With only one week of the regular season under their belts, the Phillies are 3-4 after salvaging the final game of a three-game weekend series at Citizens Bank Park against the Mets. The problem thus far has been the problem everyone thought it would be.
When Ty Wigginton is your #5 hitter, you know your offense is going to struggle scoring runs. Now, while it is wonderful that Wigginton had 4 RBIs in Sunday’s 8-2 win over New York, this is not an occurrence that should be expected on any kind of regular basis. Without Chase Utley and Ryan Howard in the lineup, it just takes too much work for the Phillies to score enough runs today.
The first 10 hits the Phils recorded on Sunday were all singles. The only time you’ll see more singles in one place is at an eHarmony mixer.
Thankfully, the Phils had Cole Hamels on the mound and, after giving up a 2-run homer in the first, he was absolutely unhittable the rest of the way, giving up only six hits in seven innings.
Throughout the spring, much of the focus of Phillies fans has been re-signing Hamels to a multi-year extension. And, as one of the top three left-handed starting pitchers in the Major League Baseball and still on the good side of 30, getting Hamels under contract for the next 5-7 years seems like a no-brainer. With Halladay and Lee both in their mid-30s already, it is likely their days as elite pitchers will be over in the next 2-3 years.
The Phillies need Cole Hamels.
However, after watching the offense through the first week of the season, do the Phillies need bats more than they need Hamels?
In town this week was a former superstar third baseman named David Wright. A couple years ago, Wright was among the best third basemen in baseball. He hit for average, he hit for power, could steal bases and played good defense. He was a cornerstone player for the Mets.
But last year, injuries submarined Wright’s career, and given the state of the Mets organization, he has been mentioned as a trade chip on numerous occasions. And, one of the teams linked to Wright has been the Phillies.
There are two camps regarding Wright. The first camp frets over the frequent injuries and dip in production last year (a broken bat can tend to make one a bit apprehensive about that player’s future). The second camp remembers Wright as a superstar and as the prime time player the Phils desperately need.
And while it is a small sample size, Wright is off to a red-hot start in 2012. He is 10-22 so far with two home runs and 5 RBIs. He was a monster in this three-game series with the Phillies. And at 29 years old, he should be hitting his prime right now.
Should the Phillies trade for David Wright? He’s due to make $15 million this year and has a team option for $16 million for 2013. And if the Phils decide they are interested in Wright, does that make Hamels unaffordable? Would the Phillies sign Wright to a contract extension, or simply pick up his option in 2013 and call it quits after that?
It seems to me that there’s no way the Phillies can afford both Wright and Hamels in 2013. So, assuming David Wright is fully healthy, who would be more valuable to both the short-term and long-term future of the Phillies?
The Phillies cannot count on Utley and Howard to be the Utley and Howard everyone has known and expected. And there is no power anywhere else on the roster. Hunter Pence is probably the best longball threat on the team, and his maximum homer capacity is likely around 25 or so. Jimmy Rollins is no #3 hitter. Victorino is a terrific player who can do a lot of things, but lacks punch. John Mayberry Jr. is still an enigma, as is Domonic Brown.
Can the Phillies survive without another power bat in the lineup?
The current state of baseball is pitching heavy. There are more good pitchers available right now than hitters. If David Wright becomes available, and is healthy, would the Phillies be a better team with Wright and without Hamels?
It’s a choice the Phillies may have to make, and may have to make soon.
Unless Mr. Monopoly decides the luxury tax is not big deal anymore.