Can it continue?
“We’re not going to get very far unless they all step up and pitch the way we think they can pitch,” Phils general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said Monday. “It’s something we monitor every day. We haven’t made any decisions as far as changes are concerned. But, of course, when they’re not performing at their normal levels, it is cause for some concern.”
The Phils enter tonight’s game against the Reds at Great American Ball Park with a 6.35 starter’s ERA, which is the highest in baseball.
Right-hander Joe Blanton has a 6.86 ERA, which is the sixth-highest ERA in the Majors. If left-hander Jamie Moyer had enough innings to qualify for the ERA rankings, he would have the highest ERA in the game at 8.15. If right-hander Chan Ho Park had enough innings to qualify with Moyer, he would have the sixth highest ERA at 7.08.
I bring this up (again) only because I’ve been getting plenty of questions about what the Phillies can do to improve the rotation.
“We have to keep our minds open with what ways we can improve our club,” Amaro said. “But at this time, the options that we have internally are not necessarily better options than what we have going right now. If we feel differently, then we’ll make changes, but right now that’s not the case.”
Moyer and Blanton aren’t going anywhere, which means the Phillies have just one option at the moment: replace Park with J.A. Happ. I would not be surprised if Park gets bumped to the bullpen this week after he lasted just 1 1/3 innings Sunday against the Nationals.
“He’s pitched very well out of the bullpen, and we’ve needed him,” Amaro said of Happ. “He’s been effective back there. He’s helped us there. He’s been helping us win games there. The question is whether or not we’re better off having him do his job as well as he has done in the bullpen, or whether we end up weakening our bullpen and adding what may be a question mark in our rotation. Do you weaken two areas just to see? Those are the things you have to factor in.”
In short, the Phillies have to hope Cole Hamels and Brett Myers continue to pitch well, and Moyer and Blanton start pitching better because other than Park, they have what they have.
Signing catcher Paul Bako to a Minor League deal doesn’t seem like much, but I don’t think it’s completely insignificant either. The Phillies already have Lou Marson and Paul Hoover in the system, so they are not hurting for depth should Carlos Ruiz or Chris Coste get hurt. But I’m thinking Bako not only provides the Phillies a little more depth, but he pushes Coste a little, too.
Of course, Coste is accustomed to that. He always seems to be behind the eight-ball with the Phillies. He had a great Spring Training in 2006, but he didn’t make the Opening Day roster. He eventually joined the team and hit .328 that season, but the Phillies signed Rod Barajas before 2007. Coste experienced no drama in 2008, but struggled offensively late in the season. He was hitting .182 on May 2 this season, but is hitting .455 (5 for 11) in his last four games to boost his average to .236.
How about that Ryan Church? Doh!