Phillies Mailbag: Arrieta and Kapler, Bohm, Offense
We are back once again with the 97.3 ESPN Phillies mailbag. Send your questions to the 97.3 ESPN text board at 609-403-0973 or send them to @FrankKlose on Twitter. Each week on Tuesday afternoon we answer your questions on the air during the Sports Bash with Mike Gill.
Do Jake Arrieta's comments mean that there is a major division in the Phillies clubhouse?
When Phillies starter Jake Arrieta spoke to reporters on Sunday afternoon after the Phillies were swept by the San Francisco Giants, he expressed great frustration with 1) The defensive shifts that the club has been undertaking and 2) The lack of offense and perhaps lack of effort in what has become a crucial stretch for a Phillies team that was not expected to contend.
In some ways, this has become the first real test for the Phillies in 2018. Out of the gate (despite an initial, minor hiccup), the team has been able to keep up the pace in the National League East within a few games. Arrieta was brought on board to be a leader in the clubhouse and this may have been the way he went about showing it.
According to the reporters who were present for the comments, such as Matt Gelb, Todd Zolecki, and Jim Salisbury, Arrieta and Kapler had a closed door meeting almost immediately after the comments were made. And a day later, Kapler had supportive comments for the situation and for Arrieta.
Kapler spoke to Jon Morosi of MLB.com and seemed to show support for Arrieta:
"I don't think we have defensive shifts figured out. I don't think anyone has nailed them down. Jake's comments are true - we didn't play well, and we can do better. It's a good opportunity for us to sit down and discuss how we can improve our team".
Kapler also noted that if the club is "content" they will not be firing on all cylinders and he appreciates the passion in the clubhouse by Arrieta.
For some of the guys who have been around, they need to hear that something is different. The players all have smartphones and they are aware of what is going on in the media. They'll get Arreita's message. Let's see what changes in Chicago.
Does the drafting of Alec Bohm mean that Maikel Franco will be out of the door?
The Phillies used the third overall pick on Monday evening in the MLB 2018 Amateur Draft to select Alec Bohm, a third baseman out of Wichita State. The Phillies see a middle-of-the-order bat should he reach his full ceiling. But it's too soon to peg Bohm for any particular role.
In fact, some feel that Bohm will not ultimately land at third base. I have even heard a few comparisons to Pat Burrell, who was a third baseman when the Phillies drafted him but who ultimately moved to first base and then the outfield. But the Phillies seem happy to have Bohm, no matter where he lands.
After drafting Bohm, Phillies scouting director Johnny Almaraz said (via Stephen Gross of the Allentown Morning Call) that Bohm will stick at third base for now:
“We loved the bat, we loved the offensive capabilities, so we would have taken him regardless whether he felt he could stay there.” Almaraz said. “But we don’t believe that. We believe he can stay there.”
But with the bat, it still may be a while before the Phillies see Bohm in the major leagues.
Having been drafted out of college, Bohm is further ahead than someone such as Mickey Moniak, the 2016 first pick overall, who graduated from high school and then joined the Phillies. Adam Haseley, the 2017 first round pick of the Phillies out of the University of Virginia, seems to have passed Moniak. Haseley is at Class-A Advanced Clearwater alongside Moniak, but could be due for a promotion to Double-A Reading this season.
The 2014 Phillies number one pick, Aaron Nola, needed just over a year to make his major league debut, which took place in July, 2015.
Before Bohm is knocking on the door, Franco will stay or go based upon his own merit. And despite some flashes of brilliance this season, Franco seems to be writing himself a ticket out of town due to inconsistent play. So we may even see another third baseman in between.
What would you do right now to get the Phillies offense going?
This is a really difficult conversation to have on June 5. The Phillies were able to ride the hot play of Odubel Herrera, Cesar Hernandez and at times, Maikel Franco during the club's hot stretches so far in 2018. At the plate, Scott Kingery is still figuring things out. Rhys Hoskins was having a typical sophomore slump when he broke his jaw.
Every internal option the Phillies have is currently on the table, which makes this difficult for the Phillies. And when looking at the greater picture for the club, which is still mostly to contend next year, it's kind of hard to interrupt the development of young players.
I will say this: the players on the roster have not been able to have their days off lately. Without Hoskins and J.P. Crawford on the active roster and without reliable sub Pedro Florimon, the Phillies need to start Kingery and Nick WIlliams every day instead of having them as extra options to fill in blanks.
Dylan Cozens and Mitch Walding are on the roster prematurely, and will end up taking way too many at bats if they are around for a while.
So I think the focus here in June and July needs to be on the active roster to maximize their abilities on the field to continue to assess their long-term viability on the club. Carlos Santana and Aaron Altherr are better players than they've shown and Jorge Alfaro is developing nicely.
Then, at the end of July, if there are any holes, consider picking up a veteran bat at the deadline.