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Phillies Mailbag: Moniak, Howard, and Spring Broadcasts

Moniak

We are back for another season of the 97.3 ESPN Phillies mailbag.  You can ask your question at any time by Tweeting to @FrankKlose on Twitter.  We will discuss your questions each Tuesday on the Sports Bash with Mike Gill.

What are the odds of Mickey Moniak breaking camp with the big club?
~Sean

The odds of outfielder Mickey Moniak making the Phillies got better last week, when we learned that Adam Haseley would miss some time with a strain.  Should Haseley begin the season on the injured list - even if just for a while - Moniak could be called upon to fill a short-term void.

In eight at bats, Moniak is hitting a cool .500 with two home runs and a 1.875 OPS.  Of course, that's a small sample size.  But watching Moniak this Spring it's clear that the one-time Phillies first overall draft pick is coming into his own.

June of 2021 will be five years since the Phillies made the pick.  But at 22 years old, Moniak is still young.  He turns 23 in May, and his physical development is finally hitting his stride. Those who have called him a bust in the past perhaps were premature.

So far the Phillies have said that Moniak should report to the minor leagues and play every day to keep his development going.  However, the Triple-A season and all of minor league baseball appears to be delayed.

While Odubel Herrera could be considered for an outfield spot, the Phillies probably won't add him to the 40-man roster unless there's a long-term path for him.  What the Phillies could need is a temporary sub for Haseley.  That is what to watch for with Moniak.

So if Haseley will be out a short while as the season begins, I can see Moniak filling in.

What are your thoughts on Spencer Howard out of the bullpen?
~Hunter

This is an interesting question. When Spencer Howard made his Grapefruit League 2021 debut last week against the Pirates, it was in relief and for one inning.  It was a pretty dominant inning, as Howard struck out two in a 1-2-3 inning.

That could be what we see from Howard this season.

The Phillies had been paying careful attention to Howard's innings in 2019.  Then in 2020, the shortened season led to a truncated season for Howard, further truncated by injury at the end.  So there are two factors here: health and durability.

We have seen high-quality pitchers begin their careers in the bullpen before.  Adam Wainwright and Lance Lynn got much of their early work as relief pitchers.  It would help reduce innings early in his career, which in turn could help limit injury.

The Phillies have plenty of starters so far.  After the obvious Aaron Nola, Zack Wheeler, and Zach Eflin, the Phillies probably would go Matt Moore and Chase Anderson in the rotation first after giving them major league deals.  Vince Velasquez is still hanging around.

Therefore, there exists the opportunity to take it easy for Howard this year.  He could pitch in lower-leverage situations and maybe work his way to the back of the bullpen when all goes well.  And, in the event of an injury, could eventually step into the rotation.

The Phillies have purposefully created depth in the starting rotation.  They won't do anything that diminishes that depth.  But having Howard in the bullpen and finding his major league groove while lessening his innings, that could be a win-win situation.;

Why aren’t all Grapefruit/Cactus League games being televised or at least radio coverage by each home team with web access?
~Matt

This might have a lot to do with the current pandemic, but also availability.  The home teams are the ones who generally broadcast the games.  That is why MLB.tv subscribers get to watch their home team games throughout the preseason play.

The Phillies have a very good amount of their home games broadcast on television.  There are actually only two home games not broadcast: the next two Tuesdays, both against Toronto.  The 23rd is a night game and NBC Sports Philadelphia will be carrying both the Flyers and the Sixers that night on their two stations.

Road teams the Phillies cannot really control.

The YES Network with the Yankees broadcasts most games.  This past weekend the Phillies were playing in Tampa and broadcast. Other Yankees home games will be available on MLB.tv.  It helps that the Yankees have their own network.

Toronto is broadcasting nothing.  Not only do they currently not have a radio broadcast planned, no one is heading from Toronto to Dunedin to broadcast the games.  That means when the Phillies play there, they will not be broadcast.

When the Phillies are in Bradenton to face the Pirates, AT&T Sports Pittsburgh will carry the game, and it will be available on MLB.tv.

The Orioles don't broadcast much, either.  There are 11 radio games, but nothing is broadcast on television.

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