Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard has chosen Creative Artists Agency to represent him. Casey Close, a well-known baseball agent, will serve as the front man for Howard, who recently fired agent Larry Reynolds. This is Howard's third representative in a little more than two years.

What does it mean? Not much, really. The Phillies aren't expected to address Howard's contract until next month. That's because the Phillies are preoccupied with the contracts of their five players eligible for salary arbitration: Chase Utley, Brett Myers, Aaron Rowand, Geoff Geary and Ryan Madson. Howard also won't become a free agent until after the 2011 season, so there's no rush to get a multiyear contract finalized anytime soon.

But once those arbitration contracts are hashed out - both parties officially exchange figures Jan. 16, if contracts aren't finalized this weekend or early next week - the Phillies will turn their attention to their players with less than three years of big-league service time. That includes Howard, who is expected to receive a nice raise from the $355,000 he made last season.

Extra bases. Phillies assistant general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said "we have to assume that there is some likelihood that we'll go into spring training with six starters." The Phillies are expected to trade righthander Jon Lieber, but so far the Phillies haven't found a deal to their liking.

- Todd Zolecki