Phillies general manager Matt Klentak spoke with reporters before Friday night’s game and weighed in on a variety of topics.
Let’s get right to it:
• Klentak reiterated his previous stance that there are no plans to release Ryan Howard. He expects Howard, even in a diminished role, to remain with the club throughout the season. This is the final guaranteed season of Howard’s contract.
“It’s certainly something we can live with,” Klentak said. “I’m not viewing it as a distraction at all. I think the biggest reason for that is the way that Ryan has handled it and the way that Pete (Mackanin) has handled it. And really, the way the team around them is handling it. If it’s not distracting to that group of people, it really shouldn’t be a distraction to anybody. Ryan has handled it like a true professional. Pete’s communication with Ryan has been outstanding. I don’t view it as a distraction at all.”
So you foresee Howard being here the remainder of the season?
“I don’t see why not," Klentak said. “I mean, Pete makes out the lineup. Tommy (Joseph) is playing almost every day. As long as this current situation is working for everybody, I don’t see why we’d need to make a move.
“Ryan has 10 home runs; he’s second on our club in home runs. I know that opposing managers absolutely know when Ryan Howard is in the on-deck circle and on the bench with a chance to come up. They have to respect the power and the impact that comes with that. Right now, for us, we think there’s value to that on our 25-man roster.
“I think opposing managers respect the fact that the ball can leave the yard at any time.”
• Klentak said there were no immediate plans to move slugger Dylan Cozens to Triple A. The 22-year-old outfielder entered Friday hitting .294 with 19 homers, 55 RBIs and a .966 OPS at Double A Reading. He ranked first in the Eastern League in homers and second in RBIs and OPS.
“Obviously, he's having a heck of a season at Double A,” Klentak said. “He's opened a lot of eyes with that. But for most of these guys we want to give them, if we can, a full year's worth of at-bats at certain levels and I think Dylan could stand to have some more time there.
“But as you've heard me say before, sometimes the players put us in a position where we have no choice. They're just performing so well, we have no choice but to promote them. I don't think we're quite there with Cozens, but he's absolutely having a heck of a first half."
• Center field prospect Roman Quinn, also at Double A, went on the disabled list this week with an oblique strain.
“I don’t want to put a timetable on [his absence],” Klentak said. “But it’s going to be a while.”
Quinn, 23, has missed significant development time throughout his career with leg injuries. More missed time is not a good thing.
• As for the draft, Klentak is still playing things close to the vest because there are still final details to iron out – such as physical exams – but he indicated the team could announce the signings of its top picks next week.
The team selected outfielder Mickey Moniak with the first overall pick, pitcher Kevin Gowdy with the 42nd pick and infielder Cole Stobbe 78th overall. Moniak and Gowdy will pass on commitments to UCLA. Stobbe will pass on the University of Arkansas.
“I think it’s realistic we get all three done,” Klentak said.
With the draft completed, Klentak said the front office is now preparing for the trade season, which culminates with the July 31 trade deadline.
“That’s what we’re working on upstairs, preparing for the next six weeks, but nothing is pressing,” he said.
• Third baseman Maikel Franco, regarded in many circles as a future star, has had an inconsistent season. He entered Friday night hitting .247 with 11 homers, 33 RBIs and a .722 OPS. In 80 games last season, he hit .280 with a .840 OPS.
Franco hit .267 with a .786 OPS in April. Since May 1, he’s hitting .234 with a .682 OPS. His on-base percentage since then is .277.
“I think Maikel is a very talented player and he is very young and still developing,” Klentak said. “We’ll see flashes from him defensively where he’ll make All-Star, Gold Glove-caliber plays and other times when he’ll miss a routine one. That’s not uncommon for a 23-year-old who is in the big leagues.
“At the plate we’ll see him go through stretches where he’s tearing the cover off the ball and carrying us through a series and a stretch where he starts to over-swing. Again, it’s not uncommon for a 23-year-old in the big leagues.
"I’m very impressed with the way he handles himself at this level and with his work ethic. I’m fairly confident his numbers will be there at the end of the year, but like with everything else, we’re going to have to ride some ups and downs with players and team performance. That’s just what happens in a 162-game schedule. Players don’t reach a certain level and stay there their whole career. It takes time to sustain a certain level of performance in the big leagues.”