After optioning 22-year-old Severino Gonzalez and his 8.69 ERA back to Lehigh Valley on Sunday, the Phillies had a roster move to make. And on Monday, they made it.
The Phillies announced they have signed 34-year-old Kevin Correia to a Major League contract, which, of course, was met with the same the enthusiasm as a trip to the urologist.
You have to admire the determination of the Phillies to have the least productive 95-loss season in MLB history.— Dan Szymborski (@DSzymborski) June 8, 2015
Correia has not pitched in the Majors this year, but made six starts at Triple-A Sacramento as a member of the San Francisco Giants organization. In those six starts, Correia went 0-1 with a 3.58 ERA, striking out 25 and walking 11 in 37.2 innings of work.
Amaro in statement on Correia signing: "Kevin fills a need by adding depth, durability and experience to our pitching staff. ..." #Phillies— Meghan Montemurro (@M_Montemurro) June 8, 2015
More Amaro on Correia: "We hope that he can give us quality innings to take some heat off the bullpen." #Phillies— Meghan Montemurro (@M_Montemurro) June 8, 2015
He is nothing more than an eater of innings, a vacuum with cleats, an absorber of pitch counts. He is the very essence of a throw-away player, someone the team will allow to give up 10 runs in five innings of work just to save the young bullpen arms.
Initially, I hated this move because, well, it's Kevin Correia. There is nothing enticing or exciting about Kevin Correia, just as there is nothing enticing or exciting about Sean O'Sullivan or Jerome Williams. For a team on a freight train to 95-100 losses, you'd like to see a lot of young arms being given a chance to succeed at the Major League level, and the addition of Correia is just another middling, aged veteran to a pitching staff fully stocked with them.
The Phils rotation now consists of Cole Hamels (31), Aaron Harang (37), Jerome Williams (33), Sean O'Sullivan (27) and now Correia (34). That is not the ideal rotation for a team that is supposed to be rebuilding.
However, while this makes the Phils a bit less watchable today, and while the national media will no doubt ruthlessly mock the team for this signing, there is the reality of the situation. Aside from Aaron Nola (and even that's a borderline call), no one in the minor league system is ready to be an everyday Major League starter.
Who do you promote out of Lehigh Valley? Adam Morgan and his 5.07 ERA, 32/23 strikeout to walk ratio and 1.57 WHIP? Joely Rodriguez and his 5.76 ERA, 27/28 K/BB ratio and 1.74 WHIP? Phillippe Aumont and his 2.35 ERA, 42/33 K/BB ratio and 1.32 WHIP? Jason Berken? Paul Clemens? Anthony Vasquez?
Aumont may be the only guy in that group worth a look, but his control is still a complete wild card. It probably makes more sense to keep him an Iron Pig for now.
As for the kids in Reading, there are a ton of promising young arms, but why rush them to fill the roster of a 95-100 loss team and potential stunt their development? Aaron Nola appears ready for a promotion, and I would be all for a call-up to the Majors for him. But it's understandable that the Phils want to take their time with Nola, and it's admirable that a lame-duck GM like Ruben Amaro isn't trying to save his job by rushing him to the Majors.
As for the other Fightins,' Zach Eflin only has 27 strikeouts in 61 1/3 innings, and none of Ben Lively, Tom Windle, or Jesse Biddle are ready yet.
It could be argued that signing Correia actually IS the best thing for the future of younger Phillies pitchers, only the pitchers he'd be saving reside in the bullpen. That includes Luis Garcia (28), Justin De Fratus (27), Ken Giles (24), Jake Diekman when he gets called back up (28), Jeanmar Gomez (27), and Elvis Araujo (23).
Having Correia around to eat up more innings than Severino Gonzalez was able to will help keep the young bullpen arms fresher, which is better for the team's future.
Look, everyone is holding their noses on this one. It stinks. Even the team itself is stretching to try and sell this one.
Correia allowed 3 earned runs or less in all but 1 of his 6 starts for AAA Sacramento, including 7.0 scoreless innings in his last start.— Phillies (@Phillies) June 8, 2015
But give them credit for at least doing the unpopular thing rather than rushing up a prospect who probably isn't ready yet.
Yes, this same group of people are the ones who put this team in this position, with no Major League-ready pitching talent available. But now that they're here, they're making the best call possible.
So, Kevin Correia is a Phillie because of course he is.
It's simply all there is right now.