This article was originally posted on PhillyBaseballRumors.com
Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. has already done most of the heavy lifting that
he had to do in filling holes to what will become the 2010 version of the
Philadelphia Phillies. He filled the gaping hole at third base - which he
created by declining the option on Pedro Feliz - by signing Placido Polanco. He
found a backup catcher in former Phillies fan and NL East veteran Brian Schneider. Eric Bruntlett has been converted into Juan Castro and there are a
smattering of minor league signings meant to give some insurance for the big
So, will the Phillies just sit back and be tourists in Indianapolis, where
baseball's winter meetings are being held this week? Not at all likely. That's
not Ruben's style, plus, there is still some work to do.
First, the Phillies have some in-house decisions to make. Do they - and can
they - bring back Chan Ho Park and Scott Eyre? Will they offer arbitration and
guarantee big raises to pitchers Clay Condrey and Chad Durbin? And, can they
limp through the early part of the season without J.C. Romero, Jamie Moyer and
possibly, Brad Lidge, who are all coming off of injuries and may not be ready
when the season starts?
The bullpen right now is in a state of disarray. It's basically Lidge, Romero
and Ryan Madson, with both Lidge and Romero coming off of injuries. Condrey and
Durbin are still technically Phillies, but they will get raises through
arbitration and will become a little pricier, especially in the case of Durbin.
The Phillies might decide that they could fill a couple bullpen spots with
candidates like Sergio Escalona, Antonio Bastardo and possibly Kyle Kendrick, if
they don't need him to battle for the fifth spot in the rotation.
Speaking of that fifth spot, Kendrick is one possibility, but Jamie Moyer is
still lurking after undergoing surgery to repair a groin injury and then a
second surgery to remove a collection of blood that was causing him pain
following the surgery. And, there's a third surgery lurking to do some minor
clean up on his elbow. And, if Moyer would win the spot in the rotation, that
would give the Phillies four left-handed starters. Pedro Martinez is interested
in coming back to the Phillies and for their part, the Phillies haven't ruled
out the idea. Kyle Drabek is waiting in the wings, but will likely start the
year in Triple-A and potentially move to the majors by mid-season or even a
little later depending on how things are playing out.
There are definite in-house candidates to fill the final bench spot. John Mayberry Jr. has had a very productive winter season and is finding his stroke
to hit curveballs, something that was holding him back from being productive
last season. There's also newly signed DeWayne Wise or potentially another
player that the Phillies could find in the Rule 5 Draft, which is set for
So, technically, the Phillies could handle everything else with in-house
candidates, but that doesn't mean they'll stop looking.
Brandon Lyon is their prime target to add to the the bullpen. Lyon could help
in late inning situations, especially if Lidge isn't ready for opening day. He
also pitched multiple innings on various occasions for Detroit last season and
could fill a sixth inning type role for the club. Fernando Rodney will likely
continue to look for a potential closer situation, although there aren't going
to be a lot of them available and he could wind up with the Phillies if he
doesn't find anything else to his liking. J.J. Putz, who struggled last season
with the Mets (but then again, most of the Mets roster struggled last season)
and also fell victim to their injury bug, is on the fringes and will likely hang
on the market for a while until teams get down to slimmer pickings on relievers.
The biggest issue of the week will be the same as it was in late July; Roy Halladay. To gauge the Phillies potential to get Halladay, watch Boston and the
New York Yankees. Both are interested in him and both could afford him, but both
are also balking at the asking price in terms of young prospects that they would
have to send to Toronto. It's not out of the question at all that they could
both take themselves out of the bidding, leaving the Phillies in a better spot
to acquire Halladay. And if the Angels can somehow re-sign John Lackey, they too
would be out of the running for Halladay. That scenario would allow the Phillies
to send a much smaller contingent of prospects to Toronto to get Halladay, if
the Blue Jays are serious about trading him, which appears to be the case.
While the Phillies don't seem to be set to be as busy as they were at last
year's winter meetings, they should at least be on the fringes of a lot of
discussions. After all, they've got three consecutive NL East titles and
back-to-back National League titles to defend and you don't often do that by
sitting idly by while other clubs do all they can to improve. The Phillies want
to return to being World Champions and Ruben Amaro has never been shy about
making moves that will keep the club on that road.