Placido Polanco and the Third Base Situation

Last updated: 10/13, 12:30 p.m.

  • Charlie Manuel ponders an upgrade at the hot corner: source.

Paul’s Take: Third base for the Phillies is something like the goaltender position for the Flyers. Back in the day, there was a stalwart at the position, but recent years have found little stability or above-average production. Placido Polanco, signed before the 2010 season, has been hurt and producing offense more typically found in middle infield positions. As Aaron Gleeman mentions over at Hardball Talk, Polanco’s .702 OPS is 20th among third basemen since the start of 2010. Polly is owed $6.25M in 2012, and he’ll almost assuredly remain the starter when healthy.
What might behoove Amaro would be a search for a quality backup. The Phils missed out on acquiring guys like Wilson Betemit who, while not a superstar, did provide the Tigers with 15 extra-base hits in 40 games after being acquired. Polanco had 19 extra-base hits all season.

Ryan’s Take: The Phillies have a lot on their shopping list right now, including some pieces that probably take a higher priority than a position where there is already an established starter. To his credit, Polanco provided excellent defense even while playing hurt in 2011. But, facing possible offensive regression by Hunter Pence and Shane Victorino, and with Ryan Howard’s 2012 effectiveness in serious doubt, that might not be enough on it’s own. Normally I would accept him retaining the full-time job as a foregone conclusion, but to hear a manager as fiercely loyal as Charlie Manuel even mentioning an “upgrade” makes me wonder if falling short of the NLCS this season may have put him in a more pragmatic state of mind. Considering that Polanco posted a .364 wOBA last year against left-handed pitching, compared to just .281 against right-handers, might a platoon be in order?

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65 comments

  1. Andrew R.

    October 15, 2011 08:03 PM

    @Phillies697… Why? Boston lost their Golden Boys Francona and Epstein. Ortiz wants out. Beckett, Lester and Lackey play video games and eat chicked in the dug-out during the game, and Kevin Youkilis has been on a steady decline the last 3 years. He is not a $12M player. Boston needs to start doing some things different because with all the money and talent they have, they have now twice failed to make the postseason.

  2. Richard

    October 15, 2011 08:34 PM

    Scott G,

    I agree with that. The big game in the series was game 2. They had a four-run lead and let it get away. I don’t “blame” the whole series loss on Lee either, but I can at least see where such a complaint comes from. The stuff about Utley is just ridiculous. (Even the stuff about Howard is silly. He was a big reason they won game one, and drove in the first two runs in game two. Those early at bats were just as key as his later disappointing ones.)

  3. jauer

    October 15, 2011 09:47 PM

    The Red Sox will trade Youkilis because Josh Beckett likes chicken.

  4. hk

    October 16, 2011 06:56 AM

    Scott G.,

    Lee pitched 6 innings, struck out 9, walked 2 and gave up 0 home runs. If you want to somehow factor line drives into the equation as some sort of qualitative determinant of whether or not a pitcher was hitting his spots, he only gave up 4 or 5 line drives depending upon the website you use. For the game, his FIP was 1.03, his xFIP was 2.28 and his SIERA was 2.23. Personally, if looking to place blame for this series loss, a pitcher who was hurt by 4 or 5 line drives and a few bleeders, bloopers and dribblers (plus one fly ball on which the CF took a parabolic route instead of a direct one) is pretty low on my list.

  5. hk

    October 16, 2011 07:01 AM

    Richard,

    Is it really silly to blame your clean-up hitter when he reached base 3 times in 21 plate appearances? Yes, he was the MVP of the first 11 innings of the series. Unfortunately, the series went 45 innings and Howard disappeared for the final 34 of them.

  6. Richard

    October 16, 2011 07:35 AM

    dude, relax; I’m not saying Howard didn’t disappear, or look terrible in several at bats… though it’s interesting he doesn’t get the same treatment from you that Lee gets: Howard didn’t get any hits in the final 34, but not all of those at bats were part of his “disappearance”. For example, how close was he to a 3-run homer in his second at-bat in game 2? Is there a component of luck there, or not?

  7. JC

    October 16, 2011 08:03 AM

    Richard,

    You could also ask how close Cliff Lee was to striking out Berkman to lead off the fourth.

    Howard doesn’t deserve that same treatment- he struck out 6 times in 20 PA- 30%!

  8. hk

    October 16, 2011 06:40 PM

    Richard,

    I’m very relaxed and I’m surely willing to acknowledge some bad luck for Howard. However, Lee’s .600 BABIP against, especially when STL generated it while hitting only 4 or 5 line drives, seems to me to be much more unlucky than Howard’s two or three outs that maybe should have been hits.

  9. Taggs24

    October 17, 2011 09:24 AM

    Phillies 697 – Actually, I don’t play fantasy baseball and I like Furcal because he is better than Rollins at getting on base – and he still has some wheels. Howard is the investment (right or wrong) and the team has to do the things that make him better – like getting people on base that he can knock in. Offensively, Cuddyer and Furcal would replace Rollins – Polanco off the bench and I bet he would still start half of the games (while Howard is out and to spell Cuddyer and Utley during the year).

  10. JC

    October 17, 2011 11:18 AM

    Rollins had a higher OBP (0.338), wOBA(0.329) and WAR (3.8) than Furcal (0.298, 0.288, 0.5) this past year. The wOBA for their careers is identical and Furcal is a year older.

  11. KevinP

    October 17, 2011 12:41 PM

    I have never believed Polly to be an everyday 3d baseman. In my opinion, the every day grind of making the throws from 3d have contributed to his injuries. There must have been a reason why he came up as a 2d baseman. With the injury to Howard, the Phils should move Chase to 1st and Polly to 2d. I’d rather have Big John in the outfield. We may be looking at Martinez at SS for a half season until they decide Freddy G can handle major league hitting. Keep in mind that he is just now maturing and has recently developed the strength required to hit more successfully at the major league level.

  12. LTG

    October 17, 2011 03:54 PM

    Wait… move Utley to 1st and Polly to 2nd, even though Utley is the better 2nd baseman. Why not move Polly to 1st? In fact, if he has to be in the lineup, why move him from 3rd base? He is a good defensive 3rd baseman, after all. If we have another 3rd baseman that improves the lineup, just sit Polly and use him as a bench player.

  13. Wint6774

    November 06, 2011 03:16 PM

    Well, it has begun. Thome signed! I frankly do not see Howard returning from this injury, and if he does he will be less than an average player hitting .215 with 18 Hr and 60 Rbi seasons…. Sorry Howard, for the freak injury to end your carrer.

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