Placido Polanco Philly-Bound: What It Does For Phils (and Everyone Else)

December 3, 2009 by  
Filed under Fan News

It has been nearly half a decade since Placido Polanco donned the red Philadelphia Phillies pinstripes, but he will soon do it again, according to an

While a fairly innocuous signing in and of itself, this move could have major implications in a number of disparate ways. Polanco will reportedly receive roughly $18 million over three years, with a fourth-year option, and will move to third base for Philadelphia after winning two Gold Gloves in the last three seasons at second base.

The signing marks the end of the Phillies’ pursuits (if indeed they had ever begun) of free-agent third basemen Mark DeRosa and Chone Figgins. For DeRosa, Philadelphia had seemed the most apparent destination, and it would now seem that he will return to the St. Louis Cardinals, for whom he played in the second half of 2009. Figgins, meanwhile, has no dearth of suitors, and should find the market for his services relatively unaffected by Polanco’s pact with Philadelphia.

Unaffected, that is, except insofar as this deal says something surprising about the free-agent market this off-season. If the reported terms are accurate, Polanco’s deal (which he would sign at age 34, and which could carry him nearly to his fortieth birthday) signifies a turnaround from the highly conservative spending patterns of last winter, because it exceeds what this reporter (or most others who watched Polanco have his worst offensive season since 2005, and second-worst ever, in 2009) thought Polanco would have any chance to command on the open market.

Given that kind of inflation, DeRosa, Figgins and other mid-level free agents can demand more than they otherwise might. Second basemen benefit especially, because the market at that position got a notch less deep when Polanco signed on as a third baseman instead.

It is true that Polanco, who rarely strikes out, is a .303 career hitter with doubles power, and his two Gold Gloves no doubt led the Phillies to value him highly as a potential third baseman, especially because he has experience at the position. Still, for a player who appears to be trending predictably downward at age 35, the price they paid for Polanco is somewhat steep.

One more inexplicable assertion made in the story should raise alarms in the minds of Phillies fans. According to the article, Polanco “could bat between lead-off hitter Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley at the top of the Phillies lineup.” Firstly, this is a dangerous statement, because it makes clear the Phils’ intent to keep Rollins (and his .296 OBP last season) in the top slot in their order.

Just as important, however, it clearly implies that Philadelphia intends to move center fielder Shane Victorino down in the order. Victorino, who posted a .358 OBP and slugged .445 least year, is a much better fit in the lead-off spot than in Rollins. Rollins now profiles more like a sixth or seventh hitter than a lead-off man, and if the Phillies don’t make that adjustment, they will not get to reap the benefits of one of the most talented offenses in recent memory.

Ultimately, the move still makes sense for Philadelphia, at least until they decide where to bat each player in their lineup. Polanco is a steady, solid second hitter with a well-established track record of offensive and defensive success. It does, however, tell us all some things about the way this winter will unfold, things we might not have expected to be true.

Read more Philadelphia Phillies news on

Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Speak Your Mind

Tell us what you're thinking...