Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Down On The Farm in Philadelphia PA

Conventional wisdom holds that the Phillies have so little chance of making the post-season for the twelfth consecutive year they might as well take a look at as many of the bright prospects in their farm system as they can during the remaining months of 2006.

The trouble with this line of reasoning is that the Phillies have been doing that since day one and look where it has gotten them.  At this juncture it might be easier to list those “bright prospects” down on the farm who haven’t had a cup of coffee or two in the big leagues.

The latest prospect to be summoned is actually here for a return engagement.  Carlos Ruiz was recalled for the second time only after the Phils placed back-up catcher Sal Fasano, who had been masquerading for months as a starting catcher, on the DL, where putative first-string catcher Mike Lieberthal already resided.  Got that?  Ruiz will split the duties with Chris Coste, who would have been listed at the beginning of the season as the emergency, i.e., third string, catcher but instead was the final cut before the Phillies broke camp.  Got that?  To summarize:  third string catcher Carlos Ruiz and emergency catcher Chris Coste are now splitting the first string duties.

Ruiz has been the subject of much debate in the blogosphere, almost all of it critical of the Phillies’ alleged brain trust.  An excellent receiver who was hitting more than .300 at AAA, the 27-year old was superior to the alternatives defensively if not to the real thing himself (Lieberthal); nevertheless, Ruiz was considered “over-matched” at the plate during his first stint with the club more than a month ago and was sent down after only 35 at-bats.  No problem.  On his first day back Carlos went 2-3 including his first major league home run.  Take that, alleged brain trust!!

The majority of other prospects who have had a fling or two with the big club include, of course, Cole Hamels and Scott Mathieson, both of whom were pressed into major league service when so many of the regular rotation went down with various ailments including a chronic inability to miss opposing batters’ bats when throwing a ball.  A few other youngsters, chief among these Eude Brito and Chris Roberson, are considered to have somewhat dimmer futures in the big leagues, but they, too have made appearances.  Roberson is back for at least the second time this season.

Former bright prospect Gavin Floyd will remain in the minor leagues for the foreseeable future.  His name does not come up publicly these days when discussing pitchers who might be able to help.  Even guys like Adam Bernero are more highly regarded, albeit for one start only.  Newcomer Fabio Castro, the latest expatriate of the Texas Rangers, will be given plenty of opportunity to pitch in relief here, especially given how early and often the Phillies have to go to the pen.

Other than those mentioned, there really aren’t a lot of other candidates down on the farm who are ready to step in.

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