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Phillies looking in all corners for potential upgrades

While some on the outside look at the Phillies as old and on the downside, the team doesn't perceive itself in that way.

The Phillies clearly expect to contend for a postseason berth and they are at least encouraged by the fact that nobody has run away from them even though they are 19-22 with a quarter of the season played.

The signing of Carlos Zambrano to a minor league contract is proof that they are looking in every corner in an attempt to improve the club. Many teams wouldn't touch Zambrano with his list of suspensions and ill-will created during a stormy 11-year career with the Chicago Cubs.

Of course three of those seasons he earned all-star status and for somebody who turns 32 next month, it's not a bad gamble.

When assistant general manager Scott Proefrock was asked if a move like signing Zambrano reaffirms the Phillies commitment to winning, he seemed more than a little surprised at the question.

"I don't think that needed to be reaffirmed," he said. "I didn't think that was a question. That is what we are here for."

Zambrano wasn't signed for the future. He was signed in hopes that his right arm can still deliver some wins now on a team where 40 percent of the starting rotation (Roy Halladay, John Lannan) is on the disabled list.

Whether anybody agrees or disagrees with the Phillies moves, they are attempting to improve and contend this year. They will have to do much more than bring in Zambrano, but it's a start.

The Phillies certainly aren't cheap. According to USA Today figures, they have the third highest payroll in MLB, more than $165 million.

What has hurt them has been overpaying for players, but they do spend. Yet even the Phillies have a financial figure that can't be exceeded. And with sellouts no longer the norm, things could get tighter.

Now the Phillies are at the point where they have to get some bargains to counter some of the overpriced players on the team.

They hope Zambrano can produce after being purchased off the discount rack.