Analysis

Phils Searching for Righty Slugger?

Is this 9-time All-Star a good fit for the Phils' bench? Photo: AP

$ 6.71 million dollars is a lot of money to a lot of people. For the Phillies, it is the approximate distance between their current payroll and them meeting the luxury tax threshold. There is no guarantee the Phils will spend this money between now and the end of the season in an attempt to bolster their roster, but there is every indication that they are still looking to plug holes.

Jayson Stark stated on Friday that the Rangers and Phillies are likely out of the Roy Oswalt sweepstakes despite the two World Series contenders being atop Little Roy’s list. While the $ 6.71 million available may not be enough to sign Oswalt, the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo postulated yesterday that it may be plenty to woo a free agent right-handed slugger.

Cafardo speculates that Vladimir Guerrero may be atop Charlie Manuel’s wish-list for a right-handed bat that can play the outfield. Vlad turned 37 last Thursday but had a productive season for Baltimore in 590 PA: .290/.317/.416 with 13 HRs. He can still occasionally crush pitching, but the problem with Guerrero, as illustrated in the 2010 World Series, is he has become a major defensive liability in the outfield. The Phillies outfield of John Mayberry Jr./Laynce Nix, Shane Victorino, and Hunter Pence adds plus defensive value, even when Nix plays, but the thought of Guerrero pinch hitting late in a game and then remaining a defensive replacement scares me more than his bat would scare opposing pitching.

The Phillies likely have one opening for an outfielder on their roster for which non-roster Spring Training invitees Lou Montanez, Juan Pierre, and Scott Podsednik will duke it out. Pierre and Podsednik appear to be the favorites for the slot and offer speed and minor defensive upgrades over Nix. On nights when Nix starts, Mayberry is a terrific right-handed power bat off of the bench. When The Big Piece returns, the righty-count expands to two: Mayberry and Ryan Howard‘s temporary replacement Ty Wigginton.

Do the Phillies need a righty bat? Probably not. Cafardo mentions Magglio Ordonez and Xavier Nady as other righties with pop who are still available. None of Guerrero, Ordonez, or Nady provide defensive value or speed; while all three would be cheap, the already cramped roster with better candidates makes these three names a pass for me.

What does Phillies Nation think about adding a cheap power threat for the bench before Spring Training?

.290 .317 .416

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