Okay - this bullpen game reminded us that the Phillies' bullpen has trouble getting six outs a game, let alone 27. We knew this game was coming back on Friday, so it really should not have been a surprise. But, the need for a bullpen arm is clear.
In an offseason where Phillies General Manager Ruben Amaro picked up one of the game's best closers, his best shot at the eighth inning was Chad Qualls. Antonio Bastardo and Mike Stutes leaked oil down the stretch last season and were no longer a sure bet. Plus, who actually thought Jose Contreras was going to be able to pitch again? A second left-handed reliever? Dontrelle Willis was the only one added, and he lasted a whole two weeks.
The Phillies bullpen had a 4.46 ERA coming into tonight's bullpen game. Of course, the two runes from Raul Valdes won't count towards this ERA and Papelbon's ERA keeps the numbers lower with his 3.03 ERA. The bullpen has included Papelbon, Chad Qualls, whose 3.99 ERA seems much lower than it should be, Antonio Bastardo, and a revolving door of minor-league relievers, none of whom can be eased into a relief role.
With two wild cards, many major league teams are still in the race. Who will actually trade the Phillies what they desperately need: a veteran reliever (or two)? Here are three legitimate options from teams that would consider trading them.
Brandon Lyon, Houston Astros
The Houston Astros have enjoyed trading with the Phillies. Yes, I am aware that Ed Wade is now employed by the Phillies, but given the many trades the two organizations have made the last several years there are sure to be employees on both sides with familiarity with the other side. Houston is in last place in the National League central and are not likely to contend.
Brandon Lyon has had closing experience in the major leagues but currently sets up for Astros closer Brett Myers. In 2012 Lyon is 0-2 with a 2.79 ERA. He would be a legitimate right-handed setup option for the Phillies and Charlie Manuel would not have to scratch his head before selecting between Michael Schwimer or Chad Qualls.
Grant Balfour, Oakland Athletics
The Oakland Athletics are a team out of the race, pretty much before it began. The team spent the offseason selling off inventory in order to set up a bright future hopefully in San Jose. One holdover on the veteran side is right-hander Grant Balfour.
Balfour is 1-1 with a 2.67 ERA. He has pitched in 37 games and has seven saves for the Athletics. He represents another legitimate 8th inning option for the Phillies. You may remember Balfour from the 2008 Tampa Bay Rays as a key piece in the pennant-winning team.
Huston Street, San Diego Padres
This one could be a little pricy. We've seen Huston Street really good at times over the years (and really bad at times) for Oakland and Colorado. This season - Street has been really good. He is 1-1 with a 1.50 ERA in 19 appearance with 11 saves. The Padres traded for Street this offseason but may not wish to re-sign him this offseason which makes him a great trade candidate.
Street makes $7.5 million this season; $1 million of his salary is being paid by the Colorado Rockies. His contract includes a $9 million option for next season which can be bought out for $500,000. The Padres have Luke Gregerson who could close for them, and could use some low-cost options as new ownership takes over. Perhaps they would like a piece such as Jake Diekman, with whom they can show the patience that the Phillies cannot right now.
Brian Fuentes, Oakland Athletics
Brian Fuentes is also part of the Oakland Athletics team that is going nowhere fast and would represent a good trade candidate. First, it's worth noting that Fuentes has had three awful outings recently as he deals with a minor ankle injury. If he recovers from the ankle injury, he represents a good left-handed option for the Phillies.
Fuentes' ERA is a bloated 6.85 ERA thanks to those three outings, where he has allowed eight earned runs in two innings, but overall has been a veteran presence for the A's. He is 2-2 with five saves in 2012. He could be a welcome presence in a bullpen starving for a veteran lefty.
Brett Myers, Houston Astros
I almost didn't go here, but he is indeed a veteran arm and a trade candidate. Filling the role of closer for the Astros, Myers has a 3.46 ERA and 17 saves in 18 opportunities. We all know Brett Myers - the good, the bad, the ugly.
Speaking of ugly, though, how ugly has the Phillies' bullpen been? I would say Myers would be a welcome addition, though I tend to think they won't consider him.
Not under consideration: Brad Lidge
Brad Lidge will forever be one of the greatest pieces in Phillies history. We got through his bad 2009 and mediocre 2010 and non-existent 2011. Need we do anything that ruins his Phillies legacy?
Lidge pitched 9 1/3 innings for the Nationals and allowed 10 earned runs for a 9.64 ERA. Would we really want to do that to the team and to Lidge?