Friday, July 29, 2011

Winning the hunt

Man, this is going to suck three years down the road.

But who has the luxury of thinking about the future? The Phillies certainly won't have to deal with paying for any luxury, that's for sure, but with no World Series trophy at the end of this season, they'll pay with the thunderous boos emanating from Citizens Bank Park.

Enter: Hunter Pence.

The Phillies gave away their final bargaining chips in the farm system - Jarred Cosart, Jonathan Singleton, Josh Zeid and a player to be named later - going all in for what could be their last shot for ultimate glory. The recipient for the second straight July was their old friend, Ed Wade, who sent that key righty bat from the Houston Astros packing.

To be sure, Pence is no Jayson Werth. He's not going to put together any 20-20 seasons or walk once or twice every game. His career OPS of .818 is also a bit underwhelming.

It also would not have been that great of a risk for the Phillies to make no moves before the Trade Deadline and try to win it all with what they had. To this point, their group of players gave them the best record in baseball, and with Chase Utley back and healthy, the offense was showing shades of its former robust self (evidence once again in Friday's 10-3 win over the Pirates).

However, this move means that Shane Victorino will no longer be burdened with occupying the No. 5 hole - a place no one should have expected his presence at any future time when he first came to Philadelphia. A guy with a little pop in his bat (Pence has hit 25 homers in each of the last three seasons) will provide adequate protection for Ryan Howard, and Victorino will no longer have to be the only member of the .300 club.

The big right field issue has also been solved by this trade, as the Phillies are getting an upgrade at the plate and in the field. The Ben Francisco Experiment was DOA, and now the team doesn't need to wait for Domonic Brown's bat to come around. He can return to the bench or build his confidence back up in Triple A. He'll get his chance again next year when Raul Ibanez leaves. I'm relieved the Phillies didn't deal Brown to make this trade work. While some may view the present one as shortsighted, shipping off Brown would have made no sense.

Pence is one of the more amiable fellows playing the game, which will make him popular in Philadelphia. He'll stay long enough to make a good impression, too, because he's not eligible for free agency until after the 2013 season.

It remains to be seen if Pence's bat and glove make the difference in October, but it'll be nice to see a new face in that lineup, and Pence's presence only adds assurance to a fifth straight NL East title. Plus, the guy's name is Hunter. How can you go wrong?

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