Phillies Outfield Choices Are Down To Three


He’s not a Phillie yet. Mandatory Credit: Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports

Remember yesterday when a radio talk show host who used to be a real newspaper journalist went on his radio show and told the world that the Phillies had offered Josh Hamilton a contract, only to be shouted down by everyone in the actual baseball community who has real knowledge of things that are happening in that sport?

Good times.

Yes, WIP got everyone all riled up on Tuesday, claiming the Phils and Hamilton had a three-year deal.

Alas, ’twas not so. At least, not yet.

So as the Phillies continue to hunt for more thunder in their lineup, the options for corner outfielders have dwindled down to a precious three.

You know the names… Hamilton, Cody Ross and Nick Swisher.

Giancarlo Stanton and Justin Upton are pipe dreams that will never come true. And though the Phils are rumored to have interest in Alfonso Soriano, unless the Cubs are eating almost all his salary AND the Phillies are giving up almost nothing of value in return, trading for Soriano would be a monumentally stupid thing to do.

So, it’s down to three. But who would be the best fit?

If you’re talking raw power and home run potential, Hamilton is the man. He’s the only available player, other than Stanton, who can put up 40 HRs with ease. He would become the Phillies’ biggest power threat and provide the thump the offense has been missing since the second half of 2009.

Still, there are drawbacks. Hamilton is left-handed, and would join an already lefty-heavy lineup. If the Phils were to sign him, their 2013 lineup would look something like this:

Revere (L), Utley (L), Rollins (S), Hamilton (L), Howard (L), Ruiz (R), Young (R), Brown/Ruf (L/R).

Perhaps if Revere is moved to the bottom of the order and Rollins is put in the leadoff spot, with Young hitting second, that would help things a little. Either way, though, you’re looking at a lineup that is very friendly to LOOGYs around the league.

There are also durability concerns, as well as the specter of Hamilton’s drug and alcohol problems resurfacing. Hamilton has to be very closely monitored to make sure he doesn’t relapse. That is a scary proposition for any franchise ready to plunk down $25-30 million a year for his services.

And while having Michael Young on board helps for this year, once he’s gone, Hamilton won’t have that crutch to fall back on.

Also, the recently-completed three-team trade that netted the Diamondbacks their long-pined-for shortstop, and the recent signing of Zack Greinke by the Dodgers, has also likely lit a fire under the Rangers to re-sign their slugger to another deal.

Still, a rumored three years and $75-80 million for Josh Hamilton would be a steal if the Phillies can get it. Heck, a fourth year, performance-based or team option would be reasonable as well.

Anything longer than that, though, the Phillies should say, “no thank you.”

But the speculation will continue, especially after Assistant GM Scott Proefrock was a bit tight-lipped about Hamilton last night on Daily News Live.

That ain’t gonna kill any rumors.

Cody Ross is a decent fallback option. Mandatory Credit: Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports

If you’re looking for the guy who can best help change the culture of the lineup and provide power from both sides of the plate, Nick Swisher is the man. Swisher gets on base a ton and now has eight straight seasons with 20 or more homers and 131 or more games played.

He would also help balance a lineup and protect the Phils from those pesky LOOGYs that always seem to kill late-inning rallies.

Still, he’s not a true slugger and his asking price is high (reportedly seeking a five- or six-year deal). The Indians have supposedly offered him a four-year deal worth around $48-50 million, and the Red Sox are known to have interest as well.

Interestingly, there have been very few reports of the Phillies being linked to Swisher, so it’s not really known just how much interest they have in him, or he in them.

Finally, there’s Cody Ross, who seems to be waiting out the Hamilton/Swisher sweepstakes before making his move. Ross is a nice player, a good corner outfielder and right-handed bat with some pop. He would provide some good balance to the Phils’ lineup as well, and has always hit decently at Citizens Bank Park.

*Reliving 2010 NLCS… shuddering… dry heaving now… feeling flush…*

However, he doesn’t have nearly the pedigree that Hamilton and Swisher do. And he’s not a middle-of-the-order hitter, more suited to hitting fifth or lower.

Still, because of that, Ross will likely cost much less in terms of years and dollars than Swisher and Hamilton, and should absolutely be a fallback option for the Phils if they can’t lock up either of the other two players.

Sure, there is still a chance the Phils could make another trade for a player no one is expecting. Could they trade for Granderson and move him to right field? It’s possible. They could still swing a deal for Soriano or someone else, too.

But the three most logical choices are the three remaining players in the free agent market.

Just remember, a deal is not official until you’ve heard it confirmed by someone OTHER than WIP.