Opinion

The Insanity Of Not Playing Younger Guys

Philadelphia Phillies v Arizona DiamondbacksLet’s rewind the imaginary tape to just a week ago.

“I think it makes sense to see Joseph as much as possible. I don’t want to happen to him (to be what happened) to Ruf, where (we) didn’t have opportunities to get him at bats.”

That was Pete Mackanin telling Ryan Lawrence, and consequently us fans, that Tommy Joseph would get as much playing time as possible in September.

One week after that quote, here are Joseph’s numbers:

9 PA, 0-for-9, 2 K, two starts in five games

After Mackanin made his comments, Ryan Howard – lumbering all-time first baseman and soon-to-be ex-Phillie – expressed frustration about being relegated to the bench despite having a very good second half. It seemed like an automatic mea culpa by Mackanin – sorry, Ryan, we’ll play you more than Tommy, even if my original reasoning was sound and Tommy should really be getting more playing time as, you know, he is more a part of the team’s future, but no Ryan, you’re right, and sorry, here’s more playing time.

I have nothing against Howard here. He’s absolutely right in expressing his frustration, especially if Mackanin used the media – and not a one-on-one meeting with the slugger – to tell us fans, and consequently Howard, that he was about to see less playing time, especially in his final month of games as a member of the only baseball team he’s known for 12 years.

The problem, of course, is Mackanin – the perceived waffling, the lack of communication, and the oxymoronic methods by which he’s running his team.

“I’ve seen enough of Goeddel to know – we’ve kept him (on the roster) this long and we’re going to keep him (as a Rule 5 pick) and we’ll see where we go next year with him. I don’t see a need to play him, especially after he hasn’t played so much. What’s the point?”

We’ve already been here. These were his inane comments about Goeddel, which would alert us to a likely demotion to triple-A for the outfielder in 2017. The comments are inane because, you know, we haven’t seen enough of Goeddel. When we finally saw him consistently he produced. Then he was shelved for retreads like Cody Asche and Jimmy Paredes.

And now there’s Darin Ruf, who is apparently the Phillies’ personal housecat. He was the only hitter called up to the big-league club on Sept. 1, most likely because Mackanin wanted a bat and Matt Klentak and Co. didn’t want to hurt the young chemistry of the playoff-bound Lehigh Valley and Reading squads. So in comes Ruf, who can definitely hit at the triple-A level (.294/.356/.529, 20 HR, 18 2B this season) but just isn’t good enough for the majors (.237/.312/.421, 32 HR, 35 2B career).

Ruf started three consecutive games for the Phils upon his arrival. Goeddel? He hasn’t started three consecutive games since June 7-10; at that time, he was hitting .240/.287/.380 – or, for a 23-year-old who previously played in double-A and had accumulated just 130 major league plate appearances – not that bad, actually. After Ruf’s third-straight start Sunday against Atlanta, he was hitting .162/.203/.191. Nobody – especially a 29-year-old with more than 800 major league appearances – should be holding such a line and getting regular playing time. Okay, unless he’s an elite-level defender.

Need I say more?

Again, we’ve been down this road, but as we’ve learned too many times as Philadelphia sports fans, you have to make the same point repeatedly to keep up with organizational insanity.

Also, this week’s treatment of Tommy Joseph reeks of the very problem with Ruf that Mackanin had referenced. Not playing a young player consistently will often impair the development of said young player. I can understand not yet calling up JP Crawford or Nick Williams, but damn it, when they get the call, keep them in the lineup everyday. Odubel Herrera? That he sat as much as he has down the stretch is criminal.

Joseph is the latest victim of Mackanin’s oxymoronic managing methods. Play the guy against lefties and righties. Stop fooling around. You’ve probably missed your chance with Goeddel, who’ll surely be caught in a triple-A outfield logjam next year with Dylan Cozens, Cam Perkins, Andrew Pullin, Roman Quinn, and possibly Williams. You could’ve played him the rest of the year, but no, you just had to see what was left in the tank for ol’ Cody Asche, and you really needed to give a couple plate appearances to Paredes, then Peter Bourjos and, now, Ruf.

I’ll miss Howard, and like crazy, and he should get a proper sendoff. But right now Mackanin is making it difficult. The Phillies should be transitioning, should be using late 2016 as a time to test young players, understand what a potential core may resemble. Instead, we’re seeing the same old crap get shuffled out there to lose 2-0 to the Braves.

But we did win Monday. At least we have that. Thanks for the meaningless triple, Bourjos.

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