1) When last we left our celebrity bullpen, RHP Kyle Kendrick had come up after Scott Eyre was sent to the DL. That didn't last long. He had one outing and blew a game against the Red Sox. He was sent down and LHP Sergio Escalona was called up. I told you, Ruben Amaro.
2) Actually, not such a good call on my part. Escalona allowed two runs in two innings the next day. The next day, he was sent down for RHP Tyler Walker. Walker, a 33-year old reliever has spent most of his career with the San Francisco Giants, with whom he had one particularly good year (2007). He also had stints with the New York Mets and the Tampa Bay Devil Rays (before they were exorcised). So far, Walker has been good. No runs allowed in three appearances. They need him to keep that up.
3) Ryan Howard will not be playing on Sunday. He has been hospitalized with the flu. Replacing him in the lineup is Matt Stairs, playing left field and occupying Howard's cleanup spot. Replacing him in the field is Greg Dobbs, who in 2007 had to fill in for Howard at first base and during his starts there did really well in the lineup. It doesn't sound like Howard will be out long, but hopefully the Phillies won't find themselves in too much trouble with an even thinner bench.
4) Brad Lidge may be coming back as early as Tuesday. If he's healthy, that is huge for this bullpen. It takes a huge amount of pressure off of Ryan Madson as he gets to return to sharing setup duties with J.C. Romero. Also, as we saw last year, healthy Brad Lidge is as good as they come. Any stabilization this pitching staff can get will be very welcome. It will be a good way to see if the Phillies need to seek bullpen help at the deadline. Personally, I don't think they do. What they need is a starter who can go deep into games so that the bullpen doesn't get overused. None of Antonio Bastardo, J.A. Happ, or Jamie Moyer appear capable of pitching more than 6 innings a game. Joe Blanton has been better of late, and Cole Hamels is Cole Hamels, but Hamels has already had injury trouble this year and the thought of giving him more pressure is worrisome. Hopefully getting Brad Lidge back healthy can lessen the pitching woes.
5) We still have Paul Bako on the roster. Very nice of Charlie Manuel to give him the start on his birthday. My guess is that he gets sent down when Lidge returns.
6) Raul Ibanez' groin injury has no additional damage on his latest MRI. It sounds like they got him onto the DL in time. He should be back in the Phillies lineup when he is eligible to come off the DL: July 3rd, against the Mets. Hopefully the time off will allow him to come back with the same kind of offensive prowess he's shown for most of the season. For all of those who think he's on PEDs, his injury is probably more a result of his age, not because he uses PEDs.
We're nearing the end of June... soon it'll be time to start talking trades... keep an eye on every starting pitcher that could go onto the trading block; that's probably who we'll be talking about.