Placido Polanco has signed a three-year $18 million contract with the Philadelphia Phillies, ending speculation as to whom would replace Pedro Feliz at the hot corner in the City of Brotherly Love. The Phillies beat out the Red Sox and Astros for the veteran Dominican’s services.
At the end of the season, when the Phillies opted to not accept the option on Feliz’s $5.5 million deal, Philadelphia began its pursuit of a new third sacker. With no real prospects in the minors (the only possible replacement was Jason Donald, but he was sent to Cleveland in the Cliff Lee deal), the Phillies hit the free agent trail. With Chone Figgins priced too high for the Phillies’ pocket books, the defending NL champs looked to Mark DeRosa, Adrian Beltre, and Polanco.
Best Phit in Philly
In the end, GM Ruben Amaro felt that Polanco fit best into the Phillies batting order. While they lose a little bit defensively over the slick fielding Feliz, they pick up some offense and add an element to their lineup that they didn’t previously have.
The new third basemen has been a two-time gold glove winner at second base, but he doesn’t appear worried to be moving over to third where’s he’s played just nine games since 2004.
“I played third base in college,” said Polanco who played at Miami-Dade. He made just two errors last season. Polanco has played 322 games at third over his career.
Polanco is a career .303 hitter versus Feliz’s .254 so that’s definitely an upgrade. Last year, Placido hit .285 with 10 homers and 72 RBI. In the previous two seasons, he hit .307 and a sizzling .341 in 2007.
One of the things the Phillies love about Polanco is his strikeout ratio. Over his career, Polanco has struckout just once in 17.5 at bats–second best in the MLB. Polanco is a pure # 2 contact hitter in a lineup that strikes out a lot and doesn’t do a great job of moving runners over. With Polanco likely in the two hole, it allows the Phillies to move Shane Victorino to the seventh spot. That gives the Phillies an all-star in the first seven spots in the lineup!
Polanco: 2010 Fantasy Baseball Outlook
Some fantasy baseball managers may feel as though the 34-year-old Polanco is on the downside, based on his declining batting average over the past three seasons. But, you have to remember that Polanco hit 17 homeruns in his last full season in Philly in 2004. And, now he gets to hit in that bandbox of Citizen’s Bank Park while facing a lot of left-handed pitchers that opposing managers like to throw against the left-handed heavy Phillies. Moreover, he’ll be protected by Chase Utley and Ryan Howard.
The other cool thing about Polanco is that he’ll start the season ranked as a second baseman and will soon be eligible at third base as well in fantasy baseball. Therefore, we believe Polanco has received a significant bump in his fantasy baseball value thanks to the move to the Phillies.
Victorino & Rollins: More Stolen Bases in Phillies Phuture
If Polanco hits # 2 as we expect, that means that Victorino moves to the #7 hole. That can only help Victorino as well. Hitting # 2 last year, there were many times when Charlie Manuel did not run Shane with the big bats of Utley, Howard, Jayson Werth, and Raul Ibanez behind him. In the # 7 spot, he’ll get more chances to show his speed and you’ll likely see Victorino stealing 45 or more bases in 2010 versus the 36 he swiped in 2009.
The other possibility (and many Phillies fans would love this) is that Victorino would move to the leadoff spot and Jimmie Rollins (who doesn’t walk enough to be a leadoff hitter), who has more power than Shane, would move to the 7 spot. With Polanco and his outstanding bat control in the 2 spot, you can bet that whomever the Phillies choose to hit leadoff (Victorino or Rollins) will show 15 more stolen bases in the 2010 fantasy baseball season.