In a January of emptiness, this constitutes news in Phillies land: Chris Volstad is no longer a member of the National League East.
The Miami Marlins continued their overhaul into baseball's top circus by acquiring Carlos Zambrano in a trade with Chicago. The NL East should be quite fun once Ozzie Guillen and Logan Morrison engage in a Twitter battle, Jose Reyes and Hanley Ramirez both play shortstop, and Zambrano bashes the backstop aquarium in the new ballpark.
Anyway, back to Volstad: His departure marks a sad day for Ryan Howard, who probably could use some good days. If you've watched any Phillies-Marlins games in the past half decade, you might have seen Howard teeing off Volstad.
They've faced one another only 31 times, but Howard has eight home runs against Volstad, the most vs. any one pitcher.
Here's Howard's top 10 victims:
Sure enough, Zambrano has solid numbers against Howard in his career, limiting the slugger to a .222/.333/.278 slash line in 21 plate appearances. We're pretty sure this is not why the Marlins made the trade.
And so long as a healthy Howard is on the field come June 29, when the Phillies make their first trip to Miami, the Phillies won't care who he's facing.
Two more in-house non-roster invitees for spring training to report, via MLB.com: Righthanders Austin Hyatt and B.J. Rosenberg.
We like Hyatt as a possible innings-eater down the line. For now, he's at least rotation depth and could be at the top of the triple-A Lehigh Valley rotation in 2012. His strikeout rate has dipped as he's moved up the ladder, but it still remained at 10.0 per nine innings in 28 double-A starts. He turns 26 in May.
Rosenberg is also an older guy (26) who has yet to taste triple A. He's been injured, bounced between the rotation and bullpen, and showcased in Arizona Fall League play. He has yet to show prolonged effectiveness, but there are those in the Phillies organization who like his arm. So he'll be with the big kids come February.
Ryan Madson is still unsigned, but here's betting he won't end up as big a loser in free agency as some think.
Have a question? Send it to Matt Gelb's Mailbag.