Yesterday was Phillies time in the media at the league meetings in San Diego. I saw and heard enough of acting team President Pat Gillick and General Manager Ruben Amaro on MLB-TV and MLB.com to last the entire hot stove season. They basically said nothing we have not heard before. The bottom line is that the Phillies will not compete for the next two years as they retool and get younger to compete in 2017.
It’s looking a lot like as Yogi Berra said “deja vu all over again”. Amaro will go pick up a starting pitcher or two who might rebound into to a serviceable pitcher and hope that Cliff Lee can comeback to get some outs. The position players will remain the same as last year with hitting guru Charlie Manuel reportedly planning to coach up right fielder Jeff Francoeur who the Phillies signed to a minor league contract just in case they can move Marlon Byrd.
In an interview Monday with former Washington and Cincinnati General Manager and now analyst on MLB radio Jim Bowden, Amaro seemed on automatic pilot in answering his questions. The GM did mention some young talent who he hopes will form the new Phillies core. The pitchers he mentioned were Jesse Biddle, Matt Imhof and Aaron Nola. The only position players names he threw out were Roman Quinn and J.P. Crawford. He said Maikel Franco has moved beyond prospect status but but he is not sure if he will make the opening day 25 man roster.
Amaro bemoaned the difficulty in moving veteran players and that teams now value young talent more than they once did. He said nothing about his own overvaluing of his talent by giving them exorbitant contracts or his reluctance to gradually incorporate younger players into his 25 man roster.
I would have talked about the progress Adam Morgan made in the Arizona Fall League as a potential starting pitcher and outfielder Aaron Altherr’s play in the Venezuelan Winter League where he was leading the league in runs batted in with four homers and had a good slash line, .286/.392/.486, before he ended his season there after getting 107 at bats..
I was not impressed with Aaron Nola or Matt Imhof in their brief appearances I saw them last season. I saw Nola give up three of his four home runs in the Florida State League. Imhoff fast ball topped at 91 in the inning I saw him pitch in the Gulf Coast League just after being drafted and he was in the high 80’s in an outing in the Fall Instructs. Not top of the rotation stuff. Let’s see what they can do in the minor league spring camp.
Clearly Quinn is the Phillies centerfielder of the future after his play in the Arizona Fall League, as is J.P. Crawford the future shortstop whenever Rollins retires. It should be exciting baseball to start next season for both of them up the middle in Reading.
Everything now seems to depend on what John Lester does in free agency. Whichever team does not sign him will be in the Cole Hamels sweepstakes. The problem is that the Phillies need pitching more than position players. So why would they trade a No. 1 pitcher under control for the next five years for unproven talent when they have no one to replace him in the future?
The Phillies need to rebuild through the draft and that takes patience. They will draft tenth in the June amateur draft. Already, 2015 mock draft experts from MLB.com have the Phillies drafting an outfielder or a pitcher with their number one pick. Jonathan Mayo has the Phillies drafting outfielder Dez Cameron who has committed to Florida State and Jim Callis has them taking a tall left-handed high school pitcher from northern California, Justin Hooper. See Here.
At this point it looks like the only action the Phillies will take at the league meetings is a splash in the Rule 5 draft coming up on Thursday morning. The most recent Rule 5 picks to make the Phillies 25 man rosters in previous seasons have been Michael Martinez and David Herndon. So do not get too excited.