As expected, the Phils will offer salary arbitration to free agent Jayson Werth, but not Chad Durbin, who earned $2.13 million last season.
Beerleaguer: Durbin could have been counted among the eight most important Phillies during team's 2008 run to the World Series, particularly for what he did in the first half of that season, back when relief pitching was really the be-all end-all with this team. Bullpen seemed a lot more important back then, before Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels took matters into their own hands. His versatility, rubber arm and ability to soak up innings helped bring the entire bullpen into balance, setting a template that still exists today.
Nevertheless, the Phils are sensibly trading in a higher-milage reliever here, knowing they got more from the old girl than they could have ever hoped. A fourth year at the same pay scale just isn't practical for a soon-to-be 33-year-old middle man who started breaking down over the last few seasons. There was even some small doubt that they would offer him salary arbitration at the end of last season. Instead, they settled on a $2.13 million deal and decided to cut ties with Clay Condrey.
Durbin's 2010 was better than 2009: a 3.80 ERA, 8.3 K/9 and 3.5 BB/9 over 68 2-3 innings. His stuff looked very crisp most of the time. Unfortunately, it was his inning in the NLCS that really put the Phillies into a tailspin in the series. I don't believe it factored into this decision.
The Phils will need someone to reliably fill the middle-inning void. They'll need to get creative or one of the young pitchers (Herndon, De Fratus, Mathieson, Kendrick, Worley) will need to step in. In a small way, it also signals that the time of long-term commitments to the old guard have ended. The Phils could always consider bringing him in on a lesser deal. I would not.
Brown collects first winter hit: Domonic Brown went 1-for-4 with an opposite-field double down the left-field line yesterday in Escogido's 3-1 loss to the Toros, a game that aired on ESPN Deportes. Brown was fooled on the pitch, but fought it off for his first hit of the offseason. He also lined out hard to right and struck out twice. Brown has not played regularly since August after spending September and October on the Phillies' bench.