The good news out of Philadelphia is that the Phillies have signed Jonathan Papelbon to a four-year contract worth approximately $50 million, and there's a vesting option for a fifth year. It's a laughable contract, one that seems typical of the Mets as they scrambled to remain relevant after their 2006 appearance in the National League Championship Series.
In the short term, things aren't likely to change much in the National League East. Papelbon will take over for Ryan Madson in the bullpen, and the Phillies' rotation, even without Roy Oswalt, should still be dominant enough to compensate for an average offense that figures to struggle even more if the team isn't willing to pony up the big bucks to fill their hole at shortstop. The worst-case scenario still has Philly penciled in as the early favorites to win the division again next year.
There appears to be a light at the end of tunnel, though. With Papelbon in the fold, Philadelphia figures to have between $90 and $95 million committed to just five players in 2013: Papelbon, Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Ryan Howard, and Chase Utley. All five players are already on the wrong side of 30.
It'll take a whole lot more than an aging, overpaid division rival in Philadelphia for the Mets to get back into contention on a yearly basis, but the Papelbon contract serves as a nice reminder that the future might look a whole lot different.
Something's gotta turn out right.