Phillies Mailbag: Moniak, Bench, Girardi’s Job Security
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. Tune in each Tuesday to hear your questions answered on the air! Send your questions at any time to @FrankKlose on Twitter, or comment on the 97.3 ESPN livestream.
Is Joe Girardi's job on the line this season?
In a word: yes.
When manager Joe Girardi joined the Phillies in December of 2019, it was a three-year contract with an option for a fourth year. At the end of the 2021 season at the year-end meeting with reporters, new president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski did not seem to know about the contract option year.
But the option year indeed was there for 2023. But Dombrowski has not exercised it.
So technically Girardi is in a "lame duck" situation. But really, what Girardi has been given to work with is less than "lame". With the $179 million spent to add Kyle Schwarber and Nick Casatellanos, the Phillies should not be considered "lame".
But if their performance is, the Phillies will have a hard time being able to justify giving Girardi a new contract.
In a 12-team playoff format, the Phillies had better make the playoffs in a year that the club is exceeding the Competitive Balance Tax for the very first time. The money has been put on the line by ownership. So yes, Girardi's job is on the line.
Can we close the book on Mickey Moniak?
I think we are getting close, Chris. The Phillies had their first opportunity for the first overall pick since 1998, when the club drafted a third baseman named Pat Burrell out of Miami. In 2016, the Phillies had another chance, and it was Mickey Moniak's name who was called. But almost six years later the Phillies have little to show for it.
Moniak got his first cup of coffee in the very disrupted 2020 season with some more last season. Through 47 big league at bats, Moniak is batting just .128, with one home run and 28 runs batted in.
Moniak remains on the 40-man roster. They will need players with minor league options that can go back and forth between Triple-A and Philadelphia whenever injuries occur. Moniak could fill that role. But so could fellow first round pick Adam Haseley.
But as left-handed outfielders, the time could be getting close where the Phillies need to make a decision if they need to add roster space.
It would represent what the mid-2010s were for the Phillies: a failed rebuild.
Would you trade for Austin Meadows to play CF/LF/DH/1B or just wait until the trade deadline for pitching and a bat?
Any chance they sign a defensive outfielder for late innings?
The Phillies roster in terms of position players is likely approaching complete. On a 26-man roster there are eight relievers and five starters, to make up 13 of them. The starting 8 in the field make 21. That leaves room for five bench spots.
This year, one of them is the designated hitter. One of them is the backup catcher. And, the Phillies have a platoon in center field, so the other half of the platoon is another. A fourth will be major league signee Johan Camargo.
So there is one spot left.
To Michael's point, I think the other half of the center field platoon may come in to play left in the eighth or ninth innings, depending upon where Kyle Schwarber is in the lineup, and how far ahead the Phillies are. So you may see Matt Vierling enter and play left if Odubel Herrera starts, or vice versa.
So who will fill that last spot?
Here are the available options already with the Phillies: Adam Haseley, Mickey Moniak, Luke Williams, Nick Maton and Scott Kingery. Ronald Torreyes is in camp now, too.
Williams and Kingery are the two that have the most positional versatility. I think what the Phillies saw from Williams last year was pretty impressive, as his first four starts were over four positions. Kingery makes $4 million a season so they might want him to fill that role if they think he earns a spot on the roster.
So to J.B.'s point: I think Austin Meadows would be a fine utility player. But with so many options, they may try one of them first. Then, at the trade deadline, they will consider available options. But with six or more options, I think they will try those first.
But remember - if Bryson Stott makes the team out of Spring Training, he pushes someone else into that final bench spot.