Sunday, February 28, 2016

Solidifying The Outfield


Herrera To Remain In Center – Look up and down the projected Phillies lineup for a second. Odubel Herrera proved to be one of the club's only consistent batters last year, hitting .297 with 30 doubles, three triples, eight home runs, 41 RBIs, 16 stolen bases and a .762 OPS in 537 plate appearances as a rookie. His average dipped to .243 with a .627 OPS on May 29, but he hit .326 with an .834 OPS the rest of the way. There has been talk that Herrera could move from center to left to make room for Peter Bourjos or Aaron Altherr, but Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said he is keeping Herrera in center. "I don't want to mess with his head," Mackanin said. In short, the Phillies want to keep Herrera comfortable after his encouraging rookie campaign, even though Bourjos might be better defensively in center. Not that Herrera is a slouch defensively. He surprised almost everybody with how well he adjusted to a new position last season, especially considering he spent most of his Minor League career at second base (411 games) and shortstop (135 games) compared to the outfield (13 games). "He accomplished so much defensively and proved he was a legitimate center fielder," Mackanin said. "He wasn't just a plug-in. I really liked him in center field." Of course, where Herrera plays in a year or two remains to be seen. Two of the Phillies' top prospects are outfielders Nick Williams and Roman Quinn. If the outfield suddenly gets too crowded with talent -- the Phillies would love to have such a problem -- they could return Herrera to second base. "We've talked about that down the road," Mackanin said. "If there's a need to move him over because one of the younger guys comes up and we need to keep his bat in the lineup, we'll worry about that then. The fact that he's played second base early in his career says to me if we have to do that next year or the year after, it's not like he's never played there." But Herrera said he has no plans to break out his infielder's glove this spring. The Phillies have no plans to work him there, either. They just want him to be comfortable and hit. "I think I did a pretty good job," Herrera said about his rookie season. "I think it's all thanks to all the work I put in last season. So I hope I can keep working hard to keep making progress. I try to work hard, just focus on the game and play any position the coach wants me to play. And at the end of the day, what I want to do is win."

Today In Phils History - In 1903, James Potter (no relation to Harry) purchased the Phillies. Ten years later, the team opened spring training in Southern Pines, NC. And just last year, former Phillie Juan Pierre announced his retirement. Today is also the birthday of some bygone Phillies including Moose McCormick (1881), Lil Stoner (1899), and Lefty Bertrand (1909). 

With the Phillies having finished the 2015 season with a spectacularly awful record of 63-99 it will be interesting to see what kind of team new President Andy MacPhail and GM Matt Klentak put on the field. At the same time I am definitely looking forward to the games against Boston with former GM Ruben Amaro on the field. Given the departures, lingering contracts, a history of injuries, bipolar performances, and unproven talent, it should, at the very least, be an interesting season for the Phillies. Who knows, maybe they can avoid 100 losses... hopefully by more than one game!

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