Excited by the prospect of turning left-hander Antonio Bastardo loose in the bullpen, and unclear on Kyle Kendrick's ability and Jamie Moyer's status, the Phillies would be well served to hold off on signing second-rate scrubs.
Ruben Amaro says the Phillies are constantly keeping their eyes peeled on ways to improve the ballclub, but if there was ever a time to catch a little shut-eye, now is the time. It’s been another active, well-rounded offseason by the second-year GM. The only thing left is to see how the questions will be answered once pitchers start throwing, approximately eight days, three hours and 21 minutes from now.
Indeed, pitching depth qualifies as the main concern, but isn’t that always the case? This isn’t a Phillies-specific issue. At this late stage of the signing season, clubs have reached a consensus on the pitchers that will make a difference, and those who won’t. Or, in the case of Chan Ho Park, they’ve concluded that his expectations need to be knocked down a peg or two. The Phillies are dangling only minor league contracts at this point, including reported offers to Ron Mahay and Alan Embree. It’s what they offered Scott Eyre before he retired, and it’s what they wanted to give Will Ohman last season; Ohman is still unsigned and falls into a deep lefty pool that also includes Ron Villone and Scott Shoeneweis. Of the remaining left-handers, only Joe Beimel stands a chance of getting a Major League deal somewhere, but he’s rapidly deteriorating. They're all the same, more or less. They even look the same.
The Phillies have shown no desperate need for additional relief or starting pitching. Amaro is excited by what he sees from Antonio Bastardo, who pitched well this winter. Meanwhile, Amaro, who is still looking for another low-cost, bac-kend starter, says the team’s expectations and Pedro Martinez’s expectations aren’t a match, meaning, the Phils disagree with the three-time Cy Young winner when he says he has a full season left in his tank.
Spring training is a nearly two-month process, three if you include the entire warm-up month of April. It’s typically a very active period for the Phillies, spent scavenging for roster casualties (think Rudy Seanez two years ago). By late May, the Phillies will know who they are and what they need. By then, at least a few teams will start transitioning into sell mode and a new set of options will open up.
Time to pack up the gear, head south to Clearwater and call it an off-season.