The Phillies have a lot of work ahead of them this off season. With only 12 players locked on for next year, not including arbitration eligible players like Shane Victorino, Clay Condrey, and Joe Blanton, the Phillies will look to bolster their bench and bull pen. In his article yesterday, David Murphy of the Philadelphia Inquirer talked about a plethora of options the Phillies can look to for their bench next season.
Some stats he brought up that I didn’t realize were that during the post season, the bench was just 1-31, the only hit coming off of Matt Stairs RBI single in the World Series. Also Phillies pinch-hitters hit just .186, the second-worst average in the National League and struck out an NL-high 71 times. They did tie for the league lead in pinch-hit home runs.
As far as needs, I feel that third base should be their first priority. You can’t build a team bench-first. I am starting to warm up a bit to the Mark DeRosa idea but I am weary of it failing. I am also entertained with the idea of Adrien Beltre and Placido Polanco but Beltre’s defense and Polanco being a Type-A free agent is shying me away from them. Chone Figgins is a pipe dream.
Now back to the bench. The Phillies again need a back up catcher, a utility infielder that could hit and give Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley some days off. They also need a power bat off the bench. With Paul Bako, Miguel Cairo, Eric Bruntlett, and Stairs pretty much gone, that will leave the Phillies with a stellar out fielder in Ben Francisco and a healthier Greg Dobbs.
Here is a list of the targets Murphy talked about. A couple of those names appealed to me and some just didn’t work with me:
Fernando Tatis, Utility, NYM: I have to agree with Murphy on this one. He does have a good bat and is very versatile in the field, something the Phillies desperately want on their bench. Though he’s 35, he is still athletic enough to make a difference. I do disagree with one thing Murphy said: If they Phillies sign DeRosa, they could platoon Tatis with him and even spell Utley/Rollins with either player. To me, he and DeRosa will both needed to be signed for it to work.
Jerry Hairston Jr., Utility, NYY: Pass. He’s not that great defensively and will be a huge step down if he gives Rollins/Utley a rest. His bat doesn’t impress me either. He’s basically a less-talented Tatis.
Omar Vizquel, SS, TEX: Pass. He’s old, only plays short stop, and his bat isn’t special either. Though he is considered one of the greatest fielding SS’s of all time, he will mainly be brought in as a defensive minded guy.
Henry Blanco, C, SD: Pass because I like the other back-up option, Greg Zaun. His defense is solid (so was Bako’s) and his bat is an upgrade for the bench.
Greg Zaun, C, TB: This is what I who like to see as the Phillies back up. He is strong behind the plate and he’s a switch hitter. His On-Base Percentage the past six years has been at least .340. With Carlos Ruiz only playing 100 games last year and looking to play more this year, Zaun would be an excellent choice to keep Chooch’s legs fresh down the stretch.
In the end, I want to see the Phillies get Tatis (only if they sign DeRosa) and also Zaun. I’d like to see them pursue a power bat off the bench but the choices out there are very slim.