Sunday, July 4, 2010

Phillies May Not Have The Players To Cope With Recent Injuries

When Phillies’ All-Star second baseman Chase Utley went down with a thumb injury, the Phillies’ offense took a huge hit. At the time of the injury, Utley was hitting .277/.383/.466 for the Phillies who currently sit in 3rd place in the NL East.

Two days earlier, Placido Polanco was placed on the disabled list with inflammation in his left elbow. The most logical player to replace Utley at second base and current starting third baseman for the team was hitting .318/.349/.433 during his first year back with Philadelphia after signing with the team as a free agent this past off-season.

Jimmy Rollins is now back as the team’s starting shortstop, hitting .282/.392/.518 in just 23 games. But beyond Rollins, the back-ups have been less than stellar.

Replacing Rollins at shortstop for much of the year has been the light-hitting Wilson Valdez, who hit .269/.289/.414 during Rollins’ absence. Over at third base, the Phillies have had Greg Dobbs play most of the time there in the absence of Polanco, and Dobbs has hit just .163/.230/.238. Recently, the Phillies brought up Cody Ransom who is a career .236/322/.401 hitter.

With guys like Valdez, Dobbs and Ransom in the lineup, the Phillies can’t expect much in the way of offense. Add to that the less-than-stellar defensive ability of the trio, and it is clear that the Phillies need to acquire some help if they wish to get to the post-season.

The Red Sox and Rockies have also suffered injuries to key players such as Dustin Pedroia and Troy Tulowitzki. But the one thing the Phillies have is a reliable replacement at second base in Polanco. When he returns in just a few weeks, it would be a good idea to have the Phillies place him at second base in the absence of Utley and acquire a new player to play third base.

Polanco has already played 20 innings at second base this season while starting two games there, and won a Gold Glove for his performance at the position in 2007 and 2009 so it is clear that he would make an excellent temporary replacement and may even outperform Utley defensively.

Aside from Domonic Brown, the Phillies have a rather poor farm system at the moment. Over the past year, they have used much of it to acquire players such as Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay. Despite the fact that it certainly grades lower than it did at this time last year, and Phillies still have some serviceable prospects that could potentially net them a rental player nearing free agency. Although it’s not necessarily always ideal to trade for rental players, I see very few options for the Phillies at the moment.

By looking at the Phillies’ minor league system, it is clear that they will have to look outside the organization if they want reliable reinforcements. With the presence of Polanco on the team, the Phillies have the option of shopping for third basemen as well, which could make things a little easier on them.

With guys like Miguel Tejada, Jorge Cantu and Christian Guzman projecting as Type A or B free agents at the moment, teams may ask for a little more than what the Phillies could potentially give. Unfortunately, they may be stuck with dealing for lesser players such as Edwin Encarnacion, Jose Lopez or Jhonny Peralta.

Despite the fact that looking outside of the organization may be the best option for the team to improve itself immediately, how will it affect the team in the long run? We’ve already seen them trade away guys like Kyle Drabek, Jason Donald and Michael Taylor in attempts to improve the team immediately. Only time will tell what the Phillies should do. But their current 3-6 skid against the Blue Jays, Reds and Pirates with more games coming against the Braves and Reds before the All-Star break, should have fans slightly worried that if nothing is done to improve this team soon, they may be out of contention.