With Placido Polanco being diagnosed with a sports hernia and his status unknown for the foreseeable future the Phillies once again have some questions about third base.
This is still a question that deserves an answer, despite the Phillies motoring along at a high rate with the best record in baseball again. Right now super sub Wilson Valdez and rule 5 draftee Michael Martinez are playing the position, again. While Valdez has a nice glove and strong arm and Martinez has shown some good at bats at times, neither player will strike fear into opposing pitchers.
In the minor leagues the Phillies have Pete Orr, who like Valdez and Martinez will not strike any fear in anyone with his bat. With Shane Victorino, arguably the team’s best hitter, going to be undergoing a suspension sooner or later having another bat available might be a good idea. Even more so if for some reason Polanco may not be available for the playoffs.
The Phillies have been rumored to be interested in Casey Blake of the Dodgers. Blake is a veteran with playoff experience who can not only play third, but can also play first, leftfield, and rightfield giving the Phillies more versatility on their bench. While his numbers are down this year, he has had some injury problems which have contributed to it. He missed almost the entire month of July, but since he has come back he has been hitting the ball much better. His glove at third is not what it once was but it is adequate.
Throughout his career he has always hit left handed pitching very well, which can help the Phillies when they are starting John Mayberry in the game because they will still have a decent right handed bat on the bench. Blake has also displayed decent power in the past and there is no reason to think he won’t pop a few balls out if he gets to play in the smaller eastern parks. Another positive is Blake is a very good clubhouse guy and meshed very well in Toronto, Minnesota, Baltimore, Cleveland, and Los Angeles, becoming one of the team leaders in Cleveland and Los Angeles.
The biggest positive is, he would probably make it through waivers and would not probably cost a whole lot in return prospect wise. He has been batting in the 2 hole this year but has had success batting 6th, 8th, (where the Phillies would probably put him in the batting order) and has even put up alright numbers batting 5th and 7th. His on base percentage this season is .356, which for a guy batting .256 is pretty good.
For the bench he is a major upgrade over the lame duck Ben Francisco, just because of his versatility. With the exception of the Yankees he has good career numbers against most of the teams the Phillies may play in the playoffs (both NL and AL) and he has very good numbers against all of the teams in the Eastern division. He is also an upgrade over Valdez and Martinez in spot starting at 3rd until the Polanco question is resolved. This is also advantageous for the bench in that you still have Martinez and Valdez available to back up both Rollins and Utley to keep from wearing them out from having to over play them while Polanco is out. It also keeps Martinez available for use in centerfield behind Mayberry while Victorino is serving his bogus suspension.
The drawbacks to getting him, he has been injury plagued this year and his slugging has been low because of it. His range in the field and glove are not what they used to be and he has never been confused for Jose Reyes or Michael Bourn when running the bases. His salary is also a potential snag. That being said, I think the positives still outweigh the negatives if they can get him through waivers.
I would actually be willing to do a Ben Francisco for Blake swap, not sure if the Dodgers would but Francisco would be an upgrade over Trent Oeltjen and Ben is still pretty cheap and under team control and cheap is something the McCourts and the Dodgers currently need.
My last write up was about former Phillie Arthur Lee Rhodes. Today the Texas Rangers are set to release him. The Yankees and Cardinals are both heavily interested in the southpaw who I think the Phillies should sign to be their second lefty in the pen. A sentiment beat writer Matt Gelb seems to also share.
Barry Jeffrey Jr. writes “The Crow’s Nest” column for PSC.
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