Ruben Amaro admitted that his bullpen plan didn’t pan out. He’ll obviously address what is arguably the Phillies’ most glaring weakness.
But the reality is that building a bullpen is perhaps the most difficult job for a general manager. Relievers are the most volatile players on the roster.
“You don’t know what most arms in the pen are going to give you every year,” a NL scout said. “Relievers are often up and down. And then there is injury.”
Amaro’s two-year, $12-million dollar deal with Mike Adams looked good on paper. Adams was the best set-up man in baseball in 2011 and 2012. Adams was to solve the eighth inning woes, which was the Phillies’ Achilles heel in 2012.
It didn’t work out. Adams never looked right, got hurt — slated for shoulder surgery — and is out for the year.
“That is a tough one,” Justin DeFratus said. “Mike has been dominant but he was hurt. It’s our job to pick it up. Sometimes guys get hurt.”
It could have been worse for the Phillies. They could be in a long-term commitment with Ryan Madson now. Mad Dog was a huge reason for the Phillies’ glorious run from 2007 to 2011.
After becoming a terrific set-up man and a solid closer, Amaro balked at Madson’s demands for a long-term deal. Madson was forced to sign a one-year deal with the Reds in 2012 and blew his arm out during spring training. As a result, Madson’s last meaningful pitch was made while wearing red pinstripes.
“It’s crazy,” MLB analyst Mitch Williams said. “The Phillies really dodged a bullet on that one solely because Madson was represented by Scott Boras. If Ryan wasn’t represented by Boras, I think the Phillies would have signed him.”
So Boras inadvertently helped the Phillies.
“The thing with relievers is that you need to find the diamonds in the rough,” the NL scout said. “The key is finding reliable bullpen guys, who make next to nothing.”
The Phillies almost did just that with Jason Grilli. The journeyman was dominant at Triple-A Lehigh Valley in 2011, but was never promoted. The Pirates added Grilli and he hasn’t looked back. Grilli leads the NL with 30 saves, with only one blown chance.
“It would have been great to get called up by the Phillies, but it didn’t happen,” Grilli said. “But it all worked out.”
It worked out for Grilli. What will the Phillies do to shore up the bullpen? Will they trade Michael Young for a reliever? Will they try their luck on the free-agent market?
“It’s not easy for any team,” the NL scout said. “You need to do your homework and get lucky.”
Phils crushed in Detroit
The Phillies lost to the Tigers, 12-4, Sunday to end a forgettable road trip. The team has dropped eight straight games, the worst losing streak since September 2011.
The Phils were leading 3-0 before an ugly sixth doomed them. The inning included three errors and a grand slam. Jake Diekman took the loss.
Phils add Cuban arm
The Phillies won a bidding war for Cuban right-hander Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez over the weekend. The 26-year-old will start in the minors, according to reports.
Gonzalez will reportedly sign a six-year, $48 million deal. The Phillies haven’t confirmed it.