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

Report: Teams reluctant to gamble on Cliff Lee

Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Cliff Lee throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park Thursday, July 31, 2014, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
AP Photo/Alex Brandon
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In Saturday’s column for the Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo suggests that free agent Cliff Lee is seeking a guaranteed major league deal between $6 and $8 million plus incentives. That is turning some otherwise interested teams away, as the lefty is still recovering from a torn flexor tendon in his left elbow. Lee hasn’t pitched since July 31, 2014.

Last month, Lee’s agent Darek Braunecker said the pitcher would need “a perfect fit” to pitch in 2016. He also noted that Lee has begun a full offseason throwing program.

In his most recent season, Lee compiled a 3.65 ERA with 72 strikeouts and 12 walks in 81 1/3 innings for the Phillies. The Phillies had signed him to a five-year, $120 million contract in December 2010 but declined a club option for the 2016 season, instead buying him out for $12.5 million.

Orioles reconsidering signing Yovani Gallardo

Yovani Gallardo
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
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In an article for MASN on Friday, Steve Melewski noted that the Orioles were reluctant to forfeit their first round draft pick (14th overall) in order to sign free agent starter Yovani Gallardo. The club is now reconsidering its stance and rechecking the right-handers medicals, MASN’s Roch Kubatko reports.

Gallardo, who turns 30 on February 27, posted a 3.42 ERA with 121 strikeouts and 68 walks over 184 1/3 innings for the Rangers last season. The Rangers had acquired him in a trade with the Brewers, sending Luis Sardinas, Corey Knebel, and minor leaguer Marcos Diplan to Milwaukee.

Gallardo has posted an ERA below 4.00 in six of his last seven seasons. He remains unsigned into February, however, because his strikeout rate has rapidly decreased with each year since 2012. Per FanGraphs, that rate was 23.7 percent in 2012, then went to 18.6 percent, 17.9 percent, and 15.3 percent progressively. Some of that may have to do with diminishing fastball velocity, as Gallardo’s 90.4 MPH average marked a career low among his eight full seasons with at least 100 innings pitched.

The Orioles lost starter Wei-Yin Chen, who signed with the Marlins, and the back end of their rotation is highly speculative with Kevin Gausman, Mike Wright, Odrisamer Despaigne, and Tyler Wilson. Adding a veteran like Gallardo, even if he is apparently declining, may be stabilizing.

Freddy Garcia is calling it a career

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Elsa/Getty Images North America
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MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez passes along word from the Dominican Republic that right-hander Freddy Garcia will hang up his cleats for good after Sunday’s Caribbean Series championship game.

Garcia will start that game for the Tigres de Aragua out of Venezuela. He’s taking on Mexico’s Venados de Mazatlan.

“Venezuelan fans are expecting something good from Freddy and so is everybody,” said Tigres de Aragua manager Eddie Perez, who also serves as the bullpen coach for the Atlanta Braves. “Knowing that it’s his last game is going to make it very special. We all hope he pitches a really good game so he can retire in a good way and bring the title for Venezuela. Everybody who is rooting for Venezuela expects him to do well.”

Garcia’s last major league game was in the 2013 postseason. The 39-year-0ld will finish with a 4.15 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, and 6.4 K/9 in 2,264 career regular-season innings. He had a 3.26 ERA in 11 playoff starts, winning a World Series title with the White Sox in 2005.

Video: 2016 will be a season to remember

Carlos+Correa+Houston+Astros+v+Arizona+Diamondbacks+Ctyu5RiU3SWl
Christian Petersen/Getty Images North America
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MLB.com put together this very cool video montage reviewing the 2015 season and setting us up for what should be a wild 2016. Young stars, veterans chasing milestones, unpredictable divisional races.

It’s so close to spring training. Let’s do this.