Tuesday, September 16, 2014
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Addition of Pence is move for present and future

Turns out the Phillies made the best trade for the present and the future.

Addition of Pence is move for present and future

Hunter Pence is the newest addition to the Phillies roster after being traded by the Astros on Friday. (Pat Sullivan/AP)
Hunter Pence is the newest addition to the Phillies roster after being traded by the Astros on Friday. (Pat Sullivan/AP)

Turns out the Phillies made the best trade for the present and the future.

Yes, they had to surrender the two best prospects in their minor-league system by giving up righthander Jared Cosart and first baseman Jonathan Singleton in order to pry right fielder Hunter Pence away from the Houston Astros.

Double-A Reading's Josh Zeid has the arm to be a big-league pitcher, too, and we'll have to wait to see who will be the fourth player Houston receives from the Phillies.

But while Pence was hugging his Houston teammates after coming out of his team's game in Milwaukee, Domonic Brown remained in right field for the Phillies.

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The fact that Pence will be in the Phillies lineup Saturday night and for the remainder of the season makes this team infinitely better. Suddenly the Phillies have a 28-year-old two-time All-Star with a career .290 batting average who is going to end up with close to 40 doubles and 20 home runs this season.

"I think the front office knows that we're in a special time here in Philadelphia and we have a good team and if they feel like there is room for improvement, they're going to make that move," second baseman Chase Utley said. 

In essence, the Phillies have found the right-handed bat they needed to replace Jayson Werth by getting a guy who has been leaps and bounds better than Werth this season. You can argue that he doesn't walk a lot and he strikes out too much, but that's the nittiest of nitpicking.

Pence has produced with a horrid Houston team and should be even better with a club that has designs of winning the World Series.

"He's a right-handed bat, a power bat, that we can insert in the middle of the lineup and I think he can do some damage," Utley said. "It will be fun to get a chance to know him and get to play with him."

The two most interesting things to watch in the coming days is how much this move impacts the Phillies' offense and what transactions follow.

You got the impression before Friday night's rout of the Pittsburgh Pirates that manager Charlie Manuel, the same man who openly campaigned for Domonic Brown to be promoted from triple-A Lehigh Valley nine weeks ago, believes that his rookie right fielder now needs more seasoning with the IronPigs.

Neither Manuel nor general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. would say what roster move they will make before Saturday's game, but Brown realizes he could be the player to go.

"I know it's a good possibility that it could happen," Brown said. "I'm not going to be bothered by it. You live and you learn and you grow. I have to play and get better."

If Pence's arrival allows Brown to hone his skills some more in Lehigh Valley, that's not the worst thing in the world either. At 23, Brown is still a kid with immense tools who should get better the more he plays the game. With Pence likely around for at least the remainder of this year and two years beyond that, Brown probably will find himself in left field if he does return to the IronPigs Saturday.

That's an adjustment he should be able to make and it's conceivable that the opening-day outfield in 2012 will be Brown in left, Pence in right and Shane Victorino in center.

"This is not a knock on Domonic Brown by any stretch of the imagination," Amaro said. "We believe and hope he is going to be a Phillie for a long time. This is one of those moves we made not just for present, but also for the future and Dom is certainly part of that."

 


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Bob Brookover Inquirer Columnist
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