A Stroll Through Spring Stats

As the Phils finish enjoying their only day off this month, it seems like a good time to take a quick look at the spring stats. Yeah, in terms of the regular season, they're meaningless more often than not, but still worth some consideration just for whatever they might tell us about trends, trade rumors and position battles.

Let's start with the hitters. It's likely that the most revealing thing about Florida numbers is just how much action guys are getting (and I don't mean in the Pat Burrell-of-yore sense). The Phillies with the most plate appearances thus far are Greg Dobbs (34 AB, 5 BB), Shane Victorino (33, 4), Aaron Rowand (31, 1), and Karim Garcia (30, 1).

Dobbs and Garcia make sense; they're fighting for a job. Both have put up good numbers, though Dobbs (.353/.439/.706) is faring better even after cooling off in the last few days. Garcia is 10 for 30 (.333), but has just 3 doubles in addition to the one walk. Given that Dobbs also can play some infield, he's probably ahead right now. Chris Coste, the putative third man in that battle, only has 17 AB, and 4 hits (2 doubles) plus a walk; to me, that looks like the line of a guy whose role is pretty much assured.

All the at-bats for Rowand and Victorino might be explained by teams scouting Rowand and the Phils trying to reassure themselves that the relatively small-statured Flyin' Hawaiian is up for 150 games or so. With a .424/.486/.485 line, there's little to complain about. He's also 3-4 in steals after going 4-7 for all of 2006. Rowand, on the other hand, has been awful; he's 4 for 31 with one double and the walk, for a line (.129/.151/.162) that would make Abe Nunez blush. For what it's worth, he evidently goes through this every spring... but there also might be some concern that his ankle isn't at 100 percent after last August's season-ending injury. The conspiracy-minded might wish to note that Michael Bourn, the possible heir in centerfield, has a .345/.355/.448 line in 29 at-bats, with 4 steals (no CS) and 11 runs scored, and the team is talking him up.

Oh, and it might mean nothing, but Jimmy Rollins has 8 walks in 29 plate appearances. That's not a misprint, and if he somehow approximates that when the real games start, he could score 140 runs this season.

How about on the mound? If ST hitting stats are nearly worthless as an indication of performance, that goes double for pitching; the big guys often will stay back to throw in minor-league games, or will go through a certain appearance trying to get comfortable with a new pitch or to get used to throwing a specific offering in a specific situation. Particularly since there's no competition for the rotation (there's a decision to be made, mind you, but I think there's very little Jon Lieber or Adam Eaton can do to win or lose a job), let's just focus on the relievers.

The two bullpen candidates who have made the most appearances are Clay Condrey and Brian Sanches, with five each. Neither has fared all that well, though Sanches does have 8 strikeouts in 7 IP. Unfortunately, he's also allowed 9 hits and 4 walks, so he should likely pack warm for Ottawa. Joe Bisenius, Geoff Geary and Justin Germano have appeared in four games each. Bisenius has been the best pitcher in camp, allowing no runs and just one hit in 4.1 IP while striking out six. The interesting question is whether it's more worthwhile to keep him with the big club in a presumably lesser role, or have him closing for the Lynx. Germano is more likely to pitch himself into a job, both because he's performed well (1.50 ERA, 6 strikeouts in 6 IP) and because he'll very likely get claimed on waivers if he doesn't make the 25-man.

Most of the remaining bullpen hopefuls have been, well, awful. Fabio Castro could push the Phils into a very tough decision with a great spring, but that 7.11 ERA means he has a lot of work to do over the next two-plus weeks. Rule V picks Jim Ed Warden (10.80 ERA, 2.4 WHIP) and Alfredo Simon (12.46, 2.77) aren't looking good either. But if you figure Gordon (assuming good health), Madson, Geary, Alfonseca and Smith (his 16.62 ERA notwithstanding) are in, then all three are still alive and battling with Germano and Bisenius for the final two spots.

Yeah, I too am ready for the damn season to start.

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