"They could rearrange his muscle tissue, but they could never rearrange... his heart."

Phillies Demand Death Match to Decide Final Bullpen Spot


The Phillies have told us there is only one bullpen spot available, and given the morose way in which Michael Stutes and Vance Worley were cleaning out their lockers the other day, it’s come down to a grim spectacle between the four names on this list and their greatest strengths.

Antonio Bastardo

Strength: Confidence

Do you keep a left handed guy in your circle of friends, just in case you get pulled into a pick up game by some neigbhorhood toughs and need him to break up your right-handed heavy circle of friends?  Why not?  And don’t tell me “Because that never happens to people to during their lives.”  Sure, those hooligans may usually just harass us with hateful slurs for now, but we all know where this headed:  a pickup baseball game.  And on that day, I’ll be ready.  Ready with an even-handed lineup.

"Maybe if you stopped dressing like a child from the '60s they'd stop picking on you," everyone says.

[Hot Like Sauce]

The Phillies said there was no reason for them to let Tony Bastard into the pen just because he was lefthanded.  And also, did you know that you don’t have to be old to get hurt?  25-year-old Antonio hasn’t crossed the irreversible threshold of pain and disease that age 30 brings, and yet he still suffered from bouts with muscle inflammation and the flu this spring.  It’s almost like injuries can happen to any person at any time, regardless of age.  But obviously that’s impossible or the Phillies would have won the 2011 World Series by now.

Such insanity has kept Bastardo off the mound, and Charlie Manuel, in his old timey managerial way, prefers to see a pitcher pitch a lot of times before letting them on the team.  Fortuntaely, Bastardo knows how to talk himself out of a jam.

“Right now, my fastball is garbage.”

–Antonio Bastardo

You tell ‘um, Tony.  You tell ‘um.

David Herndon

Strength: Gator hunting

Rich Dubee started talking the other day, and all the people who didn’t hide in their lockers heard him say that the Phillies are interested in a pitcher who can provide longer relief efforts.  And that’s all David did in 2010.  He was a human white flag, coming out to provide a clog on an endless stream of enemy offense.  His stuff wasn’t thick enough to provide adequate stoppage on every occasion, but to his credit, David would at least get in the way.

And if its long relief the Phillies want, David gave it to them on Saturday, keeping a cleat on the Orioles’ throats for two innings straight.  The Phillies, sadly, will be measuring the merit of their remaining pitchers by more than just “what happened last Saturday.”

David’s doing everything to get the Phillies attention, from keeping his ERA under 4 to hunting down a troublemaking neighborhood alligator.  But his Rule 5 status isn’t a protective bubble anymore, so not including him on the major league roster doesn’t mean losing him entirely.  So it may take more than an alligator’s carcass to get him his job back; but let’s see him actually find one first.

If David Herndon kicks my office door in and drops one of these on my desk, he makes any team he wants.

Scott Mathieson

Strength: Inspirational tearjerking

What a shame it would be if Scott had a noticeable major league career and it wasn’t in a Phillies uniform.  After all those inspirational news stories over the past few Spring Trainings, talking about the career survival rate of guys who’ve had Tommy John twice and how miraculous it is that Scott can even hug his children, let alone throw a baseball 90+ mph.  The worst part is, Tommy John surgery is such a boring (yet huge) obstacle to overcome, it wouldn’t translate well to film, meaning that even if Scott achieves legendary success, they’ll never make a movie out of it.

[Scott Mathieson.com]

Mike Zagurski

Strength:  Being promised things

Sure, we haven’t done the “novelty fat guy” thing for a while; not since Rick White would call from the bullpen every time somebody hit a home run and congratulate them.  That was hilarious, I assume.  I guess he could have been saying hideous, profane things in Latin, but that wouldn’t make any sense.  In fact, that’s a really weird thing to suggest.

Like Mathieson, Zagurski has also had Tommy John surgery, but nobody really noticed, because he only had it once.  But the Phillies brass, always careful about being cryptic and ambiguous, has yet to promise him anything.  Except for this quick utterance from Charlie Manuel in 2007, in which he uses the words “future” and “definitely” with brazen recklessness.

“[Zagurski] has a future in the big leagues, and he definitely has a future with us.”

Somewhere, Ruben Amaro, in the middle of a dream about being indecipherable, sat up in bed.  “Someone is making promises,” he muttered, clutching the Bowie knife traditionally kept under his pillow.

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Tags: Antonio Bastardo Bullpen David Herndon Mike Zagurski Phillies Scott Mathieson Spring Training