Phils’ Bullpen Coming Into Focus

The Phillies took another two steps towards bolstering their bullpen yesterday with the signing of Antonio Alfonseca and resigning of Ryan Madson.  Madson avoided arbitration by agreeing to a 1-year, $1.1 million deal.  The new season is likely to see the end of the "Ryan Madson Experiment" – his flirtation with a starting rotation spot – and a move to full-time setup man duties. 

The bigger news of the day comes from the acquisition of Alfonseca.  He was mentioned last year as a possible signing, but only yesterday did he inked a 1-year deal that could potentially be worth $1.1 million.  The veteran righty reliever saw only 52 games (43+ innings) over the past two seasons with the Texas and Florida.  Last year, it was a sore right elbow that did him in.  In 2004, he compiled a 2.57 ERA in 79 games with Atlanta in 2004, his last full season.  In 2000, he won the NL Rolaids Relief award while saving a league-leading 45 games.  Baseball Reference compares him to Ricky Bottalico in several categories.

It must also be mentioned for those that do not know that Alfonseca has 6 digits on each hand and foot.  Now one would think this would make for a wicked curve ball, but apparently the extra finger after his pinky does not come into contact with the ball while pitching.  Because of this trait, he has been nicknamed (whether spitefully or playfully, I do not know) "El Pulpo", "The Octopus", and "Six-Fingers."  Sportscenter anchors once celebrated one of his saves by offering each other high-sixes.  Someone better think of a fan group soon, just be nice; that is, as long as he doesn’t go the way of Ugueth Urbina and Arthur Rhodes.

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