Bullpen Rebuilding Begins With Santana

Don't worry; Julio Santana is not the Phillies' answer to replacing Billy Wagner. Instead, he's the first of many planned steps to revamping a bullpen that will likely look very different in 2006 than it did in 2005.

The Phillies familiarity with Julio Santana is part of the reason why they signed him to a one-year, $800,000 contract on Wednesday. Santana pitched at Scranton in 2003 and the Phillies see a marked difference in the pitcher he was then and the pitcher he is now.

"He has gained control. He was much more of just a thrower then," remembers Assistant GM Ruben Amaro, Jr.

Santana's stay in the organization was brief (19 games) before the Phillies sold him to the Yomiuri Giants. While in Japan, Santana pitched well, going 2-2, 1.89 in 29 games for Yomiuri in 2004. After his one year in Japan, he returned to the states and went 3-5, 4.50 with Milwaukee last season before becoming a free agent.

The Phillies continue their pursuit of Tom Gordon, who may have lost one option with the Yankees apparently close to signing Kyle Farnsworth, but Gordon is also being courted by the Tigers, Orioles and Blue Jays. Gordon would replace closer Billy Wagner and the Phillies would likely continue looking for a setup man. The back of the bullpen is empty with the departure of Wagner and Ugueth Urbina and the plan to move Ryan Madson into the starting rotation. Should the Phillies be able to find another quality starting pitcher, they could use Madson in a setup role out of the bullpen.

Philly Baseball Insider Top Stories