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.

7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. PROFESSOR ALPHONSE DATTOLO

    July 18, 2017 at 4:08 pm

    I HAVE BEEN A PHILLIES FAN FOR 57 YEARS AND I HAVE SEEN IT ALL. I DON’T WANT THE PHILLIES TO TAKE THE CONTRACTS OF STANTON AND YELICH. SUFFER A COUPLE OF MORE YEARS AND THEN THE YOUNG PLAYERS WILL SHINE. THE FIRST THING I WOULD DO IS GET RID OF THE BULLPEN, THE MANAGER WHO IS CLUELESS AND THE PITCHONG COACH.THAY ARE ALL ONE BIG JOKE.

  2. joe c

    July 18, 2017 at 8:01 pm

    Go get Yelich and dump Odubel. If Dee Gordon needs to come in that trade likely they can move Hernandez and use Gordon at 2B until Kingery up next yr. Next years payroll around 27 million and Stanton might be a bargain when Harper signs. Would be a big move but why not??

    • Covfeefe

      July 19, 2017 at 11:02 am

      note to klentak…instead of going after free agents at positions where you already have depth (2b and OF), why not go for positions where you do not? that’s how trades are supposed to work – trade for positions where you need help, trade from positions where you have a logjam.

      is yelich really that good that he warrants giving up a ton of prospects? i realize prospects are just that until they prove otherwise, but they are already pretty deep at OF depth in the upper levels of the minors or already up (altherr/williams/cozens/quinn).

      if however they could somehow simultaneously trade odubel, and trade for yelich only (no stanton or gordon) for not much of a net loss in prospects given up vs received, i’d be all for it. gordon makes no sense whatsoever considering kingery will be the starting 2b next year, and also considering that cesar should play 2b the rest of the season so he can improve his trade value for the summer.

  3. Walt

    July 19, 2017 at 8:39 am

    Why is it I keep seeing this kind of thinking in Philly? Seems as though we are born losers always looking at the greener grass on the other side of the fence. Winning teams are not made from a flea market shopping spree while giving away the high draft picks.

    At this time Galvis is in my opinion one of top Shortstops in both leagues. He has the fire and drive teams crave and he does it on the field and locker room. Yet it wasn’t that long ago the press in Philly wanted to trade him for who, the unknown in the minors.

    Over the course of the past 5 years we have made a practice of giving away every young player in sight while to a fault holding on to established has beens.

    Wasn’t Dee Gordon in our system at one point? Seems to me he was and he stunk. So the question in my mind as always is when are we going to become a 4 star organization producing 4 star players. That is the real concern.

    Yes it may take an experienced clean up hitter to stabilize this team for the immediate future until Joseph can fill that role. More importantly we need a real proven Closer. That is the most pressing problem. If Hoskins was a catcher before and we are not happy with the catchers we have at present then make Hoskins a catcher/firstbaseman plus bring up the unknown to fill in when Joseph sits.

    The 80 Phils had great players but couldn’t get over the hump until they added Pete Rose which tells one the missing ingredient was the added in personality of Charlie Hustle and how that affects the whole team.

    Williams and Altherr are going to be very good players while the jury is still out on Herrera. I see not reason to trade away players who are just getting their feet wet just to satisfy the win lose record.

    • joseph goldberg

      July 19, 2017 at 3:52 pm

      Dee Gordon was never in our system. His dad was. You seem to forget, or are unaware, that in Pete Rose’s first year with the Phillies, 1979, the team finished 4th after three straight division titles even though he had a great season (.331 BA, led the league with a .418 OBP, and had an OPS of .848). The next year, when we won it all, he hit .282, had a .352 OBP, and a .706 OPS. In 1983, his last year with the team and the other World Series season (in a strike shortened season with two half year winners), he hit .245 with a .316 OBP and .605 OPS.They didn’t win the division in 1981 (finished 3rd) or 82 (2nd place)…his other years in pinstripes.

    • Justin McElroy

      July 20, 2017 at 6:38 am

      I’ll agree that Galvis seems to be underappreciated…he actually ranks fairly well amongst Major League shortstops. He’s not a star, but he’s certainly not a guy to discard in favor of Crawford at this point.

      http://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?pos=ss&stats=bat&lg=all&qual=200&type=8&season=2017&month=0&season1=2017&ind=0&team=0&rost=0&age=0&filter=&players=0&sort=21,d

  4. Jaron B

    July 20, 2017 at 10:17 am

    Very well written, Tim. I agree. I’m willing to be patient since I see 2019 still within reach. This year has seen bad luck too – Rupp & Franco, specifically. I’m very hopeful for the AAA guys. The rotation has come along since the early-season changes (and rehab stints). As for the hitting, it’ll improve once there’s talent around these young guys (insurance basically). Thanks for writing this Tim. Awesome post!

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