Notes: Gillick weighing his options
Phils GM meeting with clubs, discussing possible deals
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- While Philadelphia's needs remained the same on Day 1 of the Winter Meetings at Disney's Swan and Dolphin Resort, general manager Pat Gillick's method of filling them may have changed.In getting creative, Gillick spent more time on Monday meeting with representatives from other teams than with agents for potential free agents. Some of those discussions revisited items first broached at last month's General Managers Meetings, with the Phillies listening as well as proposing. "Most of the talks we've had have been about pitching," Gillick said, adding that most of those teams are looking for a position player in return. Gillick said potential trade partners were looking at options for the starting rotation as well as the bullpen, an interesting development considering the team appeared to round out their staff with last week's signing of right-hander Adam Eaton. Gillick said last week that he was happy with the depth of the team's starting rotation, and he reiterated that on Monday. "We have a better rotation at the moment than what we opened the season last year," Gillick said. "To me, that's an improvement." This doesn't mean there isn't room for improvement. An upgrade (say Jason Jennings or Freddy Garcia) could lead to a second deal to fill another need, likely involving right-hander Jon Lieber. Gillick said there were no new developments in a trade involving Pat Burrell, though baseball sources said Burrell and Aaron Rowand's names may have come up. Rowand was linked to Texas in a deal for some combination of pitchers Joaquin Benoit, Josh Rupe or Ron Mahay, and with his former team, the White Sox, for Garcia. If that turned out to be step one, step two could send Jon Lieber to Milwaukee in a deal for outfielder Kevin Mench, a Delaware native, and former Eagles season-ticket holder. The Brewers are dangling him for pitching help, and are also believed to talking to the Orioles about Rodrigo Lopez and Kris Benson. Meanwhile, the Rangers inquired about Lieber at the trading deadline, and could be interested again in either a bigger or separate deal. The Burrell quandry might lead to San Diego, where the Padres might be a fit because they are flush with relievers and are seeking a right-handed, power-hitting, corner outfielder. Should the Padres miss out on acquiring slugger Manny Ramirez, as has been indicated, they may refocus on Burrell in a swap for dependable setup man Scott Linebrink. This assumes that Burrell waives his no-trade clause to play for the Padres. With Joe Borowski and David Weathers potentially off the board -- they are believed to be headed to Cleveland and Cincinnati, respectively -- the Phils GM knows he needs to be creative to get something accomplished. Gillick also is not ruling out the potential of a free-agent signing, specifically a pitcher. The Phillies remain interested in Miguel Batista as a setup reliever and insurance at closer or starter, though Batista is believed to be seeking more certainty.
Lieberthal gone? As expected, the Dodgers appear close to signing free-agent catcher Mike Lieberthal to back up starter Russell Martin.Lieberthal, who will be 35 next month, would be reunited with Randy Wolf and play 10 minutes from where he grew up in Glendale, Calif. Minor news: The Phillies signed former Mets, Indians and Brewers reliever Kane Davis to a Minor League deal on Monday. The 31-year-old last appeared in the Majors in 2005, tossing 16 2/3 innings for the Brewers. Davis' lone full season in the Majors came in 2001, when he logged 68 1/3 innings over 57 games for the Rockies. Philling in: Gillick echoed the sentiments of many GMs when he said he wasn't interested in Barry Bonds or Sammy Sosa. On Sosa, Gillick said, "Where are you going to play him?" ... After scouting 41-year-old Benito Santiago in winter ball in Puerto Rico, the Phillies aren't interested in bringing him in for a potential comeback. ... The Phils also don't appear to be interested in Mike Piazza, who has been linked to the Phillies in recent weeks. Gillick called Piazza "an American League player," suggesting that he might be best suited to serve as a designated hitter. ... Gillick confirmed the Phillies may have interest in free-agent reliever Octavio Dotel, who pitched 14 games for the Yankees last season because of arm problems. ... For now, catcher Carlos Ruiz is projected as the starting catcher with Chris Coste as the backup. "I wouldn't say that's etched in stone. I would say that's what our plans are at the moment," Gillick said.
Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.