Cleaning Out The Phillies Notebook on a Friday Night

Photo Credit: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

Unlike Ray Didinger, I don’t have a big yellow notepad with pages of observations scribbled down after every game.

I do, however, keep track of potential story ideas in my notes app on my iPhone. After today, there are a few angles I wanted to cover, but here’s the thing.

It’s Friday night.

I did the Haseley story earlier. I would like to go enjoy an IPA (or four) that I hunted down during my lunch today, so I’m going to hit you with a little “cleaning out the notebook” piece and call it a night.

Let’s go!

Bryce Harper Doesn’t Fully Endorse Odúbel Herrera

Most important Phillies power rankings:

  1. Bryce Harper
  2. Everybody else

I mention this because Harper was asked Friday about Odúbel Herrera’s comeback, and I thought his answer was, I don’t know, the least welcoming (?) we’ve heard yet. Harper could have done the “we support him” thing, and he could have gone the “we know what he’s capable of” route.

But he didn’t do that. Instead, he said this:

Of course, I don’t agree with what he did. I don’t condone it. It just can’t happen. You cannot do that kind of thing in this world or this life, but I’m not the maker. I’m not a person that can make that decision of forgiving or not forgiving him, so I’m going to let Odúbel do his thing, and that’s about it.

One thing I appreciate about Harper is that he tells it like it is. He did that here.

On a related note, the Phillies may be tired of answering questions about Herrera. You may already be tired of reading about his comeback bid, but this is a story, so expect these continued periodic team temperature checks in the coming weeks.

Spencer Howard Looks Good, Where’s He Going to Pitch?

Shortly after making his spring debut, Archie Bradley was asked about the Phillies’ rebuilt bullpen. He started naming some guys he was amped up about. Then, he said, “I would throw Spencer Howard in there, too.”

Of course, that’s interesting because Howard, the organization’s top pitching prospect, is competing for a spot in the starting rotation.

He looked good today. His velocity was up, and he threw with what I call “intent.”

Yeah, the pitch was outside, but it was still pretty nasty.

Bradley, who early in his career moved from a starting pitcher to a reliever, discussed his transition. I didn’t transcribe his answer because I wanted to ask him about it, but Matt Breen got into my brain and took my question, so maybe he transcribed it. Go read whatever he wrote to find out.

Anyway, the gist was that moving to the bullpen was good for his career. Bradley also believes a pitcher like Howard could begin the season in the bullpen and move back to the starting rotation when and if it is needed.

I was, however, able to ask Joe Girardi about how he is evaluating Howard and what the team might do if several guys competing for rotation spots continue to pitch well this spring. Here’s what he had to say:

My sense is that the team feels Howard has too much talent to open at the alternate site or pitch in Triple-A, but they also want to limit his innings. I also believe they prefer the idea of veterans anchoring the back of the rotation in the early going.

We’ll see what happens, but my bet is that Howard begins the season in the bullpen — and that’s not the worst thing in the world.

Speaking of the Bullpen

Sure, it’s foolish to check box scores during the first week of spring training and get all excited about the numbers, but it’s clear this bullpen will be significantly better than it was a year ago — and not just because that particular group was god awful.

Health and consistency will be key. Questions remain.

The Phillies don’t have a pure closer. They’re banking on some guys with big arms who struggled to have bounce back seasons. They’re banking on some guys who pitched well a year ago without great stuff to pitch well again. They’re also banking on the continued development of younger arms like Connor Brogdon, who was outstanding last September.

Time will answer those questions, but there’s no doubt this bullpen has some arms with nasty stuff and some guys who will give this team professional innings.

Harper, who is very in tune with the organization’s moves and direction, notices the difference.

“My thing is that you see that they’re big leaguers,” he said Friday. “You see a guy and you’re like man, he looks like a big leaguer. He’s got it figured out a little bit, he knows what to do. He’s got his routine, he understands what works for him, so that’s nice to see.”

The same couldn’t be said a season ago.

Before we close it out, enjoy some of the nastiness from Friday afternoon.

Exhibit A:

Exhibit B:

Beer time.

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