The Philadelphia Phillies drastically need a center fielder next season. Michael Bourn and B.J. Upton are star free agents and high on the Philadelphia Phillies' radar. Ruben Amaro Jr. understands this is the most important signing during the offseason. So, who should the Phils pursue?
Scenario 1: Michael Bourn leads the Phillies
There is no denying the former Phillies outfielder, Michael Bourn, is a gifted baseball player. He is a natural leadoff hitter, with 40-plus stolen base potential. Not to mention a two-time Gold Glove winner.
The Phillies lack a true leadoff batter, as Jimmy Rollins is not the answer. Bourn is a natural at the spot, although last season his strikeout totals reached a career-high (155), as well as his homers (nine). Unfortunately, this is the same route J-Roll took at leadoff—swinging for the fences.
Bourn did have a respectable on-base percentage last season, and has throughout his brilliant career.
There is one major snag with signing Bourn—super-agent Scott Boras.
This will cost the Phillies. According to Philly.com reporter Matt Gelb, the Phillies and Boras have a murky history, dating from grumblings with J.D. Drew, so many years ago, and not signing Ryan Madson—though Boras claims he has moved on from the past.
Bourn will be looking for mega-dollars this offseason, and Boras will likely wade in the free-agent pool for the right deal to strong-arm the Phillies.
Potential starting lineup with Bourn:
Scenario 2: B.J. Upton mans the field in center
Who will be in center for the Phils?
Upton is potentially a five-tool player. He could hit for power, steal bases, hit for percentage, knock in runs and play defense. Key word being "potentially."
Upton has not lived up to his athletic ability or hype, yet he still produces above-average stats.
Last season, Upton had a career-high in homers (28), but also in strikeouts (169). Needless to say, he would bring a right-handed power presence to the lineup—another glaring need for the Phillies.
CSNPhilly.com, Jim Salisbury, reported Ruben Amaro Jr. and Upton's agent, Larry Reynolds, have been in recent communication. Salisbury also reported that the Phillies newly signed hitting coach, Steve Henderson, was Upton's hitting coach in 2007—his career-best offensive season. Coincidence?
Upton should come cheaper than Bourn, but the Phils will still have to cough up plenty of money to sign the unproven veteran.
Potential starting lineup with Upton:
Personally, B.J. Upton is the man for the job—shocker, I know. Upton is two years younger than Bourn and should come cheaper. Yes, the Phillies will still lack a leadoff hitter, but Upton's power presence is more than capable of helping this team. Bourn may have already reached his full potential, whereas Upton is still on the rise. Signing Upton could also save money, allowing the Phillies to sign a veteran third baseman or relief pitchers.
Both players would bring strong and different abilities to the Phillies. Management must now decide which style of play is necessary to win a championship. Ruben Amaro Jr. has a difficult task this offseason, as this signing could make or break World Series status or future signings.