Pedro Feliz wins the prize for most hotly debated Beerleaguer topic this entire off-season.
Yesterday’s reported agreement is the culmination of a rolling argument that began months ago, back when it was first reported the Phils had interest in the free agent third baseman.
Feliz has everything the 21st century baseball fan wants in a baseball debate. He gouges knee-deep lines in the sand between seamheads and statheads. Seamheads say defense wins championships, and Feliz can pick it with the best in the business. On the other hand, he rates poorly in almost every single category statheads value most, except for those that measure defense. The reported salary falls in a gray area too; is it too much or just right? There are pros and cons galore. Greg Dobbs, who proved to be a fine pinch hitter, moves back to the bench. Wes Helms and his remaining contract are expendable. Readers are finding it just as easy to call the acquisition a no-brainer as much as they are in calling it a move that may actually hurt the club.
Beerleaguer: I’m concerned, and I’ll reiterate why. I don’t like the prospect of another guy down at the bottom of the lineup who won’t take a pitch. Carlos Ruiz doesn’t take pitches, either. Now they’re adding the most impatient hitter in the entire National League. Opposing pitchers are setup to cruise through a third of the lineup.
I’m very skeptical that Citizens Bank Park will turn an aging hitter into a 25-30 homer threat. Aaron Rowand struggled his first season here. Helms tanked. The park didn’t help Abraham Nunez. Or David Bell. Or Rod Barajas. Feliz is on the decline. I’m not betting on fireworks just because of the short porch.
We've seen it all before, haven't we? Over the years, we’ve seen seven-and-eight-hole hitters suck the life from an otherwise potent lineup. Bell and Mike Lieberthal once formed the infamous black hole. Sal Fasano burdened the order in 2006. Since then, it’s quieted down, and it coincides with using hitters who actually get on base better and make pitchers work: Chris Coste; Greg Dobbs; Jayson Werth. Ruiz sometimes; Nunez when he kept the bat on his shoulders and turned the lineup over.
That’s what tends to work, not the all-or-nothing spot power showcased by guys like Feliz.