A week ago, Placido Polanco made Jayson Stark's "All-Unemployed" team at third base. From the start, Polanco was one of my favorite Phillies. Maybe it was that I was happy the Scott Rolen ordeal was over with, but I was at Veterans Stadium for his first game wearing a number 23 Polanco jersey I had made by a stop on Rising Sun Avenue. Polanco was one of the good guys, and played the game well. Having hinted retirement before and not having a contract just yet, is this the end of Placido Polanco's career?
Back in September, Polanco was thinking about it, after suffering some effects of concussions, or losses. Polanco told Juan Rodriguez of the Sun Sentinel:
"I still feel a little bit of a headache sometimes, but it's not bad at all," Polanco said. "I have a headache every time we lose, so you don't know whether it's from the concussion [or losses]."
In his 16th major league season, Polanco, who turns 38 next month, was noncommittal about whether he would play beyond 2013. He resides in Miami and isn't motivated to continue his career at any cost.
"It depends," Polanco said. "It has to be close to home. I have to see what's out there, but the kids, the wife and family is probably ready for me to be home now. This year was really good, the fact I was at home most of the time. It seems like the season went by quick and everybody was happy."
By "close to home" that would be South Florida. Polanco was born in the Dominican Republic, but grew up and attended college in Miami. The Marlins would be that team, but the third baseman-less Marlins have not seemed to bite. They did, however, pull Casey McGehee out of Japan and even added him to the 40-man roster. Other third base possibilities for the Marlins are Ed Lucas, Greg Dobbs, and even Rafael Furcal, who will not start at shortstop over Adeiny Hechavarria.
If he walks away, Polanco put together an impressive career. A lifetime .297 hitter, Polanco frequently batted second and gave his team some productive outs, moving runners into scoring position in a way not reflected in his batting average. Polanco won two gold glove awards at second base and one at third base. For his efforts, Polanco was an All-Star in 2007 and 2011. Polanco also has 2000-plus hits to credit.
I will wonder how the Phillies would have played had Polanco been retained for the prime of his career. But Chase Utley appeared on the scene. And David Bell had just been signed to a four-year contract. After new manager Charlie Manuel put Polanco at second base, third base, shortstop, and even left field to get him into the Phillies starting lineup, the end was nigh. After an airplane tirade in which he threatened teammates, the Detroit Tigers were looking to dump reliever Ugueth Urbina. They would have taken anyone, according to reports, including David Bell. But loyal General Manager Ed Wade promised Bell a starting job at third base and he stuck to it.
I often wonder how a Phillies team would have done in 2005 or 2006 when they were getting close to the playoffs had Polanco still been a part of the team instead of the team was giving starts at third base to Abraham Nuñez. The Phillies got him back for one last nice run in 2011 before injuries got the best of him. It is a shame for all of the new Chase Utley/Ryan Howard era fans that they never really got to see Placido Polanco the first time around.
This week saw Michael Young and Lance Berkman call it a career. I wonder if Polanco would be next. I can definitely see Polanco as a coach in the game. With the great respect the game has for Polanco as a leader, I would think he sticks around in one manner or another.