Monday, November 19, 2012

Phillies Offseason Part 2: The Outfield

We are a few weeks into the free agency period, and the Phillies have yet to make a move despite glaring needs in the outfield and at third base.  Are they laying in the weeds looking to make a big splash, or are they waiting until players seeking outrageous contracts are more desperate when they are still unemployed just before spring training?  Not a peep has come from the front office.

          As I advocated in my previous post regarding the infield, I think patience will be a virtue. The biggest name on the free-agency market is Josh Hamilton, a player whose power would certainly aid the Phillies, fits manager Charlie Manual’s offensive style preference, and fills a hole in centerfield.  His price tag would be astronomical, however, and while a modern day murderer’s row of Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, and Josh Hamilton would certainly be imposing, all three bat lefthanded and the lineup would certainly prove susceptible to the top lefty pitchers  in the league. Michael Bourn has also been bandied about, and the former Phillie would certainly provide top level defense, but no power, and for a speedy leadoff type, he has an even lower on-base percentage than current leadoff man Jimmy Rollins, and he too, bats lefthanded.  B.J. Upton has the potential to provide righthanded power, and stellar defense, but that word potential always seems to be associated with Upton, meaning he has yet to come close to living up to it. He will also be expensive, but, if he were to unlock that potential  here he could be exactly what the Phillies need.  Some cheaper alternatives have already signed elsewhere (some not so cheaply, such as Torii Hunter and Melky Cabrera with Detroit and Toronto, respectively.)  That leaves us with old friend, Shane Victorino who pickd the worst year possible to have an off season, his free agency year.  Shane, traded to the Dodgers at the deadline last year, will almost certainly not be resigned by them as they have Carl Crawford slated to fill his leftfield slot.  Shane could be signed relatively cheaply, for less years than a Hamilton or Bourn, and give time for some of the Phillis minor league prospects (Michael Bourn, Leandro Castro) to develop. He provides solid defense, some pop from the right side (he is a switch hitter), and a strong clubhouse presence who connects with the Philly fan base. Plus, he will likely be motivated to prove last year was an aberration.

In right and left, I think the Phillies should allow minor league prospects Dominic Brown and Darren Ruf to win the job outright, with veterans Nate Schierholtz and Laynce Nix available to fill in. If the outfield remains a weakness, the Phillies should have the financial flexibility to make a trade deadline acquisition.

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