Are Phillies really considering Placido Polanco?

Tigers vs. Royals

Jim Salisbury of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes that the Phillies have Placido Polanco on their wishlist to play third base.

While Salisbury doesn’t comment on whether Polanco is actually coveted ahead of Adrian Beltre or Mark DeRosa or simply a fallback, I remain horrified that this would be under consideration at all.

The argument for Polanco is that he is clearly a gifted defender at second base and despite his batting average falling for three consecutive seasons — both by .40 and .20 point swings — still remains an able hitter. He’s coming off a .285/.331/.396 line, and will enter his age 34 season in 2010.

However, the Phillies are in a situation where they have some money to burn (they’re even linked to Chone Figgins, who will be the big-buck third baseman du jour). To consider Polanco in the mix for the third base job, then, is rather nonsensical to me, with three better options ahead of him. You’re talking about taking a player who has played second base exclusively over the last four years and predominantly for his career (1,014 career games at second, 322 at third)… and make him a full-time third baseman?

I feel comfortable in the assumption that Polanco’s best-case scenario would be to be as good on defense as Pedro Feliz, the outgoing 3B. Then benefit, then, would stand to occur on finances and the offensive ledger. With Polly’s .727 OPS (his career OPS in the American League is higher than the NL, so I’m not going to assume a benefit moving to the weaker league) in 2009 as opposed to Feliz’s .694, I’d personally walk away from Polanco — not running the risk of the conversion to third failing miserably and Polanco’s higher price tag.

If Polanco is their fallback option, then I buy the Phillies’ interest. If they’re seriously considering Polanco at third, however, I’m bearish on a third straight NL pennant.

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  1. Nick Steiner said...

    Polanco’s wOBA this year was .321, that’s bad, but not terrible given a league average of .330.  However, you can’t just take one season into account when valuing a player.  In his two previous season, Polanco put up wOBA’s of .339 and .371.  That suggests that his true talent level is higher than the .321 he showed this year.  Furthermore, his defense at second has been wonderful, and it’s been shown that guys who play second well play third just as well, hence the equal positional adjustments. 

    If you’ve got Polanco as an average hitter and an above average defender, that’s a pretty damn good player.  He’s about as good as Beltre or Figgins; and will likely be cheaper.  I think this is a very defensible move if they were to sign Polanco.

  2. RuffinTumble said...

    Wait, you’re basically saying that the hopes of the Phillies third straight pennant hinges on signing Polanco as opposed to Figgins or Beltre? Sure the two aformentioned 3B are more attractive, but the former scenario would insert Polanco into a Rollins, Victorino, Utley, Howard, Werth, Ibanez, and Ruiz line-up. That’s STILL a World Series line-up.

  3. Jesse said...

    “You’re talking about taking a player who has played second base exclusively over the last four years and predominantly for his career (1,014 career games at second, 322 at third)… and make him a full-time second baseman?”
    It seems reasonable enough, really.

  4. smfiv said...

    You also forgot to mention that Polanco is a Type A free agent and if the Tigers offer him arbitration, the Phillies would be giving up their first round draft pick to sign him. This would be a terrible mistake.

  5. Jay Ballz said...

    I think the Phils will get Beltre, although Figgins is similar enough to Victorino that he’d make Shane expendable.  And that could be good for the Phillies as Michael Taylor becomes MLB ready, with another prospect, Domonic Brown not too far behind.

  6. Evan Brunell said...

    RuffinTumble: No, just bearish on them in general. They’ll have given three years to Ibanez for a lot more money than any comps got, then signing Polanco to play third. It makes me not confident in their decisions, period.

  7. Sean Smith said...

    Tigers are stuck with some really bad contracts and intend to go cheap at 2B next year – I strongly doubt Polanco gets offered arbitration, and the potential of an additional 7-8 million on the Tiger payroll.

    I think the only way they get a draft pick is if somebody signs Placido before the arbitration deadline.

  8. JE said...

    Don’t forget that the Phils are looking to fill two infield needs: Third base and utility – someone who could spell Utley and Rollins to give those guys more rest over the season. It would seem to me that’s why guys like DeRosa and Polanco remain attractive.

  9. RuffinTumble said...

    Evan, don’t get me wrong here. I agree with you to an extent. I don’t want the Phillies to sign Polanco either; as long as Beltre, Figgins, Kouzmanoff, etc. are options. I just don’t think that signing Polanco hurts their chances to repeat as NL champs in 2010. Beyond 2010 is a different issue. Losing picks due to his Type A status would hurt the team down the road and a possible 3 year deal would handcuff them as well.

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