Phillies Mailbag: Benoit the Closer, Stassi, First Cut?
It's Tuesday, so it's time for the the Phillies mailbag. Each week we take your Phillies questions and discuss them on the Sports Bash with Mike Gill. Send a question to me on Twitter at @FrankKlose or to sportstalkphilly @ gmail.com.
Seriously, Joaquin Benoit? I'd rather hammer a nail through my [redacted]>
John caught my piece yesterday, when in the face of a closer change, I suggested that the Phillies wait before making fireballer Hector Neris. Instead, I felt that the veteran Joaquin Benoit would be the better long-term solution for the club. Though John (a fake name) called me a "moron", it appears manager Pete Mackanin went with Benoit for the same reasons.
Benoit came to the Phillies with a lot of experience. That includes a season as closer for the 2013 Detroit Tigers, who won 93 games en route to an American League Central title. The Tigers lost to the Boston Red Sox in the NLCS, who would go on to be the World Series Champions.
Benoit will get the job done for the Phillies as the closer. And unlike Neris, should Benoit fail in his role, no long-term questions would be raised for the ball club. Benoit is not going to be a Phillie come the offseason no matter what. Or perhaps, even July.
Benoit was traded last season from the Seattle Mariners to the Toronto Blue Jays. For the Blue Jays, Benoit went down the stretch with a 0.38 earned run average for a playoff-bound Toronto Blue Jays team. Should Benoit put together some saves for the Phillies, he could once again be a trade candidate.
Or, as Jeanmar Gomez did last year, Benoit could stabilize the position and try to give the Phillies young starters the most wins possible. Then, the Phillies could consider their long-term closer solution at the end of the year. There's no need to do that just yet.
How long before Stassi gets sent down and the truth Rhys Hoskins gets called up?
Matt asked the question before Brock Stassi broke his 0 for 7 start with a line drive home run to center field. Stassi's first hit finally came after a few at bats that were less than ideal. But the Phillies will give Stassi some time.
In some at bats, Stassi showed some plate discipline. Despite having no hits in his first seven at bats, Stassi had walked three times already. So, Stassi stepped to the plate Monday night without a hit but a .300 on base percentage. Stassi's at bats against Washington on Sunday, however, were not so patient.
Perhaps Stassi was pressing a bit, something not too uncommon among new Major League players. While Stassi's batting average is just .125 now after the home run, it looks a lot better than .000 does. Hopefully Stassi will feel more relaxed and show that he can hit. He always has.
Besides, the Phillies have no real options for the bench, thanks to a clogged 40-man roster. Had the Phillies wished to take a chance on Jesmuel Valentin, they would have done so for the Opening Day roster. So I think Stassi gets a couple months to show he belongs.
Hoskins may have to wait a while. Not on the 40-man roster, Hoskins will not be considered before the Phillies open some spots. Hoskins, by the way, is hitting .353 with a home run thus far. It's a small sample size, but so is Stassi's performance.
Who do you think is the first to go from those who made the Opening Day roster?
There were many good stories in Spring Training of players making the cut of a big league roster. But, at the end of the day, players need to perform or they do not belong in the big leagues. We already discussed Brock Stassi, who I feel has a while to get a look. But my pick for the first to go right now is Joely Rodriguez.
The Phillies opted to take two left-handed pitchers for their bullpen in Adam Morgan and Rodriguez over right-handed reliever Luis Garcia. The Phillies have gone to Rodriguez first to get the left-handed batters out. That has not necessarily worked, as we saw with Jay Bruce's two-run home run on Monday.
Rodriguez is sporting a 9.82 earned run average after his three appearances. With lefties batting .667 against him, the entire purpose of Rodriguez's presence is not fulfilled. It is a small sample size indeed, but almost immediately Rodriguez is being hit hard.
Morgan may start getting some appearances against left-handed hitters. Garcia has one appearance at Triple-A Lehigh Valley thus far, with a save in one clean inning. The Phillies could swap Garcia and Rodriguez, particularly if the Phillies find themselves in a situation where the bullpen gets overworked.