June 14, 2009 12:44 PM

Bunts and Balks (6/13)

MLB: MAY 17 Phillies at Nationals

The Phillies sent Kyle Kendrick back to Lehigh Valley (AAA), recalling lefty Sergio Escalona. Escalona is a better direct replacement for LOOGY Scott Eyre. (Mike Zagurski, currently a AA southpaw, is on the 40-Man Roster, has options remaining, and could also have been considered.)
The Phillies likely will have more personnel moves in the near future, as their bullpen has been overworked, and has some injury concerns. Tyler Walker or Gary Majewski, both exiled in AAA, may finally get the call to the Phils. Walker and Majewski, both MLB veterans, would be exposed to waivers, if the Phillies tried to return them to AAA after an MLB stint. So the Phils have held off recalling them, until it appears that there will be a longer-term opening. (The right-handed Walker, probably, should have replaced Jack Taschner, the lefty who pitches like an ineffective righty, months ago.)
The Phils could also dump catcher Paul Bako, and return to the "Plus Eight" bullpen, but I doubt that they would give up the veteran catcher after such a short time. Escalona (41 pitches on Saturday) and Taschner (37 pitches) both would be unavailable on Sunday, and could be in danger of immediate demotion. (Both can be optioned, without passing through waivers, and could be recalled in fewer than ten days, if a pitcher goes to the DL.) The Phils are fortunate to have an off-day on Monday.

Kyle Kendrick was demoted after one really bad outing. Was recalling him a mistake?
On Friday, the Phillies needed to recall a pitcher, from their 40-Man roster, who could eat some innings. The bullpen was gassed, and Kendrick, a starter who hadn't pitched for a week, was the best candidate. Kendrick could have pitched for a long time, in Friday's extra-inning game, if the Phillies' offense had just been able to offset the damage Kendrick did to the scoreline each inning.
After his ineffective stint on Friday, he would have been unavailable to the Phils for the rest of the weekend, so he was sent back to Lehigh Valley. (The best possible MLB role for Kendrick this weekend, would have been to relieve Antonio Bastardo in the second inning of Saturday's rain-delayed disaster. The Phillies would have had multiple innings to counterract Kendrick's ineffectiveness, rather than just one. Unfortunately, Kendrick was needed on Friday.)

With promotions, injuries, and a suspension (Pablo Ozuna) gutting their roster, the Lehigh Valley IronPigs (AAA) reinforced their club via some personnel moves.
RHP Jason Anderson was recalled from AA. (Anderson, who has some MLB experience, is a minor league journeyman.) Carlos Guevara, a catcher, was recalled to take the injured Lou Marson's spot. (Guevara is also minor league roster filler, and shouldn't be in AAA for long. Marson is expected to return in a week, or two.) Jorge Velandia (infielder/non-prospect) returned from the DL, helping cover for the longer-term loss of Jason Donald. Donald is expected to be out for a couple of months.
Reinforcements like these should help enable the IronPigs to remain near the bottom of the standings.

The IronPigs fell to the Charlotte Knights, 6-4, on Saturday. The IronPigs had trailed 6-1, after five innings, but pulled to within 6-4. The game was rained out after seven innings, before the IronPigs could complete their impending comeback. Non-prospect/minor league journeyman Rodrigo Lopez had the IronPigs well-positioned for an exciting comeback, by allowing all six runs (five earned) in his five-innings start.

The Reading Phillies (AA) had their game against the Harrisburg Senators suspended, due to rain. The game was tied, 1-1, after nine innings. The R-Phils could have won in the bottom of the ninth, but couldn't get a runner in from third, with only one out. (They failed on a suicide squeeze, rather than trying for a walk-off fly ball.) Tyson Brummett started for the R-Phils, allowing Harrisburg's only run, in a strong, seven-inning outing.

The Clearwater Threshers (A) lost to the Jupiter Hammerheads, 2-0, on a pair of eighth inning runs. Michael Galen Cisco pitched five scoreless innings, but the Threshers were held to only four hits (one extra-base hit, a double.)

The Pen is almost here! The MLB Network's reality show on the Phillies' bullpen premieres Sunday night, at 8pm. If Jack Taschner isn't well-received in his reality-show debut, he might no longer be in a Phillies uniform, come Tuesday. The first episode may also reveal why Taschner was selected over Mike Koplove and Tyler Walker, in the first place. Perhaps it was the fear of spoilers that has kept Taschner with the parent club this season? (But I am much more interested to learn more about the mysterious, and possibly sinister, J.A. Happ.)

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