I noticed a little item in this morning’s Inquirer indicating the Phillies are on a pace to win 87 games this season, one less than last year and six games behind the target new GM Pat Gillick set when he was hired.
This projection made me wonder just how Gillick has done in helping the Phils achieve his goal. In no particular order:
Alex Gonzalez retired out of the blue Sunday and slipped out of town under cover of a…well… bright blue sky. His departure came as a complete surprise…at least until we thought about it, at which point it came as welcome news.
Fellow infielder Abraham Nunez is still reported to be in residence, however, seated somewhere along the bench at Citizens Bank Park. To say that he is the forgotten man on this roster would be an understatement; generally, it is easier to find people in the Witness Protection Program.
Pitcher Ricardo Rodriguez, acquired in the Vicente Padilla trade, never even made it to town in the first place; the Phillies released him toward the end of Spring Training. His whereabouts are a little harder to pin down but it does not appear he caught on with any other club.
Arthur Rhodes is very much in evidence in the bullpen when he isn’t on the mound issuing roughly one walk per inning, not the most endearing trait from a relief pitcher.
Jullio Santana is on the Disabled List after suddenly developing elbow problems at precisely the moment when the Phillies needed a roster spot. Pure coincidence.
David Dellucci is beginning to find his stroke as he adjusts to his role as a very part-time player.
Sal Fasano has somehow become the personal catcher for Jon Lieber and Gavin Floyd, two pitchers who could not be more different if they set out to be so. As far as I can tell Fasano is their only common denominator.
Closer Tom Gordon has performed very well indeed, saving 13 out of 14 opportunities and pitching very badly in only one outing, which, unfortunately, was his most important one to date, a loss to the Mets.
Ryan Franklin has pitched decently, giving up almost a hit an inning (20 in 21.1 innings), surrendering a home run (3) every seven innings and yielding nearly the same number of walks (9) as strikeouts (11). His advance notices were far worse than those numbers would indicate.
The trade that sent Jim Thome to Chicago for Aaron Rowand and two young pitching prospects may be Gillick’s crowning achievement to date. Rowand has been everything advertised and more; the two young hurlers are doing well; Ryan Howard continues to flourish as the sole first baseman; and, Jim Thome has made an astounding comeback in Chicago.
What does this all add up to? It may be too early to say, but this much is known: Gillick seems to have improved the starting lineup while further fouling up the bench. He hasn’t necessarily improved the bullpen compared to last year, but no one should fault him for letting a certain Virginia-born loudmouth closer move further north.