Free Talent Alert – Free Talent Alert

Dave · October 15, 2008 at 5:52 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Lee, I know you’re not going to be GM for much longer, but you still have a chance to help this franchise, and that can only look good for you in future endeavors. So, take this as an opportunity, if nothing else, to leave on a good note.

Josh Phelps was designated for assignment by the Cardinals today to clear a spot on their 40 man roster. Really, with this guy named Pujols, they weren’t going to have much use for a 30 year old first baseman anyway, so by DFA’ing him, they’ll be able to find a team that would be more inclined to give him big league at-bats. Because boy has he earned them. Here’s Phelps’ career since 2002, when he got his first shot at the big leagues with the Blue Jays.

2002: 265 AB, .309/.362/.562
2003: 396 AB, .268/.358/.470
2004: 371 AB, .251/.304/.450 (traded to Cleveland mid-season)
2005: 158 AB, .266/.328/.424 (with Tampa)

After a promising start, he didn’t hit well enough to establish himself as an everyday DH, and got the busted prospect tag. So, in 2006, he ended up in Triple-A with the Tigers organization, trying to prove to everyone he was worthy of another shot.

2006: 464 AB, .308./361/.532 (Triple-A)

This was good enough to get him back in the big leagues, so 2007 was split between the Pirates and Yankees.

2007: 157 AB, .306/.399/.503

Remarkably, baseball couldn’t find room for a guy who had just posted a .900 OPS, even as a platoon guy, and he ended up back in Triple-A for 2008, with the Cardinals this time. Seriously.

2008: 461 AB, .291/.368./568 (Triple-A)

Now, if you see any evidence in there, anywhere, that Josh Phelps isn’t a good enough hitter to get at-bats on a major league team, I’d love to see it. He had the equivalent of one mediocre year in 2004-2005 after a couple solid seasons to start, and he’s continued to flash legitimate major league power in a couple minor league stops, as well as hitting the crap out of the ball in the majors when given the chance in 2007.

There’s not any star potential here, as he’s an aggressive free swinger who gets himself out by chasing bad pitches, but he can really hit a fastball, and he crushes left-handed pitching. He’s what the Mariners thought they were getting when they traded Asdrubal Cabrera for Eduardo Perez a few years ago (#$%!). One of the upsides of being a bad team is that you can take shots on guys like Phelps and get good value, because you can offer him a lot more at-bats than a team that needs to maximize their chances of winning in 2009. If he turns himself into a full time player, all the better – you’ve found a first base solution for free.

I know you ignored us when we asked for Nelson Cruz, but hopefully watching him terrorize pitching down the stretch was something of an eye-opener. These undervalued guys can hit, and this team needs more guys who can turn on a fastball. When they’re free, take the opportunity.


24 Responses to “Free Talent Alert – Free Talent Alert”

  1. batura on October 15th, 2008 5:58 pm

    You know, this move would make sense. And that’s where it’s a problem for me. It kind of dawned on me that the M’s almost prefer players that can’t hit or can’t pitch. Oh yeah, and aren’t free either.

  2. Mike Snow on October 15th, 2008 6:14 pm

    an aggressive free swinger who gets himself out by chasing bad pitches

    I can understand logically why it would be a decent move, but on the other hand, when I consider the team we have and see this description attached to a potential acquisition, it’s like nails on a chalkboard.

  3. G-Man on October 15th, 2008 7:23 pm

    Mike’s right — but that’s why there’s hope that the M’s will like him.

    I’m a huge advocate of freely available talent. I figure you can get 2-3 guys for the price of one Carl Everett or Jose Vidro. And I’m not just making a cost comparison when I ay 2-3 guys; I want them to sign a couple of them to increase their odds that one will pan out.

    I tend to think of this approach more with back end starters and bullpen arms, but it could work for DH/1B for the Mariners in ’09.

  4. Steve T on October 15th, 2008 7:54 pm

    Funny if we picked up another Ken Phelps Award winner, 25 years after the original, who was also named Phelps.

  5. Mike Snow on October 15th, 2008 8:27 pm

    If only he had the plate discipline of Ken.

  6. Bender on October 15th, 2008 8:34 pm

    Who cares if he’s a free swinger if he can hit.

    The M’s will never do this because it was suggested here. It’s just not possible.

  7. Manzanillos Cup on October 15th, 2008 8:46 pm

    Phelps is kinda local too. He played his high school ball for Lakeland High in north Idaho (same general area that Bobby Jenks is from). I remember watching him hit a looooong HR off my school’s best pitcher.

  8. terry on October 15th, 2008 8:59 pm

    At this point I’d ignore Phelps’ recent minor league numbers (if a 30 year old doesn’t tear up PCL pitchers, it’s because he’s probably a pitcher).

    That said, in his roughly 1400 major league PAs he’s had a respectable .273/.343/.472, OPS=.815 (without dramatic platoon splits).

    That would’ve been slightly above average for either first base or DH in the AL. A major league average hitter (across all positions) in ’08 was: .264/.333/.416 OPS=.749.

    This wouldn’t be a world beater move and he probably wouldn’t be all that and a bag of chips as a starter especially considering he’d be a righty in Safeco. That said, for a team like Seattle that is so starved for a firstbaseman that they’d contemplate moving Lopez there, i’d think picking him up would almost be an imperative.

  9. Benne on October 15th, 2008 9:15 pm

    I’m still on the Brad Nelson bandwagon for our starting 1B, but Phelps would be a nice option as well.

    (Please don’t get sucked into the Teixeira bidding war, new GM)

  10. DAMellen on October 16th, 2008 12:49 am

    I’ve heard he’s a bad fielder, but I know that sometimes reputations outlive their applications so…is there any truth to it? Can the guy play some first base or would he have to be our dh? Honestly, I’m cool with him either way. I’m just curious.

  11. 300ZXNA on October 16th, 2008 1:02 am

    Speaking of Phelps and Jenks, I’m from Coeur d’ Alene and am roughly the same age as them, so I know several people who went to school with one or both of them. Kind of funny, but everyone who ever met Jenks all agree he’s one of the dumbest human beings they’ve ever met . . . good thing he can throw round objects really hard I guess . . .

  12. bermanator on October 16th, 2008 7:56 am

    I love the Phelps idea — I have no idea why he’s found it so hard to get at-bats in the bigs. And he’s a better fit for the AL, where he can DH as well as play first.

    Plus, as Dave said, he’s free. Can’t beat free.

  13. jprotzel on October 16th, 2008 9:25 am

    Dave, Isn’t Victor Diaz just as good as Phelps? Why aren’t the Mariners considering using Diaz at DH next year?

  14. joser on October 16th, 2008 9:28 am

    You know, I’m starting to think that a USSM endorsement is kind of the kiss of death for a good idea aimed at the ArmLinc collective brain trust. I wonder if it would be better to adopt a Br’er Rabbit approach — “Don’t throw me in that Briar Patch!” — and starting writing these things up along the lines of “Here’s a move we think the M’s might be thinking of making and we absolutely hate it.” Likewise, maybe USSM should’ve spent all of 2007 suggesting they get rid of Adam Jones, so that he’d still be here…

  15. marc w on October 16th, 2008 9:35 am

    I’ve liked Phelps a lot, and wonder if part of his problem is that expectations were so high after his initial half-season in 2002… do teams still label him a ‘bust’ because he’s not a true-talent .300/.360/.560 guy.
    I think the fielding issue is a good one; I don’t think he’s the guy you’d want as an everyday first baseman. But free/good hitter is a combo we haven’t seen a lot of recently.

    This doesn’t really *mean* anything, but Phelps certainly made an impression this summer in a four game series against the Rainiers.
    Phelps went 10-16 with SIX HRs, one 2B and one BB in the series, finishing with 3 solo home runs (he’s all about the stats! Not clutch! Booo!) in a 12-3 loss.

  16. Dave on October 16th, 2008 9:53 am

    Victor Diaz sucks.

  17. wlad on October 16th, 2008 12:59 pm

    Phelps is horrible. Please, please, please don’t be dumb and sign him.

  18. Dave on October 16th, 2008 1:06 pm

    Random unsupported opinion + link to a myspace page = auto ignore.

  19. indakind on October 16th, 2008 1:42 pm

    As a Cardinals fan I watched his numbers all year and he really crushed LH pitching. With all the LH’s in OAK he sure makes a lot of sense for you guys. He did a pretty nice job when he got the call up at the end of the year as well. With the crap that your team sent out there on a daily basis I have no idea why they would not pick Phelps up. It’s not like you guys have minor leaguers lined up to take over at 1B/DH either.

  20. joser on October 16th, 2008 2:47 pm

    Well, unless Clement’s knees / defense forces a move to 1B, or they’re dumb enough to re-sign Ibanez but smart enough to realize where he belongs, or the Lopez-at-1st “experiment” turns out to be more than that….

  21. Breadbaker on October 16th, 2008 5:07 pm

    Even if all it means is that we never see Miguel Cairo at first again, I’d say go for it. Downside is essentially none (don’t have to give up Asdrubal Cabrera equivalent). Medium case is a useful bench player who can hit against the tough lefties that LaHair/Clement shouldn’t hit against. Upside is one nice breakout season and a couple of draft picks if he leaves.

  22. BillyJive on October 16th, 2008 5:51 pm

    I’ve never understood why Phelps has never caught on fulltime with someone. Perhaps he went to the Barry Bonds School of Etiquette??

    I agree we should sign him…the M’s have already stated there will be no ‘big name’ free agent signings…Phelps is free…FREE!!! And he is an upgrade over Cairo…

  23. Evan on October 17th, 2008 11:26 am

    Phelps. BP Annual cover boy. Exactly the sort of guy Bill never would have signed.

    Somehow I suspect Lee isn’t allowed to do much these days.

  24. jimmylauderdale on October 20th, 2008 6:13 am

    While he may not be free, if Florida has truly soured on Jeremy Hermida I hope the new GM has them on the phone very quickly.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.