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Inbox: Honing in on offseason search

Beat reporter Todd Zolecki answers fan questions in the latest installment

Why does the organization acquire a bat, then trade him midseason, like Hunter Pence?
-- Troy S., Exeter, Pa.

The Phillies have been searching for Jayson Werth's replacement since Werth signed with the Nationals following the 2010 season. You're right, they acquired Pence in July 2011, then traded him to the Giants in July 2012. Before and after that, the Phils gambled and lost on such players as Ben Francisco, John Mayberry Jr. and Delmon Young.

It is essential that the Phillies find a right-handed power bat this offseason. They aren't good enough against left-handed pitching and have virtually no balance in the lineup. Interestingly, if Pence had not recently signed an extension with the Giants, the Phils would have made a run at him.

For the last 10 to 15 years, I've watched other teams, even contending teams, take the chance and start a homegrown rookie somewhere. Why does that almost never seem to be the Phillies' route? Would a little bit of youth hurt?
-- Woody S., Ephrata, Pa.

I'm not sure that's true. Cody Asche is probably going to start as a rookie next season. Domonic Brown had been afforded the opportunity, but he was injured in Spring Training. Pat Burrell started as a rookie in 2000, Jimmy Rollins in '01, Ryan Howard in '05, etc. (Shane Victorino technically wasn't a rookie in 2006, but he played regularly despite having little experience.)

If the Phillies have somebody who can play, that person will typically play if there is a spot available. (Freddy Galvis would have been offered a chance at shortstop if Philadelphia had not signed Rollins to an extension.)

This is one of those questions I hear every year, generally regarding some hot name in the Minors. Remember Matt Rizzotti? How about Michael Taylor? I remember fans crushing the Phils for not playing Lou Marson over Carlos Ruiz in 2008. My point is that although the front office has earned its share of criticism, in this department, it is not deserved.

How nicely would free agent Brian McCann fit the Phillies' lineup, and what salaries would they have to unload to afford him?
-- Greg N., Warminster, Pa.

Honestly, McCann doesn't seem to be a fit. From everything that has been reported, he seems destined for the American League. It also seems unlikely that the Phillies will commit major money to a 30-year-old catcher -- especially because he hits left-handed, and the Phils need right-handed hitters.

Brown had a breakout year. He displayed power, patience at the plate and a strong, accurate arm, but he can't track a ball and has poor baserunning skills. Should the Phillies trade him for a right-handed bat or a good pitcher?
-- Gary M., Philadelphia

Interesting question. The Phillies need talented, young players, and Brown is that. But trading a talented, young player such as Brown might be the only way general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. can acquire a right-handed bat to fit in the middle of the lineup. Amaro should explore any and every possibility, from trading veteran players to such rising stars as Brown.

Will the Phillies take a chance on Ryan Madson to keep the bullpen afloat?
-- John D., Chester Springs, Pa.

It depends how much Madson wants, but it could make sense on a low-risk, high-reward deal.

I would like to see Jacoby Ellsbury in center field. Do you think the Phillies have an interest in him?
-- Gary M., Philadelphia

I'm sure they have plenty of interest, but the money might be too much. And that's a problem, because the Phils have too many holes to fill. If they spend everything available to land Ellsbury, they'll still have holes in the rotation and bullpen and be without a right-handed bat. This is where Amaro needs to channel some Pat Gillick magic and find great bargain buys.

What's the word on Roy Halladay? Will the Phillies bring him back?
-- Brian K., McAdoo, Pa.

Halladay is a free agent. If he returns, it might not be until later in free agency. There isn't a rush to sign Halladay considering his struggles and injuries the past two seasons.

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for

Philadelphia Phillies