Tuesday, November 25, 2014
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With no obvious solution, Phillies make safe move

We probably need to listen to the Phillies' reasoning behind the demotion of John Mayberry Jr. before we render our final judgment. Regardless of what you think of the move, there is a good chance Mayberry's jettisoning does not sink their playoff hopes.

With no obvious solution, Phillies make safe move

John Mayberry Jr. was optioned to triple-A Lehigh Valley Friday. (Ron Cortes/Staff file photo)
John Mayberry Jr. was optioned to triple-A Lehigh Valley Friday. (Ron Cortes/Staff file photo)

We probably need to listen to the Phillies' reasoning behind the demotion of John Mayberry Jr. before we render our final judgment. Regardless of what you think of the move, there is a good chance Mayberry's jettisoning does not sink their playoff hopes.

Really, this was a situation where there was no clear right move, and there was no clear wrong move. And so it looks like the Phillies went with the move that allows them the most flexibility. They get to hold onto Martinez, they can always recall Mayberry from the minor leagues, and they don't have to go without a left-handed pinch-hitter.

The notion that the roster move is completely irrelevant is slightly flawed. Five times in the Phillies' last six games has the ninth spot in the order come up in the sixth inning or later with the Phillies tied, trailing by a run, or leading by a run.

With Mayberry gone, Manuel's options in those high leverage situations will be a left-handed hitter who has a hip injury and no extra base hits, two utility infielders who have on base percentages below .280, and Ben Francisco.

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Of the Phillies' four pinch-hitting options (not including back-up catcher Dane Sardinha, who will rarely be used in that situation), only Ben Francisco has a slugging percentage of over .300. In 213 at-bats this season, Valdez, Martinez and Gload have combined for eight extra base hits and one home run.

At the same time, the situation is not markedly different from the one the Phillies have played through all season. For most of the first month-and-a-half, the Phillies bench consisted of a left-handed hitter (Gload), a right-handed hitter (Mayberry) and two utility men (Pete Orr and Martinez) to go with the back-up catcher. That's the same situation they have right now. So it isn't as if the bench is dramatically weaker than it has been all season. In fact, with the return of Victorino and the emergence of Domonic Brown, it is probably stronger.

Mayberry wasn't exactly hitting the cover off the ball. At the same time, he did bring three tools to the table that have the ability to impact tight ballgames off the bench: speed, power and defensive ability. Keep in mind Mayberry is third on the team with five stolen bases and would probably win a foot race against Martinez. He's the team's second-best defensive outfielder behind Victorino. And when he makes contact, he has impressive power.

I'm guessing the Phillies will say something to the effect of, we felt like we needed infield depth given Utley's situation and Polanco's occasional soreness and Rollins' advancing age, and with Ben Francisco as the primary right handed outfielder/pinch-hitter, Mayberry would not have been in a position to get regular at-bats, and John is going to help as at some point later this season and we need him to be sharp to do so.


 

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David Murphy Daily News Staff Writer
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