December 8, 2012

Does Revere plus Young equal Hamilton?

I don't think anybody thought Ben Revere and Michael Young would end up being the centerfielder and third baseman, respectively, for the Philadelphia Phillies in 2013.

Nice moves? Sure. Revere is cheap speed and defense (although I'm not sure why Ruben Amaro couldn't get him for just Vance Worley), and Young only has a year left on his contract. No one knows if we'll get the 2011 (.338/.380/.474) or the 2012 (.277/.312/.370) version, but for just $6 million it's worth the gamble. And I'm saying that as someone who would've vomited a little at the thought of Michael Young three months ago.

But the real question is, what comes next? This lineup is still short a power bat at one of the corner outfield spots.

To put it more clearly, this lineup is short Josh Hamilton.

Yes, Hamilton is a lefty, but his career .808 OPS versus LHP would've ranked second on the 2012 Phillies. Not second versus lefties, second total. That team as a whole hit .235/.300/.392 against left-handed pitching; they could use some right-handed help, sure, but what they could really use is help in general. And Hamilton is the only bat on the market that might really make a difference.

He's also possibly the biggest wild-card in baseball. Every single team appears hesitant to give him a four-year deal, and every single discussion involving him comes with this mandatory disclaimer: Nobody knows when his body will break down. Also, I'm not sure if you've heard but the Phillies are already saddled with one disastrous contract.

But this team is made up of elderly guys -- sans Revere and lottery tickets Darin Ruf/Domonic Brown -- who aren't getting any younger. 2013 could be the last year in Philadelphia for Chase Utley and Roy Halladay. The prospect cupboard, at least in terms of position players, is pretty bare. The Washington Nationals, already a tremendous young squad, just traded for Denard Span and signed Dan Haren. Dark days may very well be ahead, much worse than going 81-81 in 2012.

So perhaps the smart thing to do, really the only thing to do, is make one more big splash this offseason. If there's a power bat on the trade market and Amaro can dig up the resources to bring him in, fantastic. But it seems to me that these two trades were designed to fill holes and save some money, and I don't think Amaro likes having cash burning holes in his pockets. He's a spender.

Maybe it's not Hamilton; maybe it's Nick Swisher (although I doubt it). But either way, I suspect another move is just over the horizon. And something big, something Hamilton-sized, could both fire up a frustrated fanbase and send a message to an aging group of guys: We're going for this.

"Here are some older dudes who used to play for the Texas Rangers; win us a World Series before they fall apart."

Josh Hamilton or no Josh Hamilton, I don't think the Phillies are actually going to win the World Series in 2013. But I really don't think they're going to win in 2014 or 2015. So if your only option is to overpay a question mark and gun for that outside chance, well, what's the harm in trying?

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