The Phillies found a way to quickly end the debate over whether Brett Myers should be in the starting rotation or the bullpen. A deal to bring closer Brad Lidge over from Houston makes the decision an easy one. Lidge will take over in the bullpen and Myers will return to the starting rotation, making the Phillies rotation even stronger.
To get Lidge, the Phillies agreed to send outfielder Michael Bourn, third baseman Mike Costanzo and reliever Geoff Geary to the Astros. Bourn was going to get some consideration for an everyday starting spot if the Phillies aren't able to re-sign outfielder Aaron Rowand, who is a free agent. The speedy outfielder missed time late in the season with a severely sprained ankle, but spent the entire season with the Phillies, playing primarily as a late inning defensive replacement for Pat Burrell and as a pinch-runner.
Including Costanzo in the deal makes the hole at third base a little larger. Costanzo, who was ticketed for Triple-A, was seen as the long-term answer at third, with Wes Helms and Greg Dobbs likely to hold down the spot for another season until Costanzo was ready for the majors.
Geary struggled at times during the 2007 season and was demoted to Triple-A for a stretch of the season. He was also injured late in the year and was left off the post-season roster.
The 30 year old Lidge is coming off a down year that saw him pick up just 19 saves with 8 blown saves for Houston. Assistant GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. believes there's more to Lidge's season than just his save numbers. "His hits-to-innings pitched, strikeouts-to-walks and strikeouts-to-innings pitched were extraordinary," pointed out Amaro to the Philadelphia Daily News. Lidge gave up 54 hits in 67 innings and had 88 strikeouts while walking just 30. Another concern is that Lidge is currently on crutches after having what was termed "routine" surgery to remove some cartilage from his knee. Lidge is expected to be completely healed by Opening Day and Amaro pointed out that his arm and shoulder are completely sound.
Lidge has a career ERA of 3.30 over six Major League seasons with 123 saves in 150 opportunities.
The Phillies view Bruntlett as a replacement for infielder Abraham Nunez, who the Phillies decided not to keep and declined the 2008 option on his deal.
After announcing the deal, GM Pat Gillick said that the Phillies are still considering adding another starter, especially as they await the results of an MRI that starter Adam Eaton underwent earlier this week. Eaton had complained of some pain in his elbow and the Phillies asked for the MRI to determine if there is a problem. Gillick also said that he had talked to Myers and that he was fine with moving back to the starting rotation even though he enjoyed working as a closer for the first time in his career.