Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Team continues to make moves, prepare for Opening Day

Chan Ho Park's great spring has been rewarded, as he's been named the team's number five starter for 2009. Ruben Amaro Jr. commented that both Park and JA Happ pitched well enough to join the rotation, and it wasn't that Happ pitched himself out of the rotation, but that Park pitched himself into it.

Park is pitching great right now, but over the course of his career, he's consistently shown what he brings to the table. He is an innings eater and does not typically possess the overpowering stuff he's shown in Florida this past month. His era usually falls in the mid-four area, and it is likely that is what he is headed for in 2009. While that's certainly not bad, Happ has the potential to do more than that. If Park struggles, look for Happ to earn an opportunity to pitch himself into the rotation. The Phillies do not feel rushed to push him into the rotation, nor should they, he is still very young and has plenty of time to mature and progress into the pitcher he has the potential to become.

The Phillies also opted to release veteran outfielder Geoff Jenkins. They felt that Matt Stairs is a more valuable pinch hitter, which ultimately made the decision for them as neither Stairs nor Jenkins would have seen much time in the outfield. This opens a spot on the bench for a right- handed bat, possibly Miguel Cairo, or maybe even Gary Sheffield; whom the Phillies contacted yesterday.

Sheffield would be a great signing if he is content with a reserve role. There are questions about his ability to play the outfield at this point in his career, to which he responded that he is healthy and capable of playing the field. It may not be the outfield that has led to Sheffield's injury problems, but being in the every day lineup, getting four or five at bats a game. Getting a few pinch hit appearances a week, and a game here and there in the outfield, would likely keep Sheffield fresh and healthy. It may be a long-shot for the Phils to sign him, but he would cost just $400,000 if they could work something out.

The last announcement coming out of Clearwater yesterday benefits Brett Myers, who has been officially name opening day starter for the third consecutive year. Myers started opening day against Atlanta in 2007 and against Washington last season, earning a no decision in each contest, both being Phillies' loses.

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