Phils Should Consider a Third Rookie Reliever

Quick trivia question for Phillie Nation; What Phillies pitcher - major or minor league - leads the organization in wins this season? You might guess Eric Milton (9). Perhaps, you're thinking it's Gavin Floyd (3), Cole Hamels (1) or Keith Bucktrot (3)? No, sorry. It might help you if you were told that the pitcher who leads the entire organization in wins isn't even a starter. Of course, even with that hint, most fans would be at a loss to name the fellow. The answer is...

...Dan Giese.

Don't feel too ashamed is your immediate response was, "who?" There are a lot of people who simply don't know who Dan Giese is or kind of forget he's around. Even those who think of him likely don't realize just how strong of a season he's having at AAA Scranton Wilkes-Barre.

Giese isn't a home-grown talent. The Phillies purchased his contract from San Diego just over a year ago and for some reason, Giese hasn't gotten the recognition that a pitcher with his numbers should be getting. Even before he came over, his numbers as a minor league pitcher for San Diego were stellar. The only blemish was a short-lived promotion to AAA last season where he struggled in his three games with Portland. Coming over to the Phils, Giese had a minor league mark of 18-11, 2.78 with 24 saves. He was in his fifth minor league season after being drafted by Boston in the 34th round of the 1999 Draft. From Boston, he was shipped to San Diego in June of 2002. The Phillies, in an unheralded move, purchased him from San Diego after the Padres apparently thought he wouldn't advance past AA.

The Phillies started Giese at AA Reading and saw after just nine games that he seemed ready to Scranton. This time, the move to AAA went smoothly and Giese wound up being a main part of the Red Barons' bullpen, pitching in 34 games, posting a 2-0, 3.17 record. While the Phillies seemingly put more faith into Giese's talents, the move out of San Diego's organization had to be a disappointment. Giese was born in Anaheim, California and attended the University of San Diego. Pitching in San Diego as a major leaguer would have been a dream come true. Instead, he went across the country to become a member of the Phillies organization.

This season, Giese has again been a mainstay for manager Marc Bombard. In 27 games, Giese is 10-2, 3.68 with one save for the Red Barons. He has done the same thing that he has done throughout his career in showing that he can pitch more than one inning at a time. Giese is a guy who can come out of the bullpen to give a club decent innings. In his 27 games, Giese has pitched 44 innings. There is something a little different in Giese this season though. All throughout his minor league career, Giese was more of a strikeout pitcher than he has been this season. Coming into the season, Giese had fanned 331 in 332 1/3 minor league innings. This season, he has put down 24 on strikes. While the number is far off his average of just under one strike out per inning, so what? Giese is a pitcher who relies on his stuff and isn't afraid to let hitters put the ball in play. He has good enough stuff that even when hitters do put it in play, they can't do much with it. After all, it's not that his control is an issue, since he's walked just ten hitters.

Yes, the Phillies are slow to put minor league pitchers into their bullpen. The fact that Ryan Madson not only made the club, but has become a trusted part of the bullpen in so quick of a time is great news. Geoff Geary is up with the big league club and he too is working himself into tougher game situations. The Phillies are still slow to hand things over to young relievers, but they are at least getting better. With Madson moving more toward the back end of the bullpen to cover for Roberto Hernandez' short comings and Amaury Telemaco out with an elbow injury, Giese could come in to handle some of the longer assignments that the Phillies may have.

Having three rookies in their bullpen would be unheard of for a Phillies team. Actually, there aren't many major league teams that would take that chance. The fact is though, that it is a testament to the Phillies young pitching that they could even consider having three young pitchers at the major league level. It is also a testament to the need for good relievers.

The unfortunate fact of the matter is that the Phillies aren't likely to add Giese to the roster. It is more likely that they will include him as part of a trade to bring in a veteran reliever that they feel more at ease with putting into the bullpen. Hopefully, the Phillies won't again waste Giese in sending him elsewhere to acquire a Mike Williams type of pitcher. They may have wasted some of his talents by not bringing him to the majors, so let's hope they don't waste more of his talents by making a bad deal. And, if Giese isn't trade bait, then the Phillies need to consider if he may be able to help the big league club's bullpen. Especially if Hernandez continues to struggle the way he has of late.

From Boston to San Diego to Philadelphia and likely, elsewhere. Dan Giese has been shuttled around, but at some point, he'll be a major leaguer and likely, a strong addition to a major league bullpen.

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