With spring training in full swing, so begins the first of many, somewhat arbitrary, player profiles. Today, Scott Lauber turns his pen toward Greg Dobbs, with the underlying message that playing time will be in short supply once again. [Link]
Apologies in advance if this is old hat, but I wanted to shed some light on this stat, which was passed along by Lauber in his morning piece: The Phillies in 2009 became just the fifth team ever to have five players with at least 675 plate appearances (Jimmy Rollins, Shane Victorino, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Jayson Werth). In addition, Pedro Feliz came to the plate 625 times, and Raul Ibanez notched 565. Sucks to be a bench guy.
The gist of Lauber’s piece is how Dobbs will prepare this spring to handle a reduced role. He hit just .247/.296/.383 in 169 plate appearances, seeing less time in the field and riding the pine late with a calf injury. With the signings of Placido Polanco and Ross Gload, he figures to see even less in 2010.
We’ve said this before and we’ll say it again: At some point, Charlie Manuel needs to trust his reservists in an effort to keep all his players sharp. Beerleaguer has been quick to pile on players like Eric Bruntlett and So Taguchi over the years, but it’s extremely difficult to stay sharp with only a handful of at bats per month. Phillies pinch-hitters hit just .186, the second-worst mark in the league last season, and 45 points below the league average.
The bench became a crippling weakness for the Phillies this postseason. Now think about 2008 and the role the bench played in delivering a championship. Indeed, Jonathan Broxton grooved one right in Matt Stairs’ wheelhouse, but I’m sure big Matt was seeing the ball a lot better with 387 plate appearances under his belt instead of the 129 he logged in '09, including a stretch in which he went 0-for-forever. All told, the Phillies’ reserves went a combined 1-for-31 in the postseason, following a year in which they went 11-for-32.
With stars manning every corner of the field, it's easier said than done for Charlie Manuel to pick his spots. To that I say 'better now than October.'