The Philadelphia Phillies bullpen is undergoing major changes, with almost every role up for grabs in the coming 2016 season.
Year after year, baseball teams search the scrap heap in order to find someone whose arm could possibly help to stabilize their bullpen mix. The Philadelphia Phillies have made this effort each year over the course of the last four seasons. Let me toss some names your way as a review.
How about the eternal Chad Qualls? His tenure here was about as successful as literally any Drew Barrymore performance.
There was Mike Adams. While he was still considered productive at the time that he signed, he also had thrown the number of innings equivalent to the age of my second graders.
Then…Jeff Manship. I am pretty sure I do not need to explain any further. Despite what the classic internet meme stated, he was most definitely NOT a saint, at least not based on his results out on a big league mound.
This year, the Phillies dove back into the pile of retread and journeyman relievers, hoping for a couple of gems. They came out with a few new names. One of those is lefty Bobby LaFromboise, brought in off waivers at the end of January. As hoped, he has made an immediate impact as the team has pushed through the Grapefruit League.
Drafted by the Seattle Mariners in the 8th round of the 2008 MLB Amateur Draft, LaFrombroise enjoyed success during minor league stints with both the Mariners and Pittsburgh Pirates. The 30-year old has been predominantly a reliever since the 2011 season.
In two major league stints with Seattle and Pittsburgh, LaFromboise has thrown 27 innings, walking five and striking out 23 batters. Last season he tossed eight major league innings for the Pirates, striking out eight batters while walking one. His numbers were not strong enough to keep a job on a contending Pirates squad, but he fit perfectly into the current rebuilding situation with the Phillies.
LaFromboise has been nearly spotless in his work this spring, striking out eight batters in 7.1 innings. The deceptive lefty has also not allowed an earned run this exhibition season. He has truly placed himself into a situation where he could win one of the final spots in the bullpen. Most of the jobs have been claimed, but with one (possibly two) spots left, LaFromboise is heavily in the conversation.
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Besides his talent, he makes sense on this team for another reason: trade candidate. With LaFromboise, the Phillies may have found an arm to showcase throughout the first four months of the season. If he succeeds in his role as a left-handed specialist, the Phillies will absolutely find a trade partner. When July rolls around, teams are constantly looking to strengthen their bullpen. Finding someone who can consistently retire tough left-handed bats is always near the top of the list.
LaFromboise would also allow the Phillies time to build some of the younger arms in the pen down on the farm. His time with the big club will eat at least half the season while pitchers such as Elvis Araujo, Jimmy Cordero, and Edubray Ramos continue to grow, and Mario Hollands finishes rehabbing his surgically repaired elbow.
The Phillies certainly hope the scrap heap pays off for them this time around, and LaFromboise continues his spring success. If he does, the lefty could become another piece signify a contuing turnaround in the luck of this organization.