By Todd Zolecki Inquirer Staff Writer wrote:By free agency or trade, hook or crook. Already, they have contacted the agents of some relievers.
In Miami yesterday, the Florida Marlins celebrated their World Series championship with a parade.
In Philadelphia, the Phillies worked the phones.
It's almost strange to think that the Phillies had a half-game lead over the Marlins in the National League wild-card race with just eight games to play before the Phillies' 1-7 finish helped the Marlins lock up the wild card last month. But the Phillies hope a productive off-season will provide better results in 2004, when they open Citizens Bank Park.
Their off-season to-do list looks like this:
1) Get a closer.
2) Take care of the rest.
"The priority is the closer," Phillies general manager Ed Wade said. "As demonstrated last year, we need to try to be as efficient as we can in the closer role. And those guys are difficult to find."
Fortunately, there seem to be several options this off-season. Free-agent closers include Keith Foulke, Ugueth Urbina, Tom Gordon, Eddie Guardado, LaTroy Hawkins, Armando Benitez and Rod Beck. The Phillies can't talk money with free agents until Nov. 10, but they already have contacted the agents of Urbina, Foulke and Gordon to let them know they are interested. They said they will contact others as well.
The Phillies also know that a closer or two might be available via a trade. Wade also said that's an option. Houston's Billy Wagner is rumored to be available.
"The way we'd like to see this play out is to resolve the closer situation as quickly as possible, as efficiently as possible, and then focus on where we are from a starting pitching need and realistically the other components of the bullpen," Wade said.
Of course, if the Phillies acquire a top closer, can they even afford Kevin Millwood or a starting pitcher like him? Scott Boras, Millwood's agent, certainly expects a healthy market for his client. Boras recently pointed to some reasons: Millwood's successful career, his durability, the fact that his fellow starters improved with him on the staff this season and that he will turn just 29 in December. There have been rumblings for months that Millwood has no intention to return to the Phillies, but Boras said Millwood has not indicated that to him.
In any case, what's the asking price? Consider this: Bartolo Colon, another top starting pitcher on the market, reportedly just turned down a three-year, $36 million contract from the Chicago White Sox.
"We know we have to address the rotation in some fashion," said Wade, who has not had discussions yet with Boras.
"The better the guy, the better off we are. Whether it's a guy at the top end of the marketplace or somebody in the middle, we frankly think that with the progress that [Randy] Wolf, [Brett] Myers and [Vicente] Padilla have made that we have a pretty good framework to work around there. It'd be great to add a guy at the top of the rotation. But if we can add a guy in the middle of it, I still think we'd be OK."
No mention of Bowa... Crack. I swear its crack