Musings on Frenchy and Roster Construction

Earlier this week news came out that there is mutual interest between the Phillies and Jeff Francoeur on a return for the 2016 season.  There is nothing definite here, it is more that the Phillies like Frenchy and Frenchy likes the Phillies.  But this got me thinking about the makeup of the team next year.  It appears based on Andy MacPhail’s comments this week, the team won’t be looking to spend big this offseason with the goal of pushing in during the 2016 season, so we can safely assume that the top priority is development.  So with that in mind let’s write in the locks on the team for next year and go from there.

Hitters:

C: Ruiz/Rupp
2B: Hernandez
SS: Galvis
3B: Franco
OF: Herrera, Altherr
Bench: Asche, Blanco

Pitching:

SP: Nola, Morgan, Eickhoff
RP: Giles, Garcia, Araujo

That leaves us with 1 first base spot, 1 starting outfield spot, 2 bench spots, 2 starters, and 4 relievers.  Now we only put in the locks so that leaves us some guys currently on the roster who will be in camp next year competing for a spot in Darnell Sweeney, Ryan Howard, Darin Ruf, David Buchanan, Alec Asher, Justin De Fratus, Matt Harrison, Dalier Hinojosa, Mario Hollands, Colton Murray, and Nefi Ogando.

From this list it is fair to say that first base is probably still Howard and that one of the starting pitching spots goes to the winner of Buchanan/Asher/Harrison, also that there is a decent chance that Sweeney is on the team and probably two more relief spots are filled internally.  Lets also just for now pencil in one of Asche/Sweeney into the outfield.

So now our available spots are 2 bench players, 1 starter, and 2 relievers.  That is really only one starting spot that is really up for competition.  This of course is not taking into account what will likely be a mass migration of prospects in the middle of the season.  Because of this it is likely that both bench spots will be low on at bats (unless one is a dedicated platoon partner for Howard) so they represent a low chance of providing an increase in value for either a prospect or a veteran.

This brings us back to the man of hour.  Frenchy has pretty much zero on the field upside at this point, his near replacement season this year is probably his new peak.  Frenchy does do a lot of things off the field that the Phillies do value highly, mainly he is a mentor and leader on a club we just penciled in somewhere between 13-18 pre-arb players on.  Some will argue that the Phillies need a better player in that roster position, but the reality is that this isn’t a role that will ever provide much impact.  Frenchy got over 300 PAs this year because he was a starter for part of the year, next year that number is probably more in the 150-200 PA range.  In the non-Trout/Harper division of baseball an All-star is only going to give you 1.5-2 wins of value there, and when we are talking average regulars you are looking at .5 to .75 wins of value, and we are talking about the next level down of player.  What we are looking at is a roster spot that at most has a value variance of 1 to -1 wins, that has no impact on this team.  So while there is likely a higher upside player available than Frenchy for this spot, the margin is very slim.  What most are talking about is a player who would be replacing Aaron Altherr, Cody Asche, or Darnell Sweeney on this roster.  On the coaching side, if Frenchy helps the rookies adjust to the majors he will be well worth his contract and roster spot.

Outside of Frenchy the only real reward points where the Phillies could look for a high variability to player to either play themselves into the Phillies’ future or into a trade piece is the rotation and bullpen.  Relievers are always highly volatile so let’s not focus on that.  That rotation spot is an opportunity, Meghan Montemurro (The News Journal) mentioned on John Stolnis‘ (The Good Phight) podcast that she would like to see the Phillies go after Jeff Samardzija on a one year contract.  You can argue the exact player, but the idea remains the same.  The Phillies want innings and stability more than anything.  They have pitching on the way (namely Thompson and Eflin), but with so many rookies they will need someone who can take the ball every 5th day and go get them some innings.  It is unlikely that the Phillies will go with a long term premium arm in that spot, but if you are looking for a spot for a flippable contract, that is the spot, not the 5th outfielder.

 

Author: Matt Winkelman

Matt Winkelman

Matt is originally from Mt. Holly, NJ, but after a 4 year side track to Cleveland for college he now resides in Madison, WI. His work has appeared on Phuture Phillies, The Good Phight, and TheDynastyGuru.

7 comments

  1. Steve (Tampa)

    Love the notion of looking for a Samardzija-type this off-season on a 1-2 yr deal. What we don’t really know at this point is which players are amenable to a shorter term deal as a means of rebuilding value after an otherwise disappointing season. Even aside from that relatively small lot of players are the ones who simply don’t market well for whatever reason. Just as every year there are a handful of players who score larger contracts than many would have expected, there are an equal number who score smaller contracts. The Phillies, given their resources and current state of the roster, should resist signing anyone until the back-end of the free agency period. That’s where they’ll find the 1-2 yr deal opportunities.

    On the roster locks, I’d have to think that Howard and Ruf are locks. Ruf in particular is pre-arb and absolutely demolished lefties this year. I’m also rooting for Frenchy’s return. Not because I’m a big Francouer fan necessarily, but I appreciate the role he serves on the team even if it doesn’t necessarily reflect in a box score.

    Good read Matt

    • Romus

      Steve…agree on Frenchy.
      As a 5th OFer there is no risk or downside, plus he could be moved in July, but more likely an August waiver move, next season if he proves to fill the bench role productively April thru July.
      Perhaps Dugan or Perkins will be the next LVH players to be brought up later next season for an audition and if Frenchy is moved it clears the way, if not, then September call-ups most likely for one of them.

  2. Romus

    Jeff Samardzija on a one-year cobntract may be doable….but probably at $11/12M annum. It would be in the Phillies interest to try to get him at two-years ($22/23M)……if their intentions is to trade him at the deadline in July to a contender for prospects, while picking up a percentage portion of his remaining contract, as they have already done this year. Giving a contender another inexpensive power pitcher like him is more attractive at the deadline.
    But Smard. probably needs to redeem himself, after this subpar season, and a one-year deal is all the likelihood he will sign for.
    IMO, Doug Fister would be another pitcher I would target for one-year at $12/13M, with the intention of flipping at the deadline.
    Both Fister and Smardzija need to rebound and if healthy…and they have proved to be healthy in the past…and fairly young in their early 30s….they could bring back valued prospects.

  3. Kurdt Kobeyn

    If Shark is too expensive, i like the Phils to sign Mat Latos for a bounce back 1-yr contract. Latos is young with good track record. I can see deFratus coming back as a make or break season and join Giles, Garcia, Ogando and newcomer Ramos as RHP and Araujo and another vet LHP.

    • Romus

      KuKo…..don’t forget Mario Hollands could be available and the Cuban guy that pitched rather well in the second half.

  4. hoff610

    i just don’t know if i want Mat Latos around my young pitchers, but someone like Shark would definitely make sense, and id say a veteran lefty reliever that you could deal at the deadline- Loewen just walks too many to be a real option it seems.
    would love if they could find a veteran hitter to file a role with a better approach at the plate than Howard and Frenchy, for the young hitters to learn from and emulate.

    • Romus

      You may not have to worry about Mat Latos. He and his dual-arm ink, inked a contract with the Angels recently.
      If he does well, they may try to sign him for a contract in 2016 or beyond.