Phillies May Strike Monday With Major Free-Agent Signing

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Phillies May Strike Monday With Major Free-Agent Signing
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Looking at news coming out of the Phillies camp days after their World Series loss, two transactions were announced by the player and/or General Manager Ruben Amaro.

One was a no-brainer: The Phillies picked left-handed pitcher Cliff Lee's 2010 option for $9 million.

The second was that they would not retain the services of pitcher Brett Myers, ending his 10-year career with the club. Injury plagued the right hander this year and the pick up of Lee supplanted Myers as the club's number two pitcher at midseason.

Myers announced the move himself to the media.

The third, non-move piqued my interest. The Phillies have until Monday to retain the services of third baseman Pedro Feliz by picking up a $5 million option. Not a lot of money in today's baseball market.

So I went back to see what Amaro said during the Cliff Lee extension and whether he made reference to Feliz and the Monday decision.

Boy, did he ever.

"More than anything else, what options might be out there for us," Amaro said. "And deciding whether picking up his option is best suited to try to move forward. He had a solid year for us. I like the man personally. He's a great person. He's a great teammate. But I also believe in trying to improve, and sometimes a change can be for the better."

Wow. Kinda like something you might say when tactfully breaking up with your longtime girlfriend.

How could the Phillies improve in that postion? Let's look at the options:

Garrett Atkins, Colorado Rockies: .226 average, nine home runs, 48 RBI and .956 fielding average. Nope, I'd pass.

Adrian Beltre, Seattle Mariners: .265 average, two Gold Gloves, .959 fielding average. Not bad, but hurt part of last year and could be a risk. One positive is that Beltre is in the prime of his career as he turns 30 in April.

Mark DeRosa, St. Louis Cardinals: .228 average with the Cardinals, and a .272 lifetime average. He is a good fielder and can play six positions. More likely a replacement for a player like Eric Bruntlett, as DeRosa will soon be 35 years old. He had a 1.000 fielding percentage in 63 games for the Cardinals. His name has been mentioned as a possible  Phillie for two years.

Chone Figgins, Los Angeles Angels: .298 average, 42 stolen bases, 101 walks, .968 fielding average and was a 2009 All Star. My pick to replace Feliz.

Pedro Feliz, Phillies: .266 average, 12 home runs and 82 RBI. A .966 fielding average.

One other stat to look at: On-base percentage. A key stat to getting men on base in front of the Phillies power hitters.

Feliz, .308; DeRosa, .291; Beltre, .304; Atkins, .308; Figgins, .395. 

Figgins has a higher batting average, on-base percentage, not great power (five home runs, 54 RBI), but is a serious base-stealing threat.

Imagine this lineup: Jimmy Rollins, Chone Figgins, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Jayson Werth, Raul Ibanez, Shane Victorino, Carlos Ruiz and the pitcher. I might even flip Victorino to eighth, so the pitcher could bunt him over for Rollins.

This story is not based on any rumor or fact. If I were working for a newspaper, I would have to get a scout or team official to verify the claim.

Basically, I would get fired for this story.

But in this venue, feeling-based rumors thrive.

However, if you take Amaro for his word, Chone Figgins, who will be 32 on his next birthday, is a significant upgrade, stat wise, from Feliz.

He, and maybe Beltre, are the only upgrades in my mind to the slick-fielding Feliz.

Amaro's quote made it sound like the Phillies will make some kind of move and DeRosa is a popular player and a University of Pennsylvania graduate, which would make for a great feel-good story.

But it is not an upgrade.

Figgins is.

I could be totally off base and the Phillies resign Feliz.

But if their loss to the Yankees proved one thing: Without a DH, they are at a disadvantage and need to stay pro-active in pursuing players.

Many were surprised when the Phillies signed Ibanez last year.

At the very least, Feliz will be at the stage with Amaro on Monday.

But don't bet on it.

This "seasoned" writer might have the right gut feeling.

 

**Amaro quote obtained from Phillies.com

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