Phillies Mailbag: Moniak, Rotation, Outfield Options
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 every Tuesday to see if we discuss your question on the air.
Did Joe Girardi pull the plug on Mickey Moniak too early? 10 game sample doesn't feel like a good representation of what he can do.
Well, the decision involves more than manager Joe Girardi here. Both Dave Dombrowski and Sam Fuld have most to do with roster decisions; Girardi makes the lineup based upon what he has. But either way, Mickey Moniak did not get to show the club too much.
Moniak appeared in nine games for the Phillies, starting just eight times. In 25 at bats, Moniak batted just .120, with three walks. The only extra base hit Moniak had was his three-run home run against the San Francisco Giants.
According to Matt Gelb of the Athletic, the Phillies might have made the move sooner, but they paused the plan after Moniak's home run. Matt Breen of the Philadelphia Inquirer had reported ahead of the Phillies road trip that the Phillies were considering a call for Odubel Herrera.
Whether fair or not, I think the Phillies went back to their original gut decision: let Moniak get at bats at Triple-A. That season will begin on May 5, and Moniak will play daily, likely in center field, to help the Phillies see what they have.
Meanwhile, it's likely Herrera's last opportunity to show what he can do. If Herrera cannot put together any consistent at bats either, the Phillies may have to go in another direction. But I think Moniak will continue to play daily at Triple-A.
I imagine the minors offer no solution to the 4th and 5th starter issues and they cannot keep sending Chase Anderson and Matt Moore out there, so what is the plan?
The Phillies are 10-4 when Aaron Nola, Zack Wheeler and Zach Eflin start. When the others start? 1-7. That's enough to make a .500 team. So the Phillies certainly have taken notice.
A major change of plans happened this week: Spencer Howard will be stretched out to start after all. During Spring Training the Phillies said that Howard would be used as a reliever to manage his innings in 2021, after his injury-ridden 2020.
But the reality is this: if his innings have to be limited down the line, they might as well have him help now. They can address the rotation in a trade towards the deadline if necessary.
At Triple-A when the season begins and in the rotation alongside Howard will be Adonis Medina, once one of the bigger Phillies prospects, and Ranger Suarez, who has had tough luck after a COVID-19 battle in 2020 and visa issues in 2021. Suarez is finally pitching at the Alternate Site.
But the Phillies will need to lean on Matt Moore and Chase Anderson in the coming weeks. The Phillies will start Vince Velasquez on Wednesday, even though Moore is active. That's kind of interesting.
I'll add this, too: Moore has seemed to look good in his early innings. Would he be a good bullpen option for the Phillies?
What do you see the 2022 outfield looking like with center field and left field being a problem this year?
The Phillies seem to be showing worry about Andrew McCutchen in left field. He is batting just .154 on the season. They took the step of starting Brad Miller in left field on Monday night, trying to add some offense.
I think that the left field situation will likely be solved by someone outside of the organization. Do the Phillies sign one of the talented infielders in free agency this offseason (such as Javier Baez or Kris Bryant?). Bryant or Baez could play third base and Alec Bohm move to left field.
There previously were thoughts that Bohm would be at first base or left field long-term.
But the reality is that the internal options seem to be minimal. The Phillies might hope that Moniak can be ready to assume a center field role next year. If not - there's not much on the free agent market in center.
The only free agent center fielder younger than 30 will be Delino DeShields, Jr. But DeShields is not on a major league roster right now; he batted .252 with the Indians in 2020.
Free agent options in left field include the struggling Michael Conforto and Gregory Polanco. There is not much else there, either.
So the Phillies might have to be creative here. Can Dombrowski pull off a trade? Perhaps... that might be the only option.