Balls, Sticks, and Stuff is my first stop in the world of Phillies blogs, and BS&S writer Tom Goyne was kind enough to answer a few of my questions.
BCB: How did you feel about the decision to solve the starter logjam by moving Brett Myers to the pen? How has it worked out so far?
TG: For the short term, I think it was a move that had to be made and it took guts for Charlie Manuel to do it. The bullpen was a shambles and there were no takers on Jon Lieber when he was astarter, much less as a moping reliever. It's made the bullpen functional much more often and I'd even prefer Myers stay as the closer when/if Tom Gordon returns. Having said all that, long-term, Myers should be a starter.
BCB: Brewers fans love to rag on Ned Yost. [Ed. note: this was written yesterday, hence the lack of sputtering rage.] We know that Charlie Manuel is hardly the modern-day Earl Weaver; what should we watch for so that we can make fun of your manager almost as much as we make fun of our own?
TG: This is a good question because sometimes I think every baseball fan thinks HIS team's manager is the dumbest in baseball. Charlie's not as bad as most fans make him seem, but at the same time, he'll go out of his way to make a lefty vs. righty or righty vs. lefty situation fit, no matter what. Don't even get me started on the double-switch... There are times I genuinely think he thinks the term refers to a substitution of side dishes you can make at Cracker Barrel, rather than in a ball game.
BCB: If the Phillies are going to catch up to the Braves and/or the Mets this year, what needs to change in the next couple of months? Do you foresee a deal in July?
TG: What needs to change? I hate to say it, but there is nothing the Phils can do at this point (I can't believe I am saying this in May), they are going to need both teams to stub their toes a bit in order to catch them. As far as what the Phillies control themselves, they need to stop alternating wins with losses and start another long win-streak, pronto. Ryan Howard needs to get healthy and start hitting just half as good as he did in 2006 and the starting pitching needs to keep on doing what its doing, keeping the team in games. If those two things happen, the deficiencies in the middle relief can be covered up a bit.
I can envision the Phils trading Freddy Garcia and/or Jon Lieber, depending upon how things are going. Both are in the last year of their contracts and could certainly become rent-a-pitchers for August and September. But given how general manager Pat Gillick held a firesale last July when the team appeared to be out of the playoff hunt, only to have the team turn things around, have a great second half, and then just barely miss the playoffs, you have to wonder how he will approach things this year.
BCB: What team has surprised you so far in the NL East?
TG: Honestly, the Phillies. I never expected them to have the April they had, it was just awful. Also, the Mets rotation, it's hung in there better than most everyone thought. Will it hold up?
BCB: Wes Helms is pretty awesome, right?
TG: You can smack me and call be "gullible". After looking at his numbers and listening to all the talk about how his better play in Florida was due to a new approach at the plate, I thought he'd be quite an upgrade at third for the Phils. As it turns out, he has yet to hit a homer and has the range of a Rodin statue. I'm actually starting to prefer Abraham Nunez. Seriously.
Tom is the author of Balls, Sticks, & Stuff, a Phillies-centric site, and maintains the Phloggers' Pheeds page, a source for the latest commentary from around the "phlogosphere". Recently, he teamed up with his brother to launch Roto Front Office. Thanks again!