Lots to get to today:
1) Paul Hagen checked in on Carlos Carrasco when he was up in Lehigh Valley on Monday. Carrasco is 0-5 with a 6.31 ERA, although those numbers are skewed by two horrendous starts. From people I've talked to, the ability to rebound from rough patches is one area of his development that is still a major work in progress. Keep in mind that is not unusual for a kid that is 22 years old. But that is one of the reasons why he is not a viable option right now for a major-league call-up. Starters need to have a special kind of memory -- "short" probably isn't the right word, but "selective" probably is. It's one of the reasons Jamie Moyer was so good last year: he wouldn't let a negative situation snow ball.
2) One of the interesting situations to watch over the next few days is how the Phillies manage their roster in anticipation of this weekend's series against the Yankees. Currently, they are carrying 13 pitchers. While it may not be an ideal situation, they were using their fifth bench guy, Miguel Cairo, sparingly as it was. So you really haven't noticed his absence yet. There is a school of thought that in an American League series with the designated hitter, you need extra arms more than extra bats. But the Phillies are scheduled to face two lefthanders, C.C. Sabathia and Andy Pettitte, which right now would put Eric Bruntlett in line for a couple of starts. They could DH Chase Utley and give Bruntlett the start at second, or DH Bruntlett. DH'ing Chris Coste is not a likely option, because you don't want to burn your back-up catcher. But another option is calling up somebody from Triple-A in order to serve as a right-handed DH. John Mayberry, who is hitting .278 with eight home runs, could be an option. Interestingly enough, though, all eight of Mayberry's home runs have come against right-handed pitchers this season (he has 29 at bats against lefties). I don't have a good feeling on how realistic such a move would be. But Manuel did say that calling up a minor leaguer was a possibility.
3) The back story on Paul Bako: the Phillies have been interested in signing him for awhile, thanks to his prowess behind the plate. Bako was Greg Maddux's personal catcher for a time, which speaks volumes about the respect he has as a backstop. The 36-year-old veteran is heading to extended spring training to knock off the rust from six weeks out of action (he was released by the Cubs at the end of spring training). From what I understand, he'll likely head to Double-A Reading so he won't cut into Lou Marson's playing time at Triple A. The Phillies felt like they needed some defensive depth at catcher in case something happens to either Carlos Ruiz or Chris Coste. Ruiz has already spent a stint on the disabled list with a strained oblique this season. Fun fact: Bako's given name is Gabor.
4) Anybody else notice Clay Condrey coming into a one-run game in the seventh inning last night? He's pitched extremely well dating back to spring training. One of the unsung heroes of the Phillies 21-16 start thus far.
5) I focusedmy game story on Jimmy Rollins, because I really think he was the key to the victory last night. In the fifth inning, he fell behind 0-2 with runners on first and third and one out. A strike out or a pop up or a weak ground out there prevents a run from coming home and quite possibly kills a rally. But Rollins looks like Rollins again. He laid off a high ball, then took one outside, then took another one up before hitting a ball to the gap and stretching a single into a double. If Rollins plays the way he has the last eight games -- he has hit safely in each one -- you could really see this Phillies team take off.
6) I thought Chan Ho Park handled himself very well yesterday in a tough situation. Reporters talked to him less than a half hour after he found out he lost his job to J.A. Happ. Everybody knows how bad Park wanted to be a starter, and he was visibly disappointed. So it is important to keep that in mind while reading his quotes. It is also important to keep in mind that he does not have an expansive English vocabulary, so while it might read like he was complaining in some instances, I didn't get that sense. He was very honest: he's disappointed, but he says that he will do his best to help the bullpen.
7) Speaking of handling oneself, J.A. Happ was a pro as well. He told reporters he didn't want to discuss the change at length "out of respect for my teammates." Regardless of what you think about his stuff, Happ has a great make-up. You saw it when he came on Friday night and pitched the 11th and 12th innings to pick up the win against the Nationals. I'm very interested to watch him pitch against the Yankees Saturday.
8) They put chili on spaghetti in Cincinnati. What's up with that?