There really isn't a vacancy right now. The Phillies are just looking to add depth, a guy with a track record. But if the Phillies don't acquire another outfielder, they basically have two right-handed-hitting and two left-handed-hitting outfielders to play the corners: John Mayberry Jr., Darin Ruf, Domonic Brown and Laynce Nix. I could see Brown starting the season in right field as an everyday player with some sort of platoon in left field. If Brown thrives, he keeps his job. If he struggles, I could see Charlie Manuel using platoons in both left and right field.
Do you think it is possible for the Phillies to receive a player like a Carlos Gonzalez, Justin Upton or Giancarlo Stanton via trade, even though they are lacking in big-name prospects?
-- Nicholas L., York, Pa.
Anything is possible --I suppose the Mayans could have been right -- but it's highly unlikely. And the reason is just what you said: they don't have enough big-name prospects. They have a lot of good prospects, but probably not the blue-chipper or two it would require to land somebody like Upton, etc.
Could the Phillies make a play for Jason Kubel? If they don't, who should they go after for the outfield and what would they have to give up?
-- Nick L., Macungie, Pa.
They could, but he doesn't seem to be much of a fit. The Phillies want to find a right-handed-hitting outfielder. Kubel hits left-handed, and the middle of the lineup is already heavy with those.
The Marlins recently said they will now "listen" to offers for Stanton. Is he the one guy the Phillies should consider doing whatever it takes to acquire? For example, trade Brown, Cliff Lee, Jesse Biddle in the same deal or almost anyone else for that matter.
-- Rich F., Kulpmont, Pa.
Keep in mind every other team in baseball would love Stanton, too, and I think other teams are in a better position to acquire somebody like Stanton. I just don't see it happening for the Phillies. And as far as your suggestion, keep in mind the Marlins just shed millions in payroll. Why would they want Lee's contract? Also remember -- both sides have to think they're getting a good deal. Why would the Marlins trade Stanton for Lee, Brown, Biddle, etc.? It just makes no sense.
Will Chase Utley be ready to play from Day 1 this year?
-- Tom W., Ft. Myers, Fla.
I think everybody is keeping their fingers crossed, but the Phillies seem more optimistic this winter than last winter.