Of all the playoff teams in 2012, perhaps the most interesting story -- to me, anyway -- was that of the Oakland Athletics. The A's, who are known more for their General Manager Billy Beane than any of their players, managed to win the American League West, despite having a low payroll and a roster consisting of mostly lesser-known players.
The reason for that is because Beane, the mastermind behind the Moneyball A's, maximized the value of his roster by platooning players on a daily basis to ensure the best possible matchups against the opposing pitcher. And their success in that regard is precisely why the Phillies should look at third baseman Eric Chavez this off-season.
The 34-year-old Chavez, who spent the bulk of his career with the A's, found success this season with the Yankees, where he spent most of his time at the hot corner. In 278 at-bats, Chavez put together a .281/.348/.496 line, where he slugged 16 homers and knocked in 37 RBIs. It's a decent enough line, one that was helped along by his production against righties (.908 OPS in 245 at-bats).
Like the A's did with several of their players, the Yankees limited Chavez to mostly face right-handed pitchers, and it resulted in them getting the most production possible out of the veteran, whose .845 OPS was the highest it's been since 2004.
Similarly, he could be value in the same type of role with the Phillies, who are without any long-term solutions at third base, and are facing a weak market at that position. Instead of rolling the dice with Kevin Frandsen or Freddy Galvis over an entire season, they should look at Chavez, who could split time with someone like Frandsen (who handles lefties better) as a way to maximize the value at that position.
While the possibility of trading for someone like Chase Headley exists, it will prove to be perhaps too expensive for the Phillies, who can't afford to trade any more pieces of their already thin farm system. Chavez, who earned less than a million with the Yankees last year, and doesn't figure to command too much of a raise for this services in 2013.
And while he has dealt with injuries over the course of his career -- he hasn't played in more than 130 games since 2006 -- the fact that he is cheap and potentially productive should abate any fears that offering him a contract might cause.