COMMENTARY | The 2013 edition of the Philadelphia Phillies’ outfield won’t resemble any recent contingent the fans have seen. Since the July 31 trade deadline, old friends have waived goodbye, other parties have moved on and youth has arrived.
I think that general manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. is going to add a veteran right-handed hitting bat (for right field) before spring training begins. There are two players who are emerging as options in this regard.
Considering the many high-profile moves the Phillies have made since Amaro took the baton from Pat Gillick after the 2008 World Series had been won, this offseason has been filled with “cost-conscious” efforts.
In keeping with that theme, I like the idea of adding either New York Mets’ free agent Scott Hairston, or Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim outfielder Vernon Wells.
The addition of either veteran would help to take pressure off Darin Ruf, Laynce Nix, John Mayberry, Jr. and Domonic Brown. If another outfielder isn’t obtained before next season starts, those four men would participate in some type of dual outfield platoon. That’s simply too risky for my tastes.
Hairston or Wells
Hairston is a nine-year veteran and will turn 33 in late May. He can reasonably provide 15+ home runs and a fielding percentage in the mid-.980s. He earned $1.1 million last season, so he’s extremely affordable.
Wells, who turned 34 this month, would have to be obtained via trade from the Angles. Considering that the 14-year veteran will make a combined $42 million during the final two seasons on his contract and that Josh Hamilton was just added to that team’s outfield mix, he might be available at a subsidized price.
Wells can probably rebound to hit 20+ home runs in Citizens Bank Park. He has a .994 career fielding percentage and has played the overwhelming amount of his major league games in center field. It would be interesting to see how Charlie Manuel would position Wells and Ben Revere, who has played slightly over 50% of his games in center field during his two-plus year career.
Even if one of these two men is obtained, or someone else fills this needed role, there will still be space on the payroll to add parts to the team as the 2013 season progresses.
Amaro has played small-ball this offseason with the Phillies’ finances. His next move could be along those same lines.
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.
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