GM Amaro: Phillies have $15 million to spend on third base, pitching help

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amaro.jpgTalking to The News Journal’s Scott Lauber, Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. on Wednesday listed third base and bullpen help as his top priorities this winter, adding that he didn’t expect his team’s payroll to exceed $140 million by much if any margin.
That doesn’t leave the Phillies with as much flexibility as anticipated. The Phillies already have $106.75 million committed to 12 players for 2009. Joe Blanton ($7 million), Shane Victorino ($5.5 million), Carlos Ruiz ($2.5 million), Chad Durbin ($2.5 million) and Ben Francisco ($1.5 million) figure to collect $19 million or so through arbitration, pushing the Phillies up to $125 million before anyone is acquired.
So, that leaves the Phillies about $15 million for six roster spots. On offense, they need a third baseman, a utilityman, a pinch-hitter if Matt Stairs doesn’t return and a backup catcher. They also want another setup man to put in front of Brad Lidge and a pitcher for rotation depth.
That modest limit would make it awfully difficult for them to bring in a Chone Figgins or a quality starter. Mark DeRosa, apparently their top pick for third base, would eat up at least $6 million of that in the first year of a two- or three-year deal. Garrett Atkins could come a little cheaper. A setup man like Brandon Lyon or LaTroy Hawkins will likely cost $4 million-$5 million. Fernando Rodney and Mike Gonzalez could be even more expensive.
Barring a surprising move to trade for a cheap third baseman, the Phillies won’t be going after the big names in free agency. They have some room to maneuver, but it’s doubtful that they’ll be too adventurous after back-to-back World Series appearances.

Dodgers look to join the Red Sox in the World Series

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One team has punched its ticket to the Fall Classic. Two teams are looking to join them, with the Dodgers carrying the distinct advantage. Los Angeles needs only a split in the final two games of the NLCS while Milwaukee needing to win both games at home. Doable? Absolutely. But to do it, the Brewers are going to have to wake up their sleepy bats.

NLCS Game 6

Dodgers vs. Brewers
Ballpark: Miller Park
Time: 8:39 PM Eastern
TV: FS1
Pitchers:  Hyun-Jin Ryu vs Wade Miley
Breakdown:

The Dodgers will give the ball to left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu, who tossed seven shutout innings in Game 1 of the NLDS but allowed two runs and tossed 72 pitches, failing to get out of the fifth inning, in Game 2 against Milwaukee. Even if he again turns in a short outing Dave Roberts should feel pretty confident, however, as the Dodgers’ bullpen — considered a question mark coming into this series — has allowed only three runs in in 21 and two-thirds innings of work.

For Milwaukee it’s once again Wade Miley, who was the Game 5 “starter,” but who pitched to only one batter. I suppose it’s possible that Craig Counsell will burn him like that again, but it seems more likely that Miley will actually pitch in this game rather than be used as a decoy.

As I noted the other day, though, the Brewers’ pitching gamesmanship has not really been a factor in this series. The real problem for them has been their offense. They’ve scored only 16 runs in five games while batting .219. That’s actually identical to the Dodgers’ run total and average overall, but L.A. has been better at distributing that meager offense. Milwaukee has been cold at the worst times, too, going 5-for-35 with runners in scoring position in the series, including one for their last 11. If that doesn’t change, their season ends tonight.