The Phillies' plan, though it doesn't seem sound, is very clear at this point: They're supplementing an aging core with short-term void-fillers and hoping everyone stays healthy and produces. The odds are against it, but that's the plan.
For a team that spent 970 days on the DL in 2013 and even more in 2012, this plan doesn't inspire confidence. What happens if Chase Utley goes down? Or Ryan Howard? Or Chooch? Or Ben Revere? This team is dangerously thin at practically every position except shortstop.
The Phils have a weak bench right now that lacks a left-handed hitting option. They need a lefty with some power and there aren't many bench bats still available. Maybe Eric Chavez, if you can pry him away from Arizona's clutches. Perhaps Tyler Colvin or Lyle Overbay. There isn't much out there.
The Phillies also need more bullpen help. If Jonathan Papelbon arrives in Clearwater as the Phillies' closer, every other spot in the 'pen will be up for grabs. Jake Diekman, Antonio Bastardo, Brad Lincoln and B.J. Rosenberg figure to compete for setup duty. Mike Adams might make a midseason return. Justin De Fratus has looked pretty average in 61.1 big-league innings, but he's still in the fold.
Grant Balfour has come off the board -- he agreed to a two-year, $15 million deal with the Orioles. The full value of his contract is just $2 million more than Papelbon will make this season, and Balfour is probably the better option moving forward.
One name to keep an eye on: Ryan Madson. Elbow injuries and constant setbacks have prevented him from pitching since leaving the Phillies. The Reds took a chance in 2012 and got zero innings for their $6 million. The Angels did the same in 2013 and got zero innings for their $3.25 million.
Madson is exactly the type of player the Phillies should be pursuing -- low-risk, very high-reward. You forget just how dominant he was from 2008-11 -- 2.86 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 8.9 K/9, 2.4 BB/9.
But the fact that he hasn't been able to throw a single major-league pitch since 2011 tells you that the elbow is badly damaged and the arm probably will never be what it once was. You don't often see pitchers struggle so much to come back from Tommy John surgery.
His health problems set him up for another one-year deal, which fits into the theme of the Phillies' offseason. It appears Ruben Amaro Jr. is following an organizational edict to avoid long-term deals. The result is this mish-mash of a team that needs about a dozen things to go perfectly to contend.
Few seem to think things will work out. It was interesting that at the winter meetings, Amaro finally considered the word "rebuild" rather than "retool," even if it was to say the Phillies aren't quite there yet.