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More ways than one (cont.)

Posted: Thursday July 21, 2005 1:11PM; Updated: Thursday July 21, 2005 9:00PM
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Citizen's Bank Park helps make the Phillies one of the best-hitting teams in the league. They're third in OPS and third in runs scored, averaging 4.7 runs a game.

Just think, then, how much better this team would be with some production out of first base (where the injured and slumping Jim Thome, Tomas Perez and young Ryan Howard have combined for only 12 homers). Or a better catcher (Mike Lieberthal, a career .274 hitter, is batting only .248 with nine homers). Or something more from center field (where Kenny Lofton is getting hits, but not big ones) or third base (David Bell has six homers, five of them at the bandbox).

The Phillies will probably stay with Thome and Howard at first, so the most likely spot to upgrade their offense would be in the outfield (where Encarnacion or Cameron could help) or at third (possibly Randa, though two-thirds of Randa's 12 homers have come at his own bandbox in Cincinnati).

But, like every other team, Philadelphia would probably have to give up pitching to get those hitters, and the Phillies just don't have it to spare.


Despite the efforts of young studs such as Jake Peavy and Adam Eaton, the NL West-leading Padres could use a lot more pitching. Their starters have a 4.26 ERA, ninth in the NL, which is unacceptable considering they play their home games in spacious Petco Park.

If the arms aren't available, though -- and, by now, we've deemed that they're not -- San Diego's lineup has plenty of room for improvement. The Padres score more runs a game than anyone in the West (4.47), but that ranks only in the middle of the NL pack. The team's slugging percentage (.403), because of the wide-open plains of Petco Park, is better only than the Nationals among NL playoff contenders.

The Padres should get a little more oomph in the lineup with second baseman Mark Loretta and first baseman Phil Nevin, who returned this week after taking time off for injuries. They will help the team's two main hitters, right fielder Brian Giles (.299, a .936 OPS) and left fielder Ryan Klesko (19 homers, an .842 OPS).

That leaves one major offensive trouble spot: third base. The team is openly disappointed with light-hitting Sean Burroughs (.256, with just seven extra-base hits in 254 at-bats and only 11 homers through his fourth big-league season). Burroughs, reportedly, is on the trading block or on his way down to the minors, opening up the possibility of a deal for someone such as Randa, Lowell or Bell. The Padres, though, are more likely to stay in-house and put Xavier Nady, Geoff Blum or Damian Jackson at the hot corner.