.193. That is the combined batting average of all Detroit Tigers second basemen this year. Sure, the starting pitching has been inconsistent, the bullpen has been erratic at times, the fielding has been sub-par, and the hitting has come and gone, but if you could point to one area that has consistently plagued the Tigers this year it would be the second base position.
|Polanco batted .311 during his time in Detroit|
It seems like an eternity since the Tigers have had a second baseman taking the field for them on an everyday basis, but in reality it was only three seasons ago in 2009 that the Tigers called Placido Polanco their everyday second baseman. Here's the problem, though, and Jim Leyland has said it over and over again this year: "I can only work with the players that I have." So what can the Tigers do to resolve their second base issue? Bring back Placido Polanco.
Currently, the Philadelphia Phillies sit dead last in the National League East, four games below .500 and eight games back of the energetic Bryce Harper-led Washington Nationals. The Phillies have shown no signs of improvement so far this season mainly because of the injuries multiple stars on their team have sustained (Ryan Howard-achilles, Roy Halladay-shoulder, Chase Utley-knee), and also due to the competitive nature the NL East has discovered in the 2012 season; the Phillies are the only team below .500 in the division. With timetables relatively unknown on Utley and Howard, and Halladay still needing at least six more weeks to recover from his injury, it looks as if the Phillies will continue to struggle well into July, making them sellers at the trade deadline.
Polanco, being 36 years of age and in the final year of a three-year deal, is perfect trade-bait for the Phillies and a perfect fit for the Tigers. Although Polanco is 36, his numbers have hardly slipped. He's batting .289 this year with only 17 strikeouts in 51 games. Compare that to Detroit's primary number-two hitters, Andy Dirks and Brennan Boesch, who have a combined 60 strikeouts. You know what you're going to get when Polanco steps to the plate; a professional at-bat.
Reinserting Placido Polanco as the number two hitter in the Tigers line-up would not only help set the table for Cabrera and Fielder to drive in even more runs, but the bottom of the order would benefit greatly from this move. Dirks and Boesch could permanently hit in the bottom half of the order, stabilizing a bottom half that seems to change drastically from game-to-game. On their days off, Leyland could bat Quintin Berry in the nine-spot to put speed on the bases for the top of the order to drive in. The bottom of the order may not be perfect after this deal is done, but a level of consistency will be attained, and consistency is something the Tigers have lacked all year long.
|Castellanos is the #45 ranked prospect in baseball|
Obviously the Phillies are not going to just hand the Tigers Placido Polanco for some cash. He did win a gold glove last year and remains one of the most consistent hitters in all of baseball, so difficult decisions will have to be made by Dave Dombrowski. The necessary decision that Dombrowski needs to make in order to make this deal a reality is packaging Nick Castellanos. Yes, Nick Castellanos, Detroit's highest touted position player prospect. Let me explain.
Nick Castellanos plays third base. The Tigers have a pretty good third basemen by the name of Miguel Cabrera. Placido Polanco plays third base for the Phillies. The average age in the infield on the Phillies is 33; Castellanos is 20. Need I say more?
The value of Castellanos to the Phillies is significantly higher than that of Polanco to the Tigers, so clearly this would not be a player for player deal. Dombrowski needs to pick out a prospect within the Phillies organization comparable to Castellanos's value (#45 rated prospect according to Baseball America), and make the Phillies include that player in the deal. I could give you a particular name, but truthfully the Tigers could use prospects at any position other than first base, third base, and centerfield.
So take it or leave it. This is the beginning of my #BringBackPolly campaign. He's the missing piece to a struggling Tigers lineup puzzle. And honestly, who wouldn't want to take the chance to once again see Polly jumping and skipping around the bases like a little leaguer after a walk-off home run in the ALCS. The only difference this year will be who hits it.