By now, it’s official and all that Jose Contreras is the latest $1.5 million arm to be attached to the Phillies bullpen, filling the role of Chan Ho Park.
Park, exhibiting the stubbornness of a child, disappointed all of us by packing up his book bag with whatever he could find in the kitchen and wandering off down the railroad tracks. At 36, it does not seem likely that Park will find a starting job, let alone with a World Series contender.
Not everyone gets to be a starter, Chan Ho; we’ve all got jobs to do. Ryan hits the home runs, Shane throws guys out at home, Chase gets the ladies, Jayson gets the freakier ladies, Carlos lets dudes run into at him going 40 mph, and I sit in this chair and mock all of them they’re better at sports than me and the envy is literally eating me alive from the inside out.
But Park and his demands are gone, and in has stepped Jose Contreras, who also would just love a spot in the rotation. However, unlike Park, Contreras’ desire to start isn’t overshadowing his desire to play for the Phillies at all.
“I think his quote was, ‘I’d be willing to pick up bats if you need me to,’ ” Ruben Amaro explained.
So, yeah, he’s got the right attitude. But never has the “right attitude” been so encompassed by Contreras until you’ve heard this little narrative.
Both Contreras and Danys Baez are both pitching for the Cuban National team in Winnipeg. While they’re out on the town one day, Baez hands him a bag and requests that Contreras give it to his family in Cuba. This is a pretty sure sign of “defection,” on Baez’s part, who wanted to make the Bigs in the U.S.
And sure enough, the following day, Baez disappears from the team, eventually joining up with the Indians.
And… sure enough again, an army of police officers were eagerly awaiting Contreras’ return home in order to talk about Baez’s vacation in the States, which seemed to have become permanent. Baez, perhaps purposefully, hadn’t confided much about his plan to Contreras, outside of handing him a bag and tipping his cap (And the cap-tipping is pure speculation on my part). So, without much to offer the authorities, Contreras was released.
In 2002, as Baseball America was calling him the “ace of the Cuban pitching staff,” Contreras pulled a Baez and bounced to the U.S. for a crack at the majors, leaving behind a rather large family. In 2004, his wife and daughters joined him.
Now that’s low risk-high reward. Wait… no it isn’t. It’s giant risk-high reward. Ruben Amaro, nice signing; this guy was the best pitcher of a whole country, is filling an extremely vacant spot in our bullpen, didn’t break the bank, and isn’t Eric stupid Gagne. He’s 38, but his attitude is 19, in that “I just want to PLAY, damn it” way.
- Phils prospect Aaron Altherr, besides relishing in every instance of “Let’s just go in alphabetical order” that has occurred in his life, could be the new Michael Taylor. At 19, he’s been shipped to Williamsport, with power Baseball America referred to as “eye-popping.” Nice.
- Tyler Walker, an ex-Phillies 2009 reliever whom I don’t hold a unnecessarily bitter grudge against, is the newest addition to a charity case working out of Washington D.C.; the charity, of course, being the Washington Nationals. Walker did us good, though, and the more people write them off, the more I know that one of these seasons, as they keep building and building somewhat under the radar, the Nationals are going to pop out of the underbrush and trip up an NL East squad or two. Finishing out of last place alone would be an achievement, and the team under them would have to take a good hard look at themselves; like when the Cubs were thinking about batting Carlos Zambrano 8th. That last guy would’ve had some serious soul-searching to do. With his bat.