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Meet the New Southpaw…Same As the Old Southpaw
Posted By Christopher Rowe On Dec 27 2010 @ 1:39 pm In Philadelphia Phillies | No Comments
Jayson Werth is a Washington National. Cliff Lee is on the same starting pitching staff as Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels and Roy Oswalt. GM Ruben Amaro has still not disclosed his potential free agent pursuits to replace Werth, but we are being fed some combination of Ross Gload, Ben Francisco and Domonic Brown. Another big need has been identified in the Phillies bullpen which is devoid of effective left-handers. The new left-hander in the Phillies bullpen is … a familiar face. You may recognize him as the same old left-hander from the Phillies bullpen.
Two sources have confirmed a report that J.C. Romero has agreed to terms on a new contract with the Phillies. The deal is for one-year, $1.35 million ontract which includes performance bonuses.. The 34-year-old Romero was signed by the Phillies as a free agent in June 2007 and has remained with the team ever since - posting a 2.60 ERA over 213 appearances and 148.2 IP. While over the past two years he’s walked more batters than he’s struck out, he is a lefty specialist, and he’s held lefties to a .215 average over his career with a .292 slugging percentage and a .603 OPS. Not particularly effective against righties, but in the right spots he can still be helpful.
The Phillies had agreed earlier this month to a $1.1 million deal with Dennys Reyes before the deal fell inexplicably through nine days later. Neither the team nor Reyes’ agent disclosed details as to why the deal was not completed.
“We hit a snag,” said Oscar Suarez, Reyes’ agent. “So we just decided to push back.” Asked if it was health related, Suarez said, “It just didn’t work out. We’re back on the [free agent] market. I don’t want to get into details why.” However, Romero has returned to the Phillies bullpen.
Brian Fuentes now more than ever is the best free agent choice the Phillies can make. The market is dangerously thin as Pedro Feliciano (NYY) and Scott Downs (LAA) have signed elsewhere. If the Phillies don’t sign Fuentes then they really must have no intention of solving this problem. Even a pitching staff with four aces needs some bullpen help from time to time. Signing a true lefty closer to compliment Lidge, Madsen and Contreras is EXACTLY what the Phillies ought to do. This would relegate Romero to a secondary lefty specialist, which is how Charlie Manuel has used him over the past year. Chad Durbin has been also rumored to return in the role of long reliever, but this could jeopardize his chances. The team could go with Vance Worley who already has a contract.
Trading Joe Blanton (owed $17 M dollars) would open up a few more possibilities but the team has not mentioned this as an explicit option to solve the bullpen problem. Any Blanton trade would likely be pointed toward bringing back an outfielder to platoon with the aforementioned proposition involving Ben Francisco, Raul Ibanez, Domonic Brown, John Mayberry, Ross Gload and a cast of thousands.
This can only occur if Ruben Amaro could find a trading partner willing to offer both. Oakland? Toronto? Batimore seems to be a refuge for excommunicated veteran pitchers. Texas would be my choice but no one has asked my opinion. Blanton originally played with Oakland and Texas is much closer to home (Nashville, TN) but more importantly, this sort of deal could garner the likes of lefty Derek Holland and outfielder Nelson Cruz. Such a deal would need to involve more than just Blanton but packaging “Joe Bulgy” along with Mayberry and a third player could prove an interesting talent swap.
Ineffective lefties in the Phillies farm system such as Mike Zagurski or Joe Savery are simply no longer options. In fact, Zagurski is literally out of options. His next trip to the major league roster will be his last. Zagurski would be released to the free agent market and would have to clear waivers with all 29 teams before he could be reassigned to the minor leagues. The jury is still out on Antonio Bastardo who has shown signs of brilliance and immaturity over parts of two seasons. Sergio Escalona is the only other left-handed pitcher listed on the 40-man roster not named Lee or Hamels. It is fairly certain they have secured spots in the rotation. Bastardo will start the season in AAA and has the best chance of making the major league team – especially if Herndon or Baez find themselves elsewhere.
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