Read quotes from Cole Hamels this morning in which he admitted he wasn’t 100% with his concentration yesterday- well, isn’t that great. Hopefully this is just a spring training issue, as he does typically have trouble this time of year. Hamels appears to have great stuff thsi spring, just like the last half of last year, but only when he focuses and treats each pitch as if it matters. I really believe he has as good a chance as anyone to win the Cy Young Award this year- but I don’t really understand why he always seems to have these periods when he gets distracted- and why Dubee hasn’t been able to do a better job of keeping him from having this type of problem repeatedly.
Very interesting to see the Rangers decide to return Feliz to closer position. I recognize how frustrating it can be to watch a bullpen blow a game late and how well Feliz did in the position last year, but a dominant starting pitcher, which Feliz certainly appears he can be, is much more important, and much harder to replace, than a relief pitcher. From all appearances, it seems this was purely a decision made to address the concerns of Ron Washington, who didn’t trust anyone else he had in the bullpen to handle the 9th inning. If I was the GM, I would have told Washington to suck it up, Feliz is starting, now you figure out, with your supposedly great pitching coach, how to put someone else in the position to handle one inning. Doesn’t make sense to have someone with the ability to go lots of innings with great pitches only throw about 50-60 innings this year, versus 200+ innings. I think the Rangers will regret this decision, given how weak their starting pitching is, and will miss the playoffs because of it.
Another sign of how far the Yankees have fallen in the pitching department after losing out on Cliff Lee- signing Kevin Millwood!! Yikes!! Millwood won only four games last year, and not just because he pitched for the awful Orioles. Millwood might make an okay 5th starter in the NL on the Pirates or Nationals, a la Livan Hernandez, but possibly pitching in the AL East for the Yankees- what’s next, the Yankees use old, over the hill pitchers like Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon, yeah right… Oh, what, they already are? Wow, Brian Cashman really is a genius- not. No way, despite the Yankees great offense, they make the playoffs this year without drastic changes to their pitching staff. I’m predicting they tie for third in AL East with Toronto. Imagine what happens if Sabathia gets hurt. All that money, and this is what they have for pitching?
As we enter the last two weeks of Spring Training, I think I’m past the dead-arm period- just haven’t been inspired to write the past week plus- depressed by Utley’s injury, tired of hearing from the goofball Bill Conlin that Domonic Brown is a bust, and sick of reading about how the Phils offense was struggling- come on guys- it’s Spring Training, who cares how the offense is doing this early. Every year, the same writers run out of stories, start making things up, like the Phils trading for Michael Young- the stupidest of all from Phil Rogers who wrote that the Phillies would consider sending Oswalt or HAMELS to Texas for Young. Sure, no problem, the Phillies will give one of the top pitchers in baseball for a player making too much money on the downhill side of his career. And that writer has a job?!!
Well, enough ranting- I could go on for pages with all the dumb things I’ve read by professional writers the past two weeks- time to address the Phils roster. Easy one of course is that Francisco is now the starting right fielder- although I believe by July Brown will have supplanted him. With regard to 2B, let’s assume Utley will be out for at least a few weeks to start the season- despite the remarks by Amaro that there has been small progress. While Valdez will be the opening day 2B- ugh in my book- it leaves several openings for back ups. So, assuming the Phils have 13 slots for non-pitchers, looks like the following to me:
Regulars (Rollins, Polanco, Ibanez, Howard, Victorino, Francisco, Valdez, Ruiz)
Bench (Gload, Schneider, Mayberry, Michael Martinez, Josh Barfield). I’m thinking Martinez over Young because they would have to return Martinez if not on the roster plus he plays shortstop- but can certainly see them taking Young instead).
Pitchers (12 total)
Starters (Obvious 5)
Relievers: (Lidge, Madson, Romero, Contreras, Bastardo, Kendrick (although I would take Worley) Baez (but by midseason, he will be replaced by Stutes))
I think, despite the loss of Utley, and injury to Brown, the Phillies are the best team in NL, and should still easily outdistance the Braves.