Monday, March 17, 2008

Why is Wes Helms Still a Phillie?

As I watched Wes Helms take the field after replacing Ryan Howard, I had a flash back to January when the Phllies signed Pedro Feliz. At the time I thought Wes Helms will soon be traded for a bullpen arm or a couple of AA prospects. But its now March and Helms remains a Phillie.

The signing of Feliz appears to have served as motivation for Helms who has stepped up his game this spring. In thirty at bats Helms has hit .300 with a .382 on base percentage. Despite his stellar play the Phillies don’t have room on the roster for Helms, Feliz, and Greg Dobbs. Feliz was signed to start in the hot corner. Dobbs has also had a good spring hitting .286 with a .543 slugging percentage. More importantly Dobbs is the Phillies best option as a left-handed pinch hitter. That leaves Helms out in the cold.

It has been rumored that both the Braves and Marlins have shown interest in Helms. Apparently they haven’t shown much more than interest. If the Phillies can’t move Helms he will have to be placed on waivers and another team will claim him. Unfortunately for the Phillies other GMs know this fact and are willing to wait instead of making a trade.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Breaking Down Eaton’s Spring Start

The Good:
Eaton struck out two hitters and induced seven ground ball outs. That's an excellent sign. You can't be an effective pitcher in Citizens Bank Park if you give up a lot of fly ball outs. In addition he didn't walk a single batter or give up a single run, which both qualify as good things.

The Bad:
Last year Eaton was consistently able to throw strikes early in the count allowing him to get ahead of hitters. Surprisingly he labored to retire hitters in 0-2 and 1-2 counts. Unfortunately that trend continued in this year. 4 consecutive Twins hitters found themselves down 0-2. Of those four only Chris Redmond got a hit. However, Eaton took far to many pitches to put down those hitters.

I don't know where a pitcher should be with their velocity at this point in spring training but Eaton wasn't throwing hard. Usually Eaton's fastball tops out at 92 MPH. The fastest pitch I saw him throw looked like an 84 MPH two seam fastball. That must improve if Eaton wants to win the final spot in the rotation.

The I Am Confused:
Eaton gave up five hits. However, two of those hits should have been caught. Even if I forget those two hits Eaton still gave up three hits in three innings, which isn't that great either.

One issue was that it appeared Eaton had trouble throwing his curve ball for strikes. Admittedly I sometimes can't tell the difference between a slider and a curve while watching the highly pixilated But even I could tell that Eaton's accuracy wasn't always there.

In conclusion there is some evidence to support my hope that Eaton will be able to pitch effectively this season. I have always believed that if healthy Eaton could go 14-8 with a 4.35 ERA. Looking forward to the regular season I can’t help but get excite about both the Phillies and Eaton’s prospects.

Friday, March 14, 2008

The Never Ending Search for Pitching

It’s no secret that the back end of the Phillies rotation is weak. The Phillies are now about half way through spring training and no one has stepped up their game. One dark horse candidate is Francisco Rosario. When watching Rosario pitch last season I often felt like I was having a heart attack. He simply lacks the ability to consistently retire hitters.

There’s no doubt he has electric stuff. Rosario has never had trouble striking hitters out as evidenced by his stellar career strikeout rate of 8.39 K/9. The problem is that Rosario can’t control his pitches. In his career he has given up a shocking 10.58 H/9 and walked and unimaginable 5.29 BB/9. In Rosario’s first two spring starts he gave up no earned runs, but he still surrendered his fair share of hits and walks. In his third start the hits and walks came back to bite him and the Braves slammed him for six runs.

Rosario looks good on paper but he doesn’t have what it takes to be a good pitcher. Unless Rich Dubee can get Rosario straightened out Pat Gillick needs to bite the bullet and cut him.