Deadline Dilemma: Shane Victorino

(Photo: Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)

With the Phillies looking for pitching, they may need to bite a bullet or two and include a player that they don't want to give up. Could Shane Victorino be one of those players?

While it may appear that Shane Victorino isn't having as good of a season in 2008 as he did last season for the Phillies, he's actually not far off his pace of last season, although there has been a drop in his power numbers. Victorino is hitting .279 and finished last season hitting .281 for the Phillies. Power wise though, he's on a pace to hit 8 home runs, compared to the 12 that he hit last season. When you delve deeper, he's on a pace to hit one home run every 67 at bats this season, but launched one out once every 38 at bats in 2007. The good news is that the Phillies don't depend on Victorino for home runs. They look for him to get on base (.347 OBP in '07 and a .350 OBP in '08) and make things happen from there. His stolen base number is on the exact pace that it was last season when he swiped 37 bases, but again, he'll likely have more at bats and more opportunities to steal this season. The bottom line though is that Victorino isn't too far off his numbers from last season and is still doing the things that the Phillies most need out of him, like getting on base, stealing bases and giving them strong defense in center field and Victorino is accomplishing all of those things.

Other teams look at Victorino and envy the Phillies for what they've got, considering that Victorino is still young, low paid and under team control through the 2011 season. That's why when the Phillies have asked about some players, other teams are asking about Shane Victorino. So far, the Phillies have moved the conversations away from Victorino, but would they move him if the deal was right?

First, you have to consider what the Phillies would do without Victorino. Jayson Werth took over in center field when Victorino was on the DL earlier this season and did basically what Victorino did last season when he filled in for Aaron Rowand. Nobody really missed Rowand last season and Werth made it fairly easy not to miss Victorino this season. In fact, there are those that believe Werth should - and could - be an everyday player in the majors. The problem with moving Werth to center would be that it would expose Geoff Jenkins to left-handed pitching, which he has always struggled against in his career. This season, Jenkins is hitting just .105 (2-for-19) against lefties. The Phillies have right-handed hitting So Taguchi to platoon with Jenkins, but he's hit lefties at just a .162 (6-for-37) clip this season. Exposure to left-handers is especially tough for the Phillies since teams like to throw left-handers against them when they can to help contain Chase Utley and Ryan Howard. The Phillies would also take a hit in the speed department, which is something they use effectively, with Victorino and Jimmy Rollins leading the way.

The Phillies do have young outfielders coming through the system, but none that are definitely ready to step in on an everyday basis or even just provide a reliable bat off the bench. Brandan Watson (1-14-.292 at Lehigh Valley) is again putting up nice Triple-A numbers, but he's never played in the majors on an everyday basis and would be too much of a risk for the Phillies to put in center field on a regular basis, although he is very much like Victorino in that he concentrates on getting on base and making things happen from there.

The main deadline focus for the Phillies will be on pitching, but if they were to include Victorino in a deal, they would almost have to get an outfielder in exchange, even if it were just someone capable of platooning with Jenkins in right field.

When you consider that Victorino is just 27 and won't be eligible for free agency until after the 2011 season, it makes sense for the Phillies to keep him around. Dealing Victorino will only become tempting if the Phillies were to get the right pitcher in exchange and the pitchers that remain on the market - A.J. Burnett, Erik Bedard, Bronson Arroyo - likely won't warrant the Phillies even giving much consideration to including Victorino in any package. Instead, the Phillies would be much more inclined - and much smarter - to include someone like Javon Moran or Greg Golson in a deal and hoping that their potential trade partners will see in them the same things that they see in Victorino, only requiring a little more patience for them to get to the majors.


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