Phillies Mailbag: Bullpen, Herrera, a Path to Playoffs?
We are back for another season of the 97.3 ESPN Phillies mailbag. You can ask your question at any time by Tweeting to @FrankKlose on Twitter. We will discuss your questions each Tuesday on the Sports Bash with Mike Gill.
What’s your predictions for who makes the bullpen out of the non-roster invitees/minor league contracts? Kintzler? Watson?
The Phillies got some really good picks out of their non-roster relief invitees this year. Last season, the Phillies seemed to throw the invitation to a handful of players that really were highly likely not to stick - like Bud Norris, Drew Storen, etc. But I think the Phillies have two strong candidates for the bullpen in Brandon Kintzler and Tony Watson.
The Phillies were lucky to get Kintzler the way they did. The Miami Marlins declined a $4 million option on Kintzler for 2021. They then offered him less money than that, with a major league guarantee. The Phillies were able to get Kintzler for a little more money than the Marlins, should he make the team.
I believe the Phillies and Kintzler tend to think he will make the team.
Watson is a nice piece for the Phillies. He is a little older at this point, but from the left side the Phillies really could use an established presence. Adam Morgan is departed, as is Jose Alvarez. The Phillies brought in lefty Jose Alvarado, who is somewhat of a wildcard.
If I had to guess the Phillies Opening Day bullpen right now, I would go with this:
- Archie Bradley (R, CL)
- Hector Neris (R)
- Brandon Kintzler (R)
- Tony Watson (L)
- Jojo Romero (L)
- Ranger Suarez (L)
- Vince Velasquez (R)
- One of Matt Moore, Chase Anderson, or Spencer Howard
I think David Hale may have to go to make room for one of the minor league contract players. Whoever does not make the starting rotation of Moore, Anderson, or Howard may find themselves in the bullpen.
Does Odubel Herrera really have a shot at making the Phillies roster?
The Phillies put Odubel Herrera into the starting lineup in game three of the preseason. In right field. On the road. In a game that is not being broadcast on television or radio anywhere. I think this is all on purpose.
The Phillies center field competition is primarily around Adam Haseley, Roman Quinn, and Scott Kingery. They may all play some center field. But if there is a clear winner to this battle and that player starts every day, the other two will likely be on the Phillies roster and will contribute to the club.
I think the Phillies are fairly confident that Haseley and Quinn can play center quite handily. Given the choice of who to play in center field, the Phillies put Herrera in right field for today's game against the Blue Jays.
This comes after Herrera had already been considered suspect in center field. By the end of 2018, Herrera had been playing some corner outfield, with 13 games combined in left and right.
Herrera's arm is certainly not good enough to be a long-term solution there, and with Bryce Harper and Andrew McCutchen playing in the corners there is simply nowhere for Herrera there.
We have frequently pointed to the rules under the CBA and discipline. The Phillies cannot "double punish' Herrera by releasing him. What I think is likely is that Herrera will play enough for the Phillies to say he played, and not play enough for them to justify a roster spot.
After Herrera shows he cannot make the roster, he will become a release candidate.
I think that I would rather have a 70-92 season than another 81-81 season and pretend that the Phils are "close" to contending, do you agree?
In baseball, there are those who are contenders, who have a real shot at the playoffs, like the Phillies were 2008 - 2011. then there are those people expect to be in the basement, like the 2016-2018 Phillies were. Those who are floundering in the middle are often difficult to watch.
The Phillies, obviously, were disappointing last year.
But like a lot of individual players, I think the small sample size of 60 games leaves some room for the idea that the full story is not told. I think compared to last year the Phillies will be better off in a few areas.
The Phillies were around the .500 mark last year and I think they'll be better than 81-81. The starting rotation has options. Jake Arrieta's inconsistency is gone. Even though the Phillies brought him back, Vince Velasquez does not need to be in the starting rotation.
And of course, the bullpen.
This year's bullpen cannot possibly be as bad as last year. And I think Dave Dombrowski's experience will help the Phillies do more than last season at the trade deadline.
With J.T. Realmuto and Didi Gregorius back, I think the Phillies have a shot to be more than .500 and mediocre. They're far from a playoff lock, but there could be a path to a postseason appearance.
Phillies Major Award Winners Since 1980