The chance for another title could lead Brad Lidge back to the familiar confines of Philadelphia, where eighth-inning uncertainty could make the former closer an easy answer.
Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. recently suggested there’s still room for improvement in his bullpen, but the club only has enough budgetary arm to reach for the “lowest-hanging fruit." All winter, it’s been suggested that Lidge, 35, would continue his career in one of two locations: his hometown of Denver or back in Philadelphia. A report from Colorado Monday said the Rockies are only interested in a minimal, incentive-laden deal, while FoxSports’ Ken Rosenthal believes the Rox have no interest in Lidge whatsoever.
Add in the Phillies’ alleged anxiety over Jose Contreras and reported interest in Kerry Wood, who may be too expensive, and that leaves Lidge as a match for the Phillies’ Plan B.
Is he an easy answer? Certainly. The Phils know more about Lidge’s injury history than anyone and know they can get him cheaply. They know the best way to avoid trouble in the late innings is to miss bats and that Lidge struck out batters at a 10.7 K/BB clip over 19 1-3 innings.
Is he the best they can get? For what they can commit, perhaps. Lidge could settle into that incentive-laden $1 million range, which is a good deal for an experienced late-inning option with strikeout stuff.
Is he the right fit? That’s the best question to ask. If he’s healthy, he’ll be a modest asset. If he’s done, and the Phils feel they can do better from their cadre of young arms, the Phils just cut bait and move on. There are clear parallels to J.C. Romero, who was released at the right time before he could start to do real damage or impede on Antonio Bastardo’s maturation. Lidge is every bit the injury mess Romero was, probably more.
Pragmatically speaking, his 6.1 BB/9 and 89.3 mph fastball, thrown 28 percent against 72 for his slider, paints the picture of a declining arm that hitters will eventually read like a book and bomb out of baseball. So maybe it’s best to end the Lidge ‘addiction,’ as one reader put it.