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Astros deal closer to Phils

Billy Wagner questioned Houston ownership's commitment to winning. He won't have those problems with the Phillies.

The All-Star closer was traded from the cost-cutting Astros to Philadelphia for right-hander Brandon Duckworth and minor-league right-handers Taylor Buchholz and Ezequiel Astacio.

Wagner, a three-time All-Star, goes from one of baseball's best bullpens to among its worst. The Phillies converted 33 saves in 51 opportunities as Jose Mesa and Mike Williams both faltered.

"I'm excited about coming to Philadelphia because they obviously have made a commitment to winning a championship," Wagner said.

Wagner had criticized Astros owner Drayton McLane for not making a move to get another quality starting pitcher for the 2003 season and expected more of the same for next season.

Wagner didn't back off.

"My comments to Drayton were truthful. They were about winning, not about him being a bad owner," Wagner said.

FREE AGENTS: Catcher Ivan Rodriguez filed for free agency nine days after helping the Marlins win the World Series.

Rodriguez also became a free agent after the 2002 season. When he didn't find a deal to his liking, he agreed Jan. 20 to a $10-million, one-year contract.

Florida outfielders Todd Hollandsworth and Gerald Williams, a former Devil Ray, also were among 13 players who filed, raising the total to 196.

RED SOX: Dodgers coach and former Boston infielder Glenn Hoffman was the first person to interview for the vacant managerial job, meeting with general manager Theo Epstein for seven hours. President Larry Lucchino sat in on some of the meeting. "I thought today went well," Hoffman said. "The organization seems to be in good hands."

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