Help Wanted: Bench Bats – Phillies Nation

Help Wanted: Bench Bats

BASEBALL/Less than a year ago, this aspect of the Phillies was a strength.  As it stands, the bench has become a vulnerable spot on an otherwise above average team.

Tuesday night against the Chicago Cubs, the pinch hitters went a combined 0-for-5 with two strikeouts in the 4-1, 13th inning victory.  While Jayson Werth was busy winning it for the Phils with a walkoff three-run dagger, the bench continued to stagger. In Wednesday’s 10-5 loss, the guys off the pine went 1-for-3.

It’s been that kind of year for the backups; one filled with disappointment and missed opportunities.  Matt Stairs, the cult hero of 2008 has been perhaps the most consistent of the bunch, hitting .274 with a league best four pinch-hit homers and 11 RBI’s.

Other than Stairs, the stability of 2008 is long gone.  Phillies pinch hitters as a whole are hitting just .188 on the season (26-for-140).

Greg Dobbs is hitting .268 on the year, but coming off the bench, the average nosedives to.184.  Eric Brunlett, forget it: .143.  John Mayberry Jr., the next great slugger, he’s managed only one pinch-knock.  Both Chris Coste and Miguel Cairo went a combined 1-for-25 before both were given pink slips.

If the Phillies are wise, they will look to upgrade as the trade deadline looms.  There are plenty of teams in sell mode, and here are some of the possible bench bats that could be in red pinstripes by next week.  And if not by next week, then certainly after the non-waiver trade deadline.

Bobby Crosby, Oakland A’s:

Crosby never really took off as the next great shortstop.  Peter Gammons actually believed Crosby would become an MVP by the Bay, but obviously that wasn’t the case.  Billy Beane, the A’s moneyball-mad GM is always looking for a trade partner, as he has done 100 times in his tenure.

Crosby works perfectly for the Phils as he can instantly take over for Eric Bruntlett, giving the Phillies a younger, more athletic late-inning replacement.  Basically, anyone on Oakland could be had for the right price, but Crosby does make some sense.

Ty Wigginton, Baltimore Orioles:

With the O’s now completely out of the chase for the AL East, it’s time to sell.  Wigginton was nearly a Phillie this offseason, but opted for a starting role with the Orioles.

He’s a bit of an expensive option because of the $2.5 million owed to him next season, but the man can hit.  Wigginton is hitting .265 and can play basically every position in the field.

Josh Willingham, Washington Nationals: Story

Willingham is a well-known foe of the Phillies, having faced them for many years with the Marlins, and now with the Nats. With the Nationals set to hold hands and jump into the Potomac River, everything must be sold.  Willingham is the hot name.

The burly righty is hitting for power this year and would fulfill the need for a, well, powerful righty bat off the pine.  A rumor had Kyle Kendrick heading down I-95 in exchange for the Nats outfielder, but it proved to be false.

Jamey Carroll, Cleveland Indians:

The Indians are another team on the decline and could look to sell parts for more prospects.  Carroll is expendable due to the infield logjam in Cleveland, so the 35-year old middle infielder is a possibility for the Phils.

Carroll won’t give you any power, but he is hitting .281, which would be a tremendous upgrade for the Phillies.

Magglio Ordonez, Detroit Tigers:

This is only possible if: the Tigers pick up ALL of the money remaining on his $18.9 million contract, or the Tigers cut Ordonez, allowing him to become a free agent.

Ordonez was once a lock for 30 homers, 100 RBI’s, and a .300 average, but his decline has been a hot topic in Detroit this year.  If the Tigers drop him, he could be a huge acquisition late in the year.  That is a huge if.

Other possibilities: Ryan Spilborghs (COL), Mark Teahen (KC), Ramon Vazquez (PIT)

Click to comment


  1. Phil

    July 23, 2009 at 8:55 am

    Mark Teahen is NOT a bench player…He’s too good for that role. If we got Teahen Feliz would become our RH bench bat and defensive replacement.

  2. Papa Thompson

    July 23, 2009 at 9:07 am

    Bobby Crosby looks like a pretty pathetic option for us. He’s had a total of 4 ABs as a pinch-hitter since coming up in 2004, and he’s 0-4 in those opportunities. Seems like he’s even worse than Bruntlett.

    Seems like there’s not a lot of value on the market.

  3. Don M

    July 23, 2009 at 9:17 am

    What about everyone’s favorite, John Mayberry Jr…?? I thought everyone was 100% positive he was the power-bat we needed coming off the bench.


    Honestly though, you can’t and shouldn’t expect a ton from the guy that don’t play on a regular basis .. which makes what Dobbs did last year the absolute exception to the rule … You would love all of you bench guys to hit .250+ but that’s not going to happen.. so you get the best possible all-around players and take whatever they can give you

  4. Bob

    July 23, 2009 at 9:42 am

    We have a better chance of getting a hit if Kyle Drabek pinch hit over Bruntlett. I am not one to rip players endlessly but he is basically useless. Even Adam Eaton probably had brighter moments with the bat.

    Basically any of those names works for me.

    My preference would be Willingham

  5. Manny

    July 23, 2009 at 9:50 am

    My preference would be Willingham also –by far…

  6. Chris

    July 23, 2009 at 10:00 am

    The Rocks aren’t parting with Spilborghs.

  7. Don M

    July 23, 2009 at 10:07 am

    is So Taguchi still available?

  8. Bob

    July 23, 2009 at 10:19 am

    LOL, I am confident in saying that So Taguchi is an upgrade over Bruntlett.

  9. Chuck

    July 23, 2009 at 10:57 am

    So Taguchi probably WOULD be an upgrade over Bruntlett….

    In all seriousnes I like Wigginton. The man is a real horse and can play different positions. He’s relatively expensive but could be a real good pick-up.

  10. Chuck

    July 23, 2009 at 11:00 am

    Also, let me say that it’s refreshing to talk about trade rumors and possibilities OTHER than Roy Halladay and the starting rotation….

  11. From Section 113

    July 23, 2009 at 11:07 am

    I am all for Wiggy or Willingham. The others don’t fit with this team.

  12. Chuck

    July 23, 2009 at 11:14 am

    Maybe we can work a deal with the Orioles for Wigginton and George Sherrill. Lidge obviously is a concern and you can’t just assume that Brett Myers is going to be ready by mid-August….and, even if he is, I wouldn’t just thrust him into the closer’s role.

  13. NJ

    July 23, 2009 at 11:25 am

    Mentioning Ordonez is hilarious, there’s no way if he gets dealt or released he finish the year as a part-time player. He’s a prototypical Boras guy who’s going to try and parlay the rest of the season into as big a deal as he can get.

    I don’t think Sherril’s really a fit especially with the asking price, the Phils need a right handed arm who can pitch the 8th inning but first and foremost will be a lock-down option in the 6th/7th innings, basically Durbin last year.

    On of the W’s would be nice, think it was a great shame we didn’t make a play for Grudzy

  14. Manny

    July 23, 2009 at 11:29 am

    I would, Chuck. The man is made of steel!!

  15. SuperFan

    July 23, 2009 at 11:36 am

    check out!!!

    as always – FREE SHIPPING

  16. Chuck

    July 23, 2009 at 11:45 am

    Yeah, Manny….he is. But I think it’s ridiculous to assume that Myers can just waltz right into that kind of a role right away after major surgery….in August. Maybe in September or…..the postseason if necessary.

    The other possibility is….what about either Pedro or Lopez out of the bullpen? I think one is going to be the 5th starter (if Lopez doesn’t get traded which has been mentioned). Either one is an upgrade over Durbin.

  17. SDO

    July 23, 2009 at 11:46 am

    Bruntlett should be in AAA.

  18. NJ

    July 23, 2009 at 11:49 am

    Remember Pedro’s contract has incentives both as a starter and reliever…

  19. Bruce

    July 23, 2009 at 11:53 am

    NJ says~ ..”need a right handed arm who can pitch the 8th inning but first and foremost will be a lock-down option in the 6th/7th innings..”.

    Why such worries about a need for a middle relief? Have you forgotten Clay Condrey? The righthander has been outstanding this season and last. He has come through in his role in middle relief for most of his 36 appearances and surely will surpass his total of 56 appearances last season (3.26 ERA for 69 innings). Currently, his ERA is 3.41 for 37 innings plus a 6-2 W/L record.

  20. Manny

    July 23, 2009 at 11:58 am

    I really like Lopez… Pedro should stay in the minors until he forces himself into the rotation and demonstrates that he’s able to put up better numbers than Lopez. Lopez is doing an amazing job as a 5th starter so far.

  21. Bob

    July 23, 2009 at 12:03 pm

    @ SDO

    Bruntlett belongs in the independent league.

  22. beta sigma shag

    July 23, 2009 at 12:06 pm

    wow such hatred for Durbin, the guy pitched 3 good innings the other night granted with a big lead, and got squeezed pretty tight by home plate ump last night after only one day off.
    And as much as I like his versatilty I guess I have to agree about Bruntlett, he has look bad at the plate. And I love Stairs as much as the every in here, but since Dobbs has gotten some playing time he has come through while pinch hitting lately and he is more than homer strike out that Stairs is.
    I say the FO did a good job last year aquiring players needed for the streach run, so I believe they will do it again.

  23. NJ

    July 23, 2009 at 12:08 pm

    Bruce I completely agree Condrey has stepped up massively, my concern is Durbin who’s form has certainly reduced his role. I think Condrey is excellent in his role of getting the outs he’s sent to the mound for but I’m not sure, like Durbin he’s best placed to handle the kind of 3-4 days at a time workload Madson and Romero sometimes sees. I think along with Eyre and Park there are 3 excellent mix ‘n’ match, multi-purpose arms in middle relief, I’d just like to see one more arm that can handle the set-up duties. To me Qualls would be an excellent addition (especially with his previous experience setting up for Lidge), someone in the mould of a Kevin Gregg, I don’t see Sherril even if the price was reduced being that guy unless you were to relegate the roles of Romero and Eyre.

    My ‘worries’ are limited, I still think this is the best modern-day bullpen the Phillies have assembled, I’d just feel more comfortable knowing there was another righty who could lessen the burden for Madson.

  24. NJ

    July 23, 2009 at 12:10 pm

    ^Just to add- Don’t mean to show Durbin hatred, I didn’t expect him to mirror his performance last year. I’m just not sure the guy can handle the set-up work especially with Charlie having a tendency to overuse his set-up guys.

  25. The Dipsy

    July 23, 2009 at 12:17 pm

    I think problem is that “slurve” that he throws. He doesn”t really have a curve. If that slurvy thing doesn’t nick the outside of the plate he gets killed.

    The Dipsy

  26. NJ

    July 23, 2009 at 12:24 pm

    To me the problems with Durbin is his fastball. He has a nice double-play sinking fastball and that kind of slidery thing, but he doesn’t have that fastball he can locate in the zone with any kind of authority and hasn’t really got a ‘get me over pitch’ when he needs to just throw strikes.

  27. SDO

    July 23, 2009 at 12:33 pm

    Why are some of you so concerned with the setup guys? Even with Durbin, they’ve been consistent compared to the rest of the team. The top three concerns are:

    1. Starting rotation
    2. Bench
    3. Brad Lidge

    By the way, did anyone find out why Charlie put Lidge in the game yesterday?

  28. NJ

    July 23, 2009 at 12:40 pm

    Lidge was rested in comparison to the rest of the relievers, Charlie continues to expose Lidge by putting him in in non-situations which is making him take two-steps back with every one forward. The concern with the set-up guys is purely the workload.

    To me the single biggest concern is getting that guy who’s a right handed bat off the bench that has confidence he can see a pitch and drive it. Mayberry’s not a pinch-hitter, Bruntlett sees pitches but he steps up to the plate like a guy barely able hit the ball out of the infield. To me that’s only area that’s an actual bona-fide hole on the roster.

  29. Bruce

    July 23, 2009 at 12:42 pm

    I suppose it’s the usual “what have you done for me lately” for posters here who dislike Eric Bruntlett. Never mind why the Phillies got him in the first place (part of the Lidge trade with Houston). He is known for his defensive versatility; he usually plays second base or shortstop, but has also played LF/RF. Bruntlett has played every position except for catcher and pitcher.

    Who can forget his contributions last season in substituting for the injured Rollins. Also who can forget what he did in the post-season. He hit a home run in Game 2 of the World Series followed by a game winning run in Game 3 of the World Series. Bruntlett would cap off his World Series performance by scoring the series-clinching run in Game 5 for the championship.

    This season he continues to show his versatility in playing ALL the infield positions as well as in the outfield (LF/RF). True, he has struggled in his limited number of ABs (78 so far compared to 212 for last season).
    However, again, remember what the Phillies originally had in mind for his role off the bench. Also, I suspect if given more AB’s as the season progress, he may yet contribute some important hits for the team.

    Of course, if the Phillies can find another versatile fielder who can hit for average, go for it. Amaro knows that it is not as easy to do as it sounds.

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  31. SDO

    July 23, 2009 at 12:57 pm

    Any player who can’t place a sacrifice bunt on the ground doesn’t belong in the big leagues.

  32. From Section 113

    July 23, 2009 at 12:57 pm


    I just looke dup Wiggys splits and he’s not doing that good against LH Pitching. I’d rather have Willingham, though he’d cost more since he has 1-2 yrs left and is currently a type B player.

  33. The Dipsy

    July 23, 2009 at 1:05 pm

    Bruce. Cmon man. There is not a thing anyone can say to rationialize keeping this guy on the team. He batted .217 last year and I think he is actually batting under .130 year. I don’t care if he can play all nine positions at once. He is a AAA player. I don’t hate him. I just don’t think he should be on our team. And he won’t be in 10 days.

    The Dipsy

  34. Bob

    July 23, 2009 at 1:05 pm

    Im sorry, I appreciate the versality that Eric Bruntlett brought to the team. Someone mentioned that he was more useful when he had to replace Pat Burrell in the later innings. Raul is capable defensively as we have seen.

    Do you really think that if one of our infielders/outfielders went down with a long-term injury (KNOCK ON WOOD), that Eric Bruntlett would be a relible replacement for the rest of the season? JR would get another utility player pretty damn quickly.

    You NEED a RH bat off the bench. Mayberry isnt fit for the role and someone hitting .125 and could never hit doesn’t solve this problem.

    Thanks for the pinch running in Game 3 and your defense but enough is enough….bye bye Eric. Enjoy the ring

  35. ryan

    July 23, 2009 at 1:40 pm

    I like wigginton. he’s always been an underrated hitter. dude can definitely hit

  36. Kennedy

    July 23, 2009 at 1:57 pm

    I mean, why trade for somebody when there are so many available FA pinch hitters. I’m guessing what they will do is eventually, if nobody has filled the role, is sign a Richie Sexson type before the playoffs. Til then, they’d rather not pay someone and give Mayberry MLB experience. Dobbs is as solid as anyone we could get, and Stairs is a beast. Bruntlett is unlikely to go anywhere due to his many positions. That leaves us one RH bat away, and there are so many good (and by good I mean O.K.) ones on the reject pile that I wouldn’t trade any real prospects.

  37. Don M

    July 23, 2009 at 2:10 pm

    I think Wigginton signed a two year deal.. for a lot of money next season?? I highly doubt they go after anyone making more than the league minimum for a little-used bench bat

    Bruntlett and Mayberry Jr … until Sept when we get to see some call-ups.. Marson will probably come up, Taylor if he’s not traded.. we’ll be alright

  38. Chuck

    July 23, 2009 at 2:14 pm

    Singing all the praises of Bruntlett’s contribution last year and using it to justify his being on the team this year is like saying that because Lidge was so good last year that you then rely on him this year to get it done everytime he comes out… matter what. Sure….Lidge’s spot on the roster is more valuable than Bruntlett’ point is that you can’t always just use the “look what he did last year for us” argument.

  39. Bob

    July 23, 2009 at 2:30 pm

    I’d say Lidge has earned more confidence from Phils fans than Bruntlett has. Just saying……

    It would be nice if he was even batting .200. .130 or whatever he is now is terrible.

  40. Corey Seidman

    July 23, 2009 at 2:32 pm

    I’m all for acquiring Willingham. It would be a good move in every way.

    He would do these three things:

    1) Be the much needed righty off the bench.
    2) Be the righty DH against a LHP should the Phillies make it to the WS, and he could do the same next year in interleague play.
    3) He could be the emergency catcher. I know people talk about Jayson Werth as the emergency catcher, but Werth has never caught a game in the big leagues. Willingham has caught 15, although not since 2006.

    But adding Willingham would at least give Charlie Manuel the OPTION of pinch-hitting for Ruiz/Bako in a big spot. I know a lot of you love Chooch because he was a part of the WFC’s and such, but he is weaker offensively than most of the extremely weak catchers.

    He gets labeled a “great defensive catcher” when in reality, his defensive stats make him average. He is also praised for “calling a good game” and “handling the pitching staff well.” But those compliments are like saying a fat girl has a pretty face. You don’t hear Mauer or McCann praised for such things, even though they handle the pitching staffs the same way. This is because they are actually GOOD offensive baseball players. A label such as this is unnecessary when the player can just be called…productive.

    Bruntlett needs to go, no question. But if/when he does, the Phils also need to replace him with a utility man. Adding Willingham and subtracting Bruntlett would leave no backup SS or 2B.

    Sure, Greg Dobbs could probably play second and Pedro Feliz could shift over to short, but having a guy who can play those positions is always key.

  41. Corey Seidman

    July 23, 2009 at 2:43 pm

    Of the players listed here, Ordonez, Teahen, and Spilborghs are extremely unrealistic while Crosby is just mildly unrealistic.

    Teahen is a starter, Ordonez is an overpriced “superstar” having a bad year. Spilborghs is the Junior Varsity version of Jayson Werth. He was available… before the Rockies won 30 out of 40 games.

    Crosby has been hurt a lot, and I don’t think a contending team like the Phillies would give up prospects for a question mark that they would only use in a limited role.

    Ramon Vasquez and Jamey Carroll won’t happen because they are Bruntlett-types. That will be the front office rationale for not pursuing them, even though Carroll would be an upgrade over the beard of Bruntlett (B.O.B. for short.)

    Ty Wigginton will be too expensive in players and money for someone to just use off the bench. He makes more sense for the Mets or Marlins than he does for the Phillies.

    That leaves Willingham.

  42. Jeff of NoVa.

    July 23, 2009 at 3:16 pm

    I like Wiggy and Willingham, but here is the problem,

    First off Bruntlett was used primarily after Rollins was better last year as Burrell’s defensive replacement. No Burrell no need for that type of player. His D has been poor to average this year versatility or not, so he makes errors at 7 different positions.

    Mayberry who the organization is high on is getting nothing sitting on the pine, they should send him done and let him hit, He would be great trade bait. No his stock is way down, cause he is not ready for the bigs at this point. Great fielder by the way.

    Dobbs improved once Charlie gave him more starts. Same thing happened last year when Howad was out Dobbs played for him and got a good rhythm

    Stairs does exactly what he is paid to do.

    Bako blows but is our backup and we have to stick with him

  43. Chuck

    July 23, 2009 at 3:21 pm

    Paul Bako is actually a decent back-up catcher. He calls a pretty good game….and…..while he’s not an ideal bat off the bench…..he HAS gotten a few key hits. He’s not the worst at his position….and is really the least of our worries right now.

  44. Pat Gallen

    July 23, 2009 at 4:01 pm

    Im not sure I understand why Teahen, Crosby, and Spilborghs are completely irrational? Just because they start where they are now doesnt mean they couldnt be backups here. We need steady bats off the bench, it’s clearly an important part of the game and is insurance should someone go down.

    We;ve learned that the Phils cant count on Mayberry for an extended period, he seems to need some work right now even though I like him a lot. Bruntlett is done, and while I do appreciate what he has done for the Phillies, there are many guys just like him right now at Double and Triple A.

    For the guys I listed, I would say maybe they would cost a little more than the Phils would like to give up for just a bench bat, but look at the roles everyone off the bench played last year. So important.

    Ordonez was a big IF. I stated that. But its not as crazy as you would think.

    He might not work out with the Tigers anymore, but that doesnt mean he couldnt work out for another team.

    Wiggington nearly signed with the Phillies this offseason, so I’m not sure the money would be the issue with him. It can never hurt to have too many decent players. An injury can strike at any time.

    Willingham works too, I think he’s probably the most realistic, but to say all of these guys are completely unrealistic, in my opinion, is wrong.

  45. Corey Seidman

    July 23, 2009 at 5:22 pm

    I agree with you that just because they start where they are currently doesn’t mean they can’t play bench roles here.

    I just meant that Teahen, Ordonez, Crosby, Wigginton won’t happen. Carroll and Vasquez won’t happen either because they’re Bruntlett-types.

  46. Bruce

    July 23, 2009 at 6:17 pm

    Corey says~ “..just because they start where they are currently doesn’t mean they can’t play bench roles here.”

    You forgot one thing. What makes you think those players who had played regularly would be happy campers sitting on the bench for the Phillies? Maybe for some the thought of a chance to get into the World Series and a possible ring would be the ultimate satisfaction?

  47. Andy

    July 24, 2009 at 2:22 pm

    Wigginton or Willingham would be a great upgrade over Bruntlett. He can’t play.

    What about Garrett Atkins from the Rox? I keep reading he’s available and the Rockies can’t give him away. He’d be great on this team. He can play 3b or LF and has some pop in his bat. A little pricey I know but we’re trying to win another WFC!!!

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