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:
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)