There wasn’t a lot to clap about when they opened the bullpen gate last year.
Chances were the guy coming out was going to walk two batters, induce a ground out, give up a run, give up a sac fly, and hand it off to the next young, unproven IronPig. Sometimes, Jonathan Papelbon came out, and that was nice. And things weren’t always bad. Remember when Phillippe Aumont struck out Jose Reyes? Hysterical.
That’s the word the bar owner used to describe me to the police after I broke one of his tables with the traditional celebratory table kick.
But the Phillies knew that the bullpen was going to be a project this winter, and their abundance of youth out there needed some counterweight in the form of proven vets who could lend some stability out there. Mike Adams was assimilated with Papelbon in the back of the pen, and now Chad Durbin is here, and with him comes that indomitable 2008 spirit that for some reason Ryan Howard and Chase Utley can’t seem to muster without shattering or tearing some important body part.
Now, there’s plenty of reason to think that any number of young guys could have been transformed into an effective late inning guy for a decimal of the cost of one of these vets. But the Phillies wanted Durbin, because shut up, they just wanted him, okay? God.
The Phils hope the veteran right-handed reliever stabilizes the middle innings and nurtures the organization’s young and talented relievers along the way. They also hope Durbin can help them get back to the postseason.
That’s a lot of stuff to need from Chad Durbin, who is only one Chad Durbin. But the guy has proven how effective he can be, and “effective” was a luxurious adjective in the Phillies’ 2012 bullpen.
Durbin’s deal is over $1 million, and he could make $350,000 if he plays his cards right, and he could even get tabbed for 2014 if he feels like it.
Year to year, the bullpen and relievers in it are touch and go. For instance, Chad Qualls. 35-year-old Durbin could very well not be able to take on the effective relieving/babysitting/post season-getting to duties that the Phillies are hoping for. Hey may have never wanted to leave, but that was 2010. Did anybody want to leave the Phillies back then? Guys who had been hurdling toward the Phillies full force the past few seasons could be frantically pumping the brakes at this point, having not liked what they saw in 2012.
So go ahead. Point out a flaw in this plan. You got some kind of issue with forking out $1 million+ contracts to relievers on single-year deals even though gambling on young cheap arms they already have would be acceptable, or asking Chad Durbin to shoulder most of the team’s problems (Meanwhile Papelbon gets rich being mishandled by Charlie Manuel)?
Well, the Phillies have an answer for you.
It’s $1 million with a team-controlled option for 2014.