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Phillies Looking at Fernando Rodney?

One of the biggest differences between the 2008 World Series champion Philadelphia Phillies and the 2009 runners-up was the performance of their bullpen, specifically closer Brad Lidge. In 2008, Lidge racked up 41 saves without blowing a single opportunity. It was one of the more (if not most) remarkable runs seen from a closer.

This season, however, was a far different story. Lidge blew 11 saves, the highest total in the majors. Late in the year, Charlie Manuel agonized over whether or not to replace him in the ninth inning. Lidge seemed to pull himself together in time for the postseason, but had a rather memorable meltdown in Game 4 of the World Series, giving up three runs.

And though Lidge's struggles may be attributable to bone chips in his elbow (which he's having surgically removed this week), along with a sprained knee, it appears that the Phillies want to insure themselves against their closer having another troublesome season. Jon Paul Morosi and Ken Rosenthal report on their blog from the GM Meetings that the Phillies are "showing preliminary interest" in Fernando Rodney.

Presumably, the Phillies would look at Rodney as a set-up man for Lidge. But if Lidge had problems again next season, being able to call on a pitcher who had 37 saves last year (blowing only one) might not be a bad way to go.

You'd have to think Rodney is looking for a closer job though, if for no other reason than the bigger paycheck. (Dollar, dollar bills, y'all.) And as a Type B free agent, he might be a bit more appealing to a team looking to hold onto its first-round draft pick. Rodney's made it known that he's hoping to find a three-to-four-year deal. But other teams might look at his 4.40 ERA, along with his 61 strikeouts and 41 walks in 75.2 innings, and make a lower contract offer.