With less than four weeks until pitchers and catchers are to report, the Philadelphia Phillies have already established the best rotation in baseball, and that is without knowing with a certainty that the fifth starter will be Joe Blanton or Kyle Kendrick.
As of yesterday, Kendrick signed a one-year contract for $2.45 million, and Blanton is signed through the 2012 season being owed $17 million. A lot of people had suspected that the Phillies would trade Blanton in order to free up some salary room after having signed Cliff Lee, as the Phillies are locked in at about $15 million more than what they had expected for 2011. GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. stated that he does not feel comfortable dealing Blanton right now, and, honestly, there is no hurry to do so.
Dealing Blanton is still a definite possibility, if the proper situation arises, but Amaro is not actively seeking a deal. If a team, such as the Minnesota Twins if they were unable to resign Carl Pavano, desires Blanton, there very well could be a trade, but there are no dealings currently on the table.
That being said, Kendrick and Blanton were both starters in 2010 (see article on Blanton and Kendrick here: http://tinyurl.com/6e9p244), but Blanton will take the fifth spot in the starting rotation if he remains a Phillie, which will leave Kendrick coming out of the bullpen.
With Blanton being the fifth starter, the Phillies currently have Ryan Madson, Danys Baez, J.C. Romero, Jose Contreras and Kyle Kendrick, with Brad Lidge as the closing pitcher. Kendrick is easily the youngest of the six pitchers in the bullpen, being the only one under 30 at the age of 26. The rest of the pitchers are 30, 33, 34, 39 and 34, respectively.
The bullpen is certainly on the older side, and the performance of the bullpen has always been a question mark for the Phillies. Looking at their statistics, Madson reigns easily above the rest, even though the numbers for Kendrick for 2010 are his numbers from starting, not relieving.
Their statistics show:
Of all of the relievers, Madson had the second most innings pitched in 2010, with the best ratio of walks and hits per inning pitched (WHIP), most strikeouts per nine innings, most strikeouts per walk, most strikeouts and fewest walks (excluding Kendrick since he was a starter) and, most importantly, he allowed the fewest earned runs for the best ERA.
Madson is the future of the Phillies bullpen, and, since his contract expires after this season, it would be of the team’s best interest to extend his contract soon. He is young and the best producing reliever on the team, and his numbers made great improvements in 2010, which shows he is growing as a pitcher. Overall, Madson has proven that he is a reliable and dependable pitcher, more so than any of the other relief options that the Phillies have to offer.