Free Agent Checklist, Part 2: The Other Guys

Part One of our Free Agent Checklist took a look at the Phillies free agents and offered some advice on what the Phillies should and might do with them. In Part Two, we take a look at players who the Phillies should be getting in touch with to gauge their interest in coming to the City of Brotherly Love. The players are presented here in no particular order:

John Burkett - The Phillies have said that they might go more for a middle of the rotation type pitcher than a top of the rotation guy. Burkett is a veteran who is definitely on the downside of his career. Still, the guy has some gas left in the tank and will likely work pretty cheap compared to a lot of others who are out there. Plus, he's already said that he will only sign with a team that has a shot at the postseason and if he can't find that, he'll retire and look to join the Pro Bowlers Tour (seriously).

It's hard to say where Burkett will wind up, but Atlanta, St.Louis and San Francisco are all possibilities.

Jeff Suppan - The Phillies tried to get him at the trading deadline last season and couldn't. Well, actually, they could have, but wouldn't give up the players that would have gotten the deal done. They're still interested, but so are some other teams.

Suppan's old club, the Pittsburgh Pirates are one of the teams that are interested. Suppan had success in Pittsburgh and was comfortable there. Plus, while he won't be cheap, he won't price himself out of Pittsburgh's market either.

Bartolo Colon - This is a real long shot for two reasons. First, the Phillies likely won't want to spend what Colon is looking for. Second, Colon wants to stay in the American League. The Red Sox tried to get Colon last winter and couldn't make it happen thanks to George Steinbrenner and the "Evil Empire". This year, they get it done and Colon likely winds up in Boston, especially if they can trim some salary; In other words, find someone to take Manny Ramirez.

Tom Gordon - Sure, the Phillies traded for Billy Wagner to close games and he will. Gordon wants to be a closer, but nobody is completely sure about his ability to handle that role on a full-time basis. Instead, Gordon might have to have a fall-back plan in place that would give him a solid job as a set-up guy. Plus, Gordon has a good friend in pitching coach Joe Kerrigan.

The Mets are likely to spend a lot of money on other parts of their club and may not want to spend the money on the front line closers that are out there. They believe that John Franco will be completely recovered and close to his old form. Gordon and Franco make up the perfect "senior citizen closer's club" for New York.

Scott Sullivan - Another guy that the Phillies were interested in when the Reds were looking to deal. Actually, their interest in Sullivan goes back to last spring when they were talking with Cincinnati about sending Sullivan to Philadelphia.

Sullivan's final destination: Anaheim. Troy Percival is on the block, but the Angels will look to add some veteran help to their bullpen for 2004. Plus, he'll be cheaper than Percival and can help Brandon Donnelly adjust to the closer's role.

Andy Pettite - The Phillies have been interested in Pettite for a long time. They have tried on a number of occasions to get him away from the Yankees. Now is his chance. Pettite has talked a lot about pitching in his home state of Texas. The Astros dumped some salary in the Wagner deal, but they are still just down to where they want their payroll to be, so they don't have a lot of money. Texas could definitely use a pitcher like Pettite.

Clemens and Wells exit New York and there is no way the Yankees let Pettite get away. They will likely overpay to keep him, making Pettite forget all about Texas.

Miguel Tejeda - A premier shortstop comes on the scene, you've got to at least ask if he's interested, especially since he's talked glowingly about Philadelphia. You could always trade Jimmy Rollins if Tejeda did want to come here.

Give it up Phillies fans, Tejeda is not coming to Philly. Look for the Anaheim Angels to make a big push and bring him to town. If not Anaheim, then either Los Angeles or San Francisco will put up the bucks to get Tejeda. LA becomes especially strong if they do in fact hire Billy Beane away from the A's.

Steve Sparks - Actually, the Phillies had Sparks in camp back in 2000. You've got to love the idea of Sparks pitching the eighth inning and floating knuckleballs up there and then Wagner coming on with 100 mile per hour heat in the ninth.

Who knows where Sparks will land. The Phillies need to place this call, but Sparks certainly isn't a top priority sort of guy. They'll have to get him at a dirt cheap price.

Kelvim Escobar - Is he a starter, is he a reliever? Actually, the Phillies could use him in either role, but he says he wants to start. With the Phillies looking for pitching, they have to ask is Escobar would be interested in coming here. There should be a lot of competition for Escobar and right now, there isn't a strong front runner.

Miguel Batista - This guy is somewhat under-rated. The Phillies could find much worse pitchers to put in the middle of their rotation than Batista. He will be relatively cheap, too. Word is that the D'backs just didn't want him at the high level price that picking up his option would have entailed, so they cut him loose and are trying to sign him at a smaller price. Batista has said that he loves pitching in Arizona and he could fall through the cracks and wind up heading back to the desert.

Greg Maddux - Look, the guy's gonna be a Hall of Famer. He's a great influence on young pitchers and he's likely only looking for a year or two, which is all the Phillies would really need with the young guys coming along. Maddux is rumored to be headed to San Diego, but that's certainly not a done deal. As the ace of a staff, he would be there just as a figurehead, but he's got enough left to help a team like the Padres or Phillies. Again, the best part of Maddux coming to town would be the influence on young pitchers.

Todd Van Poppel - This guy seems to scream "Joe Kerrigan, help me!" He seems like the perfect project for Kerrigan. If I'm Ed Wade, I lock Joe Kerrigan in a video booth with a bunch of tapes of Van Poppel and ask him if he thinks he can turn him around. If "Joey The K" says he can do it, you go after Van Poppel. If not, you burn the tapes, make Kerrigan forget you ever asked and move on.

Paul Quantrill - Here's a scenario. Dan Plesac calls his buddy Paul Quantrill and says "I'll go back to Philly if you come to town." The two are good friends and would make a nice tandem out of the bullpen. The Dodgers are in the midst of a front office shuffle right now and are stuck in neutral. The Phillies should jump on Quantrill, set up a conference call with Plesac and get them both done on one call.

Todd Zeile - Another former Phillie. Look, there are question marks about David Bell's hip and back. Zeile knows that he won't likely find a starting job somewhere, but that if Bell doesn't bounce back, he could get considerable time in Philadelphia. Tell Zeile to bring along a first baseman's mitt and he can give Jim Thome an occasional day off and pack an outfielder's glove just in case Pat Burrell struggles again. You don't want him as an everyday player, but if he winds up playing everyday, you're better off than with a lot of guys who get pushed into that role. This guy would also be good with the young players on the club, helping to soothe the ruffled feathers that Larry Bowa always seems to cause.

Matt Stairs - The guy is likely looking for an everyday job in somebody's outfield or as a DH.Still, it doesn't hurt to call just to let him know that there is an alternative if nothing else comes up. He would be a great bat to bring off the bench and if Burrell struggles again, he could step in for more playing time.

Tim Worrell - Here's a guy who stepped in and handled the closer's role for San Francisco. Teams would be nuts to overlook Worrell as a closer, but they might. It's likely that Worrell will sit around while all of the other closers sign and then field calls from all of the teams that didn't get one of them. It's also possible that Worrell would accept a set-up job with a contending team.

Any of the backup catchers who are out there - There are a number of them; Keith Osik, Eduardo Perez, Joe Girardi, Chris Widger, John Flaherty, Pat Borders, Gregg Zaun, Sandy Alomar, Mike DiFelice, Tom Prince and Brent Mayne. There is also Benito Santiago although he'll be looking for something more than the Phillies are likely to offer. Pratt is still the best of the bunch, but if he leaves, somebody has to be a recurring pelvis injury away from taking over behind the plate.

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