COMMENTARY | The Philadelphia Phillies were thought to be in the running for Texas Rangers’ free agent Josh Hamilton, but he’s now property of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for the next five years.
Hamilton and a number of other outfielders won’t be putting on red pinstripes next year. So, general manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. should make a serious free agent offer to Nick Swisher, or Cody Ross.
This switch-hitter hit 24 home runs for the New York Yankees last season. He should at least be able to maintain the mid-20s power-pace that he has established during his nine-year career that also included time with the Oakland Athletics and Chicago White Sox. His average of 90 RBI’s per season and career .828 OPS (on base plus slugging percentage) would fit nicely into the Phillies’ fifth lineup slot.
Swisher has primarily played right field (715 out of 937 games in the outfield) in his career. While not a spectacular defender, he’s posted a respectable .985 career fielding percentage (.987 in right field). He’s also played 307 games at first base, where he has a .994 fielding percentage.
This soon-to-be 32-year-old veteran had a fine season for the Boston Red Sox in 2012, as he hit 22 home runs, drove in 81 runs and had an .807 OPS. While he hasn’t been a major power threat in his career, Ross’ right-handed bat meets the Phillies current offensive needs.
The nine-year veteran played 96 games in right field (.994 fielding percentage) and 22 games in left field (1.000 fielding percentage) last season. In 825 career games in the outfield (387 center field, 346 right field and 194 in left field) he has a combined .989 fielding percentage. His defensive flexibility would give manager Charlie Manuel a variety of options and certainly strengthen his existing outfield contingent.
Obviously, money and contract length are important factors in any player acquisition decision. Because the Phillies’ payroll for next season stands at approximately $150 million, there’s enough space for either player to be added and for some other team needs (middle relief and a veteran fifth starter) to also be addressed.
Manuel’s current positional core is likely to only remain intact through next season. Due to that fact, it’s critical that Amaro bolster the lineup before the season begins. If he’s able to do so, his team should be able to contend throughout the summer and not have to play from behind as it did last year.
Sean O’Brien is based in the Philadelphia region. He began his professional career in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons’ front office (the Philadelphia Phillies former Triple-A affiliate) and later worked as a freelance print sports writer. You can follow him on Twitter @SeanyOB and also read his daily Sports Blog: Insight.
Other features from the Yahoo Contributor Network:
When Baseball Cards Were King
Philadelphia Phillies’ Controversial Minor League Team Name Change is a Marketing Gamble
Was Babe Ruth the Greatest Baseball Player of All-Time?
When did Cy Young Have His Best Season?
Carlos Ruiz’ Drug Suspension Raises 1980 Philadelphia Phillies’ Link