Phillies Still Taking Steps in Right Direction
While the Phillies have dropped 13 of their past 17 games to fall to two games under .500 there's still some positives to take from their first 58 games of the season, and are still a organization that is moving in the right direction.
"Absolutely," senior baseball writer for ESPN.com Keith Law said on the Sports Bash. "I think anyone who is concentrating on this years record has really, really missed the point. This was not going to be a winning team this year, this was not going to be a playoff team this year. If they avoid 90 losses, I would say this is good season for them. Its about getting some of the young players to the big leagues, try to integrate them ."
While the Phillies pitching and defense is good enough to win on most nights, their offense has been abysmal, but this team wasn't supposed to be judged on runs against or runs score but the players who are in those positions, Aaron Nola, Maikel Franco, trying out Rule 5 pick Tyler Goeddel, seeing if Odubel Herrera is the real deal.
So what pushed the proverbial needle for the Phillies, to help move them in the right direction?
"I think of all the trades that they have made, probably the Giles trade was the bigger jump," Law stated about the move that sent former closer Ken Giles to Houston in return for Vincent Velasquez and four other pitchers.
"They moved an asset without really a ton of value. The Hamels deal was a great deal, but the Giles deal I think we are going to look back on and say that was an absolute heist that's a franchise altering moment for them."
Law points out that it wasn't any particular guy in the Giles deal that really makes them win the deal, its the amount of guys they got in exchange for a guy who is really going to throw 60-70 winnings per season, and has already be removed as the closer in Houston.
"Maybe Velasquez becomes a No.3 starter and Mark Appel doesn't work out, that's still a pretty good outcome for you," Law explained. "Just the fact that they were able to get so many different assets back in exchange for a guy you really didn't have a whole lot of use for. I find it hard to imagine them to get more total, total value, just looking at it as a package than they ended up getting from the Astros."
Moving Giles was a big key to the Phillies who have replaced him with veteran Jeanmar Gomez, who has been excellent - showing the unpredictable nature of the position. While Giles is struggling with the Astros, Hector Neris and Gomez have thrived in the back of the Phillies pen, something nobody would have predicted.
"Its the most disposable, frivolous asset that a bad team can have," Law stated about the closer position. "You just don't need a closer, if you have a good reliever and you have a chance to flip him for long-term assets , everyday players and/or starting pitchers - you have to do that every time."
While the Phillies don't have that veteran piece like Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins or Cole Hamels they have had to move like at past trade deadlines, Law mentions Neris as a guy to keep an eye on if he continues to dominate in the bullpen as a guy the Phillies should consider moving to add more talent.
His 40 K's and 0.88 WHIP in 31.2 innings could attract a contender looking for bullpen help for a playoff run this season.