The Philadelphia Phillies are a disappointing 12-13 after beginning the season 5-1. They have struggled recently for a variety of reasons – disappointing 4th/5th starters and bullpen injuries come to mind. However, the biggest reason why they have struggled is simple: a listless offense.
Even when stars Bryce Harper and J.T. Realmuto are playing at All-Star (and potential MVP) paces and Rhys Hoskins is near the league-lead in HRs, the Phillies are struggling to score runs. Their 95 runs entering April 30th is 12th in the NL (out of 15 teams) and their OPS of .690 is 7th. Hitting across the league is down in 2021, leading to innovative ideas such as moving back the mound, which is being implemented in the Atlantic League. However, the Phillies are a high-priced team built to score runs and they are not doing that.
While LF – where Andrew McCutchen is looking his age, slashing an abysmal .178/.315/.260 – is an issue, the CF position is one of extreme incompetency.
Let’s take a look at the players the Phillies have trotted out to CF this season.
Roman Quinn – .083/.233/.111 in 43 PA
Mickey Moniak – .120/.214/.240 in 28 PA
Adam Haseley – .190/.190/.238 in 21 PA
Odubel Herrera – .000/.000/.000 in 12 PA
Collectively, MLB pitchers are hitting .111/.139/.140 in 643 PAs.* Those marks would be the worst marks in the history of the sport.
*Statistics through April 27th, 2021.
Somehow, Phillies CFs are equally as bad. With a collective 104 PAs, Phillies CFs have managed just 10 hits (3 XBH) and 7 BBs. That makes out to a .096 BA and .163 OBP.
The baseball season is nearly one month old and Phillies CFs have a worse average than the collective pitcher BA across the league, which would rank as the worst mark in history.
To try to stop the bleeding, the Phillies brought up Odubel Herrera, who has not played in the major leagues since getting suspended for domestic abuse in 2019. Ignoring the human aspect of the decision to give Herrera another chance in the majors, it was still a curious move. Herrera was a below-average CF in both 2018 (94 OPS+) and 2019 (64 OPS+). The thought league-wide was that the Phillies were hoping he could at least be around league-average for the worst hitting CFs in the league.
Unfortunately, Herrera has not done that, as he has began his second go-around in the major leagues with an 0-12 mark. He has flailed at pitches and has played bad defense, including a play that should have been made in the 5th inning of Thursday’s game against the St. Louis Cardinals that would have gotten starter Aaron Nola out of the inning. Instead, Matt Carpenter blasted a 3-run HR two batters later and the Phillies lost 4-3 in 10 innings.
Herrera clearly is not the answer. But who is?
For the time being, as difficult as it may be, the Phillies should be giving Mickey Moniak every chance in CF. It has become clear that Roman Quinn is not a starting player, and is likely not even a bench player in the MLB. Adam Haseley is dealing with personal issues and is away from the team for an undetermined amount of time. Scott Kingery, another option in CF, is not a MLB player at this point in his career. That leaves Moniak as the Phillies’ best option in CF, both for now and in the future.
However, the team should be looking to make a trade, and fast.
In this piece by Scott Lauber of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Mark Canha of the Oakland Athletics, Michael A. Taylor of the Kansas City Royals, Randall Grichuk of the Toronto Blue Jays, Kevin Kiermaier of the Tampa Bay Rays, and Lorenzo Cain of the Milwaukee Brewers are all listed as potential trade candidates.
Cain is 35, owed $18 million next year, currently injured, and hasn’t been a league-average hitter since 2018 – the Phillies should pass on him.
Kiermaier is the heart and soul of the Rays’ defense, but has not been a league-average hitter since 2017. He is also oft-injured and would likely cost more than the Phillies should be willing to give up.
Canha would be the perfect offensive piece for the Phillies but, with a well-above league-average bat since 2018 and an expiring deal for a first place team in the A’s, he is unlikely to be available.
That leaves Taylor and Grichuk. The thought here is that Grichuk will not be available unless the Blue Jays continue to underwhelm – they are currently third in the AL East with an 11-12 record.
Taylor, on the other hand, could be attainable. He is far from a good offensive player – he sports a career .239/.293/.394 slashline – but he is slashing .270/.333/.365 on the young season and can hold his own defensively. The Royals are currently the shock of the sport, as they are leading the AL Central with a 15-8 record. Assuming they expect to revert back to the team that was expected in 2021, Taylor could be a good piece to dangle in trades.
The Phillies could always wait until the trade deadline to go for a bigger fish, but the thought process here is that they need to make a move soon. From players that are rumored to be available, Michael A. Taylor could be the one to grab.
Photo: via Ed Zurga (Getty Images)