Michael Schwimer was optioned back to Lehigh Valley the other day, to make room for Cliff Lee’s
glorious return appearance in a third horrible mess in three days. It was an interesting move by the Phillies. Schwimer had become Charlie Manuel’s go-to guy, which was weird, because he had been performing very poorly.
But we are nothing if not a patient, adaptive fan base, and we absorbed Charlie’s decisions with little to no contest. He is the manager of a professional baseball team, and we are merely a city of lunatics, rage-honking the horn while snared in gridlock traffic. Despite the complete lack of success for most of his recent strategies, you have to assume Charlie is building to something, and that Schwimer was his keystone.
However, you can’t build anything by stacking the same stone over and over again. And we watched as Schwimer–along with the rest of the bullpen–gave up runs and leads and hopes and dreams, and again, being the rational, respectful gaggle of fun-havers we are, we took it all in with a larf.
“Hey, it’s just a game,” Philadelphia said. ”Win or lose, right? Still just a game. Doesn’t effect our real lives. Hey, this sandwich tastes like blood. So does this soda. Actually, I always taste blood recently. Is that weird?”
Schwimer is gone now, subtracted from a limp pen and sent back to the minor, partially to make room for Cliff Lee, and partially because letting the other teams plow through him like a cement truck every night might have been affecting his confidence a little bit, mainly.
Now, Joe Savery–the mighty hero who began his career as a pitcher, switched to hitting, and then came back to pitching and isn’t that just the quirkiest little tale you’ve ever heard–has been equally optioned. Unlike Schwimer, Savery has kept his ERA under 8.00. Like Schwimer, his chance at the big time appears to be over for now.
Neither young pitcher has been able to maintain effectiveness at the Major League level. Whether that stems from personal talent or from just sitting in the bullpen with the rest of this group while whatever poison they’re all sick with festers in their very beings, we’ll never know.
But we do know that in eight innings, Savery’s given up five runs, either a exceptionally poor times when our lead was thin, or at exceptionally hilarious times, when the very thin lead had been destroyed by another reliever just moments before. Schwimer’s monster ERA is the product of giving up six enemy runs in just over six innings, and tossing some of his most hittable pitches to guys holding baseball bats.
It seems the Phillies are for once just as aware of a problem as their fans calling into sports talk radio shows are, and have begun picking apart the pen and replacing luckless relievers with… well, we don’t know yet.
But it’s been a hopeless mess out there, and we have all seen Charlie stick with failing relievers for extended times just to build their confidence or wait for a turnaround while we all clutch our heads and laugh like mental patients. I mean, while we all nod approvingly at the TV and say “Good thinking, Chuck. Send Lidge back out for another go at it. 37th time’s the charm, I always say.” So a short term response is a refreshing change.
Or at least, a change of some kind. Which I suppose was necessary. But I’ve honestly been too busy having a great attitude about all this.