Coming into spring, the word was that both Marlon Byrd and Placido Polanco
may need to fill out change of address cards before too long. Both were being
openly shopped and the Phillies were hoping that each would show something to
visiting scouts this spring that may enhance their value on the open market. The
good news is that both players came into camp and wowed the scouts. Both have
had huge springs and generated some interest in their services. The bad news is
that the Phillies may need both to cover a couple of key injuries that have
cropped up this spring.
Marlon Byrd was available cheap this offseason. Milwaukee was interested, Los
Angeles was interested, but both backed off. They both preferred to see what
Byrd might do this spring as did a handful of other teams. The Phillies almost
seemed forlorn that they were unable to deal Byrd elsewhere and went on with
their plans to replace him on their roster. Kenny Lofton was brought in from New
York and the Phillies drafted center fielder Shane Victorino in the Rule 5 Draft
last December. The Phillies did everything but send someone over to pack Byrd's
bags for him. Fast forward to spring training and a rejuvenated Marlon Byrd
comes into camp saying and doing all the right things. From the first pitch that
he saw, he was hammering shots all over the field and it's continued through
A gruesome looking dislocated finger slowed the flight of Byrd, but hasn't
derailed his spring. He should return to the lineup early this week and if he
picks up where he left off, there will be no problem and he'll be right back
where he figured on being. When he exited the lineup, Byrd was hitting .390 with
a .419 OBP. There was talk of having him platoon with Lofton, rather than having
Jason Michaels share the time in center field. Victorino was seemingly left in
the dust and could wind up back in the Dodgers organization before the season
Marlon Byrd should be one of the more talked about trade prospects of the
spring, instead, the Phillies are slow to move him, thanks to the injury to
Lofton. It's looking more and more like Lofton may start the season on the
disabled list and Byrd could in fact be the starting center fielder when the
Phillies start the season against the Washington Nationals in one week. It would
be somewhat prophetic since Byrd came into camp saying that he wasn't looking to
win a spot on the roster, he was looking to win a spot in the starting lineup.
Once Lofton returns, it may be difficult to get Byrd out of the lineup if he is
hitting with the authority that he has shown this spring.
As for Polanco, his value to the team was made clear when David Bell didn't
even make it to the first official full squad workout before his achy back gave
out. Before media photos were even taken, Bell was in the trainer's room and
Polanco was taking ground balls at third base. For his part, Polanco, like Byrd,
has done everything to show how valuable he can be to the Phillies or another
team. Polanco has hit .404 this spring and has come up with some key hits, in
addition to playing well defensively at third base.
Polanco's situation is more complex than Byrd's. One thing has been sure this
spring and that is Polanco's unwillingness to be a utility player at this point
in his career. The Phillies need to keep him around as insurance against Bell's
aching back, but they certainly don't need the negative attitude - dare I say
cancer? - in the clubhouse if Polanco isn't playing everyday. To make things
more sticky though, there is nobody else who can really step in at third base
other than Tomas Perez. The Phillies don't envision having Perez play third on a
regular basis, so Polanco is a necessary evil. You can rest assured though that
if Bell does show himself to be fit, the Phillies could make a wager on dealing
Polanco if they could fill another hole on the club. Any potential deal
involving Polanco though would have to wait until later in the season, giving
Bell time to prove that he's fit enough to play on a regular basis.
So, if Byrd and Polanco are both seemingly off the market, then are there
other Phillies who could be shopped around? The odds are that there aren't any
major pieces of the puzzle who could be headed elsewhere. The Phillies insist
that they won't look to deal Ryan Howard and have in fact mentioned keeping him
as a left-handed hitter off the bench. Would the Phillies deal Jason Michaels?
Possible, but again, with the injury to Lofton, they would only do it if they
felt pretty sure of the player they were getting in return.
As for pitchers, the Phillies don't have starting pitching to deal. They
could deal a reliever or two, but none of those moves would figure to be of the
blockbuster variety. There are plenty of teams looking to take Ryan Madson off
the Phillies hands, but it's not likely that the Phillies would oblige those
requests. Rheal Cormier has been mentioned in some circles, but again, it's more
likely that the Phillies will keep him as a part of their bullpen.
Over the final week of spring training, the Phillies will likely listen to
some ideas from other clubs. They may even propose a few of their own. Suffice
it to say though that any move that they make isn't likely to be huge and if it
is, it will come out of nowhere, taking almost everybody by surprise.
The Phillies figured on making a couple of moves this spring, but as the season approaches, it looks like they may be quiet. The players that they thought they may make available are needed to cover injuries and others that they could offer may not bring the desired value.
Marlon Byrd and Placido Polanco are likely off the trade market.