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Pouliot's thoughts: Polanco wasn't the best phit for Phils

Dec 3, 2009, 8:33 PM EDT

polanco phillies.jpgPhillies sign infielder Placido Polanco to a three-year, $18 million contract with a mutual option for 2013.
Polanco has already had a pretty unusual career, but the Phillies are showing way too much faith that he’ll continue to defy the aging curve. Second baseman have a nasty habit of falling off a cliff in their low-30s, yet Polanco has gotten more durable with age and his defense has held up remarkably well.
On offense, it’s easy to point to his OPS slipping from 846 to 768 to 727 the last three years and say that it’s a steep decline. However, his game hasn’t changed at all. He’s finished with 31-36 doubles, 8-10 homers and 35-37 walks in each of those seasons. Because of his limited power and poor walk rate, his offense is entirely batting average driven, and he’s going to hit .290 some years and .320 others. The Phillies should be content if he matches that 768 mark from 2008, and it’s entirely possible that he’ll have a couple of more years at that level.
The third year is what really hurts the deal. Philadelphia was likely Polanco’s preferred destination. The team is a World Series favorite, and he’s played there before. I don’t see GM Ruben Amaro Jr. felt the need to best every other potential offer, particularly when Mark DeRosa and the superior Adrian Beltre were available. Polanco should be above average defensively and average offensively at third. He’s an upgrade from Pedro Feliz. But I think the Phillies could have done better.
Beltre, in particular, was the best fit for their lineup. Polanco’s addition would work better for the Phillies if the team were willing to drop Jimmy Rollins down to the seventh spot and go with Shane Victorino first and Polanco second. However, they’ll almost certainly start the year with Victorino hitting seventh.
Victorino had a .358 OBP last season. His worst mark in four seasons as a regular is .346. Polanco finished at .331 last season, though he was at .388 and .350 in the two years prior. Rollins, on the other hand, came in at .296 last season and has never topped .350 in a year. Rollins isn’t necessarily a bad leadoff hitter — he did lead the NL in runs scored with 139 in 2007 — but except for when he’s at his best, he’d be more useful hitting in the bottom half of the order.

  1. DirtyWudders - Dec 3, 2009 at 11:04 PM

    I agree that the 3rd year was too much – kind like Moyer’s 2nd year given to him last year. The key is that you say he is an upgrade over Feliz. That is big for a 2 time World Series team with not many places to upgrade. The guy is a gold glover switching positions so yeah he will be a (hopefully minor) downgrade defensivly but a contact hitter in the Phils lineup is a welcome addition. I liked Beltre too but he adds to the all or nothing theme the Phils lived and died with. Beltre had the bigger upside and also downside. Figgins would have been great but not worth the price – Mets: have at ‘em. I loved Pedro’s glove but Polanco seems like a similar defensive player with an added offensive threat.
    Ideally, I would like to add DeRosa on top of Polanco but its probably unrealistic. I would sell it – DeRosa would play a different position every day. I know its a stretch but he is a philly guy (former penn qb) and we have a good team…yeah, ok you’re probably right…
    We in Philadelphia have used numbers to state our case that Rollins is not a leadoff hitter for years now. We have also learned that there is a such thing as a hallow stat – i.e. Abreu and Burrell. He is not the best OBP wise but at the end of the day – there is not many guys I would rather leading off.
    Enjoy your stuff with rotoworld and now nbcsports! Good stuff

  2. Megary - Dec 4, 2009 at 8:19 AM

    It’s easy to criticize this move since we have nothing to compare it to, but maybe a better approach would be to wait until Beltre signs so as to balance the contract scales.
    I completely agree with moving Rollins down in the order however. I’d prefer that the Phillies really think outside the box:
    Vic
    Utley
    Werth
    Howard
    Rollins
    Ibanez
    Polanco
    Ruiz
    Opposing Loogy’s would be just that…one out only guys, Utley would get 40-50 more AB’s per season and Rollins would move to a run producing spot in the order. That would stretch out nicely 1 through 7.
    Never happen, of course.

  3. william meredith - Dec 5, 2009 at 1:06 AM

    Third base was not the most pressing need the Phillies had. Polanco adds a better bat, and decent enough fielding to not be a liability. Beltre is to costly. The money spent on him would be better spent on what the Phillies really need . Pitching -relievers and another starter.

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