Five Right-Handed Bats Who Would Help the Philadelphia Phillies Down the Stretch
Anyone who has watched the Phillies this season knows the starting pitching has carried the team this year and while the Phillies could be just like the San Francisco Giants from last year and ride a no-hit offense to a World Series title, a right-handed bat would also go a long way.
GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. has gone on record as saying he will not be getting such a player, while manager Charlie Manuel has said he would love some help from the right side of the plate. The Phillies have a lefty-laden offense with Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Raul Ibanez, and Domonic Brown, and both Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino as switch-hitters.
John Mayberry, Jr. probably has the most power of any right-handed hitter on the team, but he’s also an incredibly streaky hitter who strikes out a ton, and he was demoted to Triple-A earlier in the season after struggling as an everyday player—although he has since rejoined the major league Phillies.
Ben Francisco has 15-home run power at best, but he’s just best suited as a pinch-hitter off the bench, and while both Placido Polanco and Carlos Ruiz are fine hitters, they’re not power hitters.
With that in mind, here are five hitters who would help the Phillies down the stretch.
5. Josh Willingham, Oakland Athletics
I’m not a big supporter of the Phillies going out and getting Josh Willingham. I’m not sure what Ruben Amaro, Jr. would have to give up in terms of prospects to acquire Willingham, but it’s not as if a .244 hitter with 11 home runs is the player who will get the Phillies to the World Series.
Willingham is a solid power hitter and bats from the right side of the plate, and he’s hit 20 home runs three times, although his splits show he hits righties and lefties equally, and the Phillies could use a hitter who feasts off of lefties.
4. Aaron Rowand, San Francisco Giants
Rowand is an ex-Phillie who was beloved by the entire city for running into a wall to save an extra-base hit. He is in the fourth season of a ridiculous five-year, $60 million contract, and the Giants would likely be thrilled to part ways with him, although the Phillies would then want the Giants to pay a significant part of Rowand’s salary.
Rowand has incredible numbers against lefties this year—.352/.382/.493 with a .875 OPS—compared to just .197/.259/.287 with a .546 OPS, and Raul Ibanez has the third-lowest OPS against lefties among NL outfielders, so the two would be an excellent platoon pair.
3. Michael Cuddyer, Minnesota Twins
This is probably the most likely bat for the Phillies to get.
Cuddyer was just named to the first All-Star team of his career, and although the Twins say they have no plans to trade him, Cuddyer is in the final year of his four-year contract, and the Twins should want something for him.
Cuddyer is batting .296 with a .372 on-base percentage this year and 13 home runs, and he is a viable option for the Phillies if Amaro can somehow figure out a way to lure him from Minnesota.
2. Hunter Pence, Houston Astros
Pence is a better player than the No. 1 guy on this list, but Pence will likely be harder for the Phillies to obtain because he’s a franchise player that the Houston Astros could build around.
Pence is hitting .323/.364/.494 with 11 home runs and six stolen bases this year, and he’s on pace for close to 120 RBIs. Pence made his second All-Star team, he’s posting the highest adjusted OPS of his five-year career, and he’s in the final year of his contract with the Astros, should they want to part ways with him.
1. Ryan Ludwick, San Diego Padres
This seems like the most realistic option for the Phillies, and many sources have linked the Phillies to this player.
Ludwick isn’t quite the player he was in ’08 when he hit 37 home runs with 113 RBI, posted a .591 slugging percentage, and finished 16th in the MVP voting. Then again, he is a right-handed bat who could definitely help the Phillies down the stretch, and getting out of the dreadful Petco Park would boost his numbers.
Ludwick is hitting just .243 with 11 home runs and 55 RBI this season, but he has an OPS of over 100 points higher against lefties than righties, and he would be penciled into the fifth spot in the batting order behind Ryan Howard, where he would certainly be an offensive force for the Phillies.