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"The best team possible"

More good stuff from Randarino today, about Manuel's hope that one of the young hotshot arms in camp will prove just how stupid and counterproductive the Ryan Franklin signing was. (Well, he didn't phrase it that way, but you get my drift.)

Spring training began for Phillies' pitchers and catchers on Wednesday with a starting rotation that seems cut and dry.

Veterans Jon Lieber, Brett Myers and Cory Lidle are the top three starters, Ryan Madson is moving in from the bullpen to take a spot and free agent acquisition Ryan Franklin was signed to fill the fifth spot.

Even Manuel agrees that starting the season with those five is the plan, but the Phillies skipper is leaving a little wiggle room for a young gun, Floyd or Tejeda, to steal Franklin's spot.

"I think we have an idea on what our rotation is today, but when somebody comes in our camp I want that guy to go out there and have a big spring," Manuel said.

"Can he win a spot? Beat somebody out. Make me and [general manager] Pat Gillick make a decision. Beat out Cy Young. I want him to be cocky and feel like he's got a chance."

I'll be rooting for both guys, but I think particularly for Floyd. The Maryland native was badly mishandled last year by the organization (I wonder if Manuel has this in the back of his head) and, as we all know, had a nightmare season. His winter ball numbers weren't all that impressive, as we noted a couple weeks back, but he claims to have found both his confidence and his curveball; for the former, check out this piece in today's Daily News. (I sometimes think Johnny Podres could convince me, with my 48-mph heater, that I could pitch in the Show.) As for Tejeda, I'd love to know if Gillick is getting calls about him; the Phils are still one bat short on the bench, and Tejeda strikes me as a guy who has value but no clear role. I think he'd be wasted as a long reliever.

More good news from Miller's article is that if someone is going to be bumped from the current projected five starters, it's likely not Ryan Madson:

Although Madson was an effective late-inning reliever in his first two major-league seasons, the plan is to keep the lanky right-hander in the rotation no matter what happens this spring.

"I don't want to play games with [Madson]," Manuel said. "Our starting pitching is going to have to be real good for me to change my mind on this."

Franklin's spot isn't totally safe, though. While the Phillies did make a one-year, $2.6 million investment in the right-hander, Franklin did go an unimpressive 12-31 with a 4.99 ERA over the last two seasons in Seattle.

"I told Franklin that he would get every chance to be in our starting rotation," Manuel said. "That doesn't mean he's in our rotation. At the same, I stick with what I tell him. That's why we have spring training. I want to take the best team possible."

This is exactly what I want to hear, and I think it tells us something about Gillick's self-confidence and job security that's very different from what we endured in Ed Wade's last two seasons. Cholly is essentially saying, "If we look stupid on the Franklin deal, so be it--we're trying to win." Under Wade, it always seemed like "his guys" got every opportunity to justify their acquisitions and contracts, and the team suffered on the field as a result.