No one will question the quality of the Phillies' starting rotation now that Cliff Lee is on board.
The offense, with the departure of Jayson Werth, is a different matter. That's fine with Charlie Manuel, even though he's a manager in love with the offensive side of the game.
"I talked to [pitching coach] Rich Dubee [Tuesday] night," Manuel said after Wednesday's news conference to officially announce the signing of Lee. "He was so excited. He said we can hit Lee fifth behind [Ryan] Howard. I said, 'Oh, no, we can't.' I love offense. At the same time, when you get in big moments, the big games, the pitching stands out more."
That's true, but the Phillies still must replace Werth's bat in the middle of the order, and with the $120 million addition of Lee, it's not likely that a hitter will come from outside the organization.
With Lee set to make $11 million in 2011, the Phillies' payroll stands at $161.45 million for 19 players. They also have two players - outfielder Ben Francisco and pitcher Kyle Kendrick - who are eligible for salary arbitration.
"We've got options," Manuel said. "I think Francisco can hit. I think Domonic Brown has a lot of talent. When we go to spring training, Domonic is going to play a lot. We've got six weeks to get on him and teach him as much baseball as we possibly can. He needs to play more and [get] more knowledge of the game. We've got ways that we can fill our holes. I'm not afraid to send a young kid out there and get him a chance."
General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. was asked if he was trying to make a trade to reduce the payroll. Pitcher Joe Blanton, who has two years and $17 million remaining on a three-year contract he signed last December, is the most obvious candidate.
"We're still discussing it internally," Amaro said.
Amaro was asked if the door was still open to re-sign reliever Chad Durbin or to acquire a righthanded bat.
"I'll never say closed, but it's probably open with a toothpick," Amaro said. "But we have to keep our eyes and ears open. But I would say I'm pretty comfortable, very comfortable with the club going into spring training."
Halladay's talk with Lee
After the news broke that Lee was returning to the Phillies, he received a call Tuesday from Roy Halladay, the man who replaced him as the staff ace last season.
"He just kind of said, 'Welcome, it's going to be fun,' " Lee said. "He actually said, 'I thought we were going to get to play together when I first came over here.' I'm excited and it's going to be good. We talked a little bit about fishing and stuff like that, too. It wasn't that long of a conversation."
Lee's respect for Halladay is immense.
"Obviously Roy Halladay is the best pitcher in the game," Lee said. "I don't think anyone could dispute that. Over the last eight or nine years, he's in the top among the Cy Young voting every year. He's the best pitcher in the game, a workhorse. . . . The focus, you can see that from the other side. He never loses focus."
Lee and Werth
Lee also had a discussion with Werth after the lefthander agreed to join the Phillies, but he said the details were not fit to print.
"I don't know if I can say exactly how that conversation went down, to be honest with you," Lee said. "I know once we both got on the free-agent market, we talked about trying to get on the same team. Obviously . . . it didn't happen. When he found out I was coming here, he wasn't the happiest person in the world. I'll put it that way."
Did Werth use some bad words?
"Yeah," Lee said.
Amaro's old number
With Halladay wearing the No. 34 that used to belong to Lee, the lefthander decided he now will wear No. 33.
That number once belonged to the Phillies' general manager.
"He'll use it much better than I did, I'm sure of that," Amaro said. "The last guy to wear that number was Aaron Rowand, so he wore it pretty well. There is no jinx, thankfully."
Amaro said Lee's agent, Darek Braunecker, called after the two sides agreed on a contract. "He calls and says, 'Oh, by the way, tell Roy that Cliff wants his number back,' " Amaro said. "I said, 'I don't know if that's going to happen.' He said, 'I'm just kidding.' "