Phillies quiet heading into winter meetings

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Phillies quiet heading into winter meetings

Major League Baseball's annual winter meetings begin Monday in Orlando, adding another element to what’s already been an interesting offseason.

Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. is no stranger to the meetings, landing big-name talents such as Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee in the past. But with the Phils remaining relatively quiet so far, does he have what it takes to land more big-name talent?

“This is a different winter for that team, a different winter for Amaro, who is a big-game hunter, loves those big guys,” CSNPhilly.com Phillies insider Jim Salisbury said on "SportsNite" on Comcast SportsNet. “Let’s not forget, he’s kind of obsessed with Giancarlo Stanton down in Miami and they're always poking around on that one, but I don’t see them trading him right now.”

The Phillies aren’t in a hurry to sign upper-echelon talent. They've opted thus far to add mid-range players such as Marlon Byrd, Wil Nieves and Brad Lincoln.

“They kind of cast their die a little bit early in the offseason when they set their sights on a mid-range guy -- Marlon Byrd,” Salisbury said. “Those seem to be the type of guys they’re looking at. They weren’t in it for [Jacoby] Ellsbury, they're not in it for [Shin-Soo] Choo.

“They have a bunch of guys -- Ryan Howard, [Cole] Hamels, [Cliff] Lee -- making $20 or more million. [Jonathan] Papelbon and Mike Adams next year are going to combine in the eight and ninth inning for $20 million. I just don’t think that they have big-ticket free agents on their plate the rest of this winter.”

While the Phils may be reluctant to spend big money this offseason, Amaro still may tinker with his roster via the trade market. His best asset?

“The best trade chip they have is Domonic Brown, 26 years old, still an improving talent, in my opinion,” Salisbury said. “He’s a guy that I hear a lot of rumble about from opposing teams, that he's available, that their ears are open. In the right move, they would like to get back young, productive right-handed bat they could play in the outfield, under-control type of player contract-wise.

"The thing is, teams just don’t really want to move those type of guys. ... I don’t know if it’s likely that they will indeed make that move. I think their ears are wide open, though.”

End could be near for Jimmy Rollins, who's unlikely to make Giants' roster

End could be near for Jimmy Rollins, who's unlikely to make Giants' roster

The long-expected homecoming for Jimmy Rollins didn't go as planned.

Rollins, now 38, is unlikely to make the San Francisco Giants' opening-day roster.

"We've talked to Jimmy and he knows the scenario and the situation," manager Bruce Bochy told reporters earlier this week. "We're just waiting to hear back from him."

J-Roll was hoping to catch on with the Giants as a utility infielder. San Francisco already has an everyday shortstop in Brandon Crawford, so Rollins' role would have been to back him up, play a little second base and perhaps some third base. 

But Rollins hit just .125 this spring and fell clearly behind fellow veteran Aaron Hill, who is three years younger and at this point simply a better hitter.

Is this the end for J-Roll? If it is, he'll finish with a .264/.324/.418 batting line in over 10,000 plate appearances, 2,455 hits, 511 doubles, 231 homers and 470 steals.

Rollins is one of just four players ever with that many career doubles and steals. The others are Barry Bonds, Ty Cobb and Paul Molitor.

While some players have precipitous drop-offs that lead to retirement -- forced or unforced -- Rollins' decline has been more gradual. His batting average has dipped in each of the last four seasons, from .252 in 2013 to .243 to .224 to .221 last season. 

Rollins latched on with the White Sox last spring and was their opening-day shortstop, but he was released on June 15 as Chicago made room for top prospect Tim Anderson.

Rollins, who played 15 seasons with the Phillies, is the franchise leader in at-bats, hits and doubles. He's second in steals, third in triples and runs scored, ninth in homers and eighth in RBIs.

He also won an MVP, a World Series, four Gold Gloves and made three All-Star teams.

Enough to make the Hall of Fame? That's obviously subjective, but for as much as he did for the Phillies and for how much he impacted the game for more than a decade, Rollins' rate stats -- namely the .251/.317/.395 batting line he posted from 2008-16 -- could keep him out of Cooperstown, even though some of his counting stats are more impressive than Barry Larkin's.

Phillies finalize bullpen; final two bench jobs to be announced later today

Phillies finalize bullpen; final two bench jobs to be announced later today

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- The Phillies finalized their bullpen Thursday morning and will complete the rest of their roster later in the day, manager Pete Mackanin said.

Lefties Adam Morgan and Joely Rodriguez were named to the final two spots in the bullpen after veteran Luis Garcia was optioned to Triple A.

The final two spots on the roster are both bench jobs. Brock Stassi, Daniel Nava and Jesmuel Valentin are the final candidates.

"We're going to pick two out of three and we'll know by the end of the game," Mackanin said before the Phillies were to play the Yankees in a 1 p.m. game.

There are indications that Stassi will make the roster, leaving the final spot down to Nava and Valentin. Nava is a first baseman/outfielder. Valentin, 22, is a second baseman by trade. If he doesn't make the club, he will play every day at Triple A.

Andres Blanco, Aaron Altherr and rookie catcher Andrew Knapp are already set on the bench.

Garcia was sent to the minors one day after pitching poorly against the Detroit Tigers in Lakeland. He was tagged for five hits and two runs in two innings of work. One of the hits was a double. Garcia needed 45 pitches to get through the two innings. He did not walk a batter and struck out three.

Garcia will likely close at Triple A.

"He developed a splitter over the course of spring training and we want him to go down and work on it," Mackanin said. "It could be a real good pitch for him in the future."

As far as bullpen roles, Morgan will work as a long man while Rodriguez will be more of a situational lefty. Jeanmar Gomez, Hector Neris, Edubray Ramos, Joaquin Benoit and Pat Neshek round out the bullpen.

Gomez will open the season as the closer. He saved 37 games last season but lost the job in September.

"I'm going to go with Gomez," Mackanin said. "He's going to get every opportunity to do the job. If he doesn't, we're going to take a look at it."