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Third Base Picture Cloudy Next Year (And Beyond) for Phillies

Posted by Pat Gallen, Sat, July 21, 2012 10:11 AM | Comments: 27
Analysis, News, Opinion, Posts

Polly is looking for some sort of offense. Will he return in 2013? (AP)

It’s understandable if you haven’t given much thought as to who will be the Phillies third baseman in 2013. At the current moment, there are other pressing issues to be taken care of; like what will happen with Cole Hamels, Shane Victorino, Hunter Pence, Juan Pierre, Joe Blanton, and whoever else you can think of that has been at the center of trade rumors since the calendar turned to July. But it’s time to start wondering who might man the hot corner for the Phillies next season.

It’s clear Placido Polanco’s everyday playing days are nearing an end, if they haven’t already. While he’s been relatively healthy this season, it hasn’t always been pretty. Through 285 at-bats, Polly’s batting average currently represents the lowest figure of his 14-plus seasons in the big leagues.

Comparing him to the rest of the league does him no favors, either; even at a position as thin as third base. His .256 average ranks 21st in baseball, while his .629 OPS rates 33rd among players with 125 plate appearances.

What little power Polanco had has been almost entirely sapped from his bat. During the month of July, Polanco has just five hits – one of them for extra-bases. Overall, he’s got just 17 hits that have gone for more than one base (15 doubles, 2 homers) and his ISO – or isolated power, which measures raw power – is a league-worst .071 (David Wright is .233, Pedro Alvarez leads all third basemen at .259).

With a WAR of 0.3, he’s the quintessential average baseball player at a position that needs to be above-average.
As mediocre as Polanco has been at the plate, his defense still rates highly. Among qualified players at third, Polanco’s two errors are the fewest in baseball. His range isn’t what it once was, but that’s what happens at the age of 36.

Still, he makes all routine plays and can even flash brilliance out there from time to time. At this advanced age, there aren’t many better with the glove on that side of the infield. (As I write this, he makes a nice stab to his right to force Melky Cabrera into a fielders choice).

Looking ahead to next season, there is a mutual option between the Phillies and Polanco worth $5.5 million, with a $1 million buyout. Will the Phils exercise their half?

Mixing all of those ingredients together, we come to find an old, declining-but-still-defensively-efficient third baseman with a fair salary next year. But do they still hold onto him?

The third base landscape is not filled with roses and tulips. It is an ugly patch of dirt that has very few players of use on an everyday basis.

The list of free agents next season is this, according to MLBTradeRumors.com:

Slim pickins. So what’s a team to do?

Well, the Phillies could hope Polanco can give them equally-steady defense in ’13 as he has in ’12. They’ll also be taking a chance his then-37-year-old body will hold up for another full season. On top of that, they need to pray he finds a bit of the old stroke; the one that had him hitting over .300 back in 2009. That might be asking too much.

What is the alternative? Take David Wright out of your head completely. Not happening. Kevin Youkilis, at one time this season, was an option. He’s with the White Sox now and has played well since being traded. I’d imagine Chicago thinks they can get another year out of him.

Ty Wigginton has done a nice job in a backup role, but he’s just that. He’s a nice extra bat. Scott Rolen is breaking apart. Brandon Inge is washed up. Mark Reynolds can hit you 25 home runs, but he’s barely a third baseman and strikes out a ton. Blum, Izturis, Teahen, Tejada, Lopez, DeRosa, Chavez, Cairo are all backups, too, at best.

That leaves few other options.

San Diego’s Chase Headley has been at the head of the trade rumor table recently, but would cost an arm, a leg, and a brain for the Phillies, and they don’t have many of those to give. Perhaps they reassess that situation in the offseason if Headley is not gone from the bottom-feeding Padres by then.

Thinking outside the box, do you try to make a play for Mike Olt, the Rangers top third base prospect, this winter? Maybe you dangle Cliff Lee, a name that has once again been linked to the Rangers?

Can the Phillies find the goods to pry a mid-level 3B from another team. Some of those names include Jeff Keppinger, Wilson Betemit, Chris Nelson, Ryan Roberts, or Sean Rodriguez.

Do they leave it to Freddy Galvis, who has proven his worth as a defender at multiple infield positions, but never third base? There is no one else close to major league ready in the Phillies pipeline, so tabbing someone from Double or Triple-A is out of the question.

The right move is to move on from Polanco and find a way to get younger. As you see above, that will not be an easy task for Ruben Amaro.

Avatar of Pat Gallen

About Pat Gallen

Pat Gallen has written 1689 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 alec

    If the Phillies were to sign a FA for 3rd rather than trade for one, I would only go after Wright and Reynolds. It all depends on how the season plays out for the Mets, but it will be hard to get him with that club option. If the Phillies wiff on Wright, the next best would be Reynolds to bring another power hitter into the lineup. Althouth he strikes out a lot, he’s still worth it when it comes down to driving in runs and getting hits.

     
    • Posts: 0 chuck schreiber

      Why would you want Reynolds on the P’s after what you said about him. “stikesout alot and doesn’t drive in many runs”??????

       
      • Posts: 0 chuck schreiber

        Let me correct myself, Look at his stats, he doesn’t hit much (Avg) or drive in that many runs.

         
  • Posts: 0 BART SHART

    I say go for Mike Olt. Strive to sign Hamels and trade Cliff Lee, if possible.

     
  • Posts: 0 TheDipsy

    Youkilis is gonna get bought out. If you need offense from your 3B you can take a shot at him. If you have found offense in other places, then you can resign Polanco for a couple a million bucks. Effin Hamels is starting to become a pain in the ass. Sign the contract already. Or say you won’t. This dancing is getting old. RE: Hamels, I am on record (check the tape) saying that Hamels will get 7/175 in FA. That said, if you really love where you are playing, is it that big a problem to sign a 6/144 with the Phils? Maybe Cole IS in it for the the money and just playing us. No? Yes?

    The Dipsy

     
    • Posts: 0 Ken Bland

      I thought things would cool the last couple days until Cole’s V Cain start after the long trip. Wouldn’t surprise me if Ruben and John Boggs have an in person dinner tonight to get down to actual discussion off an offer. If there aren’t believable indications from the media by Wednesday, it’s not a good sign of an imminent agreement. For now, it’s still a matter of patience.

      On your 7/175, I’ll wager you giving Dom Brown 1 more chance to show the type effort you like on running out grounders. I’ll take a max of 7/160, which I still think is high, but he might throw 6 no hitters the rest of the way, and increase the chance. This is my kind of wager. Doesn’t seem like I have anything to lose. Let’s do it.

       
  • Posts: 0 Ken Bland

    Because of the scarcity of candidates in this formerly glorified position, I’ll throw a name out which would involve 2 things

    1/ Reason to believe by the Phillies he could still develop into the player expected when he was drafted highly around 2008.

    2/ Creativity on Ruben’s part since the Phillies aren’t exactly swelling in tradable talent.

    Pedro Alvarez is the name. It’s a longshot mention, not necessarly a suggestion, but with the impracticality of some candidates, like Wright, they might need to get creative to at a minimum fill a void before a guy like Roman Quinn might develop through the farm system.

    If this were to develop, the Phils might wind up with 2 at one time highly touted youngsters playing to salvage expectations. Both of whom hit left handed, getting you back to a lefty heavy lineup, but this team needs players who can play in a couple spots before they get too picky.

     
  • Posts: 84 Tom

    Avatar of Tom

    I hope the Phils do not exercise their option on Polly. I didn’t want them to sign him 2010 when Beltre was available, and certainly don’t want them to resign him now! I would like to see them make a play for Headley unless the price is too high. His offensive numbers would definitely improve by going from Petco Park to CBP. Plus, they would probably be the first team in baseball history with two infielders named Chase…LOL!! Anywho, if they can’t get him, then a play for Ott would be the next best move since he is blocked in Texas by Beltre.

     
    • Posts: 1435 Pat Gallen

      Avatar of Pat Gallen

      Tom, the Phillies made an offer to Beltre that was supposedly on par or better than what Texas gave him. He didn’t want to come here.

       
    • Posts: 0 George

      I have to remind you that Beltre refused a very substantial offer from the Phils, so they had little choice at the time besides Polanco, who was the second best available.

      The miserable part now is that they have very little choice now, too. I agree that the option shouldn’t be picked up, but I doubt the Padres part with Headley without a huge return, partly because so many other teams want him, too. The Rangers have shown reluctance to deal Olt, also, so getting him would take a bundle, and he might not even be ready next year.

      I’m thinking the Phils will just have to use some sort of a stopgap in 2013. Who that is depends on who appears to be adequate at third and cheap enough. It could even turn out to be Polanco, if he’s willing to take a big pay cut.

       
  • Posts: 3014 Chuck A.

    Avatar of Chuck A.

    Probably not gonna happen but this is what I suggested on here the other day: Trade Lee to the Rangers for some sort of package that includes Mike Olt. Use Lee’s salary to help offset re-signing Hamels. Exercise Polly’s one year option and figure Olt takes over in ’14.

    In addition: Trade Shane now (Yankees need an OF and the Phillies need bullpen help) and call up D. Brown and stick with him for every game the rest of the way. It’s time, once and for freaking all, to see if he “has it” or not.

    David Wright is out of the question and Mark Reynolds is a strike out machine. Forget those two. Chase Headley would be awesome but seriously??…does anyone on here actually think the Phillies have what it takes to get him??

    And we really don’t even know for sure what sort of shape Freddy Galvis is even gonna be in so I wouldn’t count on him for 3B next year. I’d rather see him completely healthy and ready to take over for Chase at 2B in ’14.

     
  • Posts: 317 Jay Floyd

    Avatar of Jay Floyd

    Shouldn’t really talk about third base “beyond next year” without addressing that the Phillies are potentially deep with third base prospects.

    Cody Asche (4th rd pick 2011, already at Double-A, 22 Y.O.) was an All-Star for Clearwater in the FSL this season and earned a promotion to Reading.

    Maikel Franco (19 Y.O. at Class A Lakewood) has power and shows great skills on defense. Could be a guy that impacts the upper levels in a couple years.

    Harold Martinez (22 Y.O., 2nd rd pick last yr) had solid production for Lakewood this yr, but has struggled at Clearwater.

    Mitch Walding (5th rd pick last yr, 19 Y.O at Short-season Williamsport) is a player a lot of people are big on. Has a .727 OPS in 28 games, 1st pro season after not playing a pro game in 2011.

    William Carmona (21 Y.O., 11th rd pick this yr) plays some 3rd and is batting .360 with a .909 OPS for the GCL team.

     
    • Posts: 0 tmoney

      With all due respect I’m not sure the Phils can count on any of them ever making a major league roster.

      1) Asche has NO power and has struggled mightily since being promoted (batting .187).
      If guys like Matt Rizzoti and Cody Overbeck who actually had some pop can’t sniff the Phils clubhouse unless Asche is a virtual Houdini with the glove I can’t see him making the team, let alone, a team that plans to contend for the playoffs.

      2) Franco is too far away and I’ll leave it at that.
      3) Martinez has already been moved to first base and has 3 home runs in two years.
      4) Walding has one home run and he’s in A ball and a lot can happen between now and 2015 or so.
      5) Carmona is an 11th round draft pick in his first year of pro ball. Again, not a sure thing by any stretch.

      So the Phils simply can’t hang their hat on any of them and say, “he’s our guy starting in….(fill in the blank). Amaro HAS to find somebody of capable of playing third base at the ML level for several years before Opening Day next year. He’s whistled past the graveyard where Polly’s bat is buried long enough.

       
    • Posts: 0 tmoney

      The answer to the third base riddle is connected to the mess Amaro has been swimming in RF. He let Werth walk for nothing. He should have traded him in 2009. He’s completely mismanaged Dom Brown’s career path and he GROSSLY overpaid for Hunter Pence.

      Now though he has the opportunity to rectify both the RF situation and the 3B problem in the next six months. The answer is not to trade Hamels, or Lee. Because of their contract situations neither will bring back anything close to equal value and elite starting pitchers should never be moved for 80 cents or 60 cents on the dollar by a team that plans to contend anytime soon.

      The guy to move is Hunter Pence. He’s under team control through next season so he’ll bring back more value than anybody else and he’s the most replaceable piece. The phils can sign a FA OFer and give Brown a legit shot at the starting gig in RF next year in spring training and sign a guy like Cody Ross as a plan B. (A guy they should have signed last offseason)

      The Rangers might be interested IF they win the World Series because they have Olt and may lose Josh Hamilton, trading Beltre for Pence addresses costs and two starting jobs but that’s not a deal they’d make now.

      Arizona might part with Upton and Stephen Drew (to play third) but Pence alone won’t get it done. So the Phils would have to add some prospects but Drew is a bit of a risk coming back from injury and due $10mil next season, plus the Phils would be asking him to switch positions and AZ is freeing up long term dollars if they move Upton so probably not as many prospects heading west as you thought when you weigh all the pros and cons. AZ loves young pitching so Pence and May with Cloyd or Pettitbone thrown in might get it done. Imagine BJ and Justin BOTH in the Phils OF next year…. could be interesting.

      St. Louis has Matt Holliday locked up through 2016 and Beltran is having a great year there but would they consider freeing up some cash long term and swap Holliday and Zach Cox (3B blocked by Freese) for Pence and Victorino? They might.

      Detroit is running Brennan Boesch and Quintin Berry out there every day so they’d have to be interested in a guy like Pence but they also need pitching since their rotation is a mess after Verlander. The problem is Castellanos is still at least a year, maybe two away from being ML ready and we saw first hand what happens what happens when a guy is rushed (see Dom Brown).

      The Angels could move Trumbo to third and plug Pence into RF but they don’t match up on players to send back.

      Anyway, the point is the Phils should (and may) deal Pence to plug the hole at third base and then find other ways to fill in the OF because there are a lot of other options to do that than there are to fill the hole at 3B.

       
  • Posts: 0 Andrew From Waldorf

    The Phillies Absolutely Shouldn’t Trade Rollins

    Thats really where it starts.
    You have all the best players already

    Why would the best team trade away from it?

     
  • Posts: 0 Andrew From Waldorf

    Any thought on who might play first or second or SS on a winning team?

    Oh wait its 2008

    And 1b 2b and SS are untouchable

    Blame 3b and the pen for failures.

    It could never be the good players.

    Really?
    Long term?

    1. Rollins
    3. Utley
    4. Howard

    But get a 3rd baseman.
    Call him Schmidt even.

    The Phillies Absolutely Shouldn’t Trade Rollins

     
  • Posts: 0 TheDipsy

    I don’t really care who plays 3B as long as the combination of 3B -CF -LF, which will be represented by three new players, can collectively produce above average defense and offense. They don’t need to be stars.

    The Dipsy

     
    • Posts: 1435 Pat Gallen

      Avatar of Pat Gallen

      And who can that be, at least at 3B? Look what’s available. Trades aren’t easy to make for 3B either, because it’s a slim position. Outfielders are abundant, not 3B.

       
  • Posts: 0 teejvee

    What? nobody’s thrilled with Polly’s( gag-worst nickname in sports) 2 minute waddle down the first base line as the SS bobbles that ball deep in the hole…once…twice…thrice…and still throws him out by 10 feet?

     
  • Posts: 548 Bruce

    Avatar of Bruce

    Hey! I’ll take Polanco at 3B anytime. He probably will get another Gold Glove award this year. And as long as he can stay healthy, keep him for another year. I’m always big on defense and pitching. As they say, that combinatiion wins titles.102 wins for the Phillies last year illustrates that perfectly.This year? You know the story and it has nothing to do with Polanco’s fielding.

     
    • Posts: 0 tmoney

      You HAVE to be kidding. Polly is on pace for four home runs all year. Unless they change the rules and allow a designated hitter for a third basemen bringing him back makes absolutely no sense. They’d be better off having Cliff Lee bat every game in his spot and twice on days when he pitches. Bringing Polanco back as a starter just isn’t feasible.

       
      • Posts: 0 schmenkman

        Defense counts too, and if Polanco gives you the same defense as last year then he’s an above average starting third baseman.

         
  • Posts: 0 Andrew From Waldorf

    Lets do a novel on the problems

    Wilson Valdez
    Schimmer
    insert any mediocre reliever here

    Fotenot
    Kratz
    Orr

    Then we come to reality of whats really wrong.

    1. Howard
    2. Rollins
    3. Utley
    4. Lee
    5 Paplebomb
    6. Pence
    7. Howard

    But this is on Wilson Valdez and Bobby Orr.
    I read it here.

    Did I mention Howard?
    You might go there before Valdez or Orr

    One day the team and this site will address the real problems.
    Until then its middle releif 3b and LF

    All the other players are untradable untouchable and beyond reproach.
    And the best.

     
  • Posts: 0 Bob in Bucks

    Polanco has to go simply because of age. Even if he is cheap it is too dangerous from an injury point of view. Wigginton and Fontenot or equivalent can platoon resulting in a slight upside offensively and a deterioration in defense. I would do this or equivalent and punt the infield to 2014 when Utley’s contract is over.

    For 2013 the real issue is the pen and the OF and with whatever money is available needs of focus there.

     
    • Posts: 0 schmenkman

      There’s only 8 or so players with more innings at 3rd since 2010, but I take your point that the risk of injury grows with each year.

       
    • Posts: 0 chuck schreiber

      If we really must move Polly (either trade or buyout) we have a viable solution already in house. Have we forgotten Freddy Galvis?? Freddy plays short and move JPop to third. I know he won’t like it but he’s well paid and needs a reality check. That’s two A+ gloves on the left side. Remember Galvis has already outpowered Polly in less abs. It not really as crazy as it sounds or as crazy as AFW.

       
  • Posts: 0 Walt

    The season is lost, make every effort to sign Hamels, and there are choices after that. Move Utley to third, and being Chase, he will do a good job in his remaining yrs with this team. “D” up the middle has been lacking, and some of that is management’s fault. Trade Rollins, Polanco, and Victorino for the setup man we lack, and other considerations. Mayberry and Pridie can handle CF dutys no sweat, Galvis and Orr have shown they can handle the “D” at middle infield. I have been saying this for some time now, if you have a manager and pitching coach have become ineffective, do you let sentiment rule the day? NO! Bowa and Francona were fired for far less, and they had really crappy teams. Bring in Sandburg, and I like Mitch Williams for a pitch coach, and do it NOW. It gives the new manager time to assess what he has on the field, and in dugout. That will help make good decisions in off seasons. By the way our starting pitching is, or at least should be, the best in the league. It cost a lot in terms of money, and minor league players to acquire, why would you now sell any of them. Makes no sense to me. Dump some salary in older players, get the help you need, and change management, NOW.

     
 
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