CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Trying something new because we're always trying new things to keep the content here fresh. But sometimes that's not easy to do and you could say we've hit the proverbial wall at the midpoint of spring training. Always listening for suggestions.
So for now, here's three morning thought based upon things that happened Sunday:
1. Mike Stutes will pitch in the big leagues this season. Will he make the opening day roster? Probably not. It would take an injury or two to get him on April 1, but Stutes has done everything possible this spring to leave a lasting first impression on Rich Dubee and the rest of the Phillies brass.
Stutes is 24. He spent four years of college at Oregon State and was an integral part of back-to-back College World Series champions. Last spring the Phillies told him he was becoming a reliever. He began at double-A Reading and jumped to triple-A Lehigh Valley in June. The 3.10 ERA was decent but the 1.83 K/BB ratio was not spectacular.
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But the thing that has stuck out about Stutes this spring is he's not afraid to throw strikes. He's in the mid-90s on his fastball, has breaking pitches that still need work, but he is in the strike zone more times than not.
On Sunday in Lakeland, Stutes left a pitch up high in the zone and it was clobbered for a home run. But he struck out the other three batters he faced and didn't shy away from being in the zone after making a terrible mistake. He's tied for the team lead with eight strikeouts this spring and had yet to walk a batter.
2. It's hard to see a match between the Phillies and Mike Cameron. The Boston Globe floated the idea of the Phillies inquiring about the 38-year-old outfielder now that Domonic Brown is out 4-6 weeks with a broken hand. On Sunday morning, Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. said he will not be looking outside the organization for outfield help in the wake of Brown's injury.
Granted, the GM is known to stretch the truth here and there, so take that at face value. But Cameron doesn't seem like the right fit, at least right now. He's owed $7.5 million in 2011 and is coming off a lost season in 2010. It's difficult to argue Cameron is a decided upgrade over Ben Francisco right now, but the point in acquiring Cameron or another outfielder would be for depth. John Mayberry Jr. would be the fouth outfielder right now and if another outfielder goes down, the Phillies are thin out there.
3. Matt Anderson is throwing really hard, but it's really straight. Watched Anderson make his return to Lakeland, where he began his professional career with the Detroit Tigers. One pitch was registered at 99 m.p.h. on the scoreboard radar gun. The others were clocked at 94-96 m.p.h. and that's admirable considering he hasn't pitched in a major-league game since 2005.
But the balls were flying off Tigers' bats Sunday: three hard singles and a deep fly ball to the warning track. He mixed in a few breaking balls, but no one was biting.
Here's the thing: It's hard to ignore the velocity, for sure. That's why the Phillies will gladly save a roster spot at triple-A Lehigh Valley for Anderson. Should he be willing to go to the minors for the first couple of months and prove he can get veteran hitters out, maybe there is a spot for him in the majors. Beyond that, don't expect much from Anderson.
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