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Trade Option: Josh Willingham

Posted by Pat Gallen, Mon, November 29, 2010 09:46 AM | Comments: 72
Analysis, News, Opinion, Posts

We may have found an outfielder worthy of replacing Jayson Werth (that is, if Werth doesn’t return, of course). That’s not to say Josh Willingham is on the same level as Werth as a fielder or hitter – clearly, he’s not as the numbers will prove. Willingham is, however, an inexpensive option should the Phillies be forced to move on.

Over the past five seasons, Willingham has become a familiar face in these parts, stopping through with the Florida Marlins and Washington Nationals. Over those five years, he’s been remarkably consistent. Willingham’s 162-game average over his career his 25 home runs, 82 RBI, and a .268 average. Not bad for a guy who gets very little publicity throughout the major leagues.

Turns out, Jayson Werth’s 162-game average is extremely similar: 25 home runs, 85 RBI, and .272 average. “The Hammer” also has an OPS of .841 during his career, just seven points lower than Werth’s.

Topping out at 26 home runs in 2006 and 89 RBI in 2007, Willingham has some pop from the corner outfield position. Sure, you say – hitting for power is nice, but can he hit lefties? That’s been the offseason-old question thus far for anyone who would step into the Phillies lineup.

It turns out that Willingham has handled left-handed pitching nearly the same as he handles right-handed pitching. His .267 career average against southpaws is nothing to write home about unless you’re comparing that number to a guy like Carlos Quentin (.212 vs. lefties). That sort of stability against lefties from the right side is all the Phillies could ask for as they attempt to find a suitable right fielder.

Over the past two seasons, Werth has separated himself from the rest, becoming an elite outfielder. His .921 OPS was 73 points higher than The Hammer’s in 2010. The issue last season for Willingham was his knee. The 31-year old is expected to be ready for 2011 after having surgery to fix his left meniscus in August. He finished the ’10 season with a .268/16/58 stat line in only 114 games and 450 plate appearances for the 69-93 Nats.

The good news is, Willingham is still relatively young. Werth didn’t hit his stride until he was close to 30 and benefited from an insanely well-rounded offense to boost those overall numbers. Could Willingham use that same talented Phillies lineup to take the next step as a hitter and flourish? Never has he been part of an offense like the one seen in Philly over the past few seasons.

One thing Josh Willingham is not known for is his defensive prowess. He’ll never be mistaken for Jayson Werth with the glove which is why his UZR has been a negative number in four of his five full seasons in the outfield.  While not fleet of foot, Willingham doesn’t screw up in the field often. Last year he committed just one error, and in nearly 5,000 innings in the outfield he’s put up just 16 “E’s.”

“Five-tool player” and “defensive stalwart” are titles that will never be used as descriptors for Willingham, and that’s OK. You know what you get with the guy: a fairly potent bat from the right side and average defense in right field. The question is, will he become available?

Two weeks ago, Adam Kilgore of the Washintgon Post wrote that Willingham was unlikely to receive an extension from the Nationals, meaning they could offer him another one-year deal or trade him.

CHANCES: With his salary expected to rise from $4.6 million to somewhere around $6 million for the upcoming season, that’s still within Ruben Amaro’s wheelhouse. The prevailing thought is that Willingham could be available and might be a decent addition to the Phillies. He’s also a guy who can cost-effectively take over in left field after Raul Ibanez leaves town. I give this deal five out of 10 Ruben Head’s.

Avatar of Pat Gallen

About Pat Gallen

Pat Gallen has written 1592 articles on Phillies Nation.

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

 
 
  • IF WERTH LEAVES,THEN THIS WOULD BE MY #1 OPTION!!!

     
  • Posts: 0 Scotch Man

    Anybody not named Jeff Francoeur works for me.

     
  • Posts: 0 Scotch Man

    I like Willingham myself. He has his pros and cons, but he can really rake.

     
  • Posts: 0 jonnyboy

    nah, not worth it.

     
  • Posts: 0 Pat Gallen

    Jonny Boy, you say not worth it. What reasons?

     
  • Posts: 0 Marc H

    I can live with a Josh Willingham/Dom Brown platoon.

     
  • Posts: 0 Marc H

    He is basically the re-incarnation of Jeff Conine, who was a pretty solid player

     
  • Posts: 0 Bart Shart

    Willingham is a good alternative and we should pursue him. He is a solid ballplayer.

     
  • Posts: 0 Andrew from waldorf

    Pass
    Pay Howard another 10 million
    35 million may be more in line with 0 RBI

     
  • Posts: 0 Chuck

    Andrew….Stop it!!

    In re: Willingham: Pursue if Jayson doesn’t sign.

     
  • Posts: 0 Josh

    Adding Willingham would basically be saying that they don’t trust BenFran to take on a bigger role in the OF. At the same time, adding Willingham to the current group of OFs would create a pretty deep 5 man outfield group

    The problem then becomes the backup INFs. The Phills only have one guy (Valdez) who can play 3B, SS, and 2B and two backup 1Bmen. They really need to add another decent hitting INF such as Bill Hall. The guy plays everywhere. Any chance we can get a write up him?

     
  • Posts: 0 Ted Bell

    He’d be better than Manny Ramirez or Jeff Francoeur…

    I’m Ted Bell.

     
  • Posts: 0 Geoff

    Agreed…this is the best cheap option available I think, Diaz too. But Willingham is more of a consistent player.

     
  • Posts: 0 The Dipsy

    Josh Willingham as the “big” offseason offensive move would not suffice.

    The Dipsy

     
  • Posts: 0 Chuck

    Oh, so making a splash….and signing Manny to that “big” move WOULD suffice??….

    …..just because it’s Manny??

     
  • Posts: 0 Geoff

    The big splash for me is cleaning out the overpaid garbage on this roster and turning some of it over to younger, hungrier players. Even Willingham would be fine to use in conjunction with Brown because he has not gotten a big payday and has some fire left in him whereas a lot of our players are running on pure talent alone, and the fight has long since left them. Werth is a perfect example of a player who will not be nearly as good once he gets paid as he was over the past few seasons.

     
  • Posts: 0 Geoff

    After Werth is replaced, next up is signing a few bullpen arms, a left and a right hander. Then you try and get rid of Ibanez, possibly Blanton, quietly field phone calls for Chase Utley and Rollins JUST in case someone is willing to blow you away for their services.

     
  • Posts: 0 mtuske

    Ibanez can’t hit lefties at all and should never face them in the regular season. You platoon Ibanez and Franciso all year depending on who they face and let Brown face lefties. If we keep Werth great if not Willingham will be fine.

     
  • Posts: 0 bfo_33

    Late innings in a close game, RISP, with a tough lefty reliever on the mound, I’d consider putting in a righty for Brown. If you are going to platoon him, you might as well package him with Ibanez, trade him to the highest bidder, and resign Werth. Brown was nearly neutral in the minors, platooning him now will retard his development. Taking the lumps early will pay off in the long haul.

    I like Willingham also, but would prefer to see him in left, and am not sure he is a significant upgrade to Ben Fran (a little better bat, slower, worse defense).

     
  • Posts: 0 Chuck

    Ibanez against lefties in 2010: .268 (.277 against righties)

    For his career against lefties: .269 (.289 against righties)

    So, yeah….his avg vs RHP is better….but the numbers against LHP aren’t horrible at all. Platoon him against certain LHP but it doesn’t have to be set in stone.

     
  • Posts: 0 Greg

    :/ Why do people like Geoff think the front office would quietly give away the two best defensive players on the team?

    As for Willingham, he’s pretty much a slightly weaker Jayson Werth, not as good defensively, and not worth 6 million for one year, unless he has a breakout season, which cannot be expected.

     
  • Posts: 0 Bart Shart

    I actually like Josh’s idea about Bill Hall as an all-round utility player. He does play everywhere and with some power. Plus he bats right handed. He is coming off a huge contract , but he reminds me a little of Mariano Duncan. How many players can play all infield and outfield positions and have the ability to hit 20 homers ?

     
  • Posts: 0 Bob in Bucks

    Willingham – Possible

     
  • Posts: 0 The Dipsy

    Well, Chuck…..yes, actually. That would be a big move. You can have Willingham and I will take Manny.

    The Dipsy

     
  • Posts: 0 Greg

    I liked the Manny idea, only as a platoon with Raul. Both are horrid defensively. I’d love to see Brown play every day in Right, even if he does struggle a bit.

     
  • ARE YOU SERIOUS ANDREW??????

     
  • Posts: 0 Greg

    Brown is 1 for 27 in the Winter League :(

     
  • Posts: 0 Chuck

    Manny would be good for about…..one month. Then the sh*t would hit the fan.

    I’ll take Willingham for the longer haul.

     
  • Posts: 0 NJ

    Manny are you kidding me??? Why not add Bonds too and really have the circus come to town…

    The Phils could do worse than Willingham as a stop-gap in right field with a bat that could contribute in the heart of the line up.

    The Phils don’t need to make a major move just because it looks good to the fans. The priority is keeping Werth, making an offer to Cliff Lee and past that it’s a case of plugging holes because there aren’t many guys out there worth paying.

    Like ‘people’ (our ‘friend’ Keith Law) said the Cubs can’t win with Marlon Byrd in CF, the Phillies can’t expect to win with Ben Fran as our everyday RF. Willingham is a guy who can drive runs in and contribute as much or as little as the rest of the team plays.

    The core contributors are (for the most part) in place. Brown is the future of the outfield and if Werth doesn’t re-sign then it’s a case of finding a guy who can contribute like it’s a case of finding guys who can contribute in the pen.

    There’s such thing as too many chefs in the kitchen, we have enough chefs but I think we’ll all agree their individual play has to be better on offense.

     
  • Posts: 0 The Dipsy

    Well NJ – a lineup where Willingham replaces Werth is not a very potent one. My question is: Why would we resign Lee? I don’t understands that? I guess if we could trade Hamels for serious O or Oswalt for offense, then it would make some sense. And then only “some”.

    The Dipsy

     
  • Posts: 0 Publius

    Sooooo while it’s nice to discuss Willingham, who do the Phils offer to take him away from a divisional rival? What would they offer that other teams looking for corner OF bats (Mets, Braves, Mariners, etc.) could not top, short of Domonic Brown? I just don’t see it happening.

    Aside from the fact that this is completely unfeasible, an OF of Ibanez/Victornino/Willingham would be downright atrocious and heavily impact the success of the pitching staff. Brown’s superior defense will make up for any offensive difference between he and Willingham. I’ll bet that Brown and Willingham produce the same WAR, and Brown is ours and at really low cost. No thanks. The only worse solution would be trying to get Manny and have his corpse patrolling RF.

     
  • Posts: 0 NJ

    I’m not saying Willingham will offensively replace Jayson Werth. I’m saying if Werth walks then I’d rather take a one or two year deal for an inexpensive veteran everyday player who can drive in runs and Willingham fits the bill. To me it’s a case of biding your time with a player who can contribute until Brown is ready to be an everyday player and then invest in a successor to Ibanez when his deals up.

    It’s not about who patrols RF if it’s not Jayson Werth in 2011. It has to be about Howard, Utley, Rollins, Ibanez being more consistent hitters that don’t arbitrarily make outs against mediocre pitching like they did much of last year. As far as I’m concerned if you role guys are taking the heat for not having a good season then its masking a bigger issue that the core guys aren’t the ones getting it done.

    The core needs to be better, we don’t need to go shopping just because its shopping season.

    (With Lee it’s clear the Phils are at least going to make an offer in case the market goes all Matt Holliday and they do have a chance at bringing him back which would be a coup)

     
  • Posts: 0 Chuck

    I suppose you could say that Manny is a better option than Jermaine Dye….because he at least hasn’t missed an entire season…

    I guess….

    Seriously, Dipsy…this Manny idea won’t work.

     
  • Posts: 0 Mike

    Wouldn’t want to give up much for Willingham. Washington would probably ask too much, and Ruben might just oblige. So I hope they don’t go down this road at all. I’ll take my chances with Ben Fran.

     
  • Posts: 0 betasigmashag

    A lot of this talk not only depends on the future of Jayson, but also does the FO think Dom Brown is ready to be everyday RF and sitting either Brown or Raul against lefties and playing Ben Fran. Unlilke most of you on here, unless you find a long term solution of RH bat in RF and seasoning Dom another year until Raul is gone then move Dom Brown to left. The “big” deal should be Upton, now that is a deal I could live with.

     
  • Posts: 0 NJ

    Ugh Jermaine Dye would be ugly, his influence more than anything which seems to be what kept him out of a job like Kenny Lofton.

    If it isn’t Werth and you can’t bring in a RH bat who’s controllable for a couple of years like Corey Hart or Nick Swisher who would you rather have all things considered-

    Manny, Dye, Francour, Willingham, Magglio, Nady, Kearns, Guillen (or Ben Fran)

    For me I’d rather keep Ben Fran as the 4th outfielder with a little more playing time (which I believe is his best role) and go for Willingham who won’t eat up much payroll now or down the line.

     
  • Posts: 0 NJ

    Jeez if Upton isn’t in Yankee pinstripes or in Beantown you know there’s something wrong with the kid be it on or off the field…

    Mike- I doubt Willingham would cost more than a couple of moderate prospects. He’s a free agent next year and Washington have a log-jam in that outfield, or at least they did.

     
  • Posts: 0 Ted Bell

    The D-Backs want a couple of affordable players that are Major League ready as well as a couple of top prospects back in return for Upton. I don’t see what the Phillies have to offer in that regard.

    There should be a few more OF options on Thursday once we reach the non tender deadline.

    I’m Ted Bell.

     
  • Posts: 0 Lefty

    Willingham is a good option. Not a great one, but a good one if we can’t keep Werth.

    Matt Rizzotti would be a player the Nats might covet since they don’t seem to want Adam Dunn anymore. Rizzotti who could become rule 5 if we don’t trade him soon could bring Willingham and a prospect or two.

    @Churchmouse- I’m asking rhetorically, I don’t want nor do I deserve an answer. How much did you lose? It must have been really bad for you to go on like this. Some of your points are valid, I have no argument except this.

    Sometimes things just are what they are, you’ll do yourself nor anyone else any good going on like this. If you can’t let it go, it will drive you crazy, it’s terrible for your health. But most importantly, no one here can help you, no one here can change what has happened. Write the FO, they made the decision. Not the player, and certainly not us.

     
  • Posts: 0 NJ

    Going into 2012 with Ibanez and Baez hitting free agency along with Gload and Schneider, the Phils will have to re-sign or cut ties with Rollins, Lidge, Oswalt and Madson…

    But the following names will be out there who the Phils might be interested in to fill everyday holes-

    Ryan Doumit (can play the outfield), Michael Cuddyer, Jose Bautista, Nate Mclouth, Grady Sizemore, Jason Kubel or even names like Kelly Johnson, Cody Ross and Nick Swisher.

    (Forget the starters) Bell, Bronxton, Capps, Pap, Nathan and Valverde are due to be free agents as well as Fatty Jenks. And Betancourt, Wuertz, Linebrink, Coffee, Matt Thornton and Joel Zumaya are also due to be free agents.

    If I was RAJ I’d be keeping as much cash and spots on the roster open to add a couple of those names.

     
  • Posts: 0 The Dipsy

    Look – Let me get to the nub of my Manny thing. And it won’t work bvecause the preconditions under which I would sign him would never be met. They would be: 1) He could convince me that he’s ready to play well with others; 2) he still wanted to play baseball; 3) He could still hit; 4) He came with basically a “make good” contract. All four of those things will not happene and thats why Manny will never happen. But IF they did, you would have to seriously think about signing him. NJ- I still don’t understand the purpose of signing Cliff Lee. I read your theory regarding “core” players and I agree with it. To me, Rollins, Utley and Ryan and Chooch are your four core players. Ibanez is not one. Rollins is a seriously flawed offensive player but he is capable of a renaissance. I hope they all have better years and I think that most of them will.

    The Dipsy

     
  • Posts: 0 George

    Brown may be the “future of the outfield,” but he’s probably not the present.

    Why are we even discussing all of these defensive downgrades, people who can’t hit lefties, head cases, etc? If a platoon is the answer, the Phils don’t really need to sign anyone, and so far, none of the regulars being discussed are worth a damn, or would cost too many prospects. If the front office is really thinking young, they shouldn’t trade youth for a 31 year old defensive slug like Willingham.

     
  • Posts: 0 NJ

    Dipsy- If not saying the Phils should or will sign Cliff Lee, I’m saying they’ve very openly been reported to be one of the teams who are making him an offer. If and its very unlikely he likes the Phils offer then it’s a certainty that Oswalt’s 2012 option won’t be exercised and Cole might be traded.

    The Phils know and love Lee, it’s a long-shot but their going to make an offer to see if he does take it and thats the logic. RAJ traded Lee because he expects him to end up the second highest paid pitcher in baseball history and we could re-sign Halladay instead. If the Phils can lock in Halladay and Lee for several years their going to adapt to that but they weren’t going to put themselves in a position to lose him and get nothing with nothing in place going forward.

    Chooch isn’t a core offensive player, he’s a gritty no.8 hitter who’s important to the soul of the team. Rollins is a core guy as the lead-off man (when healthy) and then your 3-5 are the core. The rest really should be there to support which is why you add a guy like Polanco instead of trying to put another explosive bat there.

    If Rollins, Utley, Howard are performing I expect guys like Chooch, Polanco and Ibanez to have decent if not good years. If Rollins, Utley and Howard aren’t then I’m not going to focus on who we added in right or vent on Ibanez because I don’t expect those guys to be our major players, I expect them to support them as much as they are capable. You can add an all-star at every position but all you end up with is 9 guys plus your closer and set-up man looking around wondering who’s going to be the one to turn up.

     
  • Posts: 0 NJ

    George if you were RAJ would you feel comfortable having Ibanez, Ben Fran and add a 4th outfielder as your corner OF bats? I can certainly see the logic in that if you think Ben Fran can handle his bat for an extended period of time with pressure to drive in runs.

     
  • Posts: 0 The Dipsy

    I’m sorry – The Phils have not picked up Oswalt’s option? I assumed they had or will. Well, I know and love Lee. If you could clear out a good part of Blanton along with it then I wouldn’t have a problem with it.

    The Dipsy

     
  • Posts: 0 Chuck

    So, Dipsy, if all of those “preconditions” that you mention won’t happen….then why even bring the Manny thing up to begin with? It’s like saying “If it’s hot out today, I’ll jump in the swimming pool”. Well, that ain’t gonna happen unless you’re a freaking penguin or a polar bear.

     
  • Posts: 0 The Dipsy

    Chuck – Chucky baby, Chucky Baby, Chucky Baby – Let me replace “never” with “probably not gonna happen”. Crazier things have happened. I didn’t mean to make it sound like the wildest hypothetical in the world but if I did, my bad. Who knows what could happen when Manny finds himself unsigned on April 15. He could feel the crunch and ask for absolution.

    The Dipsy

     
  • Posts: 0 NJ

    Oswalt’s option for 2012 was re-adjusted so the Phils could buy him at out I think it was $5m if they don’t want to pick up whatever the full salary is.

     
  • Posts: 0 Lefty

    Is that true? Dodgers give Juan Uribe 21mil?? This is nuts!@

     
  • Posts: 0 NJ

    Yep Uribe got $21m and a Dodgers executive got his child freed…

     
 
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