Zolecki was right, and so was Charlie

In the spring, Todd Zolecki wrote an article in the Inquirer reporting that Brett Myers might move to the bullpen. We all made fun of him at the time. For those of us who did, I guess the joke's on us.

Not that there's anything wrong with that. I'm going to break from the conventional wisdom here and say that Charlie's decision to move Myers was at least reasonable, if not clearly correct. Yes, starters are much more valuable than relievers, but that misses the point. The proper comparison here is not Myers-as-starter vs. Myers-as-reliever in a vacuum. The fact is that we have six starters on our roster, so even if we kept Myers in the rotation, somebody who belongs in the rotation would still have to move to the bullpen. So the real comparison here is:

1. Myers as starter AND Lieber (or whoever) as reliever.


2. Lieber as starter AND Myers as reliever.

I can't say that Option One is clearly better than Option Two. Yes, you lose more by moving Myers out of the rotation, since he's better than Lieber & co. But on the other hand, I think it's also plausible to say that you also gain more by moving Myers to the bullpen since he'll be much more effective there than Lieber would be.

In other words, the equation is something like this.

Is [(margin by which Myers is a better starter than Lieber) X (how much more important starters are than relievers)] greater than or less than [margin by which Myers is a better reliever than Lieber]

It could be that even though Myers is a better starter than Lieber, and even though starters are more important than relievers, Myers will be so much better of a reliever than Lieber would have been that Charlie's move is still the best option. That may or may not be true in fact, but I think it's at least a reasonable conclusion. Lieber is old and has had major arm surgery. He doesn't strike people out. So the consensus is that he wouldn't be able to pitch as often as Myers does. He also would be worse at keeping inherited runners from coming into score. Lieber's disadvantages may very well be smaller as a starter than they would have been as a reliever. I don't think there's any basis for attacking Charlie on this. He might be wrong, but it simply isn't true that it's a crazy decision.

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