Turk Wendell/Dennis Cook - Wendell and Cook were brought in as mid-season acquisitions from the Mets to fortify the bullpen for a playoff run. Problem was, Wendell went from a workhorse who put up a sub-4 ERA over 4 seasons with the Mets, to an albatross who put up an ERA over 7 following his acquisition by the Phillies in 2001, then missed the entire 2002 season injured before actually putting together a decent season in 03. It appears the Phillies paid him about 7-8 million $ for his efforts. Like Wendell, Cook put together a sub-4 ERA in 4 years with the Mets. Cook then pitched a whopping 19 games for the Phillies compiling an ERA well north of 5. Another multi-million dollar player, the Phillies likely only had to fork over about $1 million to Cook.
Jose Mesa - The Phillies brought in Mesa, a well past his prime former star closer, and Mesa resurrected his career. After two 40 save seasons with sub 3 era's, Mesa completely imploded in 2003 to the tune of a 6.52 ERA (while pocketing a cool 5.2 million $ as a 37 yr old) and was let go.
Rheal Cormier - 2001 saw the Phillies debut of lefty Rheal Cormier. Cormier had a 1.70 ERA in one of his 5 seasons in Phillies pinstripes. He also had two seasons with and ERA over 5. Cormier pocketed nearly a cool $15 million for his Phillies services.
Mike Williams - 2003 saw the Phillies acquire 2 time all-star reliever Mike Williams. He even made one of his all-star teams in 2003. The problem? His Pittsburgh team was so bad that he was able to make the All-star game despite carrying an ERA over 6 during his 2003 Pirates tenure. Though he technically improved after being acquired by the Phils, his 5.96 ERA didn't exactly help the team. Even worse, Williams never pitched in the majors again despite 2.93 ERA with 46 saves in '02. Williams made $3.5 mill for his efforts in '03. Hopefully the Phils were not on the hook for much of it.
Dan Plesac - Acquired at the age of 40, Pleasac is the perfect example of the volatility of relief pitching. In 2002, Plesac pitched to a 4.70 ERA. In 2003, Plesac pitched to a 2.70 ERA, then retired. Plesac made about $3.5 mill from the Phils for his efforts.
Billy Wagner - The 2004 season saw the Phillies bring in a number of big names into the bullpen, none bigger than Wagner. One of the best closers to ever put on a big league uniform (2.31 ERA, 422 career saves) and a possible future hall of famer, Wagner was nothing short of dominant for the Phillies with ERAs of 2.42 and 1.51 and 59 total saves. Though he battled injury with the team and made $17 mill, it is hard to say that Wagner didn't live up to his lofty expectations and lofty contract.
Tim Worrell - Brought in along with Wagner to be the setup man, Worrell turned out to be disappointing. Coming off two sub 3 ERA seasons with the Giants, Worrell put up an average 3.68 era in '04, then put up an ERA over 7 in '05 and was promptly traded to the D-Backs, where he ERA was barely over 2. For his efforts, Worrell made 5.5 mill $.
Roberto Herandez - Though Hernandez was only high profile for his name and wasn't a big money signing, the Phillies would have been better off without his 4.76 ERA in 2004.
Todd Jones - Another high profile name who had a brief Phillies tenure, Jones's ERA went from sub 4 to nearly 5 after being acquired from the Reds in '04.
Aaron Fultz - Not a major name or a big signing, but of interest, Fultz was a key piece of the pen in '05 with a 2.24 era in over 60 games. However Fultz' ERA ballooned by over 2 runs in '06, his final year with the team.
Ugueth Urbina - I still remember being furious when the Phils dealt Placido "Peanut Head" Polanco to acquire Urbina. Urbina was a big name reliever with over 200 career saves and two all-star appearances on his resume. He had a 2.63 ERA with the Tigers on the '05 season before being acquired. However, one look at Urbina's career stats shows that, though a solid pitcher, he was far from a Billy Wagner level player. In '04, his ERA was 4.50. In '03, it was 2.81. In '02, it was 3.00. In '01, it was 3.65. etc.... For Urbina, the Phils dealt Polanco. At the time, Polanco was quite a bit younger, had a slightly smaller head, and was a .300 hitter who would go on to hit .338 for the Tigers following the trade as well as put together a .341 avg 200 hit season in '07. Urbina put together an ERA over 4.00 following his acquisition, then tried to hack one of his workers to death with a machete and is currently serving time in a Venezuelan prison. Oh, and instead of getting to enjoy Placido Polanco at 3rd for those extra years, we got to enjoy the sterling combination of David Bell, Wes Helms, Abraham Nunez, Pedro Feliz, and probably another player or two that I've permanently erased from my memory.
Terry Adams - Brought in as a hybrid starter/reliever, Terry Adams proved to be what the Phillies hopefully expected him to be - and average, inconsistent major leaguer. His ERA was 4.35 in '02, 2.65 in '03, and then a mind-boggling 12.83 in the last 16 games of his career in '05 after the Phillies brought him back off the scrap heap. Adams made about 6 million in his Phillies career.
Amaury Telemaco - Deserves a mention just because he spent 6 years with the Phillies (for some reason), he racked up a low ERA of 3.97 in '03 and otherwise ranged between 4 something and 6 something.
Tom "Flash" Gordon - For 17 million $, Flash put together one solid season making the all-star team in '06 with a 3.34 era and 34 saves. Gordon saved 8 games in the rest of his Phillies career with ERA's ballooning to 4.73 and then 5.16. He then pitched 3 more games in his career (fortunately not with the Phillies) with a 21.60 ERA and retired.
Arthur Rhodes - Another example of a truly inconsistent reliever, Rhodes had seasons with ERA's in the 2.00s (and even an incredible 1.72 ERA season for the legendary '01 Mariners) but also had ERA's over 5 and 6. Unfortunately, we did not get the good Rhodes as he pitched to a sterling 0-5 record with a 5.32 ERA for the Phils in '06. Just to add insult, his '05 ERA with Cleveland was 2.08 and he put together a 0.68 ERA in 25 games for the Marlins in '08 after missing the '07 season. And for his efforts, the Phillies dished him out a paltry $3.7 million.
Ryan Franklin - Franklin couldn't even make it through the full '06 season with the Phils after they gifted him 2.6 mill $. Franklin put together a 4.58 ERA and finished the year with the Reds.
Rick White - White pitched for 11 teams, including the Phillies. There is a reason he is hard to remember, as the Phils brought him in and his ERA was a pedestrian 4.34 in '06.
Antonio Alfonseca - Another old washed up closer, Alfonseca pitched to a 5.44 ERA in '07, his only year with the Phillies.
J.C. Romero - Released by the Red Sox after walking 15 batters in 20 innings, Romero pitched to a 2.73 ERA in 5 years with the Phils and was a key member of the '08 championship team. However, as we all remember, Romero consistently struggled to throw strikes, had a whip of over 1.40, and saw his performances decline to such a point that he was designated for assignment before leaving the team. And one can't mention Romero without mentioning his steroid suspension. Romero made over $13 mill with the Phils.
Chad Durbin - A small signing, Durbin turned out to be one a key performer in '08 with a sub 3 era in over 70 games. However his performances declined the next two years with ERA's of 4.39 and 3.80. Durbin made over 4.5 million with the Phillies, as his 1 year 08 deal turned out to be a lot wiser than his later contract extension.
Scott Eyre - A great Pat Gillick waiver wire deal, Eyre pitched to sub 2 ERA's in both of his seasons with the Phils before retiring.
Brad Lidge - Perhaps more key to the championship than any other player, Lidge's career does not need to be much rehashed. After a perfect season in 08, Lidge pitched to an ERA of over 7 in '09 and then was good, but no longer spectacular thereafter (while battling injuries). Lidge made big money, cost the Phils all-star Michael Bourn and post '08 was never the same, but for '08 alone Lidge must be considered a good acquisition.
Chan Ho Park - A former all-star turned mega contract bust with Texas. Though he only pitched one season with the Phillies and his ERA was well over 4.00, Park was great once he went to the bullpen. For 2.5 mill Park turned out to be a good one year signing.
Jose Conteras - Contreras was great in his first full season as a reliever in 2010 as he pitched to a 3.34 ERA in 67 games. Rewarded with a contract extension, Contreras has struggled to stay on the field since.
Danys Baez - A former all-star closer who hadn't had an ERA sub 4 since '07, Baez pitched 2 seasons with the Phillies with ERAs of 5.48 and 6.25. He was rewarded by making over 5 million $ for his services.
Johnathan Papelbon - Brought in for $50 million, Papelbon has been solid so far this year, but has not been lights out. Considering he replaced Ryan Madson, arguably the best reliever in Phillies history (yes I said it), his performance seems all the more disappointing.
What this glorious list of superstar players should demonstrate is that relievers are incredibly inconsistent and unreliable and there is little point spending large amounts of money on them. The Phillies have done an admirable job of using their young homegrown talent the last couple years and it has not always been pretty, but at least it has been cost effective. If you are going to invest in bullpen "talent," then invest in big time talent who is more guaranteed to give a good performance (Wagner, Papelbon sort of, Madson). Otherwise, the bullpen is merely a crapshoot - demonstrated by all these players as well as guys like Stutes and Bastardo who went from revelations to afterthoughts.