After the week that was the Great Blue Jay Massacre of 2014, we were bound to see some roster shuffling with the big club. It began with the outrighting of Shawn Camp and the promotion of Luis Garcia, which certainly did not pay any dividends for the team Thursday night.
It continued with the demotion of Freddy Galvis following the Phils’ 12-6 loss, a shock to none considering his hard-to-believe 2-for-42 start to the season. The Phillies will make a corresponding roster move prior to Friday’s game against the Mets, and the team now has a question that needs answering: Is it time for Cesar Hernandez to return?
Hernandez was scratched from last night’s game with a sore groin, though it doesn’t appear as if it is something that will keep him out long-term. Hernandez’s offensive success in Reading has been well documented, as he is hitting .353/.423/.518 since joining the Fightins in mid-April following Galvis’ activation from the disabled list.
What has troubled Hernandez has been his defense. Hernandez’s call-up hinges on this factor. He’s made seven errors at third base in his 14 games there, and one more in his short amount of time at second base. The Phillies sent Hernandez down to get work at third base, and now must ask themselves if they are willing to bring him back as an unfinished product.
There is an option in Lehigh Valley, in the form of Reid Brignac. Brignac hit a pair of three-run homers last night, and now has an .871 OPS in 109 at-bats this year. His bat has been a positive, and he can play second base and shortstop, but there would be question marks at third base.
The Phillies have options as of now with the bench. They can promote Hernandez, leaving Brignac in AAA. They can promote Brignac, leaving Hernandez in AA (or potentially promoting him to AAA). Or, they can take a more drastic approach, letting Jayson Nix go, and promoting both Brignac and Hernandez.
Nix has offered very little, hitting .154/.214/.231. Sure, he can provide a surer glove at third base (like Galvis), but has given the Phillies very little at the plate. He’s essentially been a replacement-level third basemen throughout his career.
For now, it would seem that the Phillies’ plan would be to promote Brignac for tonight’s game. His call-up seems like a formality at this point, as he can play multiple positions (and hopefully provide a little bit with the bat).
The Phillies should go one step further with the promotion of Hernandez. Sure, the glove work has been lacking at third base in Reading, but Nix and Galvis have added so little to the big club offensively. It would seem to be time to cut ties with Nix and bring Hernandez back. Will Ruben Amaro, Jr. and staff see it this way?
The likely answer is no, as the Phillies sent Hernandez down for the specific reason of working on his game at third base. He has not succeeded defensively, which would likely give the front office the impression that he needs more time in AA.
For now, it would be fair to expect a Brignac promotion. Hernandez shouldn’t be far behind, but we’re likelier in for a longer wait than we should have to deal with.