Last year, the Phillies deftly sidestepped arbitration with eight eligible Phillies. Team president Dave Montgomery approved the spending, resulting in lucrative, longer-term deals for Ryan Howard, Cole Hamels, Jayson Werth, Ryan Madson and Greg Dobbs, designed to keep the championship nucleus together. This time around, the Phillies may be faced with a different set of hurdles. Where as the looming arbitration cases became last year's primary objective - a way to placate a large volume of players including a couple megastars in Howard and Hamels - this year, establishing a long-term top-of-the-rotation solution and third base really took precedent. And as the offseason has unfolded, we've uncovered more specifics on that self-imposed salary cap, believed to be around $140 million.It's hard to see the Phillies taking the same cavalier approach, rewarding multi-year deals as a gesture of good faith. But it's possible. Guys like Victorino and Ruiz are vital components and they may decide to reward their service by guaranteeing a spot on the club beyond 2010. Of the two, Ruiz, who earned a scant $475,000 last season and is arbitration eligible for the first time, might be the better candidate for a longer extension due to the sheer lack of capable catchers down in the minors (Ruiz's agent certainly has the leverage to negotiate for a more comfortable living, and I wonder what Ruiz would get out on the open market). As for Victorino, who took home $3.5 million a year ago, eventually, youth needs to be served, and centerfield is one area the Phillies have been stockpiling. Meanwhile, Blanton, who earned $5.5 million, may have been approached about an extension as a way to stay within the bounds of the Pat Gillick Rule (no more than three years for free agent pitching). But just like Cliff Lee, Blanton has never experienced a major payout, which he's more likely to receive testing free agency.