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Ace In The 9 Hole

The Phillies bullpen situation is so bad that the remote possibility of Brett Myers slamming the door in the 9th inning has been " hypothetical discussed." This strategy is solely based on the circumstance that the Phillies can not move a starting pitcher from the rotation , which is currently log jammed at six pitchers. Myers is enthused about the prospect of his versatile use through a given season:

"I like going every fifth day, but I also like having the ball every day. I get so excited when the coaches say: ‘Pitchers, get your spikes on. We might have to use you to pinch-run or bunt.’"

It’s a good mindset to have to have if your name has been discussed in a possible relief role. Conversely, Myers could have gone the "For Who, For What" route.

The possibility of Jon Lieber being moved by April 2nd remains a mystery to everyone who follows this team. Pat Gillick was unable to find any takers for the veteran pitcher over the winter. The only chance of moving Lieber during Spring Training this month is if another team is desperate for a starter due to injury to its staff or the realization that a young talent has immature skills for the big league game.

Using a fifteen game winner to periodically close out a game when Flash Gordon can’t pitch , either due to fatigue or injury, would be an insult to me if I were a relief pitcher on this staff. Let’s not forget that Geoff Geary was one of the top relievers in the National League last year throwing 91 2/3 innings with a 2.96 ERA. Matt Smith impressed after his arrival to the club in the second half via the Abreu/Lidle trade. With Ryan Madson returning to the role which he belongs , the Phils have a talented, yet unproven bullpen core. Also, Fabio Castro performed excellent in his mop-up-duty role.

O.k., so I’m joking about Castro. But, last year we were all clamoring for Charlie Manuel to put The Dictator in pitching situation that actually was crucial to the outcome. He obviously mastered the art of pitching in a game where the run differential is +/- 5 runs, appearing in 13 of such games out of his total 20 appearances in 2006.

Continue to pray that a team other than the Phils gets decimated by injuries this Spring. Then, and only then, will Jon Lieber’s value become high enough to garner a bullpen pitcher with greater than or equal to value of Antonio Alfonseca.

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