We are back once again with the 97.3 ESPN Phillies mailbag. Send your questions to the 97.3 ESPN text board at 609-403-0973 or send them to @FrankKlose on Twitter. Each week on Tuesday afternoon we answer your questions on the air during the Sports Bash with Mike Gill.

Why would Matt Klentak say that the Phillies don't need a starting pitcher?

Phillies general manager Matt Klentak recently dismissed the idea that the Phillies should pursue a starting pitcher:

"Right now starting pitching has been the strength of our team this year," Klentak said Friday. "We're very encouraged about not only the five here but also what we have in Triple A, and we're hopeful that that's going to mean that we can stay out of the starting pitcher trade market at the deadline because, if you can avoid it, that is definitely a market to avoid."

However, since then we have seen both Zach Eflin and Nick Pivetta struggle in their rotation turns.  The Phillies still have no left-handed starter in their rotation, too, and when the likes of Eflin ended up on the disabled list with a blister on his finger, the Phillies had to turn to the very-talented but still-young Enyel De Los Santos.

I believe another starting pitcher might still do them good.  Todd Zolecki of MLB.com reported that the Phillies had a scout in Texas last night to watch potential acquisition and old friend Cole Hamels pitch.  Hamels struggled, allowing seven runs in five innings, a game the Rangers ultimately lost 15-3.

The Phillies were also linked to J.A. Happ as a potential acquisition.  It makes sense that the Phillies would go left-handed if they added a starter.  These two names are the two left-handed starters believed to be available; the Phillies are not just looking to add former players.

But since the Phillies went to see Hamels, one must believe the Phillies are still open to adding a starter, no matter what they are saying publicly.  After all, if you are the Phillies general manager: would you want to openly put doubt into the abilities of your players?

That is why Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said he believed the Phillies could make the postseason even without Manny Machado and why Klentak will say the Phillies starting pitching corps are good enough.

Who will the Phillies get for this bench?  Tell me they can do better than Trevor Plouffe and Mitch Walding.
~ Rich

The Phillies bench is indeed in a bit of flux.  After avoiding playing Aaron Altherr, the Phillies finally optioned him to Triple-A Lehigh Valley to let him play every day and get into a rhythm.  Now-starter Nick Williams has not played all that much better, though he has been better.

The Phillies could seem to benefit from a right-handed bat in the outfield and their infield depth could use a more-reliable bat.

So far the Phillies have been linked to infielders Eduardo Escobar of the Twins and Asdrubal Cabrera of the New York Mets.  Both players could play short (though Cabrera's skills are not what they once were in the past) and other infield positions.  Both players are a switch-hitters and would give the Phillies some options for those right-handed bats.

The Phillies are still scouting Mike Moustakas.  The Phillies are getting stellar play from Maikel Franco of late.  Franco hit two home runs last night and is batting .333 in the month of July, with five home runs and 11 runs batted in.  But the lack of consistency Franco has shown might keep them engaged on other players.

Another name to consider: Roman Quinn.  Quinn has been rehabbing, first at Class-A Advanced Clearwater and now currently is rehabbing at Double-A Reading.  He was on the Triple-A roster prior to his latest injury.  If healthy, he may finally get a crack at the Phillies roster.

Why would Phillies fans boo Manny Machado? It seems counter-productive.

Last night marked the return of Chase Utley to town with the Los Angeles Dodgers.  But it also marked the return of Manny Machado, who may have been close to becoming a Phillie had the Dodgers not given up their top prospect in order to add Machado.  Phillies fans seemed to have mixed feelings.

At introductions and during his first couple at bats, Machado received a mixed greeting.  The cheers outweighed the boos.  But eventually Machado was being booed towards the end of the game.  But I would not worry about that affecting the chances of the Phillies signing Machado in the offseason.

First and foremost, the Phillies will be able to put the biggest pile of money in front of Machado this offseason.  You might hear reports that Machado has preference to play for the Yankees someday.   But the possibility is real that the Phillies will pay Machado the most.

But the MLB Players Union does not like it if a player takes a lesser deal to sign with another team because it hurts all the players.  Jim Thome heard some from them when he might have considered a lesser offer from the Cleveland Indians as opposed to the Phillies prior to 2003.  Thome took the big pile of money from the Phillies.

The few boos that were there are not a big deal. Machado also saw what ovation Utley got from Phillies fans.  The way that the crowd will treat a beloved player might have left a better impression.  That could be him someday.



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