One of the more puzzling storylines surrounding Phillies General Manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. saying that he planned to tender John Mayberry, Jr. a contract is that the Phillies would be caught short in one way. The Phillies have one of the most left-handed lineups in baseball (Revere, Utley, Howard, Asche, Brown) but yet the bench will not feature a left-handed bat if the team keeps a status quo. That is cause for some concern.
The bench likely breaks down this way:
Backup catcher: Kratz or Rupp
Backup infielders: Kevin Frandsen and Freddy Galvis
Backup outfielders: Cesar Hernandez and Darin Ruf
The Phillies have usually had a left-handed bat on the bench that could provide a little bit of pop in a pinch. Matt Stairs may be the most famous one in recent memory. After Stairs we were treated to the likes of Ross Gload and Laynce Nix. But the role was the same. Ideally the Phillies would get someone who could play first base or center field to be that person. While Galvis and Hernandez are switch-hitters, neither has the power that the Phillies seemingly need.
Here are some available free agent outfield bats:
- Raul Ibañez (He did have a 29 home-run season last season)
- Trevor Crowe (pretty much no power, though; switch-hitter)
- Nate Mc Louth (12 home runs, 30 stolen bases, 36 RBI)
Mc Louth would be an ideal bench bat for the Phillies. The team could take advantage of Mc Louth's occasional power, use him as a pinch runner when Ryan Howard is clogging up the bases late in a game, and use him in the outfield. The question would be whether the Phillies could offer McLouth enough playing time for him to sign with the team.
What would he cost? I am sure if the Phillies land him they will "overpay". That would be in he sense that left-handed (David Murphy just got $12 million for two years and had almost identical numbers to Mc Louth if you took away the steals). As we saw with Byrd and Ruiz, the cost of doing business is outrageous this offseason. It was outrageous the offseason before, and the offseason before that. With almost everyone getting a new TV contract, McLouth-type players will get a lot. If I am McLouth's agent, I use the Murphy deal as my starting point for negotiations, arguing that McLouth deserves more for his speed.
The Phillies likely cannot offer Ibañez the playing time he could get elsewhere. The Yankees are reportedly interested in Ibañez as the left-handed component of a designated hitter plattoon. Ibañez probablyi would still do a decent job in such a role. If he was on the Phillies as a left-handed pinch hitter he would presumably get fewer at bats. The Yankees probably would pay him more than the $2.75 million he got from the Mariners in 2013. Is he worth the Phillies paying $5 million to pinch-hit?
Mayberry probably has value to someone as part of a plattoon in the outfield or as a bench bat and defensive replacement. With Galvis and Hernandez occupying bench spots and Darin Ruf serving as the right-handed pinch-hitter and fill-in for Domonic Brown or Ryan Howard against a lefty now and then, there is little need to keep Mayberry. But, with needs in the starting rotation and the bullpen, it's unlikely they pony up more money for someone like McLouth.