We continue on with our player reviews. Today, we look at the bench parts of the Phillies roster from 2011.
Michael Martinez – Martinez came into the 2011 season as a 28 year-old who had yet to reach the majors and was one of the few players in minor league history to ever post a .000 ISO (SLG-AVG) when he did so in 2006. Despite the red flags, specifically positing a .223/.313/.298 triple-slash as a 27 year-old in Double A in 2009 or the aforementioned 2006 season where he hit a tremendous .172 in Single A, the Phillies took a chance on Martinez in the Rule 5 draft.
As part of the Rule 5 draft, the Phillies had to keep Martinez on their roster the entire season or offer him back to his original team, the Nationals. Martinez’s defensive reputation kept him on the Phils for the entire season; according to UZR/150, Martinez excelled in limited playing time at 2B and SS but was horribly underwhelming in the outfield. Martinez didn’t walk a lot (7.7%) and put up a triple slash of .196/.258/.282. Why the Phils kept Martinez on the roster the entire season, I will never be sure, particularly considering they had Pete Orr, a stronger, faster, and comparable defender in the system.
Martinez did outfield Wilson Valdez position for position in 2011 but both Orr and Valdez are faster, stronger, and have better bats than Martinez. With the acquisition of Wigginton from Colorado, Martinez will likely start 2012 in Lehigh Valley.
Wilson Valdez – Wilson Valdez quite literally defined “replacement player” in 2011 for the Phillies. If you wondered what league average was in 2011 in the NL, Valdez’s .249/.294/.341 triple slash with 3 steals and 1 HR gave him exactly 0 WAR. Valdez was well under league average defensively at 2B and 3B but put up above average (11.2) UZR/150 at short. Valdez memorably became a jack of all trades for the Phils on May 25 by retiring the heart of the Reds line-up without surrendering a hit in the 19th inning of a win. Wilson became an admirable back-up for the Phils in 2010 by outplaying Juan Castro for the utility role. Valdez wasn’t as good in 2011 and is arbitration eligible for the first time this off-season. Valdez is a likely non-tender candidate with the acquisition of Wigginton. The call on Valdez will likely come once a decision at short is made.
Ben Francisco – The hidden gem in the first Cliff Lee trade had a torrid spring training, showing then-and-since unseen power and earning outright the starting gig in RF. Ben Fran had a nice April and joined Dannys Baez and Valdez as unlikely heroes in the May 25 match-up against the Reds by hitting a HR. But that dinger would be Francisco’s last in the regular season, posting a .244/.340/.364 triple-slash and showing little of the smart base-running that he possessed in the minors and in the first few years of his career. Francisco did increase his walk rates by nearly 3% better than his career average and reduced his strike-out rates by nearly 3% as well but he was relegated to 4th, most times 5th, outfielder by July.
Francisco enters 2012 in his second arbitration eligible year and earned $1.18 million last season. The emergence of Mayberry combined with the signing of Wigginton and the inexplicable inclusion of John Bowker on the 40-man roster points to Francisco being a non-tender candidate. Ben is a favorite of Charlie Manuel, however, so if a reasonable contract can be had, he may stay. Francisco ended the season with a timely 3-run shot against the Cardinals that helped the Phils put the Cards away in Game 3 of the NLDS. For this, I, and reader Andrew From Waldorff, thank Ben Francisco.
Brian Schneider – Brian Schneider only played in 41 games in 2011, exactly 5 less than Pete Orr and 26 more than Dane Sardinha. Schneider posted a career-low triple-slash of .176/.246/.256 with only two homeruns. Strangely/coincidently, the Phillies went 27-8 in games Schneider started. Schneider worked primarily with Vance Worley in 2011 and appeared to have good chemistry with the Vanimal. 2011 was a disappointing year for Schneider but he will have a chance to redeem himself on a team friendly deal in 2012.
Ross Gload – Admirable and frustrating. Those are the two words I would use to describe Ross Gload’s 2011 campaign with the Phils. Gload once again led the Majors in pinch hits but was unable to generate much power due to lingering hip issues. His .257/.276/.327 triple-slash in mostly pinch-hitting roles is admirable considering his injuries but with these reviews, players are reviewed in a vacuum. His inability to play even first base well (-19 UZR/150), his 2.5% BB rate and uncharacteristically high 19.5% (12.3% career) K rate made Gload a liability for most of the year while the Phillies inexplicably kept him active.
Pete Orr – Orr was probably the most surprising member of the 2011 Opening Day roster but was able to fill in when needed. Orr played as a league average defender at 2B and 3B for the Phils and showcased some serious wheels and a strong arm. A.219/.279/.250 triple-slash is a little easier to stomach than Martinez’s and is actually only slightly below replacement level for a NL 2B. Orr turns 33 next season and is likely to start the season in Lehigh Valley after signing a new minor league deal with the Phils this offseason.
Dane Sardinha – The Other Hawaiian once again made an appearance for the Phils in 2011 posting an amazing 10 walks in only 43 plate appearances. Sardinha hit .219 with only one extra base hit but did end the year with a .419 OBP. Sardinha is a puzzling player: he doesn’t pass the eye test defensively and in house options, Erik Kratz and even Tuffy Gosewich seem to be better hitters, yet the Phils use Sardinha as the emergency catcher. As far as emergency catchers go, Sardinha once again did an OK job in 2011.
John Bowker – John Bowker was acquired from Pittsburgh before the trade deadline and was supposed to be a nice left-handed bat off of the bench headed down the stretch and into the playoffs. Bowker finished the year 0 for 13, striking out at an astonishing 53.85% clip, and playing poor defense. He also very nearly decapitated Chase Utley on a fly to shallow right. Bowker has yet to be designated for assignment and remains on the 40-man roster in one of the bigger mysteries of the 2011 Phillies off-season.
Grade: -5/10. Not quite as bad as Baez, but striking out in over half your plate appearances while going hitless is a pretty bad year.
Erik Kratz – Kratz memorably was called up to the Pittsburgh Pirates as a 30 year-old rookie during the 2010 Triple A All-Star Game at Coca Cola Park and put up a terrific season in Triple A in 2011 for the Iron Pigs. Kratz hit .288/.372/.466 with 15 HRs in an impressive year and earned a September call-up. In 6 plate appearances with the Phils, Kratz went 2-6 with a double and a strikeout. Kratz didn’t look lost in 10 innings behind the plate with the Phils and played well. Another sentimental pick, Kratz’s grade reflects an unlikely return to the Majors via a terrific year in Triple A and a nice job filling in as the third catcher in September.
Brandon Moss – Moss was once a heralded prospect in the Red Sox organization, traded to the Pirates for Jason Bay in 2008. After a few years of trying to put it together in the Majors, the now-28-year-old Moss looks more like a AAAA player who struggles with striking out to a large degree. Moss’s terrific 2011 campaign in Lehigh Valley featured 23 HRs and a .275/.368/.509 line but also featured a 25.1% K rate. Moss’s play earned him a September call-up where he went 0-6 with 2 Ks.
Grade: 1.5/10, not quite as bad as Bowker and gets credit for his strong year in Lehigh Valley.