A Right-Handed Bench Bat Rundown

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Mon, January 26, 2009 10:30 AM | Comments: 98
Posts, Rumors

Ruben Amaro Jr. is searching for that elusive right-handed bench bat. Here’s what we know.

Nomar Garciaparra: The first name surfacing, Garciaparra may not retire, which may make him a possibility for the Phillies. A 1B/3B/SS combo, he would jump into the top right-handed bench spot while providing slight relief for Pedro Feliz and Ryan Howard.
2008: .264 AVG / 8 HR / 28 RBI

Ty Wigginton: Hitting 20+ home runs for three consecutive seasons, Wigginton is a powerful bat who can play 1B/2B/3B/LF. While not amazing with the glove, he’d be a decent defensive upgrade from Howard and Ibanez when necessary.
2008: .285 AVG / 23 HR / 58 RBI

Moises Alou: Somewhere in his 40s, Alou is hurt a lot, but if healthy is a very potent bat who could platoon in left field (or right field, maybe). He barely played in 2008.
2008: .347 AVG / 0 HR / 9 RBI

Kevin Millar: Mr. “Cowboy Up” hit 20 homers as the Orioles’ starting first baseman. That doesn’t keep you a starter. He could play the corner outfield positions, too.
2008: .234 AVG / 20 HR / 72 RBI

Rich Aurilia: He can play all infield positions, but is fitting in more at first base these days. He’s a better contact hitter than Millar, but has half the power.
2008: .283 AVG / 10 HR / 52 RBI

Mark Grudzielanek: The man who once threatened to break the league record for doubles in a season has become somewhat of a one-trick pony. He can hit the ball, but for singles and doubles. He can play second base and shortstop.
2008: .299 AVG / 3 HR / 24 RBI

Thoughts: Wigginton is the best option, bar none. He can step in at multiple positions, and though his playing time might dip, he could still pound 20 homers playing half the time at Citizens Bank Park. I wouldn’t mind Garciaparra or maybe Aurilia, but by adding Wigginton, it would push Eric Bruntlett to a defensive replacement position, which is where he’s best. It would also push Matt Stairs off the roster, which is okay. Wiggy would fit in well.

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About Tim Malcolm

Tim Malcolm has written 1947 articles on Phillies Nation.

  • Posts: 0 Manny

    I agree Tim.

    Plus, you could always put Wigginton in LF for Ibañez in the late innings, without sacrificing offense. As much as I like Ibañez, his defense is just as bad as Pat’s… and Pat had a good arm which allowed to get plenty of outfield assists… I just don’t see that happening with 37-year-old Ibañez.

    Also, Bruntlett is good at SS, so Ty would fit in nicely. We’d have LF, 1B, 2B, 3B, and SS positions covered with those two guys.

  • Posts: 0 Geoff

    As teh market prices drop for players across the board, someone liek Wigginton may slip into the Phillies grasp. He is a far better option than any of the rest of those names. The rest of those names are kind of just old trash each with their own good attribute and bunch of other bad attributes. Wigginton would do well here with his average and power, and that should be the target here.

    They basically said they wont sign another starter unless its a cheap guy so that leaves the bullpen to shore up.

  • Posts: 1650 Tim Malcolm

    Avatar of Tim Malcolm

    Honestly – you put a Wigginton on this team, opposite Dobbs, with the chance of taking an injured guy’s spot or whatever, and you have potential for two Greg Dobbs’ at the top of the bench. That’s unquestionably the best bench in baseball.

    Add a backup catcher (probably Paulino), a fine defensive utility man (Brunt) and a hopefully improved Jenkins, and that’s a heck of a collection.

  • Posts: 0 NJ

    Wiggington’s not a bench guy and he’s not signing for bench money, Manny makes a good point about him playing the outfield though the point of Ibanez was not to have to defensive merri-go-round in the late innings so don’t expect him being subbed much if at all. If we sign Wiggington it means Feliz isn’t viewed as a viable option this year at 3rd base either because of injury or expected performance, I like Wiggington but again you can’t go around signing 20+ homer guys and have them warming the bench because their production won’t translate and getting them playing time will be at the expense of others.

    If Wiggington comes here it’s to man 3rd close to full time for at least the year, Nomar’s the best name off the bench.

  • Posts: 1650 Tim Malcolm

    Avatar of Tim Malcolm

    NJ: I understand your point that he’s not necessarily a bench player by trade. But there are a few caveats to that.

    A: Would he be willing to work as a bench player for the chance to win a championship? B: Would he think about doing the job for a year or two, so that if he succeeds, he could translate it back to a bigger deal as a starter going into his early 30s?

    And you can sign 20-homer guys for the bench. They did it with Werth (who had 20-homer potential). Remember, Wig would be a Feliz/Ibanez/Rollins/Utley/Howard injury away from a 15-game start stint. Anyway, the point for him would be to translate himself to a bench role. That could be done, especially with the experienced bench bats the team already has.

  • Posts: 0 Don M

    Wigginton can’t carry Pedro Feliz’s jockstrap at third base..

    He either comes here as a Pinch-Hitter, or doesn’t come here.
    I agree 10000% with the notion that we can’t expect a 20-HR guy if we only sign him to a bench-role..

    We for some reason thought that Wes Helms, and Geoff Jenkins would all of a sudden belt HRs like nobody’s business because of this “Hitter’s Ballpark” but we forgot the fact that they wouldn’t get enough at-bats to have numbers add up… AND.. because they don’t get regular at-bats, its almost impossible to have hitters get into a groove.. 10 HRs in less than 300 at-bats is pretty good, obviously we’d like to see that average be higher than .246…. but thats not THAT bad.. its his contract that hurts more than his production.. but I’d expect Jenkins to get more comfortable with a Pinch-Hitting role, and he’ll have double digit HRs this year and 40+ RBIs

  • Posts: 0 Manny

    Tim, you read my mind when you said “Wig would be a Feliz/Ibanez/Rollins/Utley/Howard injury away from a 15-game start stint.” Exactly what I was thinking. And there’s already a pretty decent chance that one or two of those guys may not be ready for April. And did anyone expect Rollins to get injured after playing every single game in 07? Not me, at least… Sh** happens in a long baseball season, and even with our already strong lineup, I could see Wigginton starting at least 60 games.

    The Werth example is perfect.

  • Posts: 0 NJ

    Understand your point Tim although I think a good every day guy with power translates to a very average bench player where you want a guy who can just flat out hit and avoid streaks. I was very excited when we signed Werth although given his health at that point I don’t think many were truely expecting for him to unseat the everyday guy.

    Wiggington became an everyday guy after becoming a viable stopgap in Tampa and Houston but it’ll be a major step-back for him championship or not to be seeing the field maybe once a week. I understand looking at Nomar, Aurilla but looking at Wigginton tells me the Phils aren’t so sure Feliz can’t be relied on to be at 100% this year which makes Wiggington a viable option by the very definition of his role as a stopgap 3rd base/outfielder.

  • Posts: 0 Don M

    Honestly, if they add ANY of these guys to the team, its better than what they have now.. and it would be better than what we had last year with So Taguchi (who was a very good part-time player in his career… except for last year!?)

    I think the most important thing is not to add the player with the best numbers.. but which player can be added to improve the “team” … Wigginton and Moises Alou are great, but if you can’t be certain that they would A) be comfortable with, and B) excel in a part-time role… then they wouldn’t be the smart move to make..

    If Wigginton is open to the part-time role, thats great… otherwise, Rich Aurilia is a hell of a fit, or if Nomar comes back, he obviously knows that he isn’t competing for anything close to a starter’s job… he’s get paid a few million just to swing the bat.. HRs are nice (Matt Stairs).. but I think we need guys that put the bat on the ball coming from the bench, more than we need additional power.

  • Posts: 0 Geoff

    With Utley and Feliz being injury question marks I think it would be VERY wise to sign a 20 homer guy like this to cover yourselves. remember, the only reason geoff jenkins is still on this team is because of his contract. ever since werth became an everyday player, jenkins has become basically useless.

    If they signed Wigginton, I would view him as the 4th OF/first guy to start off the bench. Given that feliz and utley are hurt it probably a very good idea to have some quality there filling in for them. When they come back and if they diminish Wiggintons role then maybe you can work out a deal to move him if playing time is his main concern. The point is, id rather have too many bats then not enough. the guy can play enough positions that it makes his likelihood of getting PT very high.

    also, money isnt an issue here because i think you can get this guy for an affordable rate, even if its on a one year deal.

  • Posts: 0 NJ

    The numbers never translate off the bench, to hit 20 homers Wiggington would need almost everyday playing time like Werth got last year.

  • Posts: 0 B-Dizzle

    Wiggy is the best option, but also the most expensive and probably looking for the most guaranteed playing time. Aurilla is versatile and knows he’s nothing more than a bench guy at this stage in his career. I don’t think Phillies Phans would suffer through Nomar’s 47 minute batting glove routine…instant boo! Grudz is a good dude, but he really only plays 2nd and once Chutley is back, what’s the point?

  • Posts: 0 Jeltzismyhombre

    Ty Wigginton has got to be the ugliest human being alive.

  • Posts: 1650 Tim Malcolm

    Avatar of Tim Malcolm

    Helms, for one, was supposed to start at third, and just plain stunk.

    I don’t think Jenkins was prepared for the jump from everyday starter to platoon. Plus Werth’s surge made it impossible for Jenkins to see a lot of time.

    Wigginton has played less time before, and could develop into a solid pinch hitter. Having Dobbs (who also had to adjust into the PH role) as his LH doppleganger could be a blessing.

  • Posts: 0 Monktavian

    I wish the Phils would have signed Wigginton instead of Ibanez in the first place. He is versatile, has pop with the bat, and is much younger that Raul Ibanez. Plus he would have cost less. I think $10 mil for Ibanez was a mistake from the beginning. The man is too old and despite his excellent training, hitting is largely dependent on reflexes, which are among the first things to go in an athlete.

  • Posts: 0 Chuck P

    I’m a bit concerned… Looking at this list, it seems like an indication that Feliz is not going to be ready. I mean, if he’s not, Dobbs has to play 3B and that leaves us no backup at 1B (and no options on the farm at that position).

    Wigginton would be a great addition but he’s probably the most expensive name on this list… with that being said, they need to consider Wigginton because he’s the only guy on this list that could be a legitimate option every day.

    Millar, Aurilia… not really feeling it…they might have a little bit left in the tank but I would like to think that we can find a better alternative. If you’re approaching this thinking that you’re going to need someone to be ready to step in and play 1B (if Feliz is not going to be ready) and Wigginton ends up asking for $5-6 million, I guess that you have to consider one of these two. If you’re just looking for a RH bench bat, I would rather see us go after Alou or Nomar…

    They’re both professional hitters. When healthy, Alou is remarkable… emphasis on when healthy… he can’t play the field anymore but if he’s limited to a bench role, maybe… I think that he would come here with the intention of mashing the Mets (you gotta love that) and the only way that he’s going to play anywhere this season is if the price is right. Nomar is probably the best fit but if it has taken him this long to decide whether he wants to retire or play again, that really means that he’s not willing to play under the terms suggested and it’s unlikely either side will budge.

  • Posts: 0 Don M

    Tim, I agree 100% with what your saying as I think there is a chance Wigg/Dobbs would be a deadly combination off the bench… but Wigginton has been getting pretty regular playing time lately.

    Dobbs was our #1 pinch-hitter/ spot-starter.. and he only had 226 at-bats, and played the field in about 60 games.

    I’m guessing that would be about the most time Wigginton would hope to see too.. 250 at-bats, with 50-60 games in the field.. If he’s fine with that, he would be a nice fit, but from what I read earlier this offseason, he was looking for MORE playing time, not less..

    The two seasons that Wigginton had less than 300 at-bats, his average was bad. In 2004, 182 at-bats with a .220 average. In 2005, 155 at-bats with a .258 average. Like most players, he’s more productive with more regular playing time… that is what makes Greg Dobbs such a rare-breed, and why so many players aren’t open to the idea of Bench roles, because its so hard to succeed only playing every so often

  • Posts: 0 Griffin

    Alou is the best hitter of the bunch, but he’s never healthy.

    Nomar can NOT play 3B or SS any more than Greg Dobbs can. He’s a 1B/corner OF.

    Wigginton is a good fit if as a bench player. If he signs with the Phils, he’ll know that he won’t be starting.

    Isn’t it funny that guys like Wiggy, Dunn and Abreu can’t even find a team and the Phillies gave 37 y/o Ibanez $30.5 million? I think Ibanez is a good player, but the Phils way overpaid for him. Oh well.

    I’d got with either Wiggy or Alou for the last bench spot. They both kill LHP.

  • Posts: 0 Chuck P

    Monk… I agree with you, to an extent. Wigginton might be more a little more versatile and younger but, like Don M says, he couldn’t hold Ibanez’ jock. You can’t actually believe that we would be better off with Wigginton as our everyday LF… if we grabbed him and upgraded 3B or RF, maybe we would have been better off but not with Wigginton alone.

  • Posts: 0 Mazinman

    Before I say anything on the subject, did everyone just realize that Tim said that a player might be willing to come to the Phillies in order to win a championship? How awesome is that after all these years!?

    I agree that, based on pure talent, Wigginton is the best option. Alou would have been my second or even first choice if he could just stay healthy. Maybe if he was on a bench he would not get injured so frequently? With Alou’s injury problems, Garciaparra would definately be my second choice but he has to be fully committed to the team and not looking more towards retirement.

  • Posts: 0 Chuck P

    Paulino kills lefties… gotta feel pretty good about that move.

  • Posts: 0 MikeMc26

    Wigginton would be a great pick-up for the fightins! He’s a great pick-up/draft option for you fantasy managers out there too…

  • Posts: 0 Wilson

    I doubt Wigginton comes though. He’s going to be looking for more money and playing time then the Phills can offer. Which is the main reason he’s leaving Houston

  • Posts: 0 Chuck P

    Someone told me that the Phillies are still quietly pursuing Sheets.

  • Posts: 0 Griffin

    “Paulino kills lefties… gotta feel pretty good about that move.”

    Now I do!
    I didn’t know that he kills lefties, so I’m feeling better about him. I didn’t mind the move because Jaramillo is nothing much.

  • Posts: 1650 Tim Malcolm

    Avatar of Tim Malcolm

    Well it is very possible there’s more to Feliz’s injury than we think. If he misses a month, that makes Wigginton that much more possible.

  • Posts: 0 Manny

    Holy sh*t.. Ronny Paulino vs. lefties (2006-2008):

    .354 avg
    .414 obp
    .498 slg
    .912 ops


  • Posts: 0 mick

    I like Alous bat , but the first time he busts it down the line the hammy goes–6 weeks later he does the same thing.Nomar is in the same boat–can not stay healthy–plus both these guys are a year older. Phils really need Ibanez to hit lefties the way he did last year–if not we will be in trouble. No way Wigginton comes as a bench player–unless the Phils PAY. Maybe they know something about Feliz’ back that we don’t

  • Posts: 0 mick

    Paulino, Ruiz, Coste, Marson–something has to give here, especially when so many teams are looking for catching–If Paulino can shake off last year and return to 2006/2007 Phils may have something

  • Posts: 0 Don M

    With the way the market is shaping up right now, yea, it looks like the Phillies, Cubs, etc.. overpaid greatly for Ibanez and Milton Bradley… but those were the players they wanted and they went out and got them.

    If you would have told me you could get Adam Dunn for $5 M, but that Lowe would get $15/ 4years, and Manny Ramirez was still seeking MORE than $45 M /2 years from the Dodgers.. I’d call you crazy..

    Nobody knew how much the market would change in the course of the past month or two..

    From everything I’ve read, the Phillies still view Ruiz as the starter, Coste as #2, Paulino as #3, with Marson as #4… but Marson as the prospect will get loads of playing time in AAA… I haven’t heard any Coste trade rumors in about a month. Are the Marlins still looking?

  • Posts: 0 mick

    I would give Sheets a Schmoltz type deal–not sure he would take it, but when healthy he is a good one

  • Posts: 0 Griffin

    I came across this last week. It’s an article by Tom Verducci at SI.com

    It basically says that on May 12, 2006, the Phillies called up Hamels to make his first start. If the Phillies had waited an additional 19 days before calling him up, he would have received a full year less of service time. So he wouldn’t be arbitration elgible until AFTER the 2009 season.

    Interesting stuff. I wonder what the Phillies were thinking (or not thinking)?

  • Posts: 0 Geoff

    Id give sheets about 6M with 6 more in incentives and two vesting options if he can make X amount of starts in this season and then next season too. the options would both be for like 12M. Itd probably be the best offer hes gotten so far, so hed at least consider it. Id definitely be happy if they were still quietly pursuing sheets…and Id also try and sign wigginton to a one year deal for a few million, maybe throw in a second year if he wants it.

    as for freeing up payroll space, well, i dont feel like arguing about that today…

  • Posts: 0 Griffin

  • Posts: 0 PhxPhilly

    I agree with Monktavian.
    I wanted a trade for Wigginton when the Astros were looking to dump him. We could have offered next to nothing (fringe prospect) and got him for a one year deal to be and right-handed Dobbs. Both can play third (badly but it counts), corner OF, and 2B in a pinch.
    Leave the Ibanez $ for mid-season pickup.
    Go with Jenkins/Wigginton platoon in LF both have power and hit opposite handed pitching. Wigginton becomes super bench player playing some OF to give Werth and Victorino a rest, fills in for Feliz earlier on and could take some time at 2B.
    Phillies would have him locked in for the year then could decide who stays next year between Jenkins, Wigginton and Feliz.
    Ibanez is a much better hitter than Wigginton/Jenkins but I would have rather spent that money on midseason pitching (Peavy!).

  • Posts: 0 Johnson

    phils are content with giving the 5th spot to the winner of carasco, happ, kendrick and CHP so signing a starter isnt going to happen
    dealing coste for a young pitcher would be real nice since marsen and paulino will produce a good backup backstop
    doesnt look like they will have trouble moving stairs when they sign a righty bat…stairs only make 1mill and thats a bargain for a lefty pinch hitter that can hit the longball
    would be nice to package coste and stairs to the same team who needs a catcher and a lefty bat and get a real nice prospect

  • Posts: 0 Joe O'Phillie

    Wigginton is a tweener, not good enough to play every day, too good to be on the bench. Considering the injuries to Feliz and Utley, he may get tweener type playing time with the Phils. Feliz’ back is almost guaranteed to flare up throughout the season so the Phils may rest him more than usual giving Wigginton more playing time. He also has the ability to play more positions than the alternatives.

    A one year contract with the Phils may be attractive to Wigginton since Feliz may be gone by the end of the year and he may be able to step into the “mostly” every day role then.

  • Posts: 0 IRONPIGPEN

    No more Garciaparra, please

  • Posts: 0 Joe O'Phillie

    O yeah, and keep Stairs. There is no way you can get rid of him after he hit arguably the best homer in Phils history. Pay a million or 2 of Jenkins contract and someone might take him. Stairs is better suited as a pinch hitter anyway.

  • Posts: 0 Chuck P

    “Pay a million or 2 of Jenkins contract and someone might take him. Stairs is better suited as a pinch hitter anyway.”

    I like that thought… someone would probably take a look at Jenkins if we were willing to eat some of his salary. He’s obviously not comfortable being a backup here.

    I don’t see how anyone can think that we would have been better off with a LF platoon of Dobbs/Wigginton… it would have been cheaper but not better.

    If Adam Dunn signs for anything less than $12 million/year, I will throw up… Dunn has hit 40+ HR and 90+ RBI in each of the past 5 seasons. I’ve been saying that he would have been the best fit since day one. The only reason that anyone could give for not making an offer was that he was LH… and we ended up with a LH.

  • Posts: 0 Griffin

    “If Adam Dunn signs for anything less than $12 million/year, I will throw up… Dunn has hit 40+ HR and 90+ RBI in each of the past 5 seasons. I’ve been saying that he would have been the best fit since day one. The only reason that anyone could give for not making an offer was that he was LH… and we ended up with a LH.”

    Amen to that Chuck P., I’m with you 100% there.

  • Posts: 0 Don M

    Could you guys even imagine how frustrated EVERY Phillies fan would be Howard-Dunn together in our lineup????

    Look how much people have been bitching about Howard’s strikeouts over the past week… and then think about adding Dunn, who strikesout just as much, but he’s less productive than Howard when he actually does hit the ball

    They added what they needed, a contact hitter that can hit 2,3,5, or 6… he hits from the left side of the plate, which bothers some people.. but if you can hit, you can hit. Did they overpay?.. yea its looking like they did, but they would have lost him to the Cubs, Angels or Mets if they didn’t get him when they did.

    Ibanez hits for higher average, and drives in more RBIs than Dunn… who would have been a TERRIBLE fit for this team in my opinion.. I’d like to have Dunn on my slow-pitch softball team.. but not on the Phillies

  • Posts: 0 Don M

    Averages of the past 3 years:

    Ibanez: .291, 26 HRs, 113 RBI

    Dunn: .245, 40 HRs, 99 RBIs

    That batting average seals the deal for me. Over that same 3 year period, Dunn Strikesout an average of 174 times per year.. Ibanez 107 …. that is a whole lot more contact, and a much more reliable bat in the lineup

  • Posts: 0 NJ

    The Phils don’t need to be anymore explosive, it’s consistency that’s what the team has lacked and guys like Ibanez bring.

  • Posts: 0 Geoff

    You can have Howard or Dunn, but not both. Dunn is a cheap alternative to howard if you want to unload howard because of his salary, which we could argue about all day, but together they would set the all time record for strikeouts in a lineup

  • Posts: 0 Griffin

    Don M., if you look at a stat like BA, then obviously Ibanez is going to be better than Dunn.
    What about OBP? For the last 3 years:

    Ibanez: .353, .351, .358

    Dunn: .365, .386, .386

    or what about SLG?

    Ibanez: .516, .480, .479

    Dunn: .490, .554, .513

    Anyone can cherry pick stats to make one player look better than the other.
    Ibanez is a good player, but so is Dunn. Ibanez is older and just signed for $10.5 for 3 yrs, Dunn may have to sign for $5 million for one year. Who is the better value?

  • Posts: 0 Chuck P

    I agree that Dunn is a poor man’s Ryan Howard and he might not be a “great fit” but he hits homeruns and would provide protection. We would all be frustrated with the strikeouts but it would be fun to watch!

    He would have many more RBI’s and his average might be better if he wasn’t playing for the Reds. And when Howard leaves this organization (and we’re all assuming he will), we would have a pretty decent HR hitter to bank on. What happens when Howard walks and Ibanez is done?

  • Posts: 0 Griffin

    I agree that Ibanez is the better fit for the Phillies, but value-wise, they overpaid.
    Enough about the Ibanez debate, we all know where each other stands. Any updates on Wiggy/Nomar/Alou?

  • Posts: 0 Don M

    They felt, and I agree.. that the lineup would be better suited with more consistent production from a different LF..in this case, Ibanez.

    It looks smart that they didn’t offer Burrell arbitration, because a guy with 30 HRs isn’t going to lose his arbitration case, he would have been awarded somewhere around that $14-15 M mark again, which is too much for Burrell.

    I’ve heard that Burrell will be missed most OFF the field.. he was the “Judge, Jury, and Executioner of the clubhouse”…

    Rollins becomes the longest-tenured, Utley can lead by example all he wants, but if he’s not willing to speak his mind, then nobody can listen if he’s not talking, Victorino brings energy.. but who is going to be the guy to tell him to tone it down when he needs it? Myers brings lots of fire and passion, but was so bad at one point last year, he was sent to the minors, so will anyone listen to anything he says? Hamels is the ACE, but at only 25 years old.. there no way he’s able to lead the clubhouse.. It will be interesting to see if Rollins is mature enough to lead ON and OFF the field, or it Utley is finally ready to be the guy the Front-Office and fans want him to be..

  • Posts: 0 Chuck P

    We need consistency… didn’t we win the WS with Mr. Inconsistency playing left field? If you have more runs on the board than the other team, you win the game… both players are run producers and neither is going to win a gold glove anytime soon (so defense doesn’t really factor into the decision). I think that Ibanez is a great fit and a great player but when you add money into the equation, $5 million per year for Adam Dunn is exponentially better than $10 million per year for Ibanez IMO.

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