Thursday, December 3, 2009

Polanco Returns to Philly

Placido Polanco has signed a three-year, $18 million contract with the Philadelphia Phillies. There is a mutual option for the 2013 season.

Polanco hit .285 with 10 home runs and a career high 72 RBI with the Detroit Tigers in 2009. With Chase Utley enconsed at second base, Polanco will move to third base. It is a position he has played previously. Last month, the Phillies declined their 2010 option on Pedro Feliz. He had been their third baseman the past two seasons.

I like Polanco but I don't think he's an improvement over Feliz. In fact, I would say they are very comparable and evenly matched. Both are 34 years old and are from the Dominican Republic. Feliz is barely six months older than Polanco.

Now it's true that Polanco's lifetime batting average entering 2010 is nearly 50 points higher than Feliz (.303 to .254) but neither of them walk very much. Feliz gives you slightly more production. Due to his back problems, Feliz doesn't have the home run power he had while with the Giants but he can still drive in runs. He knocked in 82 RBI with the Phillies in 2009. Feliz has also cut down significantly on his strikeouts.

Feliz did struggle during the 2009 post-season. If you take his numbers during the NLDS, NLCS and World Series, Feliz went 9 for 54. With a post-season batting average of .167, Feliz wasn't hitting his weight. Although to be fair, he did go 3 for 4 with a game tying two run home run in Game 4 of the World Series. Unfortunately, the Yankees figured out Brad Lidge. The Phillies lost 7-4 and would be eliminated the following night.

I can't imagine a team not picking up Feliz. Although he has mostly played third, he can also play in the outfield, first base, shortstop and was once an emergency catcher when with the Giants. It's a shame he doesn't fit into the Phillies plans.

But Philadelphia isn't unfamiliar terrain for Polanco. He played there for two and a half seasons before was traded to the Tigers in June 2005 for reliever Ugueth Urbina and utility infielder Ramon Martinez. Neither exactly made Phillies history while Polanco was a key member of a Tiger team that won the 2006 AL championship.

So the Phillies haven't got themselves a substantial improvement but they haven't lost anything either.

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