One major goal of the Phillies' offseason was to beef up their bench. They invested in veterans Ty Wigginton, Jim Thome, Juan Pierre, and Laynce Nix. The effect is, they have (literally) no options.
The Phillies offense has scored just 43 runs this whole season so far, and continues to deliver underwhelming results:
The one team that came behind the Phillies in all these categories? The Pittsburgh Pirates, whom the Phillies could not beat in a three-game series.
Can they make any moves, given the current makeup of the roster? Well, from my count, the Phillies have one offensive player they could option to the minors. Here is the rundown of the roster:
Outfielders:Juan Pierre – Veteran, would need to be releasedJohn Mayberry – Out of options, would need to pass through waiversShane Victorino - Veteran, would need to be released/consent (of course they won't)Hunter Pence- Veteran, would need to be released/consent (of course they won'tLaynce Nix -Veteran, would need to be released or give consent (along w/ his full salary for next year, too)
InfieldersTy Wigginton - Veteran, would need to be released and salary paid or give consentJim Thome - Veteran, would need to be released and salary paid or give consentFreddy Galvis – Optionable to minorsPete Orr – Optionable to minorsJimmy Rollins - Veteran, would need to be released/consent (of course they won't)Placido Polanco - Veteran, would need to be released/consent
CatchersCarlos Ruiz - Veteran, would need to be released/consent Brian Schneider - Veteran, would need to be released/consent
So basically the only two offensive parts on the roster that are moveable are Freddy Galvis and Pete Orr.
I'm not sure there's any easy person to cut, either.
Laynce Nix? Well, the Phillies gave Nix a two-year deal. I'm not sure I would have done that with a player such as Nix. I would have preferred the Phillies sign someone who had minor league options left and was there as the result of a roster crunch; those players were to be had. The problem with Nix is that he is no longer the defender he once was. Would any Phillies fan unfamiliar with him even believe that he has played more center field than any other position?
Ty Wigginton? Same positional issues as Nix; Wigginton cannot really play second base anymore, they have not tried him in the outfield, and is only marginal at third base. His best position right now is first base, but he does not provide the offense of a first baseman.
Jim Thome? I don't think they would ever do that to Thome. They signed him knowing full-well who he is, and are prepared to keep him until retirement. Releasing him in his last season would be the ultimate insult to one of baseball's finest ballplayers and finest men.
Placido Polanco? I've heard some suggest this. I doubt that his rough start is that indiciative of who he still is. Either way, Polanco still has a smooth glove and if anything, the Phillies could bench him in favor of someone else. Having that glove on the bench instead of Pete Orr would not be the worst thing in the world.
John Mayberry The Phillies really invested little for Mayberry; this was a flamed-out-prospect for flamed-out-prospect swap. The team optioned him to the minors in 2009, 2010, and 2011, so this is it for him. I suppose he retains some value; they could trade Mayberry for a fringe low-level prospect. I doubt they would need to straight cut Mayberry. It would be a shame if they did, because he could still be a solid fourth outfielder with decent defense and some speed, even if it turns out that he is not a starter.
Freddy Galvis/Pete Orr These two remain the moving parts for when (if) Chase Utley or Ryan Howard return. The Phillies could conceivably add an outfield bat still and option out Pete Orr. The way the Phillies could deal with an injury to Rollins is slide Galvis over to shortstop; Ty Wigginton can back up Polanco and Galvis at second. It's not ideal, but if they can get the right bat, why not, given the circumstances?
I would be in favor of some sort of shakeup. I don't know what they could do. My next post will examine some offensive options in the league the Phillies could take right now that are better than what they have.