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5 Questions with Tom Goyne of Balls, Sticks, and Stuff

It's only two games, but we are facing the Phillies at Miller Park this week.  To get us ready for the mini-series, I fired some questions off to Tom Goyne, who writes the excellent Phillies blog, Balls Sticks and Stuff.  Here's what he had to say:

We're not heartbroken to have parted ways with Geoff Jenkins, but we do have our memories.  What are your impressions so far?

The Phillies don't have Geoff Jenkins.  You may not have heard, but Brett Favre retired from football and now platoons in right field with Jayson Werth for the Phillies.  Offensively he fits in pretty well with the Phillies in that he seems to have an all or nothing swing.
I asked a Mets blogger a little while ago which team in the division she feared the most, and she picked the Braves over the Phils.  How do see these three teams finishing, and what will make the difference?

I think making a prediction on how the Phillies, Mets and Braves are going to finish out the NL East is a foolhardy exercise.   The three are just too close to make a call with any sort of confidence.  For the Braves, its all about the health of their 1999 All-Star starting rotation, or, how well they fill the holes.  Come to think of it, thats what's going to make the difference overall in the division, whoever can fill their injury holes best.
Brad Lidge, Tom Gordon, no Brett Myers ... there are some familiar names in the bullpen, and I can see this group putting together anywhere from a pretty good season down to an unmitigated disaster. What do you expect?

So far they have been pretty good this season, and the pen was pretty good in the September stretch run too.  The one name you left out was JC Romero.  Guy pitches two, three days in a row all the time and doesn't bat an eye.  Since the Phils picked him up off the waiver wire in June of '07, he's pitched 61 innings and given up only 5 ER.
It seems like Phillies fans have a complicated relationship with Pat Burrell.  He's off to a great start in his walk year.  What do you see happening with Burrell and the Phils at the end of this season?

It's definitely been a pendular love/hate type thing.  I'd love to say I haven't been one of those people but I have.  In '06 he struck out looking with runners on base 587 times.  Last season he carried the team in the second half, particularly when his buddy Chase Utley was out for a month with a broken hand.  Plus, he looks like he cares now, whereas before, he always seemed indifferent.  Look at video of the Phillies clinching the NL East last year and you'll see that Burrell was the first one to the pitcher's mound and he was in the dugout.  In the end, you just have to accept him for what he is -- an unathletic .260 hitter with great plate discipline and good power when he connects. 

As far as next season is concerned, I think that is one of the reasons Favre/Jenkins was signed to a two-year deal, to protect against him leaving.  He says he wants to stay, and does appear to enjoy it here, but you can look around the league and see that everywhere right before a player leaves for somewhere else for better money--the Phils are probably going to low-ball him because they really want to use savings from his salary coming off the books to pay for the increases in salary Utley, Ryan Howard, and Cole Hamels are due.
The Phils have some great young pitching, but they aren't known for their upper-level prospects.  What's your take on the minor league system, and is there anybody we should be watching for in the second half?

It's hard for me to see any Phillies prospect having an impact this year, perhaps maybe pitchers Josh Outman or Andrew Carpenter, but even they are at AA.  One player I would watch is Greg Golson, a five-tool outfielder that finally seems to be getting it after being drafted in 2004.  He probably won't make it to the big club at all because they want him playing everyday, and rightly so, but he ripped the cover off the ball in spring training and has a .390 OBP so far in the early going, which is tremendous given how strikezone illiterate he was up to this point.

Thanks Tom!

Also, Tom asked me some questions.  Not that you need to hear any more of what I have to say, but if you are so inclined, here's the link .