Hot Stove Daily: Philadelphia Phillies

Tim Brown

Editor's note: Yahoo! Sports will examine the offseason plans of every MLB team before the Dec. 3-6 winter meetings. Our series continues with the Philadelphia Phillies.

2007 record:89-73

Finish:First place in the National League East

2007 Opening-day payroll: $89 million

Free agents:Antonio Alfonseca RHP; Rod Barajas C; Freddy Garcia RHP; Tadahito Iguchi 2B; Jon Lieber RHP; Kyle Lohse RHP; Jose Mesa RHP; Abraham Nunez 3B; Aaron Rowand CF; J.C. Romero LHP


Pat Gillick and Charlie Manuel managed to put the Phillies in the playoffs despite a pitching staff that had one of the worst regular-season ERAs of any postseason qualifier in history. That says a lot about Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, not so much about last winter's acquisitions of Freddy Garcia and Adam Eaton.

Therefore, Gillick is back in the market for pitching. He traded for Brad Lidge, which allowed him to return Brett Myers to the rotation, where he'll join Jamie Moyer, Cole Hamels, Kyle Kendrick and, for the moment, Eaton.

Eaton has potential issues with his right shoulder, however, and the current organizational depth consists of Fabio Castro, J.A. Happ and J.D. Durbin. Therefore, Gillick is likely to look into Bartolo Colon, Kris Benson, Matt Clement and Randy Wolf – all coming off one ailment or another – and hope for a good, hard lightning strike. Livan Hernandez, Shawn Chacon and Jason Jennings might also be on his radar.

Gillick continues to talk with the agent for Aaron Rowand, but seems more likely to go with a Pat Burrell-Shane Victorino-Jayson Werth outfield. He acquired Chris Snelling from the Tampa Bay Devil Rays to satisfy his need for a left-handed-hitting reserve outfielder.

Between Wes Helms, Greg Dobbs and Abraham Nunez, third base was a black hole offensively last season. While Gillick reportedly made a late run at Mike Lowell, it looks like he will simply sub Eric Bruntlett for Nunez in 2008.



The Phillies have back-to-back MVPs in Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins and don't have a single playoff win to show for it, even though they pitched well in two of their three division series games against the Colorado Rockies.

They led the NL in runs each of the last two years, which should give you some indication of where the problem lies.

Now, no team could be pitching-dominant at Citizens Bank Park. And, sure enough, the Phillies' road ERA was a half-run better than their home ERA. In fact, only the St. Louis Cardinals pitched better on the road than the Phillies did.

Maybe it's as simple as putting more groundball pitchers on the staff, and maybe the stress of pitching in that park simply wears on a staff over time, but it appears the Phillies are in the same fix the Rockies were pre-humidor. That said, Hamels looks like he can pitch anywhere, which is a start, and the 23-year-old Kendrick and the 45-year-old Moyer were better in Philly than they were in other ballparks.

Now all Gillick needs to do is find more like them.

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