It is time once again for a Phillies 97.3 ESPN Monday Mailbag.  We take your questions every Monday and then we talk about them during the Sports Bash with Mike Gill on Tuesday afternoons at 2:30 p.m.   If you are not in South Jersey, you can listen online at

Are you surprised that Phillies couldn't trade Jeremy Hellickson? 

I think to address this question, I must first start by saying that the Phillies did not need to unload pitcher Jeremy Hellickson.  In fact, the Phillies have plenty of reasons to keep Hellickson which may help the team now and down the line.  The Phillies might have been able to make a deal, but things just did not fall in that direction.

Looking at the Phillies starting rotation, the non-Hellickson pitchers are very low on Major League experience.  Aaron Nola and Jerad Eickhoff are just about 12 months removed from coming up to the Major Leagues for the first time.  Vince Velasquez has never been a permanent member of a starting rotation in the Major Leagues. Zach Eflin has made just nine starts in the Major Leagues.   Having Hellickson can really give some stability to the Phillies starting staff.

The four young pitchers in the rotation have all had games thus far in which they blew up and got hit pretty hard.  Hellickson is a good bet to give the team a solid start most times out.  And even if he happens to slip, his teammates generally expect it to not happen again.  If the Phillies youngsters put together a few bad starts in a row, the team has Hellickson as a safety net.   This is even without the leadership factor.

Earlier in the season, Meghan Montemurro of the Delaware News Journal wrote about how Hellickson got the whole starting rotation going out to breakfast together most mornings.  It helped develop the team bond and undoubtedly his advice to the pitchers each day cannot hurt.  The Phillies would benefit from having such a leader the rest of the way.

At season's end, the Phillies can extend a qualifying offer to Hellickson.  It might be $16.8 million in the 2016/2017 offseason, meaning that if Hellickson accepts, he would earn that amount on a one-year contract.   If the offer is rejected, the Phillies will be compensated with a late first-round pick.

That means the Phillies would have needed to get more than that in return for a trade this season.  Of course, Hellickson could accept the offer, but the financially-able Phillies could easily move Hellickson even if it meant eating some money.  But more likely, Hellickson would not accept the offer as that is not in the usual manual of his agent Scott Boras.

Mike Leake got five years and $75 million in the open market last year without a draft pick attached.  A year later and with next to no quality free agent pitchers on the market, Hellickson could find himself a comparable deal.   Even if the average annual value is less than the qualifying offer deal, the total dollars would be guaranteed, something that would be able to keep Hellickson a well-fed man for life.

Doesn't the lack of a move prevent Jake Thompson from coming up?

In some respects, the lack of a Hellickson trade keeps the Phillies from promoting starting pitcher Jake Thompson.  Even though that is the case, Thompson is not all that far away, and an extra month of development will not hurt Thompson.   The possibly playoff-bound IronPigs would certainly prefer to have their ace still on the team.

When rosters expand to the whole 40-man roster come September, the Phillies will certainly add a good amount of pitching.   The aforementioned four young starting pitchers probably will get some rest as September hits.  That could mean a six-man starting rotation, that could mean David Buchanan and Adam Morgan get starts alongside Thompson in the big league rotation as others shut it down.

Should a current member of the Phillies starting rotation suffer an injury, I think Thompson would get the call.  But aside from some fans being eager to see Thompson in a Phillies uniform, the difference of five starts this month really does not affect his development either way.  With the rotation in capable hands, there is no real reason to worry.

Thompson probably will lead the IronPigs rotation into the playoffs.  Whenever they are eliminated (or win the championship) then he would likely join the Phillies to get a sense of the Major League life.  Come Spring Training, Thompson could be ready to take a place in the Phillies starting rotation.  What happens now in August should not affect that.

Why are the Phillies giving so much playing time to Cody Asche over Tyler Goeddel?

As part of the greater organization goals, the Phillies really wanted to get a strong look at two outfielders in 2016: Cody Asche and Aaron Altherr.  Asche had been a third baseman his whole career, through college and the pros, minus one short-season's worth of second base at Williamsport.  So once Maikel Franco officially pushed Asche off of third base, the Phillies really needed to know if he could play the outfield.  Unfortunately, injuries derailed both Asche and Altherr this Spring Training.

Asche was only a .245 career hitter heading into 2016, so the Phillies really needed to give him ample time to prove his worth.  Unfortunately for Asche, the lack of a Spring Training kept he Philllies from giving Asche time at first base too, which would make him more valuable to the team.   With Nick Williams seemingly breathing down his neck and other outfield prospects in the system, Asche may soon be out of time.

As for Goeddel, I would not worry too much about his playing time.  Having been taken as a Rule 5 pick, the Phillies are obliged to keep him on the Major League roster for the duration of the season.  But prior to 2016, Goeddel had not played about Double-A and likely would not have made the Major Leagues on his own merit this season had he still been in the Tampa Bay Rays system.  That does not mean he has no future.

It is more than fair to say that we have seen this season that Goeddel has some sure tools that would help him down the line, the most memorable moment being his perfect throw from left field to Cameron Rupp to close out a Phillies victory.   Goeddel has shown some power, speed, and defense that should help the Phillies down the line.   Exposing him now with too much playing time could be difficult, too, so he is mostly getting at bats against left-handed starters and as a right-handed pinch hitter.

Goeddel may open 2017 as the starting left fielder for the Lehigh Valley IronPigs to get regular at bats and let the Phillies future evaluate what he can do for the team long-term.  Goeddel is just 23 years old and the good news is that he is Phillies property for at least the next five years, possibly more if he spends enough of 2016 in the minor leagues.

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