j.p. crawford

Phillies mailbag delivers answers about Ruben Amaro and potential trades

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USA Today Images

Phillies mailbag delivers answers about Ruben Amaro and potential trades

For the sixth straight year, October is a quiet month for the Phillies. Yes, they made news by dismissing Pete Mackanin as manager, but the bright lights and excitement of playoff baseball still feel distant.

It will be interesting this fall and winter to monitor the Phillies' managerial interview process and then to see how much money they spend. Team president Andy MacPhail certainly seemed content to lower expectations when he spoke last week.

As we await the exciting period of the offseason, let's take a look at some of the more pressing questions.

Before getting to your individual questions, I'll answer the few dozen tweets and e-mails I received about Ruben Amaro Jr. possibly being the Phillies' next manager with an absolute, unequivocal IT WILL NOT HAPPEN.

Think about this logically ... this is the same front office that replaced Amaro. GM Matt Klentak and owner John Middleton want the Phillies to be a more analytical organization. Amaro, in his tenure as GM, did not come close to fitting that description. 

There's also the perception of it, which the Phillies will not ignore. They know what it would look like to the fanbase if they brought Amaro back as manager. It would feel like more of the same, and it would alienate the fans who are just starting to come back and get excited by all of the Phillies' young players.

Amaro does seem likely to get a managerial job someday but not here, not now. If anything, the reason you might be seeing his name pop in rumors is because the Phillies want to do him a solid and help get his name out there for future managerial openings.

The Phillies need to add two starting pitchers this offseason and probably three. They just don't have enough consistency at that spot in the organization. We hear the word "depth" a lot with the Phillies, but depth doesn't mean the Phils are in good shape. 

Yes, you could start Jerad Eickhoff, Vince Velasquez, Nick Pivetta, Ben Lively, Jake Thompson, Zach Eflin ... but are you ever going to begin that game feeling confident in your starting pitcher? There are health concerns with Velasquez and Eflin, repertoire concerns with Lively and Thompson, control concerns with Pivetta, and Eickhoff took a big step back in 2017.

Alex Cobb is out there in free agency. So is Lance Lynn. So are Yu Darvish and Jake Arrieta, who will make substantially more.

Darvish and Arrieta will probably make too much money and the Phillies don't want to pay big for past performance. So let's cross them off.

With Cobb and Lynn, the Phillies would be wise to closely monitor the market. At this point in the fall, nobody ever predicts that a starter will linger in free agency until he has to sign a one-year, prove-it deal, and yet it happens every offseason. I'm not saying these two will have to do that, but it's a possibility if their market doesn't materialize.

I fail to see the harm in signing someone like Cobb to a three-year, $48 million deal with a fourth-year vesting or mutual option. Yes, he's had Tommy John surgery, but there are risks with literally any pitcher a team ever signs or acquires.

But also keep an eye on the trade market. The Phillies sound much more likely to trade for a starting pitcher than sign one. Names to keep in mind: Chris Archer, Marcus Stroman, Gerrit Cole, Jake Odorizzi. 

I found the phrasing of this question pretty funny. Patience certainly seems harder for older fans than younger ones. My answer is I simply did not understand MacPhail's lowering of payroll expectations for 2018. The Phillies have a bunch of exciting young players, but if they brought back this very same team next season they'd probably win about 75 games. Is that going to entice anyone in that juicy 2019 free-agent class?

You need to move the needle more next year. Why wouldn't you? The Phillies went 35-35 in their final 70 games and could push closer to .500 with a little more help next season.

I can't see it, but I think Tommy Joseph has a better chance to be on the 2018 roster than Freddy Galvis or Cesar Hernandez. Why? Because Hernandez and Galvis will have much more trade value. Joseph at this point is basically a platoon DH, meaning only a small group of teams will have interest and a fit for him. 

If the Phillies' only option is getting a negligible return for Joseph, then why not just keep him and use him as a right-handed bench bat? He's inexpensive and could at least offer some pop off the bench.

That's a tough one. I'd keep both. But if I had to keep only one, it would be Kingery because I think he has a higher offensive ceiling, and because Crawford's reputation should result in a bigger trade return. Though, again, I don't advocate trading either player. Kingery and Crawford should be the Phillies' middle infielders for the next seven seasons.

The Twins had a season nobody would have expected. And I highly doubt they make the playoffs next season. This just seemed like a fluky, nobody-believes-in-us season that you see once every few years. 

The Brewers are closer to the Phillies. Jimmy Nelson is essentially their Aaron Nola. He had a breakout year before an unfortunate late-season shoulder injury while diving back to first base on a pickoff attempt.

Milwaukee also has a lights-out closer (Corey Knebel), and received unexpected production from Travis Shaw (31 HR, 101 RBIs) in the middle of the order. The Brewers are another team that I think regresses next year, especially since Nelson is expected to miss much of the season.

The Yankees are in a different spot. They held on to Aaron Judge, who was a better prospect than anyone the Phillies had. Gary Sanchez turned out better than expected. Brian Cashman swung some amazing trades, particularly with Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman. They're just in a different situation because they had more talent in the organization during this period than the Phillies did.

He meant stats. I'll say Hoskins next season hits .275/.380/.560 with 36 homers and 110 RBIs.

There is benefit to keeping one, especially if you believe in one of them more than you believe in Maikel Franco. Let's start with Hernandez. He's been incredibly consistent the last two seasons, hitting .294 both years with OBPs of .371 and .373. He'll have trade value, but there's also value in knowing what you have. With Hernandez, the Phillies know what they have: A high-OBP leadoff hitter who unfortunately doesn't steal enough bases.

I personally think Hernandez will be a better player the next five years than Franco. So there's a reason to keep him around. Maybe it makes the most sense to keep Hernandez at second base and put Kingery at third. It really all depends on what kind of trade offers the Phillies get for Hernandez.

Tonight's lineup: J.P. Crawford bats second in penultimate game

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Tonight's lineup: J.P. Crawford bats second in penultimate game

Pete Mackanin won't be writing the lineup in 2018, but many of the same names who have flashed potential in the second half of the season should be in there on opening day.

One of those players is J.P. Crawford, regardless of what position he plays. On Saturday night, Crawford plays shortstop. He also hits second for the second time as a major leaguer. Crawford has struggled recently at the plate and sat Friday. He has only one hit in his last 17 at-bats. 

Maikel Franco, tied with Tommy Joseph for the team lead in homers at 22 after his two-run blast Friday, looks to finish a solid month of September strong. Franco is hitting .280 with four homers and 10 RBIs in September.

Henderson Alvarez starts for the Phillies. In his last start, Alvarez pitched five shutout innings, though the Phillies' bullpen couldn't hold a lead against the Braves. 

Seth Lugo starts for the Mets. His one start this year against the Phillies was way back on Aug. 11, when Rhys Hoskins was still searching for his first major league hit. He threw 5 1/3 innings in that outing, allowing eight hits, four walks and five earned runs.

The Phillies' lineup can be found below:

1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
2. J.P. Crawford, SS
3. Aaron Altherr, LF
4. Rhys Hoskins, 1B
5. Nick Williams, RF
6. Odubel Herrera, CF
7. Maikel Franco, 3B
8. Jorge Alfaro, C
9. Henderson Alvarez, SP

Tonight's lineup: J.P. Crawford back at 3B; Bryce Harper returns for Nats

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CSN

Tonight's lineup: J.P. Crawford back at 3B; Bryce Harper returns for Nats

The Phillies will look to even their series against the Washington Nationals and Gio Gonzalez in Game 2 of the set Tuesday after losing, 3-1, on Monday.

Nationals superstar Bryce Harper makes his return to the lineup after suffering a hyperextended left knee on Aug. 12. Harper was supposed to return to the lineup Monday night but was unable to play because of an illness.

For the Phillies, J.P. Crawford enters at third base after sitting Monday, and Tommy Joseph returns to the lineup at first, moving Rhys Hoskins back to left field.

Cameron Rupp takes over the catching duties with pitcher Jake Thompson on the mound.

Here's the Phillies' lineup that will oppose Gonzalez:

1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
2. Freddy Galvis, SS
3. Aaron Altherr, RF
4. Rhys Hoskins, LF
5. Tommy Joseph, 1B
6. Odubel Herrera, CF
7. Cameron Rupp, C
8. J.P. Crawford, 3B
9. Jake Thompson, P

And for Washington:

1. Trea Turner, SS
2. Bryce Harper, RF
3. Anthony Rendon, 3B
4. Ryan Zimmerman, 1B
5. Howie Kendrick, 2B
6. Jayson Werth, LF
7. Michael A. Taylor, CF
8. Matt Wieters, CF
9. Gio Gonzalez, P