LAS VEGAS - While their pursuit of a leftfielder dominated the headlines at the winter meetings, the Phillies continued to work on filling out their pitching staff as well.
"As I've said about a zillion times, pitching rules the day," general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said.
Negotiations with Jamie Moyer have been more difficult than anticipated. Milwaukee general manager Doug Melvin told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that the Brewers have interest in Moyer.
However, manager Charlie Manuel sounded confident that a deal would get done with the 46-year-old lefty, who led the team with 16 wins in 2008.
"I think Jamie will be in our rotation," Manuel said yesterday.
If so, the top four spots would be sewn up with Moyer, Cole Hamels, Brett Myers and Joe Blanton. Manuel said he expected J.A. Happ, Kyle Kendrick and Carlos Carrasco to compete for the fifth spot.
Those plans, of course, could change. Happ and Kendrick have been mentioned in trade possibilities, and Carrasco likely needs more seasoning at triple A.
Manuel did not mention Adam Eaton as a fifth-starter candidate. The Phillies are trying to trade the disappointing righthander, offering to pick up a large chunk of his $9 million salary for 2009.
The Phils also are looking for a reliever who can pitch multiple innings. That could be veteran Chan Ho Park. Sources said yesterday that the sides are close to a deal.
Looking for bullpen depth, the Phils signed Philadelphian Mike Koplove to a minor-league deal last month. The righthander has pitched for Arizona and Cleveland in the majors.
In the coming days, the Phillies are expected to add to the bullpen by signing righthander Blaine Neal to a minor-league contract. Neal, a South Jersey native and Bishop Eustace graduate, has pitched in the majors for Florida, San Diego, Colorado and Boston. Neal and Koplove will get looks in major-league camp this spring.
The search for relievers led the Phils to select righthander Robert Mosebach, 24, in yesterday's Rule 5 draft. Mosebach led the Texas League in innings (1771/3) while pitching for the Los Angeles Angels' double-A Arkansas club.
Mike Ondo, the Phillies' coordinator of pro scouting, said the team had good reports on Mosebach from scout Del Unser, who covers the Arizona Fall League. The Phils will look at Mosebach as a reliever in spring training. He must be offered back to the Angels if he does not make the team.
"He's a power-arm guy who can come into camp and compete," Ondo said. "He's been a starter his whole career but worked in relief in the AFL. It sounds like his stuff played up better out of the bullpen. He's a strong-bodied guy. We figured we'd take a chance on him."
The Phils added two minor-leaguers, infielder Kyle Haines (from San Francisco) and outfielder Javis Diaz (from San Diego), in the minor-league draft. The team lost three minor-leaguers, catcher John Suomi (to Kansas City) and pitchers Brett Harker and Ronald Hill (both to Florida).
Notes. Manuel on the New York Mets' adding two all-stars, J.J. Putz and Francisco Rodriguez, to the back of their bullpen: "I think they got better, but I think we can play with them." . . . The Florida Marlins could have some interest in backup catcher Chris Coste if the Phils look to deal him in the wake of trading for catcher Ronny Paulino.