Phillies Mailbag: Irvin, Quinn, Hernandez
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 Cole Irvin destined to become another J.A. Happ, a crafty lefty the Phils hate so much, they drive him away to success in another organization?
Before addressing Cole Irvin, I think it's important to make sure we remember what happened with J.A. Happ. Happ was seen as an asset in the Phillies organization then the team traded him at the 2010 trade deadline. It was not in any way that the Phillies wanted to give up on Happ; it was the opportunity to acquire starter Roy Oswalt, a premium pitcher in the major leagues.
But let's also remember that Happ took a while to find success. Happ went to the Houston Astros and posted a 5.35 earned run average his first full season there. Then, after going 7-9 with a 4.83 earned run average he was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays, where he posted similar results. Only after Happ went to Seattle and then was traded to Pittsburgh did he start to put things together.
So for the Phillies to get the good Happ, they would have had to sit through five mediocre-to-poor seasons first AND re-sign him to a new contract. That would not have worked well with the competing Phillies. But they recognize the value he has now and strongly considered signing Happ this offseason.
As for Irvin, the Phillies are high on Irvin. You may remember, the Phillies allowed Irvin to make the first Grapefruit League start, and gave him subsequent starts including one after he had moved to minor league camp so they could see what they have. Irvin went to Triple-A to start the season, but he has the attention of the Phillies.
In five starts so far at Triple-A, Irvin is 2-0 with an earned run average of 1.82. He has truck out 18 in 29 2/3 innings pitched, and walked six. So far the start is good. Irvin could get an opportunity at some point this season. Not on the 40-man roster, the Phillies would have to make room for him.
But fair warning: the Phillies could find themselves in the same situation they were in back in 2010. Should the Phillies wish to acquire an established veteran left-handed starter such as Robbie Ray, Madison Bumgarner or Mike Minor, the team sending one of those players to the Phillies might want a young lefty in return, who could step into the rotation right away. That very well may be Irvin.
So in summary, the Phillies really like Irvin so far in their system and he could make an appearance some point this season. Or, he might be the value that lands them an arm later. However, that does mean they "hate" him.
Is it time for the Phillies to give up on Roman Quinn?
The latest injury to speedy outfielder Roman Quinn was a double disappointment. The first part was poor play as the sub for center fielder Odubel Herrera, the first open opportunity Quinn had to show he could play center field. After that came a groin strain that was the latest in a string of unrelated injuries.
The Phillies have been very patiently waiting for Quinn to find a healthy stretch to show what his tremendous talent would do for a Phillies roster. They had the time to be patient in the past when Quinn had minor league options available and the club was testing out many new players in the lineup.
However, 2019 is a different story.
The lineup that includes the likes of outfielders Bryce Harper and Andrew McCutchen is one that is ready to win. The Phillies simply cannot continue to afford the patience that the team once had. With this in mind, I suspect Quinn's days are numbered.
The roster could play out in a way where Quinn returns eventually and is able to help the club. But I suspect that if the Phillies acquire a veteran sub at the trade deadline, they might not be able to hold onto Quinn's spot. There might be another team out there who can give Quinn a shot, but should Herrera return and the Phillies add a bench bat, I cannot see Quinn making the cut if he returns around that time.
Quinn will have to show he is healthy, and the roster construction will decide whether or not there is room for him. But at some point when the Phillies are forced to make a choice, they may not consider Quinn to be a risk worth taking in the future.
How much longer can the Phillies tolerate Cesar Hernandez?
I think that the early struggles of Cesar Hernandez at the plate are still stuck in the heads of Phillies fans. Before his 0 for 3 on Sunday (he did walk, though), Hernandez had a eight-game hitting streak going, and three of those games saw two hits. As it is today, Hernandez is batting .267, which should suffice for a team's seven-hole hitter.
But we are seeing other mistakes in the field. While Zach Eflin was cruising along en route to the team's first complete game since 2016 (when Eflin himself pitched one in Pittsburgh), Hernandez oddly cut off a ball, taking a play away from shortstop Jean Segura and costing the Phillies a run.
There were also other defensive miscues, too, that were very obvious.
But right now, Hernandez is what the Phillies have. The Phillies could start Sean Rodriguez or Phil Gosselin at second base for a game here or there, but Hernandez is a better option. Hernandez is better than them to the point where he should play pretty much every game until Scott Kingery returns from the disabled list.
Had Kingery been performing to the level he was leading up to his injury, I think he would have cut into Hernandez's playing time. I still believe that second base will belong to Kingery in 2020. A strong return from Kingery could eat into the playing time Hernandez has at second base.
But aside from the 2 for 22 stretch Hernandez had from April 2 through 9, his bat has been fine. Should he improve from the mental errors like he made on Sunday, I think he will still be above average for the Phillies.