The Debate: Beltre vs. Feliz

Posted by Pat Gallen, Sun, November 29, 2009 04:14 PM | Comments: 95
Analysis, News, Opinion, Posts

You’ve digested the turkey, the cranberry sauce, the sweet potatoes.  You’ve reflected on what it means to be thankful over this long weekend.  Now, its time to get back to what’s important; and that’s the free agent market the Phillies have in front of them.

Last week, Sam Donnellon of the Philadelphia Daily News talked about how wonderful it would be to have Chone Figgins at the top of the order.  A few things make that relatively unlikely.

First, he is hoping to secure a deal in the $10-12 million per year range, which takes the Phils out of it from a financial standpoint.  Figgins will be 32-years old at the start of the 2010 season, meaning a four-or-five-year contract will take him into an age bracket that normally means a downhill slide in production.  On top of that, whether or not you believe that Jimmy Rollins is a leadoff man means very little. Because Charlie Manuel does, it’s unlikely he would take J-Roll out of that position for Figgins.  That makes a slap-hitting, seventh hitter pretty expensive at those figures.

All of those variables put Figgins deep on the backburner, unless for some unknown reason he changes his price tag.

The hotly debated name out there besides Figgins continues to be Adrian Beltre.  If we are tossing Figgins to the side, Beltre’s name, to me, stands out more than Placido Polanco (not a third baseman by trade), Mark Derosa (super-utility man, but can he play 3B everyday?), or Miguel Tejada (aging, not a 3B, but would switch positions here).

Many are wondering if he is an upgrade at all over Pedro Feliz – and I say yes.  Defensively, Feliz was one of the top third basemen at his position, until you delve deeper into the numbers.  Using John Dewan’s Fielding Bible, you’ll notice that Feliz was a plus-5 this season.  If you’re unfamiliar with the Plus/Minus stat, it represents the number of plays the player made above/below the number that an average fielder would make, according to the video scouts at Baseball Info Solutions.

Feliz’s plus-5 puts him just above average, however, two of the top three defenders at the hot corner are Figgins, with a ridiculous plus-40 – best in the majors – and Beltre, with a plus-27, ranking him third in baseball.  Feliz saved just five runs at his position, while 30 were saved by Figgins, and 21 by Beltre.  With the glove, it turns out Feliz is not nearly on par with the others.  There’s no denying his defense is solid, but he’s getting up there in age and was clearly aided by having Jimmy Rollins to his left.  But again, lets take Figgins out of the equation since he seems to be a long shot.

Offensively, many point to Pedro Feliz and his 82 RBI, his .336 average with runners in scoring position and his clutch hits throughout the season.  Beltre, on the other hand, was serviceable in those statistics as well.  The Mariners third baseman hit .284 with RISP, and did knock in 44 runs in just 111 games as he dealt with injuries.

Feliz’s stats must be looked at in the context of the lineup he was a part of.  The Phillies managed 820 runs in the regular season in 2009, while the Mariners plated just 640, the worst in the American League.  Feliz was the benefactor of hitting behind Ryan Howard, Jayson Werth, and Raul Ibanez in the most feared lineup in the NL.  Beltre was surrounded by the likes of  an elderly Ken Griffey Jr., Russell Branyan, Jose Lopez, and Yuniesky Betancourt.  Not exactly murderers row.

Because Beltre was the focal point of the Seattle offense, he very rarely was given anything good to hit with those names around him.  Plug him into the Phillies offense in the seven spot, and you have yourself a very solid piece at the bottom of the order.

Looking at Beltre’s peripheral stats, he does strikeout a bit too much compared to Feliz, fanning 74 times in 449 at-bats.  Pedro whiffed 68 times in 131 more AB’s.

Contractually, there might be some reason for the Phillies to pause. The infamous Scott Boras represents Beltre and will undoubtedly attempt to suck the most cash he can out of any team willing to dole it out.  The free agent market has yet to play out in the early going, so there is no gauge as to what Beltre will seek. If it’s a three-year deal in the $6 million range per season, it seems worth the chance on an excellent defensive corner infielder that is only 31.  Ruben Amaro appears to be calmly sitting back, allowing the market to breathe in it’s early stages.

The debate will continue throughout the winter with so many people having differing opinions on who should be the new starting third baseman in Philadelphia.  Adrian Beltre is my favorite to be the man, but who are you hoping for to take over for Pedro Feliz?

Pat Gallen can be reached via email at Pat@Philliesnation.com

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About Pat Gallen

Pat Gallen has written 1709 articles on Phillies Nation.

Pat is Editor-in-Chief of Phillies Nation. He also covers the Phils for 97.5 FM in Philly.

  • Posts: 0 Chuck

    I’m not saying that YOU are making Feliz a scapegoat…..it just seems that the organization has basically said that Feliz is the guy that’s gonna be “switched out”…..I mean, who else in the line-up can you change??…..and the fact that the Phillies came up short means that SOME kind of change has to be made….that’s just the way things are done….by ALL teams..

    If Beltre truly is an upgrade and the Phillies can work a pretty good deal…then fine…I’ll be ok with that…..but for the 5 million….Feliz coming back would not have been the worst thing, either…

  • Posts: 0 Griffin

    The Fielding Bible is simply stating that Feliz was only slightly above average in 2009. He was rated way above average in previous years. Just like hitters have down years, fielders do as well.

    Feliz is still very good defensively, but he’s turning 34. Beltre is turning 30 and is comparable defensively and an improvement offensively.

  • Posts: 0 Geoff

    Dude, gett off it, they arent getting Figgins. They may not even be able to afford Beltre. The market indicates that Figgins will be the most money, followed (maybe not all that far behind) by Beltre. Tahts how the money will play out. They will surely think defensively first and just make sure that whoever they get is better offensively or almost as good. Everyone could plainly see Feliz slowed down a LOT in the stretch and the playoffs. He was still solid but this year he will not be nearly as good in the field with Jimmy not covering his flank. They had to do it.

  • Posts: 0 rusty stab

    a SLAP hitter is not worth $10 million a year playing third base — no way — unless he is Wade Boggs and wins batting titles and is on base consistently 40% of the time. I am in favor of Figgins for three years for $5 million per year. Not more than that. Beltre, perhaps $7 million for three years.

  • Posts: 0 JJFritz

    What George said earlier makes sense. What type of hitter is the Phils looking for at 3rd base? If it’s power, then Beltre would be the man. If it’s situational hitting, then any number of guys would work. It is clear that it will be hard to find the right ‘upgrade’ at 3rd over Feliz, defensively speaking. But, again, with the stats, he’s just slightly above average — not quite GG quality. But, GG quality isn’t necessarily what we need.

    Beltre is good if we’re looking for power and GG quality. But, do we really need more power in such a potent line-up? If the power that the Phils already possess — production at the top of league in almost every offensive category — isn’t enough, then maybe we have some issues. I think bringing in Atkins would be a great fit. He’s okay defensively, which is the same as Feliz. He’s also an offensive upgrade. With Colorado looking to go with Stewart at 3rd, Atkins might come fairly cheap. And, like was said, he could get work at 2nd and 1st as well, giving Charlie a lot of wiggle room in the line-up.

    In the end though, the most important thing the Phils need to do, is start to think of the future. They need someone in the minor leagues who they can develop into their 3rd-baseman of the future. They knew what their 3rd-base situation was going to be like. They did not draft one 3B at all this year. With no one in the minors, WHY NOT??

    I hate to see it happen. But, in the past few years, it was discussed about trading either Werth or Victorino to upgrade the starting pitching. Why not consider that option to bring in a top-rated 3B prospect? If Vic is dealt, bring in Figgins for 3rd and move Rollins to the 2 spot. If Werth is dealt, bring in Beltre for the 5/6 spot. We have outfielders in the minors ready to play. And, if not, outfielders in the FA market may be easier to find than the perfect 3b with the lineup we have right now.

  • Posts: 0 George

    Tejada’s strikeout totals are very similar to Feliz’s. His power numbers have been steadily declining, just as Feliz’s have, he walks less than Feliz, and he’s older than Feliz. He also hasn’t been a third baseman. He’s too risky for serious consideration as an upgrade.

    Feliz isn’t being replaced just for the sake of change, or because that’s the way things are done, as one poster believes. He’s a candidate for change because his production steadily slid downward in 2009 and he’s getting old.

    The change, too, involves more than just a third baseman, but a change in lineup approach. Figgins would be the biggest change, but he’s too old for long term and too expensive for short. The second biggest offensive style change would be Polanco.

    We all know how bad this team has been with runners in scoring position. This is what really needs to be changed, and only a high average/OBP guy will do that.

  • Posts: 0 George

    Are there any “top rated prospects” to even trade for? Prospects are not worth major league talent like Werth or Victorino, they’re only worth other high rated prospects, which the Phils have in abundance. I’d maybe try to trade Taylor if there’s a decent 3rd baseman around in some other team’s farm system, because no matter who the Phils sign, they likely won’t be around for more than 2-3 years.

    Again, this is a question of who’s out there, and a question of who’s a potential trade partner. Most teams want pitching, and Taylor might not be a match.

    No matter which free agent the Phils sign this year they need to be looking long term. That’s my biggest problem with all the available free agents–they are not long term solutions.

  • Posts: 0 jimmy

    Polanco is the best fit. Beltre’s career has been plagued with nagging injuries, he strikes out alot, is a very streaky hitter, and is prone to hitting into inning ending double plays. Beltre is likely to post similar numbers as Feliz offensively 20-25 Hr’s and somewhere in the range of a .270 avr. For those of you who feel he would put up more Hr’s at the bank, remeber, we said the same thing about Feliz when we first signed him. Beltre’s career is on the decline and he’s injury prone. The Phillies are in desperate need of a situational hitter and Polanco is just that. He’s one of the hardest players in the league to strike out, he puts the ball in play, is not afraid to hit with two strikes, is a very good bunter, and will hit the ball the other way when needed. He will look very good hitting between Rollins and Utley with Victorino providing depth and speed at the bottom of the order batting seventh. Defensively, although he probably would not be as good as Feliz, the team would still be getting a pretty good infielder. Polanco has played 323 games at the hot corner and has only committed 15 errors. Now, that’s not alot of time spent playing at third base, but the limited time he’s played there he’s had success. He’s a gold glove second baseman and should make a smooth transition.

  • Posts: 0 Don M


    great arguement on the value of adding Polanco into the Phillies lineup . but Im still not sold on him as an everyday 3b

  • Posts: 0 GWFightinsFan

    Well Don, i think we could always sub in Castro for him in the 9th inning of close games if it turns out that he’s not a great 3rd baseman, much like we did will Pat the Bat couple years back. Plus, having Polanco gives us some flexibility in that we can move him over to 2nd now and then to give Utley a day off. Or even shift Utley to 1st, and let Dobbs get a few at bats…

  • Posts: 0 filledphillie

    how come no talk of the phillies acquirng miguel cabrera and moving the big bopper back to third??????????????

  • Posts: 0 filledphillie

    makes a reasonable 14 mill for a true slugging 3b,phils got enough starting pitching,they use remaing 6 million to fill out the bullpen,but who do we give up??????????

  • Posts: 0 JJFritz

    George, there are quite a few high-ranked prospects at 3rd base. And, a few that aren’t ranked too high overall, but still really good to keep an eye on. Jefry Marte of the NYM system could prove to be a huge talent in the next few years. And with the Mets in no need for 3B right now, they may be willing to deal him. Just a though, he’s only 18 — with a few years of fine-tuning in the Phils minor league system, he could be ready in say 1 or 2 years. Granted, I wouldn’t necessarily want to give up Werth or Vic to the Mets of all teams, so a thrid team would have to be included in that deal. Or even higher up on the pole in Mike Moustakas in KC. He’s young, has power, line drive ability to all fields and could be ready this year or next. Also, in KC they have a young guy name Alex Gordon who is sure to keep that position there for quite a few years. That may be a good possibility. There are others too, just to mention a couple.

  • Posts: 0 Jesus

    Jimmy, I agree that Polanco is a very good situational hitter and he would probably be my 2nd choice behind Beltre. But you said Beltre would put up similar numbers to Feliz 20-25 hr’s and a .270 avg. Feliz only averaged 13hr’s with us and never hit 25hr’s anywhere. Beltre has hit 25 or more hr’s 3 of the last 4yrs playing half his games at Safeco field which is notorious for sapping RH pull power hitters. That’s not quite the same reputation that CBP has. HA! Also, Polanco hits into quite a bit of double plays himself. Averages 17 GDP’s/yr. I also think to say he is injury proned is a little tough. He had some injuries last year but besides that has played in over 143 games every year since 2002. I also think that assuming Polanco will have no problem making the adjustment from 2nd to 3rd isn’t that simple. He hasn’t had steady work at 3rd since 2002. Since ’02 he has played 21 games at 3rd in ’03, 13 in ’04, and 9 in ’05. I don’t think defense is getting as much attention as it deserves. I’m sure Polanco will make all the routine plays but how many runs will he save vs Beltre in the field? I don’t think this can be overlooked.

  • Posts: 1435 Pat Gallen

    Avatar of Pat Gallen

    filledphillie – Cabrera is a liability at third. He;s a 1B-DH now over in the AL. He’s fat and slow. I like the thought but he’s an awful fielder.

  • Posts: 0 Manny

    I’m with Jesus.
    (In a Figgins-less world, Beltre would be my top choice and Polanco my second).

  • Posts: 0 shag beta sigma delta

    Defense is the key for the Phillies at third base, I am not sure experimenting with PP, or Tajada is the right way to go. I would also take Peter Happy back for $5 mil a year, if Beltre will take $6-7 mil for three years I would not be unhappy with that but would take Pedro back if Beltre wants more years or more money than that. Would maybe go up to 8 mil

  • Posts: 0 Dylan

    FilledPhillie – really? You think we can afford a guy making 25 million a year? If we were going to spend that kind of money, we all know who would be for so I’m not going to even mention his name.

  • Posts: 0 Keystone

    I brought this up in a thread a few weeks ago but didn’t get any response.
    What does anyone know or think about Neil Sellers? He played the entire year at AA Reading las season and hit .317 in 518 at bats. He also hit 17HR and drove in 86 runs. He had a .383 OBP and a .486 SLG for a .869 OPS. He played 3B for pretty much the whole season for the R Phils and is 27 now and will be 28 at the beginning of next season so I know that usually means there is a reason he is still in AA. Right now in Winter League ball he is hitting .371 in 89 at bats with a .953 OPS. Im not sure how his glove is but he seems like a good right handed bat. I think if they can get DeRosa Sellers might be a cheap way of mixing it up at 3B. What does anyone else think about him or that idea, or know about him. I really don’t know much else about him.

  • Posts: 0 filledphillie

    cabrera makes 14.5 and played a bit of third last year for the tigers by the way,so at 27 and the same wgt as he was in florida when he played back to back 160 games,and a decent fielding pct,your arguments fall short of a reason to say nada,by the way he also can play a decent outfield!!!!!!!!!

  • Posts: 0 Brooks

    Jimmy, starting Polanco at third base is stupid.
    1) he’s older
    2) out of position
    3) has little to no power

    As a utility glove in the IF? Definitely.

    Keystone, the Phils should give Sellers a good look during the spring.

    Shag Beta – it would be nuts to think that Beltre would chop his salary in half for any length of contract… 6 or 7 mil a year ain’t gonna happen with this guy.

    Jimmy also mentioned Beltre’s nagging injuries. Uh, he played in over 143 games for 7 seasons in a row, since 2001..

  • Posts: 0 Dylan

    In 2010 and 2011 he makes 20 million and in 2012 and 2013 he makes 21.

    Bottom line is the only player that Phillies will pay $20 million a year for is Howard. They will get close with Lee as well.

    The Phillies would have to give up cheap, young talent to get a guy that makes $20/year and then have to shed payroll other places. I don’t see that happening.

  • Posts: 0 Dylan

    not too mention the deal goes until 2015…when he makes 22 million…when he will def. be a 1B/DH.

    I’d rather take a chance on Atkins and draft high on 3B this year.

  • Posts: 0 Andrew J.

  • Posts: 0 George

    If Beltre wants eight million, let him walk. Even seven is overpaying, but maybe the Phils will go that high. But please, not for four years.

    I like the idea of attempting to trade for someone like Moustakas from the KC system. But he’s a prospect, and shouldn’t cost MLB talent. If KC wanted Werth or Victorino, I’d say “don’t be ridiculous.” There’s no way the Mets would let anyone slip to the Phils, and so a three team trade won’t happen.

    I don’t like the idea, though, of so many people equating power with good offense. A team needs some contact/situational hitters. Home runs aren’t all that good with no one on base. A base hit with a runner at second or third works just as well as a solo homer, and extended rallies are fueled by walks and base hits even more so than by the long ball.

  • Posts: 0 Geoff

    Cabrera would be booed out of this city by the end of April! He would be so horrible.

  • Posts: 0 Joel V.


    Felix hit an abismal .208 againts LEFTIES last year. Adiran Beltre hit .298 against lefties and Mark DeRosa hit .278 against lefties as well as Lowell who hit .301 so they are all upgrades in that category. In a lineup where your three of your BEST hitters are lefties, (Utley, Howard, Ibanez) you need a guy that can hit them. Pedro has not been getting the job done there. That’s the main reason why Amaro is looking elsewhere to fill the 3rd base job.

  • Posts: 0 Greg V.

    Did I seriously read move Howard to third and have Miguel Cabrera play first? Howard can barely make it at first, why the hell would you put him in the hot corner? That is the single dumbest thing I’ve heard with trading for Rolen being a close second today.

  • Posts: 0 Dylan


    Who said that? Howard is lefty, and I can’t see anyone seriously suggesting that. I think you read something incorrectly.

  • Posts: 0 Dylan

    By “Big Bopper” he meant Miggy if that is what you are referring to.

  • Posts: 0 Manny

    I’d be happy if we get Beltre even if it is for 8M….

  • Posts: 0 MikeB.

    Great article Pat and I agree with you that Adrian Beltre is the right man for the Phils at third base if he does not demand an unreasonable amount of money.

  • Posts: 0 derekcarstairs

    If the Phils go with a free agent, my choice would also be Beltre.

    If possible, however, I prefer trading for a young potential stud like Alex Gordon or Brandon Wood. Since he is not likely to play much in 2010 and Brown may be ready sometime in 2011 to replace Ibanez, Taylor could be trade bait.

    By 2012, in Brown and Gordon/Wood, the Phils would have two young, talented, cheap players filling two positions where the team has aged. That approach is how the team can stay good for an extended period.

    Having said that, neither Gordon nor Wood is a lock to succeed.

    Gordon was supposed to be an immediate impact player when he came up in 2007, but he has yet to break out. He also had injury problems in 2009, and his defense needs to improve.

    I think Wood is the better defensive player of the two, and he can play SS or 3B. He also has excellent power. His main problem is that he strikes out at an alarming rate.

    Wood is 24; and Gordon is 25.

  • Posts: 0 Don M

    Neil Sellers is 27 years old… he’s hit for a pretty decent average, with some power in AA

    But there is a HUGE difference between the pitching in AA and the pitching in the Majors …. the Phillies know what they have, and since they consider their biggest need to be a 3b .. I would imagine that they can’t see him ever contributing to the big league club

    I heard that Andy Tracy is a likely candidate for a bench role though, as he’s hit more than 20 HRs, in EIGHT different season in the minors.

    He’s 36 years old in a few weeks.. but he’s got very good power, pretty decent average, and very good On-Base Percentage..

  • Posts: 0 George

    The Phils don’t need to trade for someone whose “defense needs to improve,” or for a player who “strikes out at an alarming rate.” Also, a major leaguer such as Gordon would cost more than a minor league prospect. Finally, another team’s prospect wouldn’t help the Phils this year.

    If Polanco isn’t offered arbitration, he’d be the best option, in my mind. Beltre might hit for more power, but Polanco would probably be on base more, would strike out less, still play slightly better than passable defense, and be a lot cheaper. The picture changes, though, if he’s going to cost a draft pick. Let’s see what happens at tonight’s arbitration deadline.

  • Posts: 0 Jesus

    I truly believe that 3yrs 24million would get it done for Beltre. The Phils will have some tough decisions to make after this season. Having Beltre as a power RH bat will help because I don’t see them re-signing Werth after this year. Also, depending on the decisions they make they could potentially have quite a bit of payroll flexibility after the 2010 season so 8mill a year isn’t alot when looked at in that way.

  • Posts: 0 psujoe

    If the Phils trae for anyone at 3b I would want it to be Kouzmanoff. decent fielder, Excellent power especially against lefties and would be under team control for a while. They’d lose prospects, but would save about 3.5-4 million at 3b. That money could go to other needs.

    Call me crazy, but the Halladay situation just got more interesting when he said no trade by the Spring then no trade, period. Lee (9) + Moyer(7) + that 4 million = 20 in 2010. hmmm.

  • Posts: 0 derekcarstairs

    Winning in 2010 will depend more on what the Phils do with pitching than it will on who fills the 7 hole in the lineup. Offense is not the problem.

    The Phils can afford to go with youth at 3B as long as they also bring in a high quality utility infielder like a Jerry Hairston to fill in for an extended period if the young guy slumps.

    All of the candidates for 3B have flaws. So do Gordon and Wood, but their upsides are higher than the free agents.

  • Posts: 0 filledphillie

    were talking a world series champion here,a elite team and names like sellers?polanco?beltre?to play a key position on this team,jesus,i say go get cabreraaaaaaaaaa

  • Posts: 0 Manny

    Helloooo Beltre. Please come play for us.


  • Posts: 0 jrollpatrol08

    george–i think beltre, at 31, fits the description of long term solution moreso than the other FA 3rd basemen. hes not a franchise player obviously but he will get a 3 year minimum deal somewhere if not here. since the phillies have nobody coming up in the minors i think thats another reason why ruben may be lookin hard at beltre to man the corner for next couple of years. 8 million a year he is worth it, and he will get a contract in that ballpark. polanco might be okay for a year, but then we are in this same position next offseason…’who can we get to play 3rd base?’…get beltre now while we still have some money and he is available. believe me, the phils are gonna have more pressing money issues next offseason–what to offer jayson werth, what to offer cliff lee–if these guys accept there isnt going to be any room to think about a decent 3rdbase contract next year

    philledphillie–cabrera still has 125 mil left on his current contract. the phils would not be able to afford that and ryan howards big contract that will be coming up next year. the money is just not there. this isnt the NYY

    shag beta sigma delta–you cant so easily compare feliz and beltre as you look to 2010 and beyond. just look at age if nothing else. can beltre still put up above average numbers for the next 2-3 years? probably. can feliz still put up above average numbers for the next 2-3 years? very unlikely, probably not. you cant make it seem like apples to apples as you look into future plans.

    psujoe–i like the kouzmanoff idea too under one condition -heath bell would have to be part of the deal. that would knock out two of the voids the phils need most. the ideal plan would be centered around bell with kouz as sort of a bonus. both would come cheap and we could spend money somewhere else–that would be an awesome deal. problem is neither guy is getting paid anything at all by san diego. the padres would be very unlikely to get rid of either of these guys since they cost next to nothing.

    and i see beltre was just offered arbitration. so the phils will be givin up a pick if they sign him

  • Posts: 0 Jesus

    jrollpatrol, Beltre is a type B so no pick would be given for him. Mariners would just get a supp. pick between 1st and 2nd rd.

  • Posts: 0 jrollpatrol08

    ahhh thats right….type be just gets supplemental…thanks for the correction…

    and i couldnt agree more with your posts on here. i too think beltre for about 3/24 to get it done.

  • Posts: 0 filledphillie


  • Posts: 0 Jesus

    Filledphillie, Cabrera is a below average 3rd baseman(that might be kind). He is a beast with the bat and if he could play 3rd at all anymore I would go after him in a heart beat, but the last time he played 3rd for the Tigers in 08 he made 5 errors in only 14 games! That’s why he is playing 1b now for the Tigers. So you would have to take into consideration how many runs he would cost us on the defensive end vs what he would do on the offensive side and still decide if he is worth that amount of money. I don’t think he is. I would rather us get Beltre for 7-8 mill/yr and spend the rest on another starter, bench and a bullpen arm.

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