Not to look beyond shortstop, but, yeah, let's look beyond shortstop.
Obviously, there's no greater pressure point than shortstop and the slow-going negotiations with Jimmy Rollins and his agent Dan Lozano. So assuming the Phils come to terms on nothing less than Rafael Furcal, and that all their other contractual escalators have been addressed, where does that leave the Phils as they look to shore up other needs? And what is the most important need beyond shortstop?
Despite a reported offer on the table for super-utilityman Michael Cuddyer, which is reportedly below his asking price (via Jim Salisbury), adding an outfield bat may not be the No. 2 focus beyond shortstop. Look around the roster and discover that Wilson Valdez isn't the only iffy placeholder bequeathed with a major role. Can Jose Contreras be counted on to shoulder 65-75 appearances, which is the typical load for a set-up man? How much do they trust Antonio Bastardo, who had an 11.05 ERA in September? And are they comfortable with Michael Stutes, David Herndon, Kyle Kendrick, Justin De Fratus, Michael Schwimer and Joe Savery shouldering the rest of the load?
Similar to the 2010 offseason, it's a bullpen that would "look better on paper with a veteran, affordable presence who still had an arm." I wrote those words two years ago and the Phillies delivered Danys Baez, a guy who made a ton of sense at the time. Here was a former closer who pitched the eighth inning in Baltimore and was supposed to settle into the late-inning mix with Ryan Madson and Brad Lidge.
Baez became another test case for free agent relief. You never know. And the Phillies don't know. For example, a guy like Chad Qualls, on paper, would look pretty attractive as a seventh or eighth inning guy. But Qualls, at 33, is a carbon copy of Baez before 2010.
After learning their lesson with Baez, J.C. Romero and other trials, "safe" may be equal, or worse, than overspending for elite talent like Jonathan Papelbon, or even Billy Wagner, who retired last season following an All-Star season with the Braves in 2010. The Phils reportedly called Wagner to gauge his interest in a comeback, but Wags declined and reaffirmed his retirement.
When it comes to free agent relief, "safe" is a myth, and "safe" is rarely worth it. It's the reason I agree with bay_area_phan when he says that Brad Lidge is an "addiction the Phillies need to stop."