Yes, manager Charlie Manuel likes Ramirez and has fond memories of him from their days in Cleveland, but Manny is now Manny and insists on being Manny 24/7. In other words, he's not the same Manny Ramirez that Manuel was enamored with all those years ago.
As for left field, the odds of Pat Burrell re-signing with the Phillies actually seem a little brighter than they did immediately after the season. Back then, his potential return to the team seemed a long shot, but there are a couple of scenarios now that could have him return.
One scenario is the Kevin Millwood plan. Burrell, who is known to be picky about where he wants to play, doesn't find anything to his liking out there. The Phillies offer arbitration and Burrell takes it to return to the Phillies on a one-year deal.
The other scenario is the "cooler heads prevail" plan. The Phillies look around and don't like their options. They get in touch with Burrell and the two sides finally sit down to have some serious discussions and they hammer out a compromise deal.
Then, there's the "well, then we'll give the money to him" scenario. Maybe Jamie Moyer, who seemed like an easy re-sign doesn't re-sign and takes an offer to go elsewhere. The Phillies figure that with J.A. Happ ready to pitch in the majors and Carlos Carrasco very close, they'll pursue a cheaper free agent pitcher and give Moyer's money to Burrell. This is also known as the worst-case scenario plan.
The truth is that there aren't really a lot of great replacements for Burrell in left field. One name that keeps popping up is Juan Rivera, who would be a big drop-off in production from Burrell. Rivera hit a career-low .246 with 12 home runs. After the 2006 season, Rivera looked like a star in the making, having hit .310 with 23 home runs for the Angels. Since then though, he's hit a combined .250 with 14 home runs and has suffered through a number of injuries.
Greg Golson is the closest thing to a major league-ready outfielder that the Phillies have in the minor league system and he likely will need time at Triple-A Lehigh Valley in 2009.
Burrell might just hang out and wait to see what happens with Manny. If the Dodgers fail to re-sign Ramirez, Burrell is Plan B for the gang in L.A.
While he's not a cheaper pitcher, the Phillies are interested in A.J. Burnett. The former Blue Jay is a hot commodity on the free agent market and the recent contracts given to Kyle Lohse (four years, $41 million) and Ryan Dempster (four years, $52 million) have pushed up his asking price. The bidding likely starts at least with a four-year offer and $13.5 million per season, but will likely balloon to a fifth season and upwards of $15 million per year. Likely too rich for the Phillies blood, considering that they would also sacrifice their first round pick in next June's draft.
So, why hasn't Moyer re-signed yet? The word was that the deal would be done late last week, but it obviously wasn't. The Phillies are a little gun-shy about giving Moyer two guaranteed years and that's the minimum that Moyer wants in a deal. It's likely that something will be worked out, but once some of the top pitchers sign, eyes are going to start to turn to Moyer and what he may offer teams who miss out on the bigger names.
Consider this. If Burrell and Moyer both sign elsewhere, the Phillies would add two first round picks in the draft and two sandwich picks. That would give them five picks before the second round gets underway. Of course, if Burrell and Moyer both go elsewhere, look for the Phillies to jettison at least one first round pick on signing someone else's Type A free agent. The Yankees and Red Sox are thought to be the front-runners, but Toronto is interested in getting him back and the Orioles are also likely to offer him a contract. In other words, everybody in the AL East, with the exception of Tampa Bay. The Phillies will also face competition from division rival Atlanta for Burnett's services.
Here's a name to keep in mind. Juan Cruz. The right-hander pitched in 57 games for Arizona last season, going 4-0 with a 2.61 ERA. He also struck out 71 hitters in 51 2/3 innings. He is a Type A free agent though, so the Phillies sacrifice a first-rounder for signing him, but he might be a nice addition to the bullpen, although that's not a high priority for the Phillies. Unfortunately, the Mets are another team also interested in Cruz.
The trade market is a little quiet right now, but there could be something interesting brewing in Kansas City. The Royals acquired outfielder Coco Crisp from Boston on Wednesday morning, giving them four outfielders. One of the incumbents - David DeJesus, Mark Teahen and Joey Gathright - is likely headed out of town. Having added Mike Arbuckle to the front office, the Royals would know who to ask for from the Phillies if they wanted to go the trade route to fill left field. DeJesus would be a handsome addition, but he's a left-handed hitter (actually, all three are left-handed) who would further clog up a lefty-heavy lineup. Still, it's an interesting situation that could be brewing. The Cubs have been asking about Teahen and the Crisp deal could be just the first domino in a deal between Chicago and K.C.
The Phillies haven't gotten in on the Jake Peavy bidding, but maybe they should consider having a talk with the Padres. The Braves took themselves out of the discussions and the Cubs were the leading contender to get Peavy once the Braves exited. With Ryan Dempster re-signing in Chicago, the Cubs interest has likely fallen. Maybe the Phillies can jump in and grab Peavy. What would it cost? Likely J.A. Happ or Carlos Carrasco would be a must-have in the package to get any Peavy talks started.