Ron Costello

Monday, July 30, 2018

Cesar Hernández has been a solid second-baseman.
The Zen Master, Gabe Kapler.
Going into Tuesday's trade deadline, are the Phillies willing to part with Cesar Hernández at second-base and move Scott Kingery there?

The numbers on the chart at right show considerable offensive differences between Mr. Hernández, 28, a six-year professional who's been a solid player for the Phillies, and Mr. Kingery, 24, a rookie who's been shuffled around like a non-labor-union baggage handler.

So here's the question. Do the Phillies hold on to Hernández because he gives them more offense for the playoff run, or do they deal him for a shut-down bullpen arm or a number 4-5 rotation pitcher and continue to develop Mr, Kingery? You only get value when you trade value.

To keep them both while continuing to develop Kingery could be difficult.

That's where the Zen Master comes in.

The Zen Master, Phillies manager Gabe Kapler — they call him Kap on television — is a master at moving players around, keeping them relatively happy, and winning. Now with newbie Asdrúbal Cabrera from the Mets, the Zen Master has an even more crowded infield to wiggle, especially when J.P. Crawford comes off the DL. It seems like when the Zen Master wiggers them — sits them or moves them to an alien position — they preform better.

Now he has to watch out for Mr. Cabrera, who back in June bellyached when he was moved from shortstop to second and he asked the Mets to trade him. Bellyaching doesn't work with the Zen Master. Here's how that might look shortly after the bellyaching.

First, the Zen Master sings Cabrera's praises. "We are so fortunate to have Asdrúbal, who can hit in the middle of our lineup and play stellar defense. In fact, he helps make our infield as tight as a well-weaved headwrap. He'll make us all play better." Following that Mr. Cabrera would sit for about a week.

That's the Zen Master at work. And the reason the youngest team in baseball has a slim lead over Atlanta, the second youngest team in baseball, in the weakest division in baseball.

So by 4 p.m. Tuesday, we'll see if the Phillies use Mr. Hernández as a trade chip, or hang on to him and go with an infield more crowded than a Broad Street platform on Eagles game day.

Either way, the Zen Master will spin his yarn.

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