The Phillies added some bench help before tonight’s waiver trade deadline. They acquired left-handed-hitting outfielder John Bowker from the Pittsburgh Pirates for a player to be named or cash considerations.
To make room for Bowker on the 25-man roster, the Phillies optioned right-hander Michael Schwimer to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. To make room for him on the 40-man roster, they placed Jose Contreras on the 60-day DL (meaning “sayonara Contreras until 2012… if then”).
Bowker will be in uniform for tonight’s game in Cincinnati. He will wear No. 16.
The Phillies had been looking for a bench player for some time. Bowker played just 19 games for Pittsburgh this season, hitting .235 with two RBIs, but hit .308 with 15 HR and 76 RBI in 415 at-bats with Triple-A Indianapolis.
Bowker has played first base, left field and right field in parts of four big-league seasons with San Francisco and Pittsburgh. He is a .237 career hitter with a .289 on-base percentage and a .390 slugging percentage.
Surely this solves all the Phillies problems…(hopefully no one bought that)… OK not all but hopefully one of the Phillies problems? Ross Gload has been injured all year but too stubborn (and too afraid to lose his job) to go on the DL. Gload has been relegated to pinch hitting duties (.235 BA) without being able to run or play the field (87 PA in 73 games this season).
Scott Podsednik, Peter Orr and Domonic Brown will all vie over September to determine who will be the Phillies left-handed pinch hitter in postseason. All three provide significantly more defensive options than Gload but none have been terribly successful in the majors this season (each hitting below Bowker’s .235 BA with more AB). If any of the trio show up on the Phillies roster before midnight tonight (Aug. 31) they will be in consideration. If not, then they will be September call-ups and nothing more (inelligible for postseason play). Bowker can be one of those left-handed bats off the bench who may be reminiscent of another waiver wire wonder from 2008.
No one is sure who will be DH but Ruben Amaro is hoping that Bowker can be the second coming of Matt Stairs – who proved a Phillies hero from the baseball scrap heap late in 2008. The most likely DH candidate would be Raul Ibanez or Placido Polanco – each of whom have been battling sports hernia and groin injuries. Supplanting Polanco (.274) with Michael Martinez(.212) or
Wilson Valdez (.242) at 3B would essentially sacrifice that spot in the batting order (9th) when implementing a DH. Translation: Cliff Lee might be a better choice (.220 BA, 2 HR, 7 RBI in 64 plate appearances in 2011) to bat ninth!
Inserting John Mayberry (.263, 12 HR, 41 RBI in 205 AB) for Ibanez would be an upgrade over Ben Francisco (.231, 6 HR, 32 RBI in 221 AB and 0-8 in the 2009 World Series). Wasn’t this guy supposed to be the next Jayson Werth? Then again, look what happened to the last Jayson Werth!
Unless Amaro has yet another ace up his sleeve, this could very well be the postseason roster! Questions remain regarding the postseason status of Vance Worley, Brad Lidge, David Herndon and Kyle Kendrick (not to mention Joe “BBQ” Blanton) but three of those players are likely to have a secure spot. None of them are left-handed which is really what the bullpen needs (is Scott Eyre ready to come out of retirement?). Blanton made six starts between DL stints with an elbow injury and was more visible on the cover of Sports Illustrated than he has been on the mound in 2011. Roy Oswalt has nailed down the fourth starter spot (Four Aces are intact) meaning all these pitchers are seeking a bullpen role.
About the Author
Written by Christopher Rowe
Contributing writer Comcast Sports, NY Times contributing stringer 1996-2000, Contributing writer Yahoo Sports (2001 World Series). Contributing writer Newsday Long Island (1992-1994, Jets Training Camp) and Newak Star Ledger. Freelance Copywriter, Editor/Founder Atlantic Times Weekly (1993-2003) fantasy football magazine, produced screenwriter and general humorist. Hofstra University grad, Marist College honorary alum, Salesian; Purveyor of the Value and Valor of Philadelphia Eagles 1960 NFL Championship; Adrent believer that Eagles could have won Super Bowl XV...and Super Bowl XXXIX...plus modern decade of Eagles 5 NFC Championships... Believer in the Broad Street Bullies and the 1983 Sixers... Witness to Philadelphia Phillies World Series championships 1980 & 2008, Suffered Phillies first pro sports team to reach 10,000 losses,witnessed "1980 Cardiac Kids," 1983 "Wheeze Kids," 1993 "Macho Row" and many, many, many not-so-memorable seasons in-between... until the Philadelphia Baseball Renaissance of 21st Century, Five NL East division titles 2007-2011, 3 NLCS appearances 2008-2010, 2 consecutive World Series berths 2008 & 2009. 2008 World Champions of baseball [miss ya Harry and Richie]; "collector" of MLB ballparks (42 stadiums including 15 which are gone); Fantasy Football & Baseball player since 1992. Always a sports fan... Tenui Nec Dimittam Contact me firstname.lastname@example.org