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Phillies: 2022’s Offensive Options


By Tal Venada, Sports Talk Philly Contributor

With the defense on the field, many Philadelphia Phillies on different days will concentrate only on their hitting, while eight teammates will back up the starter on the diamond. Yes, it’s a double-edged sword because the ninth batter is not the rally-killing pitcher for either club. And there’s no usual pitch-around eight-hole hitter.     


Hit and Sit:

Expect Phillies purists to howl about the universal DH, while many will begrudgingly accept it. And when the Fightins plate a run during an otherwise inning-ending out by the hurler, fans might overlook it, but they’ll probably vocalize about the opponent scoring in a similar situation. Me: more beneficial than not.                    


“Endings are always tough, but I believe when something ends, there are new beginnings, new opportunities and new things to be excited for, too.” - Mike Fisher   

Since both sides prefer the universal DH, the players believe there’s no required negotiating. And the owners also want extended playoffs, but the stars like the 12-team postseason format instead of management’s preference for 14. Translation: More profit means the union receives something of equal value.   

Restarting the talks, the MLB’s new proposal was only going to move an inch with a counteroffer expected by the MLBPA (player’s association). To date, the owners have only increased the CBT (competitive-balance threshold) from $210 million to $214 million: nothing on service time and revenue sharing.   

The CBT movement indicates something franchises can control if they have a self-imposed limitation. However, the union wants $245 million in year five to the current $220 million offered by management. Spitballing: Halfway could be from $220 million for 2022 to $232 million for 2026.

Since mid-February is the probable lockout endpoint, Dave Dombrowski, POB (president of baseball operations), then will add to likely closer Corey Knebel and utility infielder Johan Camargo. Plus he was pushing hard for left fielder Kyle Schwarber, who isn’t the typical leadoff man, but it’s either him or gutting the farm.

Acquiring a center fielder is another must for the POB. But if the Tampa Bay Rays demand too much for any player, dealing for another outfielder may be elsewhere. Basically, the remaining amount up to $5 million AAV (average annual value) over the new CBT will determine inking a bargain: reliever and/or DH.                  

For now, the Phillies will have a minimum of $187.4 million AAV on the books. And if they exceed the $214-220 million AAV for ‘22 by $5 million for April’s roster, their top range will roughly be $31-37 million AAV. But inking Schwarber at $19 million each for three years would leave $12-18 million AAV for 2-3 pieces.                   

Moreover, the rounded-up $600 thousand allows the exec to pay Ranger Suarez more than the projected MLB minimum of $600 thousand for 2022. And though the Fightins could swap for a center fielder, his cost will come from the $12-18 million AAV. And the balance could be for a right-handed DH and/or a reliever.       

Without the double-switch, Joe Girardi won’t sacrifice an important bat for a bench piece, like Camargo. And this 60-year-old strategy will join the “replaced with the mound” pitcher’s box of the 1890s in baseball history: Somewhere the spirit of former Phillies skipper Gene Mauch –the credited inventor– will shed a tear.

While many American League organizations have a DH, others rotate or split the duty of regulars with questionable defense, give a gassed player a breather or a star coping with more aches and pains than normal. And it can keep a regular off the IL (injured list) or bench if it’s not overly serious.

Potential Candidates:

Sooner or later, JT Realmuto is going to get banged up, and even his best intentions to catch won’t be enough to convince former receiver Girardi from starting him as a DH. But his defensive skills probably won’t be a hindrance for three more years, and the DH could prolong his services as a backstop. Yeah, he’s a solid if! 

Rhys Hoskins, 29 for 2022:

  • 2020: 41 Gms., 185 PA, a .245 Avg., 10 HR, 26 RBI, an .887 OPS, a 0.9 fWAR and a 138 wRC+ (38% offensive production over 100: average mark).
  • 2021: 107 Gms., 443 PA, a .247 Avg., 27 HR, 71 RBI, an .864 OPS, a 2.3 fWAR and a 127 wRC+ (27% offensive production over 100: average mark).
  • Combined tally: 148 Gms., 628 PA, 37 HR, 97 RBI and a 3.2 fWAR.

Hoskins ended the last two seasons on the IL, but a collision with a runner in 2020 had caused an elbow injury on his glove arm requiring surgery. In 2021, he suffered a groin injury after diving for a ball, and those need extended rest.

Hoskins is totally capable of protecting Bryce Harper, and it’s why a right-side hitter is third or fourth on the red pinstripes’ pickup list. Moreover, the first sacker doesn’t have an injury-plagued history, and both situations could happen to any player. But giving him some DH at-bats would be a good recommendation.         

With the potential emergence of shortstop Bryson Stott in the second half or sooner, a comeback from Didi Gregorius could lead to many DH appearances down the stretch. Or it could buy time for Stott to have a full Triple-A summer and be a 2023 rookie.                   

If Alec Bohm hits but makes too many errors, the Phillies may work on his fielding and hide his glove behind the DH slot. In the past, his offense and defense have either succeeded or failed simultaneously. But Dombrowski’s backup plan for the hot corner is Camargo.           

Inking Schwarber, an offense-first left fielder, means he could leadoff and DH with one of the young outfielders being the leather on the left-side grass. And the candidates include Matt Vierling, Luke Williams, Mickey Moniak and Adam Haseley. Yes, they are on the 40-man roster.        

Any star can suffer an injury, and those mostly happen when the regular is on defense, like Ronald Acuna Jr. Realistically, expecting a good or bad year based on their prior 162 doesn’t include surprises and disappointments. But what certainty can everybody count on? No guarantees. 



Pitching Changes Ahead

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