Should the Phillies take the Stairs?by Eric Schwartz
There may not be a more exciting player to see come up to the plate than Matt Stairs.
When he swings, all of Citizen bank Park shakes. He swings for the fences with no outs or two outs and it doesn’t matter the score. He is looking for a fastball every time. And when he get’s one, he can send it a mile.
But at age 41, those swings producied a lot more misses than they did highlight reel dingers last season. He hit .198 and went hitless for a stretch of two months. Stairs said he still believes he can get it done and wants to play one more season.
The question is: Does Stairs deserve to be a member of the 2010 Phillies opening day bench?
The Phillies will likely start the season with a five man bench — two infielders, two outfielders and a catcher. As things currently stand, Ben Francisco and Greg Dobbs will occupy two of those spots, and a new catcher is likely to be brought in. We also know Stairs has little to offer defensively and Dobbs can’t play shortstop so another bench player will be brought in as a reserve infielder. That leaves one spot.
I think the Phillies will pass on bringing Stairs back. The reason being that he provides the illusion of power more than he provides actual power. In 103 at-bats last year Stairs hit five home runs. That is an average of less than one home run per 20 at-bats. While with the Phillies, Francisco also hit five home runs in 97 at-bats. We don’t look at Francisco as a big time power hitter, so why do we look at Stairs that way?
Yes Stairs has had great moments, (the 2008 NCLS home run, and 9th inning bombs against the Pirates and Rockies this season) but his poor average and uselessness in the field can not be ignored.
The Phillies vowed to upgrade the bench this offseason and if they plan to follow through with that splan, Stairs can not return. Besides, with Ryan Howard on the roster there promises to be no shortage of long home runs.