When the Phillies pulled the trigger and sent reliever Tim Worrell to Arizona, many fans were surprised that infielder Matt Kata was the player that the Phillies received in the deal. After all, with Tomas Perez firmly entrenched in Philadelphia and Ramon Martinez having arrived earlier in the deal that sent Placido Polanco to Detroit, there didn’t seem to be room in Philly for Kata. Plus, Jim Thome should be coming off the DL before too long and the word is that the Phillies intend to keep Ryan Howard with the big league club rather than send him back to AAA Scranton. That leaves a lot of bodies on the infield.
“I was kind of surprised when I heard that I was going to Philly, but so far, it’s worked out,” said Kata. Actually, Kata is happy to be anywhere as long as it’s a city with a major league club after having split his season between Arizona and Tucson. “I can play in the majors and can help a club in whatever they ask me to do, so being in Philadelphia is great,” exclaimed the newest Phillie.
Kata’s versatility could mean that there is another move in the works. The only places that Kata hasn’t played are catcher and pitcher. He has even been learning to play some in center field. “I’ve played about 15 games in center at Tucson and I’m picking it up pretty well,” said Kata. Since Kata can play in center, the Phillies could potentially move either Kenny Lofton, Jason Michaels or Endy Chavez in a deal with another club to get starting pitching. Michaels has been much sought after in the past and has certainly done nothing to hurt his value this season. Lofton might be a nice rental for a club like the Yankees, where he’s familiar and where they desperately need some help in center. The Yankees are also known to have expressed an interest in Chavez. Kata’s presence could also mean that Perez or Martinez could be included in a package deal with another club, or perhaps, Kata himself could be sent elsewhere. “I don’t worry about those things. I would like to settle in somewhere and find somewhere to call home, but you can’t let hypetheticals get in the way,” said Kata.
Kata seemed to be on his way to finding a home in Arizona, but wound up losing the second base job. Actually, he lost the second base job three times with the Diamondbacks. In 2003, he was replaced by Junior Spivey, who got hot in spring training and stole the job. The following season, Kata was the opening day second baseman, but went down with an injury and missed much of the season. This season, Arizona opened their wallet and brought in Craig Counsell. Plus, Alex Cintron played well enough to become the D’backs primary utility infielder, leaving Kata to shuttle between Arizona and Tucson. Now, Kata’s looking for the chance to show the Phillies how he can help them as a utility player. He’s also looking to show other clubs that he can help in handling a more involved role. "I'd love to play every day on a consistent basis," Kata said. "But I know that I'm a role player here, and when you're a role player you have to get the job done."
When he does get the chance to play, Kata should show himself to be just the type of player that Philadelphia fans love. James Renwick, of FutureBacks.com thinks Kata will fit in well in Philly. “He’s a hard nosed kid. Fans will love him because he goes all out every play. This season between Arizona and Tucson, he’s played all three outfield spots, second, short, and third. Better than average glove at all three infield spots, serviceable in left and right, just starting to play center, a little sketchy out there,” reports Renwick. “He’ll be on the rail of the dugout everyday, ready to step in at any moment.”
So, with less than a week before the trading deadline, Kata finds himself in the majors and likely headed either for a permanent spot on the Phillies bench. Of course, at a moment’s notice, he could be shipped elsewhere, including north to AAA Scranton Wilkes-Barre. “I’ve never been there (Scranton),” said Kata, “but it’s okay with me if I don’t get to see it.”