Today is Maikel Franco’s 27th birthday and his present is an all-expenses-paid trip to Allentown.
Franco was again optioned to Triple A as the Phillies welcomed Bryce Harper back from paternity leave Monday.
It is the second time in 20 days that Franco has been sent back to Triple A. He had spent the previous four seasons exclusively in the majors.
Why was Franco the casualty again? The Phillies’ reasoning is likely that September is just five days away so he can soon be recalled, and that this option was preferable to designating Sean Rodríguez, Logan Morrison or Brad Miller for assignment.
Rodriguez has not built much goodwill from this fan base because he has not hit. He offers positional versatility but has not been effective for the Phillies as a starter or pinch-hitter. Theoretically, Rodriguez has a skill set the Phillies could use — plays multiple positions, has hit lefties in the past — but in reality, he has not helped the Phillies in the batter’s box this season.
Franco is not long for this organization. He is a candidate to be traded (for a meager return) or non-tendered this offseason. He simply has not improved. He doesn’t reach base enough, he doesn’t hit lefties, he doesn’t offset his low batting average with enough power, and his range at third base is limited.
That said, Franco is still a more dangerous hitter than Rodriguez, who has one hit since July 30.
On Sept. 1, rosters expand. The Phillies will call up a third catcher (Nick Hundley?), several relievers and a few more bench pieces like Franco, Nick Williams and Jose Pirela.
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