Phillies Mailbag: Kimbrel, Available Bats, Arenado, Schwarber
We are back once again with the 97.3 ESPN Phillies Mailbag. Each week we take your questions and answer them on The Sports Bash with Mike Gill. Ask your questions at any time to @FrankKlose on Twitter or text the show at 609-403-0973.
Is Craig Kimbrel going to be a problem down the stretch or just a couple bad outings of late?
Phillies All-Star closer Craig Kimbrel was a perfect 16 for 16 before blowing his first save against the Milwaukee Brewers on Sunday. The Phillies came back to win, luckily. Kimbrel also suffered the loss on Monday against the Baltimore Orioles. Despite that, I have no big worry.
There is one thing you hate to see a reliever do and that is walk a batter. I almost personally preferred the blown save when Kimbrel went after the hitter but surrendered a solo home run. The walk ended up being what made the difference on Monday.
The reason that the Brad Lidge perfect season was so impressive and why it was impressive that Kimbrel went 16 for 16 was that coming into games so frequently a reliever does not always have his best stuff. I don't think that "stuff" was an issue on Sunday. He was a little off with his command Monday.
But I do not believe that paints any type of picture that we would need to worry. Keep an eye on his command and velocity (which has been pretty good in 2023). But right now I am not particularly concerned.
We know Phillies need another hitter, who would you like to see?
My favorite choice would be Cody Bellinger of the Chicago Cubs. While he is left-handed, I think that Bellinger would serve the Phillies well because he can play multiple positions. Last night Jake Cave made his first ever start at first base. That demonstrates that as Bryce Harper gets acclimated to first base, they will need someone to play there.
Bellinger could play left field or first base very well. And while he is left-handed, he is currently batting .352 against left-handed pitching. He is batting .302 against righties, while hitting seven home runs from each side of the plate. Bob Nightengale of USA Today called him the "best position player available".
The best position player will be expensive in terms of prospects. So the Phillies might look elsewhere, to be realistic. The Phillies are still trying to restock the farm system while trying to win.
Meanwhile, the Phillies were linked by Nightengale to New York Mets outfielder Tommy Pham in the aforementioned piece. Nightengale noted, "The Phillies are targeting a right-handed corner outfielder in the trade market them, and would love to land Pham from the Mets."
Pham has had some questions about his conduct in the past. But Pham has been a very effective .827 OPS while playing decent defense in left field.
If nothing else, it shows the Phillies are thinking right-handed outfielder. There are other names they could look at, including Lane Thomas of the Washington Nationals and Randall Grichuk of the Colorado Rockies. Neither would be particularly pricey.
Who says no? Phillies Get Nolan Arenado and Jordan Hicks; Cardinals Get Alec Bohm, Mick Abel, Alex McFarlane and Justin Crawford?
What you suggest is a very comprehensive package. In fact, I think that it is much more than the Cardinals gave up to acquire Nolan Arenado. Yet, I do not believe he is available for trade and it would be the Cardinals who decline.
The Cardinals probably will not even listen to trade proposals for Arenado, or his fellow infield bat Paul Goldschmidt. They will try to win next year.
Jordan Hicks may be available in trade, as may Jordan Montgomery and Jack Flaherty. They are free agents to be and will cost much less in trade capital. Could the Phillies be in on them? Perhaps.
Is Rob Thomson afraid he will embarrass a veteran player by taking him out in late innings for defense?
I am sure you are referring to Kyle Schwarber remaining in the game on Monday night. It sure looked to me like Brandon Marsh was up and ready to pinch-run for Schwarber in the bottom of the eighth inning. Marsh could have remained in the game and played left field.
Marsh may have made the play that Schwarber could not that led to the winning run.
And I'm also surprised as I thought that Marsh does not represent a big loss at the plate if he ended up having to hit. Marsh leads the club in OPS.
So you might be onto something. It could be that he does not want to embarrass the veteran Schwarber, a key part of the ballclub. But I also think that Schwarber knows who he is and what his limitations are. I surely would have made the move when Schwarber was on the basepaths.