LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Phillies general manager Pat Gillick said he's "more optimistic" on Tuesday that Philadelphia will land a pitcher before leaving the Winter Meetings. It won't be right-hander Miguel Batista, who Gillick said they have no interest in. It might be righty Octavio Dotel, who Gillick said is of some interest to Philadelphia.
Or it could be a pitcher from one of the teams with whom the Phillies are discussing trades. Gillick spent Tuesday speaking with three teams about possibilities that range from adding a pitcher to dealing an outfielder, and those moves may or may not be tied to each other. The persistent speculation -- which continued for a second day -- revolved around a two-pronged attack. First, the Phils would trade center fielder Aaron Rowand back to the White Sox with right-handers Ryan Madson or Gavin Floyd for righty Freddy Garcia, lefty Mark Buehrle or righty Javier Vazquez. Even a separate White Sox-rumored acquisition of righty Ervin Santana and third baseman Chone Figgins (for Garcia and third baseman Joe Crede) would still leave the White Sox with excess to trade. Secondly, having landed a pitcher, the Phillies would ship righty Jon Lieber to the Brewers for some combination of outfielders Kevin Mench and Geoff Jenkins and right-handed relievers Jose Capellan and Derrick Turnbow. Following up, the deals appear to be held up for a variety of reasons. There has been hesitation on the Brewers' part as to whether to include either reliever. A baseball source said Milwaukee loves Turnbow's stuff and thinks he can return to his 2005 form, and the club also likes Capellan's durability. Also, the White Sox, one American League scout said, are enjoying their position of having pitching to deal, and may wait until the market shakes out before making a move. This has frustrated Milwaukee GM Doug Melvin, who is believed to have a number of potential deals in place, but has been told that any swaps with his club are contingent upon the completion of other deals. That said, Melvin and Brewers assistant GM Gord Ash were spotted in the lobby of the Dolphin Hotel chatting with Gillick and members of the Phillies, but Melvin dismissed talk of the deal as "an Internet rumor." According to Melvin, he asked the Phillies if they had interest in Jenkins and/or Mench, and he was told no. Another scout speculated that the Phillies' reluctance to deal Rowand was also complicating things.
A high-ranking Phillies official denied the report's validity.The understandable problem from the Phillies' perspective is that they don't want to trade Lieber or Rowand without first adding a starter, especially given the market. "We don't have a lot of bullets," Gillick said. "If we move a guy, he's got to fill a need we have right now that's a necessity." Gillick added that he could add a starter and enter Spring Training with six starters, though in that scenario something else would likely shake out before the regular season. If Rowand had to be included, a replacement could also come from a free-agent pool that includes Rondell White, Preston Wilson and Steve Finley, though none of those options seemed to impress Gillick. Either way, the Phillies needs haven't changed. "We're still looking for a hitter and a bullpen guy, probably of equal importance," Gillick said. On the pitching front, the Cardinals are also pursuing Dotel, though the Phillies could meet with his agent, Dan Horwits, before the meetings conclude on Thursday. As for Batista, the Phillies' interest cooled when he made it clear that he wanted to either start or close. "We had more interest in him as a setup guy as opposed to a starter," Gillick said. Accolades for Gillick, Cardenas: Gillick and Phillies Minor League shortstop Adrian Cardenas were named Baseball America 2006 Award winners. Gillick was honored as one of the 25 most influential people in baseball from 1981-2006. The 69-year-old GM is entering his 50th year in professional baseball, which started in 1958 as a left-handed pitcher in the Orioles' system. Cardenas was named High School Player of the Year. The Phillies selected him with the 37th overall pick in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft out of Monsignor Pace High School in Opa Locka, Fla. For the Rookie League Gulf Coast Phillies, Cardenas hit .318 in 154 at-bats. Dellucci and Borowski to Tribe: Two players of interest to the Phils faithful are expected to be announced as members of the Indians on Wednesday: David Dellucci and Joe Borowski. Dellucci, who agreed to a three-year, $11.5 million contract, had his physical delayed because of the flu. Borowski under went his physical on Tuesday in Cleveland, and will secure a reported one-year, $4 million contract if he passes. That isn't a guarantee, considering the Phillies backed out of a multi-year pact because of concerns regarding the MRI results on Borowski's shoulder. Philling in: Ryan Church has found his way onto the Phillies' radar screen, and the club approached the Nationals about him. Gillick suggested that the Phillies could acquire a part-time outfield replacement to replace Dellucci, and the left-handed-hitting Church would fit that bill. ... Teams have expressed interest in Floyd. While the Phillies would consider moving him, Gillick hasn't given up on the 23-year-old former first-round pick. "I don't think he needs a fresh start," Gillick said. "I don't think there's any problem here. Some guys just take longer than others."
Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.