McCutchen Sidelined for Season Opener

Phillies’ manager Joe Girardi told reporters Saturday that Andrew McCutchen will start the season on the IL.  This allows a lot of conjecture on who the opening day left fielder will be and who will make the 26-man roster in his place.

This came as no surprise to me.  I’ve been telling friends and anyone who would listen that McCutchen did not look comfortable at the plate during BP off coaches.  Even though he showed up at the complex in mid-January, he did not take part in any stretching and throwing drills with the players who arrived early.

Even when major league spring training commenced, he was noticeably absent from the day’s opening drills and fielding practice.  I did see him running sprints in left field on Ashburn Field one afternoon under the watchful eyes of three trainers (or some such people).  I saw him jogging around the outfield on Ashburn then Schmidt with one trainer as recently as a few days ago.

The acquisition of Kyle Garlick at the expense of one of our young left-handed relievers, signaled to me that the Phillies also had doubts that McCutchen would be ready for opening day or that Garlick was insurance in case there was a relapse in McCutchen’s rehabilitation.  Still, I couldn’t convince my group of friends that a trip to the IL was a likely outcome.  The best any would do was admit grudgingly that it was a remote possibility, that the Phillies were bringing him along slowly with opening day as the target.

Sadly, vindication for my observation came today.  So, rather than say, “I told you so”, I’ll give them the roster solution tomorrow when I arrive triumphantly at the Complex.  And, if you think I’m not going to say, “I told you so”, you are mistaken.

But, let’s consider the many solutions available to the Phillies.

First, let’s assume what the opening day roster would have looked like this.

  • 13 pitchers (no need to go through this for this exercise)
  • 2 catchers – Realmuto and, assuming all options are healthy, Knapp; Grullon is first one up, Bethancourt is next (if he accepts a AAA assignment)
  • 6 infielders – Hoskins, Kingery, Gregorius, Segura, and 2 of Harrison/Torreyes/Gosselin
  • 5 outfielders – Harper, Haseley, McCutchen, Bruce, Quinn

There was a time when I thought an internal guy like Austin Listi could fill the final spot on the 26-man roster.  There was discussion that the spot didn’t have to be tied to a fielding position, that it could be filled by a pure hitter in a pinch hitting only role.  The signing of FA 2B Logan Forsythe on February 5th dissuaded me from that argument.

Don’t like Knapp?  Get over it.  I’m so convinced that he’ll open the season in Miami that I bet big money on it.  Later, the day of the bet, his rib cage injury was announced.  Still, he’s been catching bull pens, so, if healthy, I’m a richer man.

I don’t know who has opt outs if they aren’t on the 40- or 26-man rosters by a certain date.  Torreyes has been attached to Gregorius’ hip much of spring training.  He’s a Girardi guy.  And, the dude can hit.  In the three years where he had over 100 major league plate appearances, all with the Yankees, he hit .281/.308/.374/.672.  He has played 2B, SS, 3B. The 32-year-old Harrison is 5 years older than Torreyes, is a 2-time All Star, and has more power – he hit 16 HRs in 2017.  But, his batting line has slipped the past 2 years and he is predominantly a second baseman now.  Phil Gosselin plays predominantly at 2B.  But, I believe he led the Phillies with 10 pinch hits going 10-32, .313 with 2 walks in 34 plate appearances.  The 34-year-old Neil Walker was predominately a 1B and went .304 as a pinch hitter (7-23).  The 33-year-old Logan Forsythe was predominately a corner with some time in the middle.

I like Torreyes and Gosselin to make the roster, but concede that it will likely be Torreyes and Harrison.  (I overlooked Gamboa because realistically I don’t see any way that he starts above Lehigh Valley.)

So, barring injury, the outfield would have been set.  With McCutchen’s trip to the IL all but assured, the two players most likely to replace McCutchen are LHB Nick Williams or RHB Kyle Garlick.  Both have options remaining (Williams – 1, Garlick – 2).  Of the NRIs, RHB Mikie Mahtook, LHB Nick Martini, and RHB Matt Szczur (injured).  are possibilities.

If lefty v righty matters, maybe Garlick has an edge.  If spring training results matter, Mahtook is batting .273. Garlick .250, Williams .222, Martini .143 in small samples.  However, the best performing outfielders are – Luke Williams (.455/.571/.727/1.299), Simon Muzziotti (.429/.500/.429/.929), Bryce Harper, Mickey Moniak (.333/.400/.667/1.067), Jhailyn Ortiz (.333/.333/1.333/1.667), and Jay Bruce.

If handedness doesn’t matter, I go with Nick Wiliams.  He had decent years in 2017 and 2018.  However, my pipe dream is as follows.  I have suggested among my friends and have been chastised due to the free agent and arbitration clock arguments.

Alec Bohm is hitting his way onto the opening day roster.  What if he keeps it up?  Then what?  Segura is not going to be relegated to the bench or traded.  No, he returns to second base, ceding third base to Bohm.  What of Kingery?  Does he return to the utility role the Phillies prefer he fill?  Not quite in my world.  He returns to the outfield.  He plays CF when Bruce is in LF and LF when Quinn is in CF.  Haseley fills in as needed or when Kingery plays an infield position.

I admit that this is more of a late April decision after Bohm rakes in AAA.  But, it would sure be nice to see one of the organization’s best bats in the line up on opening day.

27 thoughts on “McCutchen Sidelined for Season Opener

  1. If Girardi likes Torreyes, that’s good enough for me. As much as I like the Harrison pickup, I hope his veteran status alone doesn’t win him a utility role. I would like to see Williams get one more shot, but sitting on the bench does neither him nor the Phillies any good. Send him to AAA or move him for something before he’s DFA’d.

    All in all, good post this morning, Jim. The Bohm factor will definitely make things interesting. The kid can hit. Make it work somehow.

  2. In my opinion Garlick has looked bad at the plate. Walker not given much hope here and he could opt out but his veteran presence could be attractive. If he can backup at 1st 2nd and 3rd maybe he makes it.

  3. No way Bohm makes the team unless the team signs him like they did Kingery. If I was a betting man, I would bet on Bohm starting at LHV. My expectation is that Williams will get Cutch’s spot. With Bruce starting, they’ll want the lefty pinch hitter. No way I see Garlick starting over Bruce, that would cause problems in the clubhouse. As for the infield, you make good point to Jim but I think it’s two from Walker, Harrison, and Forsythe with Gosselin going to LHV. Torreys will have to decide if he wants to go there too. I do grant you however that the strong connection he has with Didi and Girardi could win him a job in Philly, and Gosselin’s strong pinch hitting last year makes him a legit candidate. It really is 5 guys fighting for two spots. Or it could be 3 spots if they decide to not add Garlick or Williams but that would require another 40 man spot. These 5 can all play LF also.

    1. Agree.
      It is just a matter of the lineup construction….the lead-off hitter I assume will be the one question that will need to be answered.
      The 2 thru 8 slots are fairly easy to set-up with the bats they have.
      Maybe JoeG does not place as much emphasis on the lead-off hitter as did Gabe from last year….my goodness, Gabe had it like a merry-go- around..

    2. Keith Law speculated Bohm could start at AA since the Phillies stunted him by putting him in Low A on the Hittin’ Season Podcast. Makes some sense to me just to get him off to a hot start and let him work on his defense.

  4. I think this is much ado about nothing. They already have too many outfielders so this will be a non-issue. Both Quinn and Bruce will play to varying degrees – it’s not that hard.

  5. Williams is the outfield version of Maikel Franco – he has tools, but he’s never played at anything higher than a AAAA level. Until it’s clear he’s turned a corner, there’s no way I put him on the big league roster, but it does make me recall what a bad trade the Hamels deal was. Right now, we should be reaping the benefits of that trade, but in terms of residual effect, we got about as much from the late season Papelbon trade as we did from the Hamels trade. Think about it. Not good.

    1. re: Hamels’ return value on the trade.
      Some would argue, Alfaro’s portion begot JTR as Marlins wanted a young skilled MLB catcher as part of the deal.

      1. Very salient point, Romus. While it wasn’t a great trade in its entirety, we got value in the end. Now, I’m anticipating waking up one morning soon to the gratifying news that JTR has been signed to a LTC. If not, then yes, the Hamels trade left virtually nothing to be desired.

  6. I agree the bench will work it’s way out I think they have enough bench bats to choose from and Gosselin at the very least should accept LHV assignment. With Garlic, Williams, and a chock full AAA. Although not sure how you know when Williams is more than a AAAA at AAA? I mean he rakes at LHV but has been awful in MLB last year.
    One area I am pleasantly surprised in has been the prospects. Frankly up to this point I was not only depressed about how little we got from the trade off of the championship team, but also drafts and other prospect additions. I could list a number of more recent prospects like Nick Maton who have shown me something so far this spring. Maybe our recent drafts will not continue the down word trend they did from previous years. I live in hope that are farm system can produce again

  7. I think he key is Quinn’s health. If healthy, he bats lead off. Everyone else we tried last year was terrible. I don’t know if he plays in LF or CF and Haseley moves to Left, but I can’t see anyone leading off but Quinn until Cutch gets back. Now, if Quinn is hurt, it is a big problem. Re: Hamels, we can argue that Alfaro helped get JTR, but the key was Sixto. I can’t think of a major trade we made that brought much at all. The Lee trade was awful, we got next to nothing for Rolen and Schilling, and very little from Hamels. Sure, some useful pieces like the Paplebon trade, but major player trades, where we traded the top player, with time left in his career, have been mediocre to a disaster.

    1. I think a healthy Quinn is a key to a productive offense this season. Although I was pleasantly surprised by McCutcheon last year the Phils could have a high scoring team with Quinn as a disruptive force at the top of the lineup and a run erasing center fielder. He has the potential to be better then Haseley and McCutheon at this stage of his career…..and if Arrietta is a solid number 3 we will have a good team.

      1. I would expect Eflin to be the solid #3 over Arrietta. He just needs to pitch like he did at the end of last season and stay healthy. If Eflin turns into a solid 3 and Arrietta a solid 4, this team should win it’s fair share of games as long as the top 2 stay healthy and pitch like we know they can. For me the pen is the big question.

      1. It was a decent deal. I think he’s a #3 pitcher but I’m still waiting for his breakout season of 3-4 WAR. Eflin won’t be a FA until 2023 so hopefully he continues to improve.

  8. I’m not watching the games daily like Jim and some of our readers, but the pitching results haven’t been inspiring so far. Anyone offer any first hand insights on how some of the arms are actually faring?

  9. Is it a foregone conclusion that Odubel Herrera will not be on the opening day roster? (Not endorsing domestic abuse, but if they are indeed still paying him don’t they deserve some return on investment)

    1. If he can still play, some team will take him and use him. Why shouldn’t that be the Phillies? That’s the question I wrestle with on this. Ty Cobb was the biggest A–hole and mean spirited guy maybe in the history of baseball. He’s in the Hall of Fame. Any team would have wanted him on their squad. But we live in different times. I believe that everyone deserves a second chance. He apologized and although an apology doesn’t take back any hurt inflicted on another person, I’m willing to give that 2nd chance. 3rd chance for me means no way. The last part of this is if Odubel can no longer play then take the monetary hit and move on.

      1. I believe in second chances for certain cases. I agree that Odubel deserves a second chance. For other cases like Ray Rice, he can sit by the phone and wait for the phone call that won’t come. Anyways, Odubel needs to focus on baseball and rip up Lehigh. That’s his only way to get back to the bigs, for Philly or another team.

        1. Agree that Obubel’s path back to the majors is by going to LV and both playing well and showing a solid attitude. He’s the most likely replacement for Quinn when he eventually injures some body part.

    2. Yes, he won’t be on the opening day roster. He’s not in ST and this be could part of his continuing punishment. I’m sure the Phillies don’t want to answer questions about his DV issues during ST.

    3. I have no problem whatsoever with giving a second chance to a guy. My concern isn’t that his off the field behavior will continue…grown boys can mature into men. My concern is whether dumb ball players can become smart ball players. He can prove that in how he performs at AAA. Then we can go from there.

  10. For me I’m still questioning $14 mil to Didi when you had Segura. I get it Joe likes him but you had to know back then Cutch’s situation was iffy. If you needed some redundancy somewhere it was there.

    You could have had a 27 y/o Domingo Santana for $2 Mil heck you could have had a 27 y/o Castellanos for $16 mil and still had the Harrisons the Forsythes, the Torreyes etc…

    Now you have a bottleneck with Segura, Kingery and Bohm. Not that Bohm is going to break camp with the big club but it should be a forgone conclusion that he comes up as soon as the as the service time year is cleared.

    And yeah Kingery is gonna play where ever he is told to play but he’s been telling everyone who will listen that he wants to settle in at 2B.

    1. Don’t see how wasting money in the OF has anything to do with signing Didi to allow Segura to fill 3b. If McCutchen is back in mid-April as expected, what do you then to do with Nick Castellanos and his 4-year, $64M contract or with the remaining 1+ years for McCutchen?

      Everyone seems to think that Segura is the odd man out once Bohm is ready but Didi is the one on a 1-year deal. Maybe he is the guy that gets moved mid-season to open up the spot…

      I was not a fan of the Didi signing because it made more sense to spend money on pitching, not on 4th outfielders..

    2. I can understand why you had reservations about the deal, but at least it was only a 1 year deal. As much as I like Bohm, he’s not starting the year with the team and even though we all like to think he’s can’t miss, he still has to hit at Lehigh. If Bohm starts slow and Kingery has issues at 3B, all we would be talking about is why we didn’t sign a 3B and move Kingery to 2B…

      Right now, I’m ok with the deal. If Bohm forces his way onto the Phillies, it’s a good problem to have.

      As for Cutch, I don’t think he’ll be out for long. And we still have Haseley/Bruce/Quinn for 2 positions. And as mentioned previously, Odubel will be at Lehigh if somebody gets hurt.

    3. @DMAR – I have no issue with the Didi signing since it is only one year although I prefer to use the $$ towards the rotation. In my view, the Didi signing is a replacement for Cesar/Franco and serve as a one-year INF insurance (if Segura struggles, Kingery does not progress or Bohm not ready). So far, Segura is looking viable at 3B, Kingery’s hitting is not that bad and Bohm is batting like he wants to be called up — making the Didi INF insurance “unnecessary” — but since it is only 1 year, I still want to take that and maybe the Phillies might flip Segura for some decent prospects if Bohm forced his way up.

    4. Frankly if Segura can play 3B the infield defense at 3B, SS, and 2B is elite.

      I think between under performance (if Didi doesn’t bounce back or Haseley doesn’t build off his rookie season for example) and injuries the Bohm/Segura/Kingery logjam at 2B/3B will work itself out.

      Depth is a beautiful thing.

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