Are the Phillies pursuing third baseman Morgan Ensberg? This would be an upgrade and add a former 35-homer bat to the lineup. He shouldn't cost too much, should he? -- Russ R., Springfield, Pa.
The key word in that sentence is former. Ensberg's big season came in 2005, when he compiled a .283 average with 35 home runs. His offensive production has declined recently, as he batted .233 over the past two seasons. I, too, see the potential upside, but the Phillies have indicated that they're not interested.
While we're on the subject of third basemen, here are a few other names that have come up in e-mails:
Pedro Feliz: Still blinking on the radar, though the Phillies will keep their distance as long as he continues to seek three years and $20 million.
Dallas McPherson: A 2001 second-round pick by the Angels and former top prospect, McPherson missed the 2007 season after having surgery to remove a herniated disc in his lower back. Back pain also cost him time in the previous two seasons. The left-handed batter is an intriguing name from among the non-tenders, but he's much too risky to be a realistic option. The Phillies aren't likely to take a chance on him.
Brandon Inge: He continued to come up, so I'll repeat that Inge's contract -- $19.1 million over the next three seasons -- is a problem, and the Phillies don't see him as a
Garrett Atkins: Colorado isn't shopping him, and the cost would be significant, despite the presence of prospect Ian Stewart.
Do the Phillies have any interest in Mark Prior? He seems like the classic case of a low-risk, high-reward guy.
-- Mark D., Trenton, N.J.
The Phillies aren't interested in Prior. Kris Benson is a more likely possibility.
If the Phillies don't sign someone to replace Aaron Rowand, would Jimmy Rollins be considered for the No. 5 spot in the lineup? -- Joe M., Austin, Texas
No. Manager Charlie Manuel loves batting Rollins at leadoff, and that's where he should hit. Pat Burrell will likely return to the No. 5 spot. The Phillies will replace Rowand's bat with someone else. They won't go into the season with Burrell, Shane Victorino, Jayson Werth and Chris
Snelling. Whoever they sign to replace Rowand would also be a candidate to hit fifth.
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Could you give me some information on a new ballplayer, Val Pascucci, due to sign soon? -- Robert F., LaHabra, Calif.
Pascucci belted 34 homers and drove in 98 runs for Triple-A Albuqurque, the top farm club of the Marlins. He's 28 years old and has mostly played first base. If anything, he provides organizational depth and may poke his head up as a September callup. Pascucci spent 25 days in the Major
Leagues in 2004, hitting .177.
Is Burrell still not interested in a trade? -- David F., York, Pa.
He's not. Even if he was, the Phillies are in no position to deal Burrell, who represents their main source of right-handed power. Philadelphia, as you've read, is trying to add an outfielder, so trading its left fielder makes less sense now.
Are the Marlins interested in Wes Helms? What are the chances of the two teams making a deal and what would the Phillies get in return? -- Tyler D., Allentown, Pa.
Helms was discussed in the wake of Florida's trade of star third baseman Miguel Cabrera to Detroit. The Phillies wouldn't receive much in return, and would only make such a deal after they've upgraded the position.
Why didn't the Phillies make an offer to Hiroki Kuroda? A $30 million, three-year deal isn't out of their price range. -- Bob L., Hoboken, N.J.
The Phillies bowed out of the Kuroda bidding at the Winter Meetings after speaking with his agent. They made an offer comparable to the Dodgers, so other factors likely played into the pitcher's decision, likely a desire to pitch on the West Coast and be closer to Japan, and perhaps a
friendship with Dodgers closer Takashi Saito. The Mariners also missed out, despite making what was believed to be a four-year offer, and having a Japanese catcher in Kenji Johjima. The Phillies learned with Mike Lowell and Tadahito Iguchi that a more lucrative offer isn't always the only consideration.
Is there any chance of getting Mike Costanzo back, now that he's been traded from the Astros to the Orioles?
-- Linda G., Reading, Pa.
There's always a chance. Costanzo has had an interesting winter, getting dealt twice. At least he'll be closer to home should he make it with Baltimore. While I'm sure the Phillies fan in him would love to return as soon as possible, his preference is probably the road that gets him to the Majors the quickest. I'm not saying that wouldn't have been Philadelphia, just that the chance to play on a Major League club always trumps geographical desires.
Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.