Philadelphia Phillies: How Can They Generate Enough Right-Handed Power?
The Philadelphia Phillies may have stolen the show from the Boston Red Sox this offseason with the reacquisition of left-handed pitcher Cliff Lee—giving them what many think could be the best starting rotation in Major League history.
While that will have to be seen, some people are overlooking the fact that the Phillies lost their best right-handed power hitter in Jayson Werth.
The loss hurts because of what he brings all around on the field, but also gives the Phillies a weakness—power from the right side.
With guys like Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard leading your lineup primarily from the left side—though Rollins is a switch—you can get stuck into jams against teams with a good left reliever. The Phillies' biggest adversary in the NL East this year, the Atlanta Braves, host Jonny Venters and Eric O'Flaherty—both left handed pitchers that have shown success against the Phillies.
There still is a chance that they can find some help, though, as we'll talk about over the next few slides.
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Mayberry is likely the Phillies' best pure right-handed power hitter in the entire organization.
He showed above average power in the minors, hitting 110 home runs in 2,543 at bats, or one homer every 23.1 at bats. Those numbers have taken a huge upturn in his at bats in the majors, with six homers in 69 at-bats, or one homer every 11.5 at bats.
That is, of course, a very small sample size for the 27-year-old, but it does show that he has the power in his 6'6" 235-pound frame.
There are some things standing in Mayberry's way though. The first is what looks like a clogged outfield with Shane Victorino, Raul Ibanez and either Ben Fransisco or Dominic Brown in right. Another obstacle is the fact that he strikes out entirely too much—39.1 percent of his Major League at bats. He also struck out in about 25 percent of his at bats in the minors, so it doesn't look like anything that he will improve on.
If Mayberry makes the team, the Phillies need to make an effort to get him in the lineup here and there. He hasn't played much at first, only four games in the minors, but with a little work he might could be serviceable when Howard needs a day off. If that's not an option, he could be a top pinch-hitter and a guy that gets used against left-handed pitchers—maybe as a bit of a platoon player with Raul Ibanez, who hit .268 against lefties last year.
Mayberry isn't likely to play too much, but if they wanted to add some right-handed power, he is an in-home option.
Look at Acquiring Michael Young
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With an infield that includes Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins and Placido Polanco, this may not seem like it makes sense.
Young brings experience all across the diamond, and could possibly take Polanco's spot at third, making Polanco a super sub. Or Young could be the super sub, playing just about every game by giving another member of the infield a break. They may need it, as there have been some injuries between the unit.
Young also brings pretty decent pop, along with a batting average around .290-.300.
Young hit 21 homers last year, which is more than I expect the two projected right-handed hitters in this lineup (Placido Polanco and Carlos Ruiz) to hit combined (14 combined last year). That would be a ton of help from a power standpoint. Add in Young's leadership and all-around game, and he seems to be a good fit on paper.
Perhaps a movement of Joe Blanton and maybe a prospect for him? Would the Phillies take that for the veteran?
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Fransisco is battling top prospect Dominic Brown for the right field spot, but is almost guaranteed a spot on the 25-man roster due to his versatility in the outfield and the fact that he hits right-handed.
Fransisco has enough power to hit out 20-plus home runs if he was given an everyday role, but that isn't likely. Therefore, the key for the Phillies is just to make sure that Fransisco plays consistently, as he should anyway—likely to play a good bit for Raul Ibanez.
Brown is a left-handed hitter, and it's unknown how well he will hit lefties. Fransisco, at least, seems like he will platoon a bit in those situations, as he had a slash line of .284/.344/.557 with all six of his homers against lefties.
This is not to say that Fransisco is a power hitter, because he's not. But he averaged a home run about every 15 at bats against lefties. Although, he has some holes against right handers, which slightly depletes his overall value and chances of playing consistently.
Getting Francisco some at bats won't put their right-handed deficiency completely away, but it will certainly help either way.
Make the Albert Pujols-Ryan Howard Rumors Come True
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There were rumors going around about a trade between the Phillies and the Cardinals to swap their two slugging first basemen, but the deal doesn't seem likely.
Howard is one of the best pure power hitters the game has seen for some time, and would fit right into what the Cardinals want to do at a cheaper price then Pujols will be looking for this offseason.
The Phillies also have shown that they are willing to spend the money on their players, so they would be likely to pay Pujols exactly what he wants for years to come.
To compare power, Pujols hit 126 home runs in the last three years. Howard hit 124 during the same time. Pujols outdoes him in average, while Howard has the better RBI numbers.
Both players are very good, and neither side would get cheated if the trade went down.
As a Braves fan, I am happy to say that this trade doesn't seem likely. If the Phillies add in another player or two, though, it could go down.
It will be interesting to see if anything more comes from the speculation.
Just Stay Put
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As much as I hate it to say it, the Phillies have the best starting rotation in the league as well as a lineup that, if healthy, will be one of the best in the National League. Howard, Utley and Rollins may be aging, but they are still better than most at their position.
If Howard and Utley stay healthy, 75 homers between the two is not out of the question. Rookie Dominic Brown could surpass the 20-homer mark this year, and Shane Victorino and Raul Ibanez should both hit their fair share. Power should not be too much of a problem—even if it just primarily from the left side.
Right now, a move is unlikely because the Phillies just don't see the need for it.
Can you blame them?
They are the early favorite to be World Series champs, and they don't seem to think that not having a right-handed power bat will hold them back from that. However, you can bet they will be shopping around just to see what's out there later on the year.
And if an opportunity comes up for the right price they will be right there to take it.