June 14, 2009 6:03 PM

Bunts and Balks (6/14)

MiLB: MAY 11 Irons Pigs at Mudhens

The Phillies optioned reliever Sergio Escalona back to the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs(AAA). Tyler Walker was placed on the Phillies' 40-Man Roster, and recalled from the IronPigs.
Escalona was ineffective on Saturday, but might have been demoted on Sunday, even with a strong performance. The Phillies' bullpen needed reinforcements. Escalona's option, combined with the fact that he wouldn't be available on Sunday, made him a good choice for demotion.
He could return to the roster, if one of the Phillies' current bullpenners needs to go on the DL, even it is within the next ten days. (Without an "emergency" situation, Escalona can't be recalled for a minimum of ten days. I prefer the NHL method, where you can send players up and down, on a daily basis. I'm guessing the MLBPA would not be in favor of that payroll-reducing maneuver.)

Walker has been outstanding in AAA, pairing a 1.40 ERA, with a 0.57 WHIP. However, he was pitching on a minor-league contract, and does not have any options remaining. The Phillies resisted promoting him sooner because they would have to try to pass him through waivers, if they wanted to send him back to AAA. (Putting him in one of the open slots in the Phils' 40-Man Roster was not an issue.) By recalling him now, it seems that the Phils figure they can carve out a roster spot for Walker, for an extended period. (Brad Lidge and Scott Eyre are on the DL, Jack Taschner is hanging by a thread, and third-string catcher Paul Bako could be easily replaced, increasing the bullpen to a "Plus Eight.")

The Phils could also open up a (short-term) roster spot, by sending Antonio Bastardo back to AAA. Bastardo seems overmatched at the MLB level, and needs to work on his repertoire. The Phillies would need a starter on Friday, but could add an extra relief arm, in the interim. (Lefty Mike Zagurski, pitching in AA, is on the 40-Man Roster, has options remaining, and might be a fit. Righty Gary Majewski, pitching in AAA, would not be a good fit for a short-term promotion, as he would need to pass through waivers to be sent back to Lehigh Valley.)
Andrew Carpenter and Carlos Carrasco could be considered for recall from AAA, to make the Friday start. (Also worthy of consideration would be the impact of good (or bad) starts on the two starters' respective trade values.) After Saturday night's debacle, it does seem that the Phils need to try a non-Bastardo rotation option. But the fact that they didn't demote him for an available arm today, may signal that they expect to give the rookie another start at the MLB level.

The IronPigs defeated the Charlotte Knights, 6-3. Mike Cervenak, a better Phillies' roster option than Gabor Paul Bako II, had a pair of hits (including a home run), and knocked in three runs. Starter Gustavo Chacin picked up the win, with six innings of two-run ball. He allowed five hits and zero walks, striking out six. In the absence of recently-promoted Tyler Walker, Cedric Bowers worked the ninth, for his first save. Gary Majewski may also see some future save opportunities for Lehigh Valley.

The Reading Phillies (AA) lost the completion of their suspended game from Saturday, 2-1. The game was suspended after nine innings on Saturday, with the R-Phils and the Harrisburg Senators tied at one. The R-Phils lost Sunday, prior to their regularly-scheduled game, on an 11th inning run.

The Reading Phillies won their regularly-scheduled game, 6-5. The R-Phils trailed 5-3 in the eighth, but came back to tie the game at 5. CF Quintin Berry, coming to the plate to the somber tones of "For the Love of Money", by the BulletBoys, had a crucial double in the inning. Jeremy Slayden went 4 for 4. Brad Harman, with 1 hit in his last 35 ABs, had the walk-off hit in the ninth. Top prospect Kyle Drabek started for the R-Phils, and lasted six innings. Drabek allowed four runs, on eight hits and four walks. Not a good outing by Drabek, but the offense bailed him out. (I turned on the broadcast with the score 5-3, Harrisburg, and caught the best parts of the game. The Reading crowd sounded quite raucous. Am I the only one that imagines the between-innings music being played by the Mascot Band? Never mind.)

The Reading Phillies play their annual "Morning Game" on Monday. Game time is 9:35 AM. Listen live, via the internets!

The Clearwater Threshers (A) won a pitcher's duel against the Jupiter Hammerheads, 2-0. Yohan Flande pitched a complete-game shutout, improving to 6-1, with a 2.45 ERA. Flande allowed six hits and a walk, striking out six. Flande might be ready to join the R-Phils. The game was played in only 1:56, as each team had just six hits, and a walk.

"The Pen" debuts tonight! MLB Network, 8:00pm, an hour of behind-the-scenes Phils' bullpen action!

The P-Phils, and their top three affiliates, were all victorious on Sunday. What are the chances of that? (I calculate the probability to be about 7.21%, but feel free to do your own calculations.)

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