DALLAS - Even though Ruben Amaro Jr. is the general manager and David Montgomery is the team president, the voice of former Phillies general manager Pat Gillick still carries a lot of weight in the executive offices at Citizens Bank Park.
Gillick, a senior adviser to Amaro and Montgomery, was asked Monday at the winter meetings what he thought the team needed most at this stage of the offseason, and he did not hesitate with an answer.
"It would be good to have a veteran lefthander to go with [Antonio] Bastardo," he said. "I think that would fit in well."
It appears that one veteran reliever the Phillies have targeted for that role is free-agent lefty George Sherrill, who also drew interest from the team as a free agent last season before eventually signing with the Atlanta Braves.
Sherrill, 34, rebounded from a poor 2010 season with the Los Angeles Dodgers and played his lefty role well for the Braves, going 3-1 with a 3.00 ERA in 51 games. Lefthanded hitters batted .256 against him and had a .275 on-base percentage. He struck out 32 of the 81 lefthanded hitters he faced and walked only one.
Lefthanded hitters are batting .180 against Sherrill for his career, and they strike out nearly a third of the time.
Amaro said adding another veteran relief arm was a secondary priority.
"It's possible," Amaro said. "Not probable, but possible. A lot of the things are contingent on what happens with Jimmy [Rollins]."
A second lefthander who specializes in getting out lefthanders is something the Phillies had with J.C. Romero and Scott Eyre in 2008 and 2009, but Eyre retired after '09 and Romero struggled to throw strikes the last two years and was not nearly as effective.
"You have to balance your club out," Gillick said. "Be it your position players, be it your starting rotation or the bullpen, you have to have balance down there. . . . We had really one lefthander at the back end, and you really need two."
Amaro explained that the front office is divided on John Mayberry Jr.'s prospects as an everyday player, hence the impending signing of Laynce Nix. That signing was pending Nix's physical. He will make a reported $2.5 million over two years.
Part of Nix's responsibility could be regular time in left field. Amaro often has praised Mayberry this winter, but he admitted reluctance to just hand him the job.
"I think there are some people out there who think he's earned a chance to play every day and there are others who think that he needs a little protection," Amaro said. "John is a really good athlete, and he's a guy that when you scout him as an amateur and watch him develop, he's got a lot of tools that you look for in a major-league player. . . . I think he's just starting to gain confidence and just starting to put it together."
Amaro said the club should have a better idea about Jan. 1 of Ryan Howard's timetable for a return from Achilles surgery. Howard will do more weight-bearing exercises and underwater activities in the next couple of weeks. . . . Amaro said he does not anticipate Rollins, Ryan Madson, or Raul Ibanez accepting arbitration by Wednesday's deadline. . . . Ryne Sandberg was named minor-league manager of the year by Baseball America. He will manage triple-A Lehigh Valley again in 2012.
Phillies might take a look at lefty reliever George Sherrill. D7.