Colby Rasmus over Ben Revere?


Ben Revere has had his doubters ever since arriving via trade prior to the 2013 season. Most of his detractors point to his weak arm and overall poor defense in centerfield, and his cringe-worthy on-base skills.

Revere has proven to be a useful player to the Phillies. If nothing else, old-time baseball fans are pleased with his speed at the top of the order. More new-age fans might say that his inability to draw a walk lessens his value as a leadoff man for the lineup.

However, it seems that some teams still think Revere can be deployed to good use. Earlier in the offseason, there were rumors that Revere was being shopped for help in the rotation. It now seems that those rumors have cooled off. 

More from That Balls Outta Here

The mere fact that Revere could be traded seems a little crazy, as there is no suitable major league-ready replacement for him in center field (unless you are either a fan or family member of Rule 5 draftee Odubel Herrera).

A question can be asked though: would the Phillies be better suited to trading a controllable asset like Ben Revere, who has three more seasons left on his deal, for starting pitching help and going after a player like Colby Rasmus?

As it looks right now, the Phillies’ rotation sets up like this:
1) Cole Hamels
2) Cliff Lee (assuming he’s healthy)
3) ????
4) ????
5) Jerome Williams/David Buchanan/Wandy Rodriguez/the skipper too….

This doesn’t even begin to take into account the other even more questionable pitchers that might get a shot at the rotation.

An argument could be made that Williams or Rodriguez could slot into the 3 and 4 spot, but does anyone really believe in Williams’ late season surge, or that Rodriguez will suddenly reverted back to form?

Were Hamels to be traded, or Lee succumb to an injury that he simply can’t recover from, then the rotation is really in trouble. This means looking at all possible options as something that behooves the front office, including the possibility of trading Revere.

Would Ben Revere command a large return? Probably not. The previously mentioned trade rumor had the Phillies looking at Travis Wood. While he wouldn’t set the world on fire, the Cubs lefty would be an upgrade over some of the current rotation options, especially if his ERA catches up with his actual pitching ability (4.38 FIP vs. 5.03 ERA in 2014).

Trading Revere would leave a hole in center field, one that could presumably be filled by a Colby Rasmus signing. Comparing the 28-year old Rasmus to the 26-year old Revere shows that it might be something worth looking at.

Revere has been a slightly below average offensive player since he began getting regular plate appearances in 2011 with Minnesota. Here is a chart of some of his offensive output during this time:

[table id=40 /]

Steamer has projected Revere to produce along roughly the same lines this upcoming season, so you know what you are getting in Revere. The question then needs to be asked again: could the Phillies improve in center field, and does Rasmus actually represent that upgrade?

While Revere has been consistent in the level of offense he brings, Rasmus has been maddeningly inconsistent:

[table id=41 /]

Rasmus has been predicted to produce along the same lines as he produced this past season. But with a history showing that he has the potential to be an offensive force, there is a reasonable chance that he outperforms this projection.

Of course there is also the chance that he falls flat on his face and becomes a burdensome cost. That rising strikeout rate would seem to lend credence to a belief that he is more likely to fail than not. This would be especially problematic if added to the lineup as it is currently constructed.

None of this takes into account the defensive upgrade that Rasmus should be for the Phils in the field. Revere simply hasn’t been very good as a center fielder, whether judged by the naked eye or by using defensive metrics (-7.5 UZR/150, -18 DRS in 2014).

Runners routinely take an extra base on Revere’s weak arm, which has produced scoring opportunities and actual runs scored for the Phillies opposition.

Rasmus struggled with injuries last year, resulting in some uncharacteristically poor numbers. In the past, he has been an outstanding defender in center field (15.2 UZR/150, 11 DRS in 2013).

With the Phillies needing to improve both offensively and defensively, Colby Rasmus would seem to be an upgrade over Ben Revere, either way one looks at it.

Ben Revere has been limited offensively and defensively

A major stumbling block could be cost. Rasmus would probably cost much more than the Phillies are willing to spend right now. Revere is projected to earn at least $4 million this upcoming season, while Rasmus is predicted to command somewhere around $11 million a year.

Jim Bowden predicted a 2 year, $22 million contract for Rasmus. Should that speculation prove to be true, the price could be something more than what the Phillies are willing to pay. While they do have the money, signing such a player wouldn’t appear to fit in with their stated plans of reducing costs and then building for the future.

Personally, I think that the potential to get a bat that is still relatively young and has some potential left would be an enticing route to explore.

Rasmus has his warts, there is no denying. However, with the Phillies looking to get better overall, perhaps the option of having him and whatever starting pitching a trade of Revere brings back would prove better than having Revere continue producing below-average seasons at what will be his own rising cost.