Lots of stuff to get to this morning.
1) It's still cold down here. About 41 degrees. Then again, I just checked the current conditions in Philly. 19 degrees. Yikes.
2) Some thoughts from yesterday's 8-1 win over the Reds. Yeah, it was only the first spring training game. And anybody in baseball will tell you that spring training is a horrible predictor of things to come. Still, there was tons to be impressed with.
- Pitching: When Rich Dubee walked into the coaches' locker room, we heard him get a big round of applause from his fellow coaches. I can only assume this was because of the way his pitchers threw the ball yesterday. They allowed one run, five hits, struck out seven and, most amazingly, walked none. No walks. In the first spring training games. In chilly conditions. In high winds. That's pretty impressive. Manager Charlie Manuel said the organization's top prospect, Carlos Carrasco, impressed him. More on the Venezuelan 20-year-old later.
- Jamie Moyer: In the second inning, Moyer struck out Juan Encarnacion on what was either a slow curve or a change-up. Either way, it looked like it was travelling in a School Zone it was moving so slow. The thing practically had its hazard lights on. Moyer said later the pitch was a mistakes. Nevertheless, the 45-year-old lefty was outstanding, allowing one hit and striking out three in three innings of work. He kept batters off balance the entire time, making very quick work of the first third of the game. For more on Moyer, read my colleague Paul Hagen's story in today's paper.
- Travis Blackley: Blackley was very satisfied with his appearance. He threw one pitch that probably would have been taken for a home run had the wind not been blowing, but other than that he showed nice command of his off-speed stuff. "Sinker, sinker, sinker" Blackley told me after the game when I asked what he was throwing. He'll be interesting to monitor this spring. He had shoulder surgery two years ago, and the Phillies were convinced when they selected him in the rule 5 draft that he was still gaining velocity back. He's a lefty who was once one of the top prospects in the Mariners organization. He's a starter, always been a starter, but Manuel admitted yesterday that there is a chance he could wind up in the bull-pen. He has to make the active roster, or the Phillies have to offer him back to San Francisco, whom they selected him from this past offseason.
- Newcomers: The Phils didn't make any huge free agent signings - at least not on the level of Mike Lowell or Johan Santana - but the ones they did make all had strong efforts yesterday. Geoff Jenkins, Pedro Feliz, So Taguchi and Eric Bruntlett all picked up hits. Feliz and Bruntlett both went 2-for-2, while Jenkins had a nice double that jump-started a seven-run fifth inning. Here's my view of guys like Jenkins and Feliz: In San Francisco and Milwaukee, their respective teams needed them to be major components of the run-scoring machine. The Phillies certainly need production out of them, but not nearly as badly as their former teams needed. For example: in Feliz's case, there is a heck of a lot of difference between protecting Barry Bonds in San Fran and hitting seventh for the Phillies, as he did yesterday. That can only help these guys.
3) Real interesting story in today's paper on Carrasco, who revealed to us yesterday that his family had been held up at gun-point in his native Venezuela just eight days before he was scheduled to leave for spring training. Here's the link. It's an amazing story, and I have a heck of a lot more respect for the kid now after hearing about it. It's not like this couldn't happen anywhere else, but we're certainly a lot more pampered here in American than in Venezuela, which according to the World Health Organization has the fourth-highest murder rate on the planet Earth. The kid's quite literally pitching for his family.