Help Still Wanted For Rotation

The Phillies would like to add another starting pitcher. They were going to go after Curt Schilling, but he signed with the Red Sox before the idea of having him back in Philadelphia could even sink in. With hindsight and word of Schilling's injury issues, it's probably good that they didn't get the chance to sign him. Is there hope for finding another arm to throw into the mix?

The Phillies believe that they're close to a deal with right-hander Kris Benson. Of course, putting your faith in a guy who missed all of last season with an injury isn't going to provide much guaranteed stability. Benson and his agent, Gregg Clifton, are talking with the Phillies about a deal that is thought to be for one season and Clifton told Wilmington News-Journal that he believes a deal will get done in the next day or so. Benson would come in and compete with Adam Eaton for the fifth spot in the rotation. While Benson is an option, he's not the best one remaining on the list of free agent starters who are still unemployed.

Kyle Lohse, who made a respectable showing during his time in Philadelphia last season, is one of those unemployed starters, but the Phillies don't appear anywhere on his radar. The two sides are way apart with the Phillies looking for a two-year deal while Lohse and his agent, Scott Boras, are still thinking about getting at least four years. The Phillies don't figure on going anywhere near those years and the two sides are also far apart when it comes to money, making a deal almost impossible. One theory is that the Phillies are using Benson to try to push Lohse downward on his demands. For their part, the Phillies deny that, but of course, they would.

One other free agent pitcher that intrigues the Phillies is Josh Fogg. The former Rockies pitcher turned down a $5 million one-year deal from the Rockies and instead invested their money in other players leaving Fogg on the outside looking in. A quick look at his numbers would suggest why Fogg is still sitting in the unemployment line, but a deeper look suggests that he might be worth a look. For instance, take a look at his numbers away from Coors Field. Over the last two seasons when Fogg was a member of the Colorado Rockies, his ERA at home was 6.12 and he posted an 11-8 record. Get him away from Coors though and his ERA dropped to 4.52 and he had an even 10-10 record. Of course, Citizens Bank Park isn't much more spacious than Coors and Fogg didn't fare too well in his lone start there, lasting five innings and allowing five earned runs.

It also looks like the Phillies won't be involved in any big trades for starting pitching. Johan Santana, Dan Haren and Eric Bedard have all changed teams this off-season and the Phillies were never in any real discussions for any of those pitchers, unless you count their close call to getting Bedard last winter when they had a deal in place to send Pat Burrell to Baltimore for Bedard, only to have Burrell turn down the deal. One name that's still out there is Joe Blanton of the Oakland A's, but the Phillies are also not linked to any reports out of Oakland regarding any interest in Blanton. Just last month, GM Pat Gillick told Philly Baseball News that the Phillies just aren't in a position to give away the kind of prospects that would be required to bring a high caliber starter to Philadelphia.

The hunt for another starter may be a moot point if Adam Eaton were to return to his former self, but there are no guarantees at all that will happen. Relying on him to be healthy and effective may be as much of a gamble as turning to Benson. If the Phillies strike out on the free agent front and the trade front and don't find the Adam Eaton of old, what then? There could be solutions "in house". One could be Zack Segovia or J.A. Happ, who both battled injuries last season and had down years at Triple-A Ottawa. Both are said to be healthy and throwing well and could be in the majors if the Phillies needed them. The Phillies insist that they won't push Carlos Carrasco or any other young pitchers who weren't at Triple-A last season to the majors efore they're ready and they don't believe that they're ready.

With literally just hours before Phillies pitchers undergo physicals and start their training camp, the Phillies still have some question marks and few options on where to turn to put those questions to rest.



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