Thursday, December 3, 2009

Phillies Sign Placido Polanco

In the shadows of the 76ers bringing back Allen Iverson, the Phillies felt it necessary to continue the Philadelphia trend by reacquiring Placido Polanco. It is being announced that the Phillies have signed Placido Polanco, 34, to a 3 year, $18 million contract with a mutual option for a fourth year. Polanco will not bring as much hype as the addition of Iverson but also won't be bringing enough domestic violence charges to fill Citizens Bank Park. Nonetheless, Polanco will be a welcome addition to the Phillies as he is good fielder, a good hitter, and is a popular teammate.

As many fans will remember, Polanco was a fan favorite in Philadelphia for all of 4 seasons as he was a welcome replacement to Scott "that's not in my contract" Rolen. Polanco is a career .303 hitter but doesn't hit with great power as he averages less than 10 homeruns a season. It is promising that Polanco's two best power seasons were in 2003 and 2004 as a part of the Phillies. During those two season, Polanco blasted 14 and 17 homeruns respectively.

Polanco was by far the safest free agent within the thirdbase class as he is a model of consistency in terms of hitting. As previously stated, he is a career .303 hitter, and in 2009 he hit .285 which was his lowest batting average since hitting .277 in 1999. Even though Polanco is a very good player, the signing isn't without question, as Polanco has been a second baseman his entire career but will be expected to play exclusively at third in 2010. Polanco has only played 1 game at thirdbase since being traded to the Tigers in 2005. Polanco has played a total of 321 games at thirdbase, but that was primarily at the beginning of his career, in St. Louis. While at secondbase, Polanco has won the AL gold glove two of the previous three years. Defensively speaking, Polanco is very quick, has great range, and has a very accurate arm. The only aspect of Polanco's abilities that can be put into question is his arm strength as he is moving across the diamond and will have to throw much further. With how quickly Polanco signed and both parties understanding the defensive situation, it doesn't seem that anybody is having any doubts about Polanco's ability to play thirdbase in 2010.

The Phillies organization seems to be really turning a corner in their management style. Maybe it has something to do with Ruben Amaro, but this is two consecutive offseasons where they have signed players, in their mid-30's, to long-term deals. In the past the Phillies have avoided taking risks on such players, but in Polanco's case, he does not appear to be as risky as most 34-year old baseball players. Polanco is a professional hitter who does not hit for high power numbers, instead he relies on the ability to make contact with the ball on a consistent basis. That is a skill that rarely deteriorates as a player becomes older. This is relevant in his statistics as last year he posted a career high in RBIs, 72, while only striking out 42 times. In the next three years I would find myself in shock if Polanco has declined much at all.

Overall, I believe everybody is going to be pleased about this signing as he will provide good defense at third and bring a well above average bat to the plate. There is something to say about bringing players back to an organization. Philadelphia seems to be saying that a lot, nowadays. Who knows, maybe the Eagles will be signing Randall Cunningham.

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