Beerman’s Report Card: Placido Polanco Signing

Posted by Nick "Beerman" Staskin, Thu, February 11, 2010 07:00 AM | Comments: 31
Beerman's Offseason Report Card, Posts

Beerman’s Report Card will be a biweekly series that will run up to Spring Training. We will look at the signings, resignings and trades that were orchestrated by Ruben Amaro, Jr. this off-season. They will be no particular order; however check back every Tuesday and Thursday for new entries.


Peter Gammons kind of stole my thunder with this one: Where was the market for a 34-year old second baseman with a .727 OPS to play third base on a multi-year deal?

With one of the first free agent signings in baseball this winter, Ruben Amaro jumped the gun to get his man. Seemingly outbidding himself (much like he did last year with the Raul Ibanez signing), he threw three years at a player on the decline of his career. After a hot start, we remember how quickly Ibanez came back down to Earth. And for those who don’t, just wait until Jayson Werth explores free agency after this season…but that’s another story.

Having looked at Polanco’s batting average in years prior, many people were quick to welcome him back to the City of Brotherly Love. However, those numbers may cause those same people to overlook Polanco’s rapid decline the past three seasons in Detroit:

- 2007: .341 BA .388 OBP .458 SLG .846 OPS

- 2008: .307 BA .350 OBP .417 SLG .768 OPS

- 2009: .285 BA .331 OBP .396 SLG .727 OPS

Compare those numbers to Pedro Feliz, the man who held down the hot corner for the last two seasons. The man who was given his walking papers almost immediately following this year’s World Series.

- 2009: .266 BA .308 OBP .386 SLG .694 OPS

Did Polanco really deserve a three-year deal with a $5.5 million dollar option for a fourth? The deal guarantees $19 million total to Polanco and seemingly shifts Shane Victorino down to either the sixth or seventh spot in the lineup. A spot where not only could his speed be wasted, but the bat could be taken out of either Vic’s or Ibanez’s hands for a lot of intentional walks to get to Carlos Ruiz.

That doesn’t even scratch the defensive side of this contract. Feliz manned a very solid third base, while Polanco hasn’t played the spot since 2005. This isn’t first base where old men go to pasture when they are moved from their natural spot. This is one of the most demanding positions in baseball.

During his tenure in Philadelphia, Feliz had an UZR rating (the number of runs above or below average a fielder is in both range runs, outfield arm runs, double play runs and error runs combined) of 5.3 in 2009 and an NL-high 7.2 in 2008. Easy translation: he was well-above average at third. Can we expect anything more than an average glove out of Polanco? Polanco’s glove has never been an issue at second, but how smoothly will that transition go moving over to third?

Beerman's Grade: C-It really comes down to two simple questions: Do you think Polanco can rebound to his 2007 and 2008 years? Or do you think as he gets older, his numbers will continue to slide?

One week later, former Phillies GM and collector of Phillies-past, Ed Wade signed Feliz to a one-year, $4.5 million dollar deal.

Personally, I’d take another year of Feliz at less than $5 million, than three years of Polanco at what amounts to at least $19 million. Especially after all we’ve heard about working under a budget, and the elephant in the room in right field that is set to explore free agency rather quickly.


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About Nick "Beerman" Staskin

Nick Staskin has written 36 articles on Phillies Nation.

  • Posts: 0 Greg V.

    OK, why are we grading signings until we see how each contract plays out/ Feliz hit .208 off of lefties last season and in a line up that is mostly bats left, that’s unacceptable. So yes, a change had to be made.

  • Posts: 0 BS

    Keeping Feliz would’ve meant we needed to sign a 3B next season anyway. Polanco’s contract doesn’t impact keeping Werth. We’re probably losing him either way.

  • Posts: 0 The Dipsy

    I would have taken one more year of Feliz also. Would that have been ideal? No. I would have tried to go somewhere in the middle of the two. A good fielding vet on a one year deal. Polanco, while clearly an offensive upgrade from Feliz, is not a defensive one. You can use all the mathematical gobbleyguck in the world but the fact remains that Jimmy can go get the ball in the whole which gave Feliz the luxury to play closer to third. Hence, less chances. Feliz’s arm was stellar. Polanco’s deal is reflective of Amaro’s penchant for focusing on one option and throwing money at it early before a market is set. SEE: IBANEZ, Raul, LIDGE, Brad, MOYER, Jamie. All I wanted was a a good fielding, .275 hitting, guy that didn’t strike out and I would have been fine. I find it real hard to believe that Polanco could not have been had for less. Real hard. While overall RAJ is a super GM, I think that this is a strategy that he needs to re-evaluate in light of the fact that he is operating a capped team.

    The Dipsy

  • Posts: 0 Jeff of Nova

    Good point Dipsy,

    I will say this and I am guilty of it as well, we all talk about what we want or why haven’t they done this or that, but there is a lot of behind the scenes things that go on here. I praise the job RAJ is doing overall just like you but, before I criticize I want to see what happens

    Greg makes the best point why are we grading a signing before we see the product? I mean many say “oh Feliz would have been fine” blah blah, BUT Like Greg said he sucked against Lefties, and that is unacceptable in this lineup. Our righties need to crush lefties or the lineup is much easier to manage as a pitcher.

    Just some of my thoughts.
    I truly thinking grading something that is a work in progress is stupid.
    I mean remember when Feliz was signed he was expected to be protection for Howard since he hit 20 hrs out in SF and protected Bonds. From that prediction he was ab absolute disappointment, but he had the series winning hit in the WS

  • Posts: 0 George

    As usual, too many people here aren’t giving a signing a chance. Let’s see Polanco play before we start evaluating his worth or grading this signing.

    Two things are for sure, though: he’s an offensive upgrade over Feliz, who was declining even faster than Polanco, and has a more versatile bat, which the lineup needs. I liked Feliz, but it was time for a change.

    We won’t know, really, if Amaro paid too much for too many years until Polanco actually plays a while.

    Can anyone actually name a good fielding, .275 hitting third baseman who was actually available at lower cost? Or one who could also spell Utley sometimes at second?

  • Posts: 0 bfo_33

    Most improtantly, the Phils are better (on paper) with Polanco than with Feliz. I’m still trying to figure out this signing. I like what PP will bring to our offense, defensively probably not much more than adequate, a good clubhouse guy. With that said, it would make a lot more sense if Howard’s contract was up after 2010, and PP was signed to play third this year, 2nd the next two, Utley to 1st, get a rh slugger to play third. The only slugging 3rd baseman after 2010 is Ramirez – big stats, but it seems like he punishes bad pitching, can’t hit good pitching (I don’t follow the cubs, so I could be way off). Either way, barring an absolute collapse, Howard isn’t going anywhere before 2012. From a value standpoint, can’t grade until at least 2 years through, but measuring it against the market, agree that the contract blows away any other offers.
    Is it a case of the Phils overpaying to get their guy, or is there something else going on?

  • Posts: 0 Keith E

    George said: “Or one who could also spell Utley sometimes at second?”
    The way Utley plays he always seems to need a stretch of time off and Polanco is a good fit for that reason. Who covers for him at 3rd is another question.
    For my $.02 I think I would have kept Feliz.
    GO PHILS!!!

  • Posts: 0 Red McNertney

    Polanco should have never left Philly. He should have been our third baseman instead of going over to Detroit. I believe that he will be stellar at third, although I believe that many have made excellent points about his age and the difficulties in changing positions. He is a contact hitter, excellent athlete who is sturdy and always in shape. He will give us three solid years while batting between .285 and .310. His signing is a solid B in my book.

  • Posts: 0 Dave

    Really, I think Polanco’s famous “Three-year decline” is overblown. 2007 was a fluke and of course he was going to regress to his career numbers. The 2007-2008 “decline” didn’t mean jack shit, unless you were stupid enough in the first place to believe that he was a .340 player. That said, the 2008-2009 decline might be indicative of a trend, although I, for one will wait until the season ends.
    I’ll bet anyone that Polanco has both a better offensive AND defensive (based on zone rating) year than Pete Happy. And if the Phillies get to the playoffs, he’ll hit better than Pete Happy did last year as well (that wouldn’t be too hard).

  • Posts: 0 Sarah

    All of you who are saying, they should’ve kept Feliz, remember this isn’t just about 2010. After this year, the third base market isn’t very good:
    Third basemen (from mlbtraderumors.com)
    Garrett Atkins (31) – $8.5MM club option with a $500K buyout
    Adrian Beltre (32) – $5MM player option with a $1MM buyout. Option reaches $10MM with 640 PAs in 2010.
    Wilson Betemit (29)
    Geoff Blum (38) – $1.65MM mutual option
    Jorge Cantu (29)
    Eric Chavez (33) – $12.5MM club option with a $3MM buyout
    Craig Counsell (40)
    Pedro Feliz (36)
    Jerry Hairston Jr. (35)
    Bill Hall (31) – $9.25MM club option with a $500K buyout
    Wes Helms (35)
    Brandon Inge (34)
    Mike Lowell (37)
    Melvin Mora (39)
    Jhonny Peralta (29) – $7MM club option with a $250K buyout
    Aramis Ramirez (33) – $14.6MM player option
    Miguel Tejada (37)
    Juan Uribe (31)
    Ty Wigginton (33)

    I’d take a possibly declining Polanco over some of these options.

  • Posts: 0 Beerman

    People seem to be missing the main point. The reason I am not a fan of this signing is the length. You can not give players past their prime three year deals. Even if polanco surpasses anything Feliz does this yr, feliz would have been servicable while polanco will have 2 more yrs on a deal. The offense has not Been a problem for the phils last 2 yrs. Not everyone in the lineup needs to hit .290 with 20 hrs to win games. When u have a solid defensive anchor who can hit .260 in the 7 hole for a cheap price tag at a one year deal you take it.

  • Posts: 0 Stuart

    Call me crazy but should we try to sign Nomar for cheap as a bench player and give him the opportunity to play some for Polanco if he doesnt play well at 3rd?

  • Posts: 0 pheeling it

    three year deals. I kno, it means were stuck with that declining player, and i know that it locks players that wouldnt come to that team for a one year deal, but who doesnt want to play for the phillies? we signed pedro martinez halfway through last year! i agree that three year deals dont need to be given, especially to older player

    BUT, maybe it a comfort level thing. Listen, your going to be playing with the best core in baseball right now (we know we do) and your going to get paid to do it. Don’t worry about performing and making a big name for yourself, just go out there and play the game you’ve played for years. your not the captain, just follow along and contribute.

    i agree ibanez and polanco, overpaid and too many years. BUT i think these players have some satisfaction and dedication to the phils. they owe ruben for the chance and the payday, and theyll do anything to show their thanks.

    NOT TO MENTION WHOEVER JOINS THE PHILLIES IN THE DECADE IS STRAIGHT HUNGRY FOR A RING. this is they’re one shot, their going to make the most of it.

  • Posts: 0 psujoe

    I thought they’d let Vic go after 2010 with Polanco batting second to free up money for Werth in Center. I sitll like the signing, because there’s nothing out there in FA after 2010. Keeping Vic I would’ve opted for Kouzmanoff.

  • Posts: 0 The Original Chuck P

    Dave… I would probably take that bet. They’re both solid defenders… Polanco doesn’t botch balls and plays hard but there’s going to be an adjustment for him at third base. I’m hoping that he gets more comfortable as the season wears on but I’m not sure what to expect at the start of the season and wouldn’t be surprised if he makes a few April errors.

  • Posts: 0 George

    Kouzmanoff is lousy on defense.

    The Phils were looking for an upgrade, but Figgins and Beltre were the only other REAL possibilities and both signed for a lot more than Polanco. And although maybe Polanco wasn’t going to get a huge contract at third, he would have been a very good option for some other team at second. One more year of a declining Feliz would have been $5 million, and there’d be no one to play the position in 2011.

    Maybe three years for a player supposedly past his prime is too long, but then maybe one year of an even older player is too long, too. And given the options on the farm, maybe three years isn’t enough, even if Polanco’s in the .270′s after those three.

    I doubt seriously that Polanco will fall apart as quickly as some people assume. Some “past prime” players have done well even into their forties.

  • Posts: 0 psujoe


    My understanding was Kouzmanoff improved a lot last year in the field. ANyone who understands Fangraphs can chime in, but looks like Kouzmanoff was better last year than Feliz. Of course it was Feliz’ worst year ever and Kouzmanoff’s best. If I’m reading things right.



  • Posts: 0 psujoe

    Kouzmanoff had 22 errors in 2007, 11 in 2008 and only 3 in 2009. Similar range statistically to Feliz, but a much better fielding percentage.

  • Posts: 0 Ricky Bo Bo

    Most people seem to be missing the point. Beerman is DRUNK when he writes these posts OK? So get off his back!

  • Posts: 0 Scotch Man

    The Polanco signing gets a C- but we here at the Nation think he’ll bat .400 next season and drive in 100 runs. You heard it here first!

  • Posts: 0 Wineman

    I’m wasted! I’m giving this post a F+!

  • Posts: 0 Weed Man

    I give the Brandon Duckworth signing an A+! Who took my Lays? DAMNIT!

  • Posts: 0 Chris.I

    Polanco a C-? Really? Why? Because we went over the hill a few dollars on an Ex Philly that were glad to see back in Red Pinstripes? Polanco is an Upgrade over Feliz…I’ll give everyone until the end of May, than everyone will talk about how great he is, and how smart of a signing this was to bring him back. If I remember correctly, everyone thought we overspent on Ibanez last season and look what he did. He earned every penny on that contract. Polanco will be the same situation…Mark my word

  • Posts: 0 George

    Thanks for the correction on Kouzmanoff. I was unaware of that drastic improvement. Even so, if his range is similar to Feliz’s, he wouldn’t be much of an upgrade, because Pedro’s range had slipped in 2009.

    I still see Polanco as a better option. Remember, Kouzmanoff could only have been acquired in a trade, probably for a decent prospect. That could have interfered with the later trade for Halladay.

  • Posts: 0 Griffin

    The people who are arguing not to knock the signing because Polanco will be very good are missing the point.
    The Phillies could have done better this offseason by signing Placido Polanco….for fewer years. They bid against themselves, again.

  • Posts: 0 Cognac Man

    Polanco is the man! Don’t be talking trash!

  • Posts: 0 janet Gill

    Polanco is major-league cute, with that huge head and those massive jaws. He is made for Philly. No doubt.

  • Posts: 0 Vernon Dozier

    Overpaying in years and dollars for a guy that hasn’t played the position in six years was a strange move indeed.

  • Posts: 0 NJ

    With acquisitions everyones just looking at the raw numbers as if Amaro and his team have overlooked them. The Phils aren’t a team that need any more production in the sense of a guy who’s going to be a shoo-in for 20/80 or .320+, they brought back Polanco because he’s a gritty player at the plate who’s going to make a pitcher work for his out instead of giving it up.

    The ONLY thing that can be openly criticized about the Phils is that the team is too streaky during games and too often doesn’t make the opposing team work for its out and wins, that is why Polanco and Ibanez before him (and to an extent Moyer) have been good signings, they bring something to the plate that doesn’t show up on their stat sheets but filters through to the other more talented guys.

    Not an A but definitely not a C-

  • Posts: 0 Andrew R.

    It’s kind of funny, nobody complains when omar vizquel had to play some time at 2nd base AND 3rd base for the rangers and he was a career SS in his 40′s!!

    Third base is a lot easier to play than 2nd in a lot of ways. Most of the time it is a reaction spot and we’re putting in a guy with some of the best hands there. Making an off-balance throw after charging a bunt is the hardest part of the position. Polanco will be fine defensively.

    And having Victorino bumped down to the 7-hole will only really hurt his runs, but he will provide that spark at the bottom of the lineup. If you recall back in 2008 when he hit that Grand Slam in off of CC in the NLCS he was batting in the 6-hole. Having Howard, Ibanez and Werth in front of him, all who are in the .370 and above OBP range will give him some RBI opportunites as well.

    Overall this is signing is NOT worthy of a C-. Even Raul’s signing is still a success. He carried us for half a season which is fine by me. He’s a major reason we made it to the playoffs again. And people forget that his second half production was due to a sports hernia that the guy was playing through. If he’s just steadily mediocre this year, nobody can complain about his contract.

  • Posts: 0 psujoe

    This was in the NY Post off season winners and Losers. Phils were considered losers at #9. Not saying I agree with it. Mets were losers #3 just to make you feel better, LOL.


    Halladay is the best pitcher in baseball, and away from the Yankees and Red Sox and in the NL, a sub-2.00 ERA is possible. And I expect the Phillies will win the East again. But they have a window for greatness now and should have cut elsewhere to keep Lee. Plus, I question if Placido Polanco can play third, whether Danys Baez provides real insurance if Brad Lidge is a dud again and whether Jose Contreras (ticketed for the bullpen) can provide rotation depth if needed.

    Also, the Phillies have tied up a lot of players beyond this season, and have nearly the same 2011 payroll commitment ($138 million) that the Yankees do ($144.6 million, but sure to change with re-signings of Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera and more). With that kind of outlay already, it is going to be tough to keep the uber-valuable Jayson Werth. Plus, players such as Raul Ibanez, Polanco, Ryan Madson, Baez, Brian Schneider and Ross Gload are tied up next year already, and the Phillies might just regret that

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