TICK, TICK, TICK. The Phillies have 2 weeks left in Florida. Their bullpen remains unsettled.
The Phillies are on the clock.
And while it's probably no consolation, they're not the only team looking for relief help.
That's why the scouts section at Scottsdale (Ariz.) Stadium was overflowing earlier this week when Armando Benitez pitched for the Giants. The Mariners and Marlins each had two scouts watching.
The Marlins have also been watching Jorge Julio, of the Diamondbacks.
The Red Sox, who still have no idea who their closer will be, reportedly have been eyeing San Diego's Scott Linebrink, Washington's Chad Cordero and Texas' Akinori Otsuka, although general manager Theo Epstein continues to say he doesn't expect to be able to do "anything big."
It's not hard to see why so many teams are looking for relief. Consider the Padres. The last 2 years, they've been second in the National League in bullpen ERA. Not so coincidentally, they won the division both times.
"I'm a huge believer that a strong bullpen helps you win games," general manager Kevin Towers said. "A weak bullpen is tough on your manager, tough on your starting pitchers. We've put a strong emphasis on putting our bullpen together."
The Padres, by the way, have been impressed by both outfielder Terrmel Sledge and third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff this spring, making it unlikely that Linebrink will be dealt.
So what relievers might be available? Well, if the Reds decide to keep Jared Salmon and Brad Burton, they could move former Phillie Rheal Cormier.
The Rockies might trade Byung-Hyun Kim, who, although used as a starter lately, has experience pitching in relief. Veteran Rudy Seanez has looked good for the Dodgers this spring, but doesn't appear to have a spot unless Los Angeles trades another reliever.
And the Rangers still look like a team that could have an excess of bullpen arms. And while they would be reluctant to trade Otsuka, there are already rumblings that they would let go of Rick Bauer or Scott Feldman for a veteran backup catcher. So if the Phillies don't have a spot for Chris Coste when it comes time to set the final roster, would anybody really be surprised to see him go to Texas for a pitcher?