Insert Phil Hartman doing the sarcastic clap here:
Strangely, we’re in a stage of the Phillies’ history where simply winning the division isn’t good enough. Call it the price of success. A few years ago the Phillies could get away with adding guys like Paul Abbott and J.D. Durbin to the rotation and no one would bat an eye.
That’s just the way they did things back then.
But with success comes expectations. So instead of Abbott and Durbin, or a trade to add a strong middle-of-the-rotation guy like Joe Blanton, we want more and Ruben Amaro and his posse know it.
So we get Rodrigo Lopez, a pitcher out of the game for two years after Tommy John surgery, instead of Abbott. Lopez once won 44 games in three seasons for some run-of-the-mill teams in Baltimore. He has pitched in a bandbox against the likes of the Yankees and Red Sox and come out on the other side to talk about it.
And after the surgery Lopez may have lost some of his velocity and snap in his curve, but he’s made up for it in savvy and experience. Not to compare the two, but sometimes it seems as if the guys who come back from serious surgery have the look of a guy who as been to war. They have seen some things – grown up. They nearly had something very valuable taken away from them and know how fleeting a baseball life can be.
Lopez, however, hasn’t guaranteed himself anything even though he has been a cog in the new-look rotation that has allowed just two runs in the last 25 innings. That’s because Pedro Martinez threw 63-pitches over four innings of a simulated game on Tuesday morning. Chances are the three-time Cy Young Award winner will be ready for Major Leaguers by the first week of August, which just might mean curtains for Lopez.
But what happens if the Phillies are able to swing a deal for ace Roy Halladay (or a pitcher of that ilk)? What happens if Amaro can make that type of deal and not lose J.A> Happ, who goes then? Jamie Moyer? Cole Hamels? Joe Blanton?
Definitely not Happ or Pedro.
Yes, these are strange times for the Phillies. Winning has a way of changing things more than we realize. Probably more than the Phillies realize, too.