Is Happ Getting A Fair Shake?

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Tue, January 27, 2009 10:08 AM | Comments: 83
Posts, Raising Questions

I thought last year was when JA Happ had to prove himself worthy of sticking around on a 25-man roster. The 26-year-old left-hander went 1-0 with a 3.69 ERA in eight games (four starts), pitching in crucial spots down the stretch. It seemed likely he would start 2009 in the Phillies rotation.

Then Chan Ho Park arrived. The righty is determined to win a starting spot, and Ruben Amaro Jr. has put faith in Park that he would battle proudly for the position. With four-fifths of the team’s rotation seemingly set, it looks as if only one of the Park-Happ-Kyle Kendrick-Carlos Carrasco will win out.

If Park loses, he could join the bullpen. If Kendrick loses, he’ll be back where he left off – in triple-A, a little younger. If Carrasco loses, he’ll just go to Lehigh Valley, setting himself for a late-season call-up. But if Happ loses, he’ll have to go back down. Again. At age 26.

Sure it wouldn’t be the end of the world for Happ, but it would be disheartening. Happ has conquered AAA batters, leading the International League in strikeouts while coasting through Lehigh Valley. He has proven himself to at least get a chance at a handful of major league starts. If he doesn’t make the 25-man roster, should he be traded? What is he worth? Or should he be sent back to the minors, hoping at some point Park blows up, or Jamie Moyer slips up, or something like that? What is your solution to the JA Happ quandary?

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About Tim Malcolm

Tim Malcolm has written 1948 articles on Phillies Nation.

  • Posts: 0 Fran

    I think Happ should get the 5th spot. I was down at the 2 games that he started and he was, for the most part, lights out. If he can get a string of 10 starts together he could become one of our best pitchers behind Cole

  • Posts: 0 Brian

    Happ 5th spot, Park in bullpen (especially with the romero situation), Carrasco starts in LV. Not sure about Kendrick, he might need to build that confidence up more.

  • Posts: 0 maxhole

    it’d be disappointing to see happ sent to the minors for long. he did come through in crucial moments this past year, certainly helped us to the post season. in starting, he could turn out to be another kendrick once players get used to seeing him, but his mound presence looks like that of an established veteran and less like a green back just getting his feet wet. if hes not helping our team, he deserves to help another not in the minors

  • Posts: 0 Manny

    I think he’s definitely capable of beating Chan Ho for the 5th spot. But I think his fiercest competition will be Kendrick –I think this guy will rebound nicely. Somehow, I see them BOTH in our rotation… Happ gradually taking over Moyer’s spot.

  • Posts: 0 Matthew

    We need to hold on to JA Happ for as long as we can with a death grip. That man will be a solid player one day and we will be kicking ourselves in the arse if we let him go.

  • Posts: 0 Maverick

    I like Happ but he’s no Chan Ho Park. I mean Happ might give up a HR here and there and maybe a Grand slam but 2 grand slammo’s in one inning.. only Chan “yo momma” Ho Park can pull that off. Adam Eaton isn’t even capable of such bad pitching. I can’t believe we are letting this guy compete for a spot.

    Happ is getting the shaft.

  • Posts: 0 Griffin

    Happ and Park will make the roster. One will be the long man in the pen and the other will be the 5th starter. Once straters go down with injuries, then Carrasco will come up to spot start. If the Phillies are ever forced to rely on Kyle Kendrick, they’re in trouble.

  • Posts: 0 Don M

    I agree with Manny here, add the fact that Kendrick was booted from the rotation, so he’ll have more motivation than anyone to try to win a job..

    It’s going to be tough because Park cried over the fact he wasn’t going to play for his country in the WBC, because he was going to prepare for this coming season..

    Happ feels that he deserves the right to be the #5 guy in the rotation (and I agree)..

    Carrasco would have to have a sub 2.50 ERA and be completely Lights-Out for them to really consider him for the rotation instead of shipping him to AAA..

    If Kendrick doesn’t make the rotation, but pitches well, I’d have to believe he’ll ask for a trade somewhere.. once he gets more control of his sinker, he’ll be a serviceable #4-5 pitcher for somebody.. when he’s on, he’s very good.. but control is his main issue.

  • Posts: 0 Monktavian

    They say that competition brings the best out in athletes. Let them compete for the number five spot, or other spots. Happ may be a diamond in the rough and we would be foolish to let him go. I hope he WINS a spot in the starting rotation.

  • Posts: 0 mbtoole

    Who knows how serious the Phils are about actually letting Park compete for the 5th starter job? Maybe it was a wink and a nod “sure we’ll let you compete for the the 5th starter job” sales pitch, when all along he is intended for the same role he filled last year with the Dodgers.

    Maybe it also adds a little extra motivation to Happ, that he won’t just be handed a rotation spot.

  • Posts: 0 Maverick

    You would agree with manny. Clearly both of you are clueless.

    Kendrick or/and Happ will be traded before the july deadline. Ho will be reduced to a swing man and Carrasco will pick up some starts.

    Phils will likely add a 3/4 starter before the deadline based on Moyer’s age and Meyers lack of consistency.

  • Posts: 0 Iceman

    Maverick is right!

    Hey Mav, you seen Goose around? I’ve got two Bogey’s on my wing and I can’t shake-em

  • Posts: 0 Manny

    Let’s not forget that Happ was superb in his 4 starts in ’08: ERA 2.28… Held opponents to a .188 avg… This guy has tons of potential, plus the composure needed to succeed in MLB. This guy came in a NLCS game when the Dodgers were whooping Jamie Moyer’s a** and pitched 3 solid innings. He can take the heat.

    I would really HATE to see Chan Ho grabbing his [deserved] spot.

  • Posts: 0 Geoff

    Short of them miraculously signing ben sheets for cheap and him being healthy enough to start the season, JA Happ will be the 5th starter and he should be…I think if he doesnt make the rotation, they owe it to him to trade him and give him an opportunity to start for another team because he is good enough to be a starting pitcher in major league baseball. if kendrick doesnt make the rotation he should be traded as well to someone who can fit him in their rotation because the phillies put a timetable on him being traded as tim mentioned a few months ago.

  • Posts: 0 Richie

    I think if Happ doesn’t win the fifth spot he has to be traded, we can’t have him down in LV. It doesn’t make any sense, he has done very well in AAA, and if he isn’t our fifth starter, get a nice righty bat for him.

  • Posts: 0 Scott B

    Agree that Park should go to the pen for at least the first 50 games with the Romero situation. I’d def keep Happ at #5. has more upswing in my mind and will either prove he is worthy or not.

  • Posts: 0 Maverick

    Ho needs to go

  • Posts: 0 Geoff

    how do you know? he has only really shown pretty good work, hes young…and cheap and has more promise than park or kendrick….

  • Posts: 0 deal

    I like Happ’s chances for the 5th spot, topaChp

  • Posts: 0 deal

    and I like bringing in Park to challenge Happ. It is also another starter if one of the top 4 have issues.

  • Posts: 0 Manny

    Does Happ have a fan group @ CBP? You know, like Moyer’s Lawyers, Sal’s Pals..

    Maybe something like Happy Happs.. or It’s HAPPening

    What about Kyle Kendrick?

  • Posts: 0 Richie Allen

    I dont care much for Park’s chances . He’s had like one good year in the last 8..
    I would like to see Happ go from day one as the 5th man,I think he deserves it after the way he pitched last year.
    We are going to need help in thebull pen because of Romero.Put Park there .
    Kendrick reportedly needs a shrink after last year.Dont think there is much help from him.
    Carrasco is still young,But if somebody cant handle the 5th spot,give him a chance later on.Overall its good that we have these options.

  • Posts: 0 Don M

    That is the biggest thing, is that there are options… whoever is the #5 pitcher out of Spring Training will be there because he won the job, not because we were desperate as we’ve been in past years, or like whoever picks up Adam Eaton will be this year

  • Posts: 0 Nationals#1

    Happ will win the 5th starter spot. I think his starts alone show that he’s earned his spot. His bullpen stints should be ignored, he’s not a relief pitcher and never shoud have been pitching out of the pen in the first place.

    ho park is washed up and obviously won’t win it, and frankly it would be a mistake if they let him have it. he will definitely be in the pen this year, that’s why they picked him up.

    kendrick has shown that he can’t hack it in the bigs and unless he’s improved drastically he will start in aaa, or he’ll be traded.

    carrasco will start in aaa, as he should.

    don’t count on a surprise ben sheets deal, it’s not going to happen. we already have our 5 starters.

  • Posts: 0 NJ

    Is anyone here not really expecting Park to be a key cog in the pen and Happ not to be the 5th starter…

  • Posts: 0 Georgie

    I agree with that, Richie, I think Happ did earn that 5th spot already. Does anyone think that prank they pulled on Kendrick messed him up? I know when I saw that for the first time, It didn’t really strike me as funny, just cruel. I enjoy a warped sense of humor at times, but the poor kid looked like he was going to faint or throw up. Note to Brett, let’s not do something like that to any more young guys, it might backfire again.

  • Posts: 0 Andrew R.

    If Park wins the #5 spot, good. He WON it. I’m pretty sure it will only be short lived until the real Park stands up. Happ could start in the bullpen and be our 2nd lefty. And as Romero gets set to return, we could start extending Happ and slip him in at the #5 spot. Than Park battles Condrey for mop-up.

    I think Kendrick needs to learn an off-speed pitch. Hard fastball, hard sinker. Nothing soft to keep anybody off-balance. Brandon Webb is the same pitcher but he’ll throw anywhere from 10-15 change-ups just so hitter have that in the back of their minds. Kendrick definately needs some polish.

    I wouldnt be surprised if Carrasco is ready and we deal Myers at the deadline for whatever piece we need. Are we going to resign Myers? Probably not, depends on the market. Could Happ have Myers spot in 2010? Yes. Myers is not a true #2 anyways. I think we just sit tight this year with everybody. You know somebody will get injured at some point.

  • Posts: 0 Manny

    I think they got the memo, Georgie. I think it was very funny but in a IN YOUR FACE, POINTING FINGERS kinda way. Poor dude.

  • Posts: 0 Griffin

    Happ can not replace Brett Myers. Myers has much better stuff and a much higher K rate.
    Happ is a nice #5, let’s not get carried away here.

  • Posts: 0 T Marty

    go with the kid, he made a fine starter, but keep him outta the bullpen, don’t think that was his bag. i really hope we don’t trade him. Moyer can’t pitch forever (can he?) i like having two lefties in the starting rotation.

  • Posts: 0 Justin

    Happ and Park make the roster one will be in the rotation the other will be in the bullpen, always good to have a 6th starter in waiting in case of injury. But mark my words, those 2 will be on the Phils 25 man roster unless Carassco or Kendrick dominates the competition.

  • Posts: 0 Richie Allen

    Well it will be whoever EARNS IT…even if it is Park.
    Georgie,you have me thinking about the prank on Kendrick.Maybe that was the start of his problems..who knows..I was pretty surprised that they carried it on for so long and publicized it so much.The guy must have felt like crap.

  • Posts: 0 philsphan

    Happ needs to take the fifth starter’s spot. We’ll need Park in the pen and Kendrick and Carrasco need seasoning at AAA.

  • Posts: 0 Chuck P

    This is a great debate… it will surely be settled on the field.

    If Park’s fastball is up around 93 again, he will get a shot and I agree with that decision. I think that Park is out to prove something and, given his history, it’s tough to doubt him… I never knew his story but it is quite remarkable…
    I suggest you guys read this: http://throughourlens.asianweek.com/?p=6

    Personally, I think that Happ is a low ceiling player… I don’t think that anyone expects Happ to be a 20 game winner but he is consistent and that’s important as a fifth starter. He locates his pitches and changes speeds well but he doesn’t have knee-buckling stuff. I worry that teams will catch up with him the second/third time around and we should be prepared for that. With that being said, if he can stay in the 3′s until August, that’s great… just in time for Carrasco to hit the scene. Happ will be a major contributor this year, regardless whether he is our 5th starter to open the season. He’ll be called upon to win games at spots this season and I think that he’s perfect for that role.

  • Posts: 0 Manny

    If by low-ceiling you mean ‘capable of shutting the Braves for 6 full innings,’ then yea.

  • Posts: 0 Chuck P

    That’s my opinion… I don’t see him as anything more than a 5th starter. Low-ceiling players can be effective but I doubt that he has the tools to be a top of the rotation guy in this league. I would love for him to prove me wrong…

  • Posts: 0 Joe O'Phillie

    Happ doesn’t DESERVE anything. He pitched well for a few starts last year and will have a good chance to win the position in spring training. If he doesn’t win it and won’t fit in the bullpen, he should be sent to the minors to be ready for a call up or to impress further in AAA and used as trade bait.

    That being said, he will likely win the job and Park will start the season in the pen.

  • Posts: 0 Eric

    Happ could pitch in bullpen in JC Romero’s spot until June. The other factor that people seem to forget is you never know how Brett Myers is going to pitch. They may need both Park and Happ as starters.

  • Posts: 0 Matt Kwasiborski

    I think Happ will be in someone’s rotation this season. He will either make ours or we will trade him for some bench help or even make a bigger deal. True, Happ could be the other LHP in the bullpen and I think that is what will happen. Longterm he is a starter and deserves to be on a roster.

  • Posts: 0 Manny

    Note this: if Happ gets to be our No.5, we’ll have 3 lefty starters, which greatly decreases the need to have 2 lefty arms in the bullpen. Teams will configure their lineups to hit our lefty pitchers and what we’ll need for those games will be (in most cases) right-handed relievers. Happ is a starter, he’s being doing that for a while –and has had considerable success doing that in AAA and even in MLB. No need to keep messing around with an above-average young pitcher.

  • Posts: 0 Tyler

    i like happ and think he deserves much better than AAA

  • Posts: 0 PhillyCooke

    This is no quandry. Remember when the Phillies started spring training with six guaranteed starters in 2007? And then by the end of April they had four. Happ’s in the same position every ballplayer is who isn’t Santana or Sabathia. He should make it impossible for the Phillies to send him back to Triple A. I really hope he does because that’s great for the team. I hope Kendrick does the same. Ideally, the Phillies will leave spring training with 8 or 9 guys who have all shown they deserve to be on the Major League roster. Now, that’s a problem I think Ruben Amaro would be happy to have sleepless nights about!

  • Posts: 0 Doug

    Luckily, the Phils have the “problem” of too many good arms to compete for a #5 rotation spot. The Phils control Happ, Kendrick and Carrasco well beyond this year, and they don’t owe it to anyone to trade them if they don’t make the team. There is no need to trade anyone, although not’s not to say that someone won’t get traded during the season. But you know the old adage – you can never have too much pitching. Be happy we are in this situation. It wasn’t so long ago that we had no pitching prospects ready to challenge for a spot in the rotation and we had to go out and sign…gag…Adam Eaton…Park will be on the 25-man roster coming out of Clearwater (unless he gets injured during Spring Training), most likely in the bullpen. Carrasco will probably end up in Reading getting more seasoning (he’s only 21). And the loser of between Happ and Kendrick for the the #5 spot will be pitching (and staying sharp) in AAA, acting as an insurance policy in the event of an injury (or maybe ineffectiveness) in the rotation.

  • Posts: 0 Tyler

    so does anyone see sheets bein signed cuz of this dilemma

  • Posts: 0 jan

    Metsblog > phillies nation

  • Posts: 0 Griffin

    winning a championship > choking again

  • Posts: 0 Eb

    What didn’t Happ do to earn the #5 Spot???

    That is the question I have been thinking about.

    Kendrick and Park lack consistency, Carrasco lacks experience, and Eaton lacks pitching ability. I feel he is the clear cut #5 starter.

  • Posts: 0 KM

    I totally agree with this post. Happ should have a chance at a handful of starts in mlb. If they are not going to give him a fair shot to succeed, then they should trade him. If they send him back down again his confidence and trade value will be completely shot.

    Personally, I don’t see them giving him a shot at this unless he sets the world on fire in spring training and does extraordinarily better than Park. If he just barely beats out Park, I think that Park will end up as the 5th starter, because of his contract. If you need evidence of that, look no further than Adam Eaton last season.

    As far as Carrasco goes, I don’t see them bringing him up until September at least. And they will make sure that he doesn’t get enough service time in to qualify as more than a rookie. This organization has a track record of not bringing players up until the last possible moment, as in the cases of Utley and Howard. They don’t want these players coming up and acquiring major league service time, and allowing them to be arbitration eligible sooner.

  • Posts: 0 Griffin

    KM, I have to disagree with your statement “They don’t want these players coming up and acquiring major league service time, and allowing them to be arbitration eligible sooner.”

    Check out this article on Hamels and how if they waited 19 extra days before bringing him up, they would have set his arbitration clock back a year:


  • Posts: 0 Ryk

    I think having Happ, although in my opinion the best starter out of the candidates, in the rotation is a mistake. If he were to make it into the #5 spot, here’s the rotation…..
    If this were the case, once Happ had his scheduled start, the rotation would roll back over to Hamels, another lefty. Do the Phils really wanna go 3 LHP in a row all season long? A way to fix this would to be to swap Moyer with Blanton, but do the Phils wanna go with 3 LH starters this season……..

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