Saturday, July 25, 2009

Roster Shuffling

Just as soon as it looked like the Phils' bullpen was back in place, in the past few days it has collapsed all over again:

1) On Thursday, J.C. Romero and Chad Durbin were both placed on the 15-Day DL. Durbin strained his right latissimus while Romero strained his left forearm. This is Durbin's first trip to the DL this year, I suppose all his bullpen mates recommended getting some time off, and it came the day after a poor outing against the Chicago Cubs in which he couldn't record an out, allowed two hits, three walks, and three earned runs. In his defense, two days before he pitched three scoreless innings. Durbin has been a workhorse for the bullpen this year and last year, though this year he's had the luxury of handing off some of the long-relief duties to Chan Ho Park. Still, with a rotation that typically doesn't eat a lot of innings, Durbin has pitched 48 2/3 innings. by this time last year, he had pitched 55 innings. Romero has already missed time this year, though not from injury. He missed 50 games due to a suspension for substance abuse. He's been good in his time back, with a 2.87 ERA in 20 games. He's also taken pressure off Ryan Madson. Romero missing time could be a huge blow if it results in added pressure for Madson, Scott Eyre, and Brad Lidge.

1a) The first question I had was what about Sergio Escalona and Jack Taschner. Supposedly, neither had been pitching that well. Apparently, the Phillies are going back to the one lefty in the 'pen philosophy that they employed in 2007 and most of 2008.

2) Romero and Durbin were replaced on the roster by Tyler Walker and Andrew Carpenter. Both have been on the major league roster already this season. Walker came up in June replacing Sergio Escalona who had replaced Kyle Kendrick who had replaced Scott Eyre when he hit the DL. Walker has done well in limited innings with the Phillies. He now has a 3.00 ERA in 12 innings. He allowed two earned runs in his first outing since being recalled, but it's possible that the 33 year-old veteran will step up with more outings. Carpenter had an unsuccessful start in May, in which he allowed 5 runs in 4 1/3 innings. This time, they were hoping he could eat up a lot of innings. Also, if he did well, the 24 year-old prospect might become trade bait for a deadline deal. Not Roy Halladay caliber, but perhaps a lesser-scale deal.

3) Today, Clay Condrey was placed back on the 15-Day DL with a left oblique strain, and Carpenter, after allowing runs in both games he appeared in, was optioned back to Lehigh Valley. They were replaced with former rotation member Kyle Kendrick and 26-year old Steven Register. Kendrick had a couple unsuccessful outings as a member of the major league bullpen earlier this year. However, he's been more successful in the minors of late, bringing his ERA below 4.00. All of his time in the minors has been as a starter, but the logic is probably similar to that of bringing up Carpenter. One of Kendrick's problems was a smaller arsenal of pitches, which might make him better suited to the bullpen. Steven Register was acquired off waivers from the Colorado Rockies organization back in May. He appeared briefly with the Rockies in 2008, and this year for the IronPigs, he's been 1-2 with a 2.88 ERA. I'm skeptical, but with those kind of numbers, it's understandable why they would give him a shot.

So, as of now, the Phillies bullpen consists of:
Brad Lidge
Ryan Madson
Scott Eyre
Chan Ho Park
Tyler Walker
Kyle Kendrick
Steven Register


While up until now, it seemed silly for the Phillies to look into acquiring bullpen pitchers, now they may need to consider it more seriously. The team scouted Arizona closer Chad Qualls recently, and could also look into Baltimore's George Sherrill and Danys Baez among others. However, it might give them more incentive to deal for an ace starting pitcher in the hope that he would take some of the load off the bullpen.

On the starting pitching front, the primary option appears to be Roy Halladay. The Phillies recently turned down the Blue Jays' first formal trade proposal, in which the Phillies would send J.A. Happ, Kyle Drabek, and Dominic Brown for Halladay. The Phillies don't want to trade both Happ and Drabek and are reportedly hoping to keep Drabek and send another player or two, perhaps Carlos Carrasco. While Ricciardi doesn't seem to think a deal will get done, with this as the first proposal it seems like the teams aren't that far off from an agreement. My guess is that a deal gets done in the next couple days. The Phillies are also looking into Cleveland's Cliff Lee, who GM Mark Shapiro is asking the same price for as the Jays are for Halladay. Lee is good, but if I don't pull the trigger on a Halladay deal, I certainly don't make a similar one for Lee. Personally, I wonder about Cincinnati's Aaron Harang. Recently, it's looked like the Reds may be thinking of becoming sellers, since they're seven games back in the NL Central. The Reds have a good young pitching core and are developing a young offensive core, and so they might be interested in dealing away some of their veterans. While Harang is not of the caliber of Halladay or Lee, he has been able to provide a lot of innings, and he might benefit from the run support that the Phillies offense could provide. He also wouldn't cost as much as Lee or Halladay. There have also been rumblings about Erik Bedard and Jarrod Washburn. I'm skeptical of both, but Washburn has actually been fantastic this season, and appears to get better as it goes. If Seattle decides to sell, Washburn could be another cheap solution.

At least by July 28th, we should have an idea of whether Roy Halladay will be a Phillie.

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