Koplove Deserved A Little Love From Phillies

Mike Koplove believes so much in his ability to pitch in the majors that he insisted on an out-clause in his minor league deal with the Phillies. Because of that clause, Koplove is now a free agent, but might have been able to help in Philly.

Mike Koplove was simply phenomenal for Triple-A Lehigh Valley, but he knew when he signed a minor league deal that there were no guarantees. Even though he posted a 1.14 ERA and converted six of seven save opportunities, the Phillies didn't figure that Mike Koplove would be able to help them at the major league level. Armed with those numbers, Koplove is now seeking a deal with a club that will give him a shot at pitching in the majors and he's likely to find one; Washington quickly comes to mind.

One of the things that may have forced Koplove to opt out of his deal is the fact that when Brad Lidge was struggling and there was talk of him winding up on the DL, Koplove apparently wasn't first in line for a call. The IronPigs held Gary Majewski out of games for four days in late April in case Lidge was disabled and they had to reach down to Triple-A for another pitcher. That's not to take anything away from Majewski, who has also pitched well for the IronPigs, but it did put the handwriting on the wall for Koplove.

Meanwhile, the Phillies bullpen has been stocked with three left-handers - a somewhat unnecessary luxury for most clubs - for much of the season. And one of those lefties, Jack Taschner, has been inconsistent and has an option remaining.

The Phillies should have given serious consideration to either optioning out Taschner at some point, or promoting Koplove instead of Sergio Escalona to see if Koplove could help in the bullpen. Just as with Majewski, nothing against Escalona, who appears to have a bright future and could be a left-handed fixture in the bullpen next season if Scott Eyre does indeed retire, but with Koplove's out-clause looming, an audition seemed to be called for.

A look at the major league career stats for Taschner and Koplove show that Koplove compares favorably to the numbers that Taschner has put up in his career.

Taschner 9-5 4.87 0 193 160.2 9.4 95 87 4.9 7.6 0.8 .265 1.587
Taschner '09 1-1 3.92 0 15 20.2 8.7 9 9 6.5 4.8 0.9 .263 1.694
Koplove 15-7 3.82 2 222 254.2 8.2 120 108 3.6 6.2 0.7 .246 1.312

Comparing Taschner's 2009 season to Koplove's career stats shows that Koplove could have likely put up stats just as comparable to Taschner's had he been given the opportunity.

The Phillies weren't looking at Taschner as a left-handed specialist, since he has actually handled right-handed hitters better throughout his career than he has left-handed hitters. Taschner was more of a guy who the Phillies looked at to give them more than just an inning on occasion, which he has done for the Phillies at times during the season.

Another obvious move would have been to drop Chan Ho Park - who nearly blew a strong major league debut outing by Antonio Bastardo - and move Koplove into the bullpen.

Park, who pitched effectively out of the Dodgers' bullpen last season, has actually been worse out of the Phillies bullpen than he was in the starting rotation. Even though they've eaten a lot of money on contracts for Adam Eaton and Geoff Jenkins, swallowing a few more dollars from Park's contract might have been worth it and they might find themselves eating that dough somewhere down the road anyway.

Koplove wasn't very far away from winning a bullpen job out of camp this season and he pitched well enough at Triple-A that he should have been given a shot. With pitching always at a premium, losing a guy like Koplove is a risk. Now, the Phillies just have to hope that it's not a move that will come back to hurt them somewhere down the road if another team shows Koplove some love.

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