Numbers Game: Phillies deal Pence and Victorino

Scott Cullen
7/31/2012 2:53:58 PM
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In a couple of separate deals, the Philadelphia Phillies traded away two starting outfielders, doing their best to clean house and start looking ahead to the 2013 season.

Numbers Game looks at the deals sending Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence to the National League West.

The Dodgers Get: CF Shane Victorino.

Victorino, 31, has been a reliable contributor for the Phillies throughout his career, but this year's .724 OPS does represent a career low.

There is some concern that Victorino's bat has slowed -- according to Fan Graphs, he has struggled with fastballs more this year than ever before.

Nevertheless, Victorino is productive and is one of four players to have at least 20 steals and 30 extra-base hits so far this season. Adding that to a lacklustre Dodgers offence presents an immediate upgrade.

In addition to his offensive contributions, Victorino has pretty much always been above average defensively in centre field, which should make him a definite improvement in left field for Los Angeles. So far this season, Bobby Abreu, Tony Gwynn and Juan Rivera have seen the most action in left field for the Dodgers, so Victorino is a more reliable option for a team that holds hopes for playoff contention.

Victorino is earning $9.5-million this season and will be a free agent at season's end. Adding his salary simply furthers the commitment of the Dodgers' new ownership group, making a push for an immediate impact as they try to win now.

The Giants Get: RF Hunter Pence.

Pence is a 29-year-old who is headed towards arbitration in the offseason, as his $10.2-million contract expires at the end of the season.

After a slow start to the season, Pence was terrific in May and June, posting a .912 OPS over those two months, but he's slumped in July, with a .531 OPS this month representing the lowest monthly mark of his career. He also has the lowest contact rate of his career and has his highest percentage of swinging strikes since his rookie season (per

Even so, Pence is very likely to surpass 20 home runs for the fifth straight season and he's an improvement for the Giants' batting order. Gregor Blanco, who has been surprisingly productive for the Giants, is better suited to a fourth outfielder role over the long haul anyway, so he'll slide into that spot with Pence taking over in right field.

The Phillies Get: RHP Josh Lindblom, RHP Ethan Martin, RF Nate Schierholtz, C/1B Tommy Joseph and RHP Seth Rosin.

Lindblom, 25, has been serviceable in 75 career relief appearances, posting a 2.91 ERA and 1.18 WHIP while striking out 71 in 77 1/3 innings.

He's been remarkably fortunate, stranding 93.3% of his base-runners (best in the National League among those with at least 20 innings pitched), so that is likely to regress soon enough, but even if Lindblom isn't a significant difference-maker for the Philadelphia 'pen, he is capable of filling a setup role and is only in his second major league season so he remains inexpensive ($483,000 this season).

The Dodgers' first-round pick in 2008, Martin is a 23-year-old starting pitcher who is having a decent season (8-6, 3.58 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 112 K, 118 IP) in a repeat year at Double-A Chattanooga.

If he can continue to improve his control (4.5 BB/9 this season is a career-best), Martin has long-term potential that could see him challenge for a spot in Philadelphia a couple of years down the line.

28-year-old Nate Schierholtz has not been able to parlay moderate success into a full-time job with the Giants, reaching a career-high 362 plate appearances in 2011.

Left in a reserve role this season, Schierholtz has dramatic split differentials, with an .850 OPS in 146 plate appearances against righthanded pitchers and a .483 OPS in 50 plate appearances versus lefties.

He couldn't hold down a full-time gig ahead of Blanco in San Francisco and doesn't figure to start in Philadelphia either (the Phillies have called up Domonic Brown), but he should get some playing time in the last couple months before hitting arbitration in the offseason.

The prize of these deals for the Phillies should be Joseph, a second-round pick in 2009 who slugged 22 home runs, drove in 95 and hit .270 with a .787 OPS as a 19-year-old in Advanced A-ball last season. At Double-A this season, Joseph has eight home runs, 38 RBI, a .260 average and .705 OPS -- not overpowering numbers, but at 20-years-old, he's quite young for that level.

Joseph has primarily been a catcher, seeing a little time at first base in each of his pro seasons. The Phillies currently have Carlos Ruiz and Ryan Howard at catcher and first base, respectively, but the situation could be different two or three years from now when Joseph should be ready to challenge for a spot in the bigs.

As he matures, Joseph needs to improve his plate discipline because a .307 on-base percentage in the minor leagues isn't indicative of a player that will be a productive offensive player in the major leagues.

23-year-old Seth Rosin is a 6-foot-6 righthander who has been working as a closer this season, saving 10 games while posting a 4.31 ERA and 1.19 WHIP with 68 strikeouts in 56 1/3 innings at Advanced-A San Jose. He might develop into a major league reliever at some point, or he may never advance beyond the minor leagues.

These moves are radical for the Phillies. It's obviously been a disappointing season for a team that hoped to compete for the World Series, but moving out two starting outfielders leaves some gaping holes in a lineup that was already subpar, ranking 18th in baseball in runs scored prior to these trades.

How the Phillies address those holes in the offseason will help determine whether or not they have a chance at returning to contender status in 2013 or if this is going to take a more extensive rebuild to right what ails the Phillies' roster.

Scott Cullen can be reached at and followed on Twitter at For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook.

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