Philadelphia Phillies

Philadelphia Phillies Call-Up Escalona—WHY?

CLEARWATER, FL - FEBRUARY 20:  Sergio Escalona # 65 of the Philadelphia Phillies poses for a photo during Spring Training Photo day on February 20, 2009 at Bright House Networks Field in Clearwater, Florida.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Rupert PupkinCorrespondent IMay 18, 2009

After last night’s game, the Phillies made a roster move, sending last night’s starter Andrew Carpenter to Triple-A Lehigh Valley in exchange for Sergio Escalona.  The move, at first seemed puzzling– why call up a pitcher, and why Escalona?  So, let’s take a closer look at the move.

The Phillies weren’t going to keep Andrew Carpenter on their roster, after his rocky-route to a win on Saturday night, so they had to find someone to replace him.  There were a few options, like third baseman Mike Cervenak, who had a brief stint with the big-club last season. 

Cervenak is currently batting .326 with three home runs and 23 RBI for Lehigh Valley but hurt his wrist Saturday, forcing him to make a trip to the DL, so his name was out of the mix. 

But why not someone like second baseman Pablo Ozuna, who had a stellar spring training and is hitting .286 with a .320 OBP, or John Mayberry, who’s  hitting .270, but has shown power, which can be valuable off the bench, with his eight home runs and 25 RBI?

But maybe the Phillies just needed a pitcher, as J.C. Romero waits out the remaining fourteen games of his suspension. 

So, why not Mike Koplove, who has allowed just one earned runs and 12 hits while striking out 21 and walking nine in 17 1/3 innings; or Gary Majewski has allowed eight earned runs in 19 1/3 innings (3.72 ERA)? 

Or what about Kyle Kendrick, who is improving his off-speed pitch, and has a respectable 3.75 ERA in 36 innings for Triple-A Lehigh Valley.

But despite what the team could’ve done, they decided to add Escalona.  Pitching coach Rich Dubee explained the decision as two-fold. Heading into their fourth game in three days, the Phils felt they needed an extra arm to shore up a bullpen, which has been severely overused in recent days. 

Chan Ho Park, who, to his credit, has good as of late, has not exactly been the Phils most consistent performer was to take the hill in game four.  In the short term Dubee felt an extra arm would be more valuable than an extra bat.  Dubee said Escalona offers the team “flexibility,” since he has minor league options.

If the Phils were to call up a veteran, like Majewski, in order to put them back down they would need to designate them for assignment.  When you are designated for assignment, you have options to jump ship and head over to another club, where a big-league job may be open.

For now, all indications point to the fact that Escalona will stay with the big-club through the series in Cincinatti.  At that point the situation will be re-assessed and the team will take the long term future into account.

And hey, so far the move has worked out—Park pitched only 1 1/3 innings Sunday and Escalona came in in a key spot to pick up his first big-league win.

Thanks to Dave Murphy, of The Philadelphia Daily News, for most of the information above.

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