Brown Back, Nix Nixed
Instead, they activated him a day early.
They designated Laynce Nix for assignment to make room for him on the 25-man roster. I thought the Phillies might release Delmon Young, making room for Brown in right to keep Darin Ruf in left. But they have decided to try Ruf in right field instead, pushing Young to the bench. It should be interesting. Ruf has never played right field before and had not played much outfield before this season. But I guess the Phillies figure Ruf can be as adequate as Young, maybe even a little better? I’m not sure.
But parting ways with Nix is another negative mark on the season in regards to the front office’s player personnel evaluations. The Phillies signed Nix to a two-year, $2.5 million contract in Dec. 2011, despite the fact he had never signed a guaranteed big-league deal before. Nix followed a two-year deal to outfielder Ross Gload. (I wonder if anybody else would have offered Nix or Gload a two-year deal.) The Phillies in November then non-tendered Nate Schierholtz because they figured they already had a left-handed-hitting fourth outfielder in Nix.
Schierholtz signed with the Cubs and enters tonight hitting .268 with 23 doubles, three triples, 14 home runs, 43 RBIs, a .500 slugging percentage and .827 OPS in 337 plate appearances. If he had enough plate appearances to qualify, his slugging percentage would rank fifth among 22 big-league rightfielders. His OPS would rank seventh.
Nix, meanwhile, hit .180 with four doubles, two homers, seven RBIs, a .258 slugging percentage and a .486 OPS in 136 plate appearances.
Now what is interesting is Schierholtz never would have put up those numbers with the Phillies because they never would have provided him enough opportunity to play. They were committed to Young in right field once he got healthy — they needed a right-handed bat in the lineup — and Charlie Manuel doesn’t make it a habit of playing his bench players unless absolutely necessary. They simply didn’t think Schiertholtz was good enough to warrant a spot on the roster, much less playing time. But the point is they missed badly on Schierholtz over Nix. Schierholtz was the much better player and they simply let him go.
This follows decisions like John Bowker over Brandon Moss, releasing Jason Grilli, believing Ben Francisco and John Mayberry Jr. could be everyday corner outfielders, Danys Baez, Chad Qualls, Chad Durbin, not developing a utility player in the system better than Michael Martinez, etc. Now it should be noted every front office makes mistakes. Remember that Pat Gillick acquired Adam Eaton, Geoff Jenkins and Freddy Garcia. But too many decisions lately have landed in the minus column than the plus column. Certainly injuries to players like Roy Halladay, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Mike Adams, etc., over the past couple years have played a role in this team’s struggles. But those personnel decisions have hurt, too.