The Phillies have quietly continued their search for a left-hander to add to the bullpen and their focus now is on San Francisco Giants southpaw Jack Taschner. Taschner is a fallback option primarily because free agent relievers Dennys Reyes (Cardinals) and Joe Beimel (Nationals) have both signed recently. Will Ohman is still out there, but wants at least $1.75 million guaranteed, which is more than the Phillies would be willing to pay.
Taschner, who turns 31 next month, hasn't had a lot of success out of the Giants bullpen and over his career has actually held right-handed hitters to a lower average than he has left-handers. Taschner fits the bill in that he's cheap enough ($830-thousand) to be somewhat disposable once J.C. Romero returns on June 1st after serving a 50 game suspension for violating the league's substance abuse policy.
The Phillies and Giants could match up relatively well if the Phillies do in fact decide to pursue Taschner. The Giants are looking for either a right-handed reliever or a backup catcher, which is where the Phillies could come in to play, offering either Chris Coste or Ronny Paulino in exchange for Taschner.
The Phillies have Paulino and Coste battling to serve as second fiddle to Carlos Ruiz and it's possible that which ever one doesn't make the club could wind up either as part of a trade or simply being released. The Phillies will go with prospect Lou Marson as the starting catcher at Lehigh Valley and Paul Hoover appears set to be his backup, leaving no real room for the loser of the major league battle.
Coste has drawn some interest from other clubs looking for catching help. The Baltimore Orioles were asking about Coste almost from the minute that the Phillies acquired Paulino and still have interest in bringing him to Camden Yards. The O's might part with left-handed reliever Jamie Walker, 37, who has had some success in the majors until last season when he saw his season ERA balloon to 6.87 with the Orioles. Lifetime, his ERA is 4.11 and he has a lifetime average against of just .237 facing left-handed hitters.
Speaking of Baltimore, don't look now, but Adam Eaton could make their ballclub. In two starts for the Orioles, covering seven innings, the former Phillie has a 3.86 ERA and has pitched pretty well since being released by the Phillies after they decided to eat his $9-million contract for 2009. Ouch.
And speaking of eating contracts, the Phillies have decided that they would eat a major chunk of the remaining $8.5-million that's owed to Geoff Jenkins. The Phillies have let other clubs know that Jenkins is available and are now letting clubs know that they would be willing to take a big bite out of the money that he's owed for this season.
The Angels are said to be shopping for a left-handed bat to add to their club, so Jenkins could be a fit there.
Dealing Jenkins - or Matt Stairs - could conceivably open a spot for John Mayberry Jr. to make the club out of spring training. Even if a deal doesn't come down by opening day, Mayberry could possibly make the club temporarily if manager Charlie Manuel decides to go with an 11-man pitching staff to start the season.