Thursday, June 16, 2011
Posted: 3:45 p.m.
By John R. Finger
Nearly four years ago to the day, the Boston Red Sox tried to sneak J.C. Romero through waivers with the hope of bringing him back in time for the final push to the postseason. A rubber-armed lefty, Romero had playoff experience with the Twins and posted solid numbers in 23 games with the Red Sox that season.
But when good pitching is available, it takes a lot more stealth maneuvering than waivers. Four days after Boston waived Romero, the Phillies snapped him up and very well may have gotten more bang for their waiver-claim dollar than with any other player.
Romero was acquired by the Phillies on June 22, 2007 and designated for assignment by the team this Thursday afternoon, general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. announced.
The move leaves 25-year old Antonio Bastardo as the lone lefty in the Phillies bullpen and means the team will keep David Herndon, rookie Michael Stutes and veteran Danys Baez amongst the relief corps. Moreover, with Vance Worley recalled to start in Saturdays game in Seattle, either the first-year right-hander or the veteran Kyle Kendrick will join the pen at some point.
Regardless, the Phillies bullpen just got a bit younger.
We did have some other options but we felt at this time that J.C. hasnt been as consistent as he has in the past for us, Amaro said. We signed him to give us a little more support and to help us on the left side in our bullpen. J.C., I guess, is one of those guys who benefits from a lot of work and a lot more consistent work and he hasnt gotten that this year. As a result he hasnt been as consistent and we decided to take him off the roster.
The team has 10 days to dispose of the contract, which they can do by trading him or by allowing another team to plunk him off waivers. If no other club makes a claim, the Phillies can send him to the minors or Romero, 35, can chose to be a free agent.
Free agency or a waivers claim appear to be the most likely scenarios.
Its baseball, Romero said. You play the game. Im healthy. Im fine. Im looking to go somewhere else. It was a fun ride. Its over. Its done. You probably wont be seeing No. 16 again here. J.C. gotta go. Thats how it goes.
With the way this team is stacked right now with the pitching staff, they had to make a decision and unfortunately it was me, but it could have been anyone.
Be that as it may, Romero will be remembered as the pitcher who won two games during the 2008 World Series for the Phillies. He also was a bona fide horse for manager Charlie Manuel down the stretch of the Phillies playoff chase in 2007. He joined the team with 82 games remaining in the season and made 51 appearances, plus three more during the NLDS loss to the Rockies.
He also appeared in 14 of the final 16 games at the end of the 2007 season and got into 20 games during September without allowing a run.
Romero appeared in 81 games in 2008, posting a 2.75 ERA with four wins and a save. In eight postseason appearances that year he did not allow a run, including four of them during the World Series.
This is a tough decision. We won two National League championship and a World Series with him, Amaro said. To his credit he came off the scrap heap when he was let go by Boston. Hes had times when hes pitched brilliantly for us, but there are times when we have to make difficult decisions and this was one of them.
Romero was suspended for the first 50 games of the 2009 season when a positive drug test came up during a routine test in 2008. According to Romero, the positive test was the result of the supplement 6-OXO Extreme that he purchased in Cherry Hill, N.J. at a vitamin store. As a result he lost 50 games and approximately 1.25 million in salary.
Romero appeared in just 21 games in 2009 and did not appear in any playoff games. In 2010, injuries plagued the lefty even though he appeared in 60 games with a 3.68 ERA and held lefty hitters to a .217 batting average. He appeared in one game in each of the NLDS and the NLCS in 2010.
This season, with a clean bill of health, Romero struggled with his control. He walked 12 hitters and struck out just 10 in 24 appearances covering 16 innings. As a lefty specialist he did pretty well, holding them to a .208 batting average. But right-handers gave him trouble and Amaro didnt want to keep a roster spot just for a guy who could pitch to lefties.
I knew from the get-go I wasnt going to pitch much. It doesnt surprise me. It is what it is and I wish these guys the best of luck, Romero said. It was fun but I have some new challenges in life.
E-mail John R. Finger at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @JRFingerCSN.
Related: Sources: Worley will join Phils for trip to Seattle Phils complete sweep of Marlins with shutout win