Phillies hope Lofton can fill center-field void

By Jim Callis

December 3, 2004

The Yankees lacked bullpen depth in 2004, while the Phillies were dissatisfied with their center-field play. The teams tried to help each other out on Friday, with New York sending Kenny Lofton to Philadelphia for Felix Rodriguez. The Yankees also included $1.525 million in the trade.

Lofton, 37, is expected to start for the Phillies in front of Marlon Byrd and Jason Michaels. A six-time all-star with five stolen-base titles and four Gold Gloves to his credit, Lofton was hampered by muscle strains in both legs in 2004. He hit .275/.346/.395 with three homers, 18 RBIs and seven steals in 83 games. He has slowed considerably, and while he still has above-average speed he’s no longer the factor as a bunter, basestealer and defender that he once was. Lofton will make $3.1 million in 2005, the final year of a two-year, $7.25 million contract he signed as a free agent. He has career totals of .297/.372/.425 with 118 homers, 666 RBIs and 545 steals (the most among active players).

Rodriguez, a 32-year-old righthander, was one of two bullpen reinforcements acquired by the Yankees on Friday, as Mike Stanton returned to New York in a trade with the Mets. It’s the second trade of the year for Rodriguez, who moved from San Francisco to Philadelphia in June. He went 5-8, 3.29 with one save and 20 holds in 76 appearances this year. In 66 innings, he had a 59-29 strikeout-walk ratio while limiting opponents to a .244 average and eight homers. Rodriguez relies mainly on a mid-90s four-seam fastball and can be tough when he’s throwing strikes. He also will flash a slider and changeup. He exercised a player option that calls for $3.15 million in 2005, bringing the final value of a four-year contract he originally signed with the Giants to $11.95 million. He has gone 37-25, 3.41 with 11 saves and 128 holds in 498 career games.