Phillies pick up option to keep Lee
Amaro discusses myriad decisions that lie ahead for club
PHILADELPHIA -- Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. has been moving from one meeting to the next since the Phillies lost to the New York Yankees in the World Series.
He already has 2010 on his mind.
"We're disappointed we didn't reach our ultimate goal of being a world champion," Amaro said during a news conference Friday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park. "I'll be frank with you, we're already pretty focused on what we're going to do in 2010 and beyond."
The Phillies took their first step when they picked up the $9 million club option on left-hander Cliff Lee, who went 7-4 with a 3.39 ERA in 12 regular-season starts and 4-0 with a 1.56 ERA in five postseason starts.
Brett Myers, Pedro Martinez and Miguel Cairo also filed for free agency on Friday.
Lee said immediately following the World Series that he would be interested in discussing a contract extension with the Phillies, but Lee probably is also interested in what the market holds when he becomes a free agent for the first time after next season.
Amaro said he spoke with Lee's agent a couple times during the postseason, and said they would consider a contract extension.
"That said, we have some time on that," Amaro said.
Amaro said they have not decided on third baseman Pedro Feliz's $5.5 million club option. That decision must be made by Monday.
Why is the decision on Feliz more difficult than the decision on Lee?
"More than anything else, what options might be out there for us," Amaro said. "And deciding whether picking up his option is best suited to try to move forward. He had a solid year for us. I like the man personally. He's a great person. He's a great teammate. But I also believe in trying to improve, and sometimes a change can be for the better. It doesn't necessarily mean we're going to, but it's something that we're thinking about."
Amaro said left fielder Raul Ibanez, closer Brad Lidge and reliever Scott Eyre would be seen by team doctors Friday. Eyre needs surgery to remove loose bodies from his left elbow. Lidge is going to get checked for loose bodies in his right elbow, which could have affected him during the season. Ibanez will have a MRI on his groin. He also had a tear in his abdomen, which might require surgery.
"We're getting our arms around that to see exactly what kind of damage he has in there," Amaro said of Ibanez's injury.
Amaro discussed a variety of topics during the 30-minute news conference.
He said the team's priority is upgrading the bullpen. Of course, Lidge's health and effectiveness in 2010 will go a long way in doing that. The Phillies are hopeful left-hander J.C. Romero, who had surgery on his elbow last month, will be ready to pitch. Right-hander Ryan Madson will be back.
Amaro said they have contacted right-hander Chan Ho Park's agent about returning. He said the team will wait and see the results from Eyre's surgery before deciding whether to bring him back. Right-handers Chad Durbin, Clay Condrey and Tyler Walker are eligible for salary arbitration.
The Phillies are unlikely to attain a top-of-the-rotation starter this offseason. Amaro said if left-hander Cole Hamels returns to form, the Phillies should have one of the best 1-2 punches in baseball with him and Lee.
Right-hander Joe Blanton, who is eligible for salary arbitration, and left-handers J.A. Happ and Jamie Moyer are expected to be in the rotation. The Phillies also have depth with right-handers Kyle Kendrick and Andrew Carpenter. Top prospect Kyle Drabek is not considered ready to compete for a job out of Spring Training.
Right-hander Pedro Martinez's future with the team is uncertain, and he might be looking for more money than the Phillies are willing to give. If the Phillies add a starting pitcher, it might be on a Minor League deal to improve depth.
"We're still assessing what we're going to do with some of the guys who are going to be free agents," Amaro said.
The Phillies have nine potential free agents: catcher Paul Bako, infielder Miguel Cairo, Eyre, Feliz, Martinez, right-hander Brett Myers, Park, outfielder Matt Stairs and left-hander Jack Taschner.
Amaro has already informed Myers that he will not be back in 2010. He also said if Stairs is in camp in February for Spring Training, it would likely be on a Minor League deal. The Phillies might look elsewhere for a backup catcher. Taschner is likely to sign elsewhere.
The everyday eight are expected to be the same, unless the Phillies find a new third baseman. Center fielder Shane Victorino is eligible for salary arbitration, and Amaro said he has been thinking about multiyear extensions for some players, but he did not say it is a priority.
The bench could be in for an overhaul. Greg Dobbs and Ben Francisco are signed or under team control. Indications are Stairs and Bako won't be back. Eric Bruntlett is eligible for salary arbitration. He had a poor year, but the Phillies must find a backup shortstop before they move on. Amaro said outfielders John Mayberry Jr. and Michael Taylor are expected to open the season in Triple-A Lehigh Valley.
Amaro also announced that the entire coaching staff has been invited back for 2010: pitching coach Rich Dubee, hitting coach Milt Thompson, first-base coach Davey Lopes, third-base coach Sam Perlozzo, bench coach Pete Mackanin and bullpen coach Mick Billmeyer.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.