NL East Notes: Phillies, Gonzalez, Kimbrel

There isn't much optimism about the Phillies, but their roster has the talent to contend if it can stay healthy, Bob Ford of the Inquirer writes. Their season will turn on Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley, all core players in their thirties. "I don't believe all of a sudden that these guys are so old that they've lost all of their bat speed, their quickness, and their abilities," says GM Ruben Amaro Jr. Here's more on the NL East.

  • Amaro will be the Phillies employee who faces the heaviest scrutiny this spring, but after that is Cuban pitcher Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, writes Matt Gelb of the Inquirer. "If I knew more what Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez was, I would feel better about it," says Amaro, referring to the Phillies' starting pitching. "We think he has the potential to be that guy. It's not a slam dunk. We haven't seen him pitch. In some ways, we have to get lucky on that one." Gonzalez and the Phillies initially agreed on a deal worth a minimum of $48MM, but the team ended up signing him for $12MM instead after concerns about Gonzalez's elbow scuttled the original deal.
  • The Braves' signings of Freddie Freeman and Jason Heyward to extensions likely mean less money on hand to sign Craig Kimbrel. That might be justified given the decline in Kimbrel's deceptiveness last season, Alec Dopp of writes. While Kimbrel was still dominant in 2013, his K:BB ratio took a big step backward, and batters made significantly more contact against him. His release point varied more in 2013, Dopp argues, which made it easier for batters to identify his pitches.

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