“If we get this done, he’s an upgrade defensively and he’s a run-producer,” according to Phillies general manager Pat Gillick. I think he meant “he’s an out-producer both in the field AND at the plate!”
Well, ESPN.com’s headline editors think just that, as do the guys over at The Recliner GM (whose site I’m a fan of), but I don’t. Pedro Feliz is a very good defensive third baseman, and has occasional pop. HOWEVER, and this is one of those howevers that really requires all caps, he sports an anemic career on-base percentage of .288 over a whopping 2,840 at-bats. I list his career totals to make a point–at 32 and turning 33 in April, what would lead us to believe the guy is likely to perform any better than he has until now?
The answer is nothing, and that’s key. Feliz is not good. His ‘prime’ is ending. He will mostly likely get worse, although it’s possible with some closer fences in Philadelphia he could get a ballpark adjusted boost, but I don’t think that’s a great bet either. Plus, if he didn’t learn any magic from Barry Bonds in more than seven years in San Francisco, I doubt there will be any mysterious jumps in performance now that he’s left the creamery.
So, what does this mean for the Phillies?
Well, not a whole lot. The contract is for two years and about $8.5 million, and if Feliz meets certain performance evaluators, it could end up being 3 years and $15 million total. Whether or not he’s in Philadelphia for that long is most definitely up in the air, but the money isn’t anywhere near crippling, so don’t fret, Illadelphians, you’ll still be able to pay Ryan Howard.
The real issue is do you want to be spending that much money on a guy who is marginally better than the troika that inhabited third base last year? I vote no. But, Feliz will not prevent the team from improving–many other issues will do that. Feliz will slot in nicely at the end of the line-up, providing lots of outs in the field and at-bat, and the Phillies will play better defense and continue to score runs aplenty with the guy.
My issue is pitching. As in the Phillies don’t really have any, and the money on Feliz could have been used to bolster their staff. I say could because there’s always something to be done, but I can’t give you a great example of what the wise decision would have been in this case. I’ll just say whether it’s investing that money in the draft to replace minor leaguers who could bring better Major League strike-throwers or signing a low-risk pitcher or eight, I would have preferred that strategy.
The Phillies are set up to have a great line-up (for AAAA) and a pathetic pitching staff barring the unexpected rise of some youngsters or a bit of short-lived glory for a journeyman or two. Look at their depth chart.
The line-up looks fine, but I see only four pitchers I’d be happy to have on my staff: Brett Myers (although I’m not exactly a big fan of wife-beaters), Cole Hamels, Brad Lidge, and Ryan Madson.
Things could work out–they did last year somehow–although I can’t say I expect them to. But, since the Phillies reside in the NL, there’s a chance they could end up in the World Series. And then the ever-annoying/pompous/arrogant/cheesy Joe Buck and shutupTim McCarver.com can say Pedro Feliz and his career-high .306 on-base percentage made all the difference. Sweet.