Yesterday the starting pitchers over at minor league camp for the A-level games, veteran Aaron Harang and young Elniery Garcia, really gave me pause. The contrast in those starting pitchers shows the hope and hopelessness of the current Phillies organization.
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You can contrast the age, health, and play of two particular players and get a sense of just one of a number of things that appear to be wrong with regards to the front office’s plans.Conditioning of Garcia and Harang highlight a problem with the Phillies current approach.
Garcia is 20 years old, and in the peak of health. Harang will turn 37 years old in early May. He has already missed two starts this spring due to back issues.
Just take a look at my below picture from the first day of Spring Training: it’s easy to see that Harang did not report to camp in shape.
To me, this is one of the most glaring problems with the organization. They bring in a high-priced, older player with obvious health issues, pay them a ton of money ($5 million in Harang’s case) and then are stymied when they break down.
Contrast that with kids like Garcia, who are in great shape and developing, improving with almost every start, kids that are barely making enough money to get by in life.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I’d rather lose games because a kid is learning at a higher level where they can use the loss to improve their play, than to lose because a “veteran” isn’t able or willing to do the work in order to perform at a high enough level.Harang on the first day of Spring Training.
Garcia is in MiLB camp, which started later than MLB camp, so he hasn’t been “stretched out” as much as Harang. But if you look at their pitching lines from Wednesday, the problems with Harang seem as glaring as the lights on the Las Vegas strip.
Both pitchers were throwing against A-ball teams.
Garcia: 3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K (both swinging)
Harang: 5 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 0 BB, 5 K
For me, this is what is going to make the MLB season long and arduous, and yet also gives me hope for having quality minor league teams to follow this summer.
The more I think about it, the more excited I get in looking ahead to the start of the minor league season. The Lehigh Valley IronPigs, Reading Fightin Phils, Clearwater Threshers, Lakewood BlueClaws begin their seasons on Thursday, April 9th. The Williamsport Crosscutters begin on Friday, June 19th.
With some of the young players we have such as Garcia, Maikel Franco (at least in the beginning), J.P. Crawford, Franklyn Kilome, Aaron Nola, Roman Quinn, Zach Eflin, Dylan Cozens, Matt Imhof, Jan Hernandez, Rhys Hoskins, Deivi Grullon, and Grenny Cumana we could have some genuine contenders to help the next generation of winning Phillies teams in the minor league system.
If you want to catch me at a game, you shouldn’t look for me at Citizens Bank Park. But down in Clearwater at a Threshers game, enjoying the beautiful sunshine, as well as ballplayers who are working hard on their conditioning and their game? Count me in.