We all know the Nationals are setting baseball’s low-water mark with an 11-27 (.289) record. It isn’t much worse than Lehigh Valley’s win-loss total.
What is the major malfunction with Philadelphia’s Triple-A affiliate? For the third year in a row, they’re awful. Look at these records. It’s a mess: Ottawa 2007: 55-88; Lehigh Valley 2008: 55-89; Lehigh Valley 2009: 15-23. Developing talent is the real purpose of the minor leagues, not records, but there again, the Phils have flunked the test. J.A. Happ is the best thing to come out of Triple-A in the last three seasons, and I have a sneaky suspicion he’s learned more during scattered bullpen use in the majors than he did pitching for 55-89 rubbish.
Six weeks is a small sliver of the minor league season, but still. What happened? On paper, they looked promising, packed with talent and depth. While they try to pick up the pieces, maybe it’s time to think about saving one of their better players from baseball hell. At some point, the Phillies need to realize that 25-year-old outfielder John Mayberry Jr. has had all the Triple-A seasoning he can get. His future is on the Phillies’ bench anyway, unless they sit Triple Crown contender Raul Ibanez, Gold Glove winner Shane Victorio, or Jayson Werth, rated the most underrated player in the game by baseball execs.
The Phils appear to be leaning toward a call-up for the weekend series with the Yankees. If so, Mayberry, who has eight homers and a healthy .898 OPS, would fit the bill. Afterward, they’ll need to decide if it’s time for Mayberry to learn on the job. I have a hunch Charlie Manuel will find ways to use the young slugger, who hit fifth in Manuel’s lineup most of the spring.
It’s sad. Triple-A has become the place where prospects go to die. Look at Jason Donald’s line following a great spring and awesome AFL: .242/.288/.350 with one homer and 40 strikeouts in 165 plate appearances. I have to think his surroundings have played a small part.
Lopez dealing: When considering possible call-ups to fortify the starting rotation, the names Carlos Carrasco and Kyle Kendrick are mentioned most. But what about 33-year-old veteran Rodrigo Lopez? The IronPigs had lost eight in a row before winning 3-1 yesterday behind a seven-inning, six-strikeout gem by the former Oriole 15-game winner. On the season, he’s 2-2 with a 3.94 ERA in six starts with a 24-5 K/BB ratio in 32 innings. Lopez is trying to recover from a surgically repaired elbow ligament and flexor tendon in his pitching arm. He’s a career 65-65 with a 4.80 ERA in the majors.