a whole month to shake off the rust. Not only did a dogfight never materialize; none of the favorites stood out.
Michael Schwimer was traded to Toronto after the way his last campaign ended. He did not report a physical problem, got blasted 3 times after 11 consecutive solid performances, and was demoted to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. He made waves with management, because he wanted to be on the major-league DL for the service time, which would continue accruing until he was healthy again. He was one of the strongest 3 candidates and the first to be eliminated.
The cuts began on March 11 with Joe Savery, who was a long shot to make the club. Kyle Simon, a non-roster invitee, probably departed near the same time after a poor showing against the Rays two days earlier. The following day two hurlers with long-man potential were right behind Savery. Tyler Cloyd and B.J. Rosenberg were sent down. Rosenberg was the first of the high-powered arms to be dropped, while Cloyd is a finesse pitcher who could also be utilized as an emergency starter.
The chopping block claimed 2 more guns in mid-March with Jake Diekman and Justin De Fratus. The highly amped Diekman was more relaxed than he was last year, but his control is still too inconsistent for the locals. De Fratus had 2 clunkers in February but his 4 March appearances were decent. Apparently, there was something deeper involved for his surprisingly quick exit, which would be hard-hit outs, poor navigation through innings, decreased velocity and/or uninspiring poise.
Rodrigo Lopez was the latest casualty after he was clobbered by the Braves 6 days prior. He was insurance for the rotation or a long reliever, while Aaron Cook is a secondary plan only. This scenario is a contingency if one of the starters becomes disabled, which hopefully isn’t Doc Halladay. However, even a Halladay with diminished velocity is preferred to Cook.
The reason I eliminated Cook as a bullpen consideration is that he is guaranteed $1.625 million if he is on the squad. There is no reason to pay him $1.14 million more than Stutes or Raul Valdes. If, however, one of the 5 main cogs goes down now for 2-3 months, Cook will occupy the 5 slot behind John Lannan. Stutes is earning $485,000 and Valdes is at $480,000.
The first 2 of 3 open spots are filled by Phillippe Aumont and Jeremy Horst. Aumont has dynamic stuff. That stated, he recently walked the first 2 batters in an outing against the Orioles before dropping the hammer on them. Horst had 5 consecutive excellent performances before Sunday, and the Phils need a second left-hander behind Antonio Bastardo. With Chad Durbin and Bastardo as the primary options for the 7th, Horst–like Durbin–can work multiple frames, while Aumont is the right-handed compliment to Bastardo.
Stutes has the upside and the fastball, but he may only be a 1-inning stud after only one 2-frame offering this spring. Valdes, on the other hand, can handle long relief and replacement starts, while he can also address the lefty-specialist role. Plus, Stutes was trounced by the Red Sox on Thursday, which may have sealed his return to Lehigh Valley, but he will probably be in red pinstripes again before June.
Despite a slight Sunday redemption by Stutes, the brain trust still prefers a 3rd southpaw and a long reliever for that final seat in the ‘pen, which is Valdes.
Judging by Pete Orr and Freddy Galvis on right-field patrol during 2 of the past 4 games, you can bet that Rube Amaro will add a right-side stick for the 5th outfield position from the available talent pool.
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This is the 21th storyline for 2013. Check out my recent publication (The Journey) on the Phillies page or my author archives, where there is an excerpt photo. Also, my new feature is Story-poll. The last one was Two Weeks Notice.
I will periodically publish the 2013 ERA for the NL East and the 2013 ERA for the MLB 5. Thank you, to all who bookmarked my page.
Tal Venada (Author Archives)