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.