The Phillies have crossed off utility infielder and backup catcher from their list. Now, they may have their sights set on a pitcher to contend for the rotation or slot into the bullpen. John Smoltz could be that guy.
ESPN's Jayson Stark reported yesterday that the Phillies have shown interest in the soon-to-be 43-year-old former Brave, who went 1-3 with a 4.26 in seven starts with the Cardinals late last year. Smoltz, who has 213 wins and 3,084 strikeouts over a stellar 21-year career, began the season with the Boston Red Sox and was torched with an 8.23 ERA in eight appearances before he was designated for assignment. The Phillies, who rounded out the bottom of their rotation using veterans Chan Ho Park, Rodrigo Lopez, Jamie Moyer and, most successfully, Pedro Martinez at various points throughout the 2009 campaign, could be hatching the same plan here. Moyer, who is set to undergo knee surgery, in addition to his continued recovery from a pair of surgeries related to two torn tendons in his groin, may be questionable to open the season as the team's fifth starter, meaning the Phillies could sign Smoltz for the same half-season program they built for Pedro. Smoltz has also had success out of the 'pen, but hasn't pitched in that capacity in regularity since 2004. Kyle Kendrick, who could also get a look in the bullpen, figures to be the only other viable in-house option should Moyer need more time.