The Phillies wanted to sign Braden Looper as their setup man, but he has opted for a three-year, $13.5 million contract with the St. Louis Cardinals.
"He would have been a good fit for us, but we just have to move on," Manuel said.
There is talk that the Phillies have plenty of extra cash to spend after losing Billy Wagner to the New York Mets and moving some of Jim Thome's salary, but the numbers don't seem to indicate that.
The Phillies appear to have at least $81.5 million already committed to 17 players next season, with one of them - Thome - no longer with the team and another - Randy Wolf - not expected to pitch until sometime in July.
The Phillies are paying $22 million of the remaining $46 million (or 47.8 percent) of Thome's contract, but it's uncertain how much they are responsible for next year. Thome makes $15 million next season, including $2.5 million in signing bonuses.
Here's how the 2006 payroll looks so far:
Bobby Abreu ($13.5 million); Pat Burrell ($9.5 million); Wolf ($9 million); Mike Lieberthal ($7.5 million); Jon Lieber ($7.25 million); Thome (possibly $7.25 million); Jimmy Rollins ($5 million); David Bell ($4.5 million); Tom Gordon ($4.5 million); Cory Lidle ($3.3 million); Aaron Rowand ($3.25 million); Rheal Cormier ($2.5 million); Abraham Nunez ($1.25 million); Aaron Fultz ($1.2 million); Julio Santana ($800,000); Tomas Perez ($700,000); and Sal Fasano ($425,000).
The Phillies opened last season with a 25-man payroll totaling an estimated $95 million, but said they had gone over budget when infielder Placido Polanco accepted salary arbitration and made $4.6 million. With 584,788 fewer seats having been sold last season - a financial hit of possibly $23 million - it's not expected that the team's 2006 budget will increase.
The Phillies have three players eligible for salary arbitration: pitcher Brett Myers and outfielders Jason Michaels and Endy Chavez. Myers made just $445,000 last season and should see a significant increase. Michaels made $825,000 and should make more than $1 million. If the Phillies offer Chavez arbitration, he would see a relatively modest increase.
Other players will come relatively cheap. Among those: Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Ryan Madson, Robinson Tejeda, Geoff Geary and Shane Victorino.
But project those salaries, and the Phillies might just have a few more million dollars, not tens of millions, to spend.
"I like our team on the field," Manuel said. "I like Myers, Lieber and Lidle. We need to improve the other two spots in the rotation. That's why we're thinking about putting Madson in there. We still need to find a fifth guy."
Lending a hand. Helping serve dinners at the homeless shelter yesterday were Phillies president David Montgomery; chairman Bill Giles; Manuel; hitting coach Milt Thompson; John Kruk; Dickie Noles; and others from the front office.
"I like this event for a couple reasons," Montgomery said. "First, it's something that our employees can participate in. And we get the opportunity to show people what this place does 365 days a year."
Said Bethesda Project executive director Angelo Sgro: "It's so important that the Phillies come here and shine a light on us. . . . It helps these guys feel recognized. It says, 'We know you're here.' It makes them feel good."
Extra bases. The Phillies yesterday avoided salary arbitration with Aaron Fultz, who will make $1.2 million plus bonuses next season. Fultz, the 32-year-old lefthander, went 4-0 with a career-best 2.24 ERA in 62 games. . . . Construction crews have started to work on the left-field wall at Citizens Bank Park. The left-field foul pole will remain at 329 feet but will angle outward immediately to give the ballpark the five extra feet the Phillies think will make it more neutral for hitters and pitchers. . . . The Phillies outrighted righthander Aquilino Lopez to triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Contact staff writer Todd Zolecki
at 215-854-4874 or firstname.lastname@example.org.