|Photo by Richard Wilkins Jr.|
The Phillies are moving that way already. By DFA'ing Reid Brignac and bringing back Freddy Galvis, the Phillies have not only begun another look at Galvis, but also cleared a 40 man spot that can be used to bring back a guy like Maikel Franco (who hit for the cycle on Saturday night, incidentally). For the record, right now Aaron Altherr, Kelly Dugan, Cesar Hernandez, Cameron Rupp, Tommy Joseph, Phillippe, Luis Garcia, Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, Ethan Martin, Hector Neris, Jon Pettibone, and B.J. Rosenberg are all on the 40 man roster and inactive, though several of them are finished for the season with injuries. Additionally, Mike Adams and John Mayberry Jr. are going to be coming off the DL presumably. The Phillies will likely have to transfer Cliff Lee to the 60 day DL to bring up Maikel Franco, something they'll do, or cut some guys loose somewhere to make that move and any others involving guys not on the roster right now.
Not every move is involving young guys though. Some of the Phillies most crucial decisions are involving guys on the roster right now. When the season ends, the Phillies will have completed three non-playoff seasons in a row. The glory day is over. There is a real question about the future of the franchise, and which players are a part of it. Some seem easy, some are very hard. Some don't have a simple answer at all. I thought I'd compile some of the big ones though, and put together a list and answers for you all.
- Should the Phillies keep Cole Hamels- This is not a straight-forward question, though I'll give you a basic answer of yes. Yes, he has the highest trade value on the team, but no one matched the desired value in July, so I'm not dying to move him. If they didn't get 3 or 4 premium prospects in an offer this season, why not hold and see? I certainly have no interest in a Red Sox package anchored by Jackie Bradley and Xander Bogaerts, or really anything else they have, so let's hope Ruben doesn't really have much interest there. On the other hand, the Cubs could be interesting if they started with Jorge Soler. On the whole though, there's no sense moving Hamels for less than the value you want, they don't have a money issue, and he's only 30.
- Should Ryan Howard be on the 2015 Team- This question will get all of the attention. My general answer is no, but the answer is more complex than "his contract sucks" or "he sucks." The owners are not going to want to cut a player with $60 million left on his contract. At least if they do though, they have plenty of viable first base options- Ruf, Franco, and even Utley. The real key here is what they think of Dom Brown's ability to bounce back, versus Howard's. Howard is 34 years old right now and is having his worst full-season in health in the big leagues. The reality is that the Phillies aren't going to carry Howard, Brown, Ruf, Franco, Asche, and Sizemore all on next year's team. Howard has no trade value. Based on that, I'd probably move on, though I suspect they will not before Opening Day of 2015. Unfortunately, money will probably matter more than the potential of a group of players that weren't extremely impressive in 2014 to bounce back. I would move on from Ryan Howard for baseball purposes and to see if anyone's potential pans out in a season that will have low expectations. Ownership will probably say the money is too much.
- Are we done with Dom Brown- I again lean towards yes, though I doubt they are. Brown is arbitration eligible for the first time for the 2015 season, and probably will get around $2 million. If that's the case, my guess is that the Phillies will keep the 26 year old and maybe try to deal him, but otherwise will use him. Brown is a bust though, in my humble opinion. He had about six good weeks in 2013 that made him an All-Star, but hasn't impressed at any other point. He can't field, and is unhappy that he's losing playing time, though he absolutely deserves to. The absolute worst case, the damning 2015 to last-place decision, is keeping both Brown and Howard. I would drop both. My bet is they keep both.
- Is Darin Ruf a starter- This is a less pressing question, but still an important one. Through 389 plate appearances in the majors, Ruf has 19 homers, and .827 OPS, and 36 extra-base hits. He's hit a respectable .253 too for his career numbers. The reality is that his numbers look better than Ryan Howard or Dom Brown's at this point, so I can't make a great argument against him besides his age. Even so, I'd rather him be playing than either of them. So with all of that, I'd like to see them play him down the stretch, and affirm my answer of yes, for this team.
- What's up with Ben Revere, is he our guy in center- Nothing has surprised me more than the resurgence of Revere over the hot months of Summer. I had him written off by another mediocre start, but he's in the NL batting chase now, and is going to steal north of 40 bags for the season. Revere has no power, takes bad routes, doesn't walk, and has no arm, and yet, I can't say he's a problem worth fixing now. Ben Revere does some things right, and is at an age where improvement is still possible, so my answer to this question right now is yes. I do want to see him finish the season well though. I also don't want to commit beyond 2015 year, and his second arbitration run.
- Can David Buchanan be our fifth starter- So far, my answer is a solid yes. His AAA numbers for the season were 6-2 with a 3.95 ERA over 57 innings, where he struck out 46 and walked 21. Based on those numbers alone, I'd give him a look. His major league numbers of 6-7, with 83.1 innings over 14 starts, with a 4.21 ERA improve his case. His xFIP of 4.01 also suggests he may even be slightly unlucky. He's produced 0.4 WAR as a fifth starter making league minimum. He'd be at the same price basically next year. Since we only have Hamels and Lee under contract, it's worth a shot.
- Can MAG make the team- When Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez was first "signed" it was a big deal. Then he failed his physical, and it wasn't. Then he signed for real, and figured into our plans in the rotation. Then Spring Training happened, and he was a bust. Then he had a good Summer as a reliever, and he's in AAA now. The Cuban has a very live arm and showed some success in the bullpen over the Summer. I'm sure he'll get called up in September, and that's our first look at him against big leaguers. Given that he's under club control for the next couple of years, I'm betting the answer to this is yes, though a really bad September could bury him. The real question is if he's a reliever or not next season. With Papelbon under control, Giles, Diekman, De Fratus, and Hollands all under club control, Antonio Bastardo controllable through arbitration, and other guys on the 40 man roster right now, numbers do get tight.
- Is Mike Adams a better bet than Antonio Bastardo- So Mike Adams is pretty injury-prone at this point. He's not going to get healthier most likely. Is 40 innings of Adams in 2015 better than Bastardo's full season, if you want to win games? I'd say yes. He'd have to pitch well in September though, and even then, there's not much reason to bring back an older guy right now. So my answer is no.
- What happens with Asche and Franco- Maikel Franco had a great July and a fairly solid August in AAA, and he will be on the 2015 Phillies. So the answer to this is Franco stays. There is of course September to watch first, and there is also the question of what happens to Asche if Franco stays. Asche is just 24, and completing his first major league season, and so I am one who says I'd like to see him stick around, though he's really not done much to earn it. His defense at third is suspect, the Phillies have married themselves to Utley at second, and he hasn't played anywhere else yet. This month hopefully is used to look at some other options.
- Galvis and Hernandez end up where- Both of these guys have to make the 2015 team or face waivers. My guess is that they'll be open to trading one this off-season, though i'm 100% against it. I like versatility in the field, especially on a low-scoring team that plays a lot of extra-inning games. I'm also not sure I don't like them better than Asche yet, given that none of the three have broken out in the bigs. The answer here is mixed, though I think only one stays.