The infield is set. The race for the final bullpen spot is likely down to either Phillippe Aumont or Michael Stutes. But what about the Phillies outfield?
Should the Phils go with Ender Inciarte or look to add someone else to be the fifth outfielder?
Ben Revere and Domonic Brown are locked into everyday spots in center and right. Left field, at least in the short term, will be manned by some combination of John Mayberry and Laynce Nix. While Delmon Young’s bat appears to be fine – he homered off R.A. Dickey in a minor league game on Friday – his ankle is still not. Young is strictly limited to a DH role for now, and still won’t be back until May according to Phillies.com’s Todd Zolecki.
As for that fifth outfield spot, the winner is anyone’s guess.
There is Ender Inciarte, the toolsy but raw Rule 5 selection who the Phillies must keep on their major league roster all year or risk losing back to the Diamondbacks. The Phillies have indicated that they like Inciarte, but unlike in recent years, they may not have the luxury (or the talent) to stash a player at the end of the bench who is not yet ready to effectively contribute at the major league level.
Zolecki’s story corroborates a Sunday evening report from Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly that the Phillies could be shopping for outfield help. Salibury speculates that Casper Wells and Ryan Sweeney could soon be available. Wells and Sweeney, both 28, are considered solid defenders but also both posted sub-.700 OPS seasons last year. If either is an upgrade over Inciarte, it probably isn’t by much.
Even Freddy Galvis got some time in the outfield on Saturday afternoon.
Brown’s impressive spring has eased concerns for many in Philadelphia that thought the Phillies outfield could be a disaster in 2013. But between playing Galvis in the outfield and the reported whispers in Clearwater, it is apparent that the Phillies are not happy with what they have in place out there.
Charlie Manuel has implied that whoever is hot will fill the void in left field until Young’s ankle is game-ready. Here is Zolecki’s interpretation of that Manuel had to say:
That means John Mayberry Jr. or Laynce Nix, although the Phillies are searching for outfield help with less than a week to play before Opening Day.
Not exactly a ringing endorsement… and for good reason. At this point, Mayberry is what he is – a valuable bench player who can hit lefties and play all three outfield positions. When he is only getting 250 at bats, he can really help you (see 2011). When it is more like 450, he turns into a liability (see 2012).
Nix, however, is a little more of an enigma. Before he injured his calf in May, Nix’s Phillies career was off to a great start. Not only was he hitting .326/.392/.587 on May 9, but Nix was displaying the type of patient plate approach that this team has lacked since the World Series years. Once Nix returned, he was a different player and his OPS fell back into mid-.700 range typical of prior seasons.
None of these left field solutions are ideal, which is why the Phillies are contemplating moves in the first place. So what do you guys think – do the Phillies need to make a move in the next week to add an outfielder or did they miss their chance?