Philadelphia Phillies’ Bullpen Looks a Little Thin Heading into 2010 Season

March 11, 2010 by  
Filed under Fan News

The Phillies’ past offseason was one of the more exciting in recent memory.

The acquisitions of starting pitcher Roy Halladay and infielder Placido Polanco make the two-time defending National League champions even better.

However, the splash that these two moves made will not help the Phillies in the place where they were the weakest: the bullpen.

The bullpen was the Phillies’ biggest weakness last season and was one of the main reasons that they lost to the Yankees in the World Series.

Yet for some reason, general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. made little effort to improve the bullpen.

Closer Brad Lidge blew 12 saves last year, including Game Four of the World Series. During the season, Lidge insisted that he was healthy enough to pitch, only spending time on the disabled list because of a minor knee problem. It was not until the offseason that Lidge revealed he was pitching through the pain the entire season.

While Lidge had “minor” surgeries on his knee and elbow, there is no guarantee that Lidge pitching through the pain did not have any long-term effects. There is a real chance that Lidge continues to struggle.

Amaro’s solution was signing journeyman reliever Danys Baez. While Baez has had a lot of success in his career as a closer (he has 105 career saves), he hasn’t recorded more than nine saves since 2005, and he has never been the closer for a team that finished with a winning record. It makes you wonder how competent he would be as the Phillies’ full-time closer if Lidge continues to struggle in 2010 for whatever reason.

The other pressing issue for the Phillies is the lack of healthy or proven left-handed relievers available to Charlie Manuel. It is more alarming than the potential issues that the Phillies face at the closer position. 

J.C. Romero is the best lefty in the Phillies’ bullpen. However, Romero is coming off a very disappointing 2009 season that was cut short by an elbow injury in early June, which made the bullpen very thin.

Now, as Opening Day approaches, reports are that Romero has not fully recovered from the elbow injury and will most likely be on the shelf when the season starts. This is especially worrisome since the Phillies did not retain lefty Scott Eyre, who posted a 1.50 ERA last year for the team.

With Romero still recovering from injury and Eyre off the roster, the next best option for Manuel is Antonio Bastardo. While Bastardo pitched well last year, he has very limited experience at the big league level, especially in relief, pitching only two games out of the bullpen.

Bastardo also does not have the type of stuff that you look for out of a left-handed reliever. He relies on his fastball and does not get very many ground ball outs.

The Phillies could be in a lot of trouble if Romero or Bastardo proves to be ineffective. It is a problem that could have been easily rectified by Amaro Jr. this past offseason. He could have made a more concerted effort to retain Eyre or maybe added a free agent reliever. Either would have greatly solidified the Phillies’ bullpen going into the 2010 season.

Obviously, the Phillies’ bullpen could be in a lot worse shape, but that’s not the attitude of a team looking for its third straight appearance in the World Series. It is not going to be very much fun for fans to look back at the offseason and ask what Amaro Jr. could have done to solidify the Phillies’ bullpen.

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

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