Will Nunez Survive The Philadelphia Winter?

The Phillies look at their team right now and there are potential openings at both catcher and third base. Abraham Nunez would like to think that he's going to keep the third base job, but that's up for debate.

Abraham Nunez put up some pretty weak numbers in 2006, especially when you consider the job that he did as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals in 2005. That was the season that he filled in for Scott Rolen and put up impressive offensive numbers, helping to lead the Cardinals through the season and the post-season. Those numbers also helped Nunez to get a decent off-season contract with the Phillies even though he would be second fiddle to David Bell, who started the year as the Phillies' third baseman.

Eventually, the long awaited trade that sent Bell out of town took place, opening a spot for Nunez. By that time though, the veteran was mired in a slump and wishing he could at least get within reach of the Mendoza-line, if not pass it. There were a lot of dismal days for Nunez this summer as he waited for his chance to play everyday and then hoped to make the most of it once he was in the lineup.

When the David Bell trade was announced, Nunez was hitting .157 for the Phillies in 105 at bats. After the deal, Nunez hit .241 after the trade, playing on an everyday basis. While the improvement was noted, it's a far cry from Nunez' career year in 2005 when he hit .285 for the Cardinals and was a key component of their playoff run.

So, is Abraham Nunez good enough to play third base in the Phillies lineup? Consider that he played well above average defensively at third base and that the Phillies have plenty of other offense in their lineup, Nunez wouldn't be the worst option at third base. When the Phillies look around, they may find that he's one of their more likely - if not better - options.

Free agency offers up names like Aaron Boone, Joe Randa and Edgardo Alfonzo. And, oh yeah, David Bell. The trade market would be where things might heat up with Adrian Beltre, Aramis Ramirez and possibly, Alex Rodriguez all being dangled.

Beltre is interesting since GM Pat Gillick was part of the Mariners organization when they brought Beltre to town. Who knows what the Cubs are going to do and whether Ramirez will be part of their plans and the A-Rod saga in New York is sure to be a hot off-season topic.

On the current roster, Chris Coste has played some third base, but defensively, he's not much of an option. Danny Sandoval and Joe Thurston could move to third, but neither of them are exciting choices. Move Chase Utley back to third? It's not going to happen. Utley has developed well at second base and the Phillies aren't going to move him only to move him back to second when the next young third base prospect hits town.

Speaking of the heir apparent to the position, Mike Costanzo is progressing, but he needs more time in the minors before he joins the big league club. Somebody will need to keep the position warm until he gets here.

For now, Nunez may be the most convenient option and he's not really a bad option to have in this lineup. Again, there's plenty of offense in the lineup, so he won't be too much of a problem if he does carry his 2006 final numbers over into next season. Plus, Nunez has at least some potential to improve, based on what he was able to put together with the Cardinals.

Of course, if all else fails, the Phillies could trade for Scott Rolen. Just kidding!

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