I thought last year was when JA Happ had to prove himself worthy of sticking around on a 25-man roster. The 26-year-old left-hander went 1-0 with a 3.69 ERA in eight games (four starts), pitching in crucial spots down the stretch. It seemed likely he would start 2009 in the Phillies rotation.
Then Chan Ho Park arrived. The righty is determined to win a starting spot, and Ruben Amaro Jr. has put faith in Park that he would battle proudly for the position. With four-fifths of the team’s rotation seemingly set, it looks as if only one of the Park-Happ-Kyle Kendrick-Carlos Carrasco will win out.
If Park loses, he could join the bullpen. If Kendrick loses, he’ll be back where he left off – in triple-A, a little younger. If Carrasco loses, he’ll just go to Lehigh Valley, setting himself for a late-season call-up. But if Happ loses, he’ll have to go back down. Again. At age 26.
Sure it wouldn’t be the end of the world for Happ, but it would be disheartening. Happ has conquered AAA batters, leading the International League in strikeouts while coasting through Lehigh Valley. He has proven himself to at least get a chance at a handful of major league starts. If he doesn’t make the 25-man roster, should he be traded? What is he worth? Or should he be sent back to the minors, hoping at some point Park blows up, or Jamie Moyer slips up, or something like that? What is your solution to the JA Happ quandary?