Friday, March 7, 2008

What to do with Adam Eaton?

The Phillies really screwed up with Adam Eaton. He's in the second year of his 3 year contract worth 24.5 million dollars, and he stinks. Because of his huge contract, Eaton is the front runner for the Phils number 5 spot in the rotation, despite having an ERA of 15.75 in two spring appearances. Now he is using the lame excuse that he has a bad back that has been affecting his performance since July.

So what are the Phillies supposed to do? Despite how bad he has been, the Phillies have no other choice but to trot him out every fifth day. They can't trade the guy because no one would want him. They won't release Eaton because the Phillies aren't in the habit of giving away money. He would be terrible out of the bullpen because of the way he gets rocked in the early innings of his starts.

The other fifth starter options aren't all that appealing, either. J. D. Durbin has shown flashes of what made him a prospect a few years ago, but he looked awful last September. Chad Durbin is very average and would be better suited in a long relief role. Travis Blackley is also an option, although he had an ERA over 7 last year with the Giants.

Prospect Carlos Carrasco has been a long-shot option, and he has the best stuff out of any of these back-end guys, but he won't be ready for at least another year. By the way, I know that everyone in the Phillies organization is high on Carrasco, but before we get our hopes up, Baseball Prospectus projects him to be only a "solid, mid-rotation innings-eater". Doesn't sound like glowing praise for a guy the Phillies are counting on to be a stud.

So, getting back to Eaton, it looks like the Phillies are stuck with him. Expectations couldn't be lower. If the Phillies could get 6 innings out of Eaton and he only gives up 3-4 runs, they will be ecstatic. The Phils are probably hoping to get about a month of decent pitching out of Eaton until Kris Benson is healthy. They can then stick Benson into the rotation and then figure out what to do with Eaton.

Of course, if it was me, I would sign Kyle Lohse for the 1 year, 4 million dollar contract he is seeking, and then cut my losses with Eaton. It would be tough to swallow that huge contract and admit they made a mistake, but the Phillies can't afford to have such an inept pitcher in their rotation. The Phillies have an amazing offense that can pile up runs in a hurry, but they still can't risk using a starting pitcher who consistently spots the other team 5 runs in the first two innings. Hopefully a few more awful spring performances will force the Phillies to get rid of the dead weight known as Adam Eaton.

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