I wouldn’t hold it against you if many of you had not heard of Ben Revere before yesterday. Whether you knew his name or not, you know it now and should get used to it. He’s going to be the Phillies’ centerfielder now and for the foreseeable future.
Revere is something different than what many Phillies fans expected. First, he’s 24 years old. Most of the Phillies targeted free agents were roughly 29-34 years old. Second, he lacks power…completely. Revere will enter this season, the fourth of his career, still in search of his first major-league home run.
But the reason Ruben Amaro Jr. felt the need to trade two pitchers for a 24-year-old centerfielder is simple. The Phillies need to get younger. Revere makes them younger. The Phillies need a centerfielder who can field the position better than anybody did in the dreadful 2012 season. He can. And the Phillies need a table-setter to get on base, steal bases and score runs. He can do that too.
Ultimately, if there is anything I can mark down as a downside to the Phillies’ five-year NL East reign from 2007-2011, it’s this: too many fans who jumped on the bandwagon during that run only know a front office that spends at will for players, not searches for bargains.
What Amaro did yesterday was fill a need by trading away a gamble. Is Vance Worley really anything more than a No. 3 pitcher? Probably not. Is Trevor May ever going to amount to anything in the majors? Why don’t you ask Kyle Drabek and Jarred Cosart how things have been going.
The point is that on the surface, the Phillies paid a lot for a table-setter. But for the defense they are getting and the contact, average hitter they are getting, they traded away two pitchers the Twins hope turn into middle to top of the rotation players. With no guarantees for the Twins, the Phillies wanted as close to a guarantee as they could get.
And for what Revere will make next season – a whopping $515,000 – the Phillies passed on B.J. Upton ($15 million), Angel Pagan ($10 million), and Michael Bourn (still a free agent, but will likely ask for $15-20 million). That’s a bargain.
Which brings me to my next player of interest: Michael Young. As of writing this post this morning, Young is still mulling over the “professional vs. personal” aspect of the trade. If he waives his full no-trade clause to come to the Phillies, he would start at third base. But there is a chance he could veto the trade – which has already been agreed upon by the Phillies and Rangers – to stay in Texas where his family resides.
As with centerfield, there was positive and negatives toward this potential deal. I find several positives.
First, even though Young is not too young (36), for a stopgap third baseman while the Phillies wait for prospect Cody Asche to be major-league ready – supposedly the 2014 season – a 36-year-old who can hit .280, 10 home runs and drive in 60 runs is not a bad deal, especially considering half of his salary would be paid for by the Rangers. The Rangers will to give him away – he’s not much of a fit with the Rangers anymore – would mean a middle-of-the-line reliever – Josh Lindblom is a name I heard – may be all that’s lost in the deal.
Ruben’s approach is actually very “Moneyball”-like. For $6 million, he may be able to fill two holes as two primary positions. As Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly noted on television last night, that would commit only $53 million to the starting lineup next season. Both moves provide flexibility. And while guys like Josh Hamilton are still available to fill the corner outfield power bat slot, a Cody Ross or Alfonso Soriano deal wouldn’t be the worst thing for the Phillies. With whatever money they have remaining, they need a corner outfielder (Ross and Soriano fit the bill as right-handed bats), an eighth-inning relief pitcher (Amaro talked with Mike Adams reps before leaving the Winter Meetings) and possibly a veteran starting pitcher to fill Worley’s spot (Ryan Dempster and Kyle Lohse are two names suggested).
Basically, my argument is that too many fans wanted Josh Hamilton to be the one and only signing, acting like he was the total solution. He’s not. If you ask me, he’s not even that much of a fit for the Phillies.
Just because Hamilton would add power to the heart of the lineup doesn’t mean it instantly becomes one of the best in baseball. There’s still a lot of questions with Ryan Howard and Chase Utley and what you’ll get out of them. If they make a return to their usual numbers, the Phillies would be in great shape with or without Hamilton.
Bottom line: it’s not 2008 anymore. Don’t act like Howard and Utley are going to take the field in the state they were then. Hamilton would just be another left-handed bat. I really don’t need to hear complaints about that issue again. And ultimately, the Phillies can’t go around waving money in the air expecting that to solve all problems. Some have to be solved with cheap solutions.
Eight All-Stars can’t take the field at one time, no matter what way you look at it. For that reason, I like the deals the Phillies have set themselves up for over the past two days and want to see how they finish the offseason.
Think back to the playoff teams of recent years, including the Phillies, and think about how many teams with superstar names at nearly every position have done. None of them win. It takes a few role players and x-factors – Revere and Young fit the bill – to win a championship. So if you think this is a step back, remember baseball is not played on paper. What matters is what happens on the field.
On paper, it looks like the Phillies did take a step back. But what translates to the field could be a huge stride forward.