One thing I’ve always loved about the All-Star break is when local newspapers give mid-season letter “grades” to the players. Mind you, I’ve never been into grades- a checkered academic career has been my oeuvre (starting with a well deserved "D" in high school physics). But I think I could get into awarding grades!
Anyway, I’m basing my grades- like any good academic- on a seemingly random series of criteria: how the player has performed versus common expectation. As I am the sole determiner of common expectation, criteria will be random and without review. But it does insure the curve will be harder for those with big dollar contracts (Cole Hamels) as opposed to my affordable pets (Jamie Moyer).
Today, let’s begin with the starting pitchers:
Joe Blanton: Joe’s been all over the map- an April and May where he was terrible (yet the team won seven of his first ten starts), snake bitten during the Phillies June swoon, steadily better. The Phillies had him slotted after Hamels and Myers- and he probably needs to be more than 9-8 in his seventeen starts on a team that should win 90+. But he has been better lately... a hard guy to grade: C+
Cole Hamels: a .500 pitcher, an ERA very near 5, only three more IP than Jamie Moyer… disappointing. Not getting better either, two of his last three starts have been 5+ ERs. Probably the most disappointing Phillies player (along with Lidge). Amazing how the Phillies have got nothing from their top starter and closer- and still are up big in NL East: C-
J.A. Happ: Wonderful. After a good stint in the bullpen, when the ‘pen was under pressure, he has been the Phillies most consistent rotation option for more than a month now. Has been asked to ton of different things- spot start, start, long relief, situational relief, short relief- and has adjusted accordingly. Perhaps most importantly, has pitched himself into one of the most important commodities in baseball: the guy that can be traded as young, cheap and “major league ready” for real, immediate difference making help: A
Jamie Moyer: He’s a bottom of the rotation guy at this point- but the team is 10-7 in his starts and he has outright won his last four turns. He hasn’t had a disaster since 5/13… face it, he takes the ball without fail every five days, and he is on pace to win fifteen-sixteen games and pitch 185 innings: B-
Brett Myers: a popular Philadelphia whipping boy- but really wasn’t that bad. Pitched through the sixth inning in eight of his first nine starts: won four, lost three. Obviously, a lost year for the guy- but he has been a .500 pitcher for a few years now- probably these sorts of numbers are expected. Everyone thinks he is gone- but I’m not so sure. He seems popular in the clubhouse, I think he is going back to the ‘pen for the second half of his career, and the Phillies are one a few teams that are able to pay big bucks for secondary relief pitchers: C-
Chan Ho Park: Fail: F
But I’ll evaluate Park with the relievers too.