Trade Analysis: Kelvin Pichardo for Michael Tucker

The Phillies believe that Michael Tucker will add some pop to their bench. With that in mind, they sacrificed minor league pitcher Kelvin Pichardo to bring Tucker to Philly. Was it the right move, or did the Phillies shoot themselves in the foot?

Michael Tucker

Tucker is one of those veteran types that can generally do some good things for a club. They don't get a lot of attention and they don't tend to stand out too much, but every now and then they chip in. They also generally won't hurt you too much when they do get into the lineup. In Tucker's case, he will primarily be a pinch-hitter and not see too much time defensively. It's not tough to see him pinch-hitting for David Bell or a pitcher in a key spot.

There isn't really any one thing that Tucker does really well. He has some power, but not a lot and his best years are very likely all behind him. He has some speed left in him and that's always handy, but it's not going to bring a whole lot to the bench. His power would be the best part of bringing him to town and he certainly will never be remembered as a real power hitter. The truth is though that he brings a little more power off the bench than Tomas Perez does.

On the positive side, Tucker has accepted his role as a utility player and is welcoming the move to a contending team. You can rest assured that he's going to give all he can in what may well be his last shot at the post-season. He's 34 and played post-season ball when he was with the Braves, but hasn't gotten too much of a taste of baseball in October. He is also the kind of player who will fit in well with this club. He's not looking for attention and he's not going to be putting up any arguments that he could do more than any of the starting players will do. Instead, he'll do what he can to make the most of his chances. It's a tired adage that many fans dismiss, but Tucker is one of those guys that players like to have on their club, because they can count on him to keep an even attitude and generally, he's a decent player.

Michael Tucker's career stats

HR RBI AVG G AB R H 2B 3B BB KO SB CS OBP
124 519 .257 1360 4009 619 1032 204 49 471 942 112 56 .339

Kelvin Pichardo

The 19 year old right-hander was in his second season in the Gulf Coast League and wasn't quite as impressive as he was in his inaugural year with the GCL Phils. He finished the 2005 season with a 3-2, 4.17 mark in 10 games - 9 starts - and had decent numbers, but not impressive. Last season, he showed more than he did this summer, going 5-5, 2.79 in 12 games - 11 starts - in the GCL.

When next spring arrives, Pichardo will have celebrated his 20th birthday and will likely be back in short-season ball for San Francisco. In other words, he's a bit of a project, to say the least. With the right direction, he could develop into a decent prospect, but nobody figures on him being a top notch major league player. He projects, at best, as a back of the rotation type starter or possibly as a long reliever in the majors. He does have a 90 m.p.h. plus fastball and is blessed with good control - 18 walks in 112 innings - so there is something to work with.

It's always tough to gauge just how good a player - especially a pitcher - as young as Pichardo can be. The best guess though is that he's not going to be a pitcher that the Phillies will spend a lot of time lamenting about years down the road.

Kelvin Pichardo's career minor league stats

W L ERA SV G GS IP H R ER BB KO HR
8 7 3.46 0 22 20 112.0 100 49 43 18 89 9

The bottom line:

The question begs to be asked; Why another left-handed hitter? Well, because when you look at the Phillies bench only switch-hitting Tomas Perez and pure left-hander Endy Chavez are there to face right-handers. Tucker, while not a huge power threat, has more power than either of them. Tucker is a different type hitter than either Perez or Chavez and should be able to help at least in some spots. Since he's not going to be in the starting lineup too often, the fact that the Phils have a lot of left-handed hitters in the everyday lineup isn't that big of an issue.

It's not out of the question to see Tucker pinch-hit for David Bell, who struggles against right-handed pitching, or for a pitcher in key spots. No, the Phillies really didn't need another outfielder, but since the rosters expand in a few days, it's not that big of a deal for them to have added Tucker.

Basically, the trade isn't neither good or bad. It's not like the Phils gave up a lot to get Tucker and he's only going to bump someone from the roster for a few days. He only had 41 at bats with San Francisco in the last month since they acquired Randy Winn and it's likely that he won't even get that many with the Phillies. Tucker isn't looked at to play much of a role, so don't get too excited or upset about the deal. If, somehow, he becomes a favorite of manager Charlie Manuel, that's probably not a good thing. There are better options than Tucker, although he'll find some pinch-hitting opportunities here and there down the road.

Here's another question; Why didn't the Phillies pursue Matt Lawton? The Yankees gave up pitcher Justin Berg who pitched in the New York / Penn League this past season, going 6-2, 3.53 in 15 games - 9 starts - and was in his second season in a short-season league. His two combined minor league seasons brought a mark of 9-4, 4.33 in 30 games - 10 starts. Pichardo went 8-7, 3.46 in his two short-season league efforts. Granted, Berg had at least progressed to the New York / Penn League, while Pichardo was still in the GCL, but then again, Berg is already 21 years old while Pichardo's 20th birthday doesn't come up until mid-October. In other words, the Phillies wouldn't have been far away from getting Lawton for almost the same price that they paid for Tucker. The difference is that Lawton is due about $1.5 million over the rest of the season, while Tucker will draw about $400,000. Plus, the Giants gave the Phillies $50,000 toward Tucker's salary. Since both players are free agents at the end of the season though, the hit would have been temporary and might have provided more help off the bench. Tucker and Lawton actually aren't that different in their career stats, but Lawton has put up better numbers in the more recent past. If the deal for Tucker looks bad, perhaps that's where the real problem comes in.

Matt Lawton's career stats

HR RBI AVG G AB R H 2B 3B BB SO SB CS OBP
136 626 .269 1303 4691 745 1261 267 17 673 604 164 66 .369

Justin Berg's career stats

W L ERA SV G GS IP H R ER BB SO HR
9 4 4.33 1 30 10 89.1 88 48 43 35 81 6

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