Come Back, Nate Schierholtz
Outfielder Nate Schierholtz was a throw-in when the Phillies traded Hunter Pence to the San Francisco Giants last July. Catching prospect Tommy Joseph and pitching prospect Seth Rosin were the real prizes. Schierholtz’s 73 plate appearances with the Phillies in August and September were underwhelming as well, reinforcing the indifference, as the lefty posted a .273/.319/.379 line with one home run while missing a few weeks with a broken toe.
During the off-season, the Phillies were given the choice of keeping Schierholtz around in his second year of arbitration eligibility, in which he would receive a raise on his 2012 salary of $1.3 million, or non-tender Schierholtz to save themselves the money. Despite Schierholtz’s relative cheapness (his 2013 salary of $2.25 million represents 1.4 percent of the Phillies’ Opening Day payroll) and diverse skill set (great defense and works well in a platoon), the Phillies chose the second option, letting Schierholtz go, only to be picked up by the Cubs. The Phillies ended up signing Delmon Young to play right field at $750,000 even though he was injured and required weight loss incentives in his contract.
As of this writing, the Phillies have received the second-worst OPS from their outfielders in the National League with a .669 OPS. Young is only part of the problem, as Ben Revere, Laynce Nix, and John Mayberry have all left something to be desired when they’ve been in the outfield. Schierholtz, meanwhile, is thriving in Chicago with a .288/.320/.496 line having taken 88.5 percent of his plate appearances against right-handed pitching. Among Cubs with at least 60 PA, Schierholtz’s .209 isolated power is second only to Anthony Rizzo. His ISO would trail only Domonic Brown if he were still a Phillie (assuming equivalent production).
There has never been an explanation as to why the Phillies didn’t want to keep Schierholtz around, especially at his price. Nor is it really clear what the Phillies saw in Young. Maybe his gaudy RBI total and small sample success in the post-season. At any rate, it is just another example, in a big pile of them, of the Phillies missing the mark when it comes to talent evaluation.
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