The Phillies took the three-game series from a thoroughly second-rate Atlanta Braves team yesterday, but questions about the makeup of the pitching staff linger, including the future of a failed starter.
There's nothing like watching live baseball to appreciate the nuances of the game. For example, the fury unleashed upon two grooved Adam Eaton pitches in the fourth inning. You can’t appreciate that on television. Watching Kelly Johnson and Omar Infante's blasts carve through the storm-soaked air left little doubt. It’s time for the Phillies to free Philadelphia from the Eaton burden.
The back-to-back jacks left an impression on the front office, too, and one can only hope that it’s the final impression Eaton is allowed to make in a Phillies uniform. According to the Inquirer’s Bob Ford, the team brass met with the displaced right-hander behind closed doors following the game. Meanwhile in Richmond, left-hander J.A. Happ was pulled from his Triple-A start early, lending to speculation that a roster shift is coming. Happ could either be on his way in or on his way out as part of a deal for outside help.
A two-hour rain delay threw a wrench into the Phillies’ plans, but even before that, the pitching staff was skewed out of whack. They were using a valuable roster spot just to hold a player in limbo, but Eaton isn’t the only pitcher who isn't performing. Rudy Seanez’s tenure may have run its course. The veteran served his purpose at the beginning of the season, but is not cut out for the stretch run, where he’ll need to pitch back-to-back games once in a while. Seanez allowed four runs, one earned, in allowing the Braves to climb back from the dead yesterday.
These are questions that could be resolved between now and Thursday’s non-waiver trade deadline. I’ve been saying for months that despite their performance for most of the season, additional bullpen help wasn’t a bad idea. Now, they need to do it.
As for Eaton, if I was in his shoes, I wouldn’t accept a minor league demotion. But if I was Pat Gillick, I wouldn’t give him the option. There's nothing to resurrect. It’s time for the relationship to end, plain and simple.
Pitching stuff: It was a crazy, high-scoring game, but Clay Condrey's fifth and sixth innings shouldn't be forgotten. After the Phils tied it up, Condrey kept Atlanta off the board for two innings, earning the win as a result of Pat Burrell's fifth inning homer. Condrey is alright by me; he's done a very nice job in myriad situations this season. ... I would be fine with Happ becoming the new long man and second left-hander out of the pen. His minor league training is over - there's nothing left to prove or learn. Many other teams ease starting pitchers to the Majors this way.
Atlanta: For what it's worth, my opinion of the Braves isn't very high. There's no doubt whether they should be buyers or sellers. They have no chance at the post-season. None.