The trade of Jimmy Rollins signaled the continued of a Phillies rebuild which many yet had not accepted the team was doing. Philadelphia has been rebuilding longer than just this offseason, their farm has continued to develop and will continue to as they add younger players and their draft position climbs up the board in the 2016 draft, following a likely dreadful 2015 Phillies win-loss record.
Many have questioned how this team is going to put a functional and respectable team on the field in 2015. That question is irrelevant. The 2015 Phillies are going to be bad, they’re going to be bad in a way I and the younger generation of Philadelphia baseball fans haven’t seen in sometime.
The Phillies have not lost more than 90 games since the 2000 season, where they went 65-97. Their best player was Bobby Abreu (6.2 WAR) and it was the final season Terry Francona managed a Philadelphia baseball club. They’ll reach their third straight losing season in 2015, but that shouldn’t be the focal point although hard to mention that, but rather the growth of players in their minor league system and the progress of the bullpen and young players on the major league roster.
Younger players that are ready for the majors will get at bats and playing time that the majority of fans have been clamoring for. Beyond Chase Utley there is currently no guaranteed roster spot in the Phillies’ infield. Ryan Howard could be released or traded, Cody Asche could find time in left field and Maikel Franco could spend time in AAA before he is called up to the Phillies after his brief stint with the big club last fall.
The shortstop position is fair game for all challengers; Freddy Galvis and Cesar Hernandez are the logical options. Galvis has an above average defensive presence along with some surprising power in his 5’10”, 185 pound frame. The 25-year-old infielder will likely never been even an average on base player (.259 career OBP), but giving him a shot to see if he can find any type of offensive progression is not a bad frame of mind for Phillies’ brass to have.
The worst that can come of Galvis being a total misfire in what will be a dismal season is that he will be a short-term stopgap for hopeful Phillies long-term shortstop J.P. Crawford, who has a solid chance of seeing time in Reading during his 2015 season, if he doesn’t start the season in AA.
Cesar Hernandez doesn’t have the arm to play shortstop in all likelihood, but Galvis does. While the Phillies could always add a veteran they could flip at the trade deadline for any type of lottery ticket prospect, the options are sparse and unforgiving. Veteran infielder Rafael Furcal was a potential option at one point this winter for the Phillies, but that doesn’t look like a plausible scenario anymore.
Over the past 25 seasons, Philadelphia’s shortstops beyond Rollins have been mediocre. There have been nine players to accrue at least 500 plate appearances in the last quarter century, beyond Rollins the performances have been unattractive. Rollins has posted a 49.3 WAR in his career according to Fangraphs, no Phillies shortstop over the last 25 years has posted a WAR of over 5. Galvis ranks sixth in WAR, to speak of the terribleness of Phillies past shortstops, Wilson Valdez ranks fourth.
Galvis could be terrible in 2015, that’s entirely possible, even if he was average that would be encouraging. He’s likely not much more than ever a utility player that can field multiple positions, but with the situation that the Phillies are currently in there is absolutely no harm in figuring it out.