The offseason has been one of underwhelming feedback for Ruben Amaro Jr. Sports Illlustrated gave him a D. I think the grade is a bit harsh. The biggest reason for loss last year outside of injuries was the bullpen. With the additions of Mike Adams and Chad Durbin added to the experience that many of the young arms such as Aumont and DeFratus got, the pen could be pretty strong. Michael Young could be iffy defensively but offensively, he's clearly an upgrade over a declining Placido Polanco (no offense to one of my favorite players of the modern age). Delmon Young was the straw who broke the camel's back and with him likely to open up on the DL, it's clear that now is the time for Domonic Brown to shine. I give the offseason a C but it could go up or down a letter. I think the health of Howard, Utley, and Halladay is too essential to spend too much money on the free agents who were out there.
As for Clearwater, we're a week away from Grapefruit League games. As of right now, all signs point to Chase Utley suiting up for his first Clearwater game out of a Threshers uniform in two seasons. Roy Halladay seems good to go. Ryan Howard is as upbeat as ever. It's a nice sign for the three big questions marks.
One thing that stood out with me the other day when the Daily News Live crew was chatting with Pat Gillick was him mentioning that John Pettibone was in the hunt for the 5th starter role. Pettibone is clearly in the front of the line when it comes to the pitching prospects in the system who are major league ready. While I would assume that Lannan all but has it locked down, it'll be very interesting to see Pettibone. I've seen him a few times in Reading. He's quite durable and figures to be a decent middle of the rotation arm.
I suppose I'm most excited to see Ben Revere. I can't say I've watched enough Twins games lately to know all that much about him other than what I've read. He appears to be a lock down defender and quite speedy. I'm wondering if he pops a few in Citizens Bank Park despite not having hit a homer yet.
The guy to watch is Jermaine Mitchell. Going into last season, Baseball America had him as a top ten prospect in Oakland's system. Injuries led to his release from the club. I've had this crazy feeling ever since he was signed that he might be the bargain basement grab of the off season. For any team.