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Montgomery: Phils have challenging work to do

PHILADELPHIA -- Well, the Miami Marlins sure are making a lot of noise this offseason.

Conversely, the Phillies have been relatively quiet. They picked up the club option for Carlos Ruiz and declined options for Placido Polanco, Jose Contreras and Ty Wigginton. They also signed infielder Kevin Frandsen to a one-year, $850,000 contract.

But the Phils have a lot of hard work ahead of them.

"It's more challenging for [general manager] Ruben [Amaro Jr.] and our baseball operations group, because we do not have one specific need," team president David Montgomery said this week. "We have some areas that we'd like to improve upon, but that requires good judgment to decide whether that improvement can come with young people within the organization, such as some of the young relievers we had up last year, such as Freddy Galvis and Darin Ruf. It's making internal judgments first and then based on that, which areas remain to be filled? It's a balance, the internal options with the external options, whether that be by free agency or trade."

The Phillies still need a center fielder.

They still need at least one reliable relief pitcher.

They will continue to explore the market for a third baseman, although there is little available.

They probably could use a corner outfielder to protect them in the event Ruf isn't the hitter he has been in the Minors.

"There are options for several of these positions, but it's not the most overabundant free-agent crop," Montgomery said. "We have to evaluate accordingly."

Mostly, the Phillies need to hope and pray Roy Halladay, Ryan Howard and Chase Utley bounce back and stay healthy next season. That would help them more than anything.

Philadelphia won a franchise-record 101 games in 2011. The Phils finished 81-81 last season. The goal next season is getting back to the postseason. They made a push late last season before finishing seven games behind the St. Louis Cardinals for the second National League Wild Card spot.

"If you're one of those 10 [postseason teams], as we've seen time and again, everybody has an opportunity," Montgomery said. "The goal is to be a participant and then be in position to take advantage of it. We believe we have the nucleus, if we make some good decisions, we certainly can be a participant again next year."

Philadelphia Phillies