Phillies Bench Still a Major Concern

Hernandez gets a shot on the roster. (Photo: Jay Floyd)Wil Nieves, Cesar Hernandez, Jayson Nix, Tony Gwynn Jr., John Mayberry Jr. It is this group of men that make up the Phillies opening day bench. And it’s an area of concern.

Ruben Amaro stated Saturday that the Phillies no longer have a group of starters that can be called upon to play 162 games. Bench players will get many chances to fill in for the likes of Rollins, Utley, and Howard. But they’ll be leaning on players who have major warts.

Wil Nieves is a career .242 hitter that has never eclipsed 250 plate appearances in a season and is 36 years old.

Cesar Hernandez has just 131 career plate appearances.

Jayson Nix has played for five organizations in six seasons accumulating a .218 career average and .290 on-base percentage. He’s not known as a top defender, either.

Tony Gwynn Jr. has a high-water mark of .270 with the Padres in 2009. He is 31 years old and is a 6.8 WAR player over parts of seven season in the majors.

John Mayberry Jr. may have the best resume of the bunch posting a 162-game average of 17 homers and 55 RBI. However, Mayberry is a 1.1 WAR player over parts of five seasons in the majors.

There is no go-to bat, no one to lean on heavily should a starter go down with injury, which seems to be a given at some point this year. And that’s a problem.

Freddy Galvis will return at some point after he is cleared to play following a MRSA infection, but he’s no sure thing either. Darin Ruf brings a power source from the reserves, but isn’t a good defender, especially in the outfield. Nix gets a role on the team for now because of his ability to play shortstop. Do you trust Nieves as a full-time starter if Ruiz gets the injury bug?

The Phillies needed to reinforce the bench because of their injury-prone starters and they’re left with an underperforming crew that brings more questions than answers.




  1. Hogey's Role

    March 29, 2014 at 2:09 pm

    I would assume that if Ruiz got injured we would bring up rupp to play full time, at least that’s my hope…

    The bench looks bad now but two of our major bench players are injured, so it’s nothing to be too worked up over

    • Joefa

      March 30, 2014 at 12:27 pm

      It’s hard to imagine Ruf and Galvis significantly improving the look of this crew. The bench stinks. It has for a number of years, this season might just be the worse

      • Hogey's Role

        March 30, 2014 at 12:45 pm

        I disagree, I think ruf galvis and Hernandez are going to be very good bench options, backup catchers almost always can’t hit anyway and the last spot will most likely be Mayberry or Gwynn, I honestly feel that’s a pretty formidable bench

  2. Skip W

    March 29, 2014 at 4:50 pm

    Is Ruben following the 76ers model for rebuilding the team this year?

    • wbramh

      March 29, 2014 at 11:42 pm

      Yes, except for the part about clearing cap space and amassing top draft choices.

  3. Scotty Ingerton

    March 29, 2014 at 7:50 pm

    Amaro and Sandberg seem to be thrilled with this “versatile” and “flexible” roster! I guess there’s not much else they can really say in public.

    • Tracey

      March 29, 2014 at 7:55 pm

      Yeah, it’s hard to sell tickets when you tell people that this is going to be the biggest suckfest since the turn of the century.

      • wbramh

        March 30, 2014 at 1:58 pm

        I suspect attentive fans are figuring that out for themselves.

  4. Tracey

    March 29, 2014 at 7:54 pm

    Is there anything about the Phillies that is NOT a major concern this year? The only positive things I’ve heard are new food offerings and tchotchkes at CBP.

    • Scotty Ingerton

      March 29, 2014 at 8:19 pm

      Look on the bright side – getting good seats at below face value will NOT be a major concern this season. I’ve already scored some great deals on StubHub.

  5. "Big Ed" Delahanty

    March 29, 2014 at 9:47 pm

    I was riding home on the train, (I know, I know people named Big Ed Delahanty should not ride trains…ever because of some incident), and I was feeling depressed because I am no where close to meeting this looming deadline I have Monday, when the two men in front of me are discussin the Phillies opening day roster. Already feeling down, I did not wish to engage in fruitless banter about the lugubriousness of the season, when the one guy turns tithe other and states very seriously,”Do you know where Ruben Amaro and his scouts scout?” The other guy looks dumbfounded and shrugs his shoulders and responds, “I dunno, Steve. Where?” So Steve responds, stone-faced, “Graveyards and old age homes.” So I burst out laughing, and the guy whips around and asks me what was so f@ckin$ funny.
    Weird city, that Philadelphia.
    So let’s hope this line-up of versatile, ailing players proves everyone wrong and wins some games, so it will be a non-hostile train ride home from now on.

  6. George

    March 29, 2014 at 11:15 pm

    Once again, more concern than what’s warranted, at least in my opinion. There are very few teams around that can effectively replace a regular for any length of time; teams aren’t any different than the Phils in that respect. Imagine, for instance, Detroit without Cabrera, or who would be at 3rd for the Mets should Wright miss major time.

    Also, last year everyone seemed to think Hernandez should be playing more, but now he’s being declared too inexperienced?

    Also, Galvis and Ruf are still around, and there are some other options like Rupp and Brignac and maybe others waiting at AAA. Last year it was MiniMart and the waiver wire.

    The lack of a big bench bat could be a concern, but most “big bats” strike out a lot, and that’s not always good when ther’s a runner at third or if a pinch hitter is leading off. Personally, I’d rather have an OBP man in many pinch hitting situations.

    I’m sure Sandberg isn’t going to be resting three regulars in the same game, and I doubt seriously if Mayberry at first against a lefty will hurt that much, or Nix at third in place of the totally unproven Asche will hurt either. In fact, some of the so-called regulars, like the inexperienced Asche or the likely fading Rollins should be the ones to be concerned about. The regulars are still the ones who will make or break the team.

    • ASK

      March 31, 2014 at 7:09 am

      I agree with George that this is much ado about nothing. Look at the benches around the rest of the NL and you’ll see much of the same….namely teams with bad to mediocre players who aren’t scheduled to start. The Braves have Gerald Laird, Ryan Doumit, Tyler Pastornicky, Ramiro Pena and Jordan Schafer. The Nats have Nate McLouth, who will probably be better than anyone on the Phillies’ bench, but other than that, there’s not much difference.

  7. wbramh

    March 29, 2014 at 11:51 pm

    I wonder what the raincheck date would be on an entire season?

  8. bacardipr

    March 30, 2014 at 1:17 am

    Rube values flexibility over anything else. So for him its better to have a player do 3-4 things mediocre or poorly than to do one or two of them well. Its jack of all trades master of none syndrome. This would of been circa 2008-11 the bench wouldnt have mattered much but it isnt.

    • Andrew from Waldorf

      March 30, 2014 at 1:37 am

      I thought he valued over priced old guys over anything else?

  9. bacardipr

    March 30, 2014 at 8:17 am

    Possibly Andrew. One thing im on board for them carrying Hernandez no matter what. Ceasar might be the real deal here and should be giving a chance to be cultivated at the Major League Level.

  10. Hogey's Role

    March 30, 2014 at 10:10 am

    Hernandez galvis and ruf are actually going to be 3 very good bench options, then Nieves will still take up a spot so they’re going to have to choose between Gwynn Mayberry and nix for the last spot…. Once we get those guys healthy this will be a very decent bench…

  11. Morris Buttermaker

    March 30, 2014 at 12:20 pm

    I went to the On-Deck game on Friday night. The biggest metaphor for the season happened in the 5th inning when the Phanatic did his routine. He used his hot dog launcher to shoot hot dogs into the crowd. Except the gun was broken. They didn’t even reach the front row of the stands. They were two or three feet and fell on the ground. Most landed near the ball girl.

    It’s going to be a quick season. Because most people are going to stop caring by May.

    • schmenkman

      March 30, 2014 at 12:34 pm

      You didn’t mention that Lee was manning the gun and couldn’t get it to work (it may have been broken, as you said).

      Hamels was sitting on the truck next to the gun, and the ones that made it into the stands were because Hamels threw them there.

      • wbramh

        March 30, 2014 at 2:02 pm

        So what you’re saying is that Hamels can once again put mustard on the ball?

      • wbramh

        March 30, 2014 at 2:09 pm

        And yes, we all relish the thought.

      • Chuck A.

        March 30, 2014 at 2:39 pm

        Well, at least by putting mustard on the ball he won’t put the team in a pickle. That way we can truly relish the thought. Did you ketch (up) all that?

      • Morris Buttermaker

        March 30, 2014 at 2:56 pm

        I didn’t notice it was Lee and Hamels.

        So what you’re saying is that even the two best players on the team couldn’t save us from this trainwreck?


      • schmenkman

        March 30, 2014 at 3:23 pm

        Good job, everyone.

    • Ken Bland

      March 30, 2014 at 2:29 pm

      “It’s going to be a quick season. Because most people are going to stop caring by May”

      To liberally paraphrase Janis Joplin, he began, maybe dating hisself, caring’s just another word for nothin’ specific to its meaning.

      If caring’s not paying bucks out of the entertainment budget, that’s possible enough. If it means not paying attention, couldn’t nothing be further from the truth.

      One of life’s great ironies is that if you’re a contender, the word is attendance will pick up after May when Junior and Juniorette are out of school for the summer. Have the look of a losing year, and the fear factor drives ’em to say the masses won’t care by the end of May.. I guess the truth lies somewhere around the mid section. The mid section might be in the top of the 3rd tomorrow if the Rangers get out to a 4-0 lead, but AFW and I will still be around.

      But the real problem with judging the Phils bench ties in with that. The bench is an evolving process representing depth. Intragame, of course there’s a big difference between the bench and minor league depth, but in terms of backing up the regulars, there’s a strong similarity. See the way the Dodgers got huge help from Puig? Bogartes in Boston? Machado in Baltimore? See how the Angels took off when they called Trout up after 2 weeks 3 years back? Maikel Franco. could certainly be part of the roster and picture by let’s say June for one reason or another That might make the bench stronger if he replaces an Asche who stays and provides depth (Asche is just an example…I’m hopeful and confident in his doing somewhere above a competent job).

      So you wind up seeing Franko up here after May (pre 40 man time), and there’d be a good deal of interest from the hard core base of fans the Phils have, a number of whom hang around here. And that doesn’t even take into account if if a guy or two most of us think is cooked comes on pretty strong. Somebody should. They aren’t all going down at once. One of ’em should have some U turn left in ’em.

  12. betasigmadeltashag

    March 30, 2014 at 2:14 pm

    And you wonder how come Phillies fans are seen as front runners. After 6 really good years 2 NL Penents 1WS and 5 NL East titles they have a bad year and a half and no one cares. You can blame RAJ for bad trades and injuries and bad scouting coaching or whatever. But it is still Phillies baseball and it is spring do there is hope. And I know you are all spoiled now but it is time to get excited for baseball. You can not sell out a home opener and people are dropping their season tickets because they feel they are not WS contenders. What happened to the wonder if baseball and our team going out and playing the game. I’ll enjoy this time of year with my hope and having 162 to play before I curse my team. And I will enjoy the chase weather it is a month or two or if goes into September and enjoy watching Cliff Cole D Brown Cody and Revere play hard and compete

    • Morris Buttermaker

      March 30, 2014 at 3:38 pm

      The big difference nowadays is the money. It’s not cheap to go to a Phillies game anymore. I have lower level outfield tickets for Opening Day. They were $50 a piece. I have a partial plan and they have raised the price of my ticket $6 per seat over the past 4 years. It was also painful last year that my tickets in my section were available for half the price on Stubhub.

      But I actually enjoyed the games a lot last year. Shorter lines for everything. And the people sitting in the seats near me were actually baseball fans.

      I grew up going to games at the Vet when tickets were $5 or came in a Phillies Franks package. And the Phillies were bottom 5 in payroll. They have the 3rd highest payroll in MLB, and most projections have them for 3rd place in the division. They can’t score a run though. Pitching and defense look good. But the offense is a huge question mark.

      I have missed Opening Day once since 1991, and that’s because I was in Japan. I remember it was always the best game of the year because it was often the closest the Phillies came to first place all season. I can still remember exactly where I saw for Opening Day in 1993. I have seen miracles happen before.

  13. Brooks

    March 30, 2014 at 8:21 pm

    Hey everybody – coolaid flowing yet? Taste best early on!
    Let me start out by addressing one of Pat’s opening remarks:
    ” Do you trust Nieves as a full-time starter if Ruiz gets the injury bug?”
    When you say if, do you mean there is a chance he might play in more than 130 games for only the second time in his now 8th big league season? Ruiz has played in 120 or more games only 2 times, he is out every year with some kind of “bug”, lets be real about it.
    Do I trust Nieves more than say some of the other Putz’s that have filled in with a .200 or so average over the years? Why not?
    I too was at Fridays game and although I did not see the phanatic playing with the dogs (I’m sure I was out and about with my scouts getting ice cream, cotton candy and the sort) I did see some very familiar sights – a ton of first pitch swinging, Howard not able to get the ball on the left side of the if or outfield, Jimmy pop-up made an appearance – yeap, even Marlon Byrd got the bird from me – he needs to learn the home town fences… Kendrick humming that fast ball in there at a blazing 88-89 mph –
    Parking is up, my tickets are up, the beer is up, the crab fries are up – when I first started with the season package, tickets were $22 a piece in right field – now some of the games are $29, some are $34 and some are $39.. hey, I just bought a few more for the Utley bblhd game on June 10th, right field at $43 a piece.
    This season is quite the make or break. Howard, Utley, Rollins, Ruiz all need to have statistically decent seasons along with the pitching being somewhat stablized for there to be any kind of good feeling around the CBP once again. Personally, I feel they can do it. Yep, the coolaid tastes pretty good about now.

  14. Dave

    March 31, 2014 at 7:32 am

    What bench? Ha, ha, ha. Those names are laughable.

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