The Phils have finished meeting with agents from the Beverly Hills Sports Council, who represent Chan Ho Park and Chad Durbin. A person with direct knowledge of the discussions characterized talks with Park as "ongoing."
We wrote below that the Phils appear likely to tender a contract to Durbin.
A few more tidbits from Amaro’s briefing:
--Amaro on trading players to free up payroll: “It’s possible. We’re going to have to try and be creative. The premium on some of the guys who can pitch in the back end has become greater and greater, and you try to be creative to create opportunities to be able to acquire those kind of guys….I don’t want to mess with our rotation as it stands. But that doesn’t mean I’ll make it a hard and fast rule.”
He would not comment directly on the Joe Blanton rumors. Here’s the deal with that: The team is not eager to trade Blanton, and would obviously have to get a starter back in any deal. But moving that salary could be something you’d deal with to free up dollars to sign someone you really want.
--The GM said that he was comfortable with young lefthanders Sergio Escalona and Antonio Bastardo in an increased role, and that talks to re-sign Chan Ho Park and Scott Eyre had gone so slowly that “I may go sign somebody else because they’re waiting around."
---He said that he expected Brad Lidge and J.C. Romero to miss only some of spring training while recovering from their respective elbow surgeries.
--Just came out of Ruben Amaro's daily briefing with reporters. Before I delve into transcribing the quotes, here is the gist: He insisted that the Phils would not push payroll much past $140 million, but he also said that they are hoping to add a late-inning guy. How to resolve this contradiction? Perhaps by moving some payroll. That would be the philosophy behind the Joe Blanton trade rumors, which Amaro would not directly comment on.
--No decisions yet on whether to tender contracts to Chad Durbin or Clay Condrey before Dec. 12 deadline, but Amaro said "Those are guys who we will probably count on."
--If the Phils open talks with Pedro Martinez, it will not be until much later in the offseason.
--Acquiring that last bench piece is a very low priority right now, could be left to an in-season trade.
Heard this about Brandon Lyon from a major league source: He is not expected to sign anywhere soon, and winning is more important to him than closing.
The Ken Rosenthal tweet mentioned below about Lyon being too expensive for the Phils made perfect sense in light of their recent talk about a tight budget, but it is far from impossible that he lands in Philly. For one thing, he is the perfect fit, from a baseball standpoint--experience closing, willingness to set up. But he might just end up asking more than the team is willing to spend to fill that role.
Lyon has been linked to Phils in many places, but the team has expressed only a preliminary interest at this point, a source said. Stay tuned.
--The Phils will meet with Chan Ho Park's agent, Jeff Borris, later this afternoon--one of many, many such meetings with agents this week. Ruben Amaro seems to believe that Park has accepted the fact that he should be a reliever at this stage in his career, and he and Borris are having a difficult time agreeing on Park's value. In reality, Park has not decided definitely that his rotation days are over, though it is unclear if he has received any offers to start next year. The Phils view him strictly as a reliever.
--Also, the Phils have been named organization of the year by Baseball America, and are accepting the award at a luncheon right now.
--There is a report out there from AOLFanhouse's Ed Price that the Phils are checking in on potential trade interest in Joe Blanton, as a way to clear payroll space and possibly sign a reliever. FoxSports's Ken Rosenthal tweeted this morning that Brandon Lyon's price was too high for the Phils, no surprise given the way Amaro has talked of late about a supposedly tight budget.
Good morning from the press room at the Indianapolis Marriott, where the winter meetings are beginning slowly, from a Philly perspective. Not much happening yet on this snowy morning, but we did just hear that umpire Doug Harvey and former Cardinals manager Whitey Herzog were elected by the Veterans Committee to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
As far as the 2010 Phillies go, no news to report just yet. If you care, you know by now what they are trying to do: sign some cheap pitchers, maybe sign a more expensive reliever like Brandon Lyon, possibly look for a low-cost bench option to replace Matt Stairs.
GM Ruben Amaro and his staff arrived here last night, and are up in a hotel suite beginning their discussions. Charlie Manuel is one of two MLB managers (the other is Joe Torre) not expected in Indy, becuase he's tired after two long seasons. Amaro will assign various front office members to speak with other clubs. You never know when a trade will materialize.
I’d expect much of the talk this week to revolve around Roy Halladay, the Yankees, Red Sox and Angels. The Phils are only involved in this in a peripheral way as of right now, but keep your eye on that storyline.
In another item of note to Philadelphians, Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweeted this morning that the Mets would consider a Luis Castillo for Pat Burrell swap IF the Cubs trade Milton Bradley to Tampa for Burrell. That’s a lot of moving parts, so it doesn’t sound likely that Burrell will play for his old team’s rival. Sherman also writes that the Mets front office has concerns about Burrell’s defense and “makeup” (that’s baseball code for personality).
That’s all for now. We’ll let you know when anything happens.