Pat Burrell: Man or Machine? And Other Pressing Spring Training Issues

  1. The Young Guys – I always like to use Spring Training as a time to get a feel for the pitchers that have no chance of making the roster this year, but could have an impact on the future. I’ll always remember Spring Training 2004, when a 19-year old Cole Hamels struck-out Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and Tony Clark in succession causing Jeter to say that Hamels already had one of the best change-ups in baseball. Now, he’s our #1 starter and a potential star. The names to look at this spring are Carlos Carrasco, Joe Savery and Josh Outman. All 3 may be up in the rotation in the near future. Don’t look at their stat lines though, or listen to what the Phillies say about them – look for quotes of what opposing hitters and coaching say, they will be the most honest.
  2. The Current Guys – I think that all Phillies fans need to appreciate what we have in Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley. All 3 are in their prime, are MVP candidates, are home-grown talent, and are already the best Phillies ever at their positions. For the next 3-4 years, we will have one of the best infields in MLB history, and after that, we will all be remembering the “good ol’ days” when we had it. Appreciate it now, because it’s rare, and you are going to miss it later.
  3. The Question Marks – Do I even have enough space to ask all the questions? Let’s see…
  • What can we expect of Brett Myers as a starter?
  • Is Brad Lidge healthy – mentally and physically?
  • Can Cole Hamels pitch 200 innings for the first time?
  • Can Adam Eaton really be THAT bad again? And if he can, can Kris Benson, Chad Durbin or Travis Blackley be slightly better?
  • Can Kyle Kendrick prove the doubters wrong? (note: The prevailing idea among baseball ‘scientists’ is that a pitcher with Kendrick’s strike-out rate and hit-rate cannot be better than a 5th starter in the league. They have piles of numbers to back this up. Hopefully they are wrong.)
  • Which Jamie Moyer are we getting?
  • Will Rollins’ suffer the same MVP hangover Howard did in ’07?
  • Will Howard cut down his strikeouts and hit the ball to all fields like he did in ’06?
  • Will Howard’s contract situation affect his play?
  • What on earth can we realistically expect from Geoff Jenkins and Pedro Feliz?
  • How will J.C. Romero pitch now that he has his contract?
  • How will Tom Gordon pitch now that his arm has been re-attached?
  • Can Ryan Madson NOT give up back-to-back walk-off HR’s to start the season this year?
  • At what point will we sign Roberto Hernandez, Antonio Alfonceca or Jose Mesa? June? August?
  • Pat Burrell: Man or Machine?
  • Can THIS be the team that brings us 25-year olds our FIRST championship?
  1. The Bottom Line – Spring Training gets everyone all fired up for the season, but really, it’s much like pre-season anything in that it will only tell you who in injured and who is not. Occasionally, there will be player who plays so well that they surprisingly make the team. Greg Dobbs in 2007, Chris Coste in 2006, Eddie Oropesa in 2001 among many others. These are always the best stories to follow and the papers are always all over them – largely because of how much Philly likes an underdog. But really, once we get to about the 10th spring training game, I just get ancy and want the real games to begin. When they do, we’ll finally start getting answers to those questions.

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