Having grown up in the next town over and pitched through the collegiate level, I have always followed your career and rooted for your success. It was particularly pleasing to see you come to the Phillies, provide excellent leadership to younger players, continue to add to your victory total with quality starting pitching and play a key role on the 2008 World Series Championship team.
Your disappointment and frustration in being dropped from the rotation in favor of Pedro Martinez is totally understandable. These emotions derive from the same competitive spirit that has been instrumental in driving you to 256 career victories and allowed you to still battle on major league pitching mounds at the age of 46. This is further accentuated by the fact that the team is heading down the home stretch to defend its championship title, the very time when your competitive juices intensify.
As you said last week, you have had a great career. We have admired the tenacity, professionalism, guile and skill that you have demonstrated in racking up all those wins over your career, especially the past few years on our beloved team. We have also admired and appreciated what you do outside the white lines in serving as a positive influence, role model and mentor to your teammates- and in all the ways you give back to others in the world outside of baseball.
Although you are "a little disheartened" right now, please do not lose sight of the very important role you play on this Phillies team. You will still have many meaningful opportunities to contribute to the team's championship quest out of the bullpen. Additionally, circumstances can change that would lead you back to a starting role, especially considering that Martinez is making his first major league start in about a year. And, importantly, your stature as a key role model on the team can have a huge impact on the demeanor, psyche and, ultimately, performance of the players around you.
The Phillies decision was surely an extremely difficult one as the entire organization (management and players alike) clearly has a great deal of respect for you. Even though your pitching role is different for the foreseeable future, the other roles may be more important than ever. If you rebound the way I anticipate, the positive impact may contribute largely to another trip down Broad Street come November.