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PN Writer's Roundtable: Chad Durbin

There has been chatter throughout the winter that Chad Durbin was close to re-signing with the Phillies, then not, then back to close, then who the hell knows. As it stands, it appears Durbin is all but out of the plans for the 2011 Phillies. So, we asked the question in the latest Writer’s Roundtable…

Q: Will the Phillies miss Chad Durbin now that it appears he is not returning?

Jay Floyd: No, the Phillies will not miss Chad Durbin. I’ve been steadily in favor of filling any bullpen voids from within this entire off-season. The team has plenty of options and the bullpen is one of the few spots the Phils will be able to fill with inexpensive salaries.

Those who have followed my ProspectNation rankings closely will realize that the Phillies have plenty of relief options in the minors. With names like Mike Stutes and Justin De Fratus close to being ready for the bigs as well as guys with Major League experience like Antonio Bastardo, Scott Mathieson, Mike Zagurski, and more, waiting to prove themselves worthy of another opportunity, the Phils are stocked with capable arms for the upcoming season.Another name that seems to get forgotten about regularly is David Herndon, the young hurler that the Phillies liked so much that they kept him on the 25-man roster for the full season in 2010, so they did not have to risk losing him back to the Angels, from where they selected him as a Rule 5 pick. Herndon could certainly be a key contributor among the Philadelphia relief corps this year.

With Jose Contreras as the only big league reliever under contract beyond the 2011 season, it will be key for the Phillies to give a few of these guys a shot at showing what they can do at the Major League level, as oppotunities pop up, in hopes of shoring up some bullpen slots going forward.

Kieran Carobine: I really liked Chad Durbin. He was a dependable middle reliever out of the pen for the Phillies. And that’s all he was. Durbin never really caught on as a set-up guy. He wasn’t too overpowering with this stuff but he did get the job done. His ERA of 3.62 for the three years in a Phillies uniform is going to be hard to replace. Who steps in? My guess is Kyle Kendrick.

With Kendrick and the Phils agreeing on a one year deal to avoid arbitration it seems the front office feels the same way. I think the Phillies will miss Durbin. He was willing to go to the bullpen after figuring out that starting just wasn’t in the cards. But with that said, Kendrick does have a lot of up side. He is usually pretty strong in the early innings which could prove beneficial when called on to pitch two or three innings. Then again, I would not be surprised seeing Kendrick stepping in for a spot start with the work load the aces have been putting in the past couple years. This will be a big year for Kendrick. It is time for him to earn that money!

Michael Baumann: Chad Durbin is, like Shane Victorino and Jayson Werth, a player who came out of nowhere to have a career year on a good Phillies team. Durbin’s 2008 (2.87 ERA, 71 appearances, and 1.4 rWAR, all career highs) was spectacular, and despite being okay since then, he’s 33 and I’d put money on his never being that good again, considering how short a shelf life middle relievers–particularly right-handed middle relievers–tend to have.

We’ll all remember Durbin fondly, but the fact of the matter is that he’s eminently replaceable. Someone like Scott Mathieson or Justin De Fratus will take his innings, and no one will ever know the difference.

Paul Boyé: Durbin gave the Phillies a whole bunch of pretty good innings in his three years in Philly. 2008 and 2010 were statistically sound years, with ’09 being a bit of a bump in the road. Durbin improved on his strikeout rates each of the three years, and showed the flexibility to be a multi-inning guy when needed. He’s certainly a useful arm, assuming he doesn’t revert to his ’09 pumpkin self next year.

But, right now, it doesn’t seem like he has a place in this Philly ‘pen. Madson, Lidge and Contreras have their jobs secured. Romero and Bastardo, too, seem to be locks. Danys Baez, for who knows what reason, also seems certain to make the team. With an apparently tapped-out budget (for real this time), it doesn’t seem prudent to drop two potential guaranteed years and up to $8 million or so for a guy who can be believably mimicked by a bunch of cheaper options. Scott Mathieson, Justin De Fratus and even Kyle Kendrick appear like possibilities for the end of the ‘pen, and while the ‘pen shouldn’t be needed too much, it would still be nice to have a reliable corps of guys spell the aces that are likely to all hit high innings totals if healthy.

So, will Durbin be missed? I think so. He contributed plenty of good in his time here, but I think he’s better served elsewhere, and the Phillies will be able to find a suitable replacement for his production – at a discount – with little trouble.

Pat Gallen: I’m with the majority. Chad Durbin had a few very good years here in Philadelphia and for that he should be compensated, if he’s lucky enough. However, the fact is, the Phillies just do not have room for another pricey veteran.

On one hand, it pains me to say that because Durbin is one of the proverbial good guys. He’s always one to speak in the clubhouse when approached and usually has a smile on his face. But Durbin would be the first to tell you, this is a business.

On the other, the Phillies have a young, talented crop of bullpen arms that need to be set free. Guys like De Fratus, Stutes, etc., are waiting in the wings and at a much friendlier price. Unfortunately, Durbin is no longer needed here. That’s not because of his own doing. It’s more of a it’s-not-you-it’s-us type deal with the Phillies.  Hopefully he ends up somewhere that will benefit him and his family because Durbin is a guy you should root for no matter where he lands. He will be missed in the sense that he’s a perfect teammate, good player, and hard worker. On the field, however, they should be able to replace him.

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