Several things caught my attention this morning over my morning cup of coffee: the recent hitting of Tyson Gillies, Chase Utley “tracking” fly balls in left field during BP in St. Louis, the all star caliber play of Freddy Galvis at second base and the war of words in the Phillies dugout last night between Cliff Lee and Shane Victorino. What does this all mean for 2013 from an outsider looking at a big picture view of the Phillies organization.
Watched a replay of the Reading vs. Harrisburg game from last night. It was not the two home runs from Darin Ruf that I was interested in. Don’t get me wrong that was nice. If he heats up and plays the full season in Reading the right-handed hitting Ruf might even get to within ten or so to the 37 homers that Ryan Howard hit when he played there. The minor league department might even give Darin a shot or two in left field to find a spot for him on the big league team. Oh! that’s right they already did that for one game last week. What interested me from last nights game was the play of Tyson Gillies. The previous day in Erie he ran out two triples to take the lead in the Eastern League with six and last night he went deep for a home run. Should he play the second half at AAA? Can he be the starting center fielder next year in Citizen Bank Park? My answers to both of those questions is yes he should and yes he can!
Reports coming out of St Louis last night have Chase Utley “tracking” fly balls in left during BP. Certainly playing left field would be better for his knees than the quick twists and turns at second base. If Freddy Galvis can play second base at an All Star level without ever playing the position in the Phillies system, one would think that Chase could play left field adequately and provide some badly needed power from the left side of the plate. We should know soon what the Front Office and Charlie Manuel will to do.
It’s hard to believe that Freddy Galvis, who is hitting around .300 in May and is third in RBIs on the team, will be benched or even sent out to make room for Utley when he returns. We will be watching closely when Chase arrives in Clearwater for rehab. Any fan in the stands who has watch Freddy play the last couple of seasons would know that he would be ready soon to play in the major leagues this season. Yet, General Manager Ruben Amaro Jr. decided Jimmy Rollins was so valuable he had to give him a three year contract with an easy to achieve fourth year option. Galvis is already better than Rollins offensively and defensively. Now we will have to wait until the 2016 season for Freddy to take over at shortstop. With Utley’s knee condition, a move to left and keeping Freddy at second only makes sense since Chase is still under contract for the 2013 season.
In last night’s game Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence both lost fly balls in the evening twilight in St. Louis. In the first lost fly ball Victorino made little effort to retrieve the ball, choosing to let Juan Pierre to come over from left to run it down at the center field fence for a triple. Between innings Lee and Victorino were seen having a heated discussion in the dugout which players and coaches had to intervene to calm them down. It got me to thinking with the play of Tyson Gillies at AA could he be the Phillies starting center fielder next year. Because of the contracts like Cliff Lee has, they simply do not have the ability to stay under the Luxury Tax limit and re-sign Victorino. Add the contracts of Papelbon, Halladay, Howard, and Rollins next year, plus they will have to deal with the arbitration year contracts for Ruiz and Pence, the Front Office has problems. Then they must try to re-sign Cole Hamels and that simply does not leave much room to stay under the Luxury Tax limit.
For the 2013 season the Phillies will have needs for one and perhaps two starting pitchers, a third baseman and a center fielder because of the expiring contracts of Victorino in center, Placido Polanco at third, and starting pitchers Hamels and Joe Blanton. Amaro has already had to deny that he has ordered his scouts to compile a list of potential third basemen for next year. Victorino seems to be able to read the tea leaves that he is not in the Phillies plans and Joe Blanton already must know this is his last season in Philadelphia.
Internally, who is the next Freddy Galvis, minor league players who are ready to step seamlessly into the Phillies starting lineup and rotation for next season? If I were compiling a list for Amaro, I would pencil in on my list Gillies in center, Cody Ashe at third and Tyler Cloyd to take over for Blanton in the rotation to start the 2013 season. I would try to get a year out of Utley in left. Heck, Gillies can cover both left and center next year. Before all of this can happen they must get Gillies up to AAA, Asche to either AA or AAA and give Cloyd a shot to start a few games in the major league to see what he can do. Last year they moved Freddy at mid season from Reading to Lehigh Valley and he showed he was ready. Now he is playing major league All-Star caliber second base. All he needed was a chance. Something that many times the Phillies are reluctant to givea young players when aging veterans from back in the day will do.