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Get used to Phillies' up and down bullpen for rest of 2010, and beyond.....

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"KEEP ON PHIGHTIN' WITH JOE VALLEE"

There is absolutely nothing that will drastically change the face of the Phillies' bullpen for the rest of 2010 or even 2011, so there's no use really even talking about it.

However, I'm going to get a final word in before I administer my personal gag order on myself.

Yes, he had a 1-2-3 save Sunday. However, my feelings regarding Brad Lidge since this time last year have not changed. He is either dead on, or the Phillies will most likely lose the game. I knew along with the entire Delaware Valley on Saturday night that Lidge simply didn't have it when he threw the first pitch in the top of the ninth inning. Lidge too often misses his spots with his slider and-or can't get it over for strikes. Even worse, he seemed completely criss-crossed with Carlos Ruiz throughout the inning, which culminated with a towering, game-winning dead centerfield blast off the bat of Ryan Zimmerman. I will yell and be angry he blew a game, but I can't and won't ever boo Lidge. Only thing is, the ghost of Micthie-poo is ever-so present.

What can Charlie Manuel do? How sick and tired do you think he truly is for covering Lidge's behind for the last two years? He can't bring in Lidge with runners on (see Johnny Damon- 2009 World Series: Game Four). Moreover, he can't use an equally erratic J.C. Romero. Ryan Madson arguably has the best stuff of any of the Phillies' relievers. However, he is an automatic game-winning/game tying home-run surrendering machine (just ask Brian Roberts, Brandon Moss, David Wright, and Jayson Heyward) and can't be relied on in a closer's role. You could always try Jose Contreras, but with him it's either hit or miss as well.

I truly wonder if Scott Eyre meant what he said when he wasn't opposed to coming out of retirement. I kid, sort of, but this isBrad, PLEASE get good again....   Photo: Joseph Vallee Sr. not a realistic option anyway as far as getting another lefty in the Phillies' pen. Neither is Scott Mathieson (although he is right handed). It's not fair to judge Mathieson for his less than spectacular outing with the big club against the Twins in June. However, it's not very common to throw somebody to the wolves who has barely pitched a major league game since 2006 into one of the most prominent roles of a team during the stretch drive. People like Adam Wainwright  just don't grow on trees.

I know there are currently other members of the bullpen I haven't mentioned, and I did that intentionally. If you would even consider using Chad Durbin, David Herndon, or the dreadful Danys Baez to get three outs in the ninth inning when the Phillies have any thing less than a three-run lead, I really don't know what to say.

One player who might be a possibility is Chan Ho Park. Park was designated for assignment after struggling for the Yankees in 2010. A change of scenery might be good for him, as it was for Eyre in 2008. Park was replaced by Kerry Wood, who was acquired from the Indians on Saturday. Wood has also struggled with a higher ERA (6.30) than Park's (5.60), a sign of the times that good relievers are indeed hard to find. However, Will Ohman and Kyle Farnsworth were available, and they went to the division rival Marlins and Braves, respectively. Ouch.

A Final Thought

You have to commend Ruben Amaro for trying to right a wrong by landing Roy Oswalt to compensate for the Cliff Lee travesty. However, if the Phillies didn't trade Lee, perhaps they would be in a better position to acquire some serviceable relievers. As I previously posted, the Phillies had to make that deal. Make no mistake however, Oswalt is not Lee and is far from a gurantee. Despite his previous track record, time will tell which Roy Oswalt the Phillies will get: A lesser form of him circa 2005, or the Oswalt who has gotten rocked in his last two starts. Phillies fans will NEVER get over the Lee trade unless the Phillies win the World Series again.

"We're going to have to have low-cost, low-salary, low-major-league-service players,"  said Amaro in regards to the Phillies having to cut corners for their 2011 bullpen. Durbin, Romero, and Contreras will probably not be back next year. Championships can be won and lost with your bullpen. And to be blunt, I can't recall many times when a successful, championship-caliber bullpen consisted of "low-cost, low-salary, low-major-league-service players." To be fair, the team does have the fourth largest payroll in the majors. However, if you're going to play with the big boys (ie: Yankees and Red Sox), you have to put all the cards on the table when it counts. The Phillies will almost surely go with a three-man rotation of Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, and Oswalt if they make the playoffs. Only one out of the three (Halladay) is most likely to finish a game. Hamels and Oswalt have combined for one complete game this year.

So barring a miracle, what you see with the Phillies bullpen is what you're going to get.

The forecast: Most likely cloudy with a good chance of turbulence. So fasten your seatbelts.

In the meantime, Keep On Phightin.'

Quote of the week:

"Dear Brad Lidge, thank you so much for 2008, but for the love of God, GET IT TOGETHER!!!!"

*Facebook post from a Phillies fan unwilling to be identified.

 

Joe Vallee is a lifelong Phillies fan and former Phillies batboy. Joe has claimed to have seen about 98% of every Phillies game since the early 1980's.

Contact Joe at jvallee@philly2philly.com

Thumbnail courtesy of: http://www.flickr.com/photos/24355662@N08/3056136423