Why B.J. Upton, Cody Ross Are Not the Answer for the Phillies' Outfield

Tim Stoeckle@@TimStoeckleContributor IIIOctober 2, 2012

ST. PETERSBURG - SEPTEMBER 23:  Outfielder B.J. Upton #2 of the Tampa Bay Rays rounds the bases after his home run against the Toronto Blue Jays during the game at Tropicana Field on September 23, 2012 in St. Petersburg, Florida.  (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
J. Meric/Getty Images

Everybody has an opinion about how to fix the Phillies. Many of those views involve the outfield, which features John Mayberry Jr., Domonic Brown, Nate Schierholtz, Laynce Nix and Juan Pierre, who is a free agent this offseason.  

Phillies fans and the front office know that this is not an acceptable outfield for a team that expects to compete for the World Series.  

There is a fairly strong group of talented free-agent outfielders that the Phillies should target. However, two of those names, B.J. Upton and Cody Ross, would not be the answer that the Phillies so desperately need.

The Phillies would like a strong right-handed bat in their lineup, and Ross could be viewed that way. But instead of settling for an average right-handed hitter, the Phillies should pursue switch-hitting outfielder Nick Swisher.

Swisher and Ross are both 31 years old, so age isn't a factor. Statistically, they are fairly similar, with Swisher driving in more runs due to the Yankees' loaded lineup.

Ross is hitting .267 with 22 home runs and 79 RBI, while Swisher is hitting .268 with 24 home runs and 92 RBI. But the number that stands out is on-base percentage, where Ross is at .328 and Swisher at .358. 

By acquiring Swisher, the Phillies would be adding a guy who can get on base and drive in runs.


Although there are reports that Swisher will be seeking a Jayson Werth-type contract, it seems more likely that Swisher would sign a three-year, $45 million deal or a four-year, $60 million deal, both of which are manageable for the Phillies.  

Swisher and his free-spirited personality could be a great fit in Philadelphia. Bringing in a personality like his can breathe life into a team that needs it.

Ross would be a bargain, but Swisher would be more of a valuable asset.

As mentioned before, Upton has been a popular name thrown around by people who are trying to fix the Philadelphia outfield.

People have been waiting for years for him to have a breakout season. But instead, he puts up average to below-average numbers year after year.

Since hitting .300 in 474 at-bats in 2007, Upton's average hasn't topped .273. He's hitting .247 this season, and his on-base percentage is .299, the lowest of his career.

Upton will be getting a big contract this offseason based purely on potential. The 28-year-old has tremendous upside, but his performance has not been even close to what is expected of him.  On top of that, there are questions about his work ethic.


So, if not Upton in center field, then who?

The answer is prototypical leadoff hitter Michael Bourn.

He enters free agency reportedly looking for a five- or six-year deal at $15 million per year.  If the Phillies could get him for around $13.5 million per year, he could be worth pursuing.

If you compare Bourn to Upton, there isn't much of a comparison.  Bourn is far superior in just about every category except age. Although Bourn isn't old (he'll be 30 at the start of next season), he's a lot less appetizing from an age perspective than a 28-year-old.

Acquiring Bourn would give the Phillies a proper leadoff hitter.  Bourn has an on-base percentage of .349 this year and has stolen 40 bases. The Phillies' current leadoff man, Jimmy Rollins, has an OBP of .316. A leadoff hitter like Bourn would change the Phillies' lineup for the better.

If the Phillies are going to go big this offseason, they need to do it right.  Don't settle for Ross and Upton when you can go after Swisher and Bourn.


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