The Philadelphia Phillies are rebuilding. Did you know this?
Yes, it’s another rebuilding year in Philadelphia, truly the third year of the rebuild that began in 2015 when the Phils dealt Cole Hamels away. Sure, the team was lousy in 2013 and ‘14, too, but the old regime was still trying to cobble together a contender with the remnants of Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, the decaying arms of Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee, and the world renowned talents of terrible baseball players Michael and Delmon Young.
I like to think of those seasons as the “paper bag over the heads” years.
So really, this is the start of the Year No. 3 of the Phillies rebuild, and it appears as if we’re actually getting somewhere. It may feel like it’s taking forever, but if you squint very carefully, you can see the forest for the trees.
As with all rebuilding baseball teams, the 25-man roster is always in flux. And with all the top prospects in Lehigh Valley sporting a firecracker up their pants just itching to be called up to the big league club at some point this summer, you’re going to see a lot of names shuffled in and out of the 25-man roster.
So in order to help keep you up to date on who’s winning the Phillies’ little version of “Game of Thrones,” here is the first of what will be a regular power ranking, of sorts, of the Phils’ 25-man roster.
First, the departed. We must say a quick goodbye to Clay Buchholz, who was placed on the 10-day DL for an elbow injury that required surgery under the steady, if terrifying hands, of Dr. James Andrews. He didn’t require Tommy John surgery, but the repair to his elbow will take 4-6 months to heal, meaning he’s going to have to rehabilitate his career on a minor league deal somewhere else next season.
We’ll all remember the Buchholz Era well, I imagine.
25. Jeanmar Gomez
By all accounts he’s a wonderful guy, but the way he’s going, I don’t want him near anything flammable at the moment.
24. Luis Garcia
We’ve reached the point in the 2017 season where I think I’d rather see Luis Garcia in a high-leverage inning than Jeanmar.
23. Joely Rodriguez
Well, you gotta have a lefty in the bullpen and, Joely throws with that hand, so, he’s here and stuff.
22. Edubray Ramos
He’s still getting penalized for the hissy-fit he threw at Asdrubal Cabrera last week. Don’t do that again, Eddie.
21. Andres Blanco
He came into Tuesday with six plate appearances this year. He got a seventh and hit what should have been a huge two-run double against the Mets. Unfortunately, Freddy Galvis did a thing, as you’ll read in a sec. But it’s proof Blanco isn’t dead, at least.
20. Cameron Rupp
Sorry, but I’d rather see Andrew Knapp in there every day right now than Cameron Rupp, who has been bad on offense (.167 AVG & .286 OBP) and has questionable game management skills behind the plate.
19. Andrew Knapp
Rupp’s slow start combined with Knapp’s outstanding mustache has Knapp one spot up in the rankings, even though Knapp is the back-up. The lesson, as always, is that great mustaches matter.
18. Joaquin Benoit
His stock has fallen a bit after Sunday’s blown save against Bryce Harper and the Nationals, but he’s been lights out otherwise this year. We’ll see how that game affects him moving forward. He’s old and wise, so I think he’ll be fine.
17. Brock Stassi
The feel-good story of 2017 hasn’t played that much, but that might change against right-handers if Joseph doesn’t get his act together.
16. Tommy Joseph
Joseph is ahead of Stassi on this list, but just barely. It’s been a tough start to the season for Joseph, who is striking out 25.6-percent of the time so far.
15. Freddy Galvis
Galvis can flash that leather, but he’s taking a lot of heat for failing to run out a pop up in the 8th inning of the series opener against the Mets that ultimately cost the Phillies a go-ahead run. A note to you young players out there. If it’s close and late… RUN IT OUT.
14. Michael Saunders
He’s streaky and I think we’ll see a hot streak from him soon, but he’s making an argument for more playing time for No. 13 on this list, thanks to his .225 batting average, .262 on-base percentage and .325 slugging percentage. Still looking for his first dinger, too.
13. Aaron Altherr
If Saunders doesn’t start playing better soon, you could start seeing a lot more of the athletic young player in right field.
12. Zach Eflin
Called up to replace Buchholz in the rotation, Eflin is pitching, for the first time in his life, without pain in both his knees. One has to think that’s going to help him pitch even better. And after a rough first inning in his 2017 debut against the Mets Tuesday night, he pitched very well, giving up two runs in five innings of work. Not bad for the youngest player on the team.
11. Howie Kendrick
Getting on base nearly 40 percent of the time is a good thing, but now on the 10-game disabled list because of a strained muscle. Being old sucks.
10. Daniel Nava
The dude is still living off those first 2 homers in his first 2 plate appearances as a Phillie, and he’s second among position players in Wins Above Replacement, so there’s that.
9. Pat Neshek
His funky sidearm delivery is fun to watch AND he gets people out! What a concept!
8. Hector Neris
One day he will be this team’s closer. Throwing 95 mph with a killer split-finger pitch all but begs for the job. But it is not this day.
7. Jeremy Hellickson
He’s pitching like a guy who wants to be an awesome trade chip at the trade deadline in July, with a 1.59 ERA in 3 starts thus far. But would it be crazy to sign him to an extension? It’s not crazy, right?
6. Vince Velasquez
It’s not time to turn him into a reliever yet. NOT. YET.
5. Maikel Franco
Still waiting for consistency, but the guy continually hits the ball as hard as anyone in the Majors, so it’s likely more of those hard-hit balls are going to fall in for hits or leave the yard. Try to ignore that pesky little .174 batting average and .235 on-base percentage for now, mmkay?
4. Aaron Nola
Ever since becoming a really bad pitcher in his last eight starts last year (9.82 ERA) and then suffering a major elbow “ouchie” that prematurely ended his season, it’s wonderful to see his return to effectiveness through his first two starts. He has struck out 13 batters in just 11 innings and walked just two, with a 3.27 ERA that would actually be much lower were it not for some bad luck. Nola’s solid start has allowed me to stop taking my heart medication for a while, which is good because those pills are huge. (Ed note: John…take the pills.)
3. Jerad Eickhoff
I hear MLB is considering changing the stat from a “Quality Start” to an “Eickhoff,” which makes sense given Jerad pretty much throws six innings and give up three runs or less every freaking time out there.
2. Odubel Herrera
Bat flips earn extra points.
1. Cesar Hernandez
— Phillies (@Phillies) April 16, 2017
I never, ever, in my life, thought I would rank Cesar Hernandez No. 1 at anything other than “players who annoy the ever-living bejeezus out of me.” Cesar used to do stuff like this, but now he’s hitting homers and being awesome. His slugging percentage of .615 is third-highest among all second basemen, and his three home runs is already halfway to his home run total from last year of six.
I know, gang. I’m scared, too.