Opinion

Despite great play, time to sell high on Hernandez

J.P. Crawford, for better or for worse, has long been seen as the successor to Jimmy Rollins at shortstop. Now, with Freddy Galvis’ impressive play, especially defensively, the Phillies have some decisions to make.

Posed with the same decision just a year ago, and one would’ve said to simply move Galvis over to second base until one of their lower-level prospects emerged or the Phillies were finally in a spot to be buyers. After all, Cesar Hernandez was just starting his second-half on-base spree that has now continued through this season.

Meanwhile, 23-year-old Scott Kingery continues his dominance in the minor leagues. Between Reading and Leigh Valley, Kingery is hitting .305/.360/.554 with 23 homers, 59 RBI and 35 walks this season.

It seems incomprehensible for a team who has just 41 wins that the strong play of their middle infielders, current and future, could pose a problem. But it does. The wrong decision could throw yet another wrench into the Phillies rebuild.

Does Matt Klentak stick with one of the few things that is working in Hernandez or take a gamble on an unproven, but clearly skilled prospect?

If I was a betting woman, I would venture a guess that Klentak is all-in on his prospects and is just biding his time with who is on the current roster. It’s why he was brought in and why he continues to acquire assets – both players and money.

But he’s been great

One thing that is stopping me from betting the house, however, is the mere fact that Hernandez is still even on the team. This past offseason, the Phils’ leadoff hitter was a popular name being thrown around the hot stove, especially when the team’s interest in veteran Howie Kendrick was made public.

In his last 162 games, Hernandez is hitting .310/.390/.425 with 26 stolen bases and a OPS of .815. Since last August, the switch hitter has the fourth-highest WAR in baseball among second basemen, behind Daniel Murphy, Jose Altuve and Jean Segura. That’s some good company.

He is also in the top-10 in average (seventh), BB/K (eighth) and speed number (fourth). Sounds like somebody you would want hitting at the top of your lineup. It also sounds like somebody you can get a decent return on this offseason to fill some of your roster holes.

What that return would like is difficult to gauge. Hernandez has proven that last year’s second-half wasn’t just a fluke, and he is under team control until 2020, which should give Klentak some leverage with both smaller markets who can’t afford an upgrade and bigger markets who have money tied up elsewhere. There’s no reason why Klentak wouldn’t be able to get a return that fits the Phils’needs, whether it’s a major league ready reliever or upper-level pitching prospect.

While it’s always a gamble to trade a proven commodity for the unknown, there isn’t really an alternative. When Crawford is eventually called up, having a Galvis/Hernandez platoon at second seems wasteful. Hernandez is too valuable in the lineup and has tightened up his defense enough to not warrant a late-inning replacement by Galvis.

Not to mention, Kingery is one of the few prospects who is showing he’s major-league ready. A platoon of Kingery and Galvis to start 2018 makes a whole lot more sense, especially as the rookie adjusts to life in the show.

The fans have been patient – for the most part – but the clock is ticking. It’s time for the Phillies to stop hedging their bets and start taking risks.

15 Comments

15 Comments

  1. John Hurly

    August 9, 2017 at 10:14 am

    Kirsten,

    hurlyja@You state the obvious but offer no solutions. What teams can use an established leadoff hitter/second baseman?

    Or, for that matter also a gold glove style shortstop.

    John Hurly

  2. Wayne Benner

    August 9, 2017 at 10:32 am

    So they have a young player who is playing very well and you want to trade him to play someone unproven at the major league level ????

  3. MIke Fassano

    August 9, 2017 at 10:46 am

    @John Hurly I would guess that if Hernandez has the 4th highest WAR that the teams with the 5th through 30th highest 2nd basemen would be interested. He’s a perfect fit for any team that’s rebuilding; young and controllable. In another scenario, let’s say a 2nd basemen for a contender breaks a leg next July, the team that gets Hernandez from the Phillies can flip him at the deadline for a big payday.

  4. Ron Moll

    August 9, 2017 at 11:29 am

    A better question… at what point do discuss moving one of these guys to 3rd and ending the Franco fiasco?

    • denzen

      August 9, 2017 at 3:57 pm

      I know, Franco can be painful to watch, but he still leads the team in HRs and RBIs, and does not turn 25 until the end of this month. I wish they would leave him lower in the lineup, and give him the occasional day off against tough righties, who throw the slider that breaks low and away, out of the strike zone.

      • Evan Gusz

        August 10, 2017 at 8:46 am

        He Also leads the team/league (or is close to it) in double plays and is a well below average defensive player. I wanted Franco to be The Man just as much as everyone else but it just doesn’t look like it’s going to happen.

        I keep thinking to myself how awesome the left side of the infield would be if ti was Galvis at SS and Crawford at 3rd. Now, I don’t know if Crawford has the arm for 3rd and he definitely doesn’t have the typical offensive skill set (power) of a 3rd basemen but man, absolutely no balls would get through that side of the diamond.

  5. 64 survivor

    August 9, 2017 at 11:55 am

    I totally disagree. Hernandez has always been a hitter. Check the minor leagues top position players when he was at A, AA & AAA. If Im not mistaken he was listed as high as 4th just like Kingery now. Crawford & Kingery have so far proved nothing at the ML level. Crawford needs another year at AAA and will never be the defensive SS that Galvis already is. Hernandez is the fastest player on the team whereas Crawford has never shown speed. He may be MVP one day, but right now we know nothing. If you trade Hernandez & Galvis and Crawford and/ or Kingery fail we will set things back 5 years…Bottom line is dont trade till we are sure. If someone has to sit while we are testing the new guys so be it, same for Hoskins…

    By the way Kristin, no offense but exactly what are your credentials for offering your opinion here ?

    • Ax Stone

      August 9, 2017 at 1:39 pm

      Wow 64 Survivor, could your last comment be any more sexist? “No offense, what are your credentials”? Do you ask that of every Phillie’s Nation blogger who gives their opinion, or only the female bloggers?

      Either way, you played into the blogger universe we live in, snazzy headline for click-bait and you clicked (like I did because I value people’s opinions, they help me shape my own by offering varying objective positions). You didn’t even have the decency to spell her name correctly.

      Kristen,

      I don’t see Crawford starting the season in the Majors, Freddy’s defense has be gold glove caliber. If Galvis is traded, one would assume that it would have to be for a king’s ransom where the buyer over pays.

    • denzen

      August 9, 2017 at 3:48 pm

      Wow….I was going say exactly what Ax said. And, since you are asking, What are your credentials Mr. 64 Survivor.? I look forward to when I see Kirsten has written an article. It is generally well written and insightful. As for who to trade and when, I think it mostly depends on who other teams offer, and which Phillies players they value. They do need to make some moves, and Hernandez has great value right now.

  6. Carmen

    August 9, 2017 at 12:18 pm

    You can’t trade Hernandez unless the return is huge! Hernandez is a great asset when healthy. He hits for average, has a good OBP, can swipe a bag, and is at least average defensively. Hernandez also holds an increased value due to his experience in the outfield. We don’t have many young outfield prospects (Hoskins will be at 1B. Hernandez can be moved if needed. If Kingery works and Franco fails Kingery can play third. Hernandez can potentially fix a void at 2b, 3b, and outfield. There is no need to trade him YET.

  7. Justin McElroy

    August 10, 2017 at 7:13 am

    I’m old enough to remember when Domonic Brown was considered to be “major league ready”. I’m not saying that they shouldn’t move Hernandez, but the Phillies need to be very careful here.

    By the way, since June 1 Odubel Herrera has a .338/.380/.571 slash line. He was batting .217 on Memorial Day!

  8. Evan Gusz

    August 10, 2017 at 8:55 am

    I would trade Hernandez IF I could get back a really great package of prospects, like what the Braves got for Shelby Miller. And there’s no reason to think they couldn’t get something that big back with Cesar’s performance and his financial status.

    What’s happening at first with Joseph/Hoskins is happening at second with Cesar/Kingery and at short with Galvis/Crawford and at catcher with Rupp/Knapp/Alfaro. You can’t move EVERYONE to the outfield. They can’t even move Hoskins to the outfield because there’s a logjam there too. They’re doing it because of injury but what happens when Altherr comes back?

    • denzen

      August 10, 2017 at 3:41 pm

      At this point I would not be trading established players for prospects. You even pointed out the logjams at several positions. I would be trading quantity for quality. At this point in Altherr’s injury prone career, I think of him (and Quinn) as part time players. Joseph is part of the quantity to be traded, then Hoskins moves back to 1st.

  9. betasigmadeltahag

    August 10, 2017 at 4:51 pm

    I think if you get some ML level talent back to fill holes in this line up you trade Hernandez this off season, Galvis is healthier and better defensive player you keep him, you add Crawford as the minor leaguer in a Hernandez trade and maybe even Joeseph, and have Galvis, Kingerly, Franco, Hoskins your starting IF next year, with Williams Alterr and Odubal in the Off, you get a real hitter at 3rd in the trade, Or if you really like Caesar package Kingerly and Franco, for pitching and move freddy to third if you want to bring up Crawford. But trading a Hernandez now, when you will get the most for him makes sense, or you lock him longer term and make him a piece of the furture, which means no need for Kingerly, unless he can play third

    • Phil

      August 12, 2017 at 9:24 am

      Do something,MAN!

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