Ed Rendell: Ruben's Next Move: Swisher?
Revere, Young good trade acquisitions; Phils still need a pitcher & an outfielder
In my last column I wrote that this was the winter of our discontent and that Super Squibb's Wing Bowl 21 bid was our only chance for a true champion in this city.
Since that time just 2 weeks ago, somehow things seem to have become remarkably brighter. The rapid development of Nick Foles, Brandon Graham and Fletcher Cox has given Eagles fans a reason to at least dream that they might live to see the Lombardi Trophy paraded down Broad Street.
Sixers fans have seen the emergence of Jrue Holiday and Evan Turner as two young stars who just might lead us to another deep run in the playoffs, even though it's beginning to look like there's a better chance that Moses Malone will play center for us this season than Andrew Bynum.
But best of all, a determined Ruben Amaro Jr. appears to be on his way to doing it again, and giving the Phillies the tools to make a serious run at winning it all.
The trades for Ben Revere and Michael Young were terrific upgrades. Revere can be a very good offensive weapon, having hit .294 with 40 stolen bases last year. If that sounds a lot like Juan Pierre, remember that the fleet-footed Revere can play a solid centerfield filling the void left by Shane Victorino's departure. Young is a baseball player through and through who has always had a Jim Thome-esque influence on his teammates. He will be a more than adequate third baseman, and he is a very good hitter who will add a potent righthanded bat to the lineup. He is a career .300 hitter who has also hit 177 home runs. Though he had an off year this past season, in 2011 he hit .338 and drove in 106 runs. He has driven in more than 90 runs in 6 of the last 9 years.
I have a suspicion that Ruben is not done yet and is looking to add a solid starting pitcher to the back end of the rotation and one more power bat. I had hoped we would add the best power hitter in baseball - Josh Hamilton - and I know many of our fans wanted us to match the Angels' offer. However, I believe Ruben did the right thing. His offer of nearly $27 million a year for 3 years was a good one. To match the Angels (and there is no guarantee he would have picked us even if we did), we would have had to go to 5 years. Given Hamilton's age and history of frequent injuries and substance abuse, it's just too big a risk to tie up that amount of money for so long.
Having said that, our need for a power bat - someone who is a sure bet to hit at least 25 dingers - still remains. The potential answer - and a much cheaper one - may be Nick Swisher. He is still unsigned and I believe he would hit at least 30 homers playing 81 games at The Bank. Additionally, he is a good (not great) rightfielder, hustles his tail off, and is a terrific leader in the clubhouse.
Best of all, he's a switch-hitter, which would give us some pop from the right side, vitally important if Darin Ruf needs more time before he can be counted as an everyday player.
So Ruben, don't hesitate - finish the job you've started. Give us all the talent we need to win it all. With Hamilton off the market, there aren't many names who can make as big of a splash, but a guy like Swisher might turn out to be a safer bet and will be a great addition to what will become a very potent lineup.