A little over a month ago, the Philadelphia Phillies were facing a trade deadline of uncertainty and confusion; for the first time in six seasons, the team was not a buyer at the deadline, and instead sold away key pieces to National League rivals. One month later, and they look pretty smart for doing so. In their time in Los Angeles and San Francisco respectively, Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence have added nearly nothing to their teams' post-season runs.
In Los Angeles, Victorino has hit .248/.307/.342, his OPS down 75 points since departing Philadelphia. Even worse yet for Victorino, the Dodgers acquired Carl Crawford in their mega-trade with the Red Sox, leaving many questions about Victorino's future in a Dodger uniform. In a relatively crowded outfield, where would Victorino fit in 2013? To me, the answer is nowhere.
Magic Johnson and the rest of the new ownership in L.A. has clearly been willing to spend, but it doesn't look like they are willing to spend on Victorino, who is a free agent after this season. They have Crawford lined up for left, Matt Kemp in center, and Andre Ethier in right field. And, with the way Victorino has performed, it's left plenty of Dodger fans less than amused.
If Victorino has been a disappointment for L.A., then Pence has been an unmitigated disaster for the Giants. Since his arrival, he has hit just .233/.292/.362, an OPS 130 points lower than it was in Philadelphia. No, that's not a typo. It's been that bad for Pence. Now, the Giants are on the hook for Pence's contract as he heads to arbitration this off-season. I can't imagine the Giants really want to pay about $13 or $14 million for Pence.
The Phillies did themselves well to rid themselves of the Pence contract, because it has freed up some money to play with in the off-season. His less-than-stellar fielding and average bat in Philadelphia has turned into a below-average bat in San Francisco. Yes, AT&T Park doesn't exactly look like the Little League fields in Williamsport, but Pence is scuffling big time. He has just 2 home runs in 116 at-bats since joining the Giants.
Meanwhile, all the Phillies have done since the trades is go 18-12, giving themselves at least a small sliver of hope in the Wild Card race for the final month. Yes, the possibility of that happening is just about zero, but the Phillies moving on from Pence and Victorino was the right move at the time, and it has paid off since July 31st.
Oddly enough, a big question lately in Philadelphia has been whether or not a Victorino return could be in the works. It's not out of the question. Just ask Cliff Lee. Recently, Victorino told the L.A. Times that he would like to return to the Dodgers. He was asked about whether or not he would be interested in returning as a bench player behind Carl Crawford, which seemed to offend him.
"Are you crazy?" Victorino said. "I'm not even thinking about stepping back. Why would I? I'm 31 years old. . . . I'm going to be an everyday player, whether it be here, whether it be Philly, whether it be any uniform."
That little last portion can at least tell us that Philadelphia is still on Victorino's mind, and for good reason. The Phillies will likely be trying to fill a hole in center field this off-season, and while Michael Bourn will be out there, Scott Boras is likely to get his client a large payday that could be out of the Phillies' range. Victorino's return is not completely out of the question. After all, things haven't really worked out for him in Los Angeles.
Sources: LA Times, Baseball-Reference.com
Victor Filoromo is a featured contributor for Yahoo! and also contributes to PhuturePhillies.com, a Phillies' prospect blog. He grew up just outside of Philadelphia, and enjoys Philadelphia sports, media, and politics. You can follow him on Twitter @victorfiloromo.
- Sports & Recreation
- Shane Victorino
- Hunter Pence
- Carl Crawford