Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Pat Burrell could be the key in 2008

There is an interesting article today at Philly.com by Todd Zolecki discussing Pat Burrell and his future with the Phillies. Burrell is in the final year of the $50 million dollar contract he signed back in 2003. Zolecki speculates that Burrell could be in for a big year as he looks to cash in as a free agent one last time, whether it is with the Phils or another team.

Burrell is overpaid, but he isn't useless. He made 13.25 million last year, and hit 30 home runs and drove in 97 runs. While he continues to strike out too much (120 K's last year), and hit for a low average (.258 lifetime), he had a career high OBP last season of .400. He's a bit of a stiff with the glove, and Charlie Manuel doesn't hesitate to pull him out of games in the later innings for a defensive replacement. Nonetheless, if the Phillies can get that kind of offensive production again from Burrell, they will be happy.

Pat Burrell might be the key to the Phils lineup. Burrell figures to get a ton of RBI opportunities batting fifth, after Ryan Howard and before the Geoff Jenkins/Jayson Werth combo. More importantly, Burrell figures to be the Phillies main source of power from the right side of the plate. That is why he is so important. Burrell is a streaky hitter, either crushing the ball like he did last July and August, or completely stinking up the joint, like in May and June of last year. If Burrell can find some consistency, it will help the Phils as a whole be consistent. When Burrell is on, Manuel will even bat him fourth against tough lefty pitching, which allows the Phillies to break up their left handed hitters.

While Pat Burrell is hardly a fan favorite, the guy has been here through it all. He's played for the Phillies since 2000, and he has been through the low points and been with the team as it rose to the top. In what will most likely be his final year with the Phillies, Burrell could make or break his legacy in Philadelphia. If he helps to lead this team to the World Series, it would go a long way towards silencing all of the boos.

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