As the Phillies get their spring feet warm, we settle down for a nice, long mailbag. Let’s do it:
What’s the deal with Jayson Werth? Should we be concerned with his condition at the start of camp? It seems to me, everyone was busting their butts during the winter to stay or get in shape and Werth isn’t in shape yet. The Phillies report he is healthy, just not ready to play and he’ll miss the first three Spring games. Sure, he’ll be ready soon, but is there a chance that he could be getting “out-hustled” by some of the newbies and having to compete for his own spot because other players came to Spring training ready to play?
— Kevin B. Carobine
I’m slightly miffed by Jayson Werth, as well. Before Saturday I would’ve just told you he wasn’t in game shape, whatever that means. But now that he suffered a slight shoulder injury, it’s obvious there’s something occurring beneath the surface. It’s likely Werth had some aches and pains heading into camp, but tried to downplay them because he thought he could work through them. Instead, this happened. Now, maybe this isn’t the case, but whatever the case, I’d like Werth to start playing near 100 percent. He’s hugely important to the team’s success. That said, I don’t think his job is in jeopardy, unless Geoff Jenkins puts up some immense performances before Werth returns.
Would Mickey (Morandini, who is in camp as a special instructor) be as good as Larry Bowa with coaching?
I don’t see any reason why he couldn’t be. Morandini wasn’t a great hitter, but he was solid, and very well-rounded middle infielder. Moreover, I think he’s a tremendously likable man with a lot of respect for and smarts of the game. Whereas Bowa likes to control the situation in everything he does, Morandini seems to be more a silent teacher — the kind of man who will give you pointers, but let you work to your best ability. So they’re very different; to me, Morandini is a positive presence to have around the clubhouse, even for a few weeks. I’d think of him as a hitting version of Jamie Moyer (who is actually four years his senior).
At this point, are you at all concerned about how the spring training games have been going so far?
This question was asked before the Phillies spanked the Rays. Still, records don’t quite matter in Spring Training. What matters is health, impression and development. It would’ve been nice to see a greater offensive output in the first three games, but the bats always come around. And the pitchers that cost the Phillies the most seemed to be guys who won’t factor much in the future of the franchise. In fact, I’d argue there were more positives out of the 0-3 start (Ibanez starting strong, Carrasco and Happ blazing forward, Moyer keeping steady) than negatives. As long as the team is healthy and prepared for April 5, that’s all I care about.
There has been a lot of talk about the 5th starter race. Personally I think it is between Happ and Park. If Park wins what do you think will happen to Kendrick and Happ? Are they now bullpen options or are they trade bait?
While anything can happen with these three, the Phillies would be best served to dangle one of Happ or Kendrick as trade bait while keeping the other in Lehigh Valley. I can’t see either Happ or Kendrick as bullpen options considering they’re so tailor made for starting games. Kendrick is a slow worker who doesn’t have an overpowering out pitch, while Happ seems to have too many good pitches to waste in short sessions. Auctioning one of them for another team’s younger prospect might be a good idea. Remember, after this year Carlos Carrasco joins the rotation, with other options (Drew Naylor, Kyle Drabek) not far behind.
What are the chances John Mayberry makes the opening day roster?
— Laura Nash
Going into camp I’d say the chances weren’t favorable for Mayberry, but after a few games he has improved those chances. It’s way too early to make any determinations on anybody, including Mayberry, but I like his approach at the plate, his power and his speed (and that he rakes left-handed pitching). Scott Lauber compared his tools to Dave Winfield, while Phuture Phillies threw out Mike Cameron. I could see a little of both, but I’m not sure if he’s even close to that plane. When the Phillies acquired him I argued he was Pat Burrell’s replacement at some point — I don’t know if that’s really true, but I can see him as a valuable right-handed bat off the bench, and I think the Phillies would like him to turn into that player. He is one player I truly like watching after only a few days this spring, and I hope he continues to succeed.
Wonder if you could some kind of rundown on the progress of the guys at the end of the roster battling for spots, your Majewski’s, Koplove’s and Ozuna’s and how things currently look for filling out those final spots.
– NJ from the UK
So far each of the three you listed have impressed. Majewski is a solid veteran right-hander who had injury troubles and was hit around badly in Cincinnati — in his one appearance he looked good. Koplove is a local boy who has the same experience and success as Majewski, and in his appearances he has looked good. I would say they’re the frontrunners for a final bullpen spot, if it comes down to that. They’re competing with Antonio Bastardo — a prospect who already had a poor outing, and Jake Woods — who has minimal major league experience and was hit around against Tampa Bay.
Ozuna is part of a competition that could encompass more than infielders. If Chase Utley and Pedro Feliz are healthy before opening night, Ozuna, Jason Donald, Marcus Giles and Miguel Cairo might be competing with Eric Bruntlett and even John Mayberry Jr. and Jeremy Slayden for a final roster spot. However, if Utley and/or Feliz are put on the disabled list, Ozuna and his infield cohorts might be competing for a spot alone. Complicated? Sure. But so far, Ozuna went 3-for-4 with a home run against the Reds. While that looks great, Ozuna isn’t quite known for sparkling offense (three career home runs in 677 at bats). He can hit singles and doubles, so it’s possible he could give Bruntlett a run for his money. Considering Ozuna is versatile, he could break the 25-man roster. I’d say of the infielders competing (besides Bruntlett), Cairo and Ozuna have the best shot making the roster. Donald needs a solid spring to overtake them. Giles is a tougher call because he didn’t play at all in 2008.
Not exactly a question, but how about trying to organize a phillies nation pick-up baseball or even softball game? Could be fun.
— Dan Haddigan
I think when we hit Clearwater in two weeks, we have a pick-up game.
I am heading to Phoenix on Wednesday the 4th and will be returning on the 12th of March.
Spring training will be in full force but also the WBC will have taken some of my favorite players so I need to be picky when I get out there as to which teams I visit. Any suggestions?
— Richard Dreyer
Since you’re going to Phoenix, the best bet is heading to Athletics camp, which is right in the city. There you can see former Phillie prospects Gio Gonzalez, Josh Outman and Adrian Cardenas, plus noted slugger Matt Holliday. Close to you is Mesa, where the Cubs are holding camp. There you can catch the team that might be the Phillies’ biggest competition in 2009. Brewers camp is in Maryville, a half-hour drive from Phoenix. The Brewers, of course, will be challenging for National League supremacy. The Dodgers would be fun to watch, but who knows if Manny Ramirez will be signed by then. The Angels? I’d like to see Bobby Abreu and Vladimir Guerrero — luckily Vlad will be in Angels camp.
I think I read on mlb.com that Johan Santana may not be ready for opening day. Not sure how accurate the report is but thought you may want to make a post for it or something.
And I posted that news, thank you. Just my thought: It’s far too early to determine that Santana could be out to start the season, and if it’ll cost the Mets at all. Still, it’s a scary injury possibility for the Mets, and if they do lose their ace for an extended amount of time, that team becomes very fragile. That starting rotation is iffy as it is.
Thanks for sending your questions, and keep sending new ones to firstname.lastname@example.org