What To Do With Betancourt – Phillies Nation
2013 Spring Training

What To Do With Betancourt

http://a.espncdn.com/combiner/i?img=/i/headshots/mlb/players/full/6218.png&w=350&h=254In our non-roster infield invitee preview, I wrote the following of Yuniesky Betancourt:


Chances of Making Phils out of Spring Training: If there is a higher power and they have mercy, please let this be none.

Chances of Seeing Time with Phils in 2013: See above.

I didn’t write that because I had about 20 players to write about and I was tired as sometimes is the case with concise notes. Instead, I wrote what I felt was all that was warranted at the time. Betancourt was never particularly skilled in any areas (hits for OK average and power, struggles defensively and to get on base), but always managed to find his way on to a Major League roster. In fact, if we’re comfortable no longer pulling punches, Betancourt has been worse than “never particularly skilled”; he’s been particularly “stealth” bad throughout his career, especially recently.

Betancourt’s career triple-slash is .266/.290/.392, which is actually pretty OK for a shortstop. That line is better than Pete Orr‘s .259/.289/.332 and the recently released Andres Blanco‘s .255/.301/.333 MLB lines, and also better than J.J. Hardy, Zack Cozart, Jhonny Peralta, Yunel Escobar, and Mike Aviles‘s 2012 triple-slash lines. All of those MLB regulars, and Orr and Blanco, play at or above league-average defense, however, while Betancourt hasn’t had a positive season according to UZR since 2005.

Betancourt isn’t an offensive standout but he’s not entirely horrible as evident by his career triple-slash numbers and his impressive start to Spring Training (.360/.379/.400 against 8.9 opposing pitching quality in Spring Training). Betancourt is starting again today for the Phils and suddenly has a puncher’s chance  to make the team. If you were Charlie Manuel, do you keep him on your Opening Day roster?

The Benefits of Betancourt Making the Phillies

I never thought I would write out the header that precedes this sentence, but I guess there is a first time for everything. Betancourt faces competition to make the team from two sources: Kevin Frandsen and Freddy Galvis. Frandsen had a surprisingly strong 2012 and has a better Spring triple-slash (.355/.375/.742 against 8.9 quality of opposing pitching) with better defense and more position flexibility than Betancourt. Frandsen’s bat at this point is better than both Betancourt and Gavlis and in six years in the Majors, his glove has played nearly even according to UZR. Frandsen should make the club out of Spring Training very easily.

The advantage of taking Betancourt to Atlanta for Opening Day instead of Galvis is the perceived developmental edge of letting Galvis play every day in the Lehigh Valley. Galvis is having a stellar Spring in his own right (.308/.325/.564 against 8.1 quality of opposing pitching) and is a much better defender than either Betancourt or Frandsen but the question becomes: do you think Galvis will benefit more from taking every day at-bats or can Galvis maintain or even improve his current skill level by playing once every six days? If you want to roll the dice and let Chase Utley walk after 2013, the best option may be to let Galvis play every day at age 23 for the IronPigs.

The Disadvantages of Betancourt Making the Phillies

At the risk of sounding like a pompous fool with blinders on, everything else. Betancourt is likely limited to playing shortstop and doesn’t give you the position flexibility of Frandsen or Galvis. Betancourt isn’t your best option to spell Michael Young as a late inning defensive replacement or pinch run for Ryan Howard late in the game. He’s a right-handed bat but he’s certainly not a Darin Ruf-like right-handed “change the game with one swing” option. His biggest advantage is that he, at one point, was a Major League player.

It is hard to argue that the Phillies have been aggressive with his playing time in part because he has a March 24 opt-out in his contract if he is not yet on the Phillies 25-man roster.  And it is hard to argue with the fact that Betancourt is hitting in every situation he is asked to hit in during Spring Training. Betancourt is still a suspect fielder, however, and, personally, I would rather take Orr as the second utility infielder, release Betancourt, and let Galvis develop his bat further with the Pigs.

So what do you do with Betancourt? While Betancourt has hit well, he hasn’t out-hit Frandsen and he hasn’t outplayed Galvis. Betancourt is now 31 and will not get any better. In fact, in both the eyes of UZR and the fans, he has had one of the sharpest declines in production this side of Delmon Young. And with Young projected to be the starting right fielder upon his return, the team is only big enough for one player on such a sharp decline. Even though Betancourt has done everything he has been asked to do, he can’t change the player he is outside of this small sample at this late in his career.



  1. Chuck A.

    March 12, 2013 at 1:00 pm

    Frandsen and Galvis. They should make the team when camp breaks. Get Galvis into as many games as possible to aid in his development if and when Chase is no longer a Phillie. And if Chase IS a Phillie beyond this season then you can use Galvis at 3B next year or even slide Rollins over to third and let Galvis play his natural position of SS.

  2. Lefty

    March 12, 2013 at 1:33 pm

    IMO- Betancourt is here in case of injury, or until Jimmy Rollins is back from the WBC.

    I have to admit Frandsen never impressed me much over the years, but is starting to grow on me the way he continues to hit. Have the Phils ever tried him in a corner outfield position as well? I see the Giants played him there a few times. That would solidify him with “super utility” status and guarantee him a spot.

  3. George

    March 12, 2013 at 1:46 pm

    First of all, I wonder how much Galvis’ bat would improve with more playing time, if that time would be spent facing AAA pitching. He may need more of a challenge to continue improving. I also wonder if Frandsen might have value in a trade, should Betancourt keep hitting well.

    My own feeling is that Galvis is needed most because he’s the best option for a late inning defensive replacement. Frandsen is only okay and of course Betancourt stinks.

    Of course, Galvis could be optioned and called back up should Betancourt prove to be useless. The questions are how long would that take, and how many games lost would it cost the Phils. Really, though, we’re talking “utility infielder,” so any decision probably isn’t going to be a season changing event.

  4. Bruce

    March 12, 2013 at 4:39 pm

    Let’s see… Galvis willl stay with the Phillies as late inning defensive replacement and to give occasional rest for the regulars, Utley and Rollins.

    Frandsen is to provide offense in his utility role and pinchhitter.

    Hopefully, Pete Orr has the same responsibility as Frandsen.

    If there is room or need for another player on the bench, it would be one of two;
    Yuniesky Betancourt or Michael Martinez. Betancourt has the experience as a 7 year veteran with some pop in his bat. Martinez’s advantage is his ability to play several positions. Much like Galvis, he can’t hit but is more than adequate in the field.

  5. wbramh

    March 12, 2013 at 5:22 pm

    So far the biggest news to come out of Spring training is a Hooters’ ball girl fielding a fair ball and turning it into a fan souvenir. That play is likely to remain at the top of the team’s highlight reel for 2013.
    The future exploits of Yuniesky Betancourt are likely to miss that reel.

  6. NCPhilsFan

    March 15, 2013 at 5:18 pm

    Might be worth looking into whether the Diamondbacks would take Bettencourt in a trade for Ender Inciarte, the rule 5 pick the Phils would need to keep on the 25 man major league roster or offer back to Arizona otherwise. It sounds like the Phils really like him, and by trading for his rights they could give him more time to develop in the minors.

    • Ken Bland

      March 15, 2013 at 8:19 pm

      correctly relocatig this seemingly important point in a more topical post…

      This idea bandied about the site about working out a deal with the Diamondbacks the last couple weeks apparently is a discussion irrelavant to reality.

      From Jordan Hall this morning at CSNPhilly.com

      “As a Rule 5 selection, Inciarte’s situation is tricky. He must make the Phillies’ 25-man roster and if he doesn’t, the Phillies are forced to place him on waivers. If another team doesn’t pick him up, Inciarte is offered back to Arizona for $25,000. Only if the Diamondbacks do not take him back can the Phillies place him in the minors”

      So my interpretation of the situation is 1 of 30 other clubs are bound to put in a claim, interrupting any deal between the Phils and Diamondbacks. And he’s very appealing to a waiver claiming team not ony because of how he’s played this spring, but being short on experience, and not acquiring him as a Rule 5, they can send him to higher than Class A for the first time in his pro career and allow him to further develop in timely fashion.

      So as I see it, and I am very open to correction if I have misstated anything, he’s a Phillie only if he makes the parent club. It’s not impossible that winds up good. But it’s fact that they will be playing a guy skipping a few minor league steps, and forced to cut a pretty average,but experienced player to accomodate that.

      Youthful energy might actually be worth that, but I think it’s keep him or lose him, period.

      Am I wrong anyone?

      • Irv Adelman

        March 16, 2013 at 10:03 am

        You are incorrect. Any team that would claim him would inherit his Rule 5 status and they would have to keep him on their roster, offer him back to the D’Backs or work out a trade just like the Phillies would need to.

      • Ken Bland

        March 16, 2013 at 11:17 am

        So it appears, Irv. I meant to place this post here, but mistkenly posted it in another thread , where it got other corrective responses. I did speak as if a voidance of return would get shelved with a sequential waiver claim, but was applying what I thought was logic based on separate transaction. Can’t say I’m surprised I was wrong, although my assumption didn’t seem to be a foolish leap.

        Thanks. And tell Ben I said hello if by chance you are his partner in what at least was Ben and Irv’s outstanding deli that remains one of the great restaurants of all-time. On that particular point, I am dead on.

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