The Search for a Bat

With the recent signings of SP John Lannan and RHP Mike Adams, to go along with the acquisitions of  IF Michael Young and OF Ben Revere, the Phillies have been able to cross just about every item off of their off-season shopping list. Centerfielder? Check. Setup man? Check. Third baseman? Check. Starting pitcher? Check.

The one thing that's missing, however, is another offensive-minded corner outfielder. Unfortunately for Ruben Amaro, that market hasn't been terribly friendly to teams without a lot of cash to spend. Even if the Phillies did have an unlimited payroll, the options weren't necessarily mouth-watering.  And with both B.J. Upton and Josh Hamilton off the market, the options for offensive help are dwindling.

Of the remaining free agent outfielders, the best options are Michael Bourn and Nick Swisher. Most Phillies fans are familiar with Bourn, a speedster who can handle the bat, but fails to provide any sort of power. He'd certainly add to the offense, but the team is already too left-handed, and needs to add more power, not less.

Swisher, on the other hand, can hit for power and get on base while providing adequate outfield defense. He's certainly a good fit for the Phillies, but with several teams needing corner outfielders, they'll be forced into a bidding war that they are unlikely to win. And not only that, but signing Swisher would cost the team their first-round draft pick next season, and thanks to a barren farm system, the Phillies need all the help they can get to rebuild the team from within the organization.

For those reasons, the Phillies should avoid any big-name signings. Without any can't-miss players on the market, and without a lot of money to spend, it doesn't make much sense to sign a player at the risk of stretching the budget as far as it will go. While I'd like them to sign Nick Swisher, they may ultimately be better off keeping the draft pick and platooning their outfield. Assuming Domonic Brown and Ben Revere will take up two spots, that leaves some combination of John Mayberry, Laynce Nix, Darin Ruf, and a free agent OF to battle for the last spot. By platooning those players based on matchups, it allows the Phillies to maximize the value of their roster without having to spend money that they might not have.

It's going to take some work, but the Phillies can build an outfield without the likes of Josh Hamilton or Nick Swisher. Ruben Amaro spoke about being creative this off-season, and there is no better time to put that into practice.

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