Of all the injury concerns for the Phillies so far this spring (with Polanco’s recent elbow injury definitely a significant concern to me no matter how minor he is trying to make it), the one to Lidge is the least important. The reality we can all see is that he hasn’t been the same since Ruiz landed on him after winning the World Series. Yes, he did okay last year, but nothing spectacular and nothing that Madson or Contreras (or Mathieson if the Phillies would let him stay) couldn’t do. I personally think Contreras or Mathieson should be the replacement, leaving Madson where he is comfortable in the 8th. If Lidge is healthy, and can somehow figure out where his fastball went, maybe he can be effective, but I think the Phillies need to recognize he is not THE MAN, and be more open to someone else taking over the closer role sooner rather than later.
Yes, it is only Spring Training, but it appears that Blanton continues to suffer from an inability to come out pitching effectively in the first inning. Maybe there is no magical answer, but it seems to me this is something Dubee should be focused on, somehow altering his bullpen session or maybe getting him to change his pitching pattern in the first. Blanton’s first inning ERA, somewhere over 6, was ridiculous last year, and every time he pitched I spent the first inning wondering just how many runs the Phillies would have to make up. It’s not like he can’t pitch well, as he usually is effective from innings 2-6, so there has to be something that an $8.5 million a year pitcher and a coach paid to focus on pitchers can change. If not, maybe they should have Joe spend the first inning pitching a simulated game in the bullpen and have a reliever throw the first inning and get a new pitching coach- I mean, it’s not like he has to spend much time with Lee, Oswalt, Hamels, or Halladay.