Phillies assistant GM Scott Proefrock said the team remains optimistic that arbitration with Phillies slugger Ryan Howard can be avoided, and that a long-term deal isn't off the table.
Last night, the Phillies caravan consisting of manager Charlie Manuel, pitchers Ryan Madson and Scott Eyre, broadcaster Harry Kalas and assistant general managers Chuck Lamar and Proefrock met with members of the media before the annual King of Baseballtown banquet. As usual, I filled the recorder with about an hour of interviews to be split into smaller vignettes over the next few days. I’ve been snowed under with work and other projects, so look for those this weekend. It's great Beerleaguer stuff you'll appreciate, I can promise you that.
For now, my colleagues at the Reading Eagle, Mike Drago and Brian Smith, filed their reports on where the Phillies stand with Howard. Proefrock, who assists GM Ruben Amaro Jr. had this to say:
"You always hold out hope," Proefrock said. "The process is designed where to provide certain points where - I don't want to call them pressure points, but I guess that's what they are - up to the hearing. You've got some opportunities. We're still optimistic."
Proefrock said the two sides came close to reaching a long-term deal last season and that different thoughts and ideas along those lines continue to be discussed openly.
Beerleaguer take: I was with Brian during his interview with Proefrock and I also talked about Howard in my one-on-one with Chuck Lamar and Manuel. The Phillies are making it abundantly clear that it isn’t a contentious situation even as the two sides remain $4 million apart. I’m taking what they say at face value. Howard won his arbitration case last season, and by all accounts, remained professional about it and understood that it was part of the business. In the meantime, Lamar said Howard is getting ready for the season by working out with third base coach and infield instructor Sam Perlozzo in Florida.
Right-handed bat remains priority, report suggests: Most of you have already read Jim Salisbury’s piece on the how the Phils are considering Moises Alou, along with Nomar Garciaparra, Kevin Millar, Rich Aurilia and Mark Grudzielanek. If you haven’t, well, there you have it. The Phillies are considering Moises Alou, Nomar Garciaparra, Kevin Millar, Rich Aurilia and Mark Grudzielanek. I'm heavily against signing Grudzielank because there's just no way I would be able to tolerate a season of spelling out his name.