Analysis

J.A. Happ to the Bullpen: Good Idea/Bad Idea

To be honest, I was never a cartoon watcher as a kid. While others sat in after school to keep up with Spidey and Batman, I read the newspaper; breaking down hitter tendencies and studying the league leaders.

One funny cartoon segment I do remember is “Good Idea/Bad Idea” from “Animaniacs.” If you’re unfamiliar with it, here’s a clip:

Anyway, it’s a fine way to separate the pros and cons of this J.A. Happ situation. As many of you already have heard, it’s a real possibility Happ gets demoted back to the bullpen. Sure, it’s a tough job and someone has to do it, but after going 7-2 through 13 starts, Happ deserves better, no? Here is a breakdown of why it is a good idea to put J.A. in a relief role, and why it is bad idea to place him there. After reading the ideas, feel free to draw a conclusion on the situation.

  • GOOD IDEA: Happ in the ‘pen gives the Phillies another left handed pitcher to go to, and one that can give them multiple innings.
  • BAD IDEA: Happ doesn’t deserve this – he has been outstanding in the starting rotation.
  • GOOD IDEA: His presence out there strengthens an important part of the game, and one that the Phillies have struggled with this year.
  • BAD IDEA: Yeah, but, the starters have struggled a bit too.
  • GOOD IDEA: With Cliff Lee joining the Phillies, and with Pedro Martinez due a shot to start, Happ is expendable.
  • BAD IDEA: Bullcorn! Happ is the fourth wheel with Lee, Hamels, and Blanton. Plus, Pedro hasn’t thrown a pitch in the majors since last year. He doesn’t deserve the spot.
  • GOOD IDEA: Putting Happ in a reliever spot limits his workload for this season, ensuring a fresh arm next year.
  • BAD IDEA: It’s a win-now league, and Happ is helping the Phillies in spades right now.
  • GOOD IDEA: Back to Pedro; this gives the Phillies a chance to see what that $1 million signing got them.
  • BAD IDEA: Pedro hasn’t proven anything in the minors yet. Plus, shouldn’t Moyer have to give up his spot anyway? He hasn’t been pitching all that well.
  • GOOD IDEA: Placing Happ in the bullpen will make him want to be a better starter. Think about it; it will get his engine revved high after feeling slighted for a second time this season.
  • BAD IDEA: What if moving him kills his psyche? It’s a lot to ask of a young pitcher, all that jumping around.
  • GOOD IDEA: It becomes a pressure cooker in the late months, so sending him to the bullpen eases Happ into the bigs.
  • BAD IDEA: That could backfire. The only way to learn is by doing, so let him throw deep into the season and lets see what the boy is made of.
  • GOOD IDEA: He’s a better alternative than Steven Register, Jack Taschner, Rodrigo Lopez, and Kyle Kendrick.
  • BAD IDEA: Can’t argue with that.
  • GOOD IDEA: Six man rotation?
  • BAD IDEA: Not a bad idea.

While I can’t say I love the idea of Happ being relegated to spot duty again, it may be the direction Charlie Manuel goes. There has to be some sort of pressure coming from the front office to see what they have in Pedro Martinez, plus with a depleted pen at this point, it can only help. On the other hand, why mess with success? Happ doesn’t deserve to be moved because he has been so damn good.

It’s certainly a fine dilemma to be in if you’re the Phillies, but not one J.A. Happ wants to be a part of.

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