When the Phillies ultimately decided not to retain Nate Schierholtz after acquiring him from San Francisco last season in the deal that shipped Hunter Pence to the eventual World Series champions, the assumption was that they were more interested in going after a right-handed bat. This theory was supported when the Phils signed free agent Delmon Young to a one-year deal after off-the-field incidents presumably cost the 2012 ALCS MVP a return contract to the Tigers. At just $750 K for a 27-year old with a lot of offensive upside to serve as a platoon player, there were reasons to like the contract even if his defense was well-known to be suspect. That would be under the assumption that they were taking a calculated risk at a low cost to use more money elsewhere.
Well, questions have arisen about the motive behind this signing now that we know a certain West Coast rookie phenom was also on the Phillies radar as a Cuban defector. Dodgers’ slugger Yasiel Puig has been no stranger to general manager Ruben Amaro. According to a report by the Philadelphia Daily News this week, Puig was on the Phillies’ radar as a possibility for their outfield in 2013 and beyond, but deemed him a “risky” pursuit. Apparently, the concerning risk had little to do with talent and more to do with the cost it would take to have his talents in Phils’ pinstripes.
“[The Dodgers] decided it was worth the risk to go and throw big-time money him. You hope those things work out,” Amaro told the Daily News.
The Phillies are printing money at Citizens Bank Park at this point. Here’s hoping they aren’t “rewarding” the fans by becoming too careful with their money. Big market teams aren’t supposed to pass on guys they think will be studs for players they hope can outperform tiny contracts. Young could make 1,000 errors this season and walk away without doing much harm to the franchise long term, but the price on Puig tormenting them as a member of the National League for an unforeseeable duration of time would be more costly than anything should the 22-year-old, who’s 44 hits during his first month in the Big Leagues is bettered in MLB history by only Joe DiMaggio (48), prove to be a mainstay.
Joe Darrah is co-editor of Philly Sports Jabronis.