This post is a day or two behind, but the Santana news took precedent. Either way, I never put my two cents in on the Feliz signing. So, here goes...
My initial reaction to the Pedro Feliz deal was not positive. I saw a 32 year old, field first, strikeout second third baseman who was little more than a powerful No-Hit Nunez and thought, "Oh crap."
But after reading some of the numerous discussions about the signing, I'm not so upset. Here's why: the Phillies are better after signing Feliz.
Take a look at the third base platoon of Helms and Dobbs and compare it to Feliz.
Defense: Neither Helms or Dobbs is a wizard. In fact, they are both liabilities that necessitate late-inning defensive replacements. Todd Zolecki makes a great point over at Zo Zone that having a steady defensive player at third will increase the options for pinch hitters in the late innings, as they won't have to be used needlessly for defensive substitutions. My hair fell out from the agony of watching Uncle Charlie use his entire bench before the 8th inning was completed repeatedly last year. Also, as Stato-matic Phillies fans know, especially those who actually defended using No-Hit Nunez in real games, defense saves runs. So chalk this category up to a big-time upgrade with Feliz.
Offense: Carson was right when he said that Feliz is a "Prodigious Out Making Machine." I'm not here to argue that he is a good hitter. But...compared to a Helms and Dobbs platoon, he isn't a big drop-off. Last year, Helms and Dobbs had OPS' of 665 and 781, respectively. Feliz's OPs was 710 the last two years. (Also compare that to Nunez's sub-600 OPS...) Feliz's power numbers are also a little better. I'm also leaning toward the notion that a change to a smaller ballpark will increase his numbers a little. Many people have pointed to the fact that his OPS at "Insert Bank Name Here" Park in San Fran was actually equal to or higher than his average OPS. (His San Fran OPS is 726.) Basically, the point is that his success (or stuggles) are not related to park size, because he does equally well in a huge park. However, if you look at his "per park" numbers closer, you see his lowest OPS numbers are at Chavez Ravine, PetCO, Busch, PNC, Safeco, and McAfee in Oakland while his highest numbers are at Camden Yards, Coors, Cinergy, Minute Maid and US Cellular in Chicago. Those stats show significantly better numbers at smaller ballparks. So I think there is at least a little reason to think his slugging and power numbers will increase. Taking defense from the equation, I probably would take 600 Dobbs at-bats over Feliz, but an equal split of Dobbs and Helms versus Feliz is almost a wash. Push this category.
Other: Like I mentioned before, this gives the team more depth and more flexibility in late inning situations. The cost of this...about $4 million per year for two. While that isn't chump change, it isn't bank breaking either. And for all of us who have complained loudly over the years at the Phillies resistance to spend money to improve the ballclub, it is hard to turn around and argue that they are spending too much.
Pedro Feliz isn't my number one choice for the Phillies hot corner...or number two...or three...but he is better than what they had, and the team is better now that he is on it.