Tuesday, October 25, 2011

86 the Fab Four

You can kiss the Fab Four goodbye.

Unless, of course, you happen to think Vance Worley is ready to assume that lofty spot in the Phillies vaunted started pitching rotation next year.

To the surprise of no one, the team announced yesterday that it would not pick up the options on starter Roy Oswalt and reliever Brad Lidge.

Both suffered through injury-plagued seasons this year.

Both are for the most part money deals, although the team indicated they would be willing to listen to the players and their agents if they wanted to return, but only for a lot less money.

Oswalt was due to get $16 million next year. Instead the Phils will give him a $2 million buyout. Pretty much the same for Lidge, who was due to make $12.5 million next year. He gets a $1.5 million buyout.

Oswalt will likely be remembered for what he did for the Phils last year, as opposed to this year when back problems kept him off the mound for a couple of months. But in 2010, Oswalt was the team’s key trade deadline pickup and proved to be worth it, becoming one of the Phils’ best pitchers down the stretch.

When the Phils re-signed Cliff Lee last winter, it set up the much-ballyhooed starting four of Roy Halladay, Lee, Cole Hamels and Oswalt. But Oswalt’s balky back acted up. First he went home to be with his family when tornadoes raged through his Mississippi neighborhood. When he returned, his back issues flared up. Oswalt went 9-10 in 23 starts for the Phils, with an ERA of 3.69.

Lidge will forever be remembered as the hammer in the Phils’ glorious 2008 World Series winner, going a perfect 48 for 48 in save opportunities, including the post-season.

It is the shot of Lidge dropping to his knees and raising his arms to the sky that remains the single iconic image of that championship season.

It’s likely Lidge’s time with the team is over, while there is a shot Oswalt could return, depending on what kind of interest he garners out on the open market.

The Phillies won a team-record 102 games this year, fueled by their Fab Four starting rotation. But Oswalt’s year, much like the way the Phillies, whose season ended with a bitter exit, proved disappointing.

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