Philadelphia Phillies' Left Fielder in '09? Take Your Pick
As Pat Burrell led the Phillies down Broad Street in their World Series parade, many fans were chanting, "Stay, Pat, Stay!"
Right now, Burrell is still unsigned, and is in talks with the Phillies' management to get a new contract. But with the money Burrell is asking for, that might just not be a possibility.
He was second on the team with 33 HR's and third on the team with 33 doubles. He batted .250, out of the fifth spot in the lineup, for the greater part of the season. His mobility in left field is becoming a huge factor though, as he is developing more and more back problems, which makes it even tougher for him to get to the ball quickly.
Now with the free agent signing period under way, the Phillies have a multiple possibilities of players that could possibly take the spot of the career long Phillie.
Right now, Raul Ibanez, Jim Edmonds, and Rocco Baldelli are three guys who could possibly be players the Phillies will look to replacing Burrell with.
Ibanez just got out of a two year $11 million deal with Seattle, and is looking for another two year deal, most likely for less money. He had a fairly good season in '08, batting .293 with 23 homers and 110 RBI's.
There are two problems with Ibanez though. Firstly, he is starting to get older now at the tender age of 36. With Werth and Victorino being younger guys with a lot of experience now, it wouldn't be a bad idea for the Phillies to develop a young player into the left field position.
Secondly, he is a left handed batter, which is something the Phillies just don't need right now. With Utley and Howard both being left handed batters, a right handed hitter would compliment them, and make it harder for other teams to come up with strategies for pitching against the Phillies.
Coming off a year where he played for two teams, Jim Edmonds is another older player that is looking for a decent contract. He started the season with the Padres, and finished it with the Cubs. His stats for the season were also just average, as he only knocked in 20 homers and 55 RBI's.
Edmonds also started the '08 campaign with one of the worst hitting slumps of his career, where he only had 16 hits after joining the Padres in 90 at bats. Edmonds too, is a left handed batter, making it a tougher decision for the Phillies to sign him. He is even older than Ibanez as well, having been in the league for 15 seasons now.
The other name the Phillies could be interested in, is a player they became quite familiar with in the World Series. Rocco Baldelli's name was thrown around a lot in the Series. He had what everyone thought would prove to be a costly home run for the Phillies. He is a fairly young player however, and is a right handed hitter.
The main question with Baldelli is his health. In the past three seasons, he has only been able to play in 127 games. He is still uncertain of exactly what his illness is, but it fundamentally tightens up his hamstrings and makes it tough for him to stand the entire nine innings.
This could be alright for the Phillies though, because they have a few names like Greg Dobbs, and Matt Stairs who could step in for an inning or two a game, if they needed to.
Another possibility for the Phillies, that is very under looked is a player they just traded for. John Mayberry Jr. was the Rangers' top pick in the 2005 draft, and the Phillies just traded away Greg Golson to get him.
Mayberry is a player who is still very young, but has a lot of potential. He played in the minors last season and hit 20 homers in 135 games, while having an on base percentage of .371.
Mayberry is probably the Phillies last thought right now obviously, but signing one of these older guys, even Burrell, would be a way to give him two years or so to mature into a great player.
All of this said, the Phillies will have a lot to look at in the upcoming weeks. And come opening day of next season, there could be someone new taking the field for the Phillies in left.
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