Help may yet be on the way, but at this stage it is difficult to determine from what quarter. Until then, I have to conclude Pat Gillick was telling the truth after all: he is looking beyond 2007.
For the coming season the Phillies will certainly be competitive in a weak NL East division with the roster they currently have, but holes in the bullpen in particular need to be addressed if they have post-season aspirations. Failing that, Gillick’s reluctance to overspend this off-season may be putting the Phils in perfect position…for 2008. By resisting the urge to spend all their new-found cash reserves on free agents Alfonso Soriano, a good player but hardly worth the dollars thrown at him, or Carlos Lee, a middling player who cannot field to save his baseball life, the Phillies should be able to go after some worthy free agents next Fall.
Meanwhile, any team that trots out Mssrs. Utley, Howard and Rollins on a daily basis and Hamels and Myers every fifth day should be ready for action if not formidable. Right now the lineup shapes up like this:
Helms and Burrell may flip-flop in the five hole. Howard and Utley may flip-flop in the four hole though I doubt they will. Ruiz will be spelled occasionally by Coste though Gillick is quoted in today’s Inquirer as saying he is still looking for help at the catcher position. He was also quoted on Comcast Sportsnet as saying a guy (Burrell) who average between 25 – 30 home runs and 90 rbi’s over the last five years is a difficult commodity to come by. It’s hard to believe there has been so little interest in Burrell, but his no-trade clause may remain the big stumbling block. Certainly his salary has to be seen as “in line” with the ridiculous numbers being thrown around these days though his production is hardly as consistent as his GM’s “endorsement” would suggest and his health remains a mystery. All in all, it appears more likely than ever he will remain with the club.