With the September call-ups, Maikel Franco‘s advancement was one of the top questions that the Philadelphia Phillies heard. And Ruben Amaro Jr. waited until the last minute to announce his expanded active roster.
There will be a published Red Alert and/or Storyline each week. Please, scroll down for this edition of Pinstripe Focus: The Strategy.
This article represents the thinking of a baseball man in my opinion. Reading people is the answer to their decisions: past, present and future. Also, there is a humanizing element.
According to many fans, the Phillies have no blueprint from now through 2015; however, the restless natives believe the only plan is a total rebuilding. Why is there only one strategy, and why are small tactics nonexistent? Actually, Ryne Sandberg can give reasonable playing time to Ryan Howard, Cody Asche and Franco in September to gauge their value. In the final month, the Phils still have 25 more scheduled games and Triple-A Lehigh Valley’s season is over.
Howard, 34, can pad his stats by starting 21 contests, which also includes one day of rest per week. However, the fine points of negotiating a swap aren’t obvious: Those so-called inflated numbers tie up the loose ends, slightly alter the quality of the talent received, and somewhat affect the money involved, which will be important in November and December.
Because ten AL teams could be in the market for a DH during the offseason, Amaro might find a club willing to deal a solid low-level prospect or an acceptable Double-A asset for the first sacker. Before the non-waiver trade deadline, one scout estimated that another organization could pick up $3-5 million annually for Howard’s next two summers of $25 million apiece. For instance, Adam Dunn, 34, will finish 2014 as the A’s DH for a prorated portion of $15 million: his final year contractually.
Statistics through September 1:
- Dunn has a .224 average, 21 homers, 56 RBI, an 0.0 WAR* (normal for a regular is 2.0), a 0.0 OWAR* (offensive WAR) and a .787 OPS (* through August 31 with the White Sox).
- Howard is batting .225 with 20 long balls, 87 RBI, a -0.3 WAR, an 0.0 OWAR and a .691 OPS.
- Franco hit .172 with one home run, seven RBI and a .487 OPS for his first Triple-A month.
- He averaged .309 with 10 homers, 36 RBI and an .877 OPS for the second half.
Asche would begin 14 contests, which would provide a comparison with Franco under similar competitive circumstances. And a less taxing timetable after five months in the majors should help Asche during the season’s final days, while management still evaluates him. In winter ball, he could gain experience at the other infield corner. So, if Howard is in the junior circuit next April, Asche could move to first base or platoon there with Darin Ruf, which would open the hot corner for Franco.
- The next four contests might be 1B Howard in three, 3B Asche in two and Franco at 3B in two with a third at 1B.
- Week two could be 1B Howard in six, 3B Asche in four and Franco at 3B in three with a fourth at 1B.
- Week three may be 1B Howard in six, 3B Asche in four and Franco at 3B in three with a fourth at 1B.
- The last seven games might be 1B Howard in six, 3B Asche in four and Franco at 3B in three with a fourth at 1B.
With no playoffs for the IronPigs, the general manager called up reinforcements for roster depth or eyeballing. If Franco starts three of the next four games and four contests in each of the last three weeks, he can play 15 total. According to Baseball America, Franco was the best defensive third baseman and had the best infield arm in the opinion of International League managers. However, he struggled in that stronger league and with the April weather in Lehigh Valley, but he regained his familiar offensive form after the Triple-A All-Star Game.
When you consider the benefits for 2015, you can assess more than just the numerical value of 60 at-bats: MLB coaches can provide enhanced instruction, players can get an idea of the difference between Triple-A and the major leagues, and decision-makers can have a firsthand look at their third sacker’s glove and mechanics at the plate. Finally, Amaro is unleashing this young lion.
(A complementary piece on Gonzalez and the pen plan)
The publication date of this review was September 1, 2014. If that is not a recent date, check my author archives for my latest piece at
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