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Third Base Wide Open For Next Season

Phillies 3B Kevin Frandsen. (Mark Hirsch/Getty Images)

There is a big question mark stamped next to the third baseman’s name for the 2013 season. It’s a position that hasn’t had a consistent inhabitant since Scott Rolen was traded in 2002.

A few guys like David Bell, Pedro Feliz and Placido Polanco were supposed to be main-stays. But only Polanco managed to make an All-Star appearance.

It’s also a position that has fielded the likes of Abraham Nunez, Greg Dobbs, Wes Helms and Ty Wigginton.

The future for third base still doesn’t look bright for the Phillies. General manager Ruben Amaro already knows this, and he’s already tried addressing it at the deadline.

Philadelphia exercised the option of plucking top third base prospect Mike Olt from the Texas Rangers in a deal centered around Cliff Lee but nothing ever came to fruition for both clubs. Olt would have given the Phillies their first real third baseman since Rolen, and a prospect to be truly excited about since Chase Utley and Ryan Howard.

They also were named as one of the teams interested in acquiring Padres third baseman Chase Headley.

Read more of this post


Grading The Trade Deadline

Pitching proves to be an important commodity and that's why Roy Oswalt topped the Phils to-do list. (Gene J. Puskar/AP)

By Chris Bengel

Ruben Amaro Jr. will always be scrutinized for every move that he makes for the rest of his career.  Once again he silenced the critics for the time being.  Amaro acquired an ace starting pitcher for the third time the span of a year.

Amaro pulled off another blockbuster with the acquisition of Roy Oswalt.  He shipped lefty J.A. Happ along with prospects Anthony Gose and Jonathan Villar to the Houston Astros for Oswalt.  The Phillies pulled the wool over Ed Wade’s eyes once again.  Wade also agreed to pay $11 million of Oswalt’s current salary.

Clearly this was a move that needed to be made.  Outside of Roy Halladay and Cole Hamels, the Phillies have gotten little consistency from their starting pitching.  Once again that will bring the, “Amaro should never have traded Cliff Lee,” argument.  Let’s move on from Cliff Lee shall we?

Roy Oswalt voiced his displeasure and wanted out of Houston.  Amaro knew that he needed to sure up his starting pitching.  With the current rotation, the Phillies may not have been able to make a run deep into October.  Oswalt helps to add yet another ace to the rotation.  Halladay, Hamels, and Oswalt  may be the best top three in the baseball rivaling the San Francisco Giants rotation.

Oswalt is having an off year but he was on a struggling Houston Astros ball club.  He was 6-12 with a 3.42 ERA with the Astros this season.  However his career statistics are much more eye-popping.  Oswalt is 143-83 with a 3.25 ERA in his 10 year career with the Astros.  He is a big game pitcher and has been the ace of the Astros staff for many years.  Coincidentally Oswalt has something that even Roy Halladay doesn’t have: postseason experience.  Oswalt boasts a 4-0 postseason record and an NLCS MVP award which he earned during the 2005 postseason.  He has also finished in the top five in National League Cy Young voting five times during his career.  His credentials are very self explanatory.

It was a good move for the Phillies and came relatively cheap.  Sure Happ is a fine young pitcher and did finish second in Rookie of the Year voting.  I feel that he only translates as a third or fourth starter in the rotation.  He also is 26 years old proving that he may not improve much more as he obtains more seasoning in the big leagues.

From the prospects side of the trade, Gose and Villar are highly touted prospects but are only 19 years old.  It is impossible to know whether they will be legitimate major league contributors.  Gose is considered to be very raw with elite speed.  Villar has a rocket arm and projects as a nice infielder.  But these prospects can not be counted on as much as a guy like Oswalt who has been a great pitcher.

Moves Not Made

The Oswalt trade was a great bargain and is looked at as a great success.  But there are also some moves that Amaro failed to make.

First of all, the Phillies bullpen is suspect at best.  There should have been more of an effort to obtain some relief help.  Many names were available and teams were asking for a lot of prospects and talent.  I really can understand Amaro being leery of trading away even more prospects.  They have parted with quite a few in the last year.

But there were names out there that wouldn’t have cost the Phillies much at all.  Kerry Wood could’ve been acquired without giving up hardly anything.  The Yankees gave up a player-to-be-named-later and cash considerations.  A move for lefty Will Ohman from the Orioles for a pitcher such as Mike Zagurski was another possible option.  With Brad Lidge struggling, a reliever with closing experience would’ve been a great pickup.  Outside of Lidge and Ryan Madson, no one in the Phillies bullpen has much closing experience.  This is a move or lack there of may come back to bite them in the long run.

The bench is also something that should have been addressed.  With the constant injuries to the infield, the likes of Wilson Valdez and Cody Ransom have filled in quite nicely.  However a bigger contributor should have been acquired at the trade deadline.  A player such as Cristian Guzman or Miguel Tejada wouldn’t have cost the Phillies more than a low level prospect and maybe some cash.

The current bench of Cody Ransom, Wilson Valdez, Ben Francisco, Ross Gload, Brian Schneider and Greg Dobbs hasn’t been awful this season but isn’t playing the way it was projected to.  Gload boasts the highest average at .282 but many of the other bench players are struggling.  The bench was in need of veteran presence.  The Phillies don’t have a clear cut first guy off the bench to pinch hit.  I suppose that title would be given to Francisco.  Francisco has definitely been swinging the bat better.  But I still feel that a trade should have been made.  I would’ve loved to have seen Tejada in here as that guy.  However Amaro didn’t feel it was enough of a priority and sat on his hands.

The Grade: B-

The Phillies made a splash by acquiring Oswalt.  The ball club is definitely better than it was prior to the trade deadline.  However a few pieces to the bullpen and bench needed to be acquired.  The lack of these moves bring down the grade a bit and could hurt the Phillies in the long run.  The Phillies are primed for another October run at the World Series, but I’m just not sure if they did enough maneuvering.

Not Werth the Money

By John Russo

Yes you read the headline right: Jayson Werth is not worth the Jayson Bay-like money he could be receiving in the off season. That isn’t saying he won’t get it and I’m willing to bet he won’t be on a team that isn’t willing to give him that money.

Now before you think, “I’m not going to read this garbage. He’s unfairly going to rip on Jayson Werth! He’s the best player the Phillies have!” let me tell you what I think of Werth. He’s very talented but he doesn’t have the ability to handle being a super star. He isn’t clutch but isn’t showing signs of being able to handle the role that comes with being a top player. You can have all the talent in the world but when the pressure is on, he is not.


Now this could just be an extended slump that he’s in. Or he is showing us fans and the Phillies brass that he just isn’t that he is all cracked up to be. He’s still putting up good numbers, just not the Bay numbers that landed the now Mets outfielder a huge contract. He’s still a damn good outfielder, just not the fielder the Phillies want him to be.

You know who he reminds me of a little? And I know it’s an insult but he’s starting to remind me of Bobby Abreu. Yes, the 30 homers, 30 stolen bases guy who was afraid of walls. Werth’s gritty fielding has vanished this year and his ability to go after the ball at the plate has as well.

The best example I can give you is the Braves game I attended on July 6. With the score tied at three and Ryan Howard standing on third with no outs in the seventh inning I believe, Werth barely lifted the bat off his shoulder as he struck out looking. The next two batters got out, a sample of the offense’s overall display of inadequacy.

If the personal experience isn’t enough for you, look at his numbers with runners in scoring position. He’s batting .169 with RISP in 77 AB’s while driving in 32 RBIs and hitting three homers. He’s batting .119 with RISP and two outs with 13 RBIs and .133 in a late and close game. His season numbers are also down. With an inflated .279 average, 13 homers, and 50 RBIs, Werth is off his pace for last year’s numbers when he clouted 36 homers and 99 RBIs. Through May 21 (41 games), he had nine homers and 35 RBIs. Since then (46 games): four homers, 15 RBIs. His season numbers are inflated from the hot start (stats courtesy of Baseball Reference).

Werth is in his contract year, a year where he should be swinging away and trying to raise his value for his next contract. Instead he stands at the plate, barely lifting the bat off his shoulder. He’s struck out 90 times, leading the Phillies. He also has been caught looking at the third strike 25 times, a sickening amount when 13 of them have come within the past few weeks. He’s a hole in the line up and being in the fifth spot, that decimates Ryan Howard.


Werth is valuable to the Phillies, just not the way we all wish he was. This team will be in need of another good starting pitcher when the post season comes around. They are indeed in an offensive rut but signs have pointed towards this team working out of it. As players get healthy, the line up re-balances itself. But the Phillies only have two pitchers they can be confident in going out every five days and be confident that they can give the Phillies seven good innings.

This is where Werth comes in. The likelihood of trading him for a pitcher straight-up is slim. They will need a third team who they can ship Werth to, who will send prospects to the team with the pitcher, and that pitcher will come to Philly.

See, fellow staff writer Chris kept questioning me and I kept giving him straight answers. “But John, what about bull pen help or another bat on the bench?” Have no fear, Mr. Bengel but we have that covered. The addition of said pitcher, hopefully Roy Oswalt (imagine a Roy-Roy combo) or Dan Haren, will force Kyle Kendrick into the bull pen for an instant upgrade. And with J.A. Happ’s hopeful return, throw him in the pen as well as he won’t be in full-time starters shape as the season heads into the final month.

But I didn’t answer the bench bat. When the roster expands to 40 men, one of those extra 15 guys will be Domonic Brown (at least he should be). It won’t cost the Phillies a few prospects to land Ty Wigginton or Miguel Tejada of the Orioles because the solution will come from the organization. This kid could make his 2011 tryout and ever 2010 post season tryout as he may be that clutch bat off the bench.  By then, he’ll be in right field next season in a lefty-heavy line up where the line up could work.

Here’s a possible line up:

See that wasn’t that crazy at all in my opinion. Though Shane Victorino hasn’t been a great lead-off option, neither has Jimmy Rollins and the Phillies won a World Series with him in that spot. You could even flip-flop J-Roll and Vic and still have a very balanced line up.

It's been a frustrating year for Werth, who is seen celebrating with thirdbase coach Sam Perlozo after hitting a home run.


He’s a unique talent. With his body size, long arms, smooth home-run swing, and ability to run, throw, and field are what makes him such a special player, a player that could potentially be better than Jason Bay. But potential is a fancy word for, “haven’t done jack.”

But Werth has done jack. His numbers last year were exceptional (couldn’t get that pesky 100th RBI though). He really gave fans a sampling of what he can do when not in a contract year, not playing to get paid. In fact, Werth is a clutch player in the World Series, batting .351 in 11 games with three homers, six RBIs, and an OPS of 1.176. His OPS this year is a .872, around pace with his past two years.

Werth isn’t necessarily a one-of-a-kind player but he’s a right-handed power hitter that teams tend to covet. His value to the Phillies, again, may not be his playing for the team but his price in a trade.


Werth is expendable and can bring this team a pitcher that could put them over the top. Unless the Phillies truly will be able to sign him in the offseason for no more than $10 million (will not happen), they should be able to get some proven help for him and not the compensatory draft picks that will come when he signs with another team.

The Phillies can still win using the pitching-heavy formula. We saw what happened to them in the World Series when the bats went cold and the pitching didn’t hold up. A rotation with Roy Halladay, Oswalt/Haren, and Cole Hamels would certainly be a great trio to ride the playoffs with.