Phillies’ search for a center fielder may lead to B.J. Upton

B.J. Upton may be an offseason target for the Philadelphia Phillies. (Gary Bogdon/Sports Illustrated)

It is officially winter in Philadelphia! The area has had its first snowfall, Eagles fans are calling for head coach Andy Reid to be fired and Phillies fans are excited to see who will be the newest addition to push them back into the World Series. Now that the disappointment of another underachieving season has started to subside, the Phillies are left to fill the voids created by trading away both Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence at the trade deadline.

Besides the obvious need of bullpen help, the Phillies most pressing need seems to be a center fielder who can not only make good on the loss of Victorino’s Gold Glove but also assist offensively. A right-handed bat would be ideal, but any player who can add the extra boost the Phillies lacked in the lineup last year would be welcomed by Phillies fans.  The most consistent name mentioned as a primary target is B.J. Upton. In fact, the Phillies are said to have already reached out to the All-Star’s agent, and there is little doubt he is a much more appealing player to them than Josh Hamilton or Michael Bourn because he will cost much less. Upton also has a high ceiling. He has not yet reached the levels that many scouts project him to. He may not be built to be the “star” on a team, but he could excel when not depended on as much (like former Phillie Jayson Werth).

The Phillies clearly need a center fielder and would like to find someone who would be a help on the base paths as well. In recent years, the Phillies have needed to switch from the home-run-or-nothing team they’ve been to more of a “small ball team.” The problem is the players they have currently don’t fit that style of baseball. Since Werth left, the Phillies have not had many players who work the count. Most have green lights on all counts. An entire culture change is needed in Philadelphia. Waiting for a home run to take the lead every game is not something Phillies management or the fan base will have the patience for this year.

This winter could make or break the Phillies long-term dream of multiple World Series. Hopefully, having to sit back and watch as the Giants won a second World Series with the same recipe the Phillies have preached for years, pitching and defense, will cause them make the necessary moves this offseason. If not, Philadelphia may be in for another long summer in 2013 and beyond.

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