Phillies Mailbag: Eickhoff, Crawford, Marlins Trade?
We are back once again with a 97.3 ESPN Phillies mailbag. Send your questions to @FrankKlose on Twitter. Then, check back each Tuesday to see your response and listen to the Sports Bash with Mike Gill at 2:30 to hear us talk about it. Listen at the Jersey Shore on 97.3 FM or listen online at 973espn.com.
What is the plan to get Eickoff back to last year? Is it possible? Minors?
The 2017 definitely has not gone the same for Phillies started pitcher Jerad Eickhoff. Considered one of the more underrated players in the game after his 2016 campaign, many around baseball expected Eickhoff to be one of the more reliable pitchers in baseball in 2017. It has not gone according to plan.
At 1-7 with a 4.83 earned run average, the numbers do not look too good for Eickhoff. However, I do not see a minor-league demotion coming for Eickhoff.
Generally, the issue with Eickhoff in 2017 has been one of mechanics.
In Eickhoff's first six losses he surrendered two earned runs, five earned runs, four earned runs, three earned runs, four earned runs and three earned runs, in that order. At other times, Eickhoff has given up one earned run in seven innings and failed to get a win. Eickhoff got the win in his return to the mound after his disabled list stint, but of course caught up with the Marlins power bats last night.
Eickhoff has struggled a bit with his fastball command and perhaps instead has turned to other pitches more often. If Eickhoff can get that command back, I can see him getting right back on track. He will have the opportunity to stay in the Phillies rotation the rest of the way to do so.
With Jeremy Hellickson possibly getting traded, Eickhoff's rotation spot is likely secure. For a team not expected to win, the best place for someone like Eickhoff to work through his struggles is in the Major Leagues.
Is it time to stop thinking of J.P. Crawford as a prospect?
Full disclosure: this question came earlier in the week. But what a week this has been for the Phillies prospect. J.P. Crawford got bumped even further down Baseball America's Top 100 prospects list all the way to 92. Apparently, even Crawford noticed that he went from a top-10 prospect to head all the way down the list.
If Crawford was referencing something else, it was quite the coincidence. Maybe not a coincidence? His play since.
Since the tweet, Crawford is 7 for 19 with two home runs. Crawford's average at Lehigh Valley is now .221, which not impressive in itself, it is over double what it sat on April 27. In the month of July, Crawford is hitting .308 with six home runs, two doubles, two triples and carrying a 1.169 OPS.
I felt the Phillies rushed Crawford to Triple-A last season and he never really got it going. Maybe now Crawford is finally getting comfortable and we will see bigger things from him going forward. One strong July is not necessarily enough to predict success, but it is it definitely encouraging right now.
An outfield of Yelich, Altherr and Williams: like it? Everyone else you trade for getting Yelich.
Rumors abound that the Phillies are interested in Marlins outfielder Christian Yelich. Depending on the rumor of the day, the Phillies are willing to take back big contracts with Yelich, including outfielder Giancarlo Stanton, second baseman Dee Gordon, or reliever Junichi Tazawa. It is really hard to sort out deals with the Marlins right now given a possible sale, but one thing seems apparently: The Marlins want to dump money and the Phillies will take it on if that means getting talent in return.
I really do like the idea that the Phillies are thinking outside of the box to add talent to the system. The Phillies have a large number of prospects at every level, and are in a position where they may be able to trade some towards established, predictable players. While the Phillies have a lot of prospects, it is really hard to predict success at the Major League level for the top prospects.
Should the Phillies make such deals, fans cannot be afraid to trade prospects. Perhaps more than ever, Phillies fans have grown attached to many of the names in the minor league system and fans have followed those clubs closely. But there is simply not room in the majors for every prospect and not all of them are necessarily worthy of it. For every time a fan Tweeted that the Phillies should not trade "untouchable" Domonic Brown, maybe the Phillies would have gotten a nice return that made the difference in 2010 or 2011. So I am on board with Ron's "everyone else" theory.
The one thing that might be difficult right now is the Marlins team sale. USA Today's Bob Nightengale said on MLB Network yesterday afternoon that the likes of Stanton and Yelich probably will not be traded in advance of a sale. Further, Gordon makes sense mostly as money coming back to the Phillies, and they probably would not do that without bringing Yelich to the Phillies.
All that said, any trades right now are to put more immediate cash into owner Jeffrey Loria's pocket before he sells. So maybe it's possible.