The Phillies finally addressed their biggest need, the bullpen. The Phillies officially welcomed righthanded reliever, Danys Baez, as they signed him to a 2-year $5.25 million contract. Baez has had a solid career as a reliever, including an all-star appearence in 2005 as the Devil Rays closer. Since then he has really tailed off and has become fairly pedestrian as he posted a 4.02 era in 2009.
Even though a 4.02 era is not very inspiring as the only bullpen acquisition to date, Baez does hold the ability to be a dominant reliever. As previously stated, Baez was an all-star closer in 2005. Baez also didn't pitch at all during 2008 as he had elbow surgery, so a 4.02 era in 2009 isn't too bad when you define it as a recovery season.
Baez will be taking the place of the departed Chan Ho Park. Park would have been great to retain but he was asking for too much money and he wanted to be a starter again. Apparantly he thinks teams are searching for starters that have an era close to the height of Dikembe Mutombo Mpolondo Mukamba Jean-Jacques Wamutombo. I am not expecting Baez to be as effective as Park, the reliever version, but he should be a dependable arm. Baez should definitely be improved from last year as he will be regaining strength in his elbow, but still shouldn't be expected to pitch at his all-star level. Anything in between there should be a welcome addition to the Phillies bullpen.
On a related note, Scott Eyre is not expected to return to the Phillies due to salary demands. This means that Bastardo will officially be in the bullpen the entire year and Escalona will be on the major league squad until J.C. Romero comes back from injury.
With the addition of Baez, only one more bullpen spot will need to be filled. This spot will most likely be filled by right-handed Scott Mathieson. I can only hope that the Phillies don't go out and sign a below average free agent reliever, because Mathieson has the ability to be the Phillies' next Ryan Madson.
Many are disappointed as how the current bullpen stands. I really don't think it's that bad. Lidge will be, at the very least, an above average closer again. Madson, will again be an elite setup man. The combination of Romero and Bastardo will be two of the best loogies in the league. The key to the bullpen is Durbin, if he can pitch anywhere close to how he appeared in 2008, the bullpen will be very good. The 2008 Phillies bullpen was one of the best in the league. The 2009 Phillies bullpen was one of the worst in the league. The pitchers in the 2010 bullpen should pitch much more like the 08 bullpen than the 09 bullpen. The Phillies have the best defense, the best offense, and a very good rotation. If the bullpen is average, the Phillies will again find themselves playing in the fall classic.