The Phillies may have dropped off the list of NL East contenders a bit early this year after today’s “interesting” (read: “boneheaded”) move. Effective immediately, they will be moving Opening Day starter Brett Myers to the bullpen. Jon Lieber (11.57 ERA in 2006) will take his place in the rotation.
I know the Phillies are already 5.5 games out, but they have a solid lineup and had a decent enough rotation to be considered a contender. I was pretty close to predicting them to win the NL East this year, but now they don’t even have the slightest idea how to build a pitching staff. Sure, their relief pitching has been awful, but you don’t just give up 180 innings of good starting pitching for a potential ace reliever.
Honestly, I don’t think this move will last very long, but it speaks volumes about the management of the Phillies’ organization. You might remember that they gave up a little early last season, shipping Bobby Abreu off to the Yankees before almost coming back to win the wild card. They may not get that chance this year, since the Braves appear to be better and the Mets are just as good.
For the last two years, Myers’ ERA+ has been 122 and 118 with over 400 innings pitched. How the Phillies plan on replacing that level of talent, I’m not sure, but if this experiment holds up for very long, they may be too far back for it to matter.