"I see him as a closer," manager Charlie Manuel said. "We'll have discussions about it, but I'd like to keep him there."
That means the "big pitcher" Manuel and Gillick seek to co-head the rotation must come from outside the organization. Because of what Gillick called a "dangerous" market for free-agent pitching, the Phillies will likely try to acquire that commodity via a trade.
He said it could cost a starting position player. Hey, these things aren't cheap. Put Florida's Dontrelle Willis, Chicago's Jon Garland and Oakland's Joe Blanton on the list of players who could be dealt this winter.
: Somewhere, Chris Coste has breathed a sigh of relief, then watched it form in cold Fargo, N.D., air.
"We're comfortable with Coste," Gillick said, suggesting that the Phillies will go with a tandem of Carlos Ruiz and Coste behind the plate in 2008.
Gillick explained that the Phillies feel better with Coste as a backup because Ruiz played an injury-free season in the Majors. Veteran Rod Barajas was added last winter amid concerns that a Ruiz-Coste combination wouldn't hold up.
Prospect Jason Jaramillo's progress -- he hit .271 in 118 games at Triple-A Ottawa -- has also helped the team's confidence level.
The Phillies will exercise their $500,000 buyout on Barajas, cutting the veteran loose.
Show Howard the money?
Ryan Howard enters salary arbitration for the first time this winter. Because a limited number of players with two-plus years experience become eligible -- they're called "super twos" -- Howard and the Phillies can go through this dance for up to four seasons.
Howard can't become a free agent until after the 2011 season, so there's no hurry to sign him long term. Howard's MVP sequel season produced a 47-homer, 136-RBI season, despite missing two weeks in May due to a left quadriceps injury. He also set a Major League record with 199 strikeouts.
Even without an announcement similar to the one that locked up Chase Utley last winter, Howard is due a significant increase. His contract was renewed at $900,000 this season. Florida's Miguel Cabrera received $7.4 million in arbitration last year.
Gillick said J.C. Romero did a "great" job for the Phillies, and would like to see the free-agent lefty return. He did not say the same about Jon Lieber and Freddy Garcia, who both missed more than three months this season with injuries. That duo combined for a 4-11 record and a 5.23 ERA while making a total of $17.5 million in 2007. The Phillies wouldn't make an attempt to sign either. ... RHP Kyle Drabek, the team's No. 1 Draft pick in 2006, could be tossing a baseball in the next few months, and could be pitching in games by May or June. He had Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgery in July. ... Gillick said top pitching prospects Carlos Carrasco, Andrew Carpenter and Josh Outman won't be ready until at least 2009. Carrasco and Outman finished the season with Double-A. Carpenter won 17 games for Class A Clearwater, then two more in leading the Threshers to their first Florida State League title since 1993.