Opinion

Imagining A ‘Homegrown’ 2016 Phillies

utleyThe Phillies start a three-game series tonight with the Los Angeles Dodgers. That means for the first time ever, Chase Utley will face the Phillies.

Utley hasn’t been too bad this year. Hitting leadoff for much of the first half, the 37-year-old Dodgers’ second baseman is .250/.327/.372 with 7 HR and 18 2B. Also, he’s provided guile and veteran leadership for a Dodger club looking to reach the postseason.

Sunday the Phils saw another face familiar to some of us – Jarred Cosart of the Padres, who they traded back in 2010 for Hunter Pence.

It made me think: What if the Phillies didn’t make all those trades from 2009-15? What if Utley and Cosart were still here? What if the Phils never acquired Cliff Lee in the first place? Or Roy Halladay?

Imagine the Phillies kept the 2008 roster together and simply added through the draft (and not the Rule 5); basically, a homegrown Phillies roster. Would the homegrown Phillies look better or worse than today’s group?

Here’s a revisionist homegrown 2016 roster:

Lineup (with 2016 team and current stats)
1. CF – Aaron Altherr (Phillies) – .268/.362/.463, 2 HR, 2 2B
2. SS – Jonathan Villar (Brewers) – .306/.391/.454, 9 HR, 28 2B, 43 SB
3. RF – Jayson Werth (Nationals) – .249/.340/.418, 13 HR, 22 2B
4. 3B – Maikel Franco (Phillies) – .250/.304/.443, 20 HR, 16 2B
5. C – Cameron Rupp (Phillies) – .273/.324/.494, 13 HR, 18 2B
6. 1B – Ryan Howard (Phillies) – .186/.238/.419, 16 HR, 7 2B
7. LF – Cody Asche (Phillies) – .212/.282/.365, 4 HR, 14 2B
8. 2B – Cesar Hernandez (Phillies) – .290/.349/.374, 2 HR, 11 2B, 7 3B, 11 SB

Bench (with 2016 team and current stats)
C – Carlos Ruiz (Phillies) – .262/.363/.359, 3 HR, 5 2B
IF – Freddy Galvis (Phillies) – .229/.258/.354, 9 HR, 18 2B, 10 SB
IF – Chase Utley (Dodgers) – .250/.327/.372, 7 HR, 18 2B
OF – Domingo Santana (Brewers) – .234/.347/.391, 4 HR, 8 2B
OF – Anthony Gose (Tigers) – .209/.287/.341, 2 HR, 2 2B, 2 3B

Not a lot changes here. Sure the Phillies would’ve loved to have kept Villar (part of the Roy Oswalt trade in 2010), and Gose (also in that trade and recently sent to AAA for disciplinary issues) would’ve made, at best, a fifth outfielder.

But otherwise the Phils aren’t missing much. Despite developing Travis d’Arnaud (who started his career solidly as a Met), Rupp is arguably the best catcher the Phils have developed since Carlos Ruiz. Asche would still be starting in the outfield, though you could plug Santana in there and miss very little, if anything at all.

And yeah, despite Utley’s decent showing this year, Hernandez probably gets the starting job. Then again, the gap between Utley and Hernandez’s baserunning skills is wider than the Grand Canyon.

So in the end the 2016 Phils are probably better off with Odubel Herrera, Tommy Joseph and the awaiting Nick Williams and Jorge Alfaro.

Starting Rotation (with 2016 team and current stats)
SP – Cole Hamels (Rangers) – 140.1 IP, 12-3, 2.89 ERA, 138 K, 55 BB
SP – Carlos Carrasco (Indians) – 102.1 IP, 7-6, 3.17 ERA, 96 K, 30 BB
SP – J.A. Happ (Blue Jays) – 137 IP, 15-3, 3.09 ERA, 117 K, 41 BB
SP – Aaron Nola (Phillies) – 111 IP, 6-9, 4.78 ERA, 121 K, 29 BB
SP – Adam Morgan (Phillies) – 66.1 IP, 1-7, 6.65 ERA, 56 K, 16 BB

Bullpen (with 2016 team and current stats)
RP – Vance Worley (Orioles) – 64.1 IP, 2-1, 2.94 ERA, 43 K, 23 BB
RP – Trevor May (Twins) – 42.1 IP, 2-2, 4.89 ERA, 59 K, 16 BB
RP – Antonio Bastardo (Pirates) – 45.2 IP, 0-0, 4.53 ERA, 47 K, 22 BB
RP – Joe Blanton (Dodgers) – 58 IP, 4-2, 2.64 ERA, 56 K, 18 BB
RP – Hector Neris (Phillies) – 57.2 IP, 4-3, 2.50 ERA, 71 K, 17 BB
RP – Ken Giles (Astros) – 44.1 IP, 1-3, 3.65 ERA, 69 K, 14 BB, 1 SV
RP – Ryan Madson (Athletics) – 45.2 IP, 4-4, 3.74 ERA, 36 K, 14 BB, 22 SV

Here’s where it’s interesting. The 2016 Phillies, if Ruben Amaro Jr. and Matt Klentak did absolutely nothing, would have a top-shelf three-man rotation in Hamels, Carrasco and Happ. Hamels is a Cy Young candidate, Carrasco is regarded as one of baseball’s best pitchers, and Happ is shocking the world with his 15 wins and consistent quality starts.

Then it starts to fall off. Nola is hurt (which may be the real issue behind his second-half tailspin). Morgan hasn’t been good. Cosart hasn’t either, and would likely be the Phils’ sixth starter in this scenario. Are the Phillies better off with Vince Velasquez, Jerad Eickhoff, Zach Eflin and Jake Thompson over Hamels, Carrasco and Happ? Tough to say, but in the long run it’s likely.

The new-look bullpen is decent, with Worley, Blanton and Neris the workhorses while Giles and Madson take on the later innings. Baby Ace May is now a reliving with Minnesota. But bullpens are so fungible that all of this is relatively meaningless.

Okay, all of this *is* relatively meaningless, but it’s fun to look back and see what former Phils are doing.

In the end, though, the Phils are probably better off with this current group than what I put together above. Maybe they didn’t need to trade Happ, Villar and Gose to Houston for Oswalt.

Otherwise, not too shabby. Good times ahead. Yay!

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