Look there, under that rock! It’s another outfielder possibility! Someone kill it, quick!!!
As the Phillies continue their search for a starting outfielder, ESPN’s Jim Bowden last week floated a few names that are still available on the trade market. Most of the names you’re familiar with by now… Justin Upton, Vernon Wells and Alfonso Soriano. Not surprisingly, he linked the Phils as “good fits” for all three.
Someone is going to have to start teaching people the definition of what a “good fit” is.
However, there was one outfielder mentioned by Bowden that would make a lot of sense for the Phillies, if in fact he is available.
Oakland has a surplus of outfielders, with Yoenis Cespedes, Coco Crisp, Chris Young and Josh Reddick all vying for playing time. Manager Bob Melvin has said he will use all four players every day, rotating one of them into the DH spot every game.
And while that sounds like a super idea, the truth is that one of these players may be most valuable as trade bait, helping the A’s fill in another spot on their roster where they might be weaker.
It’s not going to be Cespedes, who looks like a future star. It’s not going to be Reddick either, who hit 32 home runs for the A’s last year. It’s either going to be Coco or Young.
And I want Young.
Young would be a good fit for the Phillies for a few reasons, not the least of which is that the back of his baseball card says “outfielder.”
Young is a center fielder by trade, and yes, the Phils already have a center fielder named Ben Revere. However, Young’s defensive ability and athleticism is on par with Revere’s. The Phils could put Young in left field, keep Revere in center and play Dom Brown or some combination of players in right.
Young does have deficiencies at the plate, to be sure. He strikes out a lot (79 times in 363 plate appearances last year), swings and misses at a lot of pitches, and has never hit very well for average or posted a very good on-base percentage (.239/.318 in 885 career games).
However, Young has a lot of positives. He can hit for power (20 or more home runs in four of his six full seasons), and has a ton of speed (22 or more stolen bases in three of six full seasons). He’s also a plus-defender, which contributed to his bWAR of 5.2 in 2010 and 4.6 in 2011.
Last year, Young was derailed by a shoulder injury that put him on the disabled list for a number of weeks. As this article notes, Young was on a tear before the injury but fell off upon his return. Still, he’ll play this year at just 29 years old, meaning he should be hitting his prime right now.
He’s not a perfect player and not the perfect solution. However, those “perfect” solutions are unattainable.
And while Oakland GM Billy Beane has said he’s not going to trade any of his four outfielders, the old mantra remains true… never believe anything you hear come out of a general manager’s mouth.
Of course, as always, the Phils may not have the prospects or Major League players to make a deal work. Perhaps one of the Phils’ young catchers, Tommy Joseph, and a bullpen arm like Jake Diekman or Justin DeFratus, might be enough to get a deal done for Young.
He is a player with flaws, so the Phillies should be careful not to overpay.
But Chris Young might be an outfield option that actually makes some sense, unlike the pipe dreams for Justin Upton.
Or, we could trade a bag of baseballs for Vernon Wells and then we could all drown ourselves in a vat of boiling hot chicken grease.