FOXSports, citing a Major League source, has listed the Phillies as the favorites to land Mark DeRosa. Despite a 23-homer season, expectations should be tempered.
In a nutshell, here’s the problem with Mark DeRosa: we’ve seen him before and didn’t like the results. The Phillies need a third baseman. For various reasons, some good (the existence of Chipper Jones), some not so good (not seen as everyday player), DeRosa has never started more than 100 games at the position, setting a career high with 99 starts in 2009 between St. Louis and Cleveland. That’s 31 less than Wes Helms’ career high, set in 2003 with Milwaukee.
We’ve seen this line of reasoning from the Phillies before: "If only we could sign (blank) and turn him loose for an entire season, he’d hit (blank) home runs at Citizens Bank Park. We won't worry about age, because the short porch always reverses the effects of aging. Just ask Helms, Pedro Feliz, Geoff Jenkins and David Bell." Note: DeRosa will turn 35 in February, which is older than every last one of those guys when they originally signed.
Think of Feliz’s 20 home runs during his final year in San Fran and note the resembalence to DeRosa's 2009 season: 23 homers and a pedestrian .752 OPS. He also hit .237/.299/.421 the second half of the season. Jenkins showed us why second-half declines by aging vets should be seen as a red flag before making long-term commitments.
Defensively, and in very general terms, DeRosa was good enough to “hold his own” at third; many of the advanced numbers, including a – 5.6 Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR) suggest he’s well below average. That’s going to be a sharp transition for a team accustomed to receiving solidly above average defense, by that same measure, from Feliz the last two seasons.
Then, consider his bat, which Bill James projects as a .250/.319/.433 in 2010, and DeRosa isn’t much better than a warm body. Nevertheless, they'll take it. Right now, the Phillies have the worst third-base situation in baseball: they don't have one. But the commitment, and the impact on other needs this offseason, will determine whether a move like this is ultimately better for the Phillies than Feliz.