Phils Look To Add Final Touches To 2004 Team

Even though the Phillies have done a lot of early shopping this offseason, they still have an item or two – call them stocking stuffers, if you will – that they wouldn't mind finding. One more veteran reliever might be a nice addition and there is perhaps room for one more player to sit on the bench. With that in mind, let's take a look at the names that may be ticketed for Philadelphia.

Al Levine - If the Phillies decide to find another right-hander to stuff into the stocking marked "bullpen", Levine might be the guy. He's probably a little under-rated and therefore, fairly cheap. Levine, a veteran of eight major league seasons, turns 36 in May, but still seems to have all of his pitches working. He's pitched for the White Sox, Rangers, Angels and Royals with a career record of 21-29, 3.77. Since they're all American League teams, exactly how he'd fare in the NL is somewhat of an unknown.

Kent Mercker - After starting his career with Atlanta and being regarded as one of the best setup men in baseball, it looked like elbow problems would end Mercker's career. Then, he was hit with a line drive while with Anaheim and his career was in further jeopardy. Mercker just seems to keep bouncing back and is still pretty solid. With the retirement of Dan Plesac, the Phillies may want another lefty and Mercker might be their man. With Cincinnati and Atlanta in 2003, Mercker was 0-2, 1.95 and he's 66-64, 4.29 in a 14 year career. Mercker will turn 36 in February.

Brian Buchanan - The 30 year old Buchanan started his career with Minnesota in 2000. He's one of those guys that seems best suited to coming off the bench and has pretty well accepted that as his lot in life. He brings some power – 30 homeruns in 704 major league at bats – and has a career .332 OBP. Buchanan played in a career high 115 games with San Diego in 2003 and hit .263 with 8 homeruns and 29 RBI. Buchanan can play in the outfield or could be a backup for Jim Thome at first base.

Eric Owens - Owens turns 33 in February and is a consistent hitter with less power than Buchanan. In nine seasons, Owens has hit .264 in the majors with 26 homeruns. Like Buchanan, he accepts his role as a utility player. He has enough power to make him dangerous and would likely remind fans of Tyler Houston, except that Owens is a right-handed hitter.

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