Pat is the last of the "old" boys who never amounted to anything who ended up actually amounting to something (in the eyes of the average Philly Phan). He is finally in the last season of a 27 year 450 million dollar contract (or so it would seem). I have been a loyal supporter of Burrell for the last 3 years and defended him when he started off last season pretty poorly. It's time for the Phils to make the smart move and resign him.
Pat has the unfortunate stigma of being a streaky hitter. The knock on him is that when he hits a slump, he hits it hard (which I find interesting, because this would be a lot more managable than a guy who has a ton of mini-slumps). Some of it is true in terms of batting average, but most of it is false in terms of productivity. I have posted this before, but I will do it again, with up-to-date statistics. I am going to break down the last 3 years on a monthly basis. These are obviously arbitrary as months really mean nothing, but, any division of a season is arbitrary and monthly data is very easy to find.
2005: .281 BA .389 OBP .504 SLG .893 OPS
2006: .258 BA .388 OBP .502 SLG .890OPS
2007: .256 BA .400 OBP .502 SLG .902 OPS
2008: .435 BA .519 OBP .957 SLG 1.475 OPS (7 games)
Looking over the data I see pretty good consistency. In only one month out of 18 did he have an OPS below .700 and that was June of last year (a horrid month). In only 2 months did he have an OPS of under .800, that was June that I just mentioned and May of the same year. Other than those two months, Pat's lowest OPS had been .826 of June 2006. I can't imagine expecting more consistency than that.
People (especially those who are paid to write and talk about baseball) often spend too much time looking at batting average. Even so, Pat had 3 months where he had a truely poor batting avergage. Those were the 3 months I had mentioned, June of 2006 and May and June of last year. To even it out, Pat has had 3 months of OPS of over 1.000. April of 2006 and July and August of last year. Funny how last year was his most inconsistent year, yet was likely his best (well, behind this year so far). If you aren't convinced that Pat has been an extremely consistent hitter over the last 3 years either you are unable to read and Pat's play is the least of your problems or you choose to ignore the truth.
So, where does that leave us? Burrell will be 32 years old this October (3 months younger than me). He is a below average right fielder, though he tends to make all the plays he gets to and still has a good arm. Looking at the list of current left fielders, none of the regulars really stand out as excellnt defensive players, well, ones that have any sort of bat to go along with it. Pat has more value to the Phillies than just being a left fielder.
He is also an insurance option to Ryan Howard. Howard has 4 years left of arbitration, but there is little to no chance that he will be going to arbitration over the next 4 years. Either the Phillies will sign him or trade him. If the Phils sign Howard (which may be a mistake if he gets anything more than 5 years), Pat can play left field and continue with the routine. If Howard is traded, then Pat can move to first as it will probably be easier to find a solid replacement in left than at first base.
The obvious drawback is Pat getting worse in the field and becoming more and more imobile. That is the risk I think the Phillies should take, for a good price. Burrell appears to like it here and I think a 3/30 + a 4th year option could get it done. That is very similiar to what Eric Byrnes signed this past off season and something that the Phillies and Pat could both live with. And remember, Eaton comes off at the end of next year.