This is typically one of the quietest weeks during the baseball offseason. Even general managers and their top assistants deserve a vacation, and Week 52 is a good time for rest and relaxation.
We know for a fact that Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. had a Caribbean excursion scheduled to begin Tuesday, but that has not stopped the rumor mill from churning full speed ahead.
ESPN Deportes is reporting that the Phillies have talked to free agent Jorge Posada. That information, according to the website, came from Posada's father. Meanwhile, a local blog, "The Philly Phans", ignited an Internet firestorm a few days ago by claiming a source told it the Phillies are talking to the New York Mets about acquiring third baseman David Wright. Those rumblings first surfaced in October and were sure to gain legs again before the Hot Stove burners were switched off.
When you look at the composition of the Phillies' 40-man roster, it's entirely possible to conclude that Amaro will make another move when he returns from his vacation.
Playing the roster game that used to wait until the end of spring training, you'd probably project an opening-day squad that included 11 pitchers (Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Vance Worley, Joe Blanton, Kyle Kendrick, Jonathan Papelbon, Antonio Bastardo, Mike Stutes, Jose Contreras, and Dontrelle Willis), four outfielders (John Mayberry Jr., Shane Victorino, Hunter Pence, and Laynce Nix), two catchers (Carlos Ruiz and Brian Schneider), and six infielders (Placido Polanco, Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Wilson Valdez, Ty Wigginton, and Jim Thome).
That leaves room for a fifth outfielder and another pitcher. First baseman Ryan Howard is not mentioned because he is likely going to open the season on the disabled list.
We've learned that you never say never in this era of Phillies history. But, given their needs, it seems far-fetched that Amaro is going to sign Posada or trade for Wright.
Let's start with Posada. He is 40 years old and his game has been on the decline for quite a while. He made his mark as a catcher with the New York Yankees, but is no longer capable of playing that position. He started 93 games last season, and 82 were as a designated hitter. The other 11 were at first base.
Unless the Phillies have learned recently that Howard is going to be out of the lineup beyond the middle of May and that Thome, because of his aching back, cannot play even a single game at first base, there is no reason to think they need a 40-year-old, switch-hitting first baseman.
The Wright rumor is far more interesting because everybody knows that having a 29-year-old, five-time all-star capable of hitting 30 home runs and driving in 100 runs is more desirable than having an aging and oft-injured Placido Polanco.
You cannot entirely dismiss the Wright rumors because the Mets are a financial mess and they know they need to tear things apart before they can become a contender again. That's not going to happen in 2012 or even 2013, and Wright is going to be a free agent after the 2013 season.
The Phillies would have to overwhelm general manager Sandy Alderson to get him to ship his best player to the team that has dominated his own division for the last half decade.
From the Phillies' standpoint, they also have to make it work financially, and that's no small feat either. Wright is scheduled to make $15 million next season. That's a fair salary for him, but it would be a difficult one for the Phillies to carry unless they dumped all of Polanco's salary. There is not much of a market for a guy making $7.25 million and coming off a season in which he had nine extra-base hits after April 30.
As we pointed out earlier, it appears as if the Phillies have room for another pitcher and another outfielder. The pitching thing is interesting because neither Ryan Madson nor Roy Oswalt has signed with another team.
Madson's return seems highly unlikely because his agent, Scott Boras, was extremely unhappy with the way the Phillies handled negotiations before they signed Papelbon to a four-year, $50 million deal. Though it does not appear as if Boras is going to be able to get the four-year, $44 million deal he was seeking from the Phillies, it still seems likely that Madson will end up being a closer somewhere else.
Reports on Oswalt are that he's willing to sign a one-year deal, but it seems unlikely his price would be reduced enough to get the Phillies involved.
Amaro and most of the Phillies organization are on vacation this week, but there is still some work to be done. A few tweaks seem more likely than a blockbuster move, but enough interesting names remain out there to keep the rumors circulating right through the winter.