Phillies

Today's Lineup: Tommy Joseph starts for first time since Wednesday

social_phillies_todays_lineup_v2.jpg
CSN

Today's Lineup: Tommy Joseph starts for first time since Wednesday

The juggling of Rhys Hoskins and Tommy Joseph at first base will continue today in Atlanta.

After only appearing as a pinch-hitter in last night's loss to the Braves, Joseph will draw back into the lineup at first for the Phillies in today's series finale. He'll bat fifth, right behind Hoskins, who's in the clean-up spot for manager Pete Mackanin.

With Hoskins, a natural first baseman who's been adjusting to left field, tearing up the scene, questions are aplenty over what the Phils plan to do at the position. Hoskins isn't going anywhere, obviously, so the questions center around Joseph. Any at-bats he gets this last week are important for his audition.

Joseph is hitting .240 on the season, but he does have 22 homers and 68 RBIs on the season.

Today marks Joseph's first start since Wednesday's win over the Dodgers. He appeared as a pinch-hitter Thursday and last night, but he did not play at all Friday.

Hoskins is back in left this afternoon. He's up to 18 homers and 41 RBIs on his short MLB season. He did contribute an RBI double in last night's loss.

J.P. Crawford, who's batting seventh, moves back to his natural shortstop spot today after playing second last night for Cesar Hernandez. Freddy Galvis will have the afternoon off. Crawford has a .245 average and 6 RBIs in 17 games with the big club.

Odubel Herrera has the afternoon off, as well.

Both teams' full lineups can be found below:

Phillies
1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
2. Aaron Altherr, CF
3. Nick Williams, RF
4. Rhys Hoskins, LF
5. Tommy Joseph. !B
6. Maikel Franco, 3B
7. J.P. Crawford, SS
8. Jorge Alfaro, C
9. Nick, Pivetta, SP

Braves
1. Ender Inciarte, CF
2. Johan Camargo, 2B
3. Freddie Freeman, 1B
4. Nick Markakis, RF
5. Kurt Suzuki, C
6. Rio Ruiz, 3B
7. Dansby Swanson, CF
8. Jace Pederson, LF
9. Luiz Gohara, SP

Report linking Padres to Maikel Franco seems like no coincidence

usa_maikel_franco_philadelphia_phillies.jpg
USA Today Images

Report linking Padres to Maikel Franco seems like no coincidence

WASHINGTON — It doesn't seem like a coincidence that Ken Rosenthal's report of the Padres' interest in Maikel Franco came after Franco's best game of the season Saturday.

Franco has been available for quite a while and no team has bit. Saturday, a few hours after Franco went 4 for 4 with three key hits and scored twice (see story), Rosenthal reported San Diego's interest.

While one 4-for-4 game won't sway a front office, the Padres do make sense as a Franco destination. They won't be competing for a little while, they don't run high payrolls and they have an unsettled 3B situation. 

Second-year third baseman Christian Villanueva has hit 16 home runs in 230 plate appearances for San Diego this season (including a major-league-best 11 vs. lefties) but he's batting .230 with a .300 OBP and has hit .173 since May 2.

Power, .230 batting average, .300 OBP ... sounds like Franco, doesn't it?

Gabe Kapler talked on Friday about the "fixes" the Phils need to see from Franco (see story), namely putting the ball in the air more. It's strange, but for a player who swings and misses and chases bad pitches as much as Franco, he does not strike out much. Since the start of 2016, 92 percent of major-leaguers have a higher strikeout rate.

Yet when Franco makes contact, it's often been weak contact. Groundballs to the left side. Pop flies to the shallow outfield. The Phillies want him to get away from that and focus on driving the ball more. Perhaps that will mean a few more K's as a result, but they'll take it if it's accompanied by more consistent pop.

Replacing Franco

The Phillies right now wouldn't trade Franco without first having a ready-made replacement. Maybe that's Adrian Beltre, maybe it's Royals rental 3B Mike Moustakas. 

But if the Phils don't first acquire a third baseman, it would make no sense for a team in contention to trade away its starting third baseman while J.P. Crawford is on the DL.

They're not going to move Franco only to replace him with Mitch Walding.

Potential return from Padres

In Rosenthal's report, he mentions San Diego relievers Brad Hand, Kirby Yates and Craig Stammen.

First things first, you're not getting Brad Hand straight up for Maikel Franco. That's crazy talk. Hand, a lefty, has been one of baseball's best relievers the last three seasons, posting a 2.53 ERA in 189 appearances with 11.8 strikeouts per nine innings. He led MLB in games pitched in 2016, made the All-Star team in 2017 and leads the NL in saves this season.

Hand is one of San Diego's best trade assets, if not its best. The Padres would be looking for more in return than a third baseman with a .300 career OBP who is an average-at-best defender.

Yates, a righty, is having by far the best season of his five-year career. He has a 0.90 ERA in 30 innings with 36 strikeouts. Prior to 2018, he had a 4.78 career ERA and was extremely homer-prone.

Stammen, who Phillies fans will remember from his days with the Nationals (2009-15), has reestablished himself as a setup man in San Diego. He has a 2.02 ERA this season with impressive strikeout and walk rates. Last season, he did it over a full year, posting a 3.14 ERA in 80⅓ innings.

Hand is too much for the Padres to give up for Franco, but from a Phillies perspective, neither Yates nor Stammen should be enough. Neither setup man would change the complexion of the Phils' bullpen. Neither Yates nor Stammen would come here and be viewed as more reliable than a Tommy Hunter, for example. The fact that both are under control past this season helps, but the Phils have talent in the bullpen, even if it's struggled in June. 

Perhaps one of those relievers and a minor-leaguer of intrigue would get a deal done, but it seems unlikely the Phils would part with Franco straight up for a successful reliever with a brief track record.

And lastly, as trustworthy as Rosenthal is, this could be an example of wishful thinking on the part of someone in the Phillies' front office, leaking a little info to a well-known reporter to drum up interest in Franco after his best game of the season.

More on the Phillies

  •  

Padres reportedly interested in trading for Phillies' Maikel Franco

usa_maikel_franco_phillies.jpg
USA Today Images

Padres reportedly interested in trading for Phillies' Maikel Franco

Despite his big day in the Phillies' win Saturday afternoon (see story), Maikel Franco's future with the Phillies is uncertain. According to Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal, we know there's at least one team interested in trading for him.

Rosenthal reports that the Padres have interest in Franco, but says there's one important condition that would need to be met before a trade could occur. 

"For a deal to happen, the Phillies would need to acquire someone else to play short or third," Rosenthal notes.

That's because J.P. Crawford, who had been playing at third, is out with a fractured left hand. It appears that a combination of Franco, Jesmuel Valentin and recently acquired utility man Danny Espinosa will share the playing time at third for the time being.

Franco's role has recently diminished (see story), so you'd think the Phillies would probably be open to discussions with the Padres and any other interested parties, especially given their reported interest in Adrian Beltre.  

As for what the Phillies would want from the Padres, Rosenthal reports, "The Phillies undoubtedly would add to Franco to get one of the Padres' top relievers, while the Padres would be gambling on Franco returning to form knowing he has three more years of control." 

The Padres have several relievers who could interest the Phillies. Lefty closer Brad Hand has an NL-leading 21 saves in 24 opportunities, while veterans Kirby Yates and Craig Stammen are having strong seasons.

More on the Phillies