Friday, April 20, 2007

Robbing Peter....

The Brett Myers decision represents the nadir of Charlie Manuel's tenure as the Phillies skipper. In less than a month the starting rotation has gone from one of the better ones by most accounts -- an overestimation in my opinion -- to one of many mediocre ones -- potentially an understatement.

Can a rotation be called one of the better staffs in the league when it sports a 44-year old junkballer, a 37-year old whom they tried to get rid of, a nearly 31-year old who just came off the DL and has clearly lost a lot off his fastball, a 29-year old whose medical records are more extensive than his pitching charts, and a 23-year old phenom who still has less than a year of big league experience? Need I point out that the glowing consensus pre-season assessments assumed Brett Myers would be one of the five?

Now Myers is in the bullpen for what may be a long time and even now there are clear indications his role has yet to be defined. Will he be the setup man to aging Flash Gordon, whose own recent medical history leaves much to be desired? (At least one scout is quoted in today's paper as saying Gordon appears to have abandoned his curveball, a sign he may be trying to put less strain on his arm.) Or will Myers eventually be converted to the closer? For his part, Myers is being given a lot of credit in many circles for doing whatever is necessary to help a desperate team when in fact that help was and remains the responsibility of management. The failure to shore up a clearly inadequate bullpen is a poor excuse for punching holes in a less than spectacular starting rotation.

Orioles legend Jim Palmer once said of his equally famous manager Earl Weaver that all the latter knew about major league pitching was that he couldn't hit it. Charlie Manuel may have had a little more success than Weaver against big league pitchers, but it didn't translate into any more knowledge about them.