COMMENTARY| Ryan Theriot still has no contract. Nor does Alex Gonzalez. Not that either of those names would set off a barrage of celebratory roman candles in any major-league city that acquires their services, but either player, signed to an affordale minor-league deal, would make sense for a roster's depth.
Yuniesky Betancourt makes no sense. He makes no sense at the plate. He makes no sense in the field. He's not some locker room preacher that will force a new bond and ignite chemistry amongst the troops. He's not some baseball philosopher who will impart wisdom on the psychology or physiology of the game to young players in order to stoke their development. In terms of baseball, Betancourt isn't much of anything.
Monday, the Philadelphia Phillies signed Betancourt to a minor-league deal to add depth to their infield.
The move comes on the heels of a disappointing offseason for general manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. On most occasions, the signing of a veteran to a minor-league contract wouldn't make waves -- more aptly a ripple. But Betancourt's signing continues to expound the growing notion that Amaro's evaluation of major-league talent is both suspect and antiquated. Suspect because it simply looks as if his veteran signings are devoid of much upside, and antiquated because he refuses to use modern evaluation methods. By that I mean, it simply seems a player's ability to get on base means nothing to him.
It would seem to me that both offensively and defensively, minor-league contracts for Theriot and Gonzalez would make more sense. Theriot is not going to make many highlight reels as a defensive player, but he can play multiple positions and brings you a .341 career OBP. Gonzalez won't light the world on fire at the plate, although he can provide some pop as a utility man (and we all know RAJ loves "production"). However, Gonzalez has a career 10.6 dWAR and has been a solid defender over a decade. At least with either of these players, you have a positive side to their game.
Betancourt sports a career .290 OBP and a career -3.1 dWAR. His production numbers wouldn't astound anyone, and he has a reputation for being overweight, especially for a middle infielder. According to John Dewan (@FieldingBible), since 2007, Betancourt is 2nd-worst in Defensive Runs Saved at -82. The only one worse -- Adam Dunn at -111. That's what you want in your utility infielder?
Meanwhile, if Betancourt shows signs of life in spring training, what does that do to the development of Freddy Galvis? Just as the signing of Delmon Young will seemingly keep Domonic Brown's development drowning, another young Phillies' "talent" is now having competition thrown in his face. That's fine. Competition is good. But sooner or later the Phillies have to make some sort of commitment to some faction of their home grown youth.
In the grand scheme, the signing of Betancourt may already be an afterthought. It's only when piled on to the rest of the Phillies' offseason that it becomes aggravating.
Pete Lieber is a freelance writer who has covered the Phllies for more than three years and has followed the club since the days when Ramon Aviles held the job Yuniesky Betancourt will be trying to earn. Follow him on Twitter at @Lieber14.