“I’ve been wearing it every day to the playoffs, so I had to wear it again today,” Madson said of the mask, which he got at a Halloween store with his kids. “The hot tub is where it debuted. The first guy that walked in was (manager) Charlie Manuel, and he shook his head.”
–Ryan Madson in the Daily Times
The Phillies bullpen is that group of dudes you’re friends with. They’re dicks, but equalize it by coming through, you don’t see them as much anymore, and every so often they just utterly betray you in some seriously awful ways.
And just like your closest friends, eventually you can’t even pay them enough to hang out with you, and one by one, they leave you in the dust.
If there’s one thing I know more about baseball, it’s friendship.
Ignoring the regular season as we sometimes do here at TBOH, the bullpen has done it’s job thus far in the post season. Of course, a key factor in this is “limited exposure,” like with a deadly disease. But there’s no real reason to look at it like that unless you’re inherently negative or just trying to stretch yet another sentence into a joke.
That’s what I was doing. The joke thing. Did you see it? It was the thing about “disease.”
I’ll give you some time to laugh it off (This is why I have so many friends).
So Roy Oswalt’s miscues in Game 2 required the relief corps to suit up and plow onto the scene, taking the rest of the game one inning at a time after the rusty RoyO had given up four runs. And they did their jobs. No more runs scored, and they gave the Phillies the stopping power on defense to start chalking up runs.
What else could we really ask? We needed them and they were there. Some of these guys (Chad Durbin, Ryan Madson, Brad Lidge, J.C. Romero) have been playing here together since 2008, so they are battle-tested, experienced, loose, comfortable with each other, and aware of their own strengths and weaknesses, as well as those of their opponents.
While they played an abbreviated role, it was a critical one. So if Ryan Madson wants to put on a terrifying mask and hang out in a hot tub, hey, that’s cool. Though I should warn him that just because something was funny at a Halloween party when everyone was cruising on uppers and Natty Light does not mean it will translate into every day life.
As with most sources of joy in baseball, if we take a quick gander into the future, we see that all of this has exploded.
Durbin and Romero are up on the arbitration block after this year, which means the merry little band could be breaking up. Should the Phillies hang onto them both for dear life, they will be supplemental dollar signs in a budget of which $131 million is already spent on 16 players.
Which means, more than likely, the Phillies will have a green-shaded relief corps in 2011, filled out by the slightly tested and completely untested arms of the somewhat disemboweled farm system.
Why is this even worth talking about? Because earlier this season, the bullpen was pulling some of the worst pitching you’ve ever seen out of their overflowing candy sack.
Seriously, they were terrible. Danys Baez gave up nine runs in 10 IP, on his way to becoming synonymous with “hysterical ineptitude.” Did you know he at one point had thrown 6 1/3 scoreless innings? And this was most appearances for a 2010 Phillies reliever?! It’s like finding out your professor used to be a Green Beret, but now he just spends his free time chucking rocks at ice cream trucks.
Peter Gammons says that the bullpen is the “most unpredictable position in baseball,” and while you understand his words pass through a bullshit ESPN filter, he is very old, so you assume he probably knows what he’s talking about. In this case, it fits my argument, so we’ll run with it. Brad Lidge has saved 18 of his last 18, Ryan Madson is aces as the set-up, and Mick Billimeyer has been equipped with a blowgun in case Danys Baez tries to enter the game.
So, somewhere between stockpiling candy treats and Game 2 of the NLDS, the Philadelphia Phillies bullpen found themselves. Charlie Manuel doesn’t have to use guys like Ryan Madson; he doesn’t even have to understand him. Right now, knowing they’re there to fall back on is nice enough.