2013 Spring Training

Can Inciarte Stick With The Phillies?

Ender Inciarte entered Spring Training a few weeks ago as something of a forgotten man.

Selected as a Rule 5 draftee from the Diamondbacks all the way back on December 6, Inciarte was the first player acquired by Ruben Amaro, Jr. this past offseason. Typically, a Rule 5 selection isn’t met with much fanfare to begin with. But the subsequent additions of Ben Revere–whose popularity grows daily–and Delmon Young, plus the focus on Domonic Brown and Darin Ruf, took even more of the spotlight from Inciarte in the perception of the fans and media.

When camp opened, Inciarte, who has never played a game above High-A Visalia, figured to be a long-shot to win one of the five outfield spots on the 25-man roster.

But as the Spring has gone on, Inciarte has made himself harder and harder to ignore as a legitimate possibility to crack the Opening Day roster.

So far, he’s gone 3-for-8 with three walks, two runs scored and a stolen base. Tack on his fantastic play in the outfield, and Inciarte looks like a man with some very valuable tools, albeit in a microscopic sample size.

With Ruf’s struggles thus far, and Young’s standing appointment on the DL for the next month and change, I’d feel confident in Inciarte’s chances to be on the Phillies roster if Spring Training ended today. Further, if Ruf doesn’t start to produce and Inciarte continues to do what he’s done, things won’t look much different three weeks from now when camp actually does end.

But, as stated above, Inciarte is a Rule 5 draft pick. Cracking the Opening Day roster will not be enough for the Phillies to retain his services. If, at any point during the season, they option him off their 25-man roster, the Phils would have to offer Inciarte back to Arizona. If he’s still playing as well as he is right now, Arizona would be remiss not to take him back.

So the real question is this: Can Inciarte stick on the 25-man roster for the entirety of the 2013 season?

My heart tells me yes, but my mind tells me no.

It’s simple really. For the first few weeks of the season, while Young is on the DL, the Phillies will have no problem keeping Inciarte around. Especially because Ruf still has options (and has been bad in the field and at the plate). But once Young is ready to play again, the Phillies will need to make room for him.

This is where the true test of how much Amaro and Co. like Inciarte will come.

There is a slight, but highly unlikely, chance that the team will elect to carry six outfielders when Young returns, optioning instead to send down one of their utility infielders. In which case, keeping Inciarte around would be no problem. I leave this open as a possibility only because John Mayberry Jr. would be able to back-up first base, while someone like Freddy Galvis could be the fill-in for the middle infield spots and third base. Again, a possibility. But not one I really believe in.

If the Phils want to keep Inciarte, a much more realistic possibility comes in the form of designating Mayberry or Laynce Nix for assignment, and likely losing them on waivers. The way Inciarte has looked so far, and given the poor reputations Mayberry and Nix have developed in this town, there is probably a large contingency of fans who would more than welcome this move.

But, as history has shown us time and time again, the front office of a professional baseball team cannot operate entirely on the whims and desires of its fanbase, however sensible they may be.

Would Amaro really be willing to give up someone like Nix or Mayberry–two players with which he at least knows exactly what he’ll get–for a young guy who has never played above Single-A and may just be having a nice couple of months? The answer, in my opinion, is no.

There is one more way the Phillies could find room to hang on to Inciarte without having to surrender Mayberry or Nix to the mercy of the waiver wire: Release Delmon Young. This is another move plenty of people would embrace. But, after Amaro’s ringing endorsement  of Young on Wednesday, this again seems highly unlikely.

So, unless Arizona for some reason declines to take him back, it seems the Phillies will have some trouble keeping Inciarte around.

Unless of course he really picks up his play and leaves them no other choice.

Who knows? Stranger things have happened.

After all, Michael Martinez managed to survive the 2011 season. If that doesn’t show that anything is possible, I don’t know what does.




  1. Andrew

    March 8, 2013 at 12:09 pm

    I would love to see Ender stick with the club. Every day, the Delmon Young signing looks worse.

  2. G7

    March 8, 2013 at 12:12 pm

    Agreed Ryan, possible? With Utley, Rollins and M. Young, there is no way Phillies don’t include Galvis and Frandsen..also Mayberry and Nix are serviceable platoon players with Mayberry being able to play CF..maybe Ruf goes down, but when D. young comes back Inciarte should go..Martinez stayed way too long.

    • schmenkman

      March 8, 2013 at 12:45 pm

      I think I’d rather have Inciarte than Delmon.

      • Ryan Dinger

        March 8, 2013 at 12:49 pm

        I would prefer keeping Inciarte over Young, as well. I just don’t see Amaro having that mindset, though. Further, if the Phils do opt to make room for Young by parting ways with Inciarte, and Inciarte goes on to be even a somewhat valuable player, the Young signing will look even more detrimental to this team.

      • "Big Ed" Delahanty

        March 8, 2013 at 5:22 pm

        Schmenkman, I am in full agreement. Not a fan of the Delmon Young signing.

  3. Pat Mc

    March 8, 2013 at 12:33 pm

    Great point on Martinez. The fact Inciarte has shown decent plate discipline on top of his play in the outfield makes me think the Phillies will keep him around. The precedence is there with them (Martinez, Herndon). I think Ruf will be the odd man out when Young returns off the DL. Ruf and Mayberry can both play 1B.

  4. Ken Bland

    March 8, 2013 at 12:51 pm

    “There is one more way the Phillies could find room to hang on to Inciarte without having to surrender Mayberry or Nix to the mercy of the waiver wire: Release Delmon Young. This is another move plenty of people would embrace.”

    While that’s a fair summation of public sentiment, my own personal slant is a wait and see on Young, and a general lack of enthusiasm for Laynce Nix, so I’d be more looking at parting ways with him, and trusting that Delmon Young winds up more asset than expected. Laynce’s game just doesn’t excite me. The last chance to prove something chip on the shoulder at least keeps me what I’d like to think is objective.

    That comment is based on if you want a strategy to keep Inciarte on the club. Whether he can contribute more than Nix as early as this year would be a tough one to deal with convictionally. But he’s doing some good things, and I love me some speed.

    • Ryan Dinger

      March 8, 2013 at 1:11 pm

      I actually agree with you. I’d have no issue with cutting Nix to keep Inciarte (even if I’d prefer Young to go). But in my mind, either one would be expendable if they felt like Inciarte can help them now or in the future. Really, though, I don’t see Amaro thinking that way. He’s very much a win-now guy, and I doubt he’d sacrifice the certainty of Nix for the potential of Inciarte. Much to our chagrin.

      As Pat Mc just pointed out to me on Twitter: There’s also the potential of working a deal out with Arizona to keep Inciarte and stash him away in the minors. However, that path could be slippery as Arizona would have an enormous amount of leverage in those trade negotiations.

      • G7

        March 8, 2013 at 2:18 pm

        Inciarte is probably at least 2 yrs away from being major league ready , i don’t think this team can afford that.

      • Ryan Dinger

        March 8, 2013 at 2:51 pm

        G7, Delmon Young hasn’t been Major League-ready for six years and that hasn’t stopped teams from keeping him on the roster.

      • G7

        March 8, 2013 at 2:59 pm

        Team needs more offensive punch on the bench..i would agree that Ruf, Nix, D Young are all DH’s..

      • schmenkman

        March 8, 2013 at 3:34 pm

        Not to speak for Ryan, but I don’t think he was only referring to DY’s glove as not being major league ready, since he’s had only one year (out of 7) in which he was an above-average hitter.

      • schmenkman

        March 8, 2013 at 3:34 pm

        (should be one year out of 6 as a regular)

      • RH

        March 9, 2013 at 10:37 am

        Why all the absurd Delmon Young hate? The guy is a decent right handed hitter & 2012 ALCS MVP. I would understand all the over the top animosity if he signed a multi-million dollar contract but he signed for $750K!!!!!!! Some of these comments are ridiculous.
        Am I the only one who feels this way? Stop the insanity! I know he had some off the field issues but come on give the guy a chance before destroying him.

      • schmenkman

        March 9, 2013 at 11:45 am

        RH, setting aside Delmon’s behavioral issues for the moment, let’s focus on him as a player. This is what I see:

        1) he has had one year (out of 6 as a regular) where he’s been an above average hitter, which for a corner outfielder, is not so good

        2) he hasn’t hit as well as either Mayberry or Brown the last two years

        3) he is essentially Mayberry, but with no glove and worse baserunning. Each one has had ~50 great games — Young in 2010, Mayberry in 2011:

        Young: 51 G in mid-2010: 1.048 OPS
        rest of career: .723 OPS

        Mayberry: 51 G in late 2011: .983 OPS
        rest of career: .715 OPS

        vs. Righties for their career:
        Young: .275/.307/.401 (.708 OPS), 88 wRC+ (i.e. 12% than the league average)
        Mayberry: .232/.302/.379 (.682 OPS), 86 wRC+

        vs. Lefties for their career:
        Young: .307/.341/.483 (.824 OPS), 117 wRC+ (17% better than league average)
        Mayberry: .284/.328/.547 (.875 OPS), 133 wRC+

        So he’s no better than Mayberry vs. righties, and he’s not nearly as good vs. lefties.

        4) he makes only $750k only if he never plays. he makes up to $3.5 million if he does play

        Now, which comment exactly is “ridiculous”?

        As I usually add for Young, he’s still only 27, and there’s a chance or hope that he could repeat the one good year he had in 2010.

      • RH

        March 9, 2013 at 10:34 pm

        I don’t believe JMJ is as good a hitter as DYoung. I don’t believe RAJ believes that either which is why he signed him. Young at least had a great year in 2010 so we know its possible. We are still waiting on JMJ. I appreciate the stats and I like JMJ but let see what Young can do here before we run him out of town.

      • schmenkman

        March 9, 2013 at 10:58 pm

        Again, Young didn’t have a great year, he had a great 50 games, which Mayberry also had. If Mayberry had played badly in the first half of 2011, his full year would have looked like Young’s 2010.

        Anyway, I agree that RAJ thinks Young is better than Mayberry for some reason, and I’m sure he will get his chance.

      • RH

        March 10, 2013 at 2:51 pm

        I think it will be fun to see how it all plays out. All things being equal I prefer to see JMJ reach his potential and become a solid regular. I think RAJ just doesn’t trust that can happen. Also Ruf and Inciarte are also unproven so Young at the very least offers some upside potential to the mix. If Inciarte becomes a stud and they end up cutting young I have no problems.

  5. Kram209

    March 8, 2013 at 1:16 pm

    Nicely written, and echos some of the sentiments I was writing about yesterday– with the Phillies keeping Ender, and optioning Ruf, then making the decision on Ender only when/if DYoung comes back.

    The thing I have to add is that Galvis is the only guy with options. And, it really sounds like Charlie likes him way too much to option him at that point (assuming he beats Yuni). So you could part ways with Frandsen, I guess, having Orr and Martinez at LHV on call. Or I imagine you could play games with the relief pitchers shuttling them up and down 476 on an as-needed basis.

    Or, I hesitate to say it, if someone gets injured it could take care of itself. In any case, delaying the decision as long as possible always seems like the best move. Plus it allows you to make sure Tyson Gillies can stay healthy through the WBC and the rest of camp and act as a backup to Revere at LHV.

    I wonder what Arizona would want in trade?

  6. TheDipsy

    March 8, 2013 at 1:30 pm

    Why did we even sign Delmon Young? Let him get healthy and then ship him off for hopefully a prospect. Parting with Mayberry to keep Inciarte would be nuts. I like Nix, too. You could keep Inciarte, Mayberry, and Nix since Mayberry can play first and third, also. Delmon Young. Please.

    The Dipsy

    • Don M

      March 8, 2013 at 4:41 pm

      Mayberry doesn’t play 3rd – or at least he hasn’t before

  7. The Original Chuck P

    March 8, 2013 at 3:40 pm

    It would take some serious kahunas to release Delmon Young at this point (without having seen him play and after announcing that he would be the starting right fielder). That, my friends, ain’t happening. They could roll with one less reliever or they could release Nix. I don’t know how it works out but something tells me that Inciarte will be around. He can steal bases, he can play great defense and he’s a Rule 5. The Phillies love rule 5’s so they’ll do their best to find a way to keep him. Given their defensive liabilities in the outfield (Delmon’s not fleet of foot and Brown could have some adventures out there), it might make sense to keep a guy like Inciarte around anyway over Nix. What do you need more, pinch hitters or late inning defensive subs?

    Are you assuming Ruf makes the big league roster?

  8. George

    March 8, 2013 at 4:01 pm

    I don’t think it would take a lot in trade to get Arizona to part with Inciarte. One always wonders how much stock a player has with a team that didn’t protect him in the Rule 5 draft.

    A trade, to me, would be the best way to keep him, because he probably needs more minor league experience.

  9. Chuck A.

    March 8, 2013 at 4:32 pm

    OCP – Unless something BIG happens soon (as in he goes on a torrid tear), I think Ruf starts the year in AAA. Young isn’t going anywhere for the seasons you stated. I’m for getting rid of Nix if it comes to that because their may be value in keep a guy like Inciarte around. of course, they felt that way about MiniMart, too, when he was a Rule 5….

  10. Don M

    March 8, 2013 at 4:44 pm

    Nix won’t get cut, because he’s the only proven-power they have off the bench. I’d like for him to get some ABs vs. Kimbrel and Soriano this year instead of Inciarte with a game on the line

    The problem with Nix is that, like Wigginton last year, if you play him too much, and not just against good matchups- you overexpose him.

    Brown will start the year in RF .. then shift to LF once Young comes up.. that will push Nix from a platoon player, to a bench role. And Mayberry starts only against LHP…

    • G7

      March 8, 2013 at 5:56 pm

      I think you’ve hit the nail on the head Don..lh pop off the bench ala Matt Stairs.

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