Phillies

A skill each Phillies left field candidate brings to the table in Andrew McCutchen's absence

Phillies

Andrew McCutchen's early-season absence will negatively affect the Phillies' offense. He's the Phils' second-best on-base guy and also one of their top five power threats.

The silver lining is that will give the Phillies a quick look at the skill sets and viability of their extra men. Spring training is the time for that, but spring training games are never an equal substitute for the pressure of games that count.

The most obvious beneficiaries are Roman Quinn and Adam Haseley because there are now two spots for them as opposed to just the center field job. Quinn is a strong candidate to lead off in McCutchen's absence, provided Quinn makes it out of Clearwater healthy and is hitting.

Let's look at some potential arrangements:

Quinn in CF, Haseley in LF

This is one of the most likely pairings. Prior to the news last week that McCutchen won't be ready for the season opener, Quinn and Haseley were viewed as the Phillies' third and fourth outfielders. 

Sure, Jay Bruce has more experience and more of an ability to pop a three-run homer, but Bruce may not be a realistic nightly option in left field in 2020, even if it's just for a few weeks. A strained oblique and a sore elbow cost Bruce almost all of the second half last season. If the arm affects his ability to throw, the Phillies' left field defense would be a liability with him there.

If Quinn and Haseley play together, Quinn would almost certainly get the CF nod because of his range.

 

And if Quinn can succeed in the leadoff spot, it would elongate the Phillies' lineup when McCutchen does return because then McCutchen could slot anywhere from 2 through 5, with the centerfielder leading off as opposed to batting eighth.

Quinn/Haseley in CF, Garlick in LF

The Phillies acquired Kyle Garlick from the Dodgers on Feb. 15 when the Dodgers had to make room on their roster for some guy named Mookie Betts. Garlick was simply a victim of the Dodgers' numbers game. L.A. has the deepest roster in baseball and Garlick was the odd man out.

He could find a legit role here providing right-handed thump against left-handed pitching. 

Garlick had three homers and three doubles in just 33 plate appearances against lefties last season with the Dodgers. Altogether at Triple A and the majors, he hit .292 with a 1.072 OPS against lefties.

The Phillies open the season in Miami. The Marlins are likely to start Caleb Smith, a tough lefty, in either Game 1 or Game 2. Could be the first start for Garlick.

2 of Quinn/Kingery/Haseley in CF/LF with Bohm at 3B

Bohm has more offensive upside than any other name above and this would be the most exciting one for Phillies fans. But it seems unlikely to occur out of the gate. Unless he tears the cover off the ball in Grapefruit League play, remains with the Phillies throughout spring training and does enough to win a job out of camp, Bohm will find himself beginning 2020 at either Double A or Triple A.

Why? It would have as much to do with major-league readiness as it would service time. Like it or not, the Phillies stand to benefit with an additional year of club control if they delay Bohm's promotion by at least six weeks or so.

Bohm has been impressive so far this spring, going 7 for 13 (.538) with three RBI.

Others in the mix

• Super utilityman Josh Harrison seems likely to make the team because he can help out at so many different positions, pinch run and hit a little bit. So far this spring, Harrison has started games at second base, third base, left field and right field.

• Nick Williams has become a forgotten man in this organization and it would not be surprising if the Phillies trimmed him from the 40-man roster at some point in 2020 when the need arises. The 26-year-old left-handed hitter needed an opportunity like the McCutchen injury to have one final shot at meaningful playing time with the Phillies.

• Like Harrison, Neil Walker is a good bet to make the Phils' opening day 26-man roster because of his versaility. He can hit from both sides and play a handful of positions. Walker has played only first base and third base in spring training games thus far with the Phils, but he can also help out at third base or the outfield corners. He does not have nearly as much outfield experience as these other candidates, starting only 12 games in the outfield in his 11 big-league seasons.

• Logan Forsythe is another veteran in the Harrison-Walker tier who can play first, second, third and the outfield corners. It feels like those three are fighting for at most two jobs because the Phillies will want a few guys on their bench to have minor-league options. These three do not. There is value in being able to shuttle a player back and forth when needs arise.

 

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