We are back once again with the 97.3 ESPN Phillies mailbag.  We take your questions each week and answer them on The Sports Bash with Mike Gill.  Tune in each Tuesday at 2:40 p.m. to hear your question answered on the air.

Is it still early? When do we start thinking about trading the useless pieces on this team.

This is the mantra we have heard lately: "It's still early".  If you take the word of starting pitcher Kyle Gibson, he recently said that it was early.  But let's be honest: more than a quarter of games have taken place so far.  In that stretch, the Phillies find themselves 11.5 games behind the first place New York Mets.

So, to put that in perspective: The Phillies have played 49 games so far and the Mets have played 50 games so far.   With 113 games remaining for the Phillies and 112 left for the Mets. the Phillies would need to win 60 percent of their games to hit the 89 win mark.    The Mets would have to play .500 ball to reach the same win total.

So the Mets would have to go 56-56 and the Phillies 68-44, 24 games over the .500 mark to level up at the 89-win mark.  But alas - the Mets are currently on pace to win 107 games.

So the division looks gloomy.

But, 89 games could potentially win a wild card.  Can this Phillies team win 60 percent of their games? That's the big question.   We saw the Phillies win a bunch of games on the West Coast, so a good stretch here and there can help them do it.  But the Phillies have yet to show any type of consistency.

The reality of this is that the Phillies are likely going to be within striking distance of a wild card for a while.  Therefore, it will be hard to start making trades.

But let me ask you this, James, what team out there wants to trade for "useless pieces"?  If the Phillies make trades, they will have to trade valuable pieces for prospects.  They might entertain that eventually.

Have the Phillies ever gotten less value out of spending the money they did this offseason? If/where do Kyle Schwarber and/or Nick Castellanos rank at this point on the list of worst contracts the team has handed out?

Well, three names come to mind from my lifetime.  The first would be catcher Lance Parrish, signed ahead of the 1987 season.  Then there is Danny Tartabull, signed for 1997 season.

The Philles signed Parrish to a one-year, $800,000 contract to be the team's starting catcher.  The deal included a $200,000 bonus if he was able to play the full season despite his chronic back ailment.

The Phillies brought Parrish back the following season, when he batted .215.  The starting catching job was yielded to Darren Daulton in 1989, as Parrish moved to the West Coast and supplanted Bob Boone as the starting catcher for the California Angels in 1989.

Tartabull, meanwhile, signed a one-year, $2.3 million deal with the Phillies ahead of the 1997 season.  Phillies fans tend to remember him because he had a former All-Star pedigree, and because he promptly got injured and played in just three games before never playing baseball ever again.

Tartabull was the leading Phillies All-Star vote that season, at least.

The difference between these one-year contracts and the free agent offseason signings of Kyle Schwarber and Nick Castellanos is that the Phillies are on the hook for big money the next few seasons as well.  But another difference is that the sample size to this point is on the smaller size.

There will be time for the Phillies to get value out of these deals.  Schwarber has been known to have cold stretches, while he has also had some incredibly hot stretches.  Castellanos slumped much of May, but of course has two clutch home runs of late that can show that he is snapping out of it.

I think the bigger concern right now is that both are starting in the Phillies outfield.  The designated hitter spot is tied up by Bryce Harper.  But the defense is certainly worrisome.

So this question will be answered better long-term.

Is Rhys Hoskins still hurt? Why not bat Jean Segura leadoff? 

I personally would absolutely lead Jean Segura off.  He is clearly the best option for the position considering the variables.  For me: it comes down to speed.

Take Rhys Hoskins, for example.  Let's pretend that his on base percentage was higher (it's just under the .300 mark).  Getting on base to start the game is indeed desirable.  But a slow runner will clog the base paths.

(And no, I do not believe Hoskins is hurt).

Alec Bohm is a contact hitter, and he has been batting second lately.  Ideally: the leadoff hitter reaches base.  In 2022 baseball, the second hitter is the one likely to hit a double, scoring the leadoff hitter.  ("Moving the runner" seems to have been left behind in the Placido Polanco era).

Hoskins cannot score from first base on a double.  He's simply just not fast enough.  And with high-strikeout guys in the lineup, it's a good recipe to leave runners on base.  I am not a fan.

Kyle Schwarber walks a lot.  But given his low batting average, he has an on base percentage of .305 himself, not that much higher than Hoskins.  So that is not helpful, either.

Segura is getting on base at a .324 clip.  That's not so wonderful, either.  It's certainly not the numbers Lenny Dykstra used to put up in his prime.  He eclipsed the .400 mark a few times.  Segura is not an ideal solution, but for now, that's what I would do.

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