January 27 Philadelphia Daily News columnist Paul Hagen:
“A LOT OF TIME and energy have been spent this offseason debating how the Phillies plan to fill the rather large hole left by the departure of rightfielder Jayson Werth. Will Ben Francisco be the answer? A Francisco-Ross Gload platoon? Where does John Mayberry Jr. fit into all this? Will top prospect Domonic Brown be given a legit shot at winning the spot even though it would mean adding another lefthanded bat to an already unbalanced lineup?
All are possibilities. When manager Charlie Manuel says he doesn’t know what his lineup will be, he’s not being coy. He really doesn’t.
What hasn’t gotten a lot of attention is the possibility that Werth’s replacement could be somebody who isn’t even on the roster at the moment.
There are several outfielders who could be available before Opening Day, but it says here that the best option just might be a blast from the past: Aaron Rowand.
When his name surfaced at the winter meetings, Giants general manager Brian Sabean said he hadn’t even spoken to the Phillies about the possibility. Still, these are the sort of deals that tend to develop after teams get to camp and get a chance to eyeball what they have. And it remains a possibility that the Phillies brass will be so blown away by what they see in Clearwater, Fla., that they won’t feel the need to go outside the organization.
If not, though, Rowand is an intriguing alternative.
He was supposed to be the face of the Giants’ turnaround when he signed that 5-year, $60 million free-agent contract before the 2008 season. By the time San Francisco hoisted the trophy last fall, he was little more than an expensive afterthought. And going into this season, he still appears to be on the outside looking in.
The Phillies would want the Giants to pick up most of the $24 million he is owed the next 2 years, and that could be a sticking point. The Giants could reason that if they’re paying the money anyway, they might as well keep him around. They might not be impressed by what the Phillies could offer in return. Or they might be reluctant to help a team they had to beat in the National League Championship Series to get to the World Series in the first place.
But if there’s a will and a way, Rowand might be a perfect low-risk, high-reward move. He’s coming off a terrible year but is a righthanded batter who hit .309 with 27 home runs, 45 doubles, 105 runs and 89 RBI the last time he played his home games at Citizens Bank Park. He’s still just 33. He’s a good clubhouse guy who would be an antidote to the complacency that manager Charlie Manuel sometimes worries about.
It’s at least something to watch.”
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