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Hot Rumors Follow Hot Stove as Phillies and Others Try To Improve

Scott EisenlohrAnalyst INovember 10, 2009

ST LOUIS, MO - JULY 14:  American League All-Star Roy Halladay of the Toronto Blue Jays pitches during the 2009 MLB All-Star Game at Busch Stadium on July 14, 2009 in St Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Morry Gash-Pool/Getty Images)
Pool/Getty Images

Less than a week after the New York Yankees beat the Philadelphia Phillies in six games to win their 27th World Championship, the Hot Stove League has begun in earnest.

Even before the general managers meeting in Chicago on Nov. 10-11, trades have been made in the fresh offseason.

The Pirates and the Rays made a deal on Nov. 3, with Tampa Bay sending second baseman Akinori Iwamura to Pittsburgh for reliever Jesse Chavez. Two days later, the Marlins traded outfielder Jeremy Hermida to Boston for left-hander Hunter Jones.

The next day, the Royals sent infielder-outfielder Mark Teahen to the White Sox for second baseman Chris Getz and third baseman Josh Fields.

The Phillies, among other teams, did some internal housekeeping in the past week. They exercised the option of pitcher Cliff Lee for $9 million, declined the option on third baseman Pedro Feliz, and told pitcher Brett Myers that they would not re-sign him.

Again, as it was during the trade deadline over the summer, rumors have started about Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Roy Halladay. A rumor heard on Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia teased of a possible deal involving Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels and Halladay.

Rumors are usually just that, but let's take a look at this deal:

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Hamels was 10-11 with a 4.32 ERA. Halladay was 17-10 with a 2.79 ERA.

Hamels will be 26 two days after Christmas, and Halladay will be 33 in May.

Me? I would not do it but would accept it if the deal happened. Hamels is a head case but too good a pitcher to give up on.

As with most rumors, it probably will die in the rumor mill.

When the Phillies did not exercise the $5.5 million option on Feliz, I thought they would have a replacement on hand Monday. There was none, likely because free agent signings cannot happen until Nov. 19.

The Phillies kept their options open with Feliz, who after Sunday's decision by the club filed for free agency.

The Phillies are looking at the Angels' Chone Figgins, Seattle's Adrian Beltre, and the Cardinals' Mark DeRosa to replace Feliz.

Figgins remains one of the key free agents this year.

Some interesting names could help the Phillies infield as a starter or in backup roles in some cases: Placido Polanco and Miguel Tejada, who both could play third base; Mark Loretta, Craig Counsell, and Fernando Tatis.

White Sox pitcher Octavio Dotel, a right-hander, could shore up the Phillies bullpen but is a Type A free agent and would cost a draft choice.

Pitching, both starters and relievers, is a concern to the Phillies, along with the bench and third base.

With the exception of third base, however, slight adjustments are needed for the National League champions.

What would I do? I'd sign Figgins of the Angels as a free agent third baseman, pick up some free agents for the bench and as infield backups, such as Loretta or Tatis, to replace Eric Bruntlett, and a left-handed bat to replace Matt Stairs, if possible.

I'd also add an arm to shore up the bullpen.

The closer spot remains an issue, but knowing Phillies manager Charlie Manuel's loyalty, Brad Lidge will remain the closer in 2010.

But could you imagine if Lidge blows up and midseason the Phillies need to find a closer?

Teams would and should hold the Phillies for ransom.

You have to let this situation ride. If it is not right by May, consider Ryan Madson for the job and go out and get another bullpen guy.

One publication or web site called Lidge's three-year deal signed in 2008 "silly."

Funny, it seemed like a pretty good deal to me considering Lidge was in the midst of a 41-for-41 save season in 2008.

As much as the club says it is keeping the lines of communications open with Feliz and his agent, general manager Ruben Amaro's comments have made it clear that the club will make a change at the hot corner.

I'd be happy with the Phillies signing Figgins or Beltre.

Figgins would probably become the leadoff hitter, and Jimmy Rollins would move down in the order. Figgins would thrive in Philadelphia as a base stealer, as he had 42 stolen bases last year for the Angels.

Beltre, if healthy, is a productive hitter with more pop than speed and has an excellent glove.

One thing is clear: With the departures of Myers and Feliz, the Phillies will have a different look next year.

** Information gathered from MLB.com

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