Monday Morning Roundtable: Sometimes It is the Little Things
Each Monday morning the Crashburn Alley writers weigh in on various questions about the state of the Phillies.
The Phillies are starting a 10 game road trip (and by the time this is published will have already played 3), what is one thing you want to see out of this team over that stretch?
Michael: It’s hard to put so much stock in any ten-game stretch in this long lost season, so wins are not especially important to me in the grand scheme of things. What I’d like to see is improved play from individual players. I’d like to see Maikel Franco string together a few barrels; starters continuing to hit six innings in their starts; Odubel Herrera taking a few walks. Individually it might not mean much, but if a bunch of players can make incremental improvements, the wins will come.
Brad: I’d like to see less than three walk-offs on a ten game roadie. I know, maybe that’s not realistic. How about less than five?
Honestly, a handful of saves for the pen would be nice. Whether you value the stat, (I do not), there’s no harm in adding some confidence into a reliever’s psyche, and it also means winning a game that could be easily lost by virtue of all the bad things this team is so prone to do.
Tim: Offense. The Phillies have a 74 wRC+ spanning the last month. A lineup consisting of Freddy Galvis hitting in every spot in the order would outscore this team.
Specifically, I want to see Maikel Franco get the ball in the air. And I want to see him pull the ball in the air. All of his value is tied to hitting for power. Poking ground balls to the opposite field is not productive. Commit to the inner half of the plate and take advantage of that bat speed.
Matt: Besides not ending up with another 7 or 8 game losing streak it would be nice to see them get some consistent starting pitching. The bullpen is shallow and fairly week and I think it might be asking too much of the lineup to be fully competent, but it would be nice to see the starters keep them in close games. If every night the starter can go 6 innings and keep it in the 3-4 run range, the Phillies are going to have a chance, but every time this team turns to the bullpen in a losing effort it gets blown out.
It is clear the Phillies are sellers, if you are Matt Klentak which player are you aggressively shopping right now with the deadline still a month away?
Michael: The Phillies don’t have very many tradable assets. You have Howie Kendrick. I don’t think there’s any more obvious answer, but to keep things interesting, I’ll say Freddy Galvis. If he gets hot over the next couple weeks and you want to see what JP Crawford looks like in the Majors, you could trade Freddy. Alcides Escober has been, uhh, not good for the Royals this year (27 wRC+, -0.7 fWAR), and they’re currently 2.5 games out in the AL Central. If they fancy themselves contenders, Freddy might fetch a pretty penny in a trade.
Brad: I think you have a couple obvious names: Kendrick, Neshek and Nava, and we hear maybe Franco is available for the right price, which could be argued reasonably, but would be a mistake, in my opinion. I’d also be looking to sell high on Luis Garcia. He’s been a beast lately, and hoping for consistency year-over-year to get him to the next contending Phils team is a little pie in the sky for me. And one out of the box: Aaron Altherr (I can’t believe I’m saying this). There’s a fair chance he’s not even the team’s third best OF in two years, so unloading early when he’s got all those years of control left would be worth exploring. Personally, I wouldn’t do it for a position player deal unless it was a very strong lead player. I’d be looking for no-later-than-2018 MLB-ready pitching.
Tim: I would throw Tommy Joseph‘s name out there. There’s not a lot of demand at 1B/DH, so get ahead of the market before more sellers join. And it’s the only position on the field in which a real prospect is blocked. Yes, you’re selling a 1B/DH with an average bat. But you’re also selling his untapped potential and years of control and easy power. He’s a young Mark Trumbo.
Matt: I think the easy answer is Tommy Joseph to clear a spot for Rhys Hoskins, but I think they might get something for him if he can have a hot month. Right now I would be aggressively shopping Pat Neshek. It sounds like the Phillies have a standing offer for him, so there is clearly interest. I don’t think the Phillies should trade him for nothing, but right now the AL is packed with teams in the Wild Card race and I would be talking to all of them about how Neshek could help them win an extra game or two before we even get to the trade deadline. Moving him would hurt the Phillies’ bullpen, but I think his value is never going to be higher than it is right now.
Hoby Milner and Cameron Perkins just got promoted to the majors at age 26 after long stints in the minors. Who is the one under the radar minor leaguer (Phillies or not) that you would like to see make the majors?
Michael: I’m not especially familiar with the deep cuts on other teams’ prospect lists, so I did a little research here and found 27-year-old Taylor Davis of the Cubs Triple-A affiliate. For the third straight year, he’s walking more than he’s struck out, and he’s a catcher. He’s posted a .330 wOBA over 222 PAs in the Pacific Coast League. He struggles defensively, but could make for a good bench bat/backup catcher in the Majors.
Brad: I don’t know, but remember when Matt and I both totally called Cam Perkins to the show in this space a week ago? Dang, we’re smart.
Tim: Andrew Pullin. See above regarding the offense. This team needs a bat. Pullin can hit. I would not keep him long in AAA if he continues to do so.
Matt: The Phillies catching situation has been bad defensively all year, and while I love Jorge Alfaro he is not a finished product, nor will he be when he reaches the majors. The Phillies have another 26 year old in AAA they could turn to for some improved defense behind the plate in Logan Moore. Moore is hitting well this year in the 24 games he has started in place of Alfaro, but he is a career .226/.294/.325 hitter in 426 minor league games. Moore is not someone you want being your primary major league backup, but he could be a version of Tuffy Gosewisch, a good defensive backup catcher that bounces between the majors and minors based on team needs. If Rupp or Knapp go down with an injury, I wouldn’t mind seeing more instead of Alfaro, if Alfaro is still working through things in the minors.