Opinion: Relieve The Bullpen – Phillies Nation

Opinion: Relieve The Bullpen

CondreyEighteen games into the 2009 season and the Phillies have just two seven-inning outings.

The Phils bullpen has been taxed so far, mainly because of downright horrendous starting pitching. Just last night Charlie Manuel had to point to the pen starting in the fifth inning; he brought in five pitchers, three of whom did more than exceptional work keeping the Nationals off the scoreboard. Combined, the bullpen has thrown 62.2 innings, or almost 40 percent of the time. That’s unacceptable.

The bullpen needs relief. Look at Brad Lidge, who is suddenly suffering from knee problems once again. Look at the innings mounting for Clay Condrey, who has been promoted to crucial swingman. Look at the inconsistent play from Chad Durbin and Ryan Madson, who were more consistent than not in 2008.

It’s easy to look at starting pitching and say “shape up.” Truly, Cole Hamels — tonight’s starter — needs to channel his inner ace and dominate Washington like he has done before. An eight-inning performance would be roundly appreciated. But if he can’t do it (then who can?), what can be done?

I recommend the Phils bring up Gary Majewski, who has thrown 11 innings with a 0.82 ERA for the Lehigh Valley IronPigs. Slot him into the bullpen with Condrey and Durbin, allowing the three to trade off appearances. Let the relievers breathe a little. Oh, who to send down? How about Miguel Cairo — his .000 average in seven at bats is just taking up space.

Hopefully, though, the best relief will be a huge start by No. 35.

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  1. JR

    April 28, 2009 at 7:22 am

    I couldn’t agree more. Cairo is a waste of space.

  2. GM-Carson

    April 28, 2009 at 7:23 am

    The Nationals have played 18 games, scored 85 runs, and hit 21 homeruns. 27 of those runs and 12 of those homeruns have come in their 3 games against the Phillies. That’s really bad.

    Bullpen- Majewski or Koplove should be able to handle 15 days or so in Condrey’s role, as Clay moves up a peg in importance in the pen.

  3. Chooch's Cooches

    April 28, 2009 at 7:57 am

    Agree completely. Happ needs a little rest too, I’m worried about his arm.

  4. DHall

    April 28, 2009 at 8:06 am

    The pitching is god-awful. Words can’t even describe how bad it is right now. Pretty bad when a 46 year old pitcher has your only quality start.

  5. Ed

    April 28, 2009 at 8:33 am

    I agree completely. Cairo needs to go, Majewski needs to be called up to give the guys who have been busting it, or trying to, some rest.

    I am thinking Hamels throws a complete game tonight as he will just baffle the Nationals.

  6. Justin

    April 28, 2009 at 8:48 am

    Lehigh’s bullpen has been fairly decent I mean they’re under .500 but it’s an improvement from last year. Drew Carpenter just went toe to toe with Clay Bucholz last night and went pitch for pitch with him, it was a great game, Tyler Walker even threw 3 scoreless to get the extra inning win.

  7. Keystone

    April 28, 2009 at 8:59 am

    Correct me if Im wrong, but because of his MLB years can’t Cairo decline to optioned to the minors? Isn’t that the reason they went with him instead of Ozuna in the beginning of the season? Plus its only 3 at bats, if he got 3 hits in a row that .000 AVG jumps to .300 AVG just like that.
    With that being said I agree completely that they need to bring up some help for the pen, and Majewski seems to be the obvious choice. But instead of carrying 13 pitchers couldn’t they just send down someone from the pen to bring him up temporarily.

  8. Keystone

    April 28, 2009 at 9:00 am

    I meant only 7 at bats.

  9. Ed

    April 28, 2009 at 9:15 am

    I believe you are right and he can decline, to which I say, be my guest. You are terrible and we don’t need you. We really don’t. Stairs and Dobbs can cover the corner OF spots. Dobbs can also cover the corner INF spots. Coste can play some 1B and Bruntlett can cover the corner OF, SS and 2nd…not that Utley ever takes a day off, so again I saw…what do we need Cairo for? He is this years So Taguchi.

  10. Ed

    April 28, 2009 at 9:16 am

    I meant say, not saw.

  11. Tim Malcolm

    April 28, 2009 at 9:25 am

    Who would they send down, Keystone? Nobody from the bullpen can go down; the reason they’d bring in Majewski is to allow breathing space.

    If Cairo wants to hit waivers, so be it. The Phils do have Ozuna, and Mayberry, and Donald, etc., if they really need that extra bat. It’s not so much about Cairo’s production, but that he isn’t even getting enough time to suggest keeping him up.

  12. Adam C

    April 28, 2009 at 9:39 am

    Cairo has been a waste of a spot so far this season. And I agree, we really need to do something for a little relief in the bullpen. I think Majewski could lighten things up for Happ or Eyre for a few games (at least)…

  13. Keystone

    April 28, 2009 at 9:39 am

    Agreed, it may be time to let him go. I just really liked what he was doing in ST and hoped it would transfer to the season.
    On a side note Dobbs has more than twice as many at bats and only collected two hits this season, it might be too much to expect the same performance from him this year, maybe Cairo could benefit from seeing some more AB’s.

  14. Manny

    April 28, 2009 at 9:45 am

    Yes, yes, yes… Cairo down, Majewski up. I completely forgot about Cairo taking up space while our pitching is struggling.

  15. Brian of CO

    April 28, 2009 at 9:47 am

    We have given up the most amount of HR’s than any team in the league at this point in 39, as well as set a new rercord of the most amount of HR’s given up by this point in the season than any other Defending WS champion in the history of Baseball. We have given 39, the next highest was the Blue Jays in ’94 giving up 25. Pretty pathetic. Did we hire the Mets pitching coach from the last 2 years or something. The bats have come on pretty good, Good thing we have Ibanez, hopefully whatever Moyer ate the other night before he owned the Marlins he feeds to the rest of the starting Pitchers.

  16. Tim Malcolm

    April 28, 2009 at 9:55 am

    It’s possible Cairo could benefit from more at bats, but from where? You can’t sub out any of the outfielders. Howard and Utley are mainstays. Rollins needs to start everyday. Feliz is the only probable platoon, but even he is showing offensive production and Dobbs is already his backup.

    In years past the offense could platoon because of slow starts, but this team is ripping it early. There’s just no way Cairo sees time.

  17. BurrGundy

    April 28, 2009 at 10:16 am

    Excellent observation and analysis as usual from Tim. You are right on point. I see a MLB managerial spot in your future.

  18. Chuck P

    April 28, 2009 at 10:53 am

    It starts and ends with pitching… we can’t afford to lose any of the guys in our pen right now and Lidge needs rest so something has got to give. We have a much needed day off on Thursday so we could skip Park’s spot in the rotation and let him work out of the pen for a week. That could buy us some time. If this becomes a more serious issue, we might need to think about bringing up Carrasco and working Park out of the pen full time. I’m not sure if I’m comfortable with Clay Condrey as my 8th inning guy… we sorely miss JC.

  19. Greg V.

    April 28, 2009 at 11:02 am

    I agree with skipping Park and using him in the pen for a week. Though sending Cairo’s totally dead bat down to Lehigh Valley for Majewski works as well.

  20. Justin

    April 28, 2009 at 11:07 am

    The ABs would simply have to come from him being the first pinch hitter off the bench, if our pitchers cannot last past 6 innings it makes sense to let Cairo be the first bat off the bench instead of wasting Dobbs or Stairs early, or even bruntlett for that matter. If it’s an rbi situation then by all means put those guys in but if you designate cairo as the first guy off the bench it’s better than letting him stew on the bench and not get any ABs, he’s going to turn into another So Taguchi. I do agree about giving the pitchers in the pen a boost by adding one of the arms from Lehigh which would allow Bastardo or another ‘pen arm from Reading to see AAA talent so that phils pitchers don’t feel overused for later in the season. It all starts with Hamels performance tonight.

  21. Chuck P

    April 28, 2009 at 11:11 am

    Do you really think that Hamels is ready to give us 8 innings? The guy is only two weeks removed from his minor league rehab assignment. We need a starter to go deep but that’s expecting a lot out of Hamels.

    Has there been any indication that Lidge won’t be available tonight? Durbin should be ready to go and Madson didn’t throw too many pitches so they’ll be ready. Taschner went 1.1 inning, Eyre threw a ton of pitches, Condrey went 1.1 innings and Happ has pitched two days in a row… doubt any of those guys will be available. That leaves our pen pretty thin tonight.

  22. Justin

    April 28, 2009 at 11:20 am

    Lidge is day to day, Hamels never threw a minor league rehab assignment, and I’m not asking him to throw 8, 6-7 innings is enough to throw durbin out there for an inning and then there’s Madson and possibly Lidge if his knee isn’t bothering him, bare in mind durbin can go 2 innings if needed. Plus they may need him to with all the pitchers throwing yesterday, Taschner may be able to throw again today since he hasn’t pitched in a game or two before last night.

  23. Chuck P

    April 28, 2009 at 1:18 pm

    Justin, you mentioned Tyler Walker… how has he looked?

    I like Majewski but I’m not ready to bank on him as a long-term solution… with that being said, I would be ok dropping Cairo and grabbing Majewski but I think that’s probably unlikely. I mean, we held onto Not-So Too-Good-chi for all of last season for “no reason”… I think that you just don’t drop MLB ready utility guys. You’ve gotta have a certain number of IF and OF on your bench, just in case someone gets injured and without Cairo, we’re vulnerable.

  24. Justin

    April 28, 2009 at 2:36 pm

    I mean i only saw Walker pitch last night but he threw 3 solid innings in extra innings working quickly with 3 very short and quick innings to help the Pigs pull away with a split in the series.

  25. Doug D.

    April 28, 2009 at 2:41 pm

    Yes, Cairo may seem to be taking up a spot on the 25-man roster, but that’s the case with most teams. You need an extra utility guy in the NL because of the possible need to double-switch multiple times in a game…I think that Majewski could be brought up, while sending Happ down. The Phils have an “option” on Happ (and possibly more than one), so they can yo-yo him back and forth all season between the big club and the minors, using up only one option, while not having to worry about exposing him to the waiver wire. According to the Phils’ official website, there are a couple of open spaces on the 40-man roster, so Majewski can be added to the 40-man roster without having to release anyone or expose anyone to the waiver wire. Besides, Happ would be best suited to be starting in the Minors and ready to come up in the event of an injury or continued ineffectiveness of someone currently in the rotation. To me, Happ is taking up the spot on 25-man roster. I like Happ, mind you, but I thought Majewski should have been in the big club’s bullpen coming out of spring training.

  26. Keith

    April 28, 2009 at 3:24 pm

    Can we sign Bonds to replace Cairo? 😉

  27. Justin

    April 28, 2009 at 3:42 pm

    There’s a reason Bonds hasn’t been on a MLB roster in over 2 years, he’s got nothing left and he can roid himself out for all I care and I still wouldn’t take him, he discredits the game and the legendary players that played the game before him, hes a disgrace to the game. If we don’t take cairo out for a pitcher why not switch him out for Pablo Ozuna who’s got better speed and can play any position, he’s got a pretty decent glove.

    I agree with Doug in that Happ shouldn’t ever have started on the MLB roster but it’s starting to make sense why he didn’t start in AAA. There are too many good pitchers in the system at Starting Pitcher to let Happ take up a roster spot, or players that need the work to come back and try to help this team. Kendrick has looked good in AAA, Carrasco looked good until he encountered Pawtucket Saturday, Carpenter looks like the pitcher he was 2 years ago, Justin Lehr has won IL Player of week for going 2-0 in his first 2 starts of the year. Then there’s the kids in the lower levels that will be making their move from level to level such as Michael Stutes, Kyle Drabek, Jason Knapp, etc. we have too much talent at the starting pitcher position for Happ to take up a spot in AAA and he may have to settle for being a bullpen arm if Knapp and Drabek continue their surge toward the MLB, meanwhile Joe Savery is getting lost in the numbers in Reading so much for his premonition of making the show by this year, or even next year. He’d have to show major improvements to get to the point where he’s needed in the show in 2010.

  28. christopher

    April 28, 2009 at 4:25 pm

    couldn’t agree with this more, koplove or majewski would mean so much more to this team than cairo does.

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