Thursday, December 3, 2009

Who's On Third? Placido Polanco!

Yes, his head is incredibly bulbous and, no, I don't know why. But Placido Polanco is your new third baseman whether you like it or not.

Today, the Phillies and Polanco agreed to a three-year, $18 million dollar contract. The contract also includes a mutual option for 2013 for $5.5 million. Of course, like most contracts, Polanco will receive bonuses based on certain achievements such as $100,000 if he wins the NL MVP. I think the Phillies are safe with that one.

At first I hated this move as I would have prefered a player like Mark DeRosa (more power) or Adrian Beltre (better glove). However, after looking at it closer, I can see the merits of this deal:

1) Just like his mentor Pat Gillick, Ruben Amaro Jr. likes to act quickly. He likes to identify who he wants and get him as soon as possible. His goal, as I see it, is to set the market before others do, which can drive the price up. He'd rather pay $6 million for Polanco now, then wait, have the price go up and then have to overpay for him (or another guy) later.

2) Polanco, unlike DeRosa, won't cost a draft pick. Signing Polanco, a Type A free agent, would normally cost the Phillies their first round pick. However, the Tigers did not offer Polanco arbitration and thus forfeited the right to compensation. DeRosa, who was offered arbitration by the Cardinals, would have cost a first round pick on top of a multi-year deal. The Phillies believe a team is built on the farm (as evidenced by this ranking) and would like to hold onto that pick in what is supposed to be a pitching heavy draft.

3) The Phillies wanted to replace Pedro Feliz with a guy who could offer a better bat in this lineup. Polanco is a career .303 hitter and has never struck out more than 46 times in a season (granted that was last year). He's a "professional hitter", a guy who moves runners and makes contact. He won't hit for power, doesn't walk and he isn't that fast but he should make for a more consistent hitter in the two hole than Shane "Pop-Up" Victorino. Plus it allow Victorino to give us some speed toward the bottom of the lineup, for what that's worth.

However, I do have my problems with this move:

1) Polanco isn't a third baseman. Normally this wouldn't matter, except that the Phillies want him to play third base. I know that Polanco has won two Gold Gloves at second base but he hasn't played third since 2005 (and that was just nine games). That's a long ass time ago, fuck, I was still in college banging random broads. Well, probably not, but TO was doing sit-ups in his driveway and Ryan Howard was a rookie. Yes, his career fielding percentage at third is better than Pedro's, but I'm not buying he'll be an upgrade defensively.

2) Three years is a long contract to give a 34 year-old. I understand why you have to do it, as his agent likely wouldn't have let him sign it so early if they only offered two years. But that doesn't mean it's smart. Additionally, signing him so early won't let Ruben see if bargains could have been had in a month or two. The Angels waited last year and ended up with Bobby Abreu at $5 million on a one-year pact. Will a similiar bargain be available this year? We won't find out now.

3) His head is friggin' huge. Honestly, it bothers the shit out of me. I don't understand why it's so big and probably will never found out. I just hate that I'm going to wonder that for the next three years. I swear his head wasn't that big in 2005, but whatever.

Overall, I'd probably give the move a C+, that is if I was authorized to give grades for this sort of thing. I have my reservations on how good he'll be at third and I really didn't want to take a hit there defensively. If Polanco hits .300, scores his usual 90+ runs and continues his good situational hitting then I'm sure this move will work (at least for 2010). But if his offense regresses, like it had last year before a red-hot September, then this move is less than stellar. In the end I'm willing to bet we'll hate this contract in two years, but for now, I suppose it might work.

But, honestly, why the fuck is his head so big???


  1. I think hes gotten into Mr. Burns' nerve tonic like Griffey did back in the mid 90's

  2. I was pulling for DeRosa myself, and have some reservations about Polanco, but am optimistic overall. I'll be completely on board with this if the Phils use the money saved on this deal to re-sign Cliff Lee.

  3. I read this morning that Beltre was at least $10M and DeRosa wants $9M. If that is the case, then signing Polanco for $3M less might just make sense. Again, that remains to be seen once everyone signs contracts.