Ben Francisco, the New Bat Off the Bench – Phillies Nation

Ben Francisco, the New Bat Off the Bench

Ben Francisco - AP Photo/Ron SchwaneDepending on the outcome of the 2009 season, general manager Ruben Amaro could be hailed as the wisest man to ever grace the front offices of the Phillies organization.  At the very least he will be remembered as thief extraordinaire.

The Phillies have landed their ace pitcher days before the MLB trade deadline.  Welcome to Philadelphia Cliff Lee.

Despite the multiple up to the minute rumors surrounding Roy Halladay and despite the tug of war over prospects between Amaro and Blue Jay’s GM / village idiot J.P. Ricciardi, the Phillies came away like the raccoons that terrorize your trash cans at night.

Some may argue that there is no way that this deal is better than if we obtained Halladay, but I beg to differ.

Compared to a Halladay deal, the Phillies essentially traded a bag of balls, two Wilson batting gloves, and an autographed Chase Utley bat to get the top flight pitcher. Ricciardi wanted a king’s ransom.  The Indians only wanted a jester’s day of pay. And so the deal was made with Cleveland and the Phillies gave away mid-level prospects to obtain one of the top pitchers in baseball.

Second on the list of Phillies needs was a right-handed bat off the bench. Last week Pat explained in detail why this was such an urgent matter. In short, the Phillies current bench is not producing. And this is what makes the Lee deal better than a Halladay one.

Welcome to Philadelphia Mr. Ben Francisco.

Francisco has been decent this season batting .250 with 10 bombs and 33 runs batted in and 48 runs scored this season for the Indians. His 13 stolen bases show that he carries a bit of speed on the base paths as well. This is one thing the Phillies have been lacking from their bench; and that is what makes him so versatile as an option for Charlie Manuel in the late innings.

Francisco’s hitting chart suggests that he is a pull hitter and he hits his fair share of fly balls. That bodes well for the right-hander because of Citizen’s Bank Park’s shallow left field dimensions.

In the field, Francisco has been near flawless for the Indians this season, committing only one error in 189 total chances. This gives Manuel another option for a defensive replacement instead of going with Brunlett. More importantly, his fielding skills in the outfield gives Manuel a viable replacement for Raul Ibanez, should his groin injury return this year. If anything, having Francisco as an option will allow for Ibanez to take a day off occasionally when the Phillies are facing a left-handed pitcher.

Will Ben Francisco represent the difference in the Phillies winning a title in 2009? The short answer is no, probably not.

What Francisco does represent is the fact that the Phillies general manager is as crafty as the 46-year old veteran who toes the rubber every fifth day. It shows that Amaro wasn’t so narrow-minded to think that a starting pitcher was the cure all for his team’s needs. Most importantly helps Amaro step out of the shadows of the general manager who handed him the reigns.

Ruben Amaro made a deadline deal in his first year as GM for the Phillies. Boy, was it a good one.

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  1. The Dipsy

    July 30, 2009 at 8:33 am

    Whoa Jason. Easy on trashing the prospects we gave up. While Carrasco is having problems, he does have great stuff and is still very young. Knapp throws very hard albeit he is still years away from contributing, if he ever does. Donald might surprise and be an above average middle infielder. This year has been kind of a throw away for him. Oddly enough, I think the best guy we gave up is Lou Marson. Decent defensive catchers that bat .280 with a good OBP, even without power, don’t grow on trees and Marson may very well be that. That said, nice trade.

    The Dipsy

  2. Greg B

    July 30, 2009 at 8:39 am

    I vote that Amanda Orr gets the Jeltz from last night for predicting double digit runs prior to the game.

  3. Ben

    July 30, 2009 at 8:50 am

    dipsy, i think he was comparing our return to what we gave up. in that sense we would just as easily made the trade for cliff lee and francisco for a bag of balls, etc. i do agree, we gave up some nice pieces that have been in our system a while. but we got a terrific return for them.

  4. The Dipsy

    July 30, 2009 at 8:53 am

    Thanks, Ben. I went back and reread the article. I hear ya, Jason. Shame on me for not reading carefully.

    The Dipsy

  5. Tony

    July 30, 2009 at 8:54 am

    Phillies at Giants July 30 – August 2nd
    AT&T Park

    Thursday 10:15pm ET
    RHP Rodrigo Lopez (3-0, 3.09) vs LHP Jonathan Sanchez (3-9, 4.92)

    Friday 10:15pm ET
    RHP Joe Blanton (7-4, 4.11) vs RHP Ryan Sadowski (2-3, 4.81)

    Saturday 9:05pm ET
    LHP Cliff Lee (7-9, 3.14) vs RHP Tim Lincecum (11-3, 2.30)

    Sunday 4:05pm ET
    LHP Cole Hamels (7-5, 4.42) vs LHP Barry Zito (6-10, 4.54)

    Notes: Blanton is 1-2 with a 5.74ERA vs the Giants in 5 career starts although has never faced Giants as a Phillie

    Lincecum is 1-0 with a 1.29era against Phillies

    Zito is 2-1 with a 3.50 era all time vs Phils

  6. The Dipsy

    July 30, 2009 at 8:56 am

    Did they move the start time on Saturdays game? Thats great. I can actually stay up and watch the whole thing.

    The Dipsy

  7. Tony

    July 30, 2009 at 8:57 am

    Did i mention cliff lee is 2-0 with a 1.20 era vs giants with 15K’s and 2BB

    and cole hamels is 3-0 with a CG with a 4.03 era

  8. Brian Michael

    July 30, 2009 at 9:03 am

    Ben and Dipsy, I think even more so Jason was talking about what we gave up for Lee in comparison to what we woulda had to give up for Halladay. Still not exactly a bucket of balls though.

  9. Terrence

    July 30, 2009 at 9:04 am

    those are nice but the fact is tony that those are in the past and you play the game. so who knows we just might beat lincecum. I think Phils can take 3 of them. I have a feeling that phils will win saturday because face it if youre a top 3 pitcher in the AL you must be top in the NL. If Cliff Lee keeps the game going as Lincecum is then phils have better O than giants and can win. they have to do what they did to haren which is making him throw pitches by getting productive outs. first lets win tonight against no hit man sanchez who doesnt give up many hits but when he does he gives up big especially homers.

  10. The Dipsy

    July 30, 2009 at 9:05 am

    Brian….shoot me an email.

    The Dipsy

  11. The Dipsy

    July 30, 2009 at 9:06 am


    The Dipsy

  12. 85 (

    July 30, 2009 at 9:43 am

    It’s kind of an afterthought compared to getting a second ace in Lee, but I love the Francisco acquisition. We’ve been dying for a competent right-handed bat for months now, and Francisco does a lot of things well with the bat and glove, not to mention the basepaths. I think it makes the entire bench better, by putting the other guys in better spots to succeed. Oh, and it gives Bruntlett fewer chances to pick up a bat and embarrass himself. That’s a big, big win.

  13. joedad

    July 30, 2009 at 9:44 am

    What’s up with Victorino?

  14. Manny

    July 30, 2009 at 9:52 am

    Think about it. Last night, when Vic went down, we had to put Bruntlett between Rollins and Utley… Inning lost. Now, it’ll be Ben Francisco 🙂

  15. psujoe

    July 30, 2009 at 10:05 am

    Knapp is far from a bucket of balls. By the time the kid matures he’ll be throwing 100+. Crap shoot yes, but remember the Indians got villified for trading Bartolo Colon for prospects Sizemore, Phillips and what’s his name, Cliff Lee. That turned out pretty good. That said great deal for the Phils.

  16. jj

    July 30, 2009 at 10:07 am

    Gerrit Ritt: Lee had two great games recently, but outside of that, he’s been as average as any middle of the rotation pitcher this season. Sure, he may get some more wins pitching in Philly, but he SURE isn’t doing his owners any favors throwing in that ballpark of theirs! His ERA is the only thing that’s gonna be shooting through the roof anytime soon!

    what da ya guys think? to me this is a terrible move. trust me lee will have a 4.50+ era at CBP. just to show at another hitter ballpark great american in cincy lee is 2-2 with a 4.91era with 7 hrs allowed in 29.1 IP. Sure he’ll get wins because of phils O but he will stink it up. terrible. i know everybody will terrorize me for this but i ll be right at the end. time to switch from a phillies fan to a dodgers fan. Go Dodgers and Marlins!!!!!!!!! woooooo selling all my phils goods and caps

    Phillies suck balls i wanted halladay

    all of you stink
    dodger blue baby phillies stink
    watch em get knocked out in the first round by the giants and their amazing pitching. curse the phillies to get swept by giants this weekend. ill be here sunday to watch u guys get swept. Phillies stink

    go dodgers

  17. psujoe

    July 30, 2009 at 10:18 am

    jj, Lee middle of the road? In his last 20 starts he has an era of 2.66 which is almost identical to Halladay’s last 20 starts(2.62). He also leads the majors in innings.

  18. Manny

    July 30, 2009 at 10:25 am

    Another positive from the trade (got this from the Inquirer):

    “Like Halladay, Lee is signed for next year, and the Phillies valued that. Halladay is due to make $15.75 million next season, while Lee will make $9 million. Sources say finances did not preclude the Phillies from adding Halladay, but they might have had to deal Blanton over the winter if they had gotten the Toronto ace.

    Now, they can likely keep Blanton, who will get a raise from $5.475 million.”

  19. Don M

    July 30, 2009 at 10:35 am

    The Phillies already have like 44 SELL OUTS in 52 games… if they try to cut payroll this year, especially if we have a few home playoffs games.. I’ll be pissed.

    You have to reward the fans for coming out.. and keep a good thing going. they definitely are not losing any money

  20. psujoe

    July 30, 2009 at 10:38 am

    Manny, the financial difference is a huge part of this deal. In actual dollars and unseen savings. In fact I’d argue this deal gives the Phils a better chance of more championships over the next 5 years than Halladay would’ve

    saving 6.75 of lee over Halladay

    Lee much more signable at a reasonable figure than Halladay

    Ben Francisco is a cheap 4th OF at very low cost. We can keep him until taylor/Brown are ready instead of getting a more expensive guy like Jenkens, cough, cough

    Not trading Happ allows us to keep a cheap effective pitcher insted of going after an expensive FA

    Keeping top prospects that may end up replacing expensive guys i.e. Drabek for Blanton in 2011, Taylor or Brown for Raul 2011.

  21. Don M

    July 30, 2009 at 10:41 am

    Lee is a few years younger.. and while he may not get as much PER YEAR as Halladay… he will probably get a longer deal than Halladay..

    I think they both cost too much as Free Agents for the Phillies to resign.. but that is a long way away

  22. philsphan

    July 30, 2009 at 10:52 am

    Kind of off-topic, but is Lee’s first home start going to be Friday August 7th?

  23. Manny

    July 30, 2009 at 10:55 am

    Looking for tickets philsphan? heheh Can’t blame you… I wish I could go to Lee’s first game in Philly…

  24. philsphan

    July 30, 2009 at 10:57 am

    Yea haha, the game’s sold out but stubhub isn’t too bad right now. I figure once people figure out that’s his first game though they’ll shoot up.

  25. PhillyPhaninIndy

    July 30, 2009 at 11:01 am

    What a great trade for the Phils!!! I really think we needed to do it. This will make us the frontrunner for the world series for the next two years. Look out NL.

  26. The Original Chuck P

    July 30, 2009 at 11:01 am

    The fact of the matter is that signing Lee and keeping the top prospects, Rube has afforded himself the opportunity to be flexible with upcoming negotiations and free agent acquisitions… Lee is cheaper, yes, and that’s great for ownership but the main benefit is that we’ll get to see Brown and Taylor and Drabek develop and eventually make their way to the big leagues. In 2011, when Blanton, Lee, Vic and Werth enter their free agent years, we can make the tough decisions that will need to be made… but we won’t be forced into a corner and for the next two years, we have a guy that is a bona fide ace. If we decide to keep any number of those players, essentially blocking those farm hands (Werth, Vic, Blanton or Lee), we’ll have ripe talent to trade… regardless, we should be able to afford to keep them or let them walk because we have guys that will fill in. Lee gives us a great chance to repeat. Hamels, Lee, Blanton and Happ/Martinez/Moyer/Lopez is very formidable…

    Also, I heard the guys on MLB Network say that they didn’t feel like having 3-4 lefties in the rotation is a bad thing… they said that it’s easier for a lefty to navigate a heavy righthanded lineup easier than it is for a righty to navigate a lefty heavy lineup.


    July 30, 2009 at 11:10 am

    We love the trade. We also think that Ben Francisco is a great name. And you know T-Mac is going to say it’s a francisco treat after he hits his first home run. Because it’s food. And because T-mac prefers the company of men.

  28. Manny

    July 30, 2009 at 11:15 am

    MY GUESS is that he’ll pitch August 1st with us (had he stayed with the Indians, that would’ve been his next scheduled game)…. but even after figuring that out, you have to wonder what they’ll do with Moyer’s start (who’s the one currently scheduled for Saturday).. I would just completely skip his start, and let Hamels pitch on August 2nd (as scheduled) instead of Moyer… gotta take into account that August 3rd is an off-day, and you want to avoid giving Hamels too much rest. I think Moyer can handle a skip in the rotation and then simply replace Lopez’ in next start.

  29. Geoff

    July 30, 2009 at 11:34 am

    I really think they should try and keep Lopez around somehow. The guy throws good breaking sinkers and keeps the ball down. Hes gotta be useful, even out of the pen.

  30. The Original Chuck P

    July 30, 2009 at 11:41 am

    Given his success against the Giants and the fact that Saturday is “normal rest,” they’ll definitely want to pitch him in this series (before the off day)… that’s pretty much a given… I wouldn’t be surprised if they considered pitching him Sunday; 4:05 start versus Zito… less pressure in his first start as a Phillie but more of the hometown Phaithful watching (rather than a 9pm Saturday game against Lincecum). That being said, Sunday will be their 18th game without a rest and pitching him Saturday sends him a clear message that we brought him here to go up against Lincecum… plus, having him go out on Saturday will give us the flexibilty to rest whoever needs a rest (Moyer or Hamels).

  31. psujoe

    July 30, 2009 at 11:48 am

    I agree on Lopez. He’s really done his job well. Any utility guys out there cheap to replace Bruntlett? It’s nausiating watching his pinch hit. He couldn’t hit a pinatta.

  32. Bruce

    July 30, 2009 at 12:06 pm

    You can only carry so many on the bench for a 25 man roster. It obvious to me that Mayberry returns to Lehigh Valley to get his ABs and learn how to hit “breaking” pitches. Bruntlett stays for his versatility on defense.

  33. psujoe

    July 30, 2009 at 12:32 pm

    Marlins close to landing Bell as a closer. They’re trying to make things interesting.

  34. Dan

    July 30, 2009 at 3:35 pm

    Bruce –

    Versatility on defense? He may play a bunch of positions, but he plays them all poorly. He’s the worst player in the majors: he can’t hit, he can’t field, he can’t run. He’s a “utility man” for one reason: he plays a bunch of different spots to cover the fact that he isn’t competent enough to play well. I’m half-convinced he’s blackmailing Manuel into allowing him a spot on the squad. He can’t do anything.

    Besides, if you needed an infielder, you have them. Dobbs can play first and third, and Feliz can play short and second. If Rollins or Utley needs a day off, you can just shift it around and have Feliz up the middle for a day. No big deal. It’d be way better offensively and defensively than having Bruntlett in the game.

  35. hamels' left hand

    July 30, 2009 at 4:18 pm

    relax about Bruntlett…they’ll replace him with a waiver deal sometime in August. You read it here first.

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