According to the poll to the right, most people believe that Jon Lieber will not be starting this season for the Phillies. Of course it’s likely many of you heard the news straight from Charlie’s mouth that the right-hander will indeed start the season in the bullpen and Adam Eaton will be in the rotation. Lieber has pitched well this spring. He has started 2 games and has appeared in 3 total giving up 10 hits in 8 innings. His 1.13 ERA is tops among Phillies pitchers with more than one inning pitched. In his first relief appearance he strained his right oblique, but since received the green light from Dr. Ciccotti. But unlike the past two Opening Days, Jon Lieber will not be watching this game from the mound. Although this move represents a demotion for Lieber professionally, in other ways it could be seen as an opportunity.
Trotting out to the bullpen everyday gives Jon Lieber the chance to prove his commitment to winning at any cost. In accepting the new role, he has shown great selflessness. "I’m disappointed, but I’m going to give it my best," said Jon upon hearing the skippers decision. But also, more importantly, this move affords Lieber the opportunity to take a leadership role on the team. As an above-average career starter who has been to the playoffs with the Yankees, I would hope he fancies himself a solid reliever. I mean all this guy does is throw strikes. With this experience and confidence, he is in a prime position to help solidify the bullpen – both by leading by example, as well as by mentoring the younger members of the staff. Matt Smith, Zack Segovia, Clay Condrey, Scott Mathieson and Jim Ed Warden all still have a chance to make the team and could benefit from Lieber’s wisdom. This will ultimately increase his value come free agency at the end of the season. There’s little chance Jon will retain the $7 million price tag for his services, but for a pitcher that can still throw and is a positive influence in the clubhouse he is guaranteed to always have a spot on a Major League roster. Just look at Jamie Moyer.