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.
PHILLIES SIGN PLACIDO POLANCO TO 3YR/$18 MILLION CONTRACT
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?
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.
BEERMAN’S GRADE: C-