Philadelphia Phillies: Five Solutions to the Ben Francisco Problem
The Phillies have the best record in the National League and they are on pace for 102 wins. They also have the best starting pitching in Major League Baseball.
Their bullpen has been dominant from the back-end and the lineup is showing signs of life. The Phillies have battled through a myriad of injuries thus far and are finally getting healthy.
They still have not played a single game with their projected starting lineup this season. With all of the problems and potential detractors facing this team, they keep on winning.
Any baseball fan would be kidding themselves if they did not believe the 2011 Philadelphia Phillies is a legitimate World Series contender. Some of the glaring holes on the Phillies may fix themselves with injuries, but some of their weaknesses need to be fixed internally.
Ben Francisco as the everyday starter is an issue that needs to be rectified before it is too late. A starting right fielder with a .229 batting average and a noodle for an arm is not suitable for World Series contention.
Here are the top-five solutions to the Ben Francisco problem.
1- D-Brown Needs to Play Everyday
Philly fans have been chanting the name of Domonic Brown for two seasons now. Domonic Brown is finally healthy and he is starting to rake Major League pitching the way he in the minors.
Brown is showing why he is the Phillies top prospect according to Baseball America, and why the Phillies would not include him in any trades for Roy Halladay or Roy Oswalt.
Brown has only played in nine games this season, but his average is over .300 and he has already shown the five tools that have kept scouts drooling over him.
Brown has a stolen base, has four RBI's and four extra-base hits. He seems to across the outfield and has a cannon for an arm.
Philadelphia has been impressed by Brown's plate discipline as well. Brown has only struck out four times thus far.
Domonic Brown will not become Major League ready by continuing to tee-off against minor league pitching. The Phillies are in first place and will continue to contend in every game with their starting pitching.
The time is now for Brown to get some on-the-job training against Major League pitching. There may be some growing pains that Philadelphia has to endure, but Brown has already proven he is the future of the Philadelphia Phillies.
The Phillies need to make Brown their present.
2- You Are What You Are
The old saying of, "You are what you are" is so appropriate for Ben Francisco. Benny Fran has been a fourth outfielder for the majority of his five-year career.
He has been a .260 hitter that can provide some much needed pop off of the bench, especially against left-handed pitching. He is an average defensive outfielder at best who takes questionable angles to fly-balls and has a below-average arm.
Francisco should (will?) be used in the capacity that he was initially brought over to Philadelphia. He will provide depth at both corner-outfield positions, and a capable bat off of the bench in the late innings.
It is time for the Phillies to stop trying to make Ben Francisco something he is not.
3- a Minor Option
When Shane Victorino returns from the Disabled List, the Phillies are going to have a decision on their hands.
Many seem to think that Michael Martinez is the obvious choice to be sent to the minors, but here me out on this one.
Martinez may be needed more by the Phillies than Ben Francisco moving forward. Chase Utley has a degenerative knee disorder and will be given off days quite frequently.
Wilson Valdez is the only backup infielder on the Phillies if Martinez is sent back to the Nationals. I don't know about you, but I feel nervous with only one backup infielder and a second baseman on a shaky knee.
I am one of Chase Utley's biggest fans and I am ecstatic that he has looked so "normal" since his return, but the fact remains that Utley's knee will continue to be an issue for the rest of his career.
The Phillies need two backup infielders to protect the question mark that is Chase Utley's knee.
That leaves Francisco and John Mayberry Jr. as the players who both have minor league options.
4- MAYBErry a Better Option
I know what you're thinking, John Mayberry Jr. should not remain on the Phillies in front of Ben Francisco, but here me out on this one as well.
Francisco can play right and left-field, while Mayberry Jr. can play all three outfield positions. Mayberry showed on Sunday that he can also play first-base.
Ross Gload has a partial tear in his hip and he admitted that he will be a liability in the field. While Ryan Howard has worked hard to improve his defense, his lack of range makes him a legitimate concern in the late innings of important ballgames.
Mayberry Jr. can run very well and would be a great late-inning defensive replacement either in left or at first. The Phillies need to think long and hard before they send Mayberry Jr. or Martinez down instead of Francisco.
Bench players need to give their managers options, I am not sure that Francisco gives Charlie Manuel any more than Mayberry or Martinez.
5- Trade Bait
Francisco's contract is up at the end of this season.
He is currently making a very reasonable $1.18 million. Francisco has been a solid backup player for most of his career and did a good job starting in Cleveland when he was given the opportunity.
Would Ruben "the mastermind" Amaro be able to package Ben Francisco and some minor-league talent to an AL team looking for a DH? Rizzoti, Cosart, Singleton (please don't trade), Colvin are all names that have scouts across the league very excited.
The Phillies have players on their roster that possess the same skill sets as Ben Francisco. If they can trade him to bolster one of their other weaknesses, expect Ruben Amaro to make that happen.
Either way, the dreams of Ben Francisco being the Phillies everyday right fielder are over.