Ruben Amaro was quoted a couple days ago as saying the Phillies need to and will go outside of the organization to look for outfield help. The specific concern is center field. The Phillies once had a strong commodity in the outfield with players such as Aaron Rowand, Pat Burrell, Rual Ibanez, Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence.
Now that is an area that they are lacking in.
Photo Credit: Bj Wilson
The Opening Day outfield for the Phillies in 2012 consisted of John Mayberry Jr, Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence. By the end of the season, it looked completely different with all 3 spots being split as platoon roles.
With Howard and Utley out for the majority of the year, pressure was placed on the rest of the offense; especially Pence. He was expected to provide the missing power to the lineup. As we all know, Hunter has terrible plate discipline. With the added pressure to swing for the fences, his discipline was worse.
Along with Pence, Victorino’s numbers dipped coming off his career high in 2011. The whole team suffered as a result of the lack of offense. Both Pence and Victorino were set to receive more money either through arbitration or free agency. At the trade deadline, as the Phillies felt they were too far out of the standings, they traded Pence and VIctorino to the Giants and Dodgers respectively.
In return for Pence, they were sent left-handed outfielder Nate Schierholtz. With center and right field open, they called up Domonic Brown to start in right field and essentially split time between all three spots. Schierholtz ended up not producing much as he broke his toe, missing a lot of time and never really got a starting role back.
Laynce Nix was another piece that was suppose to help the outfield, but ended up being hurt quite a bit and never got
Photo Credit: BJ Wilson
into the “swing” of things. As a result, Charlie Manuel began to play speedy Juan Pierre a lot. Pierre got a lot of time after the trades because of his consistent bat as he finished hitting over .300.
As September rolled around the Phillies expanded their rosters and brought up minor league player of the year Darin Ruf. Ruf was a constant power threat in the minors hitting 38 HR in Reading.
Though Ruf is labeled as an infielder, he was mainly in left field during the limited time he received at the end of the year. Ruf only played in 12 games but hit 3 long balls and knocked in 10 runs.
As the Phillies look toward the future, there is quite a concern in the outfield. Personally, Mayberry has never been anything to write home about and has a lot of room for improvement. With Pierre’s contract up, the Phillies could and should resign him for another year or two. His age is a factor but, he is still a good role player. However, Darin Ruf looks like a viable option for the future.
After a long abysmal regular season, the outfield is a place of major concern for the Phillies. There are a couple ways the Phillies could go to fill the hole. The main ones include B.J. Upton, Michael Bourn, Nick Swisher, or Josh Hamilton (with subsequent moves).
As Ruben Amaro Jr. said the Phils do need to and will go outside the organization to fill the hole. As we wait for the moves to be made, the question is, which is the right move to make?