Ruben Amaro Jr.: Hi, everyone, it's Ruben. Thanks for joining us today at phillies.com. I'm ready to answer your questions.
Q: Can we get [Adrian] Beltre?
Amaro: We really can't comment on players from other clubs, however, we have had some internal discussions about our third base situation and improving it.
Q: Are the Phillies still looking at pitchers and are they looking for these pitchers from free agency or trades?
Amaro: We know that pitching was our Achilles' heel last year and we also know that pitching always rules the day, so we will continue to pursue pitching in any way it will help improve our club.
Q: Who is the closest Major League-ready pitcher in our farm system?
Amaro: I'd say Scott Mathieson would be one if he is someone you would still consider a farmhand. The other would be Josh Outman, who performed extremely well in the Arizona Fall League and in international play this offseason.
Q: Ruben, is it ideal to go into a season with platoons at two different positions (Greg Dobbs and Wes Helms at third base and Jayson Werth and Geoff Jenkins in right field)? If not, are we likely to see perhaps a Joe Crede, Corey Koskie-type trade/signing?
Amaro: It would be ideal to go into the season with eight All-Stars, but we had a tremendous amount of success last year with a right-field platoon and, as you recall, we had three platoons in 1993 and it worked out pretty well.
Q: Do you believe that the acquisition of Chad Durbin will really put the Phillies over the top enough to stop worrying about pitching? I feel that we do have a couple of decent players out of the bullpen (i.e., Brad Lidge, J.C. Romero, Ryan Madson, Tom Gordon).
Amaro: We think our bullpen is certainly improved from the start of last season and if our rotation stays healthy, I like how we set up at the back end of the bullpen.
Q: Hey, Ruben. If the Mets somehow pull off a move for Johan Santana, does that automatically mean the Phils have to counter with a substantial trade or signing of their own?
Amaro: While we have to keep an eye on our division rivals, we also have to stay focused on improving our club as it now stands. We will continue to do what we feel we have to do to defend our division title.
Q: What are you expecting the money totals to be for Ryan Howard and Lidge in arbitration and how close are you to signing Howard to a long-term deal?
Amaro: We have said before that we will not discuss any of our arbitration-eligible players' contract status publicly. Both stand to receive substantial raises and as always we will work to try to come to agreements that are fair.
Q: Mr. Amaro, are you at all worried that Kyle Kendrick will be able to duplicate his success of a year ago?
Amaro: Kyle has the mental makeup to do what he needs to do to have success. While duplicating his 2007 success will be difficult, we are cautiously optimistic that he will do so.
Q: When will the Phillies re-sign Jose Mesa?
Amaro: That is unlikely to happen.
Q: How do you feel about Pat Burrell? He showed me a lot last year. He go so many walks. I am a Burrell fan. He was an essential piece to the team last year. He usually gets the rap for being a quiet guy who doesn't show much emotion.
Amaro: Pat was arguably our best player when Chase Utley went down last year. He is and will be a big part of our lineup in 2008 and we expect him to provide the protection needed in our lineup.
Q: Are we finished seeing any offseason moves until Spring Training?
Amaro: While we are always working to improve the club on the mound and perhaps at third base, it is likely that the roster -- as it sets up today -- is the one you will see when camp opens next month.
Q: Are there any plans to get a left-handed bench option for when Dobbs and Jenkins are starting?
Amaro: One option that is currently on our roster is Chris Snelling. While he's battled his share of injuries in the past, he can flat out hit.
Q: Any interest in taking a chance on Bartolo Colon?
Amaro: That would be unlikely. We have concerns about his overall health.
Q: How many games do you expect Eric Bruntlett to start at third base?
Amaro: In-game decisions like that are left up to Charlie Manuel. Bruntlett is more likely to serve in a limited role as a defensive replacement and a middle-infield backup.
Q: How does the Phils' starting rotation stack up against the NL East?
Amaro: With all due respect to John Smoltz and Tim Hudson, I would take Cole Hamels and Brett Myers at the top of a rotation over any others in our division.
Q: Will Adrian Cardenas be tried at third base in the Minor Leagues?
Amaro: Not at this time. We see him as an impact second baseman and want to see him continue to develop at that spot.
Q: Hi, Ruben. Are the Phillies prepared to maximize the return on the wealth of Draft choices in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft? It seems this is a critical opportunity to replenish a system depleted somewhat by trades.
Amaro: We realize that the draft is critically important to bringing talent into our organization. We do everything to bring in the best talent we can. With three of the top 50 picks, we hope to improve on our overall organizational talent.
Q: If we have baseball clinics in both Venezuela and the Dominican Republic, why do we recruit so few Hispanic players. Carlos Carrasco is a gem. Why aren't there more in our system?
Amaro: Bringing in talent from Latin America is integral in today's game. We are among the top half of Major League organizations with regard to signing Latin American players.
Q: Will the Phillies acquire a third baseman this offseason? Pedro Feliz would be a nice fit.
Amaro: As I've said, we are trying to improve our club in any way we can. We have had discussions regarding Feliz.
Q: Will Shane Victorino, Madson and Lidge be back to 100 percent from their injuries?
Amaro: Yes, we feel that they will be 100 percent come Opening Day. Lidge may not be on all cylinders when our first workout commences on Feb. 14, but should be ready by our first Grapefruit League game on Feb. 27.
Q: Do the Phillies have any interest in Crede or Morgan Ensberg?
Amaro: We can't comment on Crede, as he is a member of the White Sox organization. However, we have decided that Ensberg is not a fit for our club at this time.
Q: I think Jenkins and Werth will be able to make up for the offense lost with Aaron Rowand's signing with San Francisco. What other things will you miss most about Rowand?
Amaro: Aaron was an integral part of our club last year. However, I agree with you and I really like what Victorino brings to the table in center field and how Werth and Jenkins will produce.
Amaro: I have time for two more questions.
Q: Where were the Phillies on singing Masahide Kobayashi from Japan?
Amaro: We did have some interest in some of the Japanese free agents this year. Kobayashi was not one of them.
Q: Are you still trying to add starting pitching? Is Josh Fogg or Kyle Loshe on the radar?
Amaro: We do not have interest in Josh Fogg and we've had continued discussions with Scott Boras regarding Kyle Lohse.
Amaro: Thanks for the questions and also for your interest in the Phillies. I look forward to doing this again sometime. We'll see you in Clearwater!