Pouliot's thoughts: Polanco wasn't the best phit for Phils

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polanco phillies.jpgPhillies sign infielder Placido Polanco to a three-year, $18 million contract with a mutual option for 2013.
Polanco has already had a pretty unusual career, but the Phillies are showing way too much faith that he’ll continue to defy the aging curve. Second baseman have a nasty habit of falling off a cliff in their low-30s, yet Polanco has gotten more durable with age and his defense has held up remarkably well.
On offense, it’s easy to point to his OPS slipping from 846 to 768 to 727 the last three years and say that it’s a steep decline. However, his game hasn’t changed at all. He’s finished with 31-36 doubles, 8-10 homers and 35-37 walks in each of those seasons. Because of his limited power and poor walk rate, his offense is entirely batting average driven, and he’s going to hit .290 some years and .320 others. The Phillies should be content if he matches that 768 mark from 2008, and it’s entirely possible that he’ll have a couple of more years at that level.
The third year is what really hurts the deal. Philadelphia was likely Polanco’s preferred destination. The team is a World Series favorite, and he’s played there before. I don’t see GM Ruben Amaro Jr. felt the need to best every other potential offer, particularly when Mark DeRosa and the superior Adrian Beltre were available. Polanco should be above average defensively and average offensively at third. He’s an upgrade from Pedro Feliz. But I think the Phillies could have done better.
Beltre, in particular, was the best fit for their lineup. Polanco’s addition would work better for the Phillies if the team were willing to drop Jimmy Rollins down to the seventh spot and go with Shane Victorino first and Polanco second. However, they’ll almost certainly start the year with Victorino hitting seventh.
Victorino had a .358 OBP last season. His worst mark in four seasons as a regular is .346. Polanco finished at .331 last season, though he was at .388 and .350 in the two years prior. Rollins, on the other hand, came in at .296 last season and has never topped .350 in a year. Rollins isn’t necessarily a bad leadoff hitter — he did lead the NL in runs scored with 139 in 2007 — but except for when he’s at his best, he’d be more useful hitting in the bottom half of the order.

J.D. Martinez tells teams he prefers an outfield role

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Free agent outfielder/slugger J.D. Martinez is reportedly seeking an outfield gig, says Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald. According to Silverman’s sources, Martinez’s suitors have been informed that the veteran slugger would give preference to teams that can offer a corner outfield spot, rather than a DH-only role.

That could spell trouble for the Red Sox, who appear to be Martinez’s biggest suitors so far this offseason. Outfielders Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi are firmly established at the corners, and prior reports from club president Dave Dombrowski suggest that center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. is not going anywhere anytime soon (thereby eliminating the possibility of reshuffling the outfield). The DH spot is still wide open for Martinez, who doesn’t seem to be totally closed off to the idea, but any full-time or part-time role on the field is likely off the table at this point.

Of course, the Red Sox aren’t the only ones pursuing Martinez’s services this winter. The 30-year-old slugger has been linked to both the Diamondbacks and Giants in weeks past, and while they have the roster flexibility to accommodate his preferences, they’ll need to clear another massive hurdle: the seven-year, $250 million contract he’s said to be seeking. Both clubs will need to get creative to make such a deal work. The Diamondbacks are rumored to be shopping right-hander Zack Greinke in an attempt to free up some room on their payroll for Martinez, while the Giants appear more inclined to scour the trade market for outfield help than shell out cash for another hefty contract in free agency.