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01/14/08 11:00 AM ET

Mailbag: Why no Santana talk?

Beat reporter Ken Mandel answers fans' questions

Why aren't the Phillies pursuing Johan Santana?
-- Ralph D., Pitman, N.J.

I am surprised at how often I've received this question. For that reason, I'll answer it. They aren't pursuing Santana because they don't have the top, Major League-ready prospects the Twins are seeking, and they don't have the budget to sign Santana to the $140 million, seven-year extension the lefty would require to waive his no-trade clause.

Even if the Phils could, it would prevent them from having money available for other needs, such as pursuing other free agents or locking up, say, Ryan Howard or Cole Hamels, to a long-term deal. The Phillies are one of many teams who can't afford to play on the same field with the Red Sox, Yankees or Mets. I understand that a Mets acquisition of Santana would deal a blow to Philadelphia's chances of repeating as National League East champs, but there's nothing the Phillies can do about it.

Allow me to borrow a quote from Hank Steinbrenner in Thursday's New York Daily News.

"What it comes down to right now is giving up a lot [in a trade] and then having to do the big contract, as well," he said. "If [Santana] was just a free agent, we could just go ahead and do it. There's a big difference this way. We have to sign him as if he's a free agent, plus you have to give up major talent. That's a tall order."

Do you think Pedro Feliz would be a good fit? He's got pop and a solid glove.
-- Chris R., Pittsgrove, N.J.

Feliz could've upgraded third base with his defense alone, but the Phillies' bench appears to have been filled up with the signing of outfielder So Taguchi. Assuming they go with 12 pitchers, Taguchi, Eric Bruntlett, Chris Coste, Jayson Werth and Wes Helms or Greg Dobbs will likely make up a five-man bench. Chris Snelling could be a left-handed-hitting option if the Phils go with 11 arms.

Do the Phillies have any interest in bringing back Antonio Alfonseca? He showed enough last year to at least offer a Minor League contract and a Spring Training invite.
-- Ron M., Ventnor, N.J.

They're still open to bringing him back, though I'm not sure it will happen.

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Are there any plans for modifications to the outfield walls that might lure free-agent pitchers?
-- Sharad S., Wilmington, Del.

There aren't any plans to move the fences further back or raise the height. The park is what it is at this point, and the Phillies will plan accordingly. The plan includes bashing teams with offense, paying a lot for a front-line starter and developing ground-ball pitchers.

In the recent online chat with Ruben Amaro Jr., the first question was about Adrian Beltre. Do you know anything more about that? I know he signed a big contract a couple years ago?
-- W.P., Delaware City, Del.

He's owed $24 million for the next two seasons. The Phillies aren't interested in acquiring him.

Jon Lieber is still available. You mention the Phillies were sour on Freddy Garcia, but might they have a place for Lieber?
-- Frank B., Mountaintop, Pa.

They're sour on Lieber, too. General manager Pat Gillick is on record saying that the door is closed on a possible Lieber return.

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