Thursday, April 19, 2007

Myers belongs at beginning, not end

By Jared Trexler
The Phanatic Magazine

Team-first Brett Myers put on the company face when barraged with questions concerning his demotion -- and don't let anyone convince you otherwise -- from staff ace to set-up man.

He said all the right things. "I like having the ball in my hand." "Whatever it takes for this team to make the playoffs."

It's all a convenient front for a franchise that can't afford more drama following a 3-10 start and manager Charlie Manuel's untimely blowup at radio personality Howard Eskin following Tuesday's defeat.

In the back of Myers' mind, he has to be thinking on the same wavelength as the rest of us. What the %^&*!

Since being weened on the golden rules of America's past time at a young age, I have never seen a more foolish move. One that reeks of panic and pressure. One that was conjured by Manuel and pitching coach Rich Dubee with the stamp of approval from Pat Gillick. One necessary because Gillick spent $24-plus million dollars on a mediocre starter in Adam Eaton, thus creating a logjam in the rotation with no solution in sight and sapping up any available financial resources to join this winter's off-season reliever spending spree.

Were Jamie Walker and Justin Speier overpaid? You bet. But this team desperately needed a back-end arm more than a mediocre fourth or fifth starter. I'd bet the house that Justin Germano or J.A. Happ would have been just as effective as Eaton -- and the team would have been better off because the added resources could have gone a long way toward guaranteeing Wednesday's overreaction didn't happen.

Sure, Myers had perhaps the worst two-game stretch of his career. Yet, he talked at length earlier in the week after picking up on a subtle difference in his arm angle -- a difference that he contended flattened his fastball and made him rely more on off-speed pitches.

He now gets to show his mettle and an audition for a pitching coach job upon retirement in the beleaguered Phillies bullpen, starting the stint with a scoreless eighth in Wednesday's 13th inning loss to Washington.

The Phillies firmly stated that the move was contingent on Myers' approval, and the right-hander also said he doesn't want to pull a "Ryan Madson" by moving from one role to another and back again this season.

Apparently, without a long-term injury to a starter, Myers will remain in the bullpen until season's end. The staff ace with the new, lucrative contract in toe is the club's new seventh or eighth inning man.

How moronic.

Now, if the move eventually -- and by eventually I mean in the coming days or weeks -- leads to Myers taking over the closer's role, it lessens the move's stupidity just slightly.

Yet, with Myers in the ninth and Jon Lieber added to what is now a rotation without an identity, one has to wonder how many leads the new closer will be called on to protect.

At this rate, not many. It's starting to feel like 1997.
Jared Trexler can be reached at

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