Pat Gillick hinted to the Philadelphia Inquirer today there’s still work to be done in assembling a winning team, and could be shopping around for help.
The Phils are still looking for a beefy left-handed bat off the bench. According to the Detroit News, the Tigers could release first baseman Carlos Pena as early as today or try to trade the left-handed slugger before the end of spring training.
This is the final day players under contract for 2006 can be jettisoned for one-sixth of the salary owed them -- in Pena's case about $470,000 of the $2.8 million he has coming for 2006, the paper reported. Chris Shelton is the starter at first and Dmitri Young also plays the position, so Pena is viewed as a player that no longer fits.
The Phillies would rather have a power-hitting outfielder from the left side, but have several options in that regard to break camp, including Chris Roberson, who is swinging a hot bat, and Shawn Garrett, both switch hitters.
Pena, a former first-round pick of the Rangers, would make sense as insurance at first, but would primarily serve as dynamite pop off the bench. In 260 at bats last season, the 27-year-old hit 18 homers with a line of .235/.325/.477. He’s a much better hitter against right-handers.
Another key benefit is he holds a lot of value in a trade in case another team’s first baseman goes down with injury. They would have no problem selling high to a desperate team.
It’s worth keeping an eye on the situation. Often times, teams that face each other in spring training get together on deals, such as the Reds quickly snatching Matt Kata off waivers (though that wasn't technically a deal). Joker Marchant Stadium (Tigers) is less than an hour from Clearwater. Gillick also seems to have the ear of American League teams.
As for relief pitching, it’s going to be much harder to find good arms than spare outfielders or displaced position players. I'd rather solve the pitching problem from within rather than deal for scraps at this point.