Evaluating The Phillies Remaining Free Agent Outfield Options
Posted 12/11/2012 4:00:00 PM

After a quiet start to the Hot Stove league, Ruben Amaro, Jr. and the Phillies finally started to make some moves when they agreed to acquire third basemen Michael Young from the Texas Rangers and then the  24-year-old Ben Revere from the Cleveland Indians.

With third base and centerfield covered heading into the season, the front office’s attention turns towards acquiring a corner outfielder who can hit the ball with some power. The Phillies’ two newest additions hit a grand total of eight homeruns in 2012 and while the team is straying from the big bopper offense that brought them back to prominence six years.

The three free agent names that make the most sense for the Phillies at this stage of the game are Josh Hamilton, Cody Ross and Nick Swisher.

Here’s what each of them did in 2012 and some of the pros and cons in bringing them into Philly.

Josh Hamilton (2012: 636 PA, 103 R, 160 H, 43 HR, 128 RBI .285/.354/.577/.930)
Obviously Hamilton is the cream of the free agent crop and would instantly cure most of what ails the Phillies. He could legitimately threaten to hit 50-plus homeruns by virtue of playing 81 games in the friendly confines of Citizens Bank Park and would combine with Ryan Howard to form one of the most dangerous one-two punches in all of baseball.

Cons: Hamilton’s personal demons are well documented. While he has been on the straight and narrow for the most part in recent years there is always a chance that Hamilton slips up. Also, while the baseball media in Philadelphia isn’t as intense as the pack that covers the Eagles there is no comparing the attention that Hamilton gets in Texas to what he would get if he were to come to Philadelphia. Hamilton also isn’t the most durable of players as he played just 89 games in 2009, 133 in 2010 and 121 in 2011. Oh, and he’s left handed.

Cody Ross (2012: 528 PA, 70 R, 127 H, 22 HR, 81 RBI .267/.326/.481/.807)
Phillies fans know Ross well as he single-handedly killed the Phillies in the 2010 NLCS when hit .350 with three doubles, three home runs and five RBIs. For the amount of money it would cost to sign him you’ll get some nice production but of the three Ross is probably the least attractive. He’s a righty and this team desperately needs any kind of power that they can get from the right side of the plate.  

Cons: Again there is a durability issue with Ross as he played 121 games for the Giants in 2011 and 130 for Boston last season. While he has some power, it’s been inconsistent throughout his career. His 22 homeruns last year were the most he’s hit since 2009 when he slugged 24 for Florida. Like Hamilton and Swisher, he is another high strikeout guy but he doesn’t get on base at the rate that they do. His 162 game averages for strikeouts and on-base percentage are 128 and .324. Not terrible but not great, either.

Nick Swisher (2012: 624 PA, 75 R, 146 H, 24 HR, 93 RBI .272/.364/.473/.837)
Of the three options for the Phillies, Swisher might make the most sense. Before last season (when he appeared in 148 games), Swisher played in 150 or more games in six straight years. He bats from both sides of the plate and can work a walk when necessary. His price will be a little high, probably north of the $10 million per year mark, but he should provide enough production to justify the price tag.

Cons: The majority of Swisher’s power comes from the left side of the plate as he has hit 162 career bombs as a lefty to 47 as a righty. His arm is starting to deteriorate as he went from 10 outfield assists in 2010 to nine in 2011 to four last season. Swisher has also been an American League player for the entirety of his career so he would have to adjust to an entirely new group of pitchers. His postseason performances haven’t been that great as he owns a .169 batting average in 46 career postseason games.

Outlook: It’s looking more and more like Hamilton might be forced to sign a lucrative short-term deal. Three years, $75 million might be enough to get it done for the Phillies and we all know how Ruben likes to make a free agent splash. Still, with multiple positions that need addressing, the smart money is on Hamilton landing elsewhere and Amara using the money he would’ve used to sign him to improve in several different areas.

After Hamilton is off the market or the Phillies move on then it’s a gamble as to who they will sign. They might end up getting “stuck” with Ross and Swisher is a big enough name who performed well enough in New York to garner one last four to five year free agent deal.

Posted By: John Lamb  

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