Apparently the Phillies have just signed former Cub/Giant/LSU Tiger infielder Mike Fontenot. Fontenot, 31, was absolutely brilliant in 284 plate appearances in 2008, blasting out a .305/.395/.514 slash line for a Chicago Cubs team that won 97 games, then had an NLDS that made the second half of Sunshine look like an episode of VeggieTales, clearing the way for the Phillies to waltz to the pennant and, eventually, the World Series title.
But apart from that, Fontenot has been around replacement level (or beneath it) for pretty much his entire major-league career. He walks some, and is a competent defender around the infielder. But he hit .227 last year and doesn’t hit for any power, so his offensive contributions are pretty much a wash. I guess he can’t be any worse than Pete Orr, so we’ve got that going for us.
Mike Fontenot is what you’d get if you took one of the blanks from the cloning factory in The Sixth Day and asked for about 5-foot-8 worth of utility infielder. He’s about as nondescript a ballplayer as you can get, or he would be if he hadn’t been both a college and professional teammate of Ryan Theriot, who is not nondescript. Theriot is just terrible. I guess he’s Cajun, so he’s got that going for him–at least he’d taste kinda spicy if you ate him. But anyway, it’s hard to get too upset about the signing in a vacuum. The Phillies are without two starting infielders, and they’re relying on a rookie and a career minor leaguer, so Fontenot provides depth.
However, if this is somehow an indication that Chase Utley is going to be out longer than expected, or if Fontenot takes significant playing time away from Freddy Galvis, then I could imagine this signing causing alarm. Otherwise, he’s just a a guy. So while Fontenot doesn’t really do anything well, he doesn’t do anything badly enough to warrant jumping off a bridge. If he’s a 200-plate-appearance bench guy and a set of late-inning legs, this could be a decent pickup. But if Fontenot (who was cut by the Giants this spring, mind you) is expected to start every day, then, well….we might have issues.