Phillies Mailbag: Playoff Chances, Franco, Velasquez
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.
So what do you think the Phillies chances are now after that trade deadline? After losing two of three to the Chicago White Sox?
Friday night's 15-inning loss to the Chicago White Sox felt particularly grueling and demoralizing. Even after Roman Quinn pitched a scoreless inning, and after Vince Velasquez threw out Jose Abreu at home plate, the Phillies could not muster a run to take the victory.
It could have been a game for the ages had the Phillies won. Wilson Valdez pitching and Roy Oswalt in left field all over again. instead it ended up just another loss. The Phillies also managed to lose on Sunday.
Despite all of that and despite not acquiring an additional starting pitcher or an additional reliever at the trade deadline, the Phillies are tied for the Wild Card. With the Washington Nationals.
Looking at the teams around them: the Milwaukee Brewers, the St. Louis Cardinals, and even the New York Mets - the Phillies probably are not going to fall out of this thing, even with all of their flaws and with all of the frustrations.
I think the Phillies season will come down to the Month of September, when the club faces the Braves seven times, the Nationals five times, the Boston Red Sox twice, and the Cleveland Indians three times. Of the teams in this Wild Card race, the hottest one in September will win.
How do you think the demotion of Maikel Franco will affect the Phillies going forward this season?
The move to send third baseman Maikel Franco to Triple-A caught a lot of people by surprise. It caught the media by surprise and of course it caught the team by surprise. But looking at the situation, it did make sense to demote Franco. But I suppose there are two answers to this question: how it might affect the team and how it might affect the players.
For the team, the space vacated at third base allows Scott Kingery to play every day at a single position with out too much moving around the diamond. That came because Corey Dickerson joined the ball club in the outfield and both Adam Haseley and Roman Quinn have shown they deserve some playing time in center field.
Offensively, Dickerson should produce more than Franco. That is an upgrade.
But I suppose this question wonders about how his teammates would react. Franco has many friends on the team, including Hector Neris. I think there are two ways players can look at this. One is to be upset about not having their friend and teammate around. The other is to realize nothing can be taken for granted in this game.
At the end of the day, production matters. Franco has not been a very productive player, and in fact, he probably should have been cut this past offseason. Was Franco too comfortable, with no real threat to take over the position at third base? Maybe.
But we saw the same thing with Nick Pivetta earlier this season. Players must produce if they wish to stick around. That's probably true at most people's jobs as well. Anyone else in the clubhouse who might be comfortable: maybe they realize it could be them next and that it's time to step up.
But, time will tell.
What is the deal with Vince Velasquez? Did Friday night's game change him somehow?
Vince Velasquez is one heck of an athlete. We saw that with this play above. We've seen him be able to hit. If he could only pitch deep into games, he might really be something.
I was highly critical of the Phillies not replacing Velasquez in the starting rotation at the trade deadline instead it was Zach Eflin and Nick Pivetta who went first. But if Velasquez is the fifth starter and the other rotation spots are more predictable, he could hang around. And play some outfield. And pinch run. And pinch hit.
I don't think the Phillies should let more than one spot in the starting rotation take the form of a question mark. Velasquez does not usually get shelled, but he still averages less than five runs a game.
I think he has tremendous talent. It would be nice if he could add just a few more outs to his game as a starter. That the Phillies can live with. He will get until season's end to show that can be him.