With the Fab Four of Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels already locked up in their starting rotation, do the Phillies still need Joe Blanton? The righty has two years left on his contract which will earn him a total of $17 million dollars.
In comparison, Kyle Kendrick has a 25-20 record with a 4.55 ERA in 63 starts since the 2008 season. The statistics are similar, but it should also be noted that Kendrick spent a good amount of time bouncing back and forth from the majors to the minors in 2009. And last year, Blanton spent time on the disabled list.
Another alternative for the fifth starter position is rookie Vance Worley. In two starts with the Phillies in 2010, Worley pitched 13 innings and recorded a 1.38 ERA. Between AA and AAA last year, Worley recorded a combined 10-7 record with a 3.36 ERA over 27 starts. But Worley is still a big unknown. He is young and lacks experience.
With these options, it seems that either Blanton or Kendrick would be the best fit for the role. If the Phillies are concerned with payroll, trading Blanton may be a good idea as Kendrick is still under team control.
When asked if payroll would move him to trade Blanton, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. told the media, “I really don’t have to do anything.” A lower payroll would help if Amaro has other future moves in mind, however, it does not appear to be necessary right now.
If money is not a true motivator at this times, the Phillies may be better served to keep Blanton. Having both Blanton and Kendrick provides tremendous pitching depth. In the event that one of the Fab Four gets injured, the decision to then move Kendrick into the rotation to fill the hole should be a no-brainer.
Blanton also has experience in eight different playoff series, including two World Series. Kendrick pitched less than four innings in the 2007 NLDS and has not seen any playoff action since that time.
And if the Phillies start the year off with Halladay, Lee, Oswalt, Hamels and Blanton, then Kendrick can fill a hole in the bullpen as a long reliever. With Chad Durbin still unsigned, there may be a greater need for a long man.
It appears that keeping Blanton is probably a good idea. Of course, if another team makes a good offer, the Phillies still have other options for the fifth spot in the rotation. But until the season actually begins, anything can happen.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
About a week after coming to an agreement with lefty reliever Dennys Reyes, the Phillies deal fell through following the physical exam. But bad news for Reyes turned out to be great news for a familiar lefty, J.C. Romero.
The Phillies had previously declined the option on Romero which was worth $4.5 million, opting instead to pay the $250,000 dollar buyout. But with few left-handers on the market and the Reyes deal gone south, Romero became the best option.
The details have not been released yet, but it appears Romero has agreed to terms with a one-year deal. He will still have to pass a physical, which should take place sometime in early January when Romero returns from spending the holiday’s with his family in Puerto Rico.
In the previous three and a half years with Philadelphia, Romero averaged a 2.59 ERA, but he struggled with control and walked many batters, especially last season. But if anyone can bounce back from a difficult year, it will be Romero.
With 11-years in the majors, Romero has had his share of ups and downs. But it is that experience and confidence, plus an inner-drive to compete, that will make him an effective part of the Phillies bullpen again.
On a personal note, having gotten to know J.C. over the past several seasons, I can tell you that the Phillies would not have found a better quality human being to fill this spot. He is a family man, a great teammate and he truly appreciates his fans.
Welcome back, J.C.!
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
JA Happ, 26, lefty – This rookie got a taste of the Bigs in 2008, appearing in 8 games and sporting an impressive 3.69 ERA with a 1-0 record. He also received the benefit of counseling from veteran Jamie Moyer, giving Happ a better idea of how to survive in the Majors.
Kyle Kendrick, 24, righty – After an outstanding rookie season with the Phillies in 2007, this youngster lost his starting spot in 2008 to the above mentioned JA Happ. His sinker was sunk by late August and memories his 11-9 record and dreadful 5.49 ERA will not help Kendrick in his quest this year to get back on track.
Chan Ho Park, 35, righty – 15 year veteran and newcomer to the Phillies with a fresh $2.5 million dollar one-year deal, Park has chosen to battle for the 5th spot. He expressed his dedication to winning the job by deciding to pass on the World Baseball Classic this year. Lifetime ERA is 4.34 with a record of 117-92.
Carlos Carrasco, 21, righty – Oh, to be so young! And Carrasco’s age is exactly why he is the most unlikely candidate to win this competition. As the Phillies top pitching prospect, I am betting they will likely leave him in the oven to season a bit longer before trying him out in the Big Show.
So who is missing from this picture? Adam Eaton. Yes, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. has listed his candidates for this competition and strategically left out Eaton’s name each time. Despite his huge contract with $8.5 million dollars owed to him, the money issue is now heavily outweighed by the awful performances and, I am betting, his lack of interest in getting back to form. Look for Eaton to get the boot early; either to another team or he’ll be sent home to veg-out on his couch.
My prediction: Happ will win the spot. He is a steady force on the mound with good control and an unwavering personality; Happ works well under pressure. Kendrick, clearly, does not. 2007 was not hard to handle for Kendrick as the expectations were very low. It became a whole new ballgame when the pressure was on in 2008. Carrasco is too young, although he may surprise people, and Park is aging. Not everyone grows younger with age, like Jamie Moyer.
If all else fails and a decision becomes difficult, the Phillies could put these guys through another sort of testing to decide:
– Rock, paper, scissors: It’s all about strategy. And you have to know your opponent. They can even change it up to make it baseball oriented; how about Bat, ball, Ryan Howard’s glove? Bat beats ball, ball beats Ryan Howard’s glove, and Howard’s glove beats nothing. If these guys can’t figure out how to win at this game, they do not deserve to be in the Majors. :O)
– Duck, Duck, Goose: Change it to Phillies, Phillies, Nationals – the Nats are always chasing other teams anyway. Whoever loses gets traded to the last place Nationals and in exchange,
they send us Scott Olsen, gagged, bound and dart-board ready. :O)
– Twister: but only if I am allowed to participate :O)
Best of luck boys!
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