Aside from a few good spurts, the decision to reward Brad Lidge with a lucrative three-year contract extension has turned into the Phillies’ worst misallocation of resources in recent memory.
The career of Tom Gordon, the Phillies’ last full-time closer, took a dive because of arm and shoulder problems brought on by a partially torn labrum. Today, the Phillies current closer received similar word that a slightly torn rotator cuff will send him to the disabled list to nurse the latest in a long list of ailments (elbow, knee, biceps, shoulder). They all started the moment he was crunched under the pinstripe pile-on following the last pitch of the 2008 World Series.
Ruben Amaro Jr. was still a GM-in-waiting in July of '08 when the Phillies bet $37.5 million that Lidge would shut out the lights for three additional season, four if the Phillies thirsted for more (at the combined total cost of almost $50 million). Without the river card even needing to be flipped, the Phils have already lost the hand. According to Fangraphs’ value metrics, Lidge should fork over $3.6 million for his ’09 debacle. In 2010, he was valued at $1.4 million, $10 million shy of what he actually made.
The early word from Amaro was that his closer would miss between 3-to-6 weeks, but coming straight from the horse’s mouth, Lidge suggested that the All-Star break could be a more realistic timetable. It means that this Phillies closer could suffer the same fate as the former closer, Gordon, who appeared in 34 injury-plagued, barely remembered games during the team’s championship season, a stage when every good inning felt like a bonus.
Roster notes: The Phillies removed Beerleaguer favorite Matt Rizzotti from the 40-man roster and outrighted him to the minors, meaning the slugging first baseman cleared waivers. The move is a likely precursor toward adding Luis Castillo to the 40-man and active roster. Castillo, who was signed to a minor league deal, went 2-for-4 in Tuesday night’s win and has probably won the Opening Day job at second. If the Phillies should need to clear more roster room, they could consider placing shortstop Brian Bocock on the 60-day disabled list. Bocock has been out with a broken hand and isn’t close to returning. Reliever Brian Schlitter has also been out with elbow problems.