Ruben Amaro Jr.'s No. 1 objective is re-signing Jamie Moyer.
"If we re-sign Moyer, likely we'll turn our attention to something else," Amaro said.
In other words, the Derek Lowes and Brad Pennys of the world are not next on Amaro's list. The Phillies will have four-fifths of their rotation complete if Moyer returns: Cole Hamels, Brett Myers, Joe Blanton and Moyer. Amaro said the fifth spot will be an open competition of youngsters: Kyle Kendrick, J.A. Happ, Carlos Carrasco and Drew Carpenter. Amaro didn't say it, but I suppose Adam Eaton could compete for the job, if he is in camp. But I would be surprised if Eaton makes the rotation, despite the fact he is owed $8.5 million next year. He has pitched terribly in two seasons with the Phillies (he also went 0-5 with a 7.02 ERA in seven starts in the minor leagues this year), although he told Murray Chass that he wasn't sure why he didn't pitch in September when he rejoined the team.
So if the rotation is almost set -- there are strong indications that Moyer will re-sign at some point -- what's next?
Bullpen and left field, and maybe a utility infielder.
Don't expect a major splash. The Phillies already have a very solid bullpen core with Brad Lidge, Ryan Madson, J.C. Romero, Chad Durbin and Scott Eyre. They are in no danger of losing anybody in their lineup, other than Pat Burrell.
"We'd like a versatile guy, certainly somebody who is durable," Amaro said of the bullpen. "Any depth we can add to our bullpen would be helpful, but there's not much depth anywhere on the marketplace as far as free agency is concerned."
Names have been thrown out there like Russ Springer, Doug Brocail and David Weathers. But it is important to note that Springer and Brocail are Type A free agents, which means the Phillies would forfeit their top draft pick if they signed them. That is very unlikely to happen. It simply wouldn't make sense for the Phillies to forfeit a top pick to sign a 40-year-old (Springer) or 41-year-old (Brocail) relief pitcher. MLB.com said Springer isn't at the top of St. Louis' priority list, but the Astros have made re-signing Brocail a priority and agent Barry Meister told the Houston Chroncile, "(Brocail is) a Houston guy and loves to play there. Hopefully, we’ll work something out, but nothing is imminent." It sounds like Houston GM Ed Wade would offer Brocail salary arbitration, which means any team that signs him would forfeit that top pick. It sounds less likely the Cardinals would offer Springer arbitration. If the Cardinals don't, the chances of Springer signing with the Phillies (or somebody else) would improve.
Weathers has told MLB.com that he won't return to Cincinnati. He's a Type B free agent, so the Phillies could sign him and not lose a draft pick. He makes much more sense for that reason and because the Phillies have had interest in him in the past.
Amaro also said one of the youngsters who don't make the rotation could earn a bullpen job. Carpenter perhaps? He made a relief appearance for the Phillies this season.
The Phillies also must address left field. They have said they are interested in Burrell coming back, but I don't see the Phillies offering him anything more than a two-year contract. So if Burrell gets a lucrative three-year offer from somebody else, he might have a tough decision to make.
Rocco Baldelli remains a name to watch. The Phillies have been interested in him in the past
"The free-agent market, as far as left field goes, is scarce," Amaro said. "But that doesn't mean there aren't players who are available. Somebody could pop on the market if they are non-tendered [Dec. 7]. It could be somebody who might become available who isn't available at this time because of player movement. We'll keep monitoring it. We've made inquiries to a variety of clubs and have had discussions with a variety of clubs about a variety of different possibilities for the outfield. But if something presents itself, we'll move. I'm not going to be afraid to move, especially if it's the right thing to do."
Bob Ford thinks patience is the correct approach this off-season. Hey, it worked for Pat Gillick.
We know Chase Utley played with an injured right hip for much of the season. But for how long? How bad was it?
He hit .320 with 21 home runs, 52 RBIs, and a .680 slugging percentage in 225 at-bats through June 3, and .275 with 12 homers, 52 RBIs, and a .446 slugging percentage in 379 at-bats the rest of the season.
"There's really not much to say about it, other than we're monitoring it," Amaro said.
There had been widespread speculation that Utley could require surgery after the season. Asked about any scheduled surgeries, Amaro said: "Not at this time. At least at this time we don't view it as an issue."