Chan Ho Park wants to start again, but he should stick to relieving

Leave a comment

This morning Craig discussed the continued uncertainty surrounding whether Joba Chamberlain will start or relieve for the Yankees, but he’s not the only pitcher unclear about his role for 2010.
Philadelphia is interested in re-signing Chan Ho Park as a reliever after he thrived in that role this season, but the 36-year-old free agent and longtime starter is also being offered rotation spots elsewhere.
“I want to be a starter again,” Park told the Korea Times. “Being a starter is more attractive for me, because I can take over a whole game.” Meanwhile, agent Jeff Borris explained that “we’re really not shutting the door on any possibilities right now” while noting that multiple teams have expressed interest in Park for both roles.
If he truly wants to be a full-time starter again then Park should sign with a team willing to hand him a rotation spot no questions asked, because this will likely be his last multi-year contract and final chance to dictate his role. However, if he’s interested in picking the role in which he’s actually most likely to have success there’s no question that he should stick to the bullpen.
In his last 34 starts–which is basically equal to one full season in a rotation–Park has gone 9-9 with a 5.05 ERA in 194.1 innings. During that same time period Park made 91 relief appearances, posting a 3.45 ERA in 125 innings. He hasn’t had an ERA below 4.80 during any season with double-digit starts since way back in 2001, but Park had a 2.52 ERA out of the Phillies’ bullpen this season and posted a 3.84 mark as a reliever last year. Stick to relieving, Chan Ho, you’re really good at it.

Columnist bashes Bryce Harper’s fundamentals, “write it,” says Nats player

Bryce Harper
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Tom Boswell of the Washington Post wrote a column over the weekend about how the 2019 Nats are looking really, really good. And for the most part it’s a column that makes a lot of sense. The Nats added some key pieces this offseason and, because so much of their underachieving 2018 season was based on health, particularly in the bullpen, there is reason to be optimistic this coming year.

There is one weird passage in the middle of the column, though: a swipe at Bryce Harper, his fundamentals and his attitude. The upshot: Boswell is arguing that losing Harper to free agency is addition by subtraction:

Though few mention it, subtracting Harper, while it will cost 34 homers, a .899 career OPS and some amazing hair flips, would help any team improve its attention to fundamentals. When the most famous player on the team can’t go 10 days without failing to run out a groundball or overthrowing a cutoff man by 15 feet or throwing to the wrong base or being caught unprepared in the outfield or on the bases, it’s hard to demand total alertness from the other 24.

“Write it,” one prominent Nats vet said.

The “Write it” is what has me most fascinated.

It could possibly be read in two different ways. One way would be for that to be the non-committal reaction of a player when Boswell bounced his Harper-is-a-slacker theory. Saying, in effect, “you write that if that’s your take.” It seems far more likely to me though, that Boswell is echoing the off-the-record sentiments of Harper’s former Nats teammates and the “write it” is an encouraging plea to give public voice to that which the player has chosen not to.

If it is the latter, this would only be the latest of many anonymously-sourced disgruntled sentiments from the Nats clubhouse over the years. Former manager Matt Williams had a full-scare revolt on his hands that made it into the media. Last year Dave Martinez’s clubhouse had someone saying negative things to the press as well, and it was so bad that GM Mike Rizzo sent off a useful reliever — at a time when the Nats really, really needed a useful reliever — because he was the suspected source. If Boswell is giving voice to some anti-Harper sentiment in Nats camp, it’s just more soap opera from a bunch that, historically, can’t seem to handle their issues in-house.

As for the substance: I don’t watch Harper as much as Nats fans do — and I can’t say that I’ve ever heard anyone describe him as some sort of lazy slacker — but sure, there are players who are more fundamentally sound than him. It’s also the case, though, that Harper has always been judged more harshly for his deportment than a lot of players in the league, so I’m not prepared to totally defer to word of mouth — especially anonymous word-of-mouth — to someone slamming him on that stuff.

It’s still pretty interesting, though, that in an offseason in which the average fan’s take is that Manny Machado is the no-hustle slacker who should be avoided, that Machado’s former teammates have had no complaints about him, while Harper’s former teammates seem to have the knives out for him.