Tuesday, March 1, 2016
Two Young Players With Different Ambitions
Not Letting The Grievance Get In The Way – If third baseman Maikel Franco becomes the player the Phillies expect him to be, the club will be delighted to have him under team control through 2021. But that's not a sure thing. Franco filed a grievance with the Phillies last year claiming they manipulated his service time to delay his eligibility for free agency. Franco opened the season with Triple-A Lehigh Valley and wasn't recalled until May 15, despite hitting .355 with a .923 OPS in 151 plate appearances in Triple-A. Franco accrued 170 days of service time with the Phillies, which is two days short of a full season. Those two days delayed his free agency from 2020 to '21. "Nothing has been decided at this point," Franco's agent, Ryan Royster, said in a telephone interview Monday morning. "Right now, I think what we want to focus on is Maikel getting prepared for the season. He's in camp, he's in uniform, he's with his teammates and that's where he wants to be right now." Royster declined to comment on the timeline for a potential resolution. The Mets recently awarded Ruben Tejada an extra day of service time, which allows him to become a free agent following the season. He had been short one day. "The grievance and things like that, that's not what his focus is on right now," Royster said. "All Maikel wants to do is win, and win in Philly." Phillies general manager Matt Klentak could not be reached for comment Monday. But when news first broke about the grievance during the Winter Meetings, he said he wasn't concerned about it bothering Franco. "I'm not particularly concerned with their being a carryover or on-field effect," Klentak said. MLB Players Association executive director Tony Clark spoke to Phillies players Monday morning at Bright House Field. He declined to address Franco's case, but spoke generally about teams possibly keeping players in the Minor Leagues to gain an extra season of team control. "It's unfortunate to talk about why a particular player outside of his ability would find himself in a place where there appears to be some manipulation related to when he comes up," Clark said. "I don't like having the conversation. I think it's unfortunate. I think we're one of the only leagues where some can argue that the best players aren't on the field all the time. And I don't see how that's beneficial for the entire industry. It's been a topic of discussion. It's not new, unfortunately. I think if it were easy to remedy perhaps it would have been discussed in a different fashion. It is something we'll continue to have dialogue on and see where it goes." Clark said service time rules are "worthy of more discussion" as MLB and the MLBPA begin negotiations on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement.
Setting Solid Goals For The Season – The Phillies know Roman Quinn is fast. The Phillies believe he can hit, too. Quinn hit .306 with six doubles, six triples, four home runs, 15 RBIs, 29 stolen bases and a .791 OPS in 257 plate appearances last season with Double-A Reading. Quinn's ability to hit and run with the best of them (think Dee Gordon and Billy Hamilton-type speed) is why MLBPipeline.com considers him the 99th-best prospect in baseball. But one question lingers: Can he stay healthy? "I just want to play a full season for the first time," Quinn said recently at Bright House Field. The Phillies selected Quinn, 22, in the second round of the 2011 Draft. He played just 67 games with Class A Lakewood in '13 due to a broken wrist. He ruptured his right Achilles tendon before the '14 season, which limited him to 88 games with Class A Advanced Clearwater. He appeared on his way to Eastern League MVP consideration in '15 when a hip flexor injury sidelined him from June through the end of the season. "If you project his numbers in April and May in Reading over a full season, he's the best player in the league," Phillies player development director Joe Jordan said. "We've just to keep him out there." Quinn's first two months with Reading were exciting. Everybody began to think about him roaming the Phillies' outfield and causing problems for pitchers on the basepaths. "We kind of saw the type of player we have been hoping to see and waiting to see," Jordan said. "I think he got a lot of confidence out of that. He understands what he has a chance to do probably more than ever. It's within reach. He's just learned a lot about the type of player he is. He can bunt. He can put pressure on a club, more and different ways than anyone else can. I think he understands that. He knows what he needs to do." Quinn is fun to watch run. He said he got timed running 60 yards a couple years ago in Spring Training. He said he got clocked at about 6.3 seconds, which Jordan confirmed. Gordon's 60 reportedly is 6.2 seconds. Hamilton supposedly has never been timed in the 60, but one would think he would be right there with Gordon. Fellow Phillies prospect Nick Williams has talked about a head-to-head race with Quinn. Williams said he has run the 60 in 6.2 seconds. The point is Quinn has blink-and-miss-him speed, and he would like to show what he can do with that speed in the big leagues. He can take a step in that direction this season. He just needs to stay on the field. "It gets to me because I definitely need the at-bats," Quinn said about his injuries. "Not getting those 500 at-bats in a season hurts. I'm ready to go. I'm 100 percent right now. My body feels great."
Today In Phils History - The Phillies made history when they set sail for Jacksonville from New York in 1889 when they became the first National League team to hold spring training in Florida. Also largely forgotten to baseball history are the birthdays of Nick Strincevich (1915) and Ike Pearson (1917) who both sacrificed several years of their careers to serve in World War II.
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!