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Mailbag: Who's on third?

Mailbag: Who's on third for Phillies in 2008?

Who is the best possibility at third base for the Phillies? Since Mike Lowell has re-signed with Boston and Abraham Nunez is gone, who could they sign to fill the spot?
-- Jonathan K., Schuylkill, Pa.

It appears that Lowell was the only player they were willing to add at that position, so Greg Dobbs, Wes Helms and Eric Bruntlett should all receive time at third. In that alignment, Dobbs could see the majority of the at-bats, since he would be the guy against right-handed pitchers. That said, teams often save their lefties for the Phillies, since they have Ryan Howard and Chase Utley, so that should mean a few more at-bats for Helms and Bruntlett.

Has a team had three different players win the MVP three straight years?
-- Evelyn, Morristown, N.J.

It's happened twice. From 1942-44, Mort Cooper, Stan Musial and Marty Marion took MVP honors for the Cardinals, and from 1961-63, Roger Maris, Mickey Mantle and Elston Howard turned the trick for the Yankees.

Jimmy Rollins won the National League MVP without making the All-Star team. I find that to be odd. Does that happen frequently?
-- Donny J. Wilkes-Barre, Pa.

It's not common. Chipper Jones won the NL MVP in 1999 without making the All-Star team.

If the Phillies have more available funds, is re-signing Aaron Rowand more of a possibility. And with Torii Hunter signing for $90 million with the Angels, is that how much Rowand would likely cost?
-- Tom D., Parsippany, N.J.

It's unclear whether the Phillies received a bump in payroll from the widely reported $105 million budget that they are believed to have available, leaving $10 to $15 million available to spend. The offer to Lowell was likely back-loaded so that the third baseman would've earned most of his salary starting in 2009, when Pat Burrell, Tom Gordon and Helms potentially come off the books. The team is probably discussing a similar proposal with Rowand, but it's still going to come down to how much Rowand is willing to accept. Hunter's deal, reported at an average of $18 million a year, has set the market for the other free-agent center fielders.

As a reminder, here's what general manager Pat Gillick said last week about the Rowand situation: "He's out there looking at the market, so we'll have to wait and see. We have an idea, and hopefully, it will work out, but somebody might go a little further than we want to go."

Is Scott Mathieson ready to pitch again. If so, as a starter or only in relief?
-- Eugene G., Richmond, Va.

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Mathieson expects to be ready for Spring Training, though the team will go slowly with one of their best prospects. The right-hander returned in the summer from Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery, then needed surgery to clean up his right shoulder. If healthy, Mathieson should start and could get himself to a point where he's one of the first options for the big league club.

Is Kyle Lohse in the Phillies' plans for 2008?
-- Deuce D., Philadelphia

It doesn't appear that way. Lohse's agent, Scott Boras, is believed to be seeking a five-year deal for his client in what is a weak market for starting pitching. The Phillies, as you've heard 876 times this offseason, are focusing on pitching, but looking for a short-term option. Lohse doesn't fit into their budget.

If the Phillies lose Rowand and Lohse to free agency, will they receive draft choices?
-- Don D., Wallingford, Pa.

They will receive the first-round draft pick of the team that signs Rowand -- who is a Type-A free agent -- unless that team had one of the 15 worst records in the league last season. In that case, the Phillies would receive that team's second-round pick. In either case, Philadelphia also receives a "sandwich" pick between the first and second rounds. They also get only a sandwich pick for Freddy Garcia, but no first-rounder. They will not receive compensation for Lohse.

Is Chris Snelling part of the Rowand "solution" or simply a bat off the bench?
-- Phil S., Reading, Pa.

Snelling is a bat off the bench. The solution to Rowand will be a player with a more substantial Major League resume.

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

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