Once again it is time for the weekly Phillies mailbag. We answer your questions here and then answer them on The Sports Bash with Mike Gill every Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. Feel free to ask a question at any time during the week by sending a tweet to @FrankKlose973.
Tim Lincecum a viable rotation or bullpen option?
Former San Francisco Giants ace Tim Lincecum worked out for a number of teams last week, and the Phillies were present to watch Lincecum throw. After being one of the more dominant pitchers in the game, Lincecum really slowed down in the past few seasons, even being relegated to a bullpen role in 2014. After going 7-4 in 15 starts in 2015, Lincecum landed on the disabled list after being hit with a pitch. Lincecum never returned.
In 2016, Lincecum wants to start, and likely will sign for a team willing to guarantee him that opportunity. With pitching at a premium, many teams went to see him pitch. The Phillies were likely doing due diligence, but probably will not go too far to offer Lincecum a contract, as the value he could bring them has probably passed them by.
Should Lincecum start for the Phillies, Adam Morgan could be shipped back to AAA Lehigh Valley for depth. Morgan has two starts under his belt, and allowed three earned runs in each, going just five innings and then four innings in his two respective starts. Adding Lincecum would give the Phillies immediate rotation depth while pitchers have more time to develop at AAA, which was the role that Charlie Morton was to fill before his season ended with an injury.
Lincecum would have value for the Phillies in that he would only cost the team money and he has the potential to bring the team a trade return at the trade deadline. It is getting late in the season for that, however. Presumably Lincecum would have to sign with the team, spend some time preparing in the minor leagues, and then show enough in Major League starts to show that a trade would make sense.
We are already into May, and if all went well, Lincecum would not likely take the mound in a Major League game until June, with the trade deadline just eight weeks away. That may not be enough time to demonstrate value for another team, and the teams who might trade for him may simply attempt to sign Lincecum now while there is no talent attached. If Lincecum shows no value, then the Phillies are on the hook for Lincecum's salary, whether he pitches for them or he does not.
The Phillies may make an offer, but the best situation for Lincecum may be to find a contending team with a rotation slot available for him when he is ready.
What is the true significance of leading MLB in one-run games?
The Phillies indeed have been involved in an astounding number of one-run games in the early going. 11 of the Phillies' 18 victories have come with a one-run margin. They are 11-3 in one-run games in all. There are a couple very simple explanations for this.
First, the Phillies offense is not that strong. There has not been a blowout by the Phillies offense. The remaining seven wins include one four-run victory (Milwaukee Brewers 10-6 on April 23) and six different three-run victories. The Phillies are not going to outscore their opponents very often, and when they do it will not be by much.
With a run differential of -27, the Phillies are on average scoring less than their opponents. The few times the Phillies' pitching has blown-up, there were large margins of victory. While they have only won by more than three runs once, they have lost by eight runs, seven runs, 10 runs and seven runs in their four worst losses. But the fact that the pitching has these hiccups only on occasion leads to point two.
Second, the Phillies have decent pitching. The starting rotation, anchored by Jeremy Hellickson, Aaron Nola, Jerad Eickhoff, and Vince Velasquez will not have many blowouts. Adam Morgan replaced Charlie Morton, but the Phillies are not likely to have to turn to the bullpen in the second inning down eight runs too frequently. All five starters will likely have their bad days, but there is a certain stability in their pitching that will keep the Phillies close in most games.
If the pitching keeps the Phillies close, they will not lose by much, and will have the opportunity to outscore their opponents by much, either. Thus, many one-run victories and losses.
What can the Phillies get for Jeanmar Gomez in trade at the deadline?
Yesterday I wrote that Phillies closer Jeanmar Gomez, tied for the lead in saves, could be pitching himself out of town with his fine performance. While the Phillies are exceeding expectations, the team could be in a position to trade Gomez, who will be a free agent after 2017 and help continue along the team's rebuild. While the Phillies signed Andrew Bailey, Edward Mujica, and Ernesto Frieri perhaps with the ulterior motive of building trade pieces, they may have had one all along.
We know from trades of Ken Giles and Craig Kimbrel this past offseason that reliable bullpen pieces are commanding a premium. Both trades may give us insight into what a team might expect in return should the Phillies decide to bring aboard more trade pieces.
We should note that neither trade netted the other team's top prospects. The Houston Astros held on to Alex Bregman, an exciting young shortstop, and A.J. Reed, a power-hitting first baseman who could be a top offensive producer in years to come. Instead, the Astros sent a collection of prospects lower down on their rankings, led by Vince Velasquez, who pitched enough last season to no longer be considered a rookie.
The Kimbrel trade included four Red Sox prospects that did not include infielder Yoan Moncada or third baseman Rafael Devers. The haul received by San Diego included four names total who may help the Padres down the line. But one big headliner was not to be found, with Manuel Margot being the big name headed to San Diego.
The Phillies may be able to get multiple prospects from the acquiring team's top 10 list, albeit not one towards the top. Phillies fans currently are very happy with the haul the team received from Houston, who had plenty of depth from which to make a trade. As we saw with the Astros last season, a few outs from the bullpen may have been the difference between elimination and continuing through the playoffs.
So, find the right team with the right need, and the Phillies may be able to pry a couple top-10 prospects from a team, albeit not likely the top one or two.