Bench Still Glaring Weakness Even As Phillies Succeed

The Phillies enter play today just a game and a half back of the first-place Atlanta Braves. Losers of six straight, the Braves have brought themselves back to the rest of the NL East pack.

To their credit, the Phillies have been playing solid ball for most of the season, keeping themselves in the race early. Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, and Carlos Ruiz have given the squad above-average to career-year type seasons so far while Marlon Byrd, Ryan Howard and Ben Revere have played about as expected. Cody Asche and Domonic Brown have been slow out of the gate but both have youth and time on their side. The most glaring weakness has been the Phillies bench.

The good news? The Phillies are just a few moves away from correcting this and they likely have the talent to do so in house.

Here’s how:

Demote Galvis, Promote Brignac

Reid Brignac was a Baseball America Top 100 Prospect four times over from 2007 through 2010, ranked as high as #17. Brignac, now 28, spends most of his days in Allentown hitting clean-up for the Lehigh Valley IronPigs after stops with the Rays and Yankees. Brignac is hitting .283/.364/.457 with 8 2B and 2 HR in a not-particularly hitter-friendly Coca Cola Park.

Brignac is an upgrade over both Jayson Nix and Freddy Galvis. Nix, to his credit, has done little to hurt the Phillies off the bench (worth -0.1 fWAR with a .182/.229/.273 line) where as the young Galvis, still only 24, has been worth -0.8 fWAR, ranking second-worst in baseball in just 34 PA. Galvis’ futility is kind of stunning for its inverted efficiency and he may be the type of player that needs to play every day to become somewhat of a reliable bench option.

(Note: Nate Schierholtz is the player that is currently the worst player in baseball at -1.0. )

DFA Mayberry, Promote Henson

Tyler Henson had a monster seven RBI game last night. The former Orioles’ farmhand was signed prior to the 2013 season and has done nothing but hit since his arrival. Because of a roster crunch, Henson has been forced back into the outfield for the ‘Pigs where he has flourished from the right side of the plate. In 85 plate appearances, Henson is hitting .299/.349/.494 with 2 HR and 4 SB.

At 26 years old, it is now or never for Henson. Henson has been swinging a hot bat, can play both corner infield and outfield spots, as well as second base, and has found speed on the bases that he hadn’t shown consistently since 2009. It is time to get Henson on the bench and go in a different direction than Mayberry (.167/.286/.333 in 28 PA).

The only two limitations is that both Brignac and Henson would require 40-man roster moves to accommodate their theoretical promotions. Henson for Mayberry would be a clean swap but an additional move would be needed to promote Brignac to already-full 40-man roster. Luis Garcia would be the ideal person to try to sneak through waivers.

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