It is time once again for a Phillies 97.3 ESPN Monday Mailbag.  We take your questions every Monday and then we talk about them during the Sports Bash with Mike Gill on Tuesday afternoons at 2:30 p.m.   If you are not in South Jersey, you can listen online at 973espn.com.

If Carlos Ruiz is traded before the deadline, who would come up, Knapp or Alfaro?
~Eric

We still have about two months to go before the August 1 trade deadline (July 31 is a Sunday so they are waiting a day), but my best guess at this answer might surprise you.   Even though the Phillies have two catching prospects: Andrew Knapp at Lehigh Valley and Jorge Alfaro at AA Reading, I think the answer to your question is "neither".

The Phillies have made their priority two things this season: cash out any assets they have for prospects and let their young players develop.  I do not think that one will necessarily lead to revoking the other.   If and only if the Phillies think that Alfaro or Knapp are ready, then the team will promote them.   If a gap suddenly opens at catcher, I think the Phillies will look into someone else.

That means if say, the Pittsburgh Pirates are looking for an upgrade over catcher Chris Stewart, the Phillies might simply subtract Ruiz based on the prospect return.  What might happen in a case such as this one, is that the Phillies take Stewart back in the trade.  Someone else's backup catcher could be the Phillies' backup catcher for August and September.  I would venture to say that there are players that the Phillies could acquire from another organization for simple cash considerations.

The Phillies also have the luxury of Cameron Rupp, who has exceeded most people's expectations as a Major League player.  Instead of being a solid backstop who might not hit a whole lot in his career, Rupp has impressed with some offense.

Has Tommy Joseph pretty much taken the first base starter's job at this point?
~Tony

I think that is a fair statement to make.   On Thursday, Phillies manager Pete Mackanin mentioned that Joseph would get "three to four games" in a row to see what he could do.  Well, Joseph played four games and responded by getting seven hits in 16 at bats, good for a .438 batting average in that span.

When the Phillies turned the page to Monday against the Chicago Cubs, Joseph was in the lineup for a fifth day, even batting third in the Phillies lineup.  That is a good sign that Joseph could be in the Phillies lineup to stay.  Joseph figures to get at least one game off in the Cubs series.   It helps that Monday's game comes against left-handed starter Jon Lester, but Joseph probably will start against one of the Cubs other two righties Kyle Hendricks and John Lackey.

Unfortunately, the bottle-throwing incident draws extra attention to Howard in the middle of losing his starting job to Joseph.  With Joseph batting .298 with one home run and one double heading into the Cubs series, Joseph has probably earned the right to have a slump and work his way out of it.  That means Howard likely will continue to sit most of the time until the Phillies' next interleague series, which begins June 21 in Minnesota.

Jimmy Paredes seems to be exactly what we needed! Is he the real deal? Where has he been?
~Adam

The Phillies tried to claim utility player Jimmy Paredes on waivers when the Orioles had a roster crunch and could not keep him.  However, the claim occurred right about the Phillies' peak in the standings and the Blue Jays were awarded the claim, since they had the worst record of claiming teams.  The Phillies managed to get Paredes eventually, in a trade with the Blue Jays.

But - let's not get too excited here.

Paredes is primarily a utility player.  He is useful to teams because he is a switch-hitter and can play both infield and outfield positions.   A team like the Phillies who are using two roster spots on first basemen (Joseph and Howard) could really use someone like Paredes who can help the Phillies out in the infield and the outfield, since the team is left with just one other backup infielder in Andres Blanco.

Paredes has some power - he hit 10 home runs with the Orioles last season working as a substitute - but he is known to strike out a lot.  We saw this with the Phillies, as Paredes struck out in his Phillies debut and the first three at bats the very next game when he got his first start for the club.  Given that the Phillies starters in the infield (Freddy Galvis and Cesar Hernandez) are switch-hitters along with backup Blanco, Paredes is most likely to get starts in right field in place of Tyler Goeddel on days that Mackanin wants a left-handed hitter at all three outfield positions.

I think that Paredes represents an improvement over Emmanuel Burriss, who now heads to AAA Lehigh Valley.  However, do not expect all that much out of Paredes.