A healthy Contreras could prove to be more valuable than any available reliever left on the market
When the 4 PM deadline passed on July 31st, fans of the Philadelphia Phillies were still busy rejoicing in their acquisition of All-Star right fielder Hunter Pence.
What went nearly unnoticed at the time was that Phillies GM Ruben Amaro had been pursuing a second deal to help bolster a battle-worn bullpen. Unfortunately, those pursuits turned out to be unfruitful, as he could not seal the deal for a reliever.
As the Pence euphoria wore off in Philadelphia, people began to wonder if the Phils would attempt to acquire a bullpen arm via a waiver wire deal. After all, a deal of that nature for Scott Eyre in 2008 helped put the Phillies over the top down the stretch.
Rosenthal says that the Phillies approach to the bullpen will be to wait for the team to get healthy rather than to pursue a trade. He cites that Roy Oswalt's return to the rotation will push Kyle Kendrick back into the bullpen.
He also suggests that, given how well Vance Worley has performed, when October rolls around the Phillies go to a four man rotation and Worley could find himself on the playoff roster in the bullpen.
Furthermore, the Phillies are still awaiting the return of April closer Jose Contreras. Contreras was lights out for the first month of the season before succumbing to an arm injury. After an ill-fated early return from the injury, Contreras soon found himself right back on the disabled list.
Which potential reliever do you think will have the largest impact for the Phillies in October?
Getting Contreras back would be a huge boost to an already strong bullpen. With Brad Lidge's return from injury and Antonio Bastardo and Michael Stutes emerging as legitimate bullpen arms, the Phils could find themselves with a slew of arms to throw at people in the playoffs.
In addition, manager Charlie Manuel has suggested that he has his eye on a couple of the minor league relievers, specifically Michael Schwimer and Phillippe Aumont.
Schwimer has spent the entire year in Triple-A, where he has been downright nasty. For the season he has a 11.6 K/9 IP, 2.8 BB/9 IP, 1.043 WHIP and a 1.76 ERA. At 25 years old, he has nothing left to prove in the minors and appears ready for the big time.
Aumont started the season in Double-A, where he was nearly as dominant as Schwimer. Aumont posted an 11.9 K/9 IP, 3.2 BB/9 IP, 1.097 WHIP and 2.32 ERA. After getting promoted to Triple-A, he had some early struggles but has settled in nicely with a 2.45 ERA so far in just 11 innings.
Expect Schwimer and Aumont to be September call-up candidates. Should Contreras be unable to return or should another injury occur, do not be surprised if one of them challenges for a spot on the postseason roster. However, barring any major injuries, do not expect the Phils to make any deals for a reliver.