How Important Is Re-Signing Scott Eyre?

The Phillies locked up the first of their free agents when Scott Eyre inked a one-year deal to return to the Phillies in 2009. How important is the signing for the Phillies?

First, the details; Scott Eyre got a one-year, $2.0 million deal from the Phillies to return to the bullpen in 2009. It's actually about half of what he made in 2008, but with bonus clauses, it could turn out to be a good deal for both sides.

Eyre came to the Phillies bullpen this past August and was a perfect fit as a compliment to left-hander J.C. Romero. In his time with the Phillies, Eyre went 3-0 with a 1.88 ERA in 19 appearances (14 1/3 innings). While he was a left-handed specialist, Eyre actually filled more of a role for the Phillies than that, holding right-handed hitters to just a .154 average, while lefties hit .174 against him. He pitched 8 2/3 shutout innings to start his career as a Phillie.

The Phillies bullpen was a strength of their 2008 team and the addition of Scott Eyre gave a big boost to the 'pen and took a lot of pressure off of Romero down the stretch. It will be interesting to see if Eyre's role is expanded in 2009 because of his numbers against right-handers, especially since Romero was hit harder by right-handed hitters (righties hit .282 against him) and he's more of a lefty specialist than Eyre is out of the bullpen.

Eyre's contract is a gift from the Baseball Gods, since they were able to get him at a value that is less than he might have been able to get on the open market. Call it a hometown discount or just the lure of possibly pitching in another World Series, but the deal saved the Phillies some money and still gives Eyre the opportunity to get the money that he would have gotten on the open market if he performs well enough to reach the bonuses in the deal.

Having two solid, veteran left-handers in the bullpen all season will give the Phillies a definite advantage over what they had for much of the 2008 season. The quick signing also gets the search for a left-hander done so they can concentrate on other issues that are pressing, namely trying to re-sign starter Jamie Moyer and outfielder Pat Burrell.

Scott Eyre's career stats

26 29 4.36 4 575 32 619.1 632 331 300 80 316 515 1.53 .266

Stats cover 12 major league seasons during which Eyre has pitched for the Chicago White Sox (1997-2000), Toronto (2001-2002), San Francisco (2002-2005), the Chicago Cubs (2005-2008) and the Phillies in 2008.

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