Phillies decline $4.5 million option on J.C. Romero for 2011

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In a no-brainer move, the Phillies have declined their $4.5 million option on reliever J.C. Romero for 2011. He’ll get a $250,000 buyout instead.

Philadelphia signed Romero to a three-year, $12 million deal after he posted a 1.24 ERA in 36 innings down the stretch in 2006. He was reasonably solid in Year 1 of the contract, posting a 2.75 ERA despite 38 walks in 59 innings, but then missed most of last season thanks to a 50-game suspension for performance-enhancing drugs followed by an elbow injury.

He returned to appear in 60 games this season, but managed to pitch a total of just 36.2 innings in part because the Phillies used him mostly as a left-handed specialist and in part because he couldn’t throw strikes consistently. Romero walked 29 batters in 36.2 frames, which makes him very tough to rely on in key spots despite his remaining very effective versus left-handed bats.

Brandon Morrow shut down for the rest of the season

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Cubs closer Brandon Morrow has been out since the All-Star break with a bone bruise and biceps inflammation. In recent days there had been hope that he would be activated in the season’s final two weeks in order to be ready for the playoffs, but that’s not happening: Theo Epstein just said that Morrow is done for the season.

It’s not the first time good expectations for Morrow’s recovery were not met. When he was placed on the DL back in July manager Joe Maddon said he didn’t anticipate Morrow being on the DL for much more than the minimum 10 days. Two months later and here we are.

Morrow, 34, had an excellent season until the arm trouble started, saving 22 games with a 1.47 ERA and a 31/9 K/BB ratio in 30.2 innings. Once he went out the closer’s duties fell to Pedro Strop. Now Strop too is out for at least the rest of the regular season and likely more due to a hamstring strain he suffered last week while running the bases.

Bullpens become a lot more important in the postseason. The Cubs’ bullpen is becoming thinner.