Philadelphia Phillies: As Catalyst for the Ben Revere Trade, Missing Out on B.J. Upton Has Worked Out Better Than Imagined

By Marilee Gallagher
Howard Smith-USA Today Sports

Sometimes the best moves you make are the ones you never make at all.

And with a little over half of the 2013 season in the books, the Philadelphia Phillies not being able to sign All-Star outfielder B.J. Upton is looking  to have been the best thing that could have happened to the team in the offseason.

There are three parts to what has unfolded since Upton chose to sign with the rival Atlanta Braves.

The first is the obvious and that would be that Upton, who Atlanta inked to a 5-year, $75 million deal, is struggling mightily so far this year.

A career .250 hitter known recently for his power, Upton is hitting a pitiful .174 with just eight home runs and 19 RBIs in 252 at-bats. His OBP is just .272, his SLG just .310 and worst of all, Upton is striking out at a horrendous rate.

He has been punched out 93 times this season to just 33 walks, a ratio of 2.82 SO/BB. He is also striking out once every approximately 2.7 at-bats and is hitting a home run just once every 31.5 at-bats. All of these are career worsts for Upton, who has been nowhere near what the Braves expected.

Of course, the Phillies too expected much from Upton and that is why they offered him five years and $55 million. At the time, the biggest reason made of signing Upton was to keep him away from the Braves, but so far, it may just work out that Atlanta stole Upton away from Philadelphia.

Then there is part two of the Phillies not signing Upton, and that would be the fact that it still left them with a hole at center field, pushing them to go after Ben Revere of the Minnesota Twins in a trade.

Younger than Upton, faster than Upton, but a guy who can’t hit a home run for anything, Revere intrigued the Phillies not because of what he couldn’t do but rather for what he could.

A speed guy first and foremost, the 25-year-old Revere improved his contact rate and settled into a .294 average with 40 stolen bases in his final year with the Twins.

While he was slow to start for the Phillies (.200 AVG, .234 OBP, 14 SO in April), Revere has gotten hot as of late. He has batted over .300 in each month since the first of the season (currently hitting .292) and has steadily improved his run scoring while cutting back on the strikeouts. And with a .390 OBP in the month of June, Revere is starting to turn into the leadoff hitter it seems the Phillies want him to be.

Now obviously it is just one year, but a .174 average compared to .292? Well, I’ll let you do the math, but it seems the Phillies have gotten the better end of that one.

But there is one final piece of the puzzle that began when Upton chose the Braves. Because in order to get Revere, the Phillies had to trade away starting pitcher Vance Worley, and in trading away Worley, rookie Jonathan Pettibone was able to get his major league shot.

Ranked as the Phillies 10th best prospect at the end of last season, Pettibone seemingly rose to the top of his class, being chosen over second-best prospect Brody Colvin and seventh-best prospect Ethan Martin, as the first to make his major league debut.

And so far, the 22-year-old Pettibone has performed well and likely well enough to keep himself in the rotation next season. On the year, he has made 14 starts for the Phillies, nine of which the team has won and four in which Pettibone has gotten the victory. He has a 3.99 ERA in 79 innings pitched.

As a rookie, Pettibone has had his up and down moments and has at times this season struggled with command. His fastball maintains its zip, sitting in the 93-MPH range, and he is striking out a decent amount (5.58 K/9). However, Pettibone needs to keep the walks down and if he can do that, keeping runs off of the board should come as well.

Overall, however, Pettibone has done a good job, much better than what Worley did with Minnesota. The 25-year-old posted a 7.21 ERA and lasted just 10 starts before being demoted to Triple-A. He is currently 2-3 with a 3.98 ERA in five Triple-A starts.

While it may only be a little over half of a season of a five-year deal, the Phillies have clearly been the winners so far in not signing Upton as it allowed them to get Revere and promote Pettibone instead.

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