Hunter Quickly Home in PENCE-ilvania

Hunter Pence greets Phillies Mate Ryan Howard after Homer.

Hunter Pence got something from his new club, the Philadelphia Phillies, that he never could have gotten had he been traded to the New York Yankees. He got uniform number 3. No further explanation should be necessary. If it is, stop reading right now. You’re in the wrong house.

The very believable early coverage of Hunter Pence walking onto the field in a Phillies uniform in Philadelphia for the first time on Saturday were quite convincing of the young man’s matching desire and capacity for being at home with his change of teams. As he walked into the pre-game foray, he waved at fans in the stands, signed autographs at the railings, and generally hobnobbed with his new Phillies teammates as though he had been with them for five years.

The telling comment on Pence fell easily from his lips at the early media conference held to welcome him in one of the stadium’s internal meeting rooms. In expressing his thrill to be playing for a contender, Pence remarked that it was also good now to be with a team “that really wants me.” Stretch that sub-message out for proper size. In spite of what ball players say about baseball being  business and trades being a part of the game, players are also human beings. Getting traded, especially the first time, also feels like abandonment on one side and redemption on the other.

Hunter Pence is going to do just fine in Philadelphia. He was only one for five in his first Phillies game, but he also picked up an RBI on his first Philadelphia single from the number five hole in the lineup. Phillies clean up hitter Ryan Howard ought to be especially glad to see Hunter Pence hitting behind him now. Hunter’s presence there probably helped Howard get that pitch that he drove out of the park.

Good luck to the rest of the National League contenders from this point forward,  With the addition of Hunter Pence, the Phillies now look even more like the team to beat.

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2 Responses to “Hunter Quickly Home in PENCE-ilvania”

  1. Mark Wernick Says:

    I assume you know Michael Bourn was traded today. He was second in MLB in the stat Bill James refers to as Manufactured Runs, behind Juan Pierre. On the team, Bourn was first and Pence was second in manufactured runs. A person in the know mentioned to me that none of the new Astros prospects yielded for Pence has performed above the Class A level, and the vast majority of Class A prospects never get much further than that. He’s doubtful this deal will work out well for the Astros. What hurts even more is that Pence had two years to go before reaching free agency, meaning we had a great player at an affordable price.

    Even if we look at this as “just the business of business”, one only can wonder what sort of business it is, or is supposed to be.

    • Bill McCurdy Says:

      Mark:

      I learned of the Bourn trade after I wrote the second Pence column much earlier this morning. Michael and Jimmy Wynn were set to start a self esteem camp for inner city kids tomorrow morning before the more important “business of baseball” knocked those plans off the table. The camp had been entitled as “The Bourn to Wynn Experience.”

      Well, flush that one. Whether it goes on in some other form, or not, I have no idea. I just know that Michael Bourn is now in Atlanta.

      Now, chronologically, the “Wynn to Bourn Experience” is that both of these diminutive talented fielders were traded away from the burning decks of two going-nowhere Astros teams.

      All I can say is that I’m less surprised about Bourn, At age 29, and coming into free agency with Scott Boras as his agent after a great personal year, but in the early goings of a new owner who wants to cut payroll, – well what’s that add up to? This may have been the club’s only chance to get anything of value for Bourn. And Bourn is the kind of guy I had in mind when I wrote that “psychology of losing” piece. So is Pence, for that matter.

      The Astros are capable of finishing last without taking either Pence or Bourn with them – and neither of those guys was going to save this club. The difference is – I think we could have held onto the younger Pence and rebuilt around his leadership. I think we would have lost Bourn in the off-season anyway to all those factors described above and ended up with no compensation for him.

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