The Phillies entered Tuesday tied for the 11th-worst winning percentage in baseball. That is not insignificant.
Interim manager Ryne Sandberg's lineup against Gio Gonzalez features six players who spent time at triple-A Lehigh Valley this season. Any advocates of "tanking" a season are misled; professional sports are played to win games. No one wants to pay big-league money to see a minor-league product.
So, with that said, here is the lineup:
1. Cesar Hernandez 4
2. Freddy Galvis 6
3. Kevin Frandsen 3
4. Carlos Ruiz 2
5. Darin Ruf 7
6. Cody Asche 5
7. John Mayberry Jr. 9
8. Michael Martinez 8
9. Ethan Martin 1
Of those nine, only Mayberry was in the Phillies' opening-day lineup.
So why is the 11th-worst winning percentage significant? Well, if the Phillies finish among the 10 worst teams in baseball, their first-round pick is protected should they sign a free agent who was offered arbitration. Instead, they must surrender their second-round pick if they sign a certain free agent.
The Phillies have money to spend this winter. They have holes. They could be quite active in the free-agent market. The bigger free-agent names will be offered arbitration by their current clubs to ensure draft-pick compensation.
These picks, especially in the top half of the first round, carry great value. Finding value through free agency is becoming a difficult exercise. Teams place a higher value on their prospects than ever before, making trades all but impossible. The draft is where the Phillies built their success, and it is the vehicle for replenishing talent.
The folks at Baseball America have this handy page to track reverse standings. It is something to watch in the final weeks.
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