Manuel also waiting to see what comes next for Phillies

YONG KIM / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Charlie Manuel , at Phillies Charities Holiday Dinner.
YONG KIM / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Charlie Manuel , at Phillies Charities Holiday Dinner.
Posted: December 12, 2012

WILL MICHAEL YOUNG hit second? Or is Ben Revere best suited for that spot? With Carlos Ruiz set to sit out the first 25 games with a suspension, who will hit behind Ryan Howard?

Four days after his team completed trades that brought two new bats into the lineup - the Young deal had been agreed upon Thursday - Charlie Manuel could begin to picture what his starting lineup will look like on April 1 at Turner Field in Atlanta.

But Manuel is not ready to delve too deep into Opening Day batting-order banter. Because, like just about everyone else in Philadelphia, the manager suspects his general manager isn't quite finished yet.

"I could sit there and go over lineups all I want to," Manuel said before attending the Phillies Charities Holiday Dinner on Monday at Citizens Bank Park. "But when it gets down to it, who we have on the corners in the outfield will dictate where our lineup falls."

Manuel would be stunned if there wasn't any more additions to the outfield.

The Phils are spending less than $7 million on third base (Young) and centerfield (Revere).

Since Revere isn't even arbitration-eligible and the Phillies will pay Young $6 million this season, similar to the $6.25 million Placido Polanco made last year, the team still has money to spend.

When they traded Hunter Pence last July, the Phils basically saved about $15 million for 2013. The Shane Victorino-for-Revere swap in center is about a $9 million net gain.

So there would appear to be money burning in the proverbial back pocket of ownership. Since the Phils have rarely let a winter go by without a headline-grabbing move under general manager Ruben Amaro Jr., it would be more surprising if the team didn't make a big-splash signing (or trade) before players report to Clearwater in 2 months, and more likely, before the New Year.

President David Montgomery wasn't available to the media despite requests for comment.

"I've been quiet about it," Manuel said, on whether he expects another, pricier name to find its way into his lineup this winter. "I've just sat there because I like, so far, what we've done. I think we've made two good acquisitions to our team. I think we'll just wait and see. Our organization has always tried to improve our team. If there is any way we can, I think that's what we're going to do."

So he's not politicking for any names?

"I'm not leaning into that," Manuel said, with a chuckle. "I'm always going to fish. Of course I want him to get something big. At the same time, I think we've gotten much better. Young is definitely going to help us and so is Ben."

Young fills a void a third base and Revere does the same in center; they were two positions the Phils were almost forced to address this winter. The corner outfield isn't as obvious, although it probably should be following the 2011 and 2012 seasons.

In 2011, the Phils hoped to replace departed free agent Jayson Werth with Domonic Brown. But Brown got hurt early in spring training, Ben Francisco struggled and the team eventually traded for Pence.

In 2012, the Phils hoped to replace departed free agent Raul Ibanez with John Mayberry Jr., who finished the previous season on a tear. But Mayberry never took hold of the job when the season began and was outplayed by Juan Pierre, a limited veteran who played above the minor league contract he signed last winter.

As it stands today, the Phillies have four outfielders for the two spots in left and right: Brown, Mayberry, Darin Ruf and Laynce Nix. They could very well let one of those players win a position this spring. Or they could have two - say, Brown and Ruf - platoon in leftfield.

But given the last 2 years, and the money available to spend, it's highly unlikely they will turn over both of the corner outfield positions to unproven or reserve-type players.

Free-agent outfielders who could fit into rightfield include righthanded-hitting Cody Ross, switch-hitter Nick Swisher or even former MVP Josh Hamilton, who hits from the left side. But after the Texas Rangers lost out on free-agent starter Zack Greinke over the weekend, they could turn those dollars into a lucrative offer to retain Hamilton.

Manuel didn't discuss specific names Monday; he lets the front office handle that part of the business. But he is eager to see how the rest of the winter plays out, and who else he'll be able to add to two names he already likes. Manuel called Young on Monday to welcome him to Philadelphia.

"He's excited and I'm excited about it," Manuel said of Young, a .301 hitter in 12 big-league seasons. "He has a chance to hit .300 for us. He's a good player."

As for his new centerfielder, Manuel said a baseball friend likened Revere, at least from a personality standpoint, to Kirby Puckett.

"He says he's good fundamentally and loves to play," Manuel said. "He said he stays within himself and slaps the ball around. He knows how to play. He'll move the runners. He can bunt. He said he has a chance to be a good player in our lineup."

Since he doesn't like the idea of having three lefthanded hitters in succession near the top of the lineup, Manuel sounded as if he was leaning toward hitting Revere lower in the order. The righthanded Young could be slotted second. But Manuel isn't putting together the puzzle that is his 2013 lineup until all of the pieces are on the board.


On Twitter: @ryanlawrence21

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