The Philadelphia Phillies have not been known for their ability to develop talent. Their struggles at producing home-grown stars are well documented. This season, they have decided against giving their younger players playing time because they cannot afford growing pains in the midst of a tight division race.
That strategy would be sound if the veterans who are playing over the younger players were actually effective. That is simply not the case with this Phillies team. Manager Joe Girardi has given veterans incredibly long leashes and has yanked young players at the first signs of struggle. Not only is it a detriment to development, but it is now becoming a detriment to the team’s win-loss record.
Brad Miller vs. Alec Bohm
With Rhys Hoskins out, one could reasonably assume that one of these two would get more time playing first base. However, it has been almost exclusively Miller, as the 31-year-old has started every game at first except one in Hoskins’ absence. In that span, Miller is hitting .161 with a .664 OPS.
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Alec Bohm’s struggles in the field are common knowledge at this point, so his secession of playing time to Ronald Torreyes at third base is passable with the absence of Hoskins. However, there is no reason he should not be starting at first over Miller, as neither of the two are good defensively and Bohm is better offensively even with his lack of power this season.
Bring on the Platoon
If Joe Girardi wants to still get Miller in the lineup, the obvious choice would be in a platoon with Andrew McCutchen. McCutchen, a right hander, is hitting .176 with a .623 OPS against same-handed pitching. Conversely, McCutchen is hitting .315 with a 1.095 OPS against left handed pitching. Miller owns an average of .233 and an OPS of .774 against righties and struggles against lefties, hitting .172 with a .568 OPS.
Travis Jankowski and Odubel Herrera vs. Mickey Moniak
Center field has been a problem for the Phillies all season, but it has hit another low in August. Jankowski and Herrera are hitting a combined .164 with a .470 OPS since the start of the month. Inexplicably, the pair have found themselves hitting leadoff a good amount over that span, notching a .136 average and .356 OPS. Jankowski has never been an everyday player and Herrera has a line of .239/.298/.378 in over 450 plate appearances since the start of 2019.
It is true that Moniak hasn’t necessarily busted the door down to the majors. However, he has hit well enough in Triple A (.258/.310/.483) that he should be given a chance to prove he is a better option than Jankowski or Herrera. But, despite being called up to the Majors numerous times this season, Moniak has appeared in just 15 games and has only 32 major league plate appearances in 2021. He has just four MLB plate appearances since the end of April. That simply is not big enough of a sample size to say definitively he can’t be better than Jankowski or Herrera. It certainly isn’t big enough of a sample size to tell what Moniak is as a major leaguer.
Disconnect between manager and the front office
Alec Bohm was reportedly off-limits in most trade discussions at the deadline, but he isn’t good enough to start over Miller or Ronald Torreyes. Moniak is good enough to be called up whenever the team needs an outfielder, but not good enough to do anything but sit on the bench.
This illustrates a disconnect between the man making the lineups, namely Joe Girardi, and the men making the roster decisions, namely General Manager Alex Fuld and President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski. The front office believes Bohm is in the future plans enough to not trade him but Girardi has all but benched him. Fuld and Dombrowski keep calling up Moniak but Girardi hasn’t seen a reason to play him, even with the ineffective duo of Jankwoski and Herrera.
Girardi has chosen to ride his veterans over the young players as he attempts to lead the Phillies to a division crown. That choice is actively sabotaging his chances. Miller over Bohm is a clear downgrade offensively. Moniak over Jankowski/Herrera isn’t as clear, but Moniak at least has the upside of the unknown to his advantage.