Various news, notes and updates

Even though winter has only slightly loosened its grip on the Philadelphia area, there's a lot of news going on and it's possible that you might have missed something. So, we bring you all the hard and fast news and separate the fast and loose gossip from the legitimate rumors.

First of all, are the Phillies still looking for a veteran starting pitcher?

Yes and no.

They wouldn't mind finding a veteran out there to fill the fifth spot in the rotation, but they're not going to overpay. That's one reason why they're not expected to have anyone watching when Ben Sheets throws for clubs today. Word is that Sheets is healthy and throwing well, but that he is also looking for a pretty healthy base salary with easily reached incentives that could make it a costly contract pretty quickly.

NL East rivals Washington and New York will be in attendance to watch Sheets throw, although the Chicago Cubs appear to be the front-runner to sign Sheets.

Now if John Smoltz were to drop his price just a little - which is likely to happen - the Phillies would have an interest. Smoltz could work either as a starter or out of the bullpen, which would give the Phillies some flexibility.

Other than Smoltz, don't look for anyone like Jarrod Washburn or Doug Davis to wind up in Philly.

Show me the money!

Today is the day that the players in the arbitration game and their teams officially trade salary figures. Shane Victorino, Carlos Ruiz and Joe Blanton are still eligible for arbitration, while Chad Durbin reached a one-year, $2.125 million deal on Monday to avoid going to arbitration.

You might recall that last winter, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. had ten eligible players headed for arbitration and he wiped them all out before going into the hearing, with some of the players getting long-term deals. It will be interesting to see if any of this year's eligible crop gets a long-term deal. The smart money is on nobody walking away with anything other than one year, but Amaro likes having his players locked up. Plus, there isn't anybody pushing Ruiz at this point and Victorino is a solid center fielder, who has built a huge following in Philadelphia. The top outfield prospect coming along is Domonic Brown, so the Phillies could conceivably figure on him in center field, however, this past season Brown was strictly a right fielder. He played just one game in left in 2009 and hasn't played center since he was at Lakewood in 2008, but he has the ability to play in center if necessary.

It will be interesting to see how the Phillies handle Brown and whether they figure on him as a potential replacement for Jayson Werth, who is a free agent following the 2010 season, or for either Victorino or Raul Ibanez, who are both slated for free agency following the 2011 season.

Does the Duck Pond go to the 'Pigs?

Brandon Duckworth is back in the Phillies organization, but will his fan group - The Duck Pond - follow him if he's at Triple-A Lehigh Valley. It could be an interesting situation to see the Duck Pond members don their duck gear and add one of the ever-popular IronPigs pig noses to the costume. Wow, what an image!

Since Duckworth wasn't invited to spring training when he signed his deal, it's likely he's simply a rotation filler for Triple-A.

Speaking of Lehigh Valley's rotation, there was a point last season when it was a possibility for the IronPigs 2010 rotation to have Carlos Carrasco, Kyle Drabek, Mike Stutes, Joe Savery and Andrew Carpenter. Now, Carrasco and Drabek are gone and Savery and Carpenter will get looks for the big league club, although Carpenter's look will likely be longer than Savery's.

Instead, the rotation probably shakes out something like this: Carpenter (or Kyle Kendrick), Stutes, Savery, Duckworth and Nate Bump, who also signed a minor league deal with the Phillies on Monday.

Philly Baseball Insider Top Stories