The Phil's dropped another one today, this time to their Pennsylvania neighbors, the Pirates. Adam Eaton got the call and threw pretty well allowing three runs through five innings, but one of the most potentially potent offenses in baseball was unusually quiet, managing only one run from the bat of Brennan King in the bottom of the eighth.
It's a touch disappointing seeing the Phil's fall to a 7-12-1 record in the spring, but I'm just going to pretend that they're getting all of the losses out of the way in the spring in prep for a 162-0 record come the regular season. So my question for the moment is going to go back to the pitching staff, the single part of the team that's been the perennial sore spot since the last playoff run so many years ago.
The problem this year is two-fold: Too many starters and zero in the way of quality middle relief. My earlier advocation for Brett Myers potentially taking over as the team's closer has been put on ice. The Phil's brass wants Myers to start and even though Brett entertained the idea, Flash has passed his physicals and, barring any further injury, will be the team's closer.
Okay so here's what we have so far: Garcia, Moyer and Hamels are, without question, not going to the pen in any fashion; Myers would be willing if asked, but unless it's some kind of dire emergency he won't be in the pen either. That leaves Adam Eaton, who already stated openly that he plans on being a starter, and Jon Lieber. My question to the Phil's brass is: Why don't you stick Lieber in middle relief and see what happens? Think about it, having an arm like Lieber's in the pen could drastically cut down on the wear and tear put on Flash, helping him stay fresher deeper into the season and I think Lieber could hold up if he had to pitch two or three innings every few days. It would also eliminate any need to scramble should one of the five starters get injured, Lieber could just slip right back into the rotation.
Jon Lieber's been in the bigs for a while, I'm sure he wants to play on a championship team no matter what it takes. I'm also sure he's got enough confidence in his teammates to think that this team has the potential to be a World Series contender. He's already seen Brett Myers offer up his services to the bullpen, should they be required, so I think he would probably be a team player and follow suit without putting up too much of a stink.
This situation is probably just crazy enough to work and I honestly think Lieber would perform better in the pen than anyone they could get in a trade for him, his numbers weren't exactly out of this world last year, and top notch middle relief isn't always so easy to come by... I suppose only time will tell what Uncle Charlie's got up his sleeve, he hasn't even felt the need to announce his opening day starter yet. He says he knows who'll throw on April second, but just hasn't felt like sharing. Maybe we're all under-estimating the old boy, maybe he's got the whole staff from opening day starter all the way through Flash finishing up planned out and he's just waiting for the right time to share with all the Phillies' faithful