Friday Phillies Hodgepodge
A few different Phillies-related items popped up on my Twitter feed today. After the jump, I’ll share and comment on them.
At Sportsnet.ca, Ben Nicholson-Smith points out that Chase Utley could stand to benefit from waiving his no-trade clause, should the Phillies look to move their second baseman over the next three and a half weeks:
From a financial standpoint it might be in Utley’s best interest to waive his no-trade clause. If he’s traded he’ll be ineligible to receive a qualifying offer after the season. Players who turn down qualifying offers to sign elsewhere become linked to draft picks, so a trade would ensure that draft pick compensation does not limit his leverage on the open market.
Nicholson-Smith cites the Blue Jays, Dodgers, and Athletics as potential landing spots for Utley. Jay Jaffe of Sports Illustrated also lists the Orioles, Yankees, and Giants.
Any offer the Phillies would consider on Utley would have to exceed the draft pick compensation they would get after extending him a qualifying offer in the off-season. Since returning from a ribcage injury with a .309/.377/.655 slash line in 61 trips to the plate, so his trade value has been steadily rising. Overall, FanGraphs lists him as the fifth-most valuable second baseman in baseball (min. 200 PA). Prorated to 650 PA, Utley has been the second-most valuable behind Matt Carpenter of the Cardinals.
Though risky, the Phillies could pass up the opportunity to trade Utley and sign him to a short-term contract extension of two or three years. Unless GM Ruben Amaro intends to offer Robinson Cano $200 million during the off-season, the free agent market for second basemen is unappetizing, and using Freddy Galvis or Cesar Hernandez at second base in 2014 wouldn’t put the club in a good position to compete in the NL East. In a riskier scenario, the Phillies could trade Utley and then pursue him as a free agent during the off-season.
. . .
In an interview on 94 WIP in Philadelphia on Wednesday, Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. made this comment regarding lefty slugger Ryan Howard’s slip to platoon status:
“If Ryan Howard is now relegated to being a platoon player, he’s a very expensive platoon player and he needs to be better,” Amaro said. “I think he knows it. I know he’s struggling, I know he’s not happy with his performance — neither are we. I think he’s going to be better, but right now, he’s just not doing the job.”
The real question here is not Howard’s lack of production against left-handers, but who the hell Ruben Amaro thinks he’s fooling. It takes a lot of chutzpah to blame a player for not doing something that he has largely been incapable of doing for the entirety of his career. What Amaro is really asking Howard to do is to metamorphose into an entirely new and fundamentally different player at the age of 33. This is spectacularly unfair and unrealistic.
Platooning Howard is the correct call, but Goldman’s criticism is spot on. Getting upset at Howard for not hitting lefties is like being shocked when Phillippe Aumont walks two batters in an inning, or when Michael Young grounds into another 6-4-3 double play.
Speaking of Michael Young…
. . .
Also at SB Nation, Grant Brisbee looks over the ten least valuable position players in baseball. Our gritty third baseman full of veteran leadership made the cut.
Ruben Amaro, man. He is a stubborn fellow. Young was a 36-year-old DH coming off his worst season and Amaro thought he would be a fit for the Phillies at third base. That is some serious belief that your powers of evaluation are stronger than the rest of the world’s. You have to really think you’re seeing through the matrix to make that move.
Young isn’t hitting that poorly — .285/.340/.403 — so that’s a pretty good bounce-back season out of Arlington, but he can’t field. He is incapable of fielding. He makes mental mistakes, he makes physical mistakes and he has the range of a sunflower. His defense is bad enough to negate all of his offensive contributions.
On the bright side, the other Young is hitting well. (If a bright side can include an anti-Semite enjoying baseball success over a two-week period.) Since June 26, Delmon is hitting .500/.529/.688 in 34 PA. His overall .766 OPS is comfortably above the league average.
And how about this statistical comparison?