NASHVILLE - The Phillies left Tennessee yesterday without the pitching help they need.
General manager Pat Gillick even predicted the fifth starter they covet might not arrive before spring training, which must make Charlie Manuel uneasy. But the Phillies hope they at least added inventory in yesterday's Rule 5 draft.
"We learned last year that six [starters] is not enough," assistant general manager Mike Arbuckle said. "It's not nearly enough. We have to create depth and inventory to protect ourselves."
The Phillies selected two pitchers in the Rule 5 draft. They took lefthander Travis Blackley from San Francisco's organization and righthander Lincoln Holdzcom from Boston's. The Phillies think Blackley could compete for the fifth spot in the rotation, while Holdzcom is more of a long shot to make the team as a relief pitcher.
"One of the guys we got we didn't think would get to us," Arbuckle said. "We liked Blackley. He had shoulder surgery two years ago, and we still think he's on the upswing from that."
"I faced Travis in the minors, and from what I remember he threw hard and had a good curveball," said Phillies centerfielder Shane Victorino, who was selected twice in the Rule 5 draft. "He is a pretty tough lefty."
Arbuckle said that if Blackley doesn't make the rotation, he could pitch in the bullpen. Blackley, 25, went 10-8 with a 4.66 ERA last season in triple-A Fresno, and 0-0 with a 7.27 ERA in two starts in September for the Giants. Holdzcom, 25, split time last season between double-A Portland and triple-A Pawtucket, going 5-1 with a 2.97 ERA and one save in 42 appearances.
To remain with the Phillies, Blackley and Holdzcom need to be on the Phillies' 25-man roster the entire season, or else be offered back to their former teams. Privately, the Red Sox think they will get Holdzcom back.
In the minor-league portion of the draft, the Phillies selected third baseman Patrick Sellers from the Houston Astros and second baseman Luke Appert from the Oakland A's.
The Phillies lost two players in the minor-league draft: righthander Scott Mitchinson went to Oakland and righthander Kenny Fernandez went to Florida.
The Los Angeles Dodgers and centerfielder Andruw Jones agreed to a two-year, $36.2 million contract, but that doesn't mean the market has shrunk considerably for Aaron Rowand or made him more affordable.
Rowand's agent, Craig Landis, said Jones' deal did not affect Rowand's situation with the Phillies.
Is that because they're that far apart?
"Yeah," Landis said.
Landis explained that because Jones was coming off a down year he was willing to do a short-term deal. He also pointed out that Jones was coming off a six-year deal. Rowand is a free agent for the first time and looking for long-term security. Landis doesn't expect that to change.
"Andruw affects us, but not with the Phillies," Landis said.
Gillick said Wednesday that Rowand's return was a long shot. Landis agreed. Rowand is seeking a five-year contract, while the Phillies seem willing to overpay for a three-year deal.
"I'm not ruling it totally out, but I would have to agree that it's a long shot," Landis said.
The agent for Tadahito Iguchi, Rocky Hall, said he almost certainly would not secure a waiver from the commissioner's office that would allow the Phillies to re-sign Iguchi before May 15. But he still hasn't ruled out Iguchi's return to the Phillies.
Neither have the Phillies, who are shopping third baseman Wes Helms.
Hall said he thought the Phillies and Iguchi were about "80 percent near an agreement," but they can't finalize anything because of the May 15 rule. Of course, Iguchi could sign a minor-league contract. Hall said Iguchi would not do that, but with options apparently few and far between he could reconsider.
Iguchi also could sign with another team and the Phillies could acquire him in a trade retroactive to May 15.
The Phillies seem intent on continuing their pursuit of Iguchi, despite the obstacles.
The Florida Marlins have talked with the Phillies about acquiring Helms. A trade is a possibility, but nothing is imminent. The Phillies do not have interest in Detroit Tigers third baseman Brandon Inge, who is owed $19.1 million over the next three years. Asked about the chances of having different personnel at third base other than Helms and Greg Dobbs, Gillick said, "about 50-50." Dobbs is expected to remain in the organization. . . . The Phillies have made a minor-league contract offer to free agent lefthander Glendon Rusch, but San Diego, St. Louis, Cincinnati and Houston reportedly also are in the hunt. . . . Rumors involving Baltimore Orioles lefthander Erik Bedard and a trade with the Phillies are completely false. Team sources said the teams haven't even talked. . . . Phillies VP for public relations Larry Shenk received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Philadelphi Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America.