TWO WEEKS AGO, the Phillies were on the wrong end of the lopsided loss in the first of four games at Turner Field against the Braves, when John Mayberry Jr. was sent to the plate to pinch-hit for pitcher Justin De Fratus.
Mayberry singled off Atlanta lefthanded reliever Alex Wood to lead off the seventh inning. But before the next hitter, Cesar Hernandez, could dig his cleats into the batter's box, Wood picked Mayberry off first base.
"That's not good baseball," manager Ryne Sandberg said afterward. "I wouldn't say it's from a lack of effort. But being down, 7-0, early and the pace of the game, sometimes that snowballs. But that's no excuse, either."
The play served well as a microcosm for the major league career of Mayberry, a player talented enough to have a professional job, but also equal parts lackadaisical and uninspired, too. Mayberry's abilities to hit lefthanders - with power - will likely keep him employed in major league baseball, because it is a skill teams value.
But for the Phillies, parting ways with Mayberry may be an ideal case of addition by subtraction in an attempt to improve Sandberg's bench for 2014.
Mayberry, the first acquisition in the general managing career of Ruben Amaro Jr., has had a permanent place on the Phillies bench for three straight seasons. He hit .227 with a .667 OPS in 2013.
Mayberry also had a -1.1 WAR. WAR is an all-encompassing stat, short for Wins Above Replacement, which factors in offense, defense and baserunning, measuring the number of wins a player contributes relative to a freely available minor league player.
Of the 237 major league players with at least 350 plate appearances this season, only eight players had a worse WAR than Mayberry. Interestingly, two Amaro acquisitions from last winter, Delmon Young and Michael Young, ranked 226th and 231st on the same list, respectively.
The two Youngs are no longer with the Phillies, and it's probably time for Mayberry to move on, too. Mayberry is one of 10 players eligible for salary arbitration this winter; he would likely be in line to earn something close to $1 million in 2014 if he is tendered a contract.
If there was any silver lining to an 89-loss season for the Phillies, it was that they came away with more than a couple of viable options for their 2014 bench.
For example: Mayberry isn't needed anymore, because the Phillies have a cheaper, better option in the form of Darin Ruf. Since Amaro has pretty much come out and said Ruf isn't an everyday big-league player, Ruf would at the very least be the best power-hitting righthanded bat off the bench.
"I can't sit here and tell you that he's an everyday player for us," Amaro said of Ruf. "He's going to have to fight for a job in some way, shape or form. Can he add some depth to our bench, to our club overall? Can he play a little left, can he play a little right, can he play a little first and give [Ryan] Howard a blow? He can become valuable in that regard."
If that's the modus operandi, then bye-bye, Mayberry.
Perhaps the only player on the roster who has infuriated fans more than Mayberry is Michael Martinez.
The former Rule 5 pick has managed to keep a job because he can play a variety of positions. But Martinez is simply not a major league player: Martinez' .495 career OPS is the 29th lowest OPS since 1900 out of 4,549 non-pitchers with 350 or more plate appearances in that time.
Martinez was outrighted off the 40-man roster shortly after the season; he is now a free agent who can sign elsewhere.
Much like Mayberry, Martinez doesn't have a place on the 2014 roster anyway.
The Venezuelan duo of Freddy Galvis and Cesar Hernandez give the Phillies two options for the role of super utility player that offer superior offense and defense. Both should compete for bench jobs in 2014.
Kevin Frandsen, Roger Bernadina and Casper Wells, like Mayberry, are all bench hopefuls who are arbitration eligible this winter. Frandsen would appear to be the only one of that trio who has done enough to stick around.
The backup catching position likely won't be sorted out until the Phillies figure out the starting catching position; they'd like to re-sign free agent Carlos Ruiz. But both Erik Kratz and rookie Cameron Rupp are suitable solutions if the Phils retain Ruiz or find another, capable, veteran starter.