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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Tim Malcolm has written 1947 articles on Phillies Nation.

  • Posts: 0 Greg V.

    The Phils suck at bringing up young talent. They always have. J.A. Happ is no different. I hope he is the No. 5. He’s a much better pitcher than Chan Ho Park. Happ has this old school style to him and I think he’ll be effective. I endorse him for the 5 slot!

  • Posts: 0 jan

    me > griffin f*ggot

  • Posts: 0 IRONPIGPEN

    Happ (151 so) actually lost the International League strikeout championship to Bill Murphy (152 so) of Syracuse by one K.

    Happ spent 46 days with the Phillies, Murphy none with the Blue Jays.

  • Posts: 0 Griffin

    jan=poopy head

    I can make an unwitty comeback as well!

  • Posts: 0 Fran

  • Posts: 0 Don M

    Utley was blocked by Placido Polanco, who was traded once they were sure that Utley could play everday.

    Howard was blocked by Thome.. Hamels came up as soon as they thought he was ready.

    While the Service-Time arguement is true for lots of teams, and lots of players, I can’t say the Phillies are guilty of that.

    Evan Longoria- 3b Rays was thought to be held back in AAA right out of Spring Training last year because of that, but I think an injury forced him up in mid-April.

    Jay Bruce- OF Reds (May 27, 2008), was clearly ready to play everyday in the big leagues, but was held in the minors for what appears to be salary reasons.

    I think they said the Twins were doing that with Francisco Liriano last year too?? He was trying to come back from an injury, but if he was in AAA, it didn’t count as MLB service-time, eventhough he had been up before??

  • Posts: 0 Griffin

    Don M., you’re right about Utley being blocked by Polanco in ’04. The Phillies actually brough Utley up as a pinch hitter that season. So his arb clock started before he was even an everyday player.
    Longoria is a perfect example. He was good enough to start for the Rays on Opening Day.

  • Posts: 0 jan

    griffin is gay hehe

  • Posts: 0 Griffin

    Oh and the Twins were most definitely doing that with Liriano last year. They stuck with Livan Hernandez in the rotation just to halt Lirano’s art clock.

    That Liriano move cost them a playoff spot. That and trading Johan Santana for a bag of balls.

  • Posts: 0 Don M

    Santana would have been a Free Agent this past offseason though right? So they were def going to lose him anyway, that is the difference between an in-season, and a pre-season trade..

    If you trade a guy at the deadline, the other teams are limited as to who else they can acquire.. in the offseason there are 20 players they can get if they need an OF, or a Relief Pitcher.. which is why I think Howard gets dealt at the deadline next year, or the year after… a few months before we’d lose him as a Free Agent (or 1.5 years before…but I doubt that early)

    Jason Donald to me is the most interesting guy to watch this season..Marson isn’t ready, Carrasco might be, but Donald has nowhere to play in Philadelphia… so do they move him to 3b in hopes he takes Feliz’s spot next year.. or shift him from SS to 2b so he can take Utley’s job who would then move to 1b when Howard moves along..

  • Posts: 0 KM

    Griffin, I see your argument, and it is a plausible one in the case of Cole Hamels. But, if you remember, the reason Hamels was brought up was because Madson was blown up a few times as a starter. They really had no other choice but to bring him up, or risk falling farther behind the Mets in the division.

    By the way, I agree that the Twins definitely screwed Liriano.

  • Posts: 0 KM

    Don, I believe that Utley is the 1B of the future, with Donald at 2B. They just have to let it play out another year or two. I could also see a scenario where Donald would play 3B when Feliz goes, and they plug someone else in at 1B, maybe Dobbs. Howard’s price will eventually get too high, and he’ll end up with the Yankees or Red Sox. I could also see him with a team like the Angels, but they play fundamental baseball with sacrifices and hitting behind runners so I don’t see him fitting in there whatsoever with his feast or famine approach..

  • Posts: 0 Griffin

    I didn’t disagree with the Twins decision to trade Santana, I just think that they should have gotten more for Santana. Once the Yankees dropped out, the Muts were the all trade partner. The Muts offered slop and the Twins decided that slop was better than nothing.
    As it turns out, they would have been better off keeping Santana, making the playoffs, offering him arbitration and gaining the extra picks.

    KM, you’re right about ’06. Madson was getting blown up.

  • Posts: 0 IRONPIGPEN

    Will the Phils continue to develop Happ as a starter or use him out of the bullpen, as they did in the playoffs?

    I think Park will end up in the pen.

  • Posts: 0 Don M

    I think they had to trade Santana …. draft picks, especially those picks (after the “1st round” but before the 2nd) they hardly ever amount to anything..

    I just looked up the Santana trade to check the stats of the guys the Twins got in return, but in reading that, found this:

    “The Twins

    The Twins side of the deal is the most analyzed. For the Mets it is straight forward: they are obtaining the services of Johan Santana—a known quantity; an ace. First, we’ll look at the trade from the Twins’ side of the fence.

    For GM, Bill Smith, it was a simple equation. One more year of Santana … and then what? Nothing. Nada. Well two draft picks. Casual fans (and many analysts) vastly over rate the value of draft picks. A first round position player has less than a 30% chance of being a regular or better; that falls to 20% for a pitcher.

    In other words the most likely outcome for the Twins would have been to secure one regular and a duffer. The deal on the table was a year of Santana for a perpetual .260/.330/.400 hitter. Would you make the trade? Didn’t think so.”

  • Posts: 0 Don M

    Twins got:

    OF- Carlos Gomez, played in the MLB last year, .258, 7 HR, 59 RBI, 79 Runs, 33 Stolen Bases …. not great, but not bad for a 23 year old

    P- Philip Humber, was nasty in college, and in 2006 for 6 games at the AA level, a 2.88 ERA.. he’s had Sept call-ups to the majors each of the last 3 years.. but the majority of his past two seasons were AAA (2007 = 4.27 ERA, and 2008= 4.56 ERA).. looks like he was a college MISS.

    P- Kevin Mulvey, in 3 seasons in the minors, he’s got a combined 3.37 ERA, 1.27 WHIP … he gives up almost a hit per inning, but his strikeout-to-walk ratio is 3/1 … looks like he’ll be pretty good, unless the stats lie.

    P – Deolis Guerra, only 300 innings pitched in 3 years, mostly in the Florida State League (A+ ball).. Im guessing he’ll be in AA this year? He’s got a career 4.21 ERA, 1.38 WHIP… Telling Stat: 71 walks, and 71 Strikeouts last year, with 10 Wild Pitches added in.

    If Gomez gets better with age, and Mulvey continues to throw well, it will turn out to be a nice trade for the Twins… its another wait and see a few years later kinda deals

  • Posts: 0 KM

    I didn’t think the Santana trade was terrible for the twins. Let’s face it, the twins did not have the resource$ to pay Santanta down the line, so they make the deal with the mets. Carlos Gomez is destined to be solid player if he can overcome his ego. He has potential to be a top of the order quality player. He definitely has the potential to be a .290 hitter, 100 run, 50+ sb, gold glove caliber center fielder in this league. As far as the pitchers they got back in return, I have only ever heard of Humber, and apparently he was a hell of a college player, as Don M mentioned. Either way, Santana got money from the mets that he would have never seen in Minnesota, the kind of money that only the Yankees and Mets toss around.

  • Posts: 0 Griffin

    Carlos Gomez is absolutely lost at the plate. He has no strike zone recognition evidence by his 25 BB in 602 plate appearances. Ouch. That lead to a .296 OBP which is absolutely horrendous for any player, let alone a leadoff man. He is a great glove in center, but he’s a long, long way from being an everyday regular.

    Humber is just not that good. He’s a recognizable name because he was a first round pick, but he’s been disappointing ever since then. I’d be surprised if he’s not out of baseball in 5 years.

    Guerra, who was the key to the deal, was reportedly throwing 98 MPH while with the Mets. The Twins found out that that was not so true. He’s a very young arm but without the ton of upside that they had previously thought.

    That leaves Mulvey, who is a back of the rotation starter.

    So the Twins traded a year of the best pitcher in baseball for a defensive replacement OF, a possible 5th starter and a young arm who is a longshot at this point.

    If the Phillies had traded Howard for this package, would we be happy? No way.

  • Posts: 0 Don M

    We’d be pissed… but that is why I think Howard needs to be dealt before the trade-deadline.. teams are much more willing to give up prospects if they can add a “right-now” piece to their team that might lead to a Championship.. Howard is a game-breaker, difference-maker, whatever you want to call it.. and teams will outbid one another, as long as the Phillies don’t ask for anything crazy from the start.

    Let the RedSox make an offer that the Yankees feel they can top with no problem (Chien Ming Wang and a AA/AAA prospect, plus some other A or AA prospects with upside).. that was what Kruk mentioned to Mike Missinelli last week as a type of deal that could work.. not to start any rumors with those names

  • Posts: 0 Don M

    Sorry, I meant “before the trade deadline” as in during the season, not the offseason.

    In the offseason, it doesn’t matter if you lose on Howard because you can add other Free Agents, at the Trade Deadline, your options are very limited, so you have to pay that much more to get what you want, especially if another team is involved… with Howard, you’d have to think that a few teams would want him, even if just for a half a season rental, like the Brewers just did with Sabathia

  • Posts: 0 NJ

    Agree Don, This is definately somewhere where VORP comes in. There’s no doubt Howard is an extremely good and explosive player but he doesn’t have the commitment to the game yet to be one of the true modern greats, he will demand and get Tex money at the very least and that’s not somewhere the Phils should go, look at what the A-Rod contract did to Texas or even Suzuki with Seattle. When you tie yourself to one guy you sacrafice other areas and the short-cuts don’t work as we’ve seen ourselves with guys we’ve signed.

    Howard sells tickets, he’s the face of a championship time but a lesser player could have contributed at other times of the year and this team isn’t lacking in firepower, it is in it’s ability to to grind out wins in close games. You deal Howard early and your talking about upgrading to one of the best farms in the game at the very least and with the money to address other areas, the drop off can be addressed by commitee- Rollins, Vic, Werth, 3rd base and 1st as we saw with Boston and Pedroia, Youklis, Bay. I’d like to see a hitter in the deal but Don’s suggestion is very good, that said you set the mark at Texas’s deal for Tex which included two of the best prospects in the game in Salty and Perez.

    Howard’s gone, got to be brutal and set this up right to come out on top because it’s not the end of the world window closing scenario that some make out. You don’t win by having the best names, it’s strategising to know you’ll see October the next year without any doubt in your mind.

  • Posts: 0 Griffin

    My point on trading Howad is that the Phillies have to get something like Chien-Ming Wang and not something like Carlos Gomez and slop if they decide to trade Howard. If they can’t get a good package, then just keep him and get the draft picks.
    It’s not hard to find slop like Gomez/Humber/Mulvey/Guerra in the first two rounds of the draft. The Twins did not receive any can’t miss prospect in that deal, and that’s why they should have kept Santana and made the playoffs.

    But, if the Phillies are in contention at the deadline, just keep Howard and see how the season plays out. This is a win now team and Howard gives them a better chance to win in ’09 and ’10 than prospects do.

  • Posts: 0 Geoff

    I agree with that assessment…the pieces are in place now for most teams so howard wont attract as much interest despite my ire at his inappropriate behavior..but wait until the yankees and red sox or the angels are MAD desperate in july, which they will be…and ill be willing to guarantee that he gets moved for a good package of players…wang is not looking like they want to keep him around for some reason. hed fit in well here though..sinkerballer…solid rotation piece to pick up mid-season

  • Posts: 0 NJ

    I’m not so sure the deal for the Twins was bad, they now have an outfield of Gomez, Cuddyer, Span and Young so their set and have the ability to flip either Gomez or Young for a stud pitcher. Jones or the Pie deals weren’t the best for Baltimore but now their outfield could be the best in the game in a couple of years time.

    On the otherhand if you can add a soft ace in the deal with a top prospect then you go the Braves route and stand out as the best pitching team but whatever happens we have to do the right thing. If Boston can win without Manny, we can win without Howard (and don’t think Howard doesn’t sulk, it just doesn’t get written about because he doesn’t make a big deal of it but you could see it in his face almost all year)

  • Posts: 0 Griffin

    NJ, I agree with your assessment of winning without Howard, but I have to disagree on the Twins trade.
    Carlos Gomez can’t hit. He is allergic to walks and never gets on base. OBP is not something that players are usually capable of drastically improving. If a guy can’t judge the strike zone by the time he’s 23, it’s probably not going to ever happen (with few exceptions). The pitchers they received are nothing to write home about.

  • Posts: 0 Don M

    Orioles will put some runs on the board this year, I think they’ll be calling C- Matt Weiters up at some point (he’s being compared to Joe Mauer)..

    with Brian Roberts, Mick Markakis, Jones, even an aging Melvin Mora.. they’ll be good.. I was going to say Tejada too, but I think he’s in Houston right?? Shows how great he’s been since the steriods stopped flowing

  • Posts: 0 NJ

    Houston have big sign over Tejada’s head saying we’re not going to say he’s on the market but make us an offer… The Orioles have understood their not going to get back into the thick of things with how they were doing it, they desperately need pitching but that’s a hell of a core they’ve got to start with.

    I think the jury’s out too early on Gomez, I think he’ll continue to make a bigger impact as the skillsets around him improve. I did think the deal at the time was strange considering Humber seems to be nothing to write home about but we know the Twins did their homework (more so than the Mets).

  • Posts: 0 NJ

    ^Isn’t Weiters projecting more like Mike Piazza as a guy who could retire with his name next down from Yogi?

  • Posts: 0 Griffin

    Weiters is a stud. He can flat out hit. He would be a top prospect even if he played 1B, but the fact that he can be a gold glove catcher further enhances his value.
    I expect the Orioles to do what the Rays did with Longoria last year, start him in the minors and then bring him up a month or so into the season in order to halt his arbitration clock.

  • Posts: 0 Berg

    Lets all remember that Eaton should’ve been motivated to do well this year and didn’t. I don’t think Kendrick has the stuff. His rookie year he got by because no one was expecting a guy who tops at 88 mph and pitches a game like “painting”. People figured out his timing in 2008 and the facts came out that he’s simply not that good.

    I’ve always liked Happ. Even in the debut he lost two years ago, his outs were strikeouts and he looked like he had good command. I find it very hard to believe he wont be pitching in the rotation this year.

  • Posts: 0 houtz

    I think Happ should and will be the 5th starter. When the Phillies got Ho Chan Park I was a bit shocked. We got a player that like someone else said, had one good year.

    Send Carrasco to AAA and let him know to be ready late in the season. Try whatever we can to give Eaton away.

  • Posts: 0 TJ

    We’ll see what happens in spring training, but it seems that Park belongs in the bullpen, and Happ will win a starting spot unless Kendrick has gotten his act together.

  • What I want to know is why you didnt believe to consist of the other side of this matter? There are numerous points that youre missing the following that I dont see how you could truly form an intelligent opinion for the topic. Its like you didnt even look at that there me be a different aspect below. Im kind of disappointed.

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