It is the middle of the third inning here at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota, where Roy Halladay is in the middle of facing the Orioles and the Phillies' lineup is in the middle of facing up-and-coming young lefty Brian Matusz.
Halladay's velocity does not appear to be an issue, at least not if the stadium scoreboard is accurate. He's sitting at 90-92. As you might recall, there was a brief panic after Fox Sports reported that Halladay's velo was down in his last start. Halladay dismissed the report, as did Charlie Manuel, Rich Dubee and Ruben Amaro Jr.
A few other notes...
1) Here are two names you can add to the list of potential second basemen who could be available via trade. The Cubs' Blake DeWitt and the Red Sox's Mike Aviles have both had their names pop up in spring training trade speculation, though as far as I can tell, there has been nothing to suggest either team is actively shopping either player.
Aviles is an intriguing name because he put together two pretty good offensive seasons in recent years, hitting .325/.354/.480 with 10 home runs in 441 plate appearances as a 27-year-old in 2008 and .304/.335/.413 with eight home runs and 14 steals in 448 plate appearances in 2010. The 31-year-old struggled at the plate last year, hitting .255/.289/.409 with seven home runs and 14 steals in 309 plate appearances for the Royals and Red Sox.
That being said, the Red Sox do not appear to have a lot of incentive to trade him. Recent reports out of Boston suggest that he is the front-runner for the starting shortstop job. The thinking goes that if Boston elects to bring shortstop prospect Jose Iglesias up to the majors, they could look to shop him instead of keeping him as another utility man next to Nick Punto.
Aviles, who bats right-handed, has started 141 games at short stop and 115 games at second base. Old friend Scott Lauber, formerly the Phillies beat writer at the Wilmington News Journal, talked to an American League executive earlier this spring who described Aviles' defense thusly: "Short at all three defensive positions as an everyday guy. Probably best at short stop, but range is a little limited. Just fair on double play at second base and inconsistent all-around at third."
DeWitt played regularly for the Dodgers and Cubs in 2008 and 2010. In 2008, he hit .264/.344/.383 with nine home runs, 68 strikeouts and three stolen bases in 421 plate appearances as a 22-year-old rookie. In 2010, he hit .261/.336/.373 with five home runs, 86 strikeouts and three stolen bases in 496 plate appearances.
Last year, Dewitt hit .265/.305/.413 with five home runs, 31 strikeouts and one stolen base in 243 plate appearances.
DeWitt is a left-handed hitter, but he has better numbers against lefties for his career:
vs. LHP: 228 PAs, 4 HRs, 41 Ks, .290/.373/.440
vs. RHP: 985 PAs, 17 HRs, 151 Ks, .254/.318/.373
Last week we mentioned the Angels' Maicer Izturis and ex-Royal Alberto Callaspo as players who could potentially become available, as well as the Orioles' Robert Andino and the Cubs' Jeff Baker. Like Aviles, though, the Angels and Orioles don't appear to have much incentive to give their infielders away. If L.A. or Boston were interested in acquiring Joe Blanton, that might change the picture a bit.
2) In today's Daily News we pondered Chase Utley's short and long-term future. We all know that Utley is going to do everything in his power to get back on the field this season. But the fact he isn't there yet tells you how bad the situation is with regards to his knees. Even still, it is looking increasingly likely that we will never again see the Utley who strung together six dominant seasons from 2005-10. It's sad. But it isn't unprecedented. Take the case of Don Mattingly. From ages 23 through 28, the former Yankee star hit 160 home runs while posting a batting line of .327/.372/.530. But back problems played him throughout the second half of his career. In his final six seasons, he hit 58 home runs with a battling line of .286/.345/.405 before retiring after his 34-year-old season. Mike Greenwell, Roger Maris, Shawn Green and Troy Glaus are other former stars who were retired before the age of 35. Everybody knows about Mickey Mantle's knee injury -- the Yankee great retired after his 36-year-old season, but limped to the finish line. In his final four seasons, Mantle's OPS was 141 points lower than his career average, and he averaged 10 fewer home runs per 162 games.
Utley is heading into his 33-year-old season.
3) The bullpen picture is coming into clearer focus. Three potential lefty specialists remain in camp: Joe Savery, Jake Diekman and Raul Valdes. From this vantage point, Savery is the most likely to stick should the Phillies decide to keep a second lefty to supplement Antonio Bastardo. The Phillies still feel like Diekman has some developing to do. Valdes has had a good spring, but he is also out of options, so Savery would probably give them the most flexibility. That's just my sense of it, though.
EDIT: Valdes might actually have an option remaining. I need to double-check. Either way, I think Savery would have the edge.