Phillies Mailbag: Power of Hoskins, Kingery’s Status, Rotation
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.
Is Rhys Hoskins a 45 HR guy (+11 vs last year) with Harper ahead of him and Realmuto behind him?
The Phillies will reap many benefits from the signing of Bryce Harper. One such will be that teams will tend to pitch around Harper. That creates opportunities for the other players in the lineup. One beneficiary will be Rhys Hoskins.
We saw it in the first game in which both played. Harper drew a walk. Behind him was Hoskins, who absolutely crushed a home run that sailed over Frenchy's Tiki Pavilion in left field.
Teams are wary of pitching to Harper; we even saw in Spring Training that many pitchers were afraid to let Harper beat them. And with a strong eye, Harper will drive many walks. Since the Phillies appear ready to have Hoskins bat behind Harper with J.T. Realmuto batting behind Hoskins, teams will have to pick their poison.
If Harper is on first base, the pitcher cannot let Hoskins walk too. There would be Realmuto behind him. So Hoskins will get to see many more pitches to hit in 2019 than he did in 2018. As Ed Barkowtiz of Philly.com noted today, Hoskins takes lots of pitches and in terms of home runs per at bat, is hitting home runs at a tremendous pace.
I could easily see Hoskins eclipsing the 40-home run mark. I think 45 is certainly possible; maybe a return to first base and extra comfort might help him dig in more at the plate. I think seeing how Hoskins responds in this lineup will be one of the more interesting storylines in 2019.
Do you see Scott Kingery taking over for Maikel Franco or Cesar Hernandez? And if so do they get moved for an arm?
The Phillies seem to be ready to start Maikel Franco at third base and Cesar Hernandez at second base. However, Scott Kingery is the backup infielder on this Phillies team, and I can see Kingery factoring into the third base equation in the immediate future, and second base picture long-term.
Hernandez is someone the Phillies might have moved this offseason. However, the reality is that the second base position was very deep this offseason on the free agent market, and the Phillies did not feel a need to simply dump Hernandez to open a space for Kingery. Hernandez will be a free agent after this season and then I think the Phillies will open up second base for Kingery.
Hernandez is probably not a candidate to trade for an arm during this season. The reason is that the Phillies will be playoff contenders looking to maybe add a left-handed starter or maybe a reliever down the line. The teams that would trade those type of players are probably going to be the types of teams that are rebuilding. They would not have a need for a second baseman that will be a free agent at the end of the season.
Franco could be a different story. Franco still has some long-term value, and even though he has shown to be consistent at times, a rebuilding team might like the opportunity to put Franco at third base and see if they can work him into a long-term solution. If Kingery does well enough at third base, maybe Franco would be moved.
Speaking of Kingery at third base, I would not be surprised to see Kingery's name in the Opening Day lineup. Franco seems to have fallen out of favor some, and Kingery has gotten increased attention at third base. It was Franco, not Kingery, who picked up a first baseman's mitt in the last week to serve as a back-up to Rhys Hoskins.
Do you think the Phillies will pick up a starting pitcher in the next couple of weeks? Or does the Phillies front office like the rotation going into season?
As long as Dallas Keuchel remains a free agent, I think this question will come up. I can honestly think about a dozen teams who would benefit from adding Keuchel to their starting rotation, and I do think that the Phillies are one of them. But any addition would be due to a unique opportunity.
At this point, I think Keuchel would have to accept a one-year deal in the range of $8 million or so for the Phillies to be in on him. The Phillies will not want to lose their flexibility under the competitive balance tax, though they would consider an opportunity if it fell into their lap.
Questions do remain about the starting rotation, including what the Phillies will get from their back end, Nick Pivetta, Zach Eflin, and Vince Velasquez. New catcher Realmuto believes they each have something significant to offer and he will probably get the chance to work with them first. If one of them does not work out, the Phillies will consider adding later.
At Triple-A, the Phillies will have Cole Irvin, Enyel De Los Santos, Ranger Suarez, Drew Anderson and Jerad Eickhoff from which to choose. That's a good amount of depth available there to help the club at least bridge a gap to a July trade.
Therefore, I think the Phillies are set for now.