As other teams turn up the hot stove with talk about CC Sabathia, Manny Ramirez and Jake Peavy, the Phillies are looking for ways to tweak their World Series championship roster.
There are indications inside the organization that there is interest in free-agent leftfielder Raul Ibanez, who hit .293 with 23 home runs and 110 RBIs last season with the Seattle Mariners.
What is interesting about Ibanez, 36, is that he hits lefthanded. That would seem to work against manager Charlie Manuel's vision of a balanced lineup, given that Chase Utley and Ryan Howard are also lefthanded hitters.
But Ibanez hit .305 last season against lefthanders compared to .288 against righthanders, so the Phillies could feel more comfortable with Ibanez in the middle of their lineup, rather than obtaining a lesser righthanded hitter just for the sake of his being righthanded. Of course, in his career, Ibanez has hit .293 against righthanders and just .268 against lefthanders.
Here is another reason Ibanez could pique the Phillies' interest: Pat Gillick, who is an adviser to general manager Ruben Amaro Jr., is a former GM with the Mariners. New assistant general manager Benny Looper just came from Seattle. Both Gillick and Looper know Ibanez well.
The Phillies have spoken with Pat Burrell's agents about a potential return, but it still seems they are at least willing to explore other options before they get serious with him.
Amaro has said pitching remains the team's priority, and the Phillies remain hopeful they will re-sign lefthander Jamie Moyer. Though the sides haven't yet come to an agreement, that should not cause concern. Moyer's agent has been unavailable since last week, and Moyer is taking care of family matters this week.
The Phillies have some interest in free-agent righthander Juan Cruz (4-0, 2.61 ERA in 57 appearances), although he is a Type A free agent. If the Phillies signed him before Dec. 1 or if the Arizona Diamondbacks have offered him salary arbitration, the Phillies would have to forfeit their first-round draft pick.
Ibanez also is a Type A free agent, so the Phils might be in a situation in which they wait to see which players are offered arbitration and which ones aren't and proceed from there.
Amaro said last week that if the right situation presents itself, he won't be afraid to make a move.
Extra bases. The Phillies completed their interviews with coaching candidates Rich Donnelly, Tim Bogar and Pete Mackanin. They could make a hire before the end of the week. . . . The club has agreed to a three-year contract with MYPHL17 (formerly known as Channel 17) to broadcast 45 regular-season games and three exhibition games. The station also will carry the weekly Behind the Pinstripes show before each Sunday broadcast. WPHL broadcast the Phillies from 1971 to 1982 and 1993 to 1998.