Back from Italy with some Chase Utley and Cliff Lee rumblings, plus some end-of-the-week Useless Information:WiggintonTy Wigginton: He'd probably be the perfect candidate, except for one thing: The Orioles prefer to move slowly in order to get maximum return, and they have enough teams interested in Wigginton that they can afford to go that route again. The Phillies, on the other hand, would like to make a deal sooner than later, and they're not interested in giving up top-tier prospects for an infield insurance policy. Jose Lopez: He'd be tricky, because he'd have no place to play in Philadelphia after Utley and Polanco return. And he's not eligible for free agency until after 2011 unless he's nontendered. But so many Phillies officials have Seattle ties (Pat Gillick, Charlie Kerfeld, Benny Looper), you should never rule out any Philadelphia-Seattle trade rumor you hear. Especially this one. According to one scout who is tight with several members of the Phillies' operation, "some of their people like him a lot."JohnsonKelly Johnson: Tough to say how the shakeup in Arizona this week will affect the Diamondbacks' trading plans. But before GM Josh Byrnes got fired, he was already willing to listen on Johnson and a bunch of other players. And even though Johnson has messy home-road splits and a pedestrian .240/.348/.375 stat line since his eye-popping .313/.404/.750 April, he'd figure to be affordable. Not to mention he has hit more career homers in Citizens Bank Park (seven) than any other visiting park. Jhonny Peralta: The Indians and Phillies have done July business before. (See Lee, Cliff.) And it wouldn't be a shock to see them do more this July. The Indians like to move quickly. They've scouted the Phillies' system extensively. And Peralta fits the mold of players the Phillies have talked about.BautistaJose Bautista: The Phillies and Blue Jays have also done a little business you might recall. (See Halladay, Roy.) And Bautista's versatility, and righthandedness, make him a good fit in Philadelphia. But the bet here is that Toronto will have better offers than the Phillies are willing to make, if the Jays decide to put Bautista out there. Miguel Tejada: The Phillies would have to swallow hard to convince themselves to take on all $3 million left on Tejada's contract. But now that the Orioles have called up Josh Bell, they figure to be quicker to move Tejada than Wigginton. Garrett Atkins: Speaking of guys who don't fit in Baltimore, Atkins wouldn't cost the Phillies any players, now that the Orioles have dumped him. But the Phillies have never been big fans of his. And let's just say nothing has changed. So how desperate are the Phillies to trade for one of these guys? Clubs that have spoken to them say they're already sending out the word that they're not interested in dealing any of their high-end prospects (Domonic Brown, Jarred Cosart, Anthony Gose, Trevor May) for an infielder, but might talk about anyone except Brown if the deal included an impact starting pitcher. Finally, here's one name that's not on the market, though it's popped up in Rumor Central: Jayson Werth. With Utley M.I.A. for two months, there's now zero chance of the Phillies subtracting offense.LeeThe Twins still haven't decided whether they're willing to move catching prospect Wilson Ramos. And two scouts who cover the Mets' system told us they'd be surprised if the Mets, in the end, will be able to offer Seattle more than it can get elsewhere. So the Mariners are a lock to check out their numerous other options. The Yankees continue to monitor this scene. We're hearing the Reds are more interested than they're letting on. There have been rumblings that Seattle could be a match for the Rays if they move B.J. Upton, so who knows where that could lead. The Rangers and Dodgers head the list of teams that would love to get in on Lee, but they would have to flood the Mariners with prospects because they probably can't take on any money. We've heard Angels, Cardinals and even Braves rumblings, although they all seem unlikely destinations. And then there's the potential deal that would be guaranteed to leave heads shaking from coast to coast -- Lee heading back to the Phillies. Who knows how the Phillies would justify giving up more to bring Lee back than they got for him when they traded him. But we've heard, a couple of different times this year, not to rule out the possibility of Lee returning. Fine. We're not ruling it out. We just find that thought especially mind-boggling. And it's safe to say we'd have lots of company.
STRIKE ONE -- PHILLED UP DEPT.Just as the Phillies were gearing up for another July run at adding a starting pitcher, a simple slide into second base changed everything. Chase Utley lurched headfirst into second the other night in Cincinnati. Three days later, he was hanging out with a hand surgeon in New York. And now, the Phillies have a whole new game plan for saving their season. The Red Sox may be trying to make do with what they've got after losing Dustin Pedroia. The Rockies may be going that route after losing Troy Tulowitzki. But not the Phillies. After losing Utley and Placido Polanco on the same day -- Utley until September, Polanco until late July, all indications are that the Phillies are already "trying like hell" to find a bat who can play either second or third base, or even both, according to an official of one club that has spoken with them. Publicly, that isn't how the Phillies are trying to portray themselves, of course. They're trying to convince the potential sellers that they're deep enough and talented enough to win with what they have. But they've clearly targeted a bunch of offensive-minded infielders, and they're still trying to add names to their shopping list as we speak. From what we've gathered, here's their level of interest in the most prominent names on that list:
STRIKE TWO -- CLIFF DWELLERSEarlier in the week, there were reports suggesting the Cliff Lee sweepstakes could come down to the Mets and Twins. But the field appears much deeper than that, from what we've heard.
STRIKE THREE -- USELESS INFO DEPT.In other, less momentous news
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