One way to measure a well-rounded bench and at-the-ready relief is how well they can contribute over a prolonged period of time.
The day of the role player has arrived for the Phillies, a team now featuring seven players who weren’t part of the world championship squad. Last season, a good bench meant little more than having one or two one-dimensional guys who could come off the bench and pop one, which they had in Matt Stairs and professional pinch hitter Greg Dobbs.
“In case of emergency, use Stairs.” Today, the Phils are faced with a different type of emergency (more of a situation than emergency). Following a relatively healthy run, the Phils’ bench has served two purposes: spot power, with Stairs and Dobbs, and spot defense and speed, with Bruntlett. It wasn’t constructed to cope with long-term injury or giving players regular time off. John Mayberry’s promotion from minor leaguer to immediate starter is proof of this one-dimensionality; his blend of power, speed and glovework may already make him the most well-rounded reservist they have. As for the rest of the bench, it’s an awkward mix that doesn’t quite work, with three lefties in Stairs, Dobbs and third catcher Paul Bako, then Chris Coste and Eric Bruntlett, who hasn’t been remotely productive.
Moving to the bullpen, the team made a concerted effort to load up with veteran help, signing guys like Mike Koplove, Gary Majewski and Tyler Walker to minor league deals. Koplove opted out of his contract June 1 when the Phillies couldn’t find a spot for him in the Majors. Majewski has been up-and-down at Lehigh Valley, while Walker has already appeared in a couple of games.
With Clay Condrey headed to the DL today, that makes three missing relievers. Think back to 2008; I wonder how the Phils would have addressed a situation like this. Maybe a mix of R.J. Swindle, Les Walrond and Joe Bisenius. That sounds pretty clunky on paper, but Sergio Escalona, Jack Taschner and Walker doesn’t sound ideal, either, With Brad Lidge and Scott Eyre expected back soon, the Phils may not have time to find out.
Beerleaguer: There's a reason the Phils have been hounding Colorado about bench help. The Rockies have what I would consider a well-rounded bench, with players like Ryan Spilborghs, Seth Smith and Jeff Baker (who's hurt), players who would be a productive over a prolonged period.