The Phillies Should Explore Trading Cody Asche

Third baseman Cody Asche hit a pair of solo home runs in Tuesday night’s 6-2 win against the Miami Marlins. It’s the first multi-homer game of his three-year career. Surprisingly, it was also his first multi-hit game since August 14.

Asche currently holds a subpar .303 weighted on-base average. The National League average for third basemen is .323 and the average for left fielders is .320. He would rank ahead of only Pablo Sandoval (.288) among qualified third basemen and ahead of only Michael Taylor (.280) and Ichiro Suzuki (.259) among left fielders with 400-plus plate appearances.

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Pete Mackanin Won’t Use Ken Giles in a Tie Game on the Road

The Phillies, coincidentally, lost every game of their three-game weekend set in Atlanta against the Braves by a 2-1 score. The getaway game on Sunday included a late comeback to tie the game at 1-1, but it ultimately ended with the Braves walking off in the bottom of the ninth inning against Luis Garcia. Closer Ken Giles sat in the bullpen, unused in a week. In fact, Giles has been used only four times this month.

Manager Pete Mackanin explained his reasoning, and he cited the typical managerial logic. Via Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News:

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Together, Ryan Howard and Darin Ruf Make a Decent First Baseman

Ryan Howard‘s struggles against left-handed pitching, his 2014 season notwithstanding, are well known. The New York Yankees took advantage of this during the 2009 World Series, having lefty reliever Damaso Marte face Howard four times in four games and getting the out all four times in two fly balls and two strikeouts. It then became the law of the land for opposing managers to bring in their lefty specialist to neutralize Howard.

Injuries, age, and defensive shifting sapped Howard of his potentially productive 30’s, but so did the evolving bullpen zeitgeist. Howard wasn’t the only one affected; sluggers like Adam Dunn, David Ortiz, and Adrian Gonzalez got the same treatment.

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Phillies Upcoming Non-Tender Candidates

With the end of the season drawing near, the Phillies will be preparing first for a change in the front office ranks, as Andy MacPhail will be succeeding Pat Gillick as the team president. If he doesn’t assume direct control of baseball operations, he’ll be in charge of naming someone for that position, as well as finding a new GM after letting Ruben Amaro, Jr. go last week. And then he’ll have to find a permanent manager and revamp the coaching staff. It’ll be a project, to say the least.

Once the Phillies have names written next to their leadership positions, they can begin worrying about their 2016 roster configuration. By early December, they will have to identify to which players they will and will not tender a contract. Currently, 10 players are eligible for arbitration and they’ll have to make decisions on all 10 of them. Let’s run down this list in some detail.

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Phillies Wise to Move on from Ruben Amaro, Jr.

The Phillies, after much consternation and conjecture, finally turned the page on the Ruben Amaro, Jr. era by handing him his pink slip on Thursday. With incoming president Andy MacPhail set to steer the Phillies into what we hope is a much more prosperous era, it was time to clear out what was left of the old regime. Pat Gillick is stepping down, Ryne Sandberg quit, and Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, and Cole Hamels had been shipped out in trades. Symbolically, Amaro was all that remained.

We have gone to great lengths here to defend Amaro when he has needed defending. The Phillies have been run much better over the last two or three years than they had been between 2009-11. The rash of trades Amaro made within the last calendar ear put the organization in a fantastic position for the future. He avoided burdensome contracts. But, for as much as we feel Amaro got a bad rap as of late, it was time to make a change.

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Odubel Herrera Ranks Among Best Rule-5 Picks Ever

Odubel Herrera keeps on truckin’. The Phillies’ center fielder went 2-for-3 with a walk and a three-run home run, putting Tuesday night’s game against the Atlanta Braves out of reach at 5-0. Herrera bolstered his triple-slash line to .302/.340/.434 and crossed the 3-WAR threshold on the season, according to both Baseball Reference and FanGraphs.

Matt Winkelman of Phillies Minor Thoughts tweeted this during the game:

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Phillies’ Run Differential Already 20th-Worst in Team History

Early in this season, much was made of the Phillies’ abysmal start, particularly in the run differential department. Here’s what was written on May 2:

Projected over 162 games, the Phillies are on pace to score 428 runs and allow 778. The -350 run differential would easily be their worst in a 162-game season. The current worst is -172 set by the 1997 Phillies. Before that, it was -140 by the ’96 squad. If we include 154-game seasons, the 1945 Phillies were kind of close at -317. The 1921 Phillies are next at -302.

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Phillies’ Youth Movement Paying Off Early

The Phillies still have a ways to go before they can legitimately be considered a threat in the NL East again, but it’s hard not to be enthused by the team’s play in the second half, especially after pawning off a handful of veterans. They’re 24-19 in the second half, though they’ve narrowly outscored opponents 208 to 206.

On Tuesday, the Phillies handled the New York Mets 14-8 and the score made the game appear a lot closer than it really was. And it’s true that the Mets’ three errors and six walks contributed greatly to the win. That being said, Darnell Sweeney continued to impress, going 2-for-5 while driving in three runs. Since making his major league debut after coming over from the Los Angeles Dodgers in the Chase Utley trade, Sweeney is hitting .263/.417/.632 with a double, two home runs, and five walks.

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The Tediously Boring Closer

Occasionally on baseball blogs with an analytical slant, it’s necessary to dive into the mundane and boring and, as luck would have it, the Phillies employ one of the most boring players in the sport. I’ll try to make this as quick and painless as possible, but it’s time to acknowledge the tediously dull performance of the Phillies freshly anointed closer, Ken Giles.

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