For the most part, the Phillies lineup and roster are set. There are a couple of roster openings, but the Phillies believe that they can fill those holes without having to go outside of the organization. Battles for an outfield utility spot and a left-handed relievers spot are ongoing and it appears that the Phillies will have legitimate decisions to make, but that they can find ways of plugging those holes.
It's likely that with players like Placido Polanco and Ryan Howard looking for places to play, the Phillies could be more of a seller than a buyer in the trade market. Of course, that doesn't mean that things can't change and that if they can identify the right player, they couldn't look to make a move.
Lefty Reliever - It's likely that the Phillies will carry two left-handers, at least that's what Charlie Manuel would like to do. Rheal Cormier, Aaron Fultz and Mike Bacsik are the candidates. Cormier is almost guaranteed of a spot, but as we mentioned in our Trade Bait part of our look at the Phillies Trade Market, he could be moved if there are concerns about his future or if the Phillies simply get the right offer and feel comfortable with Fultz and Bacsik.
The reverse is also true. If the Phillies don't feel completely comfortable with Fultz and/or Bacsik, then they could shop for someone to join the bullpen. The early returns on Fultz are especially encouraging. The 31 year old has pitched in all or part of five major league seasons with three different teams. He has gone 14-11, 4.85 in 286 major league games, all in relief. His numbers aren't staggering, but the Phillies have liked what they have seen and Fultz especially fits the bill of a left-handed specialist, having held left-handed hitters to a .212 average last season and a .241 average over the past three seasons. Meanwhile, right-handers have hit Fultz at a .321 pace over the same three year period.
As for Bacsik, he was once thought of as a strong prospect in the Mets and Indians organizations. He has never come close to his perceived potential and has posted a 5-5, 5.88 record in parts of four major league seasons. Left-handers pounded Bacsik for a .350 average last season and his three-year ERA as a reliever is 11.57, while his numbers as a starter are definitely better.
Left-handed power off the bench - In the recent past, the Phillies had Ricky Ledee and/or Chase Utley to provide some punch off the bench from the left side. Now, Ledee is gone and Utley is in the starting lineup. The Phillies starting lineup will be heavily left-handed, so there may not be too much need for left-handed power, but certainly, there is some. Yes, Ryan Howard could easily fill that role, but the Phillies would rather have him at AAA and have him playing everyday than have him get occasional at bats here and there in the majors.
Starting pitching - Let's face it, you can never have enough starting pitching. With Vicente Padilla likely starting the year on the DL and the ongoing concerns about his health, Gavin Floyd would likely be pressed into duty. That's fine, but what happens if another pitcher goes down or if somebody struggles? Of course, the immediate question is how the Phillies would fit another starter onto the roster, but there is talk of sending Padilla to the bullpen if Floyd makes himself too valuable to the club at the major league level. One option would be to simply have Floyd back at AAA, where the Phillies would like to have him pitch anyway and have a new face take over in the rotation. Again, Padilla could move to the bullpen; remember, at one time, he was considered a potential closer candidate although that project didn't go too well.
Minor League pitching - We all know the laundry list of young pitchers that the Phillies have sent elsewhere in trades. It wouldn't hurt to bring a AA or AAA pitching prospect into the organization to help cover some of those losses. The question though is what the Phillies would have to give up in return. They're not enamored with the idea of dealing Howard and it's not likely that Placido Polanco would bring a true, solid pitching prospect into the organization. If the Phillies do pull off some sort of blockbuster deal and trade Mike Lieberthal or Pat Burrell elsewhere, perhaps the Phillies could get some pitching in exchange. If Padilla returns and shows he's healthy, the Phillies could consider dealing him and look to get young pitching in exchange as well.
Again, it's much more likely that the Phillies would be sellers this spring than buyers. Of course, as the season progresses and injuries hit here and there, both on the Phillies and other clubs, plans change.