Even before Brett Myers limped off the mound Wednesday night, the Phillies were looking to improve their starting pitching rotation.

Myers' hip injury, which will require surgery and likely end his season, makes the search for pitching more urgent, and the need to improve it more imperative.

Jake Peavy, the National League Cy Young Award winner in 2007, is the people's choice. It's no secret that the San Diego Padres are trying to unload their high-priced ace.

The Phillies have been in contact with the Padres, but team insiders say it's a long shot that a deal would be struck between the two clubs. The $63 million remaining on Peavy's contract is a big hurdle. About $8 million of that is due over the rest of this season, and the Phils' payroll is already $133 million, up $30 million from last year's World Series championship season.

Peavy's no-trade clause is another hurdle. The 28-year-old righthander would like to stay in the NL, with a contender, but staying closer to the West Coast seems to be his preference.

There are other impediments to the Phillies' landing Peavy. The Padres are likely to ask for catcher Lou Marson and pitcher J.A. Happ in the deal.

The Phils might listen on Marson, but Happ is cheap and under control for five more years - there's great value in that - and the Phils need him in their rotation now.

There is something else that would likely thwart the Phillies' pursuit of Peavy:

Citizens Bank Park.

Peavy is a critic of the place. We've heard it - firsthand.

In August 2007, during Barry Bonds' quest to break Hank Aaron's all-time home run record, this scribe participated in an interview with Peavy at San Diego's Petco Park. Peavy spoke of how Bonds would have to really hit the ball to get it out of Petco Park, and how that stadium differed from so many of the bandboxes that had sprung up around the league.

Here's what Peavy said:

"You won't hit cheap home runs here, but if you square it up, it will go," he said. "If you hit a home run here, you have hit a home run, and that's the way it should be.

"Hitters will say this is a terrible place. They think it's a graveyard. But it's fair."

Peavy then launched into an entertaining rant about the dimensions of some other more hitter-friendly parks in the NL.

"Arizona, Colorado," he said. "Are you kidding me? Cincinnati. Look at the parks in the Central [Division]. Houston. You stand in the outfield shagging and you feel like you're at deep short."

Then Peavy moved eastward.

"That new Philadelphia park might be the worst in baseball," he said. "Look at Shane Victorino. I love Vic to death. He's a great baseball player. He's got 11 or 12 homers [already]. He's not a 20-homer guy."

Victorino finished with 12 homers that season - six at home.

Again, Peavy made these comments two years ago. He has never officially said he would not come to Philadelphia. But judging from those words, it doesn't sound like a place he'd want to be.

So whom might the Phils pursue to pick up Myers' innings? Here are some ideas:

In-house candidates

Kyle Kendrick - He's got experience on his side, but has he learned to keep the ball down enough to earn another shot?

Carlos Carrasco - The growing pains he has experienced at triple A say he is not ready, but he has major-league-quality stuff.

Drew Carpenter - The steady righthander won't wow you with his stuff, but he has good "pitch-ability"' and won't be intimidated.

Antonio Bastardo - The lefty, who will start for the Phillies on Tuesday, has racked up big strikeout totals at double A and triple A, but he's essentially a two-pitch guy (fastball, change-up) who needs to throw his breaking ball for strikes. His best fit ultimately might be in the bullpen. Opposing teams have asked about him.

Rodrigo Lopez - The veteran righthander knows his way around a big-league game.

Kyle Drabek - It might sound crazy to pluck him out of the Florida State League, but he's got some of the best pure stuff in the system and enough toughness to deserve to be mentioned.

Free agents

Pedro Martinez - A five-inning pitcher, he could wear out a bullpen. He's been out there for months and the Phils have shown no real interest. Citizens Bank Park could be a bad fit.

Ben Sheets - He's recovering from elbow surgery, but seems ticketed for Texas.

nolead begins

Aiming-high trade possibilities:

   Peavy - He would give the team a co-ace with Cole Hamels, but he can call his own shots and doesn't appear to want to pitch in Philadelphia. The Cubs or Dodgers might be better fits.

Roy Oswalt - He's a great competitor who has been a tremendous pitcher for many years. But he turns 32 in August, his ERA has been trending upward, and scouts say his stuff, while still good, isn't as dominant as it once was. He is owed about $47 million, $9 million of that to come this season. Could the Phils afford that? Would GM Ed Wade do business with the Phillies again after Brad Lidge helped them win a World Series? The cost would be significant and might start with Marson and a top pitching prospect like Houston native Drabek. He's untouchable. So is outfielder Dominic Brown, the best position player in the system.

Roy Halladay - A true No. 1. He can be a free agent after 2010. The Jays are in the race. It's way too early for them to consider moving such a good pitcher. Later in the season, maybe, but the cost would (and should) be huge.

Brandon Webb - Reasonably priced at $8.5 million for next season. His power sinker would look good in Philly. But he's out until July with a strained shoulder. Could be worth watching around July 31 if he comes back healthy, but D'backs won't give him away.

Cliff Lee - The defending AL Cy Young winner is signed at a reasonable price through 2010. The Indians think they can get back in the AL Central race, but if they don't they might listen on Lee - if they are blown away.

More-realistic trade possibilities:

Erik Bedard - The Seattle lefty has a reputation of being a poor clubhouse presence, but talent rules and the Phillies like him. He can be a free agent at the end of the season. Seattle would look for a big prospect grab after getting fleeced by Baltimore for Bedard. Watch this guy.

Brad Penny - Boston would move him, but is top infield prospect Jason Donald too high a price?

Aaron Harang - His name has been thrown around, but the Reds are in contention and need to keep him to stay there.

Jason Marquis - A hot name, but the Rockies and Phillies have never had an easy time making deals. If they could come together, Marquis would make some sense. He's owed about $6 million for the remainder of the season and would give the team innings. Colorado might have some interest in Kendrick.

Chris Young - Be careful, much of his success has come in San Diego's spacious home park.

Bartolo Colon - The White Sox tried to get Peavy. Some scouts believe they could dangle Colon if they land a pitcher.

Doug Davis - Arizona would listen on the 33-year-old lefty.

Jon Garland - He'd rack up some innings, but Arizona won't give him away.

Zach Duke - Some scouts say the Pirates will make the lefty available.

Contact staff writer Jim Salisbury
at 215-854-4983 or jsalisbury@phillynews.com.