Are the Phillies confident with Vicente Padilla and Robinson Tejeda assuming spots 4 and 5 in the rotation for the rest of this season?
That’s the million dollar problem the Phillies will face should Randy Wolf require season-ending Tommy John surgery. He’d miss this season and possibly all of 2006.
The question: Should the Phillies deal for another starter?
Here’s what we know: Padilla, rumored to be moving to the bullpen before news of Wolf’s injury, is a free agent after the season and all signs point the Phils not resigning him. That leaves two vacancies after ’05.
In the short term, plans for shifting him to the pen will have to be scrapped. Padilla stays put, and rookie Tejeda takes Wolf’s spot in an all right-handed rotation.
Having a left-hander can be a great asset. Just ask Bobby Cox about Tom Glavine and Mike Hampton. Ask the Phillies hitters about those guys, too. But it’s by no means essential for this team to have a southpaw. For example, Florida, perhaps their chief competitor, fields a lineup of mostly right-handers, and the Phils sure won’t miss Wolf against the Fish. The negative side is teams can prime their left-handed bats for any series with the Phils, knowing they won't see a southpaw. In other words, it's good to have one in the mix, but quality is still what's important.
Sometimes young pitchers like Tejeda can pitch on pure emotion for a couple starts, confuse hitters and have some success. In the minors, Tejeda was notorious for allowing home runs. He led the Double-A Eastern League by allowing 29 homers last season, which tied a Reading club record. For the season, he went 8-14 with a 5.15 ERA, allowing 59 walks, which was fifth-most in the EL.
So here it is: The Phils No. 1 bargaining chip is top slugger Ryan Howard, who's nice insurance if Jim Thome’s back gives out again. Howard’s value was never higher than it was this winter after slugging 46 minor-league home runs.
But after struggling in limited time during his call-up, blamed mostly on bad mechanics, the Phils kept him in Scranton instead of brining him along on this interleague road trip. It may have been his only chance to see the light of day this season. In fact, he may never see the light of day in Philadelphia.
The Phils won't admit it, but Howard’s stock is dropping by the day, almost to the point where his value may be greater as insurance for Thome. The Phils will need to relinquish more than just Howard to get a proven starter to town anyway, but I’m still in favor of shopping him. There are teams, such as the Astros, that need a slugging first baseman and may be willing to overspend. You never know.
Here's my opinion: As the season wears on with Padilla, Tejeda and no Randy Wolf, the Phils will realize they need another starter, lest we forget Padilla's history of arm problems. If they're serious about about making the playoffs, (and thanks to the Homestand they're right in the hunt) they'll need to make a deal.