Ron Costello

Thursday, May 18, 2017

You Can't Fool the Faithful

We'll get to Mr. Giles in a minute, but first some questions.

Like, where are Phillies' top three prospects: J.P. Crawford, Jorge Alfaro, and Nick Williams? It's not like Alfaro, Crawford, and Williams is fresh-faced youngins right out of high school. They're seasoned minor leaguers: Alfaro, 8 years, Crawford five, and Williams six.

When is ready and when is not?

The Phillies have been accused of holding players too long at the Triple-A level, see Ryan Howard and Maikel Franco. Franco filed a grievance, alleging the club acted in bad faith by keeping him at Triple-A purposefully to delay his free agency. Nice, huh? Nice way to treat your top prospect.

Or could it be that the three listed above are mediocre and the club is waffling about bringing them up? You can fool the Faithful some of the time, but not all of the time.

But let's look at the players the Phillies got in the Cole Hamels and Ken Giles trades: First Hamels — Williams, Alfaro, pitchers Jake Thompson, Alex Asher, Matt Harrison, and Jerald Eickhoff. Only Eickhoff is on the 25 man roster. He's 0-4, with a 4.53 ERA.

The Phillies released Harrison and ate his $15.2 million salary. Asher pitched seven games for the Phillies and got hammered, posting an ugly 9.31 ERA. In March he was traded to Baltimore for a player to be named later. Thompson has been up to the Show and was so bad they sent him back down, so now he's getting hammered at Lehigh Valley.

In the cases of Asher and Thompson, these were not your typical rookie struggles, it's been pitch and duck.

The Giles trade — Vince Velasquez, Brett Oberholtzer, Mark Appel, Thomas Eshelman, and Harold Auasuz. Velasquez's first time around — last season — was impressive. But he's struggled lately and has been mentioned in trade rumors. Eshelman, a Houston second round pick, was released and is now in the Blue Jays organization.

Appel has struggled at Lehigh Valley and is nowhere near the first round pick Houston used on him. A disappointment in Houston, he was offered up in the Giles trade and the Phillies grabbed him. Arauz is in the low minors and still a work in progress.

Apple may find himself, eventually, and Velasquez could become at top of the rotation pitcher, and Ron's next book could make the NY Times Best Sellers list. It all remains to be seen.

Need I remind you that Ken Giles is pitching lights out as Houston's closer. It's not a coincidence that Giles has 11 saves and Houston has an eight-game lead in the American League West.

Nobody saw that the Phillies would need a closer for the Mackanin predicted, .500 season? If you've got a lead after the seventh, you got to hold it, and Kenny Giles can hold it. When traded, Giles was just 24, with a great future.

Did Texas steal the Phillies Ace and did Houston steal its closer? You decide. And why don't you see this stuff in the newspapers?

Meanwhile, the Phillies bullpen is a disaster. They could've built their bullpen around the homegrown Giles, instead of renting over-the-hill players mixed with younger, inexperienced arms. But two-three years ago the Phillies were body hungry.

And speaking of the Giles trade, that was GM Matt Klentak's first, which comes around to the final question, just who is making the player decisions for the Phillies? Is it the brainy Klentak, who Andy MacPhail hired and put under his wing? Or the baseball lifer himself, MacPhail, who had success at Minnesota, Chicago, and Baltimore?

All questions worth pondering.

As we head into the middle part of the season, will we see a different team on the field in the second half? Will the brain trust roll the dice and go young after the July 31?

The Faithful want to know, and they're watching. They're always watching.

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