If the Phillies are truly focused on winning over developing, then they need to address the bench.
While Phillies general manager Matt Klentak spent most of the offseason adding two former MVPs and multiple All-Stars, Philadelphia’s bench received little to no attention.
Coming off a summer where Klentak added Asdrubal Cabrera, Wilson Ramos, Justin Bour, Jose Bautista the Phillies saw all four of those players depart in free agency with no one signed to replace them.
Philadelphia’s essentially started back at square one with Nick Williams, Aaron Altherr, Scott Kingery, and Andrew Knapp (the same group as Opening Day 2018) assuming the bench duties.
Phillies pinch-hitters are hitting just .143 with two doubles and no home runs this season, and with the exception of Kingery the role players have been downright dreadful.
Altherr, who many thought could be an early trade candidate, is hitting .043 in 24 plate appearances, and Nick Williams his batting .167 in 20 plate appearances.
Phil Gosselin and Mitch Walding, neither of whom started the season in the big leagues, are both hitting under .200 this year. Walding, a career .056 hitter with 13 strikeouts in 17 at-bats, strikes outs almost ceremoniously and has no purpose on the 40-man roster.
Backup catcher Andrew Knapp has gotten a couple of starts, but his season is going just about how you’d expect with just four hits in 11 games.
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The fact that Philadelphia didn’t upgrade any of their bench positions despite touting their desire to move on from developing players in the big leagues and focus on winning is embarrassing.
Granted, injuries have placed a major strain on the Phillies depth and they’ve had to dip into their minor league system with guys who clearly don’t belong, but there’s no way Klentak should have felt comfortable with the depth entering 2019.
This isn’t to say that the organization didn’t try hard to upgrade the bench, but when you turn up with nothing it raises a major red flag.
Klentak has publically stated that the team is moving on from developing and focusing on winning, and he’s already shown his willingness to make moves by demoting Nick Pivetta.
There’s no reason Walding should be on the 40-man roster, and designating him for assignment in favor of Sean Rodriguez, a veteran who is tearing it up in Lehigh Valley, shouldn’t be a painful move.
Altherr looks overmatched, and once Herrera comes back from his hamstring injury the Phillies will have to make a decision on which outfielder to send down. If Altherr continues this dreadful stretch at the plate, he’ll follow Pivetta’s tracks back to Lehigh Valley.
Yes the Phillies are only 23 games into the season and they’ve been in first place for most of the year, but moves have to be made sooner rather than later with each game as important as the next this season.