Commentary

Deadline is Coming, and I have no idea what’s going to happen

All eyes currently dedicated to watching the Philadelphia Phillies, even if they’re contaminated with dried puss and blood stains at this point, are looking to April 2018, since it’s the earliest possible time that the Phillies won’t “suck,” and instead just “be worse than other teams but better than a couple.” These are the salad days, everyone; grab a fork, preferably pitch.

So as we watch this group of flawfulness and failure through the streaks of blood, we see Nick Williams resembling a major league player (don’t look directly at the 13/2 K/BB ratio, though), Odubel Herrera improving to the point that – gasp – he’s actually a good ballplayer, J.P. Crawford seriously having a fine season in triple-A (slugging .476 and carrying a .372 OBP since the first heat wave in May), Scott Kingery is literally Pennsylvania royalty now and Aaron Nola leading a tarnished, broken pitching staff through Westeros. There is reason to be hopeful for 2018. There is reason to watch.

But, oh, Deadline is Coming, and now we have rumors spread out in front of us like Charlie Kelly‘s mailroom bulletin board.

The Phillies are interested in Christian Yelich. Maybe that would have to include Giancarlo Stanton.

The Phillies are interested in Dee Gordon.

Maybe the Phillies are also interested in Mark Kotsay, Charlie Hough and Marlins Man; I honestly wouldn’t put anything past anyone on the internet. The point is these rumors suggest the Phillies want established major league talent at positions where the Phils have a relative backlog of talent. Yelich and Stanton are outfielders, but so are Herrera and Williams, plus Aaron Altherr, Dylan Cozens and Roman Quinn. Gordon plays second base and shortstop, which is where we have Cesar Hernandez, the injured Jesmuel Valentin, Kingery, Freddy Galvis and Crawford.

Rumors are rumors, not fact, frequently thrown out by parties to either drum up value or interest or throw people off a scent. But rumors also can tell a larger tale – are the Phillies really interested in dumping all of their top-level prospects for established major league talent? Is it possible John Middleton and Co. are sick and tired of a dumpy, odorous team and hope to flip into a .500-or-better squad next year?

To put it succinctly, I have no idea what’s happening right now.

***

Ask a fan what the 2018 Phillies offense would most likely resemble, and something like this would probably come out:

We basically figured this would be the team, but then again, that’s four guys who still haven’t played meaningful major league innings, plus a guy who was just called up. That’s a lot of youth, a lot of learning and, probably, another year where the Phillies challenge their 1940s brethren for the title of “worst Phillies team ever.” Let’s be real here: Alfaro has plate discipline issues and may not be fully developed as a catcher; Hoskins can’t be counted on to be a power source in the majors; Kingery would have tons of weight on his shoulders; Crawford is probably going to need time to develop at the highest level; and Williams will undoubtedly slump a bit. Want to add a decent third baseman while tossing Franco aside? Want to pin your hopes that Altherr continues his above-average performance? Want to hope Herrera doesn’t slump as badly as he did early this season? That’s a lot of conditions. Again. And while I don’t necessarily mind this patient prospect process (I’m an original Sixers Processer who has listened to just about every episode of The Rights to Ricky Sanchez podcast), people who have real money invested in the Philadelphia Phillies might mind it a bit more.

So, yeah, we may not see that youthful collection take the field in 2018. We could see something like this:

  • C – Jonathan Lucroy
  • 1B – Rhys Hoskins
  • 2B – Scott Kingery
  • 3B – Todd Frazier
  • SS – Dee Gordon
  • OF – Christian Yelich
  • OF – Giancarlo Stanton
  • OF – Nick Williams

Or we could see something in the middle of that, or something completely different, or something very similar to what we have now. The point is: I have no idea what’s happening right now.

Then there’s the pitching staff, which could see a dramatic overhaul after this putrid showing … or Matt Klentak and Co. could double down on guys like Jake Thompson, Nick Pivetta and Vince Velasquez, because patience is a virtue, even when your fans are literally clawing skin off their faces because Philadelphia sports teams haven’t won anything since I literally met my wife.

So, again, no idea. But here’s what I want out of these next two weeks, which could very well be a wild-west free-for-all:

No Half Measures

I like Yelich. Good player. But don’t acquire him just to acquire him, because you already gave Yelich a good contract (his name is Herrera). Acquire him because Stanton is attached to the deal, then do whatever you have to do to clear up the outfield logjam (meaning, trade Herrera for pitching).

Moreover, please don’t give us any more filler because the roster needs “professional” whatevers. If you’re making trades, acquire either superstar-caliber players (unlikely to happen at the deadline) or more prospects. I don’t want Jacoby Ellsbury (there are actually Yankees fans who think he’d fit in any trade with the Phillies).

Don’t Force It

I appreciate Galvis’ defense and leadership capabilities, but I’m ready to move on from the Galvis Era (this is what I’m calling 2013-present). That said, I’d bet Crawford needs another two months in triple-A. So, no, there’s no need to trade Galvis right now. (The best time to do it was after the 2015 season, when he had value and the Phils could’ve easily brought in a free agent shortstop for a one- or two-year deal. Anyway …)

Same thing with Cesar Hernandez. Let’s give Kingery some time in triple-A to settle in.

Same thing with Cameron Rupp, unless the Phils are literally getting back another veteran catcher in a trade.

Same thing with basically the entire young pitching staff. Let them develop through the year. Hell, it’s not as if they can’t lose any more value.

And yes, same thing with Franco. It’s been excruciatingly frustrating to watch him not quite develop into even a serviceable No. 6 hitter. I still wonder if he’d turn it around once he had an established bat or two around him, but I totally understand if the front office is now writing him off. That said, there’s no replacement at third base right now. Don’t force that trade. Let him work through the year and, if you need to, you can get … something … for him in the offseason. I’m going to cry now.

***

At the end of the day, “I’m going to cry now” is kind of how I feel about the state of the organization. Franco should be better. I’m exhausted watching Rupp and Galvis do the same things they’ve been doing for years. I have faith in Herrera, but I cringe when he goes 0-for-4 because I know the reaction will be swift. And all I want is for some of these kids to break out like every other prospect on every other team seems to break out. Why aren’t these guys breaking out? Why haven’t we changed coaches and development staff members? Be right back, need a Kleenex for my blood-stained eyes.

It’s very possible Middleton and Co. are getting teary, too. We’re extremely far away from Oct. 29, 2008.

So maybe there’s some flipping about to happen. Or maybe not. I have no idea.

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