By Spike Eskin
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The Phillies missed out on some big ticket items in the off-season. BJ Upton, Michae Bourn, Josh Hamilton and others wound up on other teams, while fans were dying for a big addition in Philadelphia. Though it may have been a good idea to pass on the high priced options that landed somewhere else, it’s actually the low-cost players the Phillies had access to that ended up elsewhere that would have been the most help.
Yuniesky Betancourt asked the Phillies to release him when the team felt content with keeping Freddy Galvis and Kevin Frandsen as infield backups on the major league roster. Betancourt, who landed with the Milwaukee Brewers, has eight home runs, which would lead the Phillies right now, and an OPS of .816., which would also lead the team He is making $900,000. As John Stolnis points out in his blog post today, Chase Utley is currently hitting .108 against left-handed pitching, a trend that is now two years old. Betancourt would have provided a solid platoon or fill-in option at second base, as well as the ability to take Michael Young’s place at third base and Jimmy Rollins’ spot at shortstop when necessary.
Kevin Frandsen has done a nice job against left-handers, and has provided what the Phillies had hoped. But it’s hard not to look at Betancourt’s eight home runs and not wish they happened here.
On January 28th, the Phillies decided not to tender a contract offer to outfielder Nate Schierholtz, who they got in the Hunter Pence trade with the Giants. Schierholtz signed with the Cubs for one-year and $2.25 million.
Before we get to the offense part of this, you should know that Schierholtz would instantly be the best defensive corner outfielder that the Phillies have right now. While we hold our breath waiting for Delmon Young to eventually butcher something out there and decide whether or not he’ll take even one pitch during the course of a game, the Phillies could have Schierholtz and his rocket arm instead.
Schierholtz has 12 doubles, which would lead the Phillies, a batting average of .299 and an OPS of .889, which would also lead the Phillies. His baBIP is .316, which is just about right around his career number of .310, which suggests that his production is mostly sustainable.
Again, I didn’t see too many people complaining about the Betancourt release and Frandsen has been adequate, but the Schierholtz error seems egregious at the time, and is proving to be just that.