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Phillies moving on without Pedro Feliz

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Pedro Feliz solidified what was arguably the best infield in baseball when the Philadelphia Phillies signed him in the Winter of 2008. His offense and defense blew away the production of the Phillies' previous third base occupants Wes Helms and Abraham Nunez. On Sunday, the Phillies announced they were declining the $5.5 million option year on Feliz for 2010, thus "unofficially" officially ending his career in Philadelphia.

The team can still sign Feliz at a later date, but it has been widely discussed over the last week that the Phillies may be looking for either a power bat at the hot corner, or a legitimate lead-off hitter at that position. Since Feliz averaged about 21 home runs per year while playing with the Giants, his 26 home runs spanning over the last two years were considered a bit of a disappointment. He did however, knock in 82 RBI's this year. And his Gold Glove caliber defense was always his strongest suit.

Despite power numbers that are less than Feliz's, one name that has been mentioned in passing as a potential replacement is Chone Figgins, who played with the Angels last season. With the number of mashers in the Phillies lineup, a punch and judy hitter like Figgins may be just what the Phillies need. The addition of Figgins would also add more speed to the lineup as well. Figgins had one less error than Feliz this year. Only problem is, he strikes out way too much for a leadoff hitter. Chances are if Figgins is signed, Jimmy Rollins' days as a lead-off hitter may be coming to an end. Much like left field last year, third base is the easiest position to tinker with because the Phillies had the option year with Feliz. There has been talk about Mark DeRosa as well, but he is older than Feliz and may be suited for more of a utility role. Adrian Beltre's name has also been brought up in discussions. However, there are more question marks with him than anything.  Beltre was hurt last year, and there is speculation whether his monster 2004 campaign came as a result of shopping at the same supermarket as A-Roid, or if Safeco Field is THAT detrimental to his power numbers.  One constant that you are getting with Beltre is his defense: he is a two-time Gold Glove Award Winner. Ruben Amaro insists that both he and Feliz's camp will still be in touch with one another. But let's be serious: the Phillies have shown over the last year that they are aggressive as far as fulfilling most of the needs of the club, and chances are they are looking for an upgrade.

Why the change? While Feliz hit .336 with runners in scoring position in 2009, at times it seemed that he had no approach whatsoever to hitting (case in point: Game 6 of this year's World Series). After all, how many times would you see Jayson Werth and Raul Ibanez draw walks when the opposing pitcher was nowhere near home plate, then Feliz would promptly swing at the first pitch and hit into a double play?

In saying that, Feliz had some truly spectacular moments in a Phillies uniform. Moments that sometimes go unnoticed among Phillies fans. Here are some of those moments over the last two years.

2008:

April 15, 2008- Game-winning double against the Astros after the Phillies entered the bottom of the ninth trailing 3-0.

April 20, 2008- Game-winning pinch hit homer against the Mets on ESPN Sunday night baseball.

August 24, 2008- Game tying single against the Dodgers and Jonathan Broxton on Sunday night baseball, and his game-winning three-run homer two innings later.

September 27, 2008- Game-winning hit against the Nationals in the NL East Division clincher.

 

2009:

July 12, 2009- Game-winning grand slam against the Pirates

September 29, 2009- Game-winning grand slam against the Astros

Of course, this doesn't include his superb 2008 postseason. Keep in mind that before Shane Victorino's grand slam off CC Sabathia in Game 2 of that year's NLDS, Feliz tied the game with a double to left field. In the World Series, he turned several crucial double plays. He ended what seemed to be a month long drought with runners in scoring position with a base hit that opened the flood gates in an eventual 10-2 victory in Game 4. Overall, Feliz hit .333 vs. the Rays and may have taken home series MVP honors if Cole Hamels hadn't pitched out of his socks. And oh yeah, he got the series' clinching hit in Game 5 that sent this town into a mass frenzy for the first time in 25 years.

With the exception of his game-tying home run off Yankees reliever Joba Chamberlain in this year's Game 4 of the World Series, Feliz had a postseason to forget. He had several crucial at-bats in the series and was horribly ineffective. Nobody knows for sure if this is what compelled the Phils to decline his option or not. They may just be looking for a change.  Mike Schmidt he isn't, but all in all Feliz did a lot of good for this team. When all is said and done, Phillies fans should feel lucky to have had him in the red pinstripes.

On a team with as many superstars as the Phillies have, the quiet Feliz played hurt basically all of 2008 and never uttered a word about it. His professionalism will be missed in the clubhouse, but chances are he will catch on with a big league club with no problem. Philly2Philly.com wishes him the best of luck.