Saturday, August 29, 2015

Leftovers from a dramatic day

WASHINGTON — The loudest noise coming from the visiting clubhouse Tuesday afternoon was a TV blasting MLB Network's coverage of the trade deadline. There wasn't much chatter among the players, who entered a room missing two of their most popular teammates.

Leftovers from a dramatic day

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Domonic Brown´s ascension to the majors was a notable repercussion of Tuesday´s trades. (Ron Tarver/Staff file photo)
Domonic Brown's ascension to the majors was a notable repercussion of Tuesday's trades. (Ron Tarver/Staff file photo)

WASHINGTON — The loudest noise coming from the visiting clubhouse Tuesday afternoon was a TV blasting MLB Network's coverage of the trade deadline. There wasn't much chatter among the players, who entered a room missing two of their most popular teammates.

"There was a lot of talk," Charlie Manuel said, "but until you do things it seems like every day there is a story, every day is kind of like the world is coming to an end or something."

It's easy to say Tuesday marked the end of an era, but it's far more complicated than that. Only six players from the 2008 World Series remain, and it will be whittled to five by opening day 2013.

But fate was determined long before Tuesday.

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***

It was a day with repercussions across all levels of the organization. The most notable was the ascension of Domonic Brown from triple-A to everyday player in the majors.

Ruben Amaro Jr. was asked if he is operating under the assumption he must fill three outfield spots for 2013.

"Not really," Amaro said. "One right now is going to be occupied by Brownie. Obviously we’re hopeful he can go ahead and do that. I think he’s ready. We all think he’s ready to get that opportunity. We’ll see how it goes."

Brown will play every day. He could see time at all three outfield positions. Is it a make-or-break chance at a career with the Phillies?

"I don't look at it that way," Manuel said. "It gives us a chance to see him. It gives us a chance to really see him and keep him in the lineup on a regular basis."

***

Amaro believes the Phillies shed enough salary to dip under the $178 million threshold for luxury tax purposes. That has a direct effect on 2013 spending.

Had the Phillies eclipsed the barrier in 2012, they would have been subject to a 17.5 percent tax and loss of revenue sharing money. If they became repeat offenders in 2013, the penalties are harsher; 30 percent tax and even fewer revenue sharing rebates.

"I think it was a part of it," Amaro said. "It wasn’t the end-all, really. But it certainly played a little part of it because the tax is what it is. This puts us a little underneath it right now. It was an element in the decisions that we made, but not the ultimate decision."

The Phillies have committed $132 million (using luxury tax calculations) to nine players in 2013. Add about $14 million for additional expenses counted for luxury tax and that puts the Phillies some $32 million shy of the threshold needing to fill 16 roster spots.

As we've explained before, the timing is right to pay luxury tax in 2013. The threshold stays at $178 million in 2013 and increases to $189 million in 2014. That way, if the Phillies go over in 2013, it is easier to avoid repeating the offense in 2014.

Michael Bourn, anyone?

***

The Reading Phillies were in Richmond, Va., Tuesday night which made life easier for Tommy Joseph. He simply changed dugouts.

Joseph instantly becomes the top position player prospect in the Phillies' system. That's less about Joseph and more about the dearth of talent.

There was potential for a log jam at catcher because Sebastian Valle, the top position player prospect before Joseph arrived, was also at Reading. The Phillies decided to promote him to triple-A Lehigh Valley. They also sent second baseman Cesar Hernandez to triple A.

An aside: Hernandez, to me, is one of the most interesting names to watch right now. The 22-year-old projects as a better hitter than Freddy Galvis and only a notch below as a fielder. He simply dominated the Eastern League. It was an impressive 103 games at Reading in which Hernandez hit .304 with a .781 OPS. Sure, he could use a more patient approach at the plate, but talent is there. Consider:

Hernandez at AA: .304/.345/.436 in 450 PA
Galvis at AA: .248/.294/.345 in 1072 PA

The two Venezuelans are good friends. Could they form the double-play combo of the future with Jimmy Rollins at third base? Oh wow, we just got way ahead of ourselves.

***

The bullpen underwent a shakeup late Tuesday night. Lefties Jake Diekman and Joe Savery were optioned to triple A. Josh Lindblom will join the Phillies on Wednesday and likely become the top righthanded setup option.

The moves mean Jeremy Horst has leapfrogged some of the other arms. He has struck out 12 in 10 innings, although most of them have been in lower-leverage situations. It'll be interesting to see if they test him more in the final two months.

Diekman, meanwhile, showed there is a lot of improving required. He walked 6.3 batters per nine innings, which should come as no surprise given he walked 6.1 per nine at double-A Reading in 2011. He had limited the walks in a dynamite spring training and then posted a 22-3 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 15 innings at triple A. The stuff is there, but it needs work.

So the current depth chart looks as such:

CL: Jonathan Papelbon
RHSU: Josh Lindblom
LHSU: Antonio Bastardo
RHMI: Michael Schwimer
LHMI: Jeremy Horst
RHMI: Kyle Kendrick

For 2013, throw in names like Mike Stutes, Justin De Fratus, Jake Diekman, Phillippe Aumont, B.J. Rosenberg, Joe Savery, David Herndon. Again, there is a lot of promise and depth there. It didn't work in 2012, but perhaps learning on the fly in a lost season will ultimately reap benefits.

***

A parting question of curiosity: Why will you watch the final 59 games?


Have a question? Send it to Matt Gelb's Mailbag.

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