Over the past couple of days, both Matt Gelb and David Murphy have suggested that because Brad Lidge is now going to be DL'd to open the season, Mike Stutes (who had been sent down to minor league camp a week or so ago) might begin the season in the major league bullpen instead of David Herndon. I have no idea if their speculation is based on any actual inside info, but even if it was purely musing on their part, considering that they're both pretty plugged into how the front office thinks, it still has to be considered a realistic possibility.
But that doesn't mean it wouldn't be a stupid decision. Stutes is not on the 40-man roster. Herndon is, as are a number of other guys who were in the mix until the last week of spring training. Keeping Stutes would require devoting a roster spot to him. That should not be done. Period.
Some may wonder: "What more could Stutes have done this spring? He had such a good spring training." Well, the answer is that I don't care how good he was, and he never should have had a chance to win an opening day roster spot no matter how well he pitched this spring. I'm glad he was in major league camp, but only for the experience and for the opportunity to open some eyes regarding his future potential.
Stutes is a decent middle relief prospect and I was as happy as anyone to read about his performance. But the fact remains that he was pretty mediocre last year in AA and AAA at the age of 23. That doesn't mean he should be written off. But it does mean that one great spring shouldn't be enough to win him a major league roster spot if it requires the team to incur any cost at all to give it to him, and a spot on the 40-man is a cost. It isn't the most gigantic cost in the history of baseball, but even a modest cost is not worth it. One good spring simply isn't enough data to provide anyone with any real confidence that Stutes will be any better than Herndon or any of the other options.
If Stutes really is as good as he looked this spring, then he can and will keep proving it for a couple of weeks in Lehigh Valley, at which point you can just swap him in and Herndon (or somebody else) out. If, on the other hand, you keep Stutes on the opening day roster and it turns out that he isn't as good as Herndon, then you will have permanently cost yourself a roster spot for no good reason. Since no one actually has any way of knowing which of these two guys is better, Stutes should go to the minors.