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Groundhog sees his shadow, Phil predicts eight more weeks of Spring Training

As pitchers and catchers report to Clearwater, Florida, the Phillies are looking to make a little club history.

If the 2010 season goes according to plan, the Phils can win their fourth straight Eastern Division title for the first time ever, and three-peat the National League Pennant, for the first time, as well.

The last time the Phillies won three straight division titles took place in 1976, 1977 and 1978. None of those teams made it to the World Series, however. That would have to wait until the breakthrough year in 1980.

From a pitching standpoint, Ruben Amaro Jr. has made a few moves to shore up the pitching staff by trading Cliff Lee and acquiring the coveted Roy Halladay.

The right-handed ace, Halladay, will join Cole Hamels (lefty), J.A. Happ (righty), and Joe Blanton (righty), in the rotation. Candidates for the fifth starter position are: Jamie Moyer (lefty), Kyle Kendrick (righty) and Antonio Bastardo (lefty). Don't count out Pedro Martinez, however. The Phils are still considering bringing back Pedro in case of injury, etc.

Of the expected seven bullpen positions, six spots are pretty much filled. (The only exceptions would be through injury or if Brad Lidge or J. C. Romero are not ready for the start of the season.) Those six are: Ryan Madson, Danys Baez, Chad durbin, Jose Contreras, Lidge and Romero.

Contreras was signed Jan. 28 to sure up the pen. The right-hander signed a $1.5 million deal. He was 6-13 with a 4.92 era in 28 games last year combined while pitching for the White Sox and the Rockies.

Most notable, was the the fact that he was 1-0 with a 1.59 era with the Rockies in two starts, with 17 strikeouts in 17.0 innings. He also made two postseason starts last year vs. the Phils.

Contreras was signed by the Yankees as a free agent in 2003, and in 2005, he was 15-7 with a 3.61 era with the White Sox.

The 33-year-old, right-handed throwing, Baez, signed a two-year deal with the Phillies.

Filling the last spot in the pen, that's where it gets interesting!

Six other hurlers are in the mix for the final spot. They are: Scott Mathieson, Sergio Escalona, Drew Naylor, Drew Carpenter, Mike Zakurski, and Eric Gagne.

Mathieson and Gagne, while both longshots, are also both quite intruiging.

Both hurlers are trying to comeback from Tommy John surgery.

Gagne is 34, and was deemed, at one time, to be one of the best closers in baseball. He saved 55 games for the Dodgers in 2003.

Mathieson, on the other hand, will turn 29 years old on Feb. 27. He was one of the Phillies top pitching prospects, but has had three elbow surgeries in three years. He started in the Phils' farm system in 2006. Although he was not given a contract last year, he has been invited to Spring Training in 2010, and reports are that he looks good, and he has been throwing in the 92 mph range.

Gagne was given a look by the Phillies and the Colorado Rockies in January, but as of right now, he is still unsigned. The former closer stated that he would be willing to accept a minor league contract.

So, as those of us up here in the Northeast prepare for a few more weeks of snow and winter weather, we can only hope that Punxatawny Phil saw another World Series appearance for the Fightin' Phils, in addition to his shadow! - Tom Schalata


  1. you are way off on your info gagne will not be in spring training with the phillies and mathieson did sign a contract last year and pitched very well in the minor leagues for the phillies as well as in the arizona fall league and he's still 25 turning 26 years old. drew naylor has no chance of making the team and there has never been a word of him pitching in the bullpen the reason he's going to major league camp is because he's on the 40 man roster he will go to AA this year if he's lucky. so Tom Schalata before write another artical get your facts right.

  2. Sorry if I offended you. I never said Gagne was going to spring training. I said the Phillies watched him work out. I also said that Mathieson wasn't given a contract last year, not this year. I did know he pitched in the Arizona fall league, but I did not mention it in the blog. Obviously, most of these pitchers in camp will not have a major shot at making the club. Check your facts and your spelling before you post again. thanks! tom