Trading for Ty Wigginton is a good “only if” move. Wigginton is a good trade by Ruben Amaro “only if” it is not his final bench move. The Phillies needed a utility man who could play third, first, and maybe outfield, and Wigginton fits the bill. His .245 average over the last two seasons won’t wow you, but he averaged 18.5 homers over that span. Since Wigginton is probably replacing either Valdez or Martinez, it is a serious upgrade offensively. Wigginton carries a $2 million price tag, which is not a lot in general, but it is pricey for a bench player.
But adding Ty Wigginton does not address the main problem which was exposed in Game 5 of the NLDS: the Phillies need more grinders. When the Phillies stared down Chris Carpenter, who was clearly on his game, they needed a fire-starter, someone who could get into Carpenter’s head. A bunt single, a bloop hit, or even a ten pitch out, ANYTHING to get some momentum on your side. In the tight games you find in the playoffs, it’s not the Albert Pujols that wins it for you, it’s the David Freese.
Wigginton has a nice bat with some pop, but he offers more of the same approach at the plate. Just think, would Wigginton have made a difference in game five?
Ruben Amaro said himself that the Phillies need better approaches at the plate, yet he then grabs a player with the same mentality. Rather than expecting the veterans and Charlie Manuel to change their philosophy, it is Ruben’s job to bring in some pieces who already employ that mind set.
A player like Michael Cuddyer would have be a better fit than Wigginton. The fact that Cuddyer’s .277 average over the last two seasons is 32 points higher than Wigginton is a big reason, but he also averaged 13 more walks and 6 less strikeouts over his career than Wigginton. Not that Cuddyer would have been the right move since his asking price is significantly higher and likely too high for the role he would play on the Phils.
The missing piece right now is a Larry Bowa or a David Eckstein, players who had no right playing professional baseball and annoyed the heck out of pitchers when they found their way on base. That perfect piece is out their somewhere. Pat Gillick was masterful and finding that one guy. Let's see if Ruben Amaro can find him this year.
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