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Philadelphia Phillies: Was Optioning John Mayberry Jr. the Right Move?

PHILADELPHIA, PA - APRIL 01:  John Mayberry Jr. #15 of the Philadelphia Phillies follows his game-winning single to defeat the Houston Astros 5-4 during the ninth inning as catcher Humberto Quintero #55 of the Houston Astros looks on at Citizens Bank Park on April 1, 2011 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images
Jenn ZambriCorrespondent IJune 3, 2011

With center fielder Shane Victorino coming off the disabled list, the Phillies had to make a move.  Their choice was to send John Mayberry Jr. back to Triple-A.

Mayberry is an excellent outfielder, who can also play first base.  His defensive skills are nearly comparable to Victorino's and he was the only solid center field back-up option.  But Mayberry struggled at the plate, hitting only .231 with three homers and 12 RBI this year.

The other players the Phillies could have moved were Michael Martinez, Ben Francisco or Ross Gload.  They were not going to send down a pitcher, as manager Charlie Manuel seems to like having 12 pitchers on the roster.

Martinez seemed like a logical move, but a few issues have kept him in place.  First, he is a Rule-5 player and the Phillies will likely lose him if he is placed on waivers.  Second, with Chase Utley's knee still a sticky situation, Martinez is now the only real back-up infielder behind Wilson Valdez.

On the other hand, Martinez is a far inferior defensive player in both the infield and outfield.  He has also been unimpressive at the plate, hitting only .184 with three RBI in 49 at-bats.

Francisco won the right field job out of spring training, but has since been in a downward spiral.  His defense is not up to par and his bat has gone to sleep since hitting .308 in the first 10 games of the season.  In May, Francisco hit only .167.

And Francisco still has a minor league option available.  The deterrent, however, seems to be his $1.175 million salary.

As for Gload, he is playing with a muscle tear in his right hip and it appears that he cannot run.  The last two times he reached base as a pinch-hitter, a pinch-runner was sent in for him.  Gload is a great pinch-hitter, but can the Phillies really afford to carry a player on the roster who cannot run or play the field?

The only fix for Gload's hip is surgery, which would end his season.  He has no options, but the Phillies could have placed him on the DL to buy time.

So with all of this, plus a lack of production at the plate, Mayberry finds himself back in Triple-A.  In the long-run, it may be the best move for him as he will get more at-bats.  However, if Raul Ibanez begins to cool off, the Phillies may question this decision later.

In my opinion, I believe Martinez should have been the one to go.  Aside from being a Rule-5 player, he had the least amount of upside.

Then again, with more playing time, maybe Mayberry will return later with a renewed energy and more life in his bat.

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