Should the Phillies re-sign left fielder Pat Burrell?

Longtime Phillie Pat Burrell is a free agent after helping the team to the World Series title this year. He likely will command a large contract.

Today's debaters are Morning Call sportswriter Mandy Housenick, who has helped with the Call's coverage of the Phillies the past five seasons, and her husband, Tom Housenick, a former sports editor and now a member of the Call's universal copy desk.

Mandy Housenick: Absolutely not. I was hoping the Phillies would have traded Burrell in previous years when there were rumors [about it]. He's never put up numbers worthy of the huge contract he was given. Can anyone really argue that he did enough to validate the more than $14 million he made this season? He's paid to hit home runs and drive in runs. Yet, since being called up in 2000, he's never hit 40 homers and surpassed the century mark for RBIs only twice, with the most recent time coming in 2005.

Tom Housenick: One thing we agree on is that Burrell didn't earn his previous salary. But I believe that a carefully structured, two-year deal worth a total of $14 million would be a wise move for the Phillies, who have dumped/should dump So Taguchi, Tom Gordon and Adam Eaton from the payroll. That's a savings of $14.4 million from those three players. Burrell would have to accept a significant pay cut, but if he really wants to stay in Philly ... I have not seen anything offensively from Geoff Jenkins or Greg Golston to believe they could pick up the slack and join the outfield of Jayson Werth and Shane Victorino. And Greg Dobbs is a great pinch hitter. But his stats in games he starts aren't nearly as good. Neither is his glove.

MH: You should know the greed of players by now. I can't imagine Burrell would ever take that big of a pay cut. But for the sake of argument, let's say he would agree to. The Phillies still shouldn't keep him. He had two downright lousy months this season and a couple other shaky ones. In May, he hit just .227 with only five homers. In August, his worst month by far, he hit .181 with 29 strikeouts, just 12 RBIs and four home runs. Throughout the postseason, his .227 average just didn't cut it and 13 strikeouts well that's just embarrassing.

TH: Lousy months? Do you remember the entire first half of the season for Ryan Howard? He wasn't hitting my weight, let alone his own. Pat Burrell is never going to be an MVP candidate. He's never going to be the superstar the Phillies thought he was when they drafted him. He's going to be a decent, everyday player with a good arm and the capability of carrying a team for a month or two, like he did early in 2008. Plus, he's well-liked in the clubhouse and by the coaching staff. There's a lot to be said for team chemistry. The Phillies have it. Burrell is an integral part of that.

MH: Howard came on like wildfire late in the season. He was fantastic in September and wound up leading the majors in RBIs and home runs for the entire year. When that happens, I can overlook a slow start. Burrell never rebounded with nearly that much success. On another note  why should the Phillies, now the world champions of baseball, have to settle for decent? They should be able to land a very good replacement. They blew a chance when they didn't jump on Matt Holliday.

TH: Holliday was out of the Phillies' price range and he's not a good clubhouse guy. Plus, they would have had to deal top prospects such as Carlos Carrasco, Lou Marson or Golston. When something works, really works, why mess it up? The Phillies need a right-handed bat to offset the lefty bats of Dobbs and Jenkins. Maybe Burrell doesn't get 140 starts a year. Give him 120. Give Dobbs more chances to start. Give Jenkins a chance to get in a hitting rhythm. But Burrell is the best of the three options currently available. And, see the list of free-agent outfielders? Want Luis Gonzalez, Jim Edmonds or Ken Griffey Jr.? They'd be eligible for Social Security come 2010. Adam Dunn? Talk about a strikeout machine.

(mcall.com)