Two days after the Phillies repurposed their No. 1 starter, reports are the move is more permanent than not. Call it the start of a beautiful new career.
The most common argument against this move is the Phillies have weakened their starting rotation, but also their future by stomping out the growth of a blossoming pitcher. With Freddy Garcia and Jon Lieber becoming free agents after the season, the future of the starting rotation, which Myers was supposed to anchor, is very much in doubt.
True enough. Then again, what does the future hold for the bullpen, already the wost it’s been in years? Tom Gordon is old, and according to a recent scouting report, hasn’t been throwing his money curveball. "There's something going on," a scout told ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark. "He's not going to be the strikeout pitcher he was if he doesn't have that curveball. He's turned into a fastball-cutter guy."
After Gordon, Antonio Alfonseca may turn out to be a nice find, but he’s certainly not the future. And here’s the real problem: Ryan Madson and Geoff Geary, young-to-middle-career relievers, have reached their ceilings and do not project as back-end relievers. In addition, they don’t have a reliable left-hander. Down on the farm, prospects like Joe Bisenius and Fabio Castro have live arms, but every team in baseball is sitting on players like these and it’s anyone’s guess. Is there a closer among any of them? Probably not.
How hard is it to find a closer? (And rest assured, Myers will be the closer before long.) Well, using this past off-season as a measuring stick, it’s very difficult. There’s a very high probability many of the top closers signed this winter will flop. And since the front office hasn’t always demonstrated a panache for judging talent, perhaps it’s best to put the matter in the hands of field officials and go with what you have.
Give Myers credit. A lot of credit. He wants to do this because it will help the Phillies. That’s no small point here. He isn’t going into this situation kicking and screaming like Jon Lieber, who only cares about his career. He wants to touch the ball more than 34 times a season and help them win. He doesn’t want to watch the problems with the bullpen snowball and infect the team, as it has this season, when he knows he can do something to fix it, many more times than as a starter. It's like he knew all along, in his heart, what he was meant to be. Maybe it had something to do with the wishy-washy excuses we kept hearing after six seasons as a starting pitcher. Don't you think a pitcher of his ability would have already asserted himself as the ace if he was fully committed?
That’s the right way to go into this situation – with everyone on the same page. For once, there's honesty. Everyone is fed up with watching four run leads vanish into smoke like it almost did yesterday.
With Myers’ gifts, his rubber arm and his prize fighter competitiveness, there's hope. Just days after Charlie Manuel said "he didn't have the answers," at least he's putting forth an educated guess.
Here's how his answer is shaping up: An offense that will get leads - soon. Myers to close - soon. Flash demoted to the 8th, a better fit. Alfonseca on standby and ready to replace Flash. Madson pitches extra frames and long relief. Geary molds into the middle. Ditch the left-hander just for the sake of having one and audition the next prospect or waiver claim, please. Lieber back in the rotation pitching for what he cares about most - a new contract.
Now let’s get some wins.