The Phillies have to make some tough decisions very soon.
Their self-proclaimed “good problem” of having six starting pitchers is staring them in the face. Pedro Martinez makes his third rehab start tonight and is inching closer to joining the rest of the big boys at Citizens Bank. Jamie Moyer, while leading the team in wins with 10, is very inconsistent and has an Adam Eaton-esque 5.55 ERA. J.A. Happ has lost his last two starts but is a sure-fire inning eater and is still putting up nice numbers with a 7-2 record and 2.97 ERA.
Happ will be starting tonight against the Colorado Rockies, but all signs are pointing to him being moved back to the bullpen, right where he started at the beginning of the season. Unless the Phillies are entertaining the idea six-man rotation, this decision will most likely not change.
In the next couple days, a plethora of statistics will be served up like Bill James mixing up Sabermetric Shooters. Cases will be made for all three pitchers, but what this may ultimately come down to is seniority and egos.
While (most) ball players want to do what’s best for the team, it’s no secret that their egos get bruised by the smallest of moves. (Hell, even on my co-ed, slow-pitch softball team I feel a tad bit let down being moved over from left-center to right-centerfield. Tthankfully, there will be a beer waiting for me on the bench that will drown my pathetic woe).
Moyer is the crafty 46-year old veteran with 256 wins and a major contributor to the 2008 championship season. He’s a mentor to all the Phillies pitchers, regaling everyone with his incredible baseball knowledge. Would Charlie Manuel or GM Ruben Amaro Jr. consider asking this lifelong starter to move to the bullpen to make room for an up and coming 23-year old?
Pedro? Well, this nugget from his first press conference as a Phillie said it all:
“‘I bring with me a legacy,’ Martinez said. ‘I bring with me, my last name. I bring my face. I bring everything I have, my integrity, to this team.’”
He knows who he is and he knows what he has done. Martinez wants to start. This is what he expects. However, he was picked up more for insurance. He does not have the best track record in terms of injuries. While he had a nice showing at the World Baseball Classic, he has not pitched consistently for quite some time, yet the Phillies have every intention of using him as a starter. Why? Because it’s Pedro: future Hall-of-Famer, three-time Cy Young Award winner and World Champion. Clearly he just deserves a starting role, right?
Chan Ho Park signed with the Phillies in the off-season knowing he would have a legitimate shot to win a starting spot, a role he was striving to return to after logging 49 games in relief for the L.A. Dodgers in 2008. He wanted this job so badly, he tearfully broke down at a press conference to announce he was pulling out of playing for the Korean national team in the World Baseball Classic. He knew he was going to be playing for the defending world champions. Cut to the end of Spring Training. Park won the fifth spot but quickly floundered and was sent to the bullpen. Since then he has flourished and has become one of the strongest middle relievers for the Phillies this season, a role he has been thoroughly enjoying.
I think the Phillies should do this again. Moyer should move out to the bullpen. He is not a classic middle-man, but he could probably make a more positive impact as a situational reliever. While Pedro has not proven himself yet, he should get the ball for a couple starts. If this move does not work, switch them out, and keep doing it until it does work out. Whatever the Phillies do, they should not remove Happ from the rotation. He is too valuable right now.
If everyone’s egos start getting the best of them, all they need to do is look over to their teammate in Park. He’ll tell them what’s truly important: winning another World Series.
About the Author
Written by Bryan Sargent
Bryan Sargent is a lifelong Phillies fan, currently residing in the least hospitable city for such a person as himself, New York City. This coming January he will be attending Phillies Phantasy Camp in Clearwater, FL. He is currently documenting the entire process on his blog (http://www.bryansargent.com). You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow on Twitter @BTSargent.