Friday, May 29, 2009

Phils Need Pitching Help Pronto

Last week the Phillies promoted bullpen lefty J.A. Happ to the starting rotation in place of the struggling Chan Ho Park. Manager Charlie Manuel also indicated that he expected more from the rest of his starters as well. Happ and the rest of the rotation answered the call and the Phillies starters have been pitching much better. Now, a new crisis has arisen. Brett Myers got shelled by the Marlins in his last outing, and it now appears that he will need hip surgery. This means two things: Myers' wife will now be able to escape his wrath for a while, and the Phillies will need another starter. My main man D Billz was wondering what my thoughts were on the next move for the beleaguered Phillies rotation. he writes:

" I had a quick question- now that bretty myers is on the shelf for a while, who would make the best fit in the phils' rotation? Buster Olney (aka the yellow guy from Sin City) thinks Brad Penny would be a good fit, but also threw out names like Peavy, Oswalt, Bedard, Garland, Marquis, and Duke (In descending order by my personal rankings). I don't think Peavy would work, and they'd have to give up too many of their (thin) farm prospects for Oswalt and Bedard. That leaves Garland, Marquis, Penny, and Duke.

Naturally, when the Phillies and Brad Penny are used in the same sentence I feel compelled to respond right away. I think that Penny would make a GREAT fit for the Phillies rotation, and out of all of those guys listed would make the most sense for the team.

When the Phillies were making their playoff run last season, they caught a lot of flack from the fans for not "making the big trade" for a guy like C.C. Sabathia or Jake Peavy. They instead acquired "FJB" (Fat Joe Blanton) from the A's. The rest as they say, is history. Victorino's grand slam off of Sabathia in the opening playoff round, coupled with Blanton's home run in the World Series made the Phils brass look like geniuses. The Phillies front office believes that when it comes to acquisitions, landing the big name guy rarely ever leads to lasting success. This will more than likely rule Peavy, Oswalt and probably even Bedard out.

Of the remaining guys (Penny, Garland, Marquis and Duke) I think that Brad Penny makes the most sense for several reasons. First, he has had great success in the National League before with the Marlins and Dodgers. Moreover, it looks like hes starting to turn the corner this year. His velocity is rising and he is striking out more batters. Garland and Marquis have always been 2nd or 3rd starters for their clubs. Penny is a legit starter and is the cheapest of the three players (all of whom are in the final year of their contracts) at $5 million. Zach Duke would be a great pickup, maybe even better than Penny. The problem is that he is only 26 and could still be considered a "prospect", which would allow the Pirates to demand more in a trade for him. As you said Mr. Billz, the Phillies don't have much in the way of blue chip minor leaguers to trade away. Penny just turned 30, is coming off of an injury, and is on a team that is looking to replace him with either John Smoltz or Clay Bucholz. The Phils could get him for a song.

Even though I would love to see Brad Penny in a Phillies jersey and it makes a lot of sense, don't sleep on the Phillies bringing up a minor league pitcher. Carlos Carrasco is considered to be the top arm in the farm system, though he is struggling in AAA ball. They might also give Antonio Bastardo (would love to see that name on the back of a jersey) or Drew Carpenter a look. Ultimately though, I don't think a team that is defending the World Series title can get by with minor league arms. Look for a trade sometime soon.

I expected big things for the Phillies rotation this year. I thought Cole Hamels would build off of his amazing post season and become the best pitcher in the NL. I thought Brett Myers would continue to show the form he did at the end of last season. I thought Jamie Moyer would continue making kids half his age look foolish on his way to another 15 wins or so. And I thought Joe Blanton would have a great full year in slimming red pinstripes. So far I have been disappointed by all of those predictions. There is still time to turn it around for some of them, but it is clear now that the Phillies need some more help in their starting rotation. Brad Penny seems like the best option to me, but at this point I'd take any of those guys. Anything but Chan Ho.

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