Every day this month, we here at Philthy Stuff will be counting down the New Year's resolutions of each member on the Phillies, and what they can do to guide this team back to October. Next up, Laynce Nix.
Aside from rebuilding the back of the bullpen, one of the bigger offseason priorities for Phillies General Manger Ruben Amaro, Jr. was to rebuild the bench. In previous years, the bench was the source of considerable strength, dating back to the days of Matt Stairs and his clutch moonshots.
Recently, however, the bench has fallen on hard times. Rife with the light-hitting Wilson Valdezes and Michael Martinezez and Ben Franciscos (who oddly enough had one of the biggest pinch-hits of the season in 2011) of the world, the Phillies offense, which experienced it's fair share of troubles, gave way to a reserve corps that didn't fare exceptionally well when called upon in the late innings.
As such, it's no surprise that few of Amaro's early offseason moves were for players who would spend a considerable amount of time riding the pine, including Jim Thome, Ty Wigginton, and Laynce Nix. While Thome and Wigginton will see time at first base until Ryan Howard gets back, Nix stands to get a decent amount of playing time in left field, depending on how the team handles Domonic Brown.
Wait For Yours: One of Nix's strengths is his ability to play above average defense in all three outfield spots, which could come in handy during the dog days of summer, when the likes of Hunter Pence and Shane Victorino will need a much deserved rest from the grind of the long season. But at times, Nix is going to be called on to handle the bat, be it as a spot starter or as a pinch hitter. Of course, there is a certain amount of humor in the title “pinch hitter,” considering that, in Nix's case, there is very little hitting going on.
In his nine year career, the 30-year-old Nix has a line of .250/.299/.451. In other words, he can't hit for average, he can't take a base on balls if you paid him to, but he has shown the ability to hit for power on occasion. Last season, in 124 games with the Nationals, he blasted 16 longballs from the left side. While that power potential will be a much needed change of pace from the left side, Laynce would be doing himself a favor by learning that rare virtue known as plate discipline.
Don't Fight The Future: If Nix wants to prove to be as valuable as he can be in 2012, then he should do as little as possible to prevent Brown, the organization's touted hitting prospect, from getting big league at bats.
That's not to say that I don't want Nix to succeed, but the more time taken away from Brown, the worse off the team will be. The best way for Nix to be a truly valuable commodity is to do what the team signed him to do: Play solid defense in limited time, get a few clutch hits along the way and don't get in the way of the future.