A few days ago the Texas Rangers designated Arthur Lee Rhodes for assignment. He didn’t have very good overall numbers for the AL champions after signing with them as a free agent in the offseason. The 41 year-old lefty pitched to a 4.81 ERA in 32 games with 1.479 WHIP in 24 1/3 innings. At first look one probably wonders why I think the Phillies should have interest in him. After all his first go around in Phillies red did not go very well and he was far from a fan favorite.
Keep in mind though Rhodes pitched hurt in 2006, ending up missing the entire 2007 season after it was found out that he was injured. Rhodes also pitched very well during the last 2 years in Cincinnati and the previous year splitting time with Seattle and Florida. This year his stats against lefthanded batters are also pretty good. .216 AVG., .310 OBP, .405 SLG shows he can still get lefthanded hitters out.
With Antonio Bastardo’s emergence this year, the top lefty reliever slot is well taken care of. Bastardo has been lights out, but the second lefty in the pen has been a problem. JC Romero could not throw strikes and was released, Juan Perez has come up and while showing he has nasty stuff (the 9 pitch 3 strikeout inning against the Braves proved that) also has had some troubles throwing strikes and for his career control has never been his strong point.
What the Phillies could use is a veteran and playoff tested second lefty reliever out of the pen. Preferably an inexpensive one since the luxury tax is an actual fear the Phillies would like to avoid if at all possible. Rhodes, if Texas does release him after his ten days on DFA status are up, would fit the bill. If he is released the Phillies can sign him to the Major League minimum for the rest of the year. The Phillies had some interest in Rhodes in the offseason before he signed with Texas and Charlie Manuel does like the lefty a lot.
Rhodes still has good zip on his fastball, last year he was hitting 94 on it consistently and I haven’t heard anything about a loss in velocity on him. He also mixes in a good curve and change-up that can also make him effective against right-handed hitters in the right situations. He does have some flaws though. His insistence on relying on high fastballs can blow up in his face however if his command is off, which at times this year it has been. He has given up 6 homeruns this year in 24 1/3 innings (only 2 against lefties) so long ball can be a problem, but Arlington is known to be even a bigger homer friendly park than even CBP is. He can no longer log a lot of innings anymore.
One of the problems in Texas was they had him throw to more batters than he should have been, in Philly he would be used mostly against lefthanded hitters so that should negate that. Lastly like Brad Lidge, he struggles to hold runners on base. Out of all the potential playoff teams though, the Yankees are the only ones with really good numbers against him with 2 of the 6 homers he has given up coming against them.
Overall however, I think he is worth a look as he has good playoff experience and I believe in Rich Dubee being able to help him and the reduced role will allow him to thrive. Having Carlos Ruiz behind the plate calling the game instead of Mike Napoli, Yorvit Torealba, and Taylor Teagarden would probably help him as well. Most of all is the price will be cheap if he hits free agency which saves us in prospects in making a waiver deal for someone. They would have to move fast on him though, St. Louis, Arizona, and the Yankees are said to have some heavy interest in him.
I admit I was a fan of Ben Francisco. I hoped he would give us good numbers in rightfield and hoped for the best from him. However we got what looks like his worst season as a pro. He played his way out of the job that was basically given to him on a platter and now is basically the fifth wheel for a three wheeler being replaced by John Mayberry’s emergence. If Dom Brown wasn’t down in AAA getting every day at bats Francisco wouldn’t even be that. So with Roy Oswalt coming off of the DL and needing a space on the 25 man roster, I believe it is time to say goodbye to Ben and trade him. Put him out on the waivers and get what you can for him, even if it is just cash.
He deserves to get a change of scenery since he no longer fits in here and honestly has not complained or been anything but a good teammate despite his role being reduced. In this day and age, that is saying something. My guess is Seattle, Cleveland, Houston, and San Diego would put in a claim for him as he actually is an upgrade over some of what they are putting out there in their outfields. Houston would get first claim if they did put one in, so let him go and get regular at bats. If he clears waivers, deal him to the first person who calls. Like I said, even if you just get cash it’s a win.
Barry Jeffrey Jr. writes “The Crow’s Nest” column for PSC.
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