Saturday, March 28, 2015

Patience is only answer for Polanco and Mayberry

After a loss like Tuesday night's in San Francisco, there are really only two things to talk about: Placido Polanco and John Mayberry Jr.

Patience is only answer for Polanco and Mayberry

Phillies third baseman Placido Polanco is batting .179 this season. (Ben Margot/AP)
Phillies third baseman Placido Polanco is batting .179 this season. (Ben Margot/AP)

After a loss like Tuesday night's in San Francisco, there are really only two things to talk about: Placido Polanco and John Mayberry Jr.

Polanco, after going 0-for-4 with a strikeout in the Phillies' 4-2 loss to the San Francisco Giants, is hitting .179 and showing no signs that he has the ability to drive balls into the gap, which is what has made him a dangerous hitter throughout his career.

The problems trace back to last season. Since the end of April 2011, he has batted .237 with 11 extra-base hits in 405 at-bats. And that does not count his 2-for-19 postseason against St. Louis. His only extra-base this season is a double that came during Monday night's win in San Francisco and it was a ball that should have been caught.

Mayberry is the other lineup albatross at the moment. His batting average dropped to .219 after he went hitless in three at-bats Tuesday. He also has one extra-base hit -- a double on opening day in Pittsburgh -- and his body language looks as bad as his swing right now.

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So now that we've pointed out the obvious, the question is this: What can the Phillies do about it?

Manager Charlie Manuel hinted after the game that veteran Juan Pierre is making it difficult to keep him out of the lineup. Pierre had two hits -- both singles of course -- and raised his average to .346 after replacing Mayberry in the middle of Tuesday night's game.

As well as Pierre has played through 11 games, the Phillies need some more powerful bats in the lineup to compensate for the absences of Ryan Howard and Chase Utley. Pierre, of course, does not give them that. Polanco is not providing any pop either and it's a real problem.

Laynce Nix, who can play first base and left field, and Ty Wigginton, who can play third base and first base, can provide some power, but whenever you have them at any other position besides first base, you have significantly weakened your defesne. That's a dangerous way to play when you have such an outstanding starting rotation.

If you think good defense is overrated, you have been snoring at home the last two nights while the Giants have given the Phillies numerous undeserved scoring opportunities. The difference between Monday and Tuesday was that the Phillies took advantage the first night and not the second.

So what's the solution?

For now, it has to be patience. Mayberry must continue to play against lefthanders and some righthanders. He earned an extended look by what he did last season. He is a notoriously streaky hitter and was even in the minor leagues. That may be what keeps him from ever becoming a quality big-league player.

A year ago, Mayberry hit .345 in April. He started getting a more extended look in May because of an injury to Shane Victorino and batted .194 in 72 at-bats in May. He rebounded to hit .299 with 12 home runs after spending most of June at triple-A Lehigh Valley.

If Mayberry is still in this kind of tailspin come June and Domonic Brown is proving to be productive at triple-A Lehigh Valley, then maybe that's the answer.

As far as third base, Polanco's career resume should allow him some patience. too. At some point if he does not get going, Manuel will have to move his third baseman down in the lineup, but, for now, he deserves a chance to escape this slump. It's easy to write players off as old when things are not going well, but many times it's the wrong thing to do.

For proof, we submit the Jamie Moyer story.

 


 


Bob Brookover Inquirer Columnist
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