Two big concerns about the departure of Rowand and the appointment of Shane Victorino to the role of every day center fielder. The first is what happens when Victorino gets hurt and the other is what happens if he doesn’t.

Victorino seems likely to be able to handle the position defensively. But offensively he’s a 272/331/384 career hitter against righties (.715 OPS). He was a little better than that against righties in ’07, hitting 276/339/394 (.733 OPS) with a .770 OPS overall. So is there a chance that Victorino could be a good defensive center fielder and still not hit enough to play every day? I don’t think so. If you look at his .770 OPS from 2007, among the 17 NL players that got at least 300 plate appearances as a right fielder Victorino’s OPS was a miserable 15th. There were 20 NL players that got 300 plate appearances as a center fielder — a .770 OPS as a center fielder would have been seventh among that group.

One thing I do think you have to worry about is him breaking down over the course of the season. Last year he went into the All-Star break with 11 home runs and 27 stolen bases. Over the second half of the season he lost a lot of time to injuries and just being outhit by Werth and wound up with about a third as many at-bats as he got in the first half. After the break he hit just one home run (and stole just ten more bases).

The Phillies current depth at center field is just miserable. Bruntlett, Roberson and Brandon Watson are almost guaranteed to be worse offensive players at the position than Victorino would be. The best choice to back up Victorino in center looks to me like it would be Werth if he could handle the role defensively.

Here’s a look at Werth’s career numbers as a center fielder compared to Victorino and Rowand’s.


Player

G

GS

Inn

FPCT

RF

ZR
Werth 40 29 259.2 .967 3.10 .907
Victorino 92 72 691.2 1.000 2.51 .850
Rowand 724 657 5878.1 .989 2.67 .913

It’s just a few innings for Werth and his numbers would be sure to deteriorate if he got more time at the position, but I’d put him second on the depth chart behind Victorino. The biggest problems with that are first that Werth can’t play both right and center at the same time and second that Werth isn’t a whole lot better against righties than Victorino. Werth hit 257/371/389 against righties in ’07 and has a career .750 OPS against them.

The Phillies have four outfielders at this point in Burrell, Werth, Victorino and Snelling. There’s no question that that isn’t going to be enough — the question is who’s going to be the fifth guy. And I’m hoping the answer to that proves to be a left-handed corner outfielder who can hit righties and that the Phils are willing to assume Werth can backup center with Snelling and Bruntlett as the emergency guys. A disaster scenario for the Phillies would be if they keep those four guys and think that they need someone who can play center for the fifth outfielder. That would help, but not nearly as much as adding someone who can hit righties and taking your chances when Victorino goes down.

The Phils agreed to a one-year contract with Chris Snelling for $450,000.

This article says the Phillies are interested in right-handed reliever Akinori Otsuka and not interested in Morgan Ensberg.

This article says the Phillies have talked with Geoff Jenkins’ agent and he may be too expensive. The Padres may have interest in Jenkins as well, now that Kosuke Fukudome has agreed to a contract with the Cubs.