On July 31, 2012, the Phillies decided to gamble. It was an enormous bet made by owner Ruben Amaro Jr. He traded OF Hunter Pence to the San Francisco Giants for OF Nate Schierholtz, minor league C Tommy Joseph and RHP Seth Rosin.
At the time, Pence wasn’t having a dominant season like many of us saw in prior years. But it wasn’t a throw-in-the-towel kind of season either. Before being traded he was carrying a .271 batting average, had hit 17 HRs and 59 RBIs. Not a terrible season at all. He had value and Amaro was shopping him around. Amaro’s misguided instinct allowed him to sell even more after having traded Shane Victorino. The gamble would pay off, or it simply wouldn’t. There was no middle ground. I guess hindsight is 20/20. It was a mistake to trade Pence and the Phillies are still paying for it today.
Let’s take a look at the players the Phils picked up. First, Tommy Joseph has been banged up and riddled with health issues during the 2013 season. He’s been playing hopscotch via Lehigh Valley, Reading and Clearwater. He hasn’t done a thing and can’t stay healthy. Rosin has an ERA of 4.33 (and a 5.30 over his last 10 games) with the Reading Fightin’ Phils. His win-loss record is 9-6. Joseph and Rosin are clearly nonfactors within the farm system and there doesn’t seem to be much hope in bringing them up to Philly anytime soon.
The real kick in the crotch has been Schierholtz. He isn’t even on the team anymore after he signed a 1-year deal with the Chicago Cubs last December. He’s currently batting at .266, has 19 HRs and 51 RBIs. How do his stats compare to the Phillies current outfielders who have been consistent starters as of late? A very strong argument can be made that the Phils should have kept him on board. Let’s take a look at the outfield.
John Mayberry Jr. BA: .241 HR: 10 RBI: 38
Domonic Brown BA: .275 HR: 27 RBI: 80
Darin Ruf BA: .263 HR: 11 RBI: 19
Frankly, these are some pretty rough numbers. As we know, Ruf was only brought up from Lehigh Valley a short time ago and he’s been killing for the Phillies. While he should have been brought up much earlier in the season, we’ll leave that argument for another time or another podcast. He’s a glimmer of hope for the future. Mayberry’s numbers aren’t what they should be. He’s inconsistent and just plain stinks. I just can’t see him accelerating his play beyond what it is now. As we know, Brown’s been one of the only highlights on the team this year. The outfield is still in shambles.
Let’s take a look at Hunter Pence’s stats. He’s batting .278, has 16 HRs and 67 RBIs. The RBIs are key here. Reports are saying the Phillies are on pace to score 611 runs in 2013. That would mark the franchise’s fewest in a non-strike-shortened season since 1988. The team could have not only used a player like Pence in the dugout and in the outfield, but they could have used those runs.
Listen, I know some deals and trades work out. Others don’t. This horrible trade of 2012 has had long-term negative impact. Philly was in panic mode, and for good reason, after hearing the news that Pence was no longer on the team.
Let’s jump to the start of this season. OF Ben Revere got off to an extremely slow start in April and then came on a bit strong before his season-ending injury. We’ve saw the utter flop of OF Delmon Young. OF Michael Martinez saw time in the outfield…ugh…no words. It has been a game of plugging holes. It’s that simple and that mismanaged.
You don’t get rid of consistent ball players like Hunter Pence unless you know you’re really going to get something positive on the return. Seems like simple math. He would have at least brought stability to the outfield and given this team more runs in clutch situations. Thus, more wins. Even though the Phils would have likely been going through a rebuilding stage, regardless, Pence would have kept this team relevant.