Ranking The Remaining: Relievers

Braden Looper wound up in St.Louis, leaving the Phillies to scour the list of remaining relievers left to sign. With Ryan Madson likely to move to the starting rotation, the Phillies may need to consider some other free agent names to fill the bullpen.

Here are some of the remaining free agents that the Phillies could consider for work in the bullpen:

Antonio Alfonseca might be a possibility. He had accepted his role as the Marlins setup man behind Todd Jones in 2005 and perhaps could do the same thing for the Phillies in 2006. He's always posted some pretty good numbers, although his ERA did balloon to 4.94 last season. Generally, Alfonseca thrives when he's given a heavier work load and the Phillies may have a fairly heavy load for a setup man to carry.

Jason Christianson struggled last season with San Francisco, but seemed to rebound somewhat when he found himself in an Angels uniform. The downside is that he hasn't had a solid season in the National League since 2001 when he split the season between St. Louis and San Francisco.

Octavio Dotel might not be ready to start the season and you never know if he'll spend the rest of his career being damaged goods. He might sign for an incentive laden deal, meaning that the Phillies could get him pretty cheaply, but they wouldn't get much of a guarantee or warranty with him. Having Dotel and Gordon combined at the back end of the bullpen is a shaky situation to say the least. The Yankees appear set to sign Dotel, so if the Phillies had any thoughts of scooping him up, they should act fast.

Chris Hammond may be one of the more attractive relievers left on the market. He posted a 3.84 ERA in 55 games with the Padres last season and seems to have at least a little gas left in the tank. While Hammond turns 40 in January, there is no arguing with his stats over the last four seasons when he's gone 19-6, 2.43 with two saves and 43 holds. While the Phillies may prefer to find a right-handed setup man (Hammond is a lefty), there is no reason why he couldn't at least get a look. He only made $750,000 last season, so he may be pretty affordable, too.

Brian Meadows posted a 4.58 ERA in 65 games with the Pirates last season. He's not a great option, but could be given some consideration.

Would the Phillies be re-interested in Terry Mulholland? Not too likely, but then again, they could do worse. Mulholland is one of those guys that you figure has to run out of gas at any moment. He'll be 43 by opening day and whether or not he can give another season like he did last year when he posted a 4.27 ERA with the Twins is a big question mark. Mulholland might be an interesting name to add to the mix for a less important role in the bullpen, but not as a setup man.

Perhaps the name that the Phillies have pondered the most among remaining free agent relievers is Jeff Nelson. Nelson pitched for Seattle last season and was effective, going 3-1 with a 3.93 ERA and nine holds. The Phillies have shown some interest in signing him and he could be their best bet if they look to free agents to fill the setup role. Opponents hit just .237 against Nelson last season and he could be an interesting signing.

What about the return of Felix Rodriguez? He seems to have lost a lot and isn't someone that very many teams will be chasing. He's one of those guys that may find himself finding a minor league contract his best option as spring training approaches. You have to give it to Ed Wade on this one; He seemed to deal Rodriguez at exactly the right moment.

Rudy Saenez is another interesting name. The 37 year old was 1-0, 2.69 for San Diego last season and he posted holds in 11 games. He's put up good numbers over the last two seasons and may be another option for the Phillies to consider.

At 32, Julian Taverez is one of the younger remaining relievers on the free agent market. Taverez posted holds in 32 games for St.Louis last season and converted four of six save opportunities that came his way. His 3.43 ERA wasn't bad, but he's not a guy who gives you a lot of innings. In 74 games last season, Taverez pitched just 66 2/3 innings. The Cardinals were able to get the most out of Taverez by using him in the right situations and the Phillies wouldn't have that luxury.

There are bound to be some other names that will interest the Phillies after they see the list on non-tendered free agents. Teams must offer qualifying contracts to players by tomorrow and there are generally always a few names that show up on the list who are of interest to teams. Rest assured that the Phillies will scour that list.

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