Chan Ho Park Looks Back

In his blog today, Andy Martino passes on some remarks from former Phils pitcher Chan Ho Park, who recently signed with the Yankees for $1.5 million. Take a look

Park made clear that he regretted leaving Philadelphia.  

He began by saying the right things about becoming a Yankee. "They have the most history, and they are popular in the world, even in Korea," Park said. "When I grew up, they were a symbol--New York.Yankees."  

But he spent most of his time yesterday talking about an off-season he called "frustrating."  

"I had a wish after the season," he said.  "Philadelphia was the no. 1 choice.  I had a tough time leaving there.  I had much support from fans and community, and I had the best teammates there, so..."  

Well, he was asked, why didn't it work out with the Phils?   

"Too late. Too late. Too late.  It didn't work well in the beginning, and later on, too late," he said.  

Basically, Park orginally expected a raise from the Phils, feeling that a strong performance had earned him more than the $2.5 million he made in 2009.  His agents negotiated with Amaro through mid-December, and then the Phils decided to move on.  Park was shocked.  

"They were talking, and it didn't work," he said.  "Trying to get a deal, and it didn't work out, and then later on they just gave up, and I lost."

Considering both Ruben Amaro's pessimism that Park would be back as early as December and Charlie Manuel's not very veiled shots at Park's toughness and willingness to take the ball (which Park also addressed in his remarks), it seems fairly obvious to me that the team simply didn't want him for 2010. 

Was this a good idea? Park's projections for 2010 from three different systems have him falling back from what he did with the Phils last year; Bill James is especially bearish, pegging Park for a 5.32 ERA and 4.93 FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching, a truer variant on ERA). James thinks Park's ostensible replacement, Danys Baez, will outperform Park by quite a bit, while the other two systems see little difference. Projections for Jose Contreras, the other outside reliever the Phils added who might take Park's multi-inning role, seem to assume he'll be a starter and thus aren't very enlightening. 

There's reason to believe Park pitched in somewhat good fortune after shifting to the bullpen last May, allowing zero home runs in relief. Still, there's no doubt he was a superb bullpen piece for the Phillies, probably the team's best reliever in the second half. That the team's decision-makers seemed to lack faith he could do it again provides an interesting background story for the 'pen's performance in 2010.

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