Philadelphia Phillies

Phillies: Worley to the Minor Leagues and Mayberry Recalled-- What's Going On?

PHILADELPHIA - JUNE 24:  Vance Worley #49 of the Philadelphia Phillies looks on from the dugout against the Oakland Athletics at Citizens Bank Park on June 24, 2011 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  The Phillies defeated the Athletics 1-0. (Photo by Len Redkoles/Getty Images)
Len Redkoles/Getty Images
Tom MechinAnalyst IJuly 5, 2011

On the surface, it makes no sense.  

After pitching a career-high seven innings in back-to-back starts, winning both and participating in a 1-0 shutout win over the Florida Marlins, young starter Vance Worley has once again been optioned to Triple A Lehigh Valley.  He is an Iron-Pig again, and prospect (is he still one of those??) John Mayberry Jr. has been recalled to the big-league club.

However with the All-Star break next week, the Phillies off-day Thursday, and no true need for a fifth starter until sometime late next week---at the earliest---the move makes sense.  Worley would not have been making his regular starts over the next two weeks or so, and that lack of consistency was shown to hurt the hurler earlier in the season.  

With Shane Victorino nursing a sore hand/wrist (how he didn’t hurt his ankle on that play still baffles most), it makes sense to bring up an extra outfielder who can play center-field, and play it well.  Mayberry may not move around the way Victorino does when he’s chasing fly-balls in the outfield, but the 27 year old covers a lot of ground with his big, graceful steps.  

At some point, the Phillies are going to have to make a decision about Mayberry and his future in the organization.  He’s either going to be a part of the team---perhaps as a fourth outfielder who rides the bench or part of the solution to replace Raul Ibanez in 2012---or he’s going to have to seek employment elsewhere.  

This season, Mayberry has gotten more of an opportunity than he ever had before and showed improvements in some areas.  As of yet, he has not lived up to the expectations that come from his physical specimen and genetic line in his career---being the son of a man with 255 major league home runs and a couple of top-ten MVP finishes---but there is still time. 

Perhaps Mayberry may never be an everyday outfielder or even a steady major league player.  Or maybe he’s the next Jayson Werth: a player who’d been given up on by at least one organization only to show somewhere else that his talent wasn’t wasted.

If Mayberry ends up becoming a player like Werth, I think I speak for most Phillies fans when I say I hope it happens in Philadelphia and not somewhere else.

So in essence the move makes sense.  The Phillies have two young players they’ll need to make long-term decisions on over the next couple of months or even years.  Vance Worley may not be happy returning to the minor leagues, but at 23 years old, he needs the consistent work being in Triple-A will provide him to hopefully make his next return trip to Philadelphia the last one.

However, despite the excellent start to his major league career, the poise and confidence he has shown early on, the Phillies organization cannot be completely sold on him being a long-term piece to their rotation just yet. 

He hasn’t been around the league enough times for pitching coaches and teams to build up a substantial video catalog of his games, deliveries and tendencies.  Only once they do and we see how Worley reacts and adjusts will we know whether or not he has what it takes to succeed over the long haul in major league baseball.

Kyle Kendrick came up and won ten games in 2007, nearly single-handedly saving the Phillies' season.  Since then he has been a serviceable pitcher, but nothing special and not the phenom he was right from the start.  

Worley could be another Kendrick, or he could turn into Greg Maddux.  Only time will tell.

The Phillies will have a lot of decisions to make in the next few weeks.  Do they need another offensive player?  Do they need any bullpen help?  What about the lackluster bench? 

The team must be hoping that optioning Vance Worley to Triple-A and bringing up John Mayberry Jr. helps to answer at least some of those questions and it moves forward in its quest for another World Series Championship.

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