Last season, Ross Gload overthrew Greg Dobbs as the top left-handed bat off the Phillies’ bench, and that is exactly where he should stay.
With the Phillies searching for a solution in right, a handful of names have been thrown into the mix. Dom Brown and Ben Francisco are the most prevalent suggestions to replace Jayson Werth, but second-year Phillie Ross Gload has also garnered the occasional mention. From a strictly offensive perspective, Gload would be an ideal veteran lefty to pair with Francisco as part of a right field platoon. The nine-year pro hit .282 with an .818 OPS against right-handers last season, and he puts the ball in play—a valued asset in a K-heavy lineup like the Phillies’. In 138 plate appearances last season, Gload whiffed just 15 times.
But defensively, the Phils would be making a sacrifice by running Gload out to right. He doesn’t run or range particularly well and his arm is well below average for a major league right fielder. He hasn’t logged over 100 innings on the outfield grass since his 2004 campaign with the White Sox, and at 35, expect less.
Moreover, the Phillies need Gload to focus on the task at hand, and that is to provide the kind of boost Dobbs once gave them. It’s not a task that should be taken lightly. The Phillies lived and died by their bench in back-to-back postseason appearances in '08-09, experiencing both the highs and lows. Staying locked in as a pinch hitter takes razor focus. Although anything can happen in Spring Training, the Phillies appear to be set up to carry only one lefty-hitting veteran on their bench. For the last three seasons, they’ve carried at least two. In 2008, they had Dobbs, Matt Stairs and Geoff Jenkins at various points. In '09, Stairs and Dobbs filled those spots, but struggled. Last season, Gload and Dobbs shared the role until Dobbs worked himself out of the picture.
For what it’s worth, Gload’s performance at the plate suffers when he’s in the outfield. A career .283 hitter, Gload has an average of .223 in 277 plate appearances while in the lineup as an outfielder. Though Dobbs was awful at the plate last year, and finished his Phillies career 15-for-109 over two seasons of pinch hitting, the slack will need to be picked up by someone. Gload is the answer to that problem, not the one in right field.
- Written for Beerleaguer by Matt Grassie