The truth is that there was never really anything very special about the acquisition of Bowker. The Phillies hoped he would provide some left-handed power off the bench, but that was a very optimistic expectation.
Before joining the Phillies, Bowker had a career .237 average and one homerun in every 37 plate appearances. Acquiring Bowker cost the Phillies a minor cash payment to Pittsburgh, but not cutting him loose sooner cost them a decent prospect.
Jimmy Rollins re-signed with the Phillies on December 19th and to make room for him, the Phillies should have released Bowker. Instead, they tried to sneak infielder Carlos Rivero through waivers and the Washington Nationals claimed Rivero.
There's nothing to suggest that Rivero is superstar material, but he projects to be a solid super-sub and possibly, a guy who could break into a starting lineup and give a club decent numbers.
Rivero had played at short and third over six minor league seasons and seemed to have put things together offensively in 2011 when he hit a career-high 16 homeruns - 15 at Double-A and one in a short sting at Triple-A - and also set career-highs in runs, hits, doubles, RBI, average, slugging percentage, OPS and total bases.
At age 23, it looked like Rivero might have turned a corner and was on a path to become a decent prospect. Now, he's still a decent prospect, but in the Washington Nationals organization.
Had the Phillies truly thought that Bowker was going to be even a small contributor to their major league club in 2012, then hanging onto him would have made sense. Truth is though that there was no reason to see him as anything more than Triple-A insurance, and not a great policy at that.
The move to not release Bowker earlier and instead letting a 23 year old prospect head to Washington for no compensation was short-sighted. It's very possible that Rivero's improving bat could have helped at the major league level at some point down the road, but now, both he and Bowker are gone and there's nothing to show for either of them.