It’s been an up and down rollercoaster ride for Pat Burrell in Philadelphia. Since arriving in town in 2000 and hitting 18 homers in 111 games, Burrell has had a big year (2002, when he hit 37 HRs, 116 RBIs and a .282 avg.) a crappy year (2003, when he hit 21 HRs, 64 RBIs and had a .209 avg.) and another big year (2005, when he hit 32 HRs, 117 RBIs and a .281 avg.).
This year, Burrell’s numbers are somewhere in between big and crappy. So far he’s got 23 HRs, 73 RBIs and is hitting .259. He’s on pace to hit 100 RBIs, but he’s developed a reputation for choking in the clutch, hitting only .239 with runners in scoring position. (In fairness to Burrell, MVP candidate Ryan Howard, who hits one spot ahead of Burrell in the order, is hitting .240 with runners in scoring position.)
Lately, Burrell has been put into a platoon situation, splitting time with the hot hitting David Delucci. Conventional wisdom says that the Phils will trade Burrell in the off-season, hopefully for pitching. But moving Burrell isn’t going to be so easy. He’s due $13 million next season and $14 million in 2008. And he’s got a no-trade clause in his contract.
So Burrell’s only getting traded if he wants to get traded. And how do you make a guy want to get traded? Well, you start by taking away his playing time.
Are the Phillies platooning Burrell just to piss him off so he’ll demand a trade? Who knows. But whatever the reason, they’re probably not going to stop. After all, the team is playing great and has closed to within 2.5 games of the NL wild card. So whatever they’re doing, expect them to keep doing it.
As for Burrell, he says he wants to stay in Philly.
“You look around, Lieby, myself, Wolfie, J-Roll, those are the guys who have been here the longest,” Burrell recently told the Philadelphia Daily News.”Besides Lieby, that’s really not that long. Obviously, we understand what’s going on, the way the organization is going. I certainly would like to be a part of it.”
But will he be a part of it? That’s hard to imagine.