Want to know what the Phillies clubhouse looks like on a Tuesday afternoon in December? It's kind of eerie, really. The lockers are vacant, the office chairs that normally sit in front of them are vacant, the coffee tables are stowed away. It is less Pompei and more science classroom in the middle of the summer. Ruben Amaro Jr. stood in front of J.C. Romero's locker an hour ago and looked at the gaggle of media that surrounded him.
"Slow news day?" the general manager remarked.
Well, yes. But any sort of news in early December is a welcome break from the rumor and innuendo upon which we have been forced to subsist. In addition to rapping with new back-up catcher Brian Schneider, we had a chance to pick Amaro's brain on the offseason to date.
Here is a quick summation, with the murky details to be relayed in the paper tomorrow:
1) The Phillies are not planning on offering Chan Ho Park or Scott Eyre arbitration, meaning they will not receive compensation should either of their two Type B free agents sign elsewhere. The club does not want to have its finances taken out of its hand, Amaro said, and offering arbitration to either Park or Eyre carries the risk of them accepting and having their 2010 salary decided by a panel of judges.
2) The Phillies have expressed some interest in John Smoltz, Amaro essentially confirmed. I say "essentially," because Amaro has made it a point not to comment on individual free agents. But asked about Smoltz and a report that the Phillies had made contact with his representation, Amaro said the veteran starter/reliever would be the type of low-risk high-reward arm the team is seeking. But, he said, he is not sure if Smoltz would be willing to accept the role (and, presumably, salary) that the Phillies have in mind for him.
3) Rotation depth remains a focal point of the offseason, even moreso with the health hiccups Jamie Moyer has suffered over the past few months. The veteran lefthander, who is owed $8 million next season, is out of the hospital after having surgery to remove a blood collection that was causing pain in his surgically-repaired lower abdomen. And the minor surgery he has planned to repair the meniscus in his left knee might be bumped back to January, which could cause his rehab to drag into the early part of spring training. The Phillies still feel like Moyer will be ready to compete once Grapefruit League games begin. But he is a 47-year-old pitcher coming off fairly intensive surgery, and even when healthy struggled as a starter in 2009. So yes, Amaro said, the team is hoping to add at least one more player who can compete with Moyer and righthander Kyle Kendrick for the fifth spot in the rotation.
4) Amaro said he was happy with the team's pursuit of a third baseman and is hopeful that something will get done before too long. I'd expect things to start picking up in the next week: Tonight is the deadline for teams to offer arbitration to their free agents, after which a player like Placido Polanco may no longer be a Type A free agent, and therefore would not require that the Phillies forfeit a first round draft pick. Polanco, Mark DeRosa and Mariners third baseman Adrian Beltre are three players who are potential fits for the team.