Phillies Avoid Paying Top Dollar for Pence
July 30, 2011 in Uncategorized
OF Hunter Pence
The Phillies decided for the third straight year to make a major deadline deal, to strengthen their team, and looking at it, you can't really blame them. The Phillies have gotten very little production from their corner outfielders this year, and in fact their offensive production has been down across the board. The Phillies lineup has also gotten to be very left handed centric, which should allow Pence to help make LH relievers and starters less effective against the Philly lineup.
Pence is a good but not great hitter, who at 28 is still in the prime of his career. He has solid 20-25 HR power, that should play up in Philly. He typically hits for a high average, and is currently at a .308/.351/.471. Which on the Phillies makes him quite valuable, as his .828 OPS would rank 3rd on the Phillies, and be over .120 higher than LF Raul Ibanez's.
The real question for the Phillies is will they do the smart thing and sit Ibanez down and let Pence take over LF duties. As it stands now they are playing Pence in RF over Dominic Brown, when they should look to play him in LF (his best position). Pence is a slightly below average right fielder, but he should be about average if not better, in left. That bodes well for the Phillies, considering that Ibanez is the worst every day left fielder in baseball. Which is pretty sad considering that Philadelphia has a pretty small ballpark, he isn't exactly patrolling Petco Field. Ibanez supporters will point to his 14 home runs and 20 doubles, but that is all he has going for him as his slash line is at .245/.291/.418. That is a 50+ point jump in batting average and slugging percentage and a 60 point bump in on-base percentage between Pence and Ibanez. While Pence upgrades the production in RF as well, it isn't nearly as drastic, especially when you figure in defense.
Now the Phillies didn't make this deal for the NL East race, as they are all but assured a playoff spot, but they wisely made this move for the postseason. Once Philly starts having to play series baseball, they were going to need to rely on more than just their impressive pitching staff. Adding a good offensive piece like Pence, should ensure that Philly isn't one dimensional. The Phillies also benefit in that Pence is not just a rental player, as he has two more years of team control after this season. Grade B+
The Astros are rebuilding plain and simple, and while Pence is a good player in his prime, they had the choice either let their best trade chip inch his way to free agency and get nothing in return when he leaves, sign him to a long-term extension (which he might not even want to do given the state of the franchise), or trade him and add some much needed talent to their depleted farm system. While it wasn't a great deal for them they did add serious value.
Jarred Cosart has the stuff to be a front line pitcher in the big leagues and at age 21, has a bright future ahead of him. He has had some command and injury issues, but not enough to really concern the Astros that he can't be apart of their future big league rotation. He automatically becomes the Astros new top prospect and should offer the most return for Houston long term.
Jonathan Singleton is a pretty good secondary prospect in this deal, and he very well could be the Astros number 2 prospect going forward. He was tried in LF this year, but he really is a 1B only. While he is locked into one position he is actually pretty mobile there and should project as a good defender. Add that to his 30 HR power, and the Astros could have a nice future piece.
Josh Zied doesn't look like more than an AAAA player, but he could be a cheap reliever for the Astros going forward. He won't ever be more than a middle relief guy, but it makes more sense to pay him league minimum than sign some guy for $1 million dollars. While it is unclear who the PTBNL is the rumor is it isn't anyone significant.
In reality this deal is Cosart and Singleton for 2 and a half years of Pence. I think that is a quality return for the Astros, but by no means do I think they fleeced the Phillies. Those are two very good prospects the Astros acquired, but both appear to be at least 3 years away meaning a lot can happen between now and when they get to the majors. The Phillies did well not to add another top prospect to this deal, and that keeps the Astros return from being great. Grade: B-