Letting it roll with a couple off-the-wall thoughts on possible player moves.
-- Phillies manager Pat Gillick was reportedly in Blue Jays camp again, and the speculation surrounds Jon Lieber and a Jays outfielder. If the Phillies were to acquire one of Toronto’s outfielders, either Reed Johnson or Alex Rios, it would likely involve more than dealing Lieber, especially if Rios was targeted. Catcher Gregg Zaun turns 36 in April, with Jason Phillips, one of the worst hitters around, sitting standby. This was a club that was hot for Rod Barajas earlier this winter, until talks fell through.
For a player like Rios, who’s more of a building block player than not, the Jays could command someone like Carlos Ruiz in addition to Lieber. The 26-year-old outfielder is entering his fourth season and earned his first all-star nod in 2006. He also finished strong after suffering a mid-season staph infection.
Young major-league ready outfield is very important for the Phillies going forward. Believe it or not, time is up on Pat Burrell in less than two years, and Aaron Rowand becomes a free agent after the season. Starting in 2009, the lights go out on generating any kind of power from the outfield. There is nothing brewing in the Phillies farm system.
In addition, the Jays are relatively deep with bullpen. Talks with Toronto could go on all spring, as the two sides appear to have what the other team needs. Even Chris Coste would make sense as part of a package to Toronto.
--- It's wishful thinking, but adding Vernon Wells, who received a lengthy extension from Toronto this offseason, would make the Phillies the best team in the National League. It's pretty obvious Gillick still craves thunder to back up Ryan Howard.
--- Thinking outside the box, if a player like Rios were acquired, it would open up the door to deal a young outfielder like Shane Victorino to a rebuilding club. Rowand is most commonly mentioned in a deal to San Diego for Scott Linebrink, but they are looking at him as the final piece and can live with the one-year rental. But for teams like Washington or Florida, Victorino would be an ideal fit if the Phillies were willing to trade within the division. The Nats, who could flirt with 100 losses this season, have no use for Chad Cordero.
--- You’re not alone if you’ve noticed an uncomfortable silence surrounding Coste. Every time infielder/outfielder Greg Dobbs makes news, Coste’s status takes a hit. As discussed earlier, versatility will be key to the final bench job, and word is Charlie Manuel will take a look at Dobbs at second base in the coming days. Along with Karim Garcia, they appear to be the lead candidates for two openings. Both Dobbs and Coste have options, and Garcia has a clause that would allow him to opt for a release if he doesn’t make the roster. Either way, light-hitting utility type Danny Sandoval doesn’t appear in the mix.
--- Just because I’d rather see Michael Bourn and Dobbs make the Phillies bench didn’t stop me from acquiring a trio of autographed Fleer cards from 2003 yesterday at the Philly Card Show, including Randall Simon, Garcia and Brent Abernathy for $2 each.
Yankees, Phillies square off in broadcast opener
Cole Hamels and Carl Pavano are scheduled starters. Game time is 1:05 p.m. on CSN.