The Phillies made it official Friday, bringing veteran center fielder Kenny Lofton to the Phillies and sending reliever Felix Rodriguez to the Yankees.
It's a good move by Ed Wade and I agree with it. Kenny Lofton should provide a good platoon for the Phillies along with Jason Michaels. Kenny Lofton is a lefty, Michaels a righty.
In 346 plate appearances last year Michaels did well. He had a line of .274/.364/.779 along with 10 homeruns and 40 runs batted in. If you compare that to Marlon Byrd's batting line of .228/.287/.608 with 5 homeruns and 33 runs batted in, then we have a better centerfielder in Jason Michaels. Jason Michaels bettered Marlon Byrd's OPS by .171, had 5 more homeruns and 7 more runs batted in and that was in less plate appearances. As you probably already know, Byrd was sent down to the minors to work on his swing because to put it bluntly, he was completely lost. When he came back up he did a little bit better but not enough to give much hope for the future.
If you compare Michael's numbers with Lofton's, well they're alike in some respects, with a .275/.346/.741 line in 313 plate appearances, with 3 homeruns and 18 RBI. Clearly, Michaels has the advantage in power and runs batted in. Lofton is what the Phillies need at the top of the lineup. He will be a nice hitter in the two hole because he puts the ball in play. With Lofton in the lineup, that might give the Phillies three lefties in a row; Lofton, Abreu, Thome. If Burrell will produce like we are all hoping for him to due, he might be able to be inserted into the fourth spot.
Kenny did not do too well in the Yankee outfield but Citizens Bank Ballpark will not only help his defense but it will surely help his power numbers. According to VORP, Lofton was the 14th most valuable center fielder in the American League and Jason Michaels was the 15th most valuable centerfielder in the National League. Lofton acquired seven win shares and Michaels bested him in that category with eleven.
This is the perfect situation for both players. Lofton is 37 and aging so he will not be able to play as much as he once did. Michaels will never be an everyday player in my opinion, but can benefit from a platoon situation. Putting Lofton and Michaels together gives the Phillies a strong center field spot. Of course, this is Philadelphia and things rarely go as planned. If nothing else, the Phillies, at least have a better option than Marlon Byrd in center field.
On another note, don't look for Marlon Byrd to make the major league roster, if in fact he's still with the Phillies next spring, because he only hurts the team with his horrible bat, inability to draw walks, and inability to steal bases.