Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Regrettable Reliever Ricardo Rodriguez Released

Another day, another shake up of the Phillies pitching staff. Yesterday, the Phillies dealt Aquilino Lopez to the Padres for two lower level minor leaguers; today, the Phillies have given pitcher Ricardo Rodriguez his walking papers. The Ricardo Rodriguez era was an unmitigated disaster and his release just tops it all off. I hate this move (not necessarily the release, but more so the entire sequence of events involving Rodriguez and the Phils) for two reasons: 1) The Phillies gave away SP Vicente Padilla for nothing - to be fair, the team did get out from under his salary by dealing him, but it was ultimately not a good value trade. 2) The Phillies are now in a position to do something stupid. More on that later. First, some Pat Gillick quotes from the Associated Press story - first one is on why he made the move to let go off Rodriguez, second one is on the original Padilla/Rodriguez swap:

"He doesn't figure into the rotation and inconsistency with his control makes it tough to put him in the bullpen," Phillies general manager Pat Gillick said. "Maybe he needs a fresh start."


"Turned out it wasn't a good trade," Gillick said.

The implications of this move are huge. The trade of Lopez did not impact the 25-man roster in any way (he was slated to begin the year in AAA no matter what), but Rodriguez' departure opens the door for a player to grab that last bullpen spot, a spot that was previously thought to have been Ricardo's to lose.

My worst fear could be coming true as it has now been widely reported that the Phillies are seriously considering moving pitcher Ryan Madson back to the bullpen to fill the void left by Rodriguez' ouster. If it all goes down like that, Gavin Floyd will be Madson's replacement in the starting rotation. This idea makes little sense to me. Ryan Madson is a starting pitcher. Ryan Madson could potentially be a very good starting pitcher. This team still needs starting pitching...I understand the argument that it needs help in the bullpen as well, but the need for starting pitching (in general terms) is always greater, in my mind.

What would I do if I was in charge? Well, it comes down to one of two options to me. The Phillies could keep Madson in the rotation, stick Ryan Franklin in the bullpen, and give Gavin Floyd a starting spot. The odds of this scenario unfolding like this is incredibly small. A more realistic approach (and one the Phillies may very well consider) involves keeping the starting rotation as it is right now and simply replacing Rodriguez with another pitcher from the system in the bullpen. It was believed that if Rodriguez was going to make the team, it would have been as a long reliever; with Rodriguez a goner, perhaps the ballclub will consider Robinson Tejeda, a guy capable of pitching long relief, for the same role.

It is also entirely possible that the Phillies have some sort of wacky plan up their sleeve and more moves will be made. Nobody should hold their breath waiting for a trade, but it doesn't seem outside the realm of possibility. These last few days of spring training should be very interesting.


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