Phillies Mailbag: Left-Handed Pitchers, Offseason, Jimmy Rollins
It is time once again for a Phillies 97.3 ESPN Monday Mailbag. We take your questions every Monday and then we talk about them during the Sports Bash with Mike Gill on Tuesday afternoons at 2:30 p.m. If you are not in South Jersey, you can listen online at 973espn.com.
Why is Matt Klentak screwing Pete with no left-handed pitcher in the bullpen?
After the Phillies designated for assignment the contract of Brett Oberholtzer, the Phillies were in a really unusual position. After having no left-handed pitcher in the starting rotation all season except for the starts made by Adam Morgan, the Phillies now were in a new position: no left-handed bullpen pitcher, either. While the move is shocking, it is hard to argue with it.
The role Oberholtzer served for the Phillies was really not a left-handed specialist role, but a mop-up reliever/long man. Looking at Oberholtzer's splits for 2016, left-handed hitters were batting .263 against Oberholtzer. Of course, right-handed hitters were batting .297, but that's another matter. In other words, having Oberholtzer as a left-handed pitcher in the bullpen was not helping.
Luis Garcia remains on the Phillies roster, as do Michael Mariot and Severino Gonzalez. Left-handed hitters are batting .250 against Gonzalez, .375 against Garcia (who may be the next cut), and while Mariot has not faced many hitters in the majors this year, left-handed hitters were batting just .222 against him.
Daniel Stumpf's value was to come as someone who could get left-handed hitters out. In his time with the Phillies, left-handed hitters batted .429. Elvis Araujo was another option in the bullpen, and he had lefties hitting .268 against him. Original 2016 bullpen member James Russell had lefties hitting .444 against him before he was designated for assignment.
The Phillies will need to develop some left-handed bullpen options, indeed. But the reality is, right now no one they have is getting anybody out. Hopefully Mario Hollands can fully rebound from his Tommy John surgery to be an effective left-handed reliever down the line, and maybe Adam Morgan or Alec Asher will end up being a lefty arm for the Phillies.
But for now, since all the left-handed relievers they had are getting shelled, they might as well try other arms. Mariot has looked really good thus far, so having him stick around over Oberholtzer may be worth it. Since the team is not expected to contend just yet, this is acceptable. If the Phillies were contending, I would answer this question much differently.
I know we still have another whole month of baseball left, but any insight on what MacPhail and Co. will do in the offseason?
This coming offseason will not be much different from the previous offseason. I know that this does not really excite Phillies fans, but the rebuild still takes priority. There is still much to figure out for the long-term, and this coming offseason will be a big part of that.
Going into 2017, it is not unreasonable to see J.P. Crawford get the starting job out of Spring Training. Nick Williams could be in left field, and the catcher could be Andrew Knapp and/or Jorge Alfaro. The pitching rotation could be all young starters. In other words, there is more building to occur.
The Phillies probably will try to take some chances on some minor league contract relievers as they did this year with Andrew Bailey, Ernesto Frieri, and Edward Mujica. They may even sign a Major League free agent as they did with David Hernandez. Those pieces will likely be supplementary pieces, possibly becoming trade pieces down the line.
But 2018 is the big free agent class, as we have said before. If the Phillies can get a good offensive and pitching core together in 2017, they could sign an ace starter, a relief ace, and a big bat, and still have a payroll around $100 million. In order to do that, they need to know exactly what they have. And to do that, it means another year like this one.
What the could it hurt at this point to bring back Jimmy Rollins to finish his career as a Phillie? Wouldn't it be a wonderful tribute and goodwill wish?
The question stems from an article on the Phillies website The Good Phight. There, writer David S. Cohen suggested that the Phillies sign former shortstop Jimmy Rollins to finish his career with the big league club.
Indeed, Rollins will probably be thought of as the best Phillies shortstop in team history. While Larry Bowa had a great run too, Rollins won an MVP award and gave the Phillies a bit more offense than his former manager and coach. But bringing Rollins back to actually play baseball is not a good decision for the Phillies rebuilding efforts.
You see, no "one-day" contract truly exists for the big leagues. Former Phillies ace Roy Halladay signed a "one-day contract" to retire with the Blue Jays after his playing days were over. But, Halladay signed a minor league contract. He did not appear in a Major League game. If the Phillies allowed that, it could be problematic.
First, Rollins has not played in a game in two months. If Rollins showed up to play for a day, would he go 0 for 4 with several strikeouts? Commit errors? Before he played in a Major League game, surely a minor league stint would be necessary. Playing one more game very well could be embarrassing for Rollins and negate any good will.
Adding Rollins to the 25-man roster means that the team would need to add him to the 40-man roster. To do that could mean that a player needs to be let go. The Phillies are struggling to find 40-man roster spots for players as it is, but to add Rollins means someone could be subtracted. Sure, David Buchanan seems like an easy subtraction, but the Phillies may need his innings in September.
I am sure that the Phillies will have a "Jimmy Rollins" night at some point, and he will sign a one-day player services contract of some sort to retire as a Phillie. But playing in a Major League game? I think Rollins has played his last.