03/28/07 10:00 AM ET
Phils' bullpen issues are top concern
Club could move one of its six starters to fill relief hole
By Ken Mandel / MLB.com
An up-close look at the club as we approach Opening Day
"The market hasn't dried up," Amaro said. "There just aren't pitchers out there to be had. Everybody is looking for the same thing. I don't think there's a team in baseball that feels totally comfortable with their bullpen."That's where the Phillies hoped Lieber or Rowand would come in, but some of those options have dried up. The Cardinals, for example, were said to be interested in sending Braden Looper to Philadelphia for Lieber, but instead have turned Looper into a starter. The Cubs and Rangers are teams believed to have reliever excess and a need for a starter, but nothing appears imminent. As for Rowand, a swap to the Padres for reliever Scott Linebrink never had legs, and the White Sox seem more interested in acquiring Rowand than the Phillies are in dealing him. Hard-throwing lefty Matt Thornton's name popped up, but that was it. Still, with Michael Bourn's brilliant spring, the chances of dealing Rowand increase. The best hope for the bullpen remains that somebody internally will pitch well enough to cement a role, and Lieber adapts well to the bullpen. The kicked-around idea of making Brett Myers a closer has all but been put to bed. The bullpen issues are wide awake, and the Phillies still feel they're in a good position. "We're pleased to be able to have six viable Major League starters," Amaro said. "However we deal with that, whether we have to put one of those guys in the bullpen, or whether we're in a position to move one of those guys, I'd rather be in this position than being in an alternative position -- which would be looking for starting pitching. "I'm not that surprised we're in this position now. There's still time. The fact of the matter is, if we have to move one of our starters to the bullpen, that's not the worst problem to have."
Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.