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Cody Asche. Image Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

TBOH Debate - Cody Asche and bullpen trades

Every week, the writers of That Ball’s Outta Here debate the key issues facing the Philadelphia Phillies.  Joining me this week are Spencer Bingol, Pete Dymeck, and Michael Lecke. This week we discuss Cody Asche and potential reinforcements for the bullpen.

Cody Asche has been struggling at third base and was benched for a few games last week. Do you see Asche turning things around this season?

Spencer

Ryne Sandberg‘s logic for benching Cody Asche makes sense to a point. He has been struggling greatly out of the gate, and he’s tried to get the platoon advantage against starting pitchers.

Personally, I’d rather see him take his lumps and work through it everyday - and it’s not as if he can get sent to Lehigh Valley to do that, with Maikel Franco there. April has been Asche’s weakest month minor league month in the past, so it’s not the unprecedented that he struggle early.

We’re still only a small percentage of the way through the season, and not even out of April yet. It’s too early to be drawing conclusions about anyone’s season. For all practical purposes, he’s just as likely to pan out as he was Opening Day.

Pete

Cody Asche’s early season struggles exemplify those of a Quad-A Player. The Phillies third baseman mashed to the tune of a .306 AVG in the minors between 2012 and 2013. In those 1,104 plate appearances, Asche exhibited solid power with 28 HR and 152 RBI.

Since his promotion to the big show, Asche has maintained a whimsical .213 AVG to coincide with six dingers and 25 RBI. No flash emitted from his bat the moment he donned the Phillies uniform. He has whiffed 25.15 percent of the time since reaching the majors.

Expecting the 23-year-old to turn things around is a bit foolish, in my opinion. Nothing suggests he has the composition to last at this level. All we can do is wait for Maikel Franco to figure things out at Triple-A and hope his bat will make an impact at some point in the near future.

Mike

I figured that Asche has about half a season to prove himself. Thus far, he hasn’t done so. It appears that Maikel Franco is beginning to heat up in the minors, and if he continues to do so while Asche continues to struggle, we may see a new regular third baseman in the second half.

I have some faith that Asche will turn things around since he’s traditionally been a slow starter. But he had better not take his time. Franco has the higher upside, and if the Phillies find themselves in contention at mid-season, they may feel that they need to take a chance on that upside.

Michael

Asche struggled at both the beginning and end of last season so it wasn’t a surprise to see him struggle out of the gate again. I do think he can turn it around, much as he did last season. Hopefully once he gets it going he won’t wear down at the end again.

The Phillies don’t have a lot of options if he doesn’t. Freddy Galvis is fine for the occasional start at third but he’s a much weaker offensive player than Asche and isn’t a viable everyday alternative.

Brad Lincoln. Image Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

Should the Phillies pursue a trade for another reliever to boost their struggling bullpen?

Spencer

No. People have mentioned this idea recently, and I really dislike the idea. This year isn’t one where I’m willing to offer young talent for anything other than young talent. It wouldn’t be for a top prospect, but any major league-ready reliever providing abilities above what the Phillies already have would cost something noticeable.

The team should make do with what they have at this point. I’m sure Brad Lincoln will get another chance at some point, along with several of Jeremy Horst, Cesar Jimenez, Luis Garcia, Sean O’Sullivan, et al. The same names we’ve seen before might not sound too appetizing, but I also think some of those problems will be alleviated with Cole Hamels’ return.

A lot of the bullpen problems can be connected to starters not pitching far enough into games the first couple of weeks, and hopefully now we’ll see less nightly reliance on relievers. But please god, don’t be trading any youth to prop up this team. Be creative, and go with what you have at this point.

Pete

Can one seriously expect general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. to make the “right deal” in order to bolster the bullpen? Of course, the Phillies should do what it takes to strengthen their relieving corps.

Like a bad relationship though, trust is an issue. Amaro Jr. has pulled off some decent transactions, but his overall history is disheartening. Considering the fact the Phillies have very little to offer in its farm system, I don’t see how the organization can even acquire someone notable enough to administer aid to this reeling bullpen.

With Cameron Rupp and Tommy Joseph providing solid but uncertain depth at the catcher position, maybe the Phillies could unload one of them for a marginal reliever with upside. The notion of bolstering the bullpen is great but more Utopian than likely.

Mike

Any time a Phillies general manager makes a trade for a reliever, I get Ed Wade flashbacks. I don’t want them to give up any sort of prospect for the next Mike Williams or Turk Wendell.

I think they’re better off hoping that one of the guys in the minors can figure it out or that Ethan Martin or Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez can return from injury and contribute.

Michael

Of course RAJ is looking at options to bolster the pen but it isn’t easy to trade for a reliever. Everyone needs another good arm in the pen and the price would be steep. I do expect some wheeling and dealing at the deadline and if the Phillies are buyers they’ll be keen on any arms that can help.

What do you think? Feel free to share your opinion in the comments section below.

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That Ball’s Outta Here (@FS_TBOH)

Spencer Bingol (@SpencerBingol)

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Michael Lecke (@Bee5pace)

Mike Lacy (@MikeLacy_215)

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