Trading Hunter Pence Was Stupid

image from mobilwi.typepad.comPerhaps only Scott Hartnell thinks it was a good move

Bile Scott, writing in the comments yesterday, put forth the following: I still don’t understand why you dump Pence at the deadline last year. He was under team control for another year so instead of going to arbitration with a solid RF, you get Young and platoon unproven pups in left? It makes no sense!

Agreed. Pence had one year remaining on his contract (arbitration eligible) and is 29-years-old (30 in April). At the time of the trade, he was the youngest, most durable and reliable projected everyday player for the Phils in 2013.

True, the Phillies had to sell at the deadline last season, and trading Shane Victorino and Joe Blanton, each in the final year of their contract, made sense. But why move the youngest controllable starter when you still expect to compete the following season? 

Prospects. Eh. It’s not like either of the minor leaguers the Phillies got for Pence – Tommy Joseph and Seth Rosin – are can’t-miss players. Both are highly regarded, but, as is the case with all prospects, there are no guarantees. The Phils are still in win now mode (I think), so trading a 30-year-old everyday player with one year left on his deal for prospects, well, it doesn’t make a ton of sense.

Money. Who cares? It’s not yours. Pence avoided arbitration with the Giants by signing a one-year, $13.8 million deal, which is certainly at the high end* of what he would have gotten from the Phils, whose only spending limit is $178 million– the luxury tax threshold for 2013. Right now, the Phillies’ current payroll stands at around $156 million (plus around $10 million for player benefits that gets factored into luxury tax calculations). That leaves them about $12 million under the threshold, or, in other words: roughly a Hunter Pence under the threshold

*He likely earned himself a $2 million, “thanks for those pre-game sermons” bonus in San Fran

Having Pence this season would have made no difference to the construction of the rest of the team, as it currently stands. Yes, the Phils now have substantial flexibility, something they undoubtedly planned to, um, do something – anything at all – with this winter. But they didn’t. So, unless you’re an owner, applauding the $10 million or so they saved is foolish. And even John Middleton is going to be shaking his DAMN head when he watches Young try to catch a slicing looper.

Upgrades. Not really. Obviously, the Phils tried to do more with the money, but missed on available players – either via trade or free agency – such as the Uptons, Josh Hamilton, Nick Swisher and others. They failed to sign any impact hitters, instead settling on 900-year-old Michael Young, controllable Ben Revere (thumbs up there), and the anti-Semitic Delmon Young. They spent on pitching, sort of: Mike Adams ($5 million), Chase Utley hater John Lannan ($2.5 million), Aaron Cook ($1.6 million) and Chad Durbin ($1.1 million). None of those names, except for maybe Adams, jump out at you, but they bolster a bullpen that needed bolstering.

It all comes back to the lineup, though. The Phillies are certainly no better there than they were last season. Young is a minor upgrade over Placido Polanco, but the outfield now consists of John Mayberry, Dom Brown, Darin Ruf, Ben Revere, Laynce Nix and Delmon Young. That’s terrible for a supposedly contending team.

Pence certainly has his issues – he’s a lousy fielder, frustrating hitter, and owns a strip of land between home plate and shortstop – but he’s not as bad in the field as Young, and his stats are better than Young’s across the board. Even Swisher, who just signed a four-year, $56 million deal with the Indians, and who some thought could have been the upgrade in the outfield, didn’t have much better numbers than Pence in 2012. Oh, and he’s three years older. I have no idea if the Phils ever seriously considered signing Swish, but he at least had the type of power numbers (24 home runs, 93 RBIs) that the Phillies were likely looking for.

Some would argue Pence had the worst season of his career last year– a rarity for a 29-year-old. Yet he still finished the season with 24 home runs, 104 RBIs and was credited by his Giants teammates as being a clubhouse leader in their run to their second World Series championship in three years. Not bad.

And that’s what I keep coming back to: If nothing else, Pence is reliable. He’s played in over 150 games, and hit over 20 home runs and 25 doubles every year since 2008. In four of those five seasons, he’s driven in over 80 runs, including 91, 97 and 104 in each of the past three seasons, respectively. Those aren’t necessarily All-Star numbers, and Pence’s on-base and slugging percentages are mediocre, but he’s a plus corner outfielder, still in the prime of his career, and would have been under contract in 2013 at an amount that would have allowed the Phillies to remain under the luxury tax threshold while making the “upgrades” they did this winter. 

So, yeah, trading him was stupid.

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55 Responses

  1. eh I think the money will be more important than people think, the bullpen was a joke and halladay and lee are getting older.
    I think this team is better than people think, it will all come down to if revere leads off, succeeds, and rollins can hit wherever he ends up. I think the fatty in right field will be better than everyone thinks too

  2. Maybe Rube just wanted to get rid of the two guys with the worst at-bat discipline on the team in Vic & Pence? Maybe to send a message?

  3. “Money. Who cares? It’s not yours”
    This statement is idiotic when it comes to saying whether this trade is “stupid” or not. While sure, the money is irrelevant to the fans, it certainly isn’t to the team. Perhaps, just perhaps, the Phillies know more about their financials than you do. And perhaps, they aren’t making quite as much money as they were when they were selling championship gear by the truckload. Baseball is a business, afterall.

  4. Even through all the offensive issues (before and after the Pence trades) the problem was more with the bullpen than it was with the offense (except maybe clutch hitting, which is really were they missed Ryan Howard & Chase Utley) but there were too many blown leads in the 7th-9th innings and Charlie just needs to know how to manage his players this year, no more starters pitching into the 9th every game and giving Chase, Jimmy & Ryan a day off more than usual.. I think everyone is overreacting with this offseason, in my opinion.

  5. Obviously, Pence is better than the cocksuckers we have in our outfield now…but lets not loose sight of the fact that Pence sucked dick. He was an overrated player on a shitty Houston team, and when he came here he did very little good. Pence is a small baby step better than Dom Brown

  6. No, it was stupid to trade for him in the first place. The guy is easily the dumbest baseball player (next to Victorino) I’ve ever seen play. Oh the pitcher just threw 8 straight balls? Lets go up and hack at the first pitch!!! They have their run producers and now they need guys that will put up good ABs on a consistent basis, see pitches, and get on base. There’s a reason that both he and Victorino are gone. Because this team needs to move in a different direction

  7. Pence had his bad times. Like most, you have bad days and good days. If that’s the only problem, then the entire Philadelphia Sports world needs to get over the cobweb head shaking morning that they are having due to hard partying the night before, get over the fact that the broad in bed next to them wasn’t who they wanted to sleep with but did because of the drunkenness, and take the hangover like a man. The fact remains that there were more consistent times of bad slumps that were the basic downfall of those players.
    Remember that sometimes, character doesn’t produce hits. Personality does not always produce a leap catch in the outfield to prevent the other team from having a homerun. I’m not going to deny that Hunter is a hell of a guy. So is Victorino. But at the end of the day, they were slumping, and that meant to the brass upstairs that it was time for them to try something different by sending them elsewhere in trades. Do I miss Hunter and Shane in pinstripe reds? You better believe it. However, I just think that we needed to freshen up some.
    So I will jump on a bandwagon. It was a good move because for the careers of Shane and Hunter, this basically would mean that they can revive themselves and their careers. You have to look at players themselves overall, not just the team.
    And who really knows. Ruben MIGHT just fool us all and trade for them in July. We all know Ruben USUALLY makes blockbuster moves on July 29th.

  8. I have more of a problem with what they got for him. Tommy Joseph & Seth Rosin are “highly regarded”? Joseph & Rosin are shit compared to what they gave up for Pence in Singleton, Cosart, and Santana. Rube traded 3 prospects who are regarded as “A” level for Pence & got back a “B” (at best) & “C” level prospect.

  9. Hey it’s not like Revere is a prototypical leadoff guy. He’s fast, but he has a low career OBP and has problems with the bunt. I’d rather have him up there with Rollins a little deeper though.

  10. In 2012, Hunter Pence hit .253 and Delmon Young hit .267
    In terms of the ever-important “the phils need a right handed power bat” discussion, Pence hit .235 against southpaws while Young hit .308.
    They both suck in the field, so that’s a moot comparison.
    Oh, and Pence is getting paid $13.8M this year while we’re only paying Young $750K, possibly more if he isn’t fat and performs.
    As far as I’m concerned, it sounds like we upgraded and saved money to spend at the trade deadline so we can fill the gap we’ll need to make a push into the playoffs

  11. OK, you guys are right. Pence sucks, and I don’t know anything about baseball.
    Now who wants to read some things an athlete wrote on Twitter?

  12. My big issue with the whole thing is that it is now TWICE that Rube has traded away top tier prospects to get a player (First Lee, then Pence) and then subsequently traded that player for MUCH lesser prospects a year later. Apparently Rube thinks that a good business strategy is to buy high and sell low. Add in his smug “I’m so much more intelligent than you” attitude and it is no wonder why a growing number of Phillies fans dislike him.

  13. It’s called ending the relationship before you have to put a ring on her finger. They knew Pence was a mistake after a full season of no plate discipline, blunders in the outfield and shoddy baserunning. They cut ties BEFORE they had to go to arbitration so that they didn’t cost themselves more years and more money. Think about that, Kyle. 😉

  14. I think it was a smart move. Pence was an example of the kind of guy the Phils don’t need. Flails away at the plate, confused on the bases. Better off for us elsewhere.

  15. Wow, wouldn’t ya know? You take time to actually write a thoughtful and relevant bit of analysis and the majority of your comments aren’t racist, sexist, immature scum. What a coincidence.

  16. Lol Someone posted that they dont like chickies and petes and kyle deleted it but doesnt have the balls to say why

  17. Because I run a website for a living and I can’t think of one other medium that allows readers or consumers to publicly criticize their advertisers, and I’m certainly not going to be the first. If you want me to come to your place of work and rip you in front of your boss, let me know. I run a fucking business and don’t try to pretend those aren’t ads. If you don’t like something? Don’t buy it. But stop whining about.

  18. Trading Pence wasn’t stupid, they did it so they could free up money to go after someone in the off season, namely BJ, who (shockingly) (sarcasm) decided to go to the Braves who offered him 25 million more then we did.
    Now, letting Schierholtz walk was FUCKING stupid, since he could have at least been the day to day RF’er

  19. I was emailing with a friend on deadline day and I advocated for trading Pence, he asked why. This was my response:
    Because he’s the only one that could possibly bring back a quality, just-about-major-league-ready OF to take his place. The money is a big thing- if they don’t trade him and he gets $14-15M in arbitration that will push them precariously close to the luxury tax (IF they don’t trade Lee, which they shouldn’t do- we’d never get another free agent to sign here if they treated him like that). We needed Pence as the 5 hitter to protect Howard, but now Chooch can fill that role. Pence is a below-average-to-average fielder. I just think he is expendable. And he’ll bring back the biggest return.
    I like Pence. I wanted him here to begin with. But circumstances change, and even if the OF you get back isn’t quite major league ready, you can spend $7-8M of Pence’s salary on a serviceable replacement until the prospect is ready. Plus, that OF piece wouldn’t be the only one you get back. Maybe a further-away SS and 2B prospect. It would be a package of prospects, and that’s what we need right now.

    That’s what made trading him make sense to me at the time. But look what’s happened:
    Chooch tests positive for Adderall, suspended. Who knows what he is when he comes back.
    The return on the deal wasn’t an-almost-ready-OF. I don’t like the return, though being deep at catcher isn’t really a bad thing.
    You didn’t get to use $7-8M on a replacement. You used $750 on a guy who may or may not be close to comparable.
    I thought it made sense to do it in the right deal- which they did not do, and then didn’t do what they needed to in the offseason.
    Trading Pence wasn’t stupid; trading him for the package they got and their subsequent moves were stupid. That’s all on RAJ. He has a lot to prove this year.

  20. Lets eat mo foes. Sheeeeeeenaaaa. Uh uh uh uh. Let me eat some crab fries off your ass baby!!! Yeah me and pat da bat gonna drink til were silly, then eat some sloppy ckn cutlets drippin w/ hot buffalo sauce. Uh uh uh raj and cholly gonna do this for philadelphia!!

  21. Hunter banged susie celek after hitting his 1st homeroom in a Phillies uniform, but he didn’t eat

  22. This is the dumbest article I have ever seen. Hunter Pence is a clown and Delmon Young will be a full upgrade offensively while costing a quarter of the price. The only mistake was trading for pence in the first place.

  23. Kyle sits in his udnerwear in his room with a bag of doritos and pack of HiC posting on this site. He does not have a “Ms. CB”

  24. I still don’t understand why we had to be in SELL mode at all. We have proven players who were having an off year as a team. I just don’t get it. I understand getting rid of some, but the concept in general of having to sell at the deadline of every year if you’re not doing as well as expected or did last year confuses me. I would like it more if the sixers sold almost their entire team at the deadline though.

  25. Kyle, learn to do math. No way in hell Pence’s salary would fit under the luxury tax threshold. He’s not gonna settle for $10M or $11M. He made $10.4 last year and arbiters always give decent raises. Even if we pretended for a second that your little fantasy of Pence signing for $12M could happen, that means the Phillies would be right at $178 for tax purposes. They can’t be right up against it. They need flexibility to add a player here or there if injuries occur in spring training or whenever. The owners want to be under the tax not right at it. Paying Hunter Pence $13 or $14M would be a total waste of money.

  26. @asdfjl: it’s not an “or” situation – I looked at other numbers AND chose batting average AND specifically brought up the point that Young is better against lefties, which is what we need more than anything. I get your point though. You can’t judge a player’s worth by just one stat, and Pence had considrably more RBIs and better numbers in slugging and on base%. But still – they are comparable players for very non-comparable price tags

  27. 13 or 14 million? he signed with the Giants for under $14, and there was undoubtedly a bump for – hey, thanks for helping us win the world series. he would have gotten around 12 here. maybe 13. point is, they wouldn’t have signed young — a million there, and could have easily passed on either lannan or aaron cook, two fringe signings. hell, probably still could have come close to signing both. they’d had less flexibility, sure, but keeping pence certainly wouldn’t have limited their lousy offseason. they traded him to free up money to fill holes and, well, they didn’t fill the holes that well and will have lowest payroll since 2010.

  28. Hunter Pence blew in SF. They can have him for that money. If we’re in the mix at the trade deadline, we’ll have the ability to add a bat without being tapped out of cash. Since we won the WS, we’ve signed high profile guys and haven’t won a thing since (division titles are cool and all but i like rings). None of the FAs out there were worth signing.
    Oh, and Sheena Parveen is NOT hot.
    That is all.

  29. Hey Kyle, you’re a wet cunt who doesn’t know a thing about baseball. Pence dropped more balls than he hit homers and he was way too expensive. He was a terrible athlete and choked up on the bat like a fuckin two year old. He didnt do a god damn thing on that giants team except ride on the coattails of better men and athletes. You can’t write.

  30. I know how I’ll further my point – I’ll pretend Tommy Joseph isn’t as highly regarded as he actually is!

  31. I couldn’t stand Pence, but this is a fair point. They didn’t really replace a 20/100 guy in the middle of the order with anything resembling a sure thing. And they got younger and cheaper in CF, certainly with Revere, but if we’re just looking at 2013, Revere is certainly not as good as Victorino was or would likely be.
    My guess is Amaro must be looking at his OF the same way he looked at it in 2011 when they opened with an aging Ibanez in LF and Francisco in RF…eventually gave Mayberry and Brown chances to fill the void. And he eventually decided he needed to add someone like Pence. So I assume he;ll make a move for a bat at the deadline if the team is contending yet still has a major hole in the OF. In the meantime, I suppose he’s taking a chance that Ruf and/or Brown will really shine in Spring Training and could equal the production of a veteran for many millions less.
    In that regard I just don’t understand the Delmon Young signing. I say either go all-in with the cheap youth movement or not. But I suppose it couldn’t hurt to add another veteran bat just in case both Brown and Ruf fall flat on their faces.

  32. Is there a character limit to comments or something?? I keep trying to respond to your terrible logic about Hunter Pence only getting $12M, but every time I hit post it doesn’t work…

  33. This “story” was “stupid”. You can’t call the move stupid in hindsight unless you can say for certain that this outfield we have now was the plan all along. The much more salient point is that Ruben really whiffed in the offseason on all the big names and in replacing Pence. The Delmon Young thing really just seems like an “oops, we effed up” roll of the dice hoping for something good to happen.

  34. yeah, i’m sure going to miss having a dude with terrible plate discipline GiDP or pop-up on the first pitch after 8 straight balls when we are down late in a game… i’m sure going to regret not having a guy defensively in RF who makes Dom Brown look like Ken Griffey Jr.
    good for pence, he won a world series with SF and was a leader on the team, super. No ill will to the guy personally, but he just wasn’t an effective piece of the team
    what an asinine article/argument, it’s addition by subtraction (see: Bobby Abreu). why don’t you call up ur idols caveman werth, pat the bat, and richie and cartsy then write an article about their nighlife escapades, cuz all of us really want to read more about them…

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