After having closer Billy Wagner tell them that they were nowhere close with an offer that they presented to him last week, the Phillies responded with a much better offer this week. "They made a nice offer. It's the one we expected would be the first offer," said Wagner on Wednesday.
While conceding that it's good, Wagner and his agent, Bean Stringfellow, aren't quite sure it's the deal they want. Plus, Wagner may be able to command even more money and choose where he pitches if he files for free agency. Plus, he's wondering about the future of the club; specifically, who will be the general manager?
It's likely that if the Phillies were to hire Gerry Hunsicker as their GM, Wagner would sign the deal immediately. "The respect I hold for him is more than I hold for a lot of people," said Wagner when talking about his former boss in Houston. It was Hunsicker who dealt Wagner to Philly and Wagner admits that the two butted heads. Still, Wagner has respect for Hunsicker and is confident in how he would improve the club. "He'd do it the right way," said Wagner of Hunsicker's abilities.
For now though, it seems that Wagner will sit on the latest offer and wait for a sign of who the Phillies will tap for their GM.
Meanwhile, the Phillies appear to be waiting to truly start that search. The theory is that they want Yankees' GM Brian Cashman. Until the end of the month, Cashman is under contract to the Yankees, who would be reluctant to allow him to negotiate with any other clubs until then. The Phillies are thought to be salivating at the thought of getting Cashman, but they have to wait and see how his situation will play out in New York. That would mean a delay of at least two weeks, during which time Hunsicker will be interviewing for other jobs. Plan C would be former Mets GM Jim Duquette, but it's thought that the Phillies want either Cashman or Hunsicker.
Managing General Partner David Montgomery sent an e-mail to anyone and everyone in the Phillies' address book on Wednesday. In the letter, he said that the Phillies are committed to getting better and pointed to positives like Ryan Howard and Chase Utley as reasons to believe.
If you want to read between the lines, Montgomery didn't mention Pat Burrell or Bobby Abreu, who both had strong seasons for the Phillies. Both players have been the subject of trade rumors since the season ended, especially if the Phillies decide to try to make room for Ryan Howard in the outfield.
On yet another front, the Phillies are still waiting for more information on the controversy surrounding reliever Ugueth Urbina before they comment. Urbina was questioned by authorities in his native Venezuela after a brawl involving machetes at Urbina's farm. Workers on the farm alledge that Urbina attacked them with a machete and burned some of them after noticing that one of his firearms was missing.
Urbina is eligible for free agency.