Who is the 8th inning setup man that the Phillies have been so desperately hunting this offseason? Well, he's been on the roster all along...Ryan Madson. I have recently read, due to the fact that the Phils struck out on the bidding of some of the higher quality relief pitchers and have yet to trade Donut-Eater away for bullpen help, that Gillick and company are going into the 2007 season with Madson in mind as the coveted setup man. Big mistake!
Sure I will be rooting for Mad-Dog to regain his '04 form (9-3 77 innings 2.34 ERA), which was also his rookie campaign. However, I do not think he can recapture that magic that made him so effective that season. See, Madson is a 2 pitch pitcher, quality change-up and fastball. The batters weren't prepared for the rookie Madson in '04, but with each season after have become accustomed to smacking the crap outta him ('05- 4.14 ERA and '06- 5.70 ERA). I do look for a slight improvement this season though, as he gets to concentrate solely on relieving.
So what does this mean for our bullpen? The forecast isn't good. The closer, Gordon, is good but fragile. Lefty- Matt Smith looks good, but is young and unproven. Gas-Can Geoff Geary was the bullpen savior last year and hopefully can repeat his success. Rule 5 picks Jim Ed Warden and Alfredo Simon might end up being a steal or a waste of time. Eude Brito will be in the mix, but he's nothing more than a long man. Brian Sanches and Clay Condrey have been toiling in the minors and will probably get periodic looks throughout the season, but neither are all that good. The recent addition of the 6-fingered gut-bumping Antonio Alfonseca doesn't exactly help me sleep at night. Basically, we still desperately need a setup, as Madson is not the answer, and neither is anyone else from that group.