Mailbag: What are Phils' catching plans?

Mailbag: What are Phils' plans behind the dish?

With Mike Lieberthal bouncing on and off the disabled list, and Carlos Ruiz not showing that he might have what it takes to be an everyday catcher, do you believe Sal Fasano is the future behind the dish, or is it likely the Phillies may try to make a move for a younger, healthier player? -- Justin M., Allentown, Pa.

If by future, you mean the rest of this season, then yes, Fasano, Chris Coste and Lieberthal will handle the catching duties. Lieberthal, by the way, could be back later this week, assuming his rehabilitation stint goes well.

Beyond this season, the Phillies are waiting for Jason Jaramillo. Since that could be two years away, Philadelphia will likely look for a place-holder through free agency, with Fasano and even Lieberthal as options.

I'm mystified by Charlie Manuel's decision not to move Ryan Franklin into the rotation, at least for the time being. Franklin was supposedly signed as a starter who could "eat up innings," but was sent to the bullpen because there was no room in the rotation. That clearly hasn't been the case for more than a month, with Jon Lieber and Gavin Floyd out of the picture. It's not that Manuel is so desperate to have Franklin in the bullpen, where he's been mediocre. Aaron Fultz, Geoff Geary, and Rheal Cormier have all pitched better, and Franklin has lost his seventh-inning setup job. Why doesn't Manuel give Franklin a chance to do what he was hired to do in the first place?
-- Kevin S., San Gabriel, Calif.

Franklin is just as frustrated as you are, Kevin. He accepted the switch during Spring Training because he believed the rotation was set, and that he'd be used in crucial seventh-inning situations. The loss of his role has been due to his not pitching effectively, something he blames on not being able to work hitters the same way he would as a starter. The Phillies, meanwhile, appear to have lost confidence in him in any situation.

His window to start may have closed with the expected return of Lieber and Randy Wolf. He'd likely welcome a trade if it means a return to working once every five days.

If the Phillies trade either Bobby Abreu or Pat Burrell, would Shane Victorino or Dave Dellucci take over the position? Also I know Doug Glanville isn't signed with a team. Why wouldn't the Phils sign him to the Minor Leagues for a speedy callup in September?
-- Ricky H., Forked River, N.J.

Since we're dealing in the hypothetical, my guess is that Dellucci would receive the majority of the playing time, though not by much. Manuel would probably go with matchups, and the two might find themselves in a platoon.

Why did the Phillies trade Robinson Tejeda?
-- Greg H., Havertown, Pa.

Tejeda was dealt because the Phillies felt that Dellucci would be a perfect fit for the bench. While pitching has been the glaring weaknesses this season, they were right in their assessment of Dellucci. For what it's worth, Tejeda has an ERA over seven for the Rangers, and the Phillies didn't believe the young starter was going to lick his control problems.

What is Manuel's fixation with keeping David Bell at third base? His offensive power numbers are paltry for a corner infielder, and his usually solid defense has been shaky recently. Why not give Abraham Nunez -- or even Burrell -- a shot there?
-- Sean A., Nashville, Tenn.

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First of all, forget Burrell playing third. That will never happen. While it's true that Burrell manned the hot corner in college, he won't be moving back.

As for Nunez, he needs to significantly improve on his .163 batting average before the Phillies think about making any changes. Simply put, Bell is Manuel's best option, for better or worse.

Should the Phillies trade Bell and Eude Brito or someone for David Wright and call up Floyd?
-- Josh F.

The Phillies should absolutely trade Bell and Brito for Wright, but good luck getting Mets GM Omar Minaya to agree. Wright is going to be in New York for a long, long, long time.

As for Floyd, the Phillies won't call up the right-hander until he proves he can be successful for an extended period of time. A handful of starts in Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre isn't enough, especially after his struggles in the Majors this season.

When will Julio Santana return?
-- Alex C., Charlotte, N.C.

He won't. Santana had surgery on his right elbow and is done for the season.

Do you think the Phillies will fire Manuel at the end of the year?
-- Frank L., Philadelphia

If that's Manuel's fate, it will likely come at the end of this season, not during. General manager Pat Gillick backed Manuel earlier this month, and he will use the next few months to determine whether the problems lie with the manager or with the collection of players.

The Phillies haven't been to the playoffs since 1993, and a good portion of this particular group has been together under three different managers. Gillick must look through that when he makes his decision.

Ken Mandel is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.