J.C. Romero, in my opinion, is one of those guys that kind of got lost in the mix of things this past season. Although he made 60 appearances, many of them escape my memory. Romero was always one of the most animated relievers leaving the field after a big out. But when 2009 started off with a suspension and continued through injuries, it seemed he lost some of that fire he had once stoked.
Romero started 2010 on the DL after having surgery in the off season on his pitching elbow. Once returning to the Phillies, Charlie Manuel used him mainly against lefties and usually only for an out or two. He was asked to close at times converting three of six save opportunities.
As he did in 2009, Romero had some issues with his control. For the second straight year his walk count was one higher than his strikeouts (29/28). One of the biggest things, literally, about this season was Romero’s WHIP. Although not a career high at 1.61, it was his highest since his 2003 season with Minnesota.
Romero’s ERA was up again this year after staying below three for the past three season. His mark of 3.68, although high for Romero, was pretty much even keel for the Phillies bullpen who as a whole had an ERA of 3.67.
When you look at Romero’s numbers from a distance they don’t seem that bad. A sub-four ERA with 60 appearances for a spot reliever is not the best, but I guess it could have been worse. However, when you have a guy like Romero who is supposed to a lefty specialist and he is struggling with his command it’s hard to justify keeping him around.
This is exactly how Ruben Amaro Jr. felt. The Phillies opted to decline his $4.5 million club option for next season. They will end up giving him a $250,000 buyout and allow him to become a free agent.
Amaro had this to say about the reliever, “He had some struggles this year and last year a little bit, health-wise and command-wise. He’s not someone that’s not in the picture for us. This doesn’t preclude us from having a further relationship with him, but at least at this time, his $4.5 million salary isn’t warranted at this stage of the game.”
I don’t see the Phillies going after Romero this offseason. I think they will look outside the organization for a lefty for the pen.
Overall, I feel Romero underachieved in the position he was supposed to hold. His walks and ERA, in the amount of innings pitched, were a little too high for my comfort zone. However, he did get some bigs out. Which is why I am 50/50 on him this season. Hence my grade.
2010 numbers: 60 games, 36.2 innings, 1-0, 3.68 ERA, 28 K, 29 BB, 1.61 WHIP
KIERAN’S GRADE: 5/10
PAT GALLEN’S GRADE: 3.9/10 – Romero was paid a lot of money and simply wasn’t very good. He was good for nearly a walk an inning when he did pitch, meaning he gave the other team a head start with a man on base. For a guy who pitches less than an inning on average, that can’t happen.