By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report
Nearly 24 hours after being handcuffed by the San Francisco Giants pitching staff
for their first two-game losing streak since early June, the Phillies took out their frustrations on a young Pittsburgh Pirates looking to make some noise in the race for the playoffs.
The Phillies jumped on Pirates starter Charlie Morton early and scored eights in the game’s first two innings. They scored three in the first and five more in the second. With Roy Halladay on the mound this game was over, it was the equivalent of an early round knockout in boxing.
But that wasn’t the only news of the night at Citizen’s Bank Park. As the Phillies were blowing out the Pirates in a 10- 3 victory, the team’s front office may have boosted their chances for a World Series title with the acquisition of rightfielder Hunter Pence from the Houston Astros in exchange for minor league prospects right-handed pitcher Jarrad Cosart and first baseman Jonathan Singleton along with Josh Zeid, a right-handed pitcher from the Phillies Double A team in Reading and a player to be named later.
The right-handed hitting Pence comes to the Phillies with a .309 batting average with 11 home runs, 62 runs batted in, 26 doubles and seven stolen bases. The Phillies believe Pence will be a boost to a predominately left-handed hitting offense that has been inconsistent throughout the season.
“What we were trying to do as we always try to do was to address a need that we felt was a kind of a missing piece,” said Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. “We believe in our offense as it stands. It’s been a little inconsistent, not as consistent as has been in the past. I think this gives us a little more balance with a hitter from the right side for Charlie’s lineup. I think we acquired a player who is extremely well-rounded. His defense was important to us.”
Amaro said the thing that makes this deal good for the Phillies was that Pence will be under contract for the next two years and not a rent-a-player along the lines of a Carlos Beltran.
What was really good about this deal from the Phillies perspective is that they didn’t have to part with up-and-coming players like Domonic Brown and rookie pitcher Vance Worley.
Perhaps one of the motivating factors for this deal was the fact that Brown, who is batting .246, with five homeruns and 18 RBIs, has struggled in the field, especially in Wednesday night’s loss to the Giants in which his inability to get to a ball in right field led to the Giants getting what turned out to the be winning run in a 2-1 win.
But Amaro said the organization still values Brown and believes he’s going to be an outstanding major league player. With Pence’s arrival, Brown could be sent back down to the team’s Triple-A Lehigh Valley squad.
“We believe that Domonic Brown is going to be an outstanding major league baseball player and he’s done a nice job for us here,” Amaro said. “This is not a knock on Domonic Brown by any stretch of the imagination. We believe and hope that he’s going to be a Phillie for a long time.”
Outwardly Brown didn’t appear to be bothered by Pence’s pending arrival, but he said he understands that he has to play better, especially considering the high regard the Phillies organization has for him.
“I know what I need to do and I know I need to play better,” Brown said. “I don’t need anybody to come and motivate me because I’m already motivated enough. I don’t need no extra drive, it’s I’m not playing well. I’m trying to keep confidence up and do what I have to do and that’s it.”
Brown said he glad that Pence will be a good addition to the team even if he has to lose some playing time. He said he wouldn’t be bothered by the possibility of having to back to the minors to make room for Pence.
“It’s a good possibility that it could happen, but I’m not going to bothered by it, Brown said. “You live and you learn and you grown.”
Meanwhile, Manuel said Pence will probably bat fifth in the Phillies starting lineup and will give him for flexibility it give him against left-handed pitchers.
“Getting (Pence) also allows us to do some things with (Shane) Victorino and (Placido) Polanco ,” Manuel said. “We definitely should be able to find for more balance against left-handed pitchers and we won’t have to line those left-handed hitters up as much. I think it’s very important because they’re teams in our league, especially Atlanta, that has two or three left hand relievers. When you got three you can make it tough for us.”
Phillies starting Roy Halladay, who become accustomed to watching the Yankees and the Red Sox making bold moves before the trade deadline during his days in Toronto, said the move to bring Pence to the Phillies only makes them better.
“We’re definitely better, “ said Halladay, who allowed 0 runs on hit in seven innings of work on the mound. “We’ve liked our team from the beginning. I always felt like we had the players to do it. Anytime you can add that type of player it makes you a lot better. I’m excited about it. He’s a good fit for our team and a good fit for our lineup. To be able to get one of the top offensive players to go along with what we have, is an added bonus.”
If there were other motivating factors in this deal was the San Francisco Giants addition of Carlo Beltran as a power bat in their lineup and the fact that the Phillies scored just two runs and were 2-for-16 with runners in scoring position in their last two games against the Giants which was reminiscent of how the Phils were eliminated from the playoff last season.
With the trade for Pence, the Phillies may have just given themselves a fighting chance to get back to the World Series.