The off day story in Tuesday's Inquirer centers around the development of two young arms -- Antonio Bastardo and Mike Stutes -- but attempts to categorize it in a larger context. The Phillies will need to spend money this winter, whether it's on a new left fielder, a contract extension for Cole Hamels, a new deal for Jimmy Rollins (or another shortstop?) and maybe (unlikely) picking up Roy Oswalt's option.
They already have $107 million guaranteed to nine players for 2012. That's a lot. There will need to be areas of frugality. The bullpen sticks out as an obvious one.
Bastardo and Stutes will undoubtedly be major pieces, barring injury. So too could David Herndon, who has come on strong since his recall. Jose Contreras is the only reliever guaranteed money in 2012, a mere $2.5 million. Brad Lidge has an option that will be declined, Ryan Madson could earn top dollar on the market, Danys Baez is a free agent and J.C. Romero is already gone.
Two pitchers who have also emerged in the minors, Justin De Fratus and Phillippe Aumont, figure to have a great shot at contributing too. Both were promoted last week to triple-A Lehigh Valley and could spend the rest of the season there. (De Fratus, who is on the 40-man roster, may see a September call-up.)
Both are hard throwers and both have posted spectacular strikeout numbers. For space reasons I wasn't able to spend much in the paper on those two, but here's what assistant general manager Benny Looper had to say about De Fratus and Aumont:
(On De Fratus' season)
"He’s throwing well. His velocity is better. His slider is getting more consistent. His fastball and slider. He’s had a good year."
(On the possibility of him reaching the majors this year)
"If you’re working under ideal conditions he probably remains in triple A the rest of the year. But you don’t always work in ideal conditions. Sometimes it depends on, well, first the need at the major-league level. And secondly, how he’s performing right then. We’ve got Schwimer there. Zagurski has had a good year."
(On Aumont's bounce-back year)
"When we came to spring training this year we run all of our guys in the mile. He bettered his mile by over a minute. I think a lot of it happened during the winter time. Sometimes when we fail or things don’t go so good we end up better. Now I haven’t talked to him and I haven’t asked him, but I know this winter he worked a lot harder to be prepared for spring training than he did a year ago. I think that just carried on. I think the commitment and dedication and work ethic that he’s put into it is paying off. He’s been up to 97. He was 90-94 in that range, of course he was starting last year."
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