This is a big week for the Phillies, who have a handful of top picks in next week's draft.
It's draft week, and this is a critical one for the Phillies. They have seven picks in the top 136: 24, 34, 51, 71, 102, 110 and 136, which means they have an excellent opportunity to restock their farm system with some legitimate talent. But will ownership go over slot to sign them, if necessary? The Phillies traditionally follow the Commissioner's guidelines for paying draft picks. Other teams haven't, like the Detroit Tigers. That's why they had enough talent to acquire Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis in the off-season.
Salisbury writes, "Paying a little more to lure a player away from a college scholarship can make financial sense when compared to the cost of mediocre free-agent pitching. Two winters ago, the Phils gave Adam Eaton $24.5 million, a paycheck he hasn't lived up to. Last summer, with the money they had left over from not signing Brandon Workman, the Phils signed their 12th-round pick, 6-foot-5 righthander Julian Sampson, who looked to be headed to the University of Washington until the Phils offered $390,000. At the time, he was pitching at 88 to 92 m.p.h. He's added 20 pounds of muscle and is consistently pitching at 94 m.p.h. (with some 96s) in his first pro season at single-A Lakewood.
"So what makes more sense, throwing big money at below-average free agents or taking a shot at a Julian Sampson for a fraction of the money? There are no sure things in the draft, but if a team signs enough top talent and nurtures it well in the minors, some of it will make it."
Last night seemed to set up perfectly for the Phillies.
They had been tearing the cover off the ball for more than a week and had Cole Hamels on the mound. But then the bats fell silent and the Hamels got knocked around in his second straight start in a 7-3 loss to the Marlins that dropped them a half-game out of first place.
"His command has been a little off his last two times out," Charlie Manuel said. "This is the first time I've seen his command not as good. But he'll figure it out. It's part of going through the season, and those things happen."
"I haven't really been able to throw the ball effectively," Hamels said. "I'm cutting most of my fastballs, and when you're aiming for a spot and you end up cutting it out of the zone, or it hits the corner and it cuts back to the heart of the plate, that's where the damage is done."
Hamels has had some rough stretches in the past, but he always works out of it.
This should be no different.
In the Phillies Notebook, Manuel is trying his best to keep his reserves as sharp as possible.
A photo gallery from last night's game.