Ruben Amaro Jr. has taken care of a few loose ends here and there before jetting off to Orlando for a couple days to take part in the annual GM Meetings. With a couple of spare parts signed – Pete Orr, Erik Kratz, Eddie Bonine – and the reliable Jose Contreras locked up for two more seasons, Amaro can start tackling tougher tasks on his agenda.
Job one is to figure out what’s going on in right field. Jayson Werth is a free agent and the odds that the Phillies will re-sign him aren’t great, to say the least. While Amaro hasn’t quite given up on the idea of bringing Werth back into the fold, he has said recently that he’s not going to allow the situation to drag on forever and at some point – perhaps, in the near future – he will simply move on without Werth in the Phillies plans.
Once he reaches that point, he has to decide whether he can fill the job internally with Ben Francisco and/or Domonic Brown, or whether he needs to find outside help. One potential name is Jeff Francoeur, who the Phillies have pursued a couple of times in the past. Francoeur hit a combined .249 in his time with the Mets and Rangers last season and is a career .268 hitter. The good news is that Francoeur is a career .299 hitter against left-handers and it’s likely that he would be platooning with Brown and primarily facing left-handers as a member of the Phillies.
Amaro also has a glaring need for left-handers in the bullpen. The Phillies are going to ask about the price tag on lefty Hisanori Takahashi, who pitched for the Mets in 2010, going 10-6 with a 3.61 ERA and eight saves in 53 games with the Mets, including 12 starts. Last season was Takahashi’s first in the majors, but he is a free agent thanks to a clause in his contract that allowed him to become a free agent if he and the Mets were unable to agree on a longer term deal.
Amaro doesn’t have much left in the account for the 2011 season and he only has 17 players signed at a total of about $138 million. The Phillies would like to keep their payroll under the $145 million mark for the upcoming season.