Phillies Mailbag: Bohm, Haseley, and a DH in the N.L.?
We are back once again with a 97.3 ESPN Phillies mailbag. Each week we take your questions and talk about them on the Sports Bash with Mike Gill every Tuesday. Send your questions anytime on Twitter to @FrankKlose or send a text to the text board at 609-403-0973.
Is Alec Bohm's glove good enough for third base?
I think that it's fair to say that the glove work of Alec Bohm at third base is a work in progress. Bohm has a combined .938 fielding percentage across the three levels he has played third base in 2019. That's compared to just .870 last season. Simply on an error-basis, he has shown improvement.
A .938 on base percentage would rank 19th among third basemen in baseball at the moment.
When you look at Bohm, he almost looks like a middle reliever. He is tall, somewhat lanky, and has the hair of a pitcher, too. At 6'5", maybe he is simply tall for the position. Watching him play a limited amount, his hands seem to have a ways to go to get to the ball.
When Kris Bryant hit the major leagues, people wondered if he was too tall to play the position. Bryant has done fine; maybe Bohm will find his way. He will have the opportunity; I believe Bohm likely cracks the major leagues as a third baseman.
The Phillies have two more seasons of Andrew McCutchen in left field. By then, the Phillies should know if Bohm will be their third baseman long-term or not. I can see Bohm joining the Phillies as soon as next summer.
I think he will spend major league Spring Training with them and then break camp at Triple-A Lehigh Valley, with defense being one of the key factors.
Bohm hit his 21st home run yesterday, tied for most in the Phillies system with Deivy Grullon. There will be opportunities for him very soon. And I think those will begin at third base.
What is the plan for Adam Haseley?
I believe that Adam Haseley is going to open 2020 as the Phillies center fielder. But there is much that is going to have to happen along the way to make this work. Mainly, the Phillies need to come to some sort of resolution with the Odubel Herrera situation
Based upon merit, Haseley has played admirably in 2019. When the Phillies called him up, he was very much rushed and the Phillies were in a bind, thanks to the Herrera suspension, release of Aaron Altherr, and injury to Roman Quinn.
Haseley is batting .252 so far, not bad for someone rushed to the big leagues.
As Meghan Montemurro noted in the Athletic, the Phillies will have to proceed carefully in terms of Herrera. A team cannot appear to punish a second time a player who has served a suspension. In other words, simply releasing Herrera will appear to be a second suspension.
What the Phillies can do is work out some sort of buyout. They can argue (with good faith) that Haseley has demonstrated that he is ready for the job and that Roman Quinn has provided tremendous value too, when healthy. Add to that Andrew McCutchen, Bryce Harper, and Jay Bruce, the Phillies outfield is very much stocked for next season.
It is also true that Mickey Moniak could be ready sooner than later. Moniak is probably due for a good look at Spring Training himself, along with a potential call-up next season should the roster need it.
Do you think the National League gets the designated hitter in the next collective bargaining agreement?
At this point in time, I am resigned to the idea that yes, the National League will indeed get the designated hitter sooner or later, perhaps even before the the next collective bargaining agreement. Early discussions to make changes (like we are seeing with roster size and the abolition of the second trade deadline) included some discussions on the designated hitter going to the National League. That was tabled for now, but remains in play.
Jim Bowden of Sirius XM once commented that the offseason trade that sent Robinson Cano to the New York Mets might have been done with the designated hitter in mind. Brodie Van Wagenen, the new general manager of the Mets and a former agent, might have been part of discussions from the player side. And he might have felt that things were moving along to the point where there would be the opportunity for Cano to be a designated hitter in the near future.
I think that for the Phillies, that could ease some of the tension about where Alec Bohm plays, which we previously discussed. Some suggest that Rhys Hoskins is better suited as a designated hitter. And teams with an offensive catcher like J.T. Realmuto would love to use his "off" days as the designated hitter.
But it's not just about these issues.
For many pitchers, their whole lives they have not batted. In Little League there are designated hitters. College play includes a designated hitter. The minor league systems are flush with the designated hitter. It is hard to add batting to a pitcher's repertoire this late.
Additionally, injury concerns for pitchers is an issue. Could we imagine what the Phillies could have gotten out of Charlie Morton had he not torn a hamstring running to first base in his fourth start? The Phillies were right in tabbing Morton for future success; the injury meant that he did not get to have it with them.
Plus, teams are not equally matched in regular interleague play, which happens throughout the entire schedule now. American League teams spend starter-level money for someone to be a designated hitter, while National League teams have to use their best pinch hitter or just use interleague play to rest players. That means that the competition is not matched.
So even though I prefer the strategy of pitchers batting, I think that this is far along enough that it will happen sooner or later, maybe even before the next CBA.