The two clubs may revisit discussions in spring training, Padres General Manager Kevin Towers told the Union-Tribune. The deal appears contingent on the play of outfielder Terrmel Sledge.
Rowand, who avoided arbitration and signed a $4.35 million deal three weeks ago, hit .262 with 12 homers and 47 RBI over roughly 65 percent of the season. Towers hasn’t hidden his affection for the center fielder. "He'll run through the wall for you," Towers said. "In fact, he has."
Scott Linebrink is one of baseball’s most dependable setup men, but last season was not his best. In 73 games, the 30-year-old right-hander went 7-4 with a 3.57 ERA (120 ERA+), getting hurt by the long ball. A former second-round pick of the Giants, Linebrink signed a two-year, $2.275 million contract with a vesting 2008 option before the 2005 season, which turned into his career year (73 games, 8-1, 1.83 ERA, 212 ERA+, 4 homers). The Padres would be dealing from depth. Last year, they fielded the National League's best bullpen, but were weak offensively.
Beerleaguer: Scott Linebrink is the missing piece. Ryan Madson and Geoff Geary aren’t the answers for back-end relief. I know it, you know it, and the Phillies know it. Howard’s homers and all the double-digit strikeouts by Hamels will vanish in smoke if they can’t hold leads against the better bullpens in New York and Atlanta. Here's hoping Sledge stinks up the Cactus League, and Jayson Werth turns into a nice complimentary outfielder.
Linebrink represents the kind of polished, high-pressure reliever the Phillies need. Forget the auditions. Linebrink gets the ball in the eighth, Geary works lighter spots in the middle, Matt Smith enters against left-handers, Antonio Alfonseca picks up the scraps, and Madson is free to serve in long relief. I can sleep at night knowing that's how they line up.
If it happens, odds are Jon Lieber will be flipped for an outfielder as discussed earlier. Milwaukee’s Kevin Mench and Texas’ Brad Wilkerson would be logical candidates - not great, but serviceable. Both were mentioned in earlier rumors. Or, the Phillies could set their sights higher with a long-term solution like Alex Rios, considering minor league depth is at an all-time minimum. This would take much, much more than Lieber, obviously.