Friday, December 26, 2014

Where would Aramis Ramirez fit in the Phillies' line-up?

We are only midway through Day 1 of the 2011 Winter Meetings and already the rumors are flying fast and furious

Where would Aramis Ramirez fit in the Phillies' line-up?

Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez could be an option for the Phillies. (AP Photo / Frank Franklin II)
Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez could be an option for the Phillies. (AP Photo / Frank Franklin II)

We are only midway through Day 1 of the 2011 Winter Meetings and already the rumors are flying fast and furious. The most intriguing scuttlebut, as you read in our previous post, involves the Phillies' interest in free agent third baseman Aramis Ramirez. Not coincidentally, the interest was first reported shortly after the Phillies met with the agent for Jimmy Rollins, who the team would like to retain at short stop. There was some optimism heading into the meetings that the two sides could start working toward an agreement, but that does not appear to be the case. Several outlets, including CSNPhilly.com and ESPN.com, reported that the meeting yielded little common ground. Rollins appears to be serious about his desire for a five-year deal, despite an apparent lack of suitors who are in a position to give him such a contract. There are conflicting reports on the teams who could be interested in the short stop: the Brewers have a need at the position and could have money to spend if they are unable to retain first baseman Prince Fielder. The Cardinals also need a short stop, although ESPN reported they are not in serious pursuit of Rollins.

All of this leaves the Phillies evaluating their back-up plans. Assuming the new reports are not a smoke-screen designed to put pressure on Rollins, this is where Ramirez comes in. We first raised the possibility of Ramirez as a back-up plan in early November, but Ruben Amaro Jr. gave a strong vote of confidence for Placido Polanco at the GM meetings. Have things changed since then? Perhaps. Although Ramirez would be a big step down from Polanco defensively, he does a lot of nice things at the plate, making excellent contact and hitting to all fields.

So what would a Phillies line-up look like with Ramirez? Below are some potential incarnations, with veteran Alex Gonzalez our projected low-cost veteran fill-in at short stop:

The Ryan Howard is Healthy Line-up:

  1. Shane Victorino CF
  2. Chase Utley 2B
  3. Aramis Ramirez 3B
  4. Ryan Howard 1B
  5. Hunter Pence RF
  6. John Mayberry Jr./Laynce Nix LF
  7. Carlos Ruiz C
  8. Alex Gonzalez SS
More coverage
 
Phillies Zone: Phillies to meet with Ramirez's agent
 
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High Cheese: Making some sense of Nix deal
 
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Phillies, Nix agree to terms

In any situation, Victorino is your leadoff man. He has performed well in the role in the past, and is the only other option other than Utley, although Charlie Manuel has never sounded too keen on using Utley at the top of the order. Ramirez would give the Phillies a contact/power right-handed bat to break up Utley and Howard, while still allowing Pence to hit at No. 5. John Mayberry Jr. starts the season as the everyday left fielder, with Laynce Nix getting an occasional start against a tough righty. Carlos Ruiz and his base-reaching ability move up to seventh, while Gonzalez fills out the bottom of the order, where he brings some power, although not much else, to the eight-hole.

The Ryan Howard is Injured Line-up vs. Righties:

  1. Shane Victorino CF
  2. Chase Utley 2B
  3. Hunter Pence RF
  4. Aramis Ramirez 3B
  5. Laynce Nix/Jim Thome 1B
  6. John Mayberry Jr. LF
  7. Carlos Ruiz C
  8. Alex Gonzalez SS

Pence could theoretically hit second, but he hasn't done it much in his career. Ramirez has plenty of experience as a clean-up hitter. We figure that Nix and Thome will get time at first base in place of Howard, although Mayberry and Ty Wigginton can play there too.

The Ryan Howard is Injured Line-up vs. Lefties

  1. Shane Victorino CF
  2. Chase Utley 2B
  3. Hunter Pence RF
  4. Aramiz Ramirez 3B
  5. John Mayberry Jr. LF
  6. Ty Wigginton 1B
  7. Carlos Ruiz C
  8. Alex Gonzalez SS

Swap Wigginton in for Nix or Thome. He still hits lefties very well. If Howard is injured, I definitely see first base developing into something of a platoon situation.

^

All of this figures that the Phillies find a way to move Placido Polanco if they end up signing Ramirez. I'm not sure that would be a necessity -- Polanco is versatile enough that he could fill in at second, first and third as sort of a super-utility player. He'd be an expensive utility player, for sure, but if the Phillies can't find anybody willing to take Polanco's salary off their hands, it might be worth holding onto him instead of eating a lot of salary for what would figure to be marginal prospects. Still, Polanco defensive ability and versatility could very well convince a team to take a chance on him remaining healthy for the majority of the season.



David Murphy Daily News Staff Writer
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