Former Boston Red Sox reliever Jonathan Papelbon has proven to be an effective reliever. Whether his free agent acquisition was the smartest use of long-term resources is a future topic to consider. As of now, he's filled his role in fine fashion.
Beyond 'Pap', manager Charlie Manuel has very limited options. His choices have only been further hampered by the forced moved of Kyle Kendrick to the rotation, Jose Contreras' season-ending (and possibly career-ending) injury and Michael Stutes own health issues.
The rest of the bunch
Antonio Bastardo was very sharp last season and has been doing well this year. The Phillies don't have the luxury of allowing his development to continue in a less pressured way. But, that issue is one of the lesser bullpen concerns by far.
Chad Qualls seemed to be past his prime before the regular season ever began. Let's leave it at that.
Jake Diekman is similar to Bastardo circa 2009, or 2010.
Joe Savery and Michael Schwimer might eventually become effective bullpen options. They don't appear to be anywhere near to achieving that stature this season.
It's okay to look back
The value of people like Chad Durbin, J.C. Romero (Yes, every digital detractor knows about his past suspension for his use of a supplement), Scott Eyre and Ryan Madson continues to deepen the farther we get from that indelible 2008 year.
Those pre-'Lights Out' men got the job done. Because they did, Brad Lidge was able to create his 'Perfect Season' and thus enable the Phillies World Series victory over the Tampa Bay Rays.
Each season is different. No one who is rational believes that the above names have been referenced as a way to pine for the past. The point is that depth counts. A collection of mostly warm bodies can't possibly be expected to produce great results in the same year, can they?
By not entering this season with a better bullpen plan, one has to wonder if the organization believed that 2012 was going to be 'one of those years'. With that theory in mind, a team might have chosen to add someone like Papelbon last fall and then more seriously improve his ranks during the next offseason.
Sean O'Brien's professional writing career began in 1990, when he first began working in the Philadelphia Phillies farm system. He was a freelance sports writer for five years and is currently a Featured Contributor for Yahoo! Sports. You can follow him on Twitter @SeanyOB and read his daily Sports Blog: Insight.
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