It's Gotta Be Happ

happ 0805.jpgI’d say J.A. Happ has made a case for himself.

He threw his second shoutout of the season tonight in a 7-0 victory against the Rockies. He struck out a career-high 10 batters. He is 8-2 with a 2.74 ERA, an ERA which ranks sixth in the National League.

Who’s got a better ERA in the NL than Happ?

Chris Carpenter (2.10 ERA)
Tim Lincecum (2.18 ERA)
Matt Cain (2.25 ERA)
Dan Haren (2.38 ERA)
Wandy Rodriguez (2.63 ERA)

That’s solid company, which makes Happ’s future in the Phillies rotation even more interesting than it already is.

We know Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels and Joe Blanton take three spots in the rotation.

We know Jamie Moyer leads the team with 10 wins.

We know Pedro Martinez has been signed to be a starter, and the Phillies have made no bones that is their plan for him.

But we also know Moyer’s 5.55 ERA is the second highest in the National League, Martinez has not piched in the big leagues since last season and Happ has been one of the team’s most consistent starters this year.

“Tremendous pitching. Outstanding,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. “If he didn’t allow any hits that might have been the only way he could have done better. I think he showed me he wants to stay in the rotation.”

Has he?

“Let me answer that for you later on, OK?” Manuel said. “I don’t feel like getting into that no more. I’ve answered that now for what? A week?”

But that was before Happ threw his latest shutout.

If the Phillies think Martinez is ready for the big leagues after his latest rehab start tonight with Double-A Reading — he allowed three earned runs and struck out 11 in six innings — the decision might come before Happ’s next scheduled start Tuesday against the Cubs at Wrigley Field.

Should Happ stay in the rotation? Absolutely. I can’t see how the Phillies will be able to say they are a better team — a team trying to win another World Series — with Happ in the bullpen. In a seven-game series, who would you want following Lee, Hamels and Blanton right now? I’d want Happ.

But the decision is tougher than it seems. Manuel mentioned Tuesday that Moyer leads the team in wins and has won 256 games in his career. He also is in the first year of a two-year, $13 million contract. Those things will be considered. Martinez, while he has not pitched in the Majors since last season, is worth a look. And while he has said he would go to the bullpen, he might not take that well. That will be considered, too.

It might come down to Happ vs. Moyer. It should be interesting, but Happ has earned the right to keep starting.

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The Zo Zone is on Facebook and Twitter.

43 Comments

There’s no way you can justify removing Happ from the rotation. None. Heads should roll if that happens. Moyer is definitely the weakest link. Maybe the Phils should try to sneak him through waivers and trade him back to Seattle? There’s no way you want him in the playoff rotation, and you probably don’t want him next season either. He’s bi-polar. Good one start, horrible the next. Stop trying to not hurt his feelings and cut bait now. Second worst ERA in the NL. Enough said.

J.A. Happ should stay in the rotation. I appreciate what Moyer has done as a phillie but he isn’t pitching good at all. As a baseball stand point you would probably replace Moyer with Pedro but as the organization stand point you probably wouldn’t. I think the phils should just keep it the way it is now. i would be shocked if it changed. If you put Happ in the pen than would he stay in there through out the playoffs? Or do you take him out of the pen and re-stretch his arm again before the playoffs to start? Its kinda ridiculous. i didnt mind the pedro signing as much because it was low risk high reward. But now it seems like its the opposite. High risk low reward.

The problem is the Phillies spent a million on a pitcher they should not have signed and now they want to get something in return for their money. In a AA game tonight he gave up four runs. I know he struck out eleven, but it’s a AA game. I agree Happ should stay put.
I would ask Moyer to forgo one start for Martinez which I’m sure he would do.

Moyer signing a 2 year deal was the mistake. With his age you basically need to take it season to season, but Rube blew it by guaranteeing 2 years.

Happ has to stay. If not, I will make it my personal crusade to bash the Phillies.

It seems to me that they made a similar mistake a few years ago when they left David Bell at third base because he was making $5.4 million. They’ll consider Moyer’s contract, but they have to pay him regardless, and if sitting him makes them a better team, the money has nothing to do with it.
I cringe whenever teams start using salary as a reason to play a guy. It’s meaningless, since it’s guaranteed. Stop looking at the names on the jerseys and play the best guys you have.
They don’t owe Pedro any favors either. At this point, they should either eat the million or try to trade him to a team that can use him. Clearly, here he is a fly in the ointment.

Whoever asked the question about Happ staying in the rotation last night dropped the ball after Charlie answered. The same reporter should have followed up with “Charlie, you just saw the answer to the rotation question tonight. Period. End of story.”

If they pull Happ from the rotation I will be fuming. The kid does not deserve to be lifted at all, nor did he deserve to be in the pen at the outset of the season. Sure Park had a nice spring but Park got the spot because he was basically promised it. Now the Phillies are almost in a similar situation having somewhat promised Pedro he would start when ready. Pedro has said he would throw out of the pen but he deserves at least 1 or 2 starts to prove he can be better than Moyer. Moyer has a great respect for the game and I would hope that he realizes he doesn’t give this team the best chance to win every fifth day if Pedro is healthy. It stinks that Jamie is 46 and might have to go to the pen but the money still prints the same no matter where you are on the roster.

I don’t know if anyone has suggested this, but here goes. Have Hamels, Lee, Blanton and Happ hold their spots and pitch on regular rest. And here’s a novel idea — let Moyer and Pedro “share” the 5th spot. You could either alternate who starts the game each turn of the rotation and having them both prepare and have one of them pitch the 1st 4-5 innings and the other pitch the next 4 innings. Or you could have Jamie start each game and bring in Pedro to finish. It’s my understanding that Pedro’s contract gives him bonus money to finish games. Talk about some incentive. It’s kind of a unique situation, so it requires a different approach to solve. yeah, i know that this solution will take up a bullpen spot, but we’re only talking about a couple weeks before the rosters expand. Besides, this may help to allow the bullpen to stay fresh for down the stretch and postseason.

I like the idea rabbi but I don’t know how it will sit with Moyer and Pedro. It might be time for a mystery DL stint for Moyer to give Pedro a couple starts to prove his worth.

Rabbi: Jenn had that same idea in the previous postings http://philliesphollowers.mlblogs.com/archives/2009/08/do_not_put_ja_happ_in_the_bull.html

It’s not a bad idea, but I’m not sure if it would with the powers that be.

Happ was delightful and such fun to watch. Last night’s game was so similar to Lee’s first start in how fast he seemed to pitch. He really deserves to stay in the rotation not only because he’s pitching well but he’s “earned” it what with yo-yoing between starting and the bull pen plus all the trade talks that have been circling him. He’s really maintained his poise throughout it all. Loved the crowd giving him a standing “O” ……gave me chills! Plus like Wheels said hard to believe it was just a regular season game.

Rabbi – I posted that same idea on my blog last night; it totally works. Moyer & Martinez share #5 – of course, it has never been done before, so that makes it unlikely that the Phils would try it.

But if neither pitcher can make it past 5 innings, the dual role fixes that and saves the pen. You may have to use an extra pinch hitter in the game, but it is a small price to pay. Plus, you would be doing that anyway if say, one of these guys gives up a bunch of runs in the 1st inning or two. So, no difference really.

Other than that, the only solution I see is release Pedro. They won;t do that to Moyer because of his history and we have signed him for 2 years. And frankly, I am not impressed with Pedro’s 3 runs given up in a AA game. He struck out 11, but again, AA.

Jenn
http://philliesphollowers.mlblogs.com/

Jenn, I know you might not think 3 ER in 6 IP of AA ball is all that great but I’m sure Pedro was working on a lot of things last night. Those guys don’t approach rehab starts in the same fashion they would a major league start.

I’m at a loss to evaluate this “dual role” idea that a few of you have promoted. 120 years of baseball and three blog commenters think they have the answer with something that’s never been done in the history of the game. I’m hoping that one of you called WIP with this stuff, or else there are 4 people who think this is a viable solution.
As much as it appalled me, Ruben’s 6-man rotation is suddenly a good idea compared to some of this stuff.

What I meant to say is….I’m not sure it would fly with the powers that be. Plus I don’t think Moyer and/or Martinez would go for it.

What I thought was interesting was I saw a clip of Moyer’s post game interview. It almost seemed like he knew he might not have a lot left in the tank. He was practically whispering also. Seemed more downcast than usual after a loss. I could be reading too much into also. Maybe hoping he comes up with a “phantom” injury that puts him on the DL.

I’m open to the idea of having Moyer and Pedro split every 5th day but really the answer is as follows:

Lee
Hamels
Blanton
Happ
Pedro until he fails

Amen Todd!! If you are trying to win a world series this year and not just trying to coast on last year, then Happ has to stay in the rotation. Moryer or Pedro have to go. If it were me I would tell Pedro to take a hike, the Phillies owe him absolutely nothing and they are paying him nothing in the world of sports so let him walk away. With that said I don’t see them doing that and as much as I like Jaime Moyer the person, Jaime Moyer the pitcher has nothing left in the tank. Pedro maybe the better option as the 5th starter. Keep JA in the rotation if you are trying to win a world series this year. The guy could win the rookie of the year!

The combo start is a novel idea, but it would only work in the Amercan League, where they don’t play real baseball because of the DH.
joed21 has the easy practical answer there. Lee, Hamels, Blanton, Happ and Pedro as the #5 until he proves that he can’t do it. I think he can and Phillies phans will be quite surprised at how good he will be. He’ll create another dilemma with the postseason roster because of it, IMO.

Why is this even an issue?

They’re gonna screw Happ over-AGAIN-because they told Pedro he might be a starter? Did they learn nothing from the Chan Ho experiment? Why does Pedro seem to have so much power in this situation? He hasn’t even been in the organization a full month! Yet they’re gonna move Happ–who’s pitching better than half the rotation to begin with-to the bull pen cause they don’t wanna hurt anyone’s feelings? Is it business, or is it personal? Seems like with Happ it’s always business cause they don’t want to get personal with anyone else. This kid is pitching lights out despite the emotional roller coaster they’ve had him on all year. He could easily be 9-1 or even 10-0 cause if I remember correctly he didn’t get much run support (or a decent deffensive effort) in his two losses.

A million dollar salary? Please. That place has sold out 46 consecutive games and you know it will sell out every home game in the next two months, not to mention all the merchandise sales in the last year. Money is no issue, that’s just a silly.

Should the Phils get to the playoffs, they could have a 4 man rotation consisting of the reigning Cy Young winner, reigning World Series MVP, and a legitimate candidate for Rookie of the Year (plus Blanton who is incredible). Todd, is there a better 4 man rotation anywhere in the league? Why would they disrupt that heading into the stretch? Put Pedro in the bullpen–last time I checked it’s not the players that call the shots, or at least it shouldn’t be.

I think this is my first ever post on here so clearly I’m fired up about it lol.

Yeah phan, I think Pedro is going to turn some heads if/when he gets his chance to start with the big club. I really liked the signing when they made it and still do. His fastball topped out at 93 last night too. That seems to tell me that he is healthy.

slainte, that’s a great post. I agree on all points. What I think people are losing sight of is that they only need a #5 for 2 more months anyway. And the long-term effect of shifting Happ back to the pen is too much. They can’t shrink him back into a pen role. He is completely stretched out and dealing right now.

Zo … thanks for putting it out there. You made yourself clear. Manuel does not need to tell us but I trust he is talking to both JA and Jamie … or will soon. (my recommendation?)

Moyer will pitch Monday against the Fish. If Pedro does not need another “rehab” start in the minors, bring him up this weekend and have him ready to to go from our ‘pen … 2 days of rest this Sunday if Moyer can’t go deep / finish the Fish ?

Happ starts his game next Tuesday with Lee-Blanton to follow against the Cubs. Hamels opens the series against the Braves. While Pedro would be available for long relief in any of those games, if he didnt’ pitch this Sunday, and even if he did…

Consider Pedro to start in Moyer’s position next Saturday, second game in Atlanta. (who feels good about a Moyer-Braves matchup ? I’m not sure Jamie does at this point.)

Jamie has his contract and Pedro has his … it has nothing to do with $ but winning (for more $) … the Mets are paying loads for injured players … We give Pedro a shot to gauge him against ML hitting … Moyer still adds value to the team until we determine which one of them starts … Moyer pitching out of the ‘pen … I don’t know, what are his other options … ?

The disturbing thing is Phillies’ management inability to make a decision and get on with it. Leaving Happ and others wondering what’s going to happen is not the leadership we need right now.

At some point we need move forward from the angst over removing Moyer from the picture. This is the right time. Moyer needs to step aside and do what is right for team.

There is now way, I repeat NO F*cking WAY, that Happ goes to the pen!!

To all you with the “great” idea of platooning Moyer/Pedro, it won’t work for one simple reason. We only can carry 25 guys. the way that breaks up is 8 starters, 5 bench players, and 12 pitchers. If you have Moyer/Pedo starting every other time, you loose a spot in the bullpen. SInce our Pen has been problomatic this year, you definately don’t want to reduce the arms there. This doesn’t even mention the fact that pitchers aren’t nearly as effective after 9 days rest as apposed to 4 days rest. (remember Hamel’s start last year after the AS break?

The solution is simple: Either pay Pedro to spend the rest of the summer on the beach in the Dominican Republic (where he was for teh first part of it) of politely as Jamie to retire and enjoy his salary. Invite him to spring training next year as a coach, offer him a job in the organization with the young kids, if he wants, and move on.

We all ready for Lee’s home opener tonight??

karen: Jamie gets downcast when he doesn’t pitch well. It’s nice to see, in a way, as opposed to guys like Hamels and Lidge who continue to tell us how good they feel and Cole’s idea of getting it going once the games are important.

joed21: Pedro WILL turn heads – the heads of the outfielders when they’re watching the balls fly into the stands. Big leaguers can hit 93mph fast balls.

fij with his usual stupidity. You don’t want to even give Pedro a shot?

lol@muleman. I don’t get it, the guy may have struck out 11 but I can strike out 20 if their all on my kid’s little league team. I see nothing to tell me he’s ready to pitch in the big league any better (or should I say worse?) the Moyer. I don’t like folling with a team’s chemistry at this point unless you are truly upgrading. Everyone loves Moyer, including us who have been bashing him all season long on the blogs. Given a choice I take Moyer over Pedro no questions asked–I don’t even have to think about it.

More importantly, what is our bullpen going to look like in the postseason? Lidge, Madson, Romero, Eyre, Park and?

in case some of you missed it today, Bill COnlin had a great line in his article on the Happ/Pedro/Moyer problem. Writing about Moyer’s last outing hie pens, “The rockets’ red glare, bombs bursting in air gave proof through his short night that his location wasn’t quite there.”

Thought I’d share

The ONLY thing that SHOULD matter is Ability and HOW that ability translates into performance. Based on that , Happ MUST stay in the rotation. Unfortunately, Moyer has a guaranteed contract through ( 2010) , which is hard to believe. As such, unless the Phillies can get Moyer to suddenly get a SORE shoulder ( and DON’T rule that out) , he would have to then agree to retire or be Designated for assignment . Since neither of those latter 2 things are likely, it is up to Jamie to do the right thing and accept a trip to the DL. Otherwise, the team is disadvantaged every 5th day when Moyer Starts.

As if I needed more proof that fij is terrible he lets it be known that he likes Conlin’s writing. I’d rather read the dictionary than pieces written by Conlin.

dolf: All contracts in baseball are guaranteed. Moyer’s money is a non-issue. They’ll pay him whether he pitches or not, so the only decision to be made is which pitchers give you the best chance to win. Money doesn’t figure in, much as Todd says the Phils will “consider it.” They can consider it all they want, but they’re still going to have to pay them.

f.i.j.: Don’t forget Condrey, Durbin and Myers – as much as I’d like to forget them.

Joed, if you read what I wrote (you do know how to read, right?) I said he had a great line. The article, as usual, was pathetic which is why I figure most of you didn’t see it. Since I get the news only visa internet, I read almost anything.

I don’t think the Phillies are afraid to eat salary. They have done it in the recent past with Eaton and Jenkins. The only difference with Moyer is that he is well respected and highly regard within the organization. I love Moyer but he was at the peak last year after winning the ring. He should have taken the high road while he could. I had no problem with the Phillies giving him the money they did because he earned it in the past through his performance and all the intangibles he brought to the team. But right now he’s not worth a penny.

fij, the line you quoted is terrible too. It’s cheesy fluff which is all that fat dope writes.

I haven’t forgotten they exist Mule, I just aren’t sure they (all) go to the post season. We need some middle inning guys besides park (durbin) and a back up for Lidge is he falls apart-like he’s been all season (Myers). Condrey is out for the season, I understand.

Joed: NO I dont’ want to give Pedro a chance. He never should have been signed (as I said all along) and you don’t mess with a team at this point to bring in another 6 inning 4 run pitcher instead of the one you got. Get me a #5 who can go 5-6 innings and give up under 3 runs in AA and we”ll talk

Pedro will be light years better than Moyer. If he’s healthy he is a masterful pitcher. Moyer is a sentimental favorite but there is not getting around the fact that signing him for two years at 13 million was the dumbest thing Amaro has done since he took over. He has the second highest ERA in the league and is showing his age. The inconsistency has been evident all year, although I admit he has not been as bad as he was in April and May.

Happ needs to stay in the rotation and Pedro needs to get a few starts to show his stuff.

If they knew they were having issues with the bullpen, they should have gone after someone like Sherrill. Pedro is not the answer to the bullpen issues. They have to hope Romero and Durbin get back soon and that Myers is a viable candidate, but it looks like Condrey is probably done for the year. Romero’s situation is troubling.

You can’t be serious about not even giving Pedro a shot. Wow. Just wow. Signing Pedro was the perfect signing. If you don’t get that then I don’t know what to tell you.

A future hall of famer is useless. Brilliant.

phan, it’s clear that fij has no clue who Pedro Martinez is. I’m not expecting the guy to conjure up his prime again but his stuff even at C-level for his standards is better than what Moyer is bringing to the table.

joed21, I can’t help but think that there are people here who really don’t have any idea who Pedro Martinez is. I would always have concerns about his health, but if he is healthy, and it appears he is, he is a great pitcher.
Granted, he could break down at any minute due to his age and his unique delivery, but until that happens I want to see him pitching for the Phillies.

Rodrigo Lopez > Pedro Martinez. I love this place.

joed: That “fat dope” has forgotten more than you’ll ever know about baseball. Don’t show disrespect.

muleman, Conlin is awful. He’s arrogant and just makes obscure idiotic references in all of his articles. Writers do the things he does because they don’t have a grasp on the actual subject matter.

Pedro would have been the perfect signing if you weren’t going to get Halladay or Lee. Once you decided that you were getting a proper #1, no matter what, then you had to look at the bottom half of the rotation. When he was signed, we had Happ as #3, Moyer #4 and Lopez #5. Obviously Lee pushed Lopez out of the rotation. This left us where we are now. Unless you intended to move Moyer, or had concerns about happ, Pedro is uselesss. Since Happ has removed any concerns (if they existed) and Pedro can’t even get a “quality” start in AA ball, why would you start him?

If you are looking to bring up a pitcher to replacce Moyer, look at some of the kids we have in AAA who are pithcing fabulously (Carpenter 9-2 2.72, Lehr 13-3 3.31) or in AA who are doing equally as good (Stutes, 8-6 3.86, Drabek 7-1 3.42)

Since Pedro isn’t going to be in the rotation in the post season in any case as the #5 starter, don’t start with his experience, maturity, post season record etc. It’s irelevent. We need a 5th starter for between 8-11 starts. We need the best one in the organization. IMHO the correct guy is sitting in the bullpen right now–Lopez

joed21: You really have no idea of who Bill Conlin is. To say he has no grasp of the subject matter is just ignorant.

muleman and f_i_j, Bill Conlin is one of the reasons I hardly ever visit philly.com these days. I got so upset at his cheap shots at players that I left a lot of seering comments until I got sick of him. Yes, he knows about Baseball and the history of the game, but right now he is an egotistical, bitter old man who should simply retire before the rest of the Phanbase catches on to what he’s doing. I’m sure there are players on the team who hate Conlin and refuse to be interviewed by him…..f_i_j, if you thought that cheap shot at Jamie Moyer was a “great line” and don’t recognize the evil intent behind the words, you should be ashamed of yourself.

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