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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Race for 5th Place

I held off on writing this article until Spring Training winds down. Chan Ho Park and J.A. Happ have both pitched outstanding this spring. Luckily I don't have to decide who wins the 5th starter spot. Let's take a look at their stats this spring.

Source: Phillies.com

After looking at their stats head to head it looks like Park has the advantage. What you can't see is how they really pitched. Many Phillies coaches have said Happ has pitched better than his stats appear. This will also play a role when Charlie decides who will be the 5th starter.

Other things you have to take into consideration are where the other pitcher will be placed after spring training. Happ struggled in his time in the bullpen last year. He is and should be a starter in the majors. Park spent time in the bullpen last year with the Dodgers. Yet, he has publicity said that he wants to be a starter. He declined an invite to play for South Korea in the World Baseball Classic in order to concentrate on the 5th starters spot.

If Park ends up losing the spot to Happ, I do not think he will be good in the bullpen. His mind is set as a starter and it will be a huge disappointment if he doesn't win the spot. It can be compared to Myers still having his mind on being a closer at the start of last season. We all know how that turned out.

If I were to decide on who gets the 5th spot I would choose Park. The man wants to win. He also has his mind straight in order to be a starter. Happ is still relatively young. Although it kills me to send this kid back to the minors given how well he has pitched, there will still be opportunities. Injuries do happen; sometimes too often. Odds are he will be back in Philadelphia before the All-Star break. Happ could also be used as trade bait for whatever the Phillies are looking for.

We'll see in the upcoming weeks who will win this battle. Whether it is Happ or Park you cannot be disappointed. Both have had an outstanding Spring Training, and we will likely see both these players pitch throughout the year.

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