J.C. Romero Off the Market
Tricked by a half-season of hocus-pocus, the Philadelphia Phillies re-signed lefthanded reliever J.C. Romero to a 3-year, $12M contract.
You would think the Phils would have learned something from their NL East rivals the New York Mets and their similar over-valued assessment of Scott Schoeneweis a year ago.
Romero, an up-and-down middle reliever in the American League for about eight years, suddenly flourished in his NL debut last season, posting a 1.24 ERA in 51 appearances covering 36 innings for the Phillies. He was nearly unhittable, allowing just 15 hits in those 36 frames (though, he did walk 25 batters). Romero was particularly successful against the Mets, striking out 8 and allowing one run in 10 games.
It’s a near impossibility that the 31-year-old Romero will continue that kind of success over the next three years — both the statheads and the old-schoolers such as myself agree on that one. His instant success in the NL was strikingly similar to Schoeneweis, who after about 8 years (huh … how about that?) as an up-and-down starter, middle reliever, and LOOGY in the AL, turned into a superstar setup man and closer for the Cincinnati Reds at the tail end of 2006.
While Romero proved himself over 36 innings and The Show’s NL debut covered only 14, the comparison is eerie — especially when you consider that Schoeneweis continued his success for his first 10-15 innings with the Mets at the beginning of 2007.
Although Romero was lights-out for the Phillies last year, I’m not concerned about the signing. My bet is that Romero’s performance was a product of mystery in 2007, and that he’ll go back to his hum-drum AL numbers as soon as he’s further exposed. A reliever who walks nearly a batter an inning cannot possibly keep up that kind of success.