Some chatter while we wait for Roy Oswalt's decision

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As Drew noted last night, there’s a deal in place between the Phillies and the Astros for Roy Oswalt.  Everyone is now waiting for Oswalt’s decision on his no trade clause.  I have some thoughts on that (see below) but in the meantime, let’s speculate about what the deal may look like, assuming it goes through.

The rumor that has been going around is that the Phillies would get some money along with Oswalt — the figure I saw was $8 million — and that in exchange they’d send back J.A. Happ and prospects Matt Rizzotti and Vance Worley.  We all know Happ, so let’s look at the rumored prospects.

Rizzotti is a 1B/DH who has been raking in high-A and AA this year, with a combined line of .362/.443/.595 (and the numbers are actually better at AA than A). The problem with him, though is that he turns 25 after this season which makes him a bit old for the leagues he’s in. While it’s possible that he’s a late bloomer who made a big leap forward this year, the guy doesn’t really project to a big time major league talent. He could probably start for a bad team like Houston, though.

Worley is a 22 year-old starter who is 9-4 with a 3.03 ERA in 20 starts, all but one of which have come at AA (he was recently promoted to Lehigh Valley).  His strikeout numbers don’t suggest he’s an overpowering pitcher — he has a 6.6 K/9 in his minor league career — but he’s decent enough. My guess is that he projects as a swingman/4th-5th starter-type.

Overwhelming? Nah. But given how much money Oswalt is owed, it would be an OK haul I guess. And of course the deal could involve different dudes. More than anything, though, it probably speaks volumes about how light St. Louis’ farm system is that they couldn’t find some mid-level prospects to fill out a deal like this to make it happen.

As for Oswalt’s decision: everything I had been hearing last week was that he didn’t want to go to Philly due to some combination of him (a) not feeling comfortable with the organization; (b) not feeling that they had as good a chance to win as St. Louis; and (c) simply liking St. Louis.  In the last week, however, the Phillies have been on a roll and the Cardinals have appeared to not be a realistic match.

We all have desires in this world, but sometimes we have to adjust them when the facts on the ground make them unreasonable.  Given that two of the three things that had been turning Oswalt off to the Phillies are no longer operative, he may just say “screw it” and go where he has a chance to win something this year.

There was another miscommunication between the Phillies and Pat Neshek

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Back in June 2017, then-manager of the Phillies Pete Mackanin and reliever Pat Neshek had some miscommunication. In a series against the Cardinals, Neshek worked a five-pitch eighth inning and it was believed he would come back out for the ninth inning, but he never did. Mackanin said Neshek said he didn’t want to pitch another inning. Neshek said he was never asked. There was also some miscommunication the game prior. Neshek thought he had the day off; Mackanin said Neshek said he wasn’t available to pitch.

Mackanin is no longer the Phillies’ manager, but the miscommunication between Neshek and the team apparently persist. Neshek was notably absent during the Phillies’ hard-fought 5-4 win over the Cubs on Monday night. The game featured a struggling Seranthony Domínguez pitching two innings, yielding three crucial runs in his second inning of work.

Manager Gabe Kapler called the bullpen and instructed Neshek to begin warming up to prepare to face Albert Almora, Matt Breen of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. Kapler rang the bullpen after Domínguez walked Jason Heyward, who batted ahead of Almora. Neshek wasn’t warmed up yet. Domínguez was able to retire Almora on a sacrifice bunt, which was reviewed and gave Neshek some extra time to get ready. He was ready for the next batter, Daniel Descalso, but at this point Kapler no longer wanted to bring Neshek into the game. Descalso lined a triple to left-center field, scoring two runs and came home himself when shortstop Jean Segura‘s throw caromed off of his foot out of play.

Recounting the situation, Neshek said, “I got on the mound and threw two pitches. [Kapler] said, ‘Is he ready?’ And I said, ‘No. I’m not ready yet. I’ve thrown two pitches.” Neshek was asked how long it takes him to get ready. The veteran said, “A minute. Not 20 seconds. I’m, like, the best in the league at getting ready. My whole career has been coming in like that.”

The Phillies were able to eke out a 5-4 win. Had they lost the game, Kapler and Neshek would likely have been under the microscope for the awkward situation leading to a crushing defeat. Kapler drew plenty of criticism over his bullpen management last year in his rookie managerial season. That included bringing in lefty reliever Hoby Milner into a game in which he hadn’t yet warmed up.

Maybe it’s just a coincidence that the manager who struggled with bullpen management last year nearly mucked up a win last night, and maybe it’s just a coincidence that a reliever who’s had prior issues with communication had another communication mix-up. Maybe it’s not. It’s worth noting that the Phillies needed three innings from the bullpen to protect a 2-1 lead over the Cubs on Tuesday. Kapler called on rookie Edgar Garcia for two outs, lefty José Álvarez for four, and then brought in Juan Nicasio to close things out in the ninth. No Neshek, even as Nicasio got into trouble. Nicasio would surrender the tying and go-ahead runs, resulting in a deflating 3-2 loss.