Philadelphia Phillies: 5 Reasons They Should Forget Beltran, Go for Hunter Pence
The Philadelphia Phillies are no strangers to making big deals at the trade deadline. In fact, in each of the last three seasons they have made key acquisitions at the deadline that helped them win the NL East and make a playoff run.
In 2008, they brought Joe Blanton to town. While Big Joe did not get the fanfare of their more recent deadline acquisitions he played a major role in helping the Phillies win their division and eventually the World Series. Blanton was 4-0 down the stretch and 2-0 in the play-offs and no Phillies fan will ever forget the home run he blasted in Game 4 of the 2008 World Series. It was his first major league home run and oh yeah, he got the win, too!
In 2009, the Phils acquired Cliff Lee who went 4-0 in the playoffs with a 1.56 ERA. He also had the Phillies only two wins against the Yankees in the World Series that year.
And 2010 brought the Phils Roy Oswalt who only went 7-1 down the stretch with a 1.74 ERA. The Phillies won 10 of his 11 starts during the regular season and 2 of his 3 playoff starts.
Which brings us to 2011. There has been much talk of the Phillies acquiring the Mets Carlos Beltran but the Astros Hunter Spence seems to be the better fit and here are five reasons why.
5. Not a Rental
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Getting Carlos Beltran would be getting a rental for the rest of this year, something the Phillies have been reluctant to do in the past. Although the Mets may be willing to pick up at least part if not all of his remaining $6 million salary this year, the 34-year-old Beltran will be a free agent next year. And with Scott Boras as his agent, there is almost zero chance he would re-sign with the Phillies. (Does the name Jayson Werth ring a bell?)
Hunter Pence at 28, is still in the prime of his career. Pence will not become a free agent until the 2013 season so the Phillies would have the option to keep him for at least two more years. If they indeed have to give up a young Domonic Brown to make a deal, at least in the case of Pence they are getting an already proven right fielder in return with many productive years left in his career.
4. Hitting Against Lefties
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The Phillies need a right-handed bat to break up their heavy lefty lineup of Utley, Howard, Ibanez and Brown. Carlos Beltran is a switch hitter and is currently batting .291 overall but against lefties, where the Phillies really need the help, Beltran is only batting .232 this season.
Hunter Pence, however, is batting .272 against lefties (.320 against righties) with an overall batting average of .308. He has 11 home runs and 62 RBI. This is the kind of consistent hitter the Phillies need to put in the No. 5 hole to protect Ryan Howard. And speaking of consistency Pence has had 25 home runs and 70 plus RBI for the past three seasons, good indicators of the production he is likely to give the Phillies over the next several years as well.
3. In the Field and on the Bases
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Both Beltran and Pence are good fielders. While Beltran mainly played center until his switch to right this year Pence is more of a right fielder which is the position he would most likely play the most should he go to the Phillies. Pence has a rifle of an arm and leads the National League with nine outfield assists.
Shaky outfield play, particularly by young Domonic Brown, has been a problem for the Phillies this year even costing them runs on several occasions. The importance of a strong defense is only magnified in the playoffs when it can be the difference between winning and losing in the often close postseason contests.
As to their base running, both men have good speed and good instincts on the base paths. Beltran only has three steals so far this year which may be the result of his injury plagues 2010 season in which he also only stole three bases. Pence has seven steals this year and had 19 in 2010. At his younger age and healthier body,Pence gets the edge here.
2. What Will It Take?
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Although the asking prices change hourly, the Phillies would most likely have to give up more for Hunter Pence. Although the Mets had high hopes about the prospects Beltran might bring them, since he is truly a two to three month rental teams are reluctant to part with their most prized prospects. While the Mets wanted Domonic Brown, it is possible the Phillies could get Beltran without dealing him.
As for Pence it would most likely take Brown or pitcher Vance Worley in addition to several other prospects to get him. Names mentioned include first baseman Jonathan Singleton and pitcher Jared Cosart to name a few.
Although it might be tough for some to part with Domonic Brown, at least in Pence they are getting a fairly young player in return who, unlike Beltran, will be in the Phillies organization for at least two more years. He would bring some much needed youth to this aging Phillies lineup. Brown, though improving, still has a lot of work to do to reach his potential especially with his fielding.
The Phillies with their $170 million dollar payroll are built to win now and acquiring Hunter Pence would definitely improve their chances to do just that.
1. The Perfect Fit?
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Sometimes the most important factor is the hardest to measure: How will a player fit with a team? Will that player help or hurt the elusive team chemistry that often separates a good team from a champion?
All indications are that Hunter Pence would be an excellent fit for the Phillies. He's known as a blue collar player from the Chase Utley school of baseball. He plays hard, leaves it all on the field and likes to get his uniform dirty, all things Philadelphia fans will love. As for the clubhouse, by all accounts Pence is an excellent teammate. The Phillies already have a very strong clubhouse and it seems Pence would be a great addition.
Carlos Beltran, while certainly a great player maybe even with better power numbers than Pence, may be less of a sure bet in the clubhouse. He has been accused of "dogging it" at times and of taking longer than necessary to return from injury last year after having "unauthorized" knee surgery. Now this may be less of an issue since Beltran will only be with the Phillies for a couple of months but during a stretch run and with the increased pressure of the playoffs, even a whiff of controversy is the last thing any team wants or needs.
Add it all up and the conclusion is clear. Hunter Pence is the best choice to help the Phillies win it all this year.