The Philadelphia Phillies traded away Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence at the trade deadline, and it’s very likely the team will also go with a new left fielder for the 2013 campaign. That’s a ridiculous turnover in the outfield for a team that has had stability at the outfield positions (Pat Burrell, Raul Ibanez, and Victorino) for so long.
The Phillies could choose to go with an in-house system: they could re-sign a current player, or they could sign a player in free agency. Here are the 10 likeliest scenarios for the team.
Juan Pierre worked out pretty well for the Phillies this year, and maybe they want to bring him back for one more shot. Pierre is hitting .307 in a one-year, $800,000 deal, and the Phillies have gotten an unbelievable steal this season.
He has an awful throwing arm, he can’t hit for power, and he’s 35 years old now, which means the odds of him hitting .300 two years in a row certainly doesn’t bode well for Pierre. He’s averaged .287 since 2005, and his .708 OPS for his career really isn’t anything over the major league average. But it would be a cheap $2 million option, and the team does need to save money considering what will be going to players like Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Ryan Howard, and Chase Utley.
This is the ideal option. Domonic Brown hits .300 down the stretch and the Phillies have no choice but to play him every single day in left field. He makes his first All-Star team next season and finishes the season with 30 home runs and 100 RBIs, and he even plays well against lefties.
It begins a storied career for Brown, as he hits over 400 home runs, drives in 1,500 runs, and makes a dozen All-Star games while establishing himself as one of the greatest outfielders in the franchise’s history.
That’s probably not going to happen though, because Brown hasn’t shown much in the three chances he’s had in the major leagues. He’s a .239/.321/.369 hitter with seven home runs in nearly half a season’s worth of plate appearances. He may just be a late bloomer and he’ll still turn out ok. At this point, the Phillies really have to play Brown full-time for a few seasons to find out what kind of player the former number four overall prospect is.
John Mayberry, Jr.
John Mayberry, Jr. has struggled when he’s been given the opportunity to play every day, but he has a lot of potential as a right-handed power bat.
Mayberry hit 15 home runs and posted a .513 slugging percentage in 296 plate appearances last season, which is a fine total in half a year of playing. Mayberry has struggled much more in 2012, as he’s at just .229/.271/.382 with an OPS 200 points lower and just over half the home runs in slightly more plate appearances. A platoon of Brown and Mayberry might be a cheap option though for the team to find out if either can really play.
With the way he’s performing in Double-A this season, the jump to the major leagues may not be quite as big of a stretch as it would initially seem. Darin Ruf is contending for the Double-A Triple Crown in 2012, as he has a slash line of .312/.402/.591 with 29 home runs and 83 RBIs in 506 plate appearances.
He’s just tearing it up, and maybe we should have seen it coming considering he did bat .308 with 17 home runs and 82 RBIs in Clearwater last year. The jump to being a full-time starter in 2013 would be ridiculous, but say the Phillies call him up down the stretch this season and he plays well enough that he gets a chance to make the 25-man roster next season, and then he works his way into a platoon situation and eventually becomes a starter.
I can’t imagine how this would go over, considering Phillies fans serenaded Jason Giambi with “You took steroids!” chants the other year.
Melky Cabrera was in line to get a contract in the nature of five years, $75 million before word emerged that he tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs. Now I really don’t know what kind of a deal he will get. He’s still just 28 years old but it’s impossible to know how much of his .346 batting average, league-leading 84 runs scored, 11 home runs, and .906 OPS are steroids-related.
Last year, Cabrera batted .305, posting 201 hits, 18 home runs, 20 steals, and a .809 OPS, although it’s impossible to know whether that was because of the ‘roids. Cabrera will probably have to settle for a one-year ‘prove-it’ deal or maybe a two-year deal if he’s lucky.
I highlighted Cody Ross in my article on 10 players the Phillies could get to play right field, and he can play left field as well.
Ross has a lot of raw power, as evidenced by his .653 slugging percentage in 2007 or the five home runs he hit in 15 playoff games in 2010. Ross has 15-20 home run power (25 in a good year), and he has shown he can play regularly. He might be a decent option for a two-year deal at a reasonable price.
Carlos Lee hasn’t played left field at all in 2012 but he did play left field for most of the 2011 season and he could probably still play a corner outfield position for another year or two. He’s coming off a six-year, $100 million contract and he won’t get a deal anywhere near that.
He’s showing a severe decline in his numbers as would be expected of an aging former star – his .937 OPS in 2008 dropped to .831 in 2009 and it’s been at an average of .748 over the last three seasons. Lee has just seven home runs this year after hitting 18 last year and 24 the year before, but he could probably still be obtained at a cheap two-year, $8-10 million deal.
I would love if the Phillies got Martin Prado, although he’s not a free agent until after 2013, meaning the Phillies would have to acquire him in a trade. There has been talk in the past about the Atlanta Braves trading Prado, and now there is talk about the Braves signing him to a multi-year extension, which could mean as much as four years, $45-50 million.
Prado’s best asset is his versatility, and that’s why he would be such an extraordinary fit for the Phillies. He can play left field, second base, third base, and a little of both first base and shortstop. That would work well considering the Phillies don’t really have a set third baseman for next year and Utley has missed extensive time each of the past two seasons.
Prado is a .294 career hitter with decent power. Other than a fluke .260 season in 2011, Prado has batted at least .296 each of the past four seasons. He is an All-Star, a former top-10 MVP candidate, and he’s still just 28 years old. The Phillies would probably have to give up a decent prospect or two but Prado is worth looking into.
Luke Scott is signed to a one-year deal with an option for 2013, although I don’t think the Tampa Bay Rays will pay $6 million to bring him back considering he’s hitting just .225 with 12 home runs.
Scott has been playing DH for the majority of this season and he’s probably best suited at first base but playing left field wouldn’t be that big of a stretch if the Phillies want a decent mid-thirties player for a year or so.
If the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim were smart, they would trade Mark Trumbo right now. His trade value is at an all-time high.
After hitting .254 with a .291 on-base percentage last season, Trumbo is up to .286 with a .338 on-base percentage this season. He hit 29 home runs last year – the same total he has this year, and his .550 slugging percentage, .887 OPS, and 148 adjusted OPS rank sixth, 13th, and seventh in the league. His high batting average on balls in play suggests he isn’t as good of a hitter as his current numbers suggest.
Trumbo stil has yet to upgrade his awful defense. Considering the Angels have Albert Pujols at first base for the next decade plus Kendrys Morales at designated hitter, Vernon Wells signed for another two full seasons in left field, and Mike Trout is in center field, Trumbo would have to be put in right field when Torii Hunter leaves in free agency. Trumbo doesn’t walk a lot, he strikes out a ton, and he’s having a terrific season so his trade value is at an all-time high should the team want to trade him now.
The Phillies almost have to go with Brown next year, although maybe a platoon of Brown and Mayberry if he struggles. Ruf won’t be ready and I certainly wouldn’t trust Cabrera to perform after his suspension. Trumbo and Prado would have to be acquired in a trade and the Phillies can’t afford to lose any more prospects, although if they did get Prado and sign him, I would love that. Ross would be a solid option though if the Phillies play Brown in right.