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10/22/07 3:05 PM ET

Mailbag: Are prospects ready to start?

Beat reporter Ken Mandel answers Phillies fans' questions

Given Kyle Kendrick's success this year, will the Phillies consider taking a similar chance with Joshua Outman, J.A. Happ, or Carlos Carrasco next year rather than spending money on older pitchers who might not perform as expected? How about Joe Savery?
-- Bruce S., Ottawa, Ontario

Kendrick's success came at a desperate time for the rotation -- with Freddy Garcia and Jon Lieber out -- and his performance was key for the Phillies to make the playoffs. The young right-hander is a classic case of a player making the most of an opportunity. The three pitchers you mentioned will all have a similar chance to make an impact, but not until the organization deems them ready. Carrasco and Happ are the closest, but will start the season at Triple-A. Their progress and the circumstances on the big league roster will determine how long they remain there.

I've been reading about Mike Lowell as a potential third baseman for the Phillies. A name I was wondering about was Colorado's Garrett Atkins. I know it would have to be a trade, but he seems as though he would be a solid fit. The Rockies top prospect is Ian Stewart (a third baseman), so Atkins may be available. Do you think that's a possibility? Also, it seems to make sense to sign Curt Schilling to a one-year deal. Adding one of the best postseason pitchers of this era would be a great move. If the Phillies can make the playoffs, Schilling could put them over the top.
-- Chris C., Bayside, N.Y.

Atkins could be a hot topic this winter, though the Rockies don't appear motivated to deal one of their core players, despite who they may have as a replacement. It will take a significant package to pry him away, and the Phillies may not have the required pieces. You'll hear a lot about Lowell, as the potential free agent would be a significant upgrade at third base. Lowell has said that his first choice is to remain with the Red Sox. He becomes more of a possibility if center fielder Aaron Rowand leaves and the Phillies pursue Lowell to replace Rowand's offense in the lineup, leaving them with an outfield of Pat Burrell, Shane Victorino and Jayson Werth/Michael Bourn. With pitching being a priority, the Phillies can't afford to upgrade both positions. As for Schilling, the veteran would be a huge asset to the rotation, and is an outstanding postseason pitcher. He also has said that he would like to remain with Boston, but would love a chance to return to the organization where he feels he developed.

It has been mentioned that Florida's Dontrelle Willis may be traded. Is there any chance he could end up with the Phillies next year?
-- Matt W., Landale, Pa.

Take this for what it's worth, but Willis' agent, Matt Sosnick, gave a strong indication on Sunday night that the lefty is part of Florida's future plans. "If I were to guess, I'd guess Dontrelle is going to come back," Sosnick said, in a story that appeared on MLB.com. Sosnick said he spoke with Larry Beinfest, the Marlins' president of baseball operations, a day before, and was led to believe Willis will be with Florida in 2008. Willis earned $6.45 million in 2007 and is arbitration-eligible for two more years.

Is it wise for the Phillies to go after Andruw Jones if Aaron Rowand leaves via free agency? Not taking anything away from Rowand, because he did a fantastic job, but Jones would give the Phillies that big bat they've always wanted to protect Ryan Howard. What are your thoughts on the Phillies chances of signing him?
-- Mike T., Upper Darby, Pa.

Bases on Jones' 2007 season -- he hit .222 with 26 homers while hitting seventh and showed diminished range in center field -- I'd rather have Rowand. Jones' agent Scott Boras is also a tough negotiator and won't let a poor season get in the way of a huge payday for his client. Jones' contract is going to be one of the more interesting of this offseason, and I doubt the Phillies will be playing in that ballpark.

I'm concerned about the contract status of Jose Mesa and Antonio Alfonseca. Are they signed for 2008? What are the plans for these two well-traveled relievers?
-- Tom Q., Hilton Head, S.C.

Both are free agents. General manager Pat Gillick said the team will talk to Alfonseca about returning. Mesa isn't expected back.

If Rowand isn't re-signed and Victorino starts in center field, do you feel that Bourn or Werth are ready to step up into a starting role?
-- Adam D., Philadelphia

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Werth would likely start in right and Bourn would find himself at-bats in all three outfield spots in that scenario. Gillick has gone on record as saying he think it might be a "stretch" for the trio to man center and right, given the durability issues of all three.

What spot in the rotation will Kendrick have next year?
-- Sam B., Philadelphia

He finished the season as the team's No. 2 starter, but is more suited as a No. 4. That again could change.

Is there a chance that Werth or Victorino will be dealt for pitching?
-- Billy B., Oreland, Pa.

Victorino is more likely, considering he could net a bigger fish. Gillick acknowledged that a trade is the best way to address the team's starting pitching, and that it would likely be a player off the current roster. Victorino would appear to be the most expendable player, despite his brilliant arm and aggressive nature that makes him such an integral part of the team.

What are the chances of having Tadahito Iguchi work on playing third base in the offseason and playing him there next year? He's a great infielder already and a good solid hitter.
-- Anthony L., Hammonton, N.J.

Iguchi won't be playing third for the Phillies next season. They approached the free agent about that possibility and were told that he wanted to pursue a team that has a need for a second baseman.

Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.