Will the Phillies bump Moyer or Happ for Pedro?

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Pedro Martinez is scheduled to make his third and perhaps final minor-league rehab start tonight at Double-A, but as Todd Zolecki of MLB.com reports the Phillies haven’t revealed what they plan to do once he’s deemed ready to join the rotation.
Jamie Moyer turned in another rough outing last night and now has a 5.55 ERA through 21 starts, so bumping the 46-year-old southpaw would be the obvious move. Of course, manager Charlie Manuel is loyal to the veteran who won 16 games with a 3.71 ERA last season, Moyer makes $6.5 million this year with another $6.5 due in 2010, and Zolecki notes that he’s “not seen as a viable bullpen option.”
Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee, and Joe Blanton obviously aren’t going anywhere, so if Moyer stays in the rotation and Martinez joins him that pushes J.A. Happ to the bullpen. As a 26-year-old rookie it’s not surprising that Happ is seen as the most flexible in terms of not making a stink about his role and he’s had past success as a reliever, but he’s also dramatically out-pitched Moyer by going 5-2 with a 3.09 ERA in 13 starts.
Prior to the Lee trade signing Martinez looked like a worthwhile move for the Phillies, but swapping Pedro for Happ while keeping Moyer and his bloated ERA in the rotation hardly looks like an upgrade. Martinez has incentives in his contract based on relief work, but the Phillies are clearly prepping him to start and general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. has said that he’s not a bullpen option.
The good news for the Phillies is their five-game lead in a division that doesn’t really look capable of challenging them much down the stretch, so regardless of who fills the last two rotation spots they’re likely playoff bound. Once there Hamels, Lee, and Blanton will be the workhorses anyway as the need for a five-man rotation disappears, so maybe prepping Happ for a postseason bullpen role has some upside too.pedromartinezphillies.jpg

2017 Preview: The American League Central

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the American League Central

Do the Indians have a weakness? Do the Tigers and Royals have one more playoff push in them or do they have to start contemplating rebuilds? The White Sox and Twins are rebuilding, but do either of them have a chance to be remotely competitive?

As we sit here in March, the answers are “not really,” “possibly,” and “not a chance.” There are no games that count this March, however, so they’re just guesses. But educated ones! Here are the links to our guesses and our education for all of the clubs of the AL Central:

Cleveland Indians
Detroit Tigers
Kansas City Royals
Chicago White Sox
Minnesota Twins

2017 Preview: The National League East

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the National League East

The Washington Nationals crave a playoff run that doesn’t end at the division series. The Mets crave a season in which they don’t have a press conference about an injured pitcher. The Marlins are trying to put the nightmare of the end of the 2016 behind them. The Phillies and Braves are hoping to move on from the “lose tons of games” phase of their rebuilds and move on to the “hey, these kids can play!” phase.

There is a ton of star power in the NL East — Harper, Scherzer, Cespedes, Syndergaard, Stanton, Freeman — some great young talent on ever roster and, in Ichiro and Bartolo, the two oldest players in the game. Maybe the division can’t lay claim to the best team in baseball, but there will certainly be some interesting baseball in the division.

Here’s how each team breaks down:

Washington Nationals
New York Mets
Miami Marlins
Philadelphia Phillies
Atlanta Braves