Most Disappointing Philadelphia Phillies Players in Spring Training So Far
Saying that the Philadelphia Phillies have had a disappointing spring training in 2014 would be an understatement. It's been abysmal. And there are no signs of the Florida sunshine emerging through the heavy clouds hanging over the organization.
Not only are the Phillies the worst team in the Grapefruit League at 6-14-2, they also hold the distinction of being the worst team in baseball this spring. Tack onto that a report from Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports that scouts referred to the Phillies as "awful" and "painful to watch," and the Phillies have nothing going their way right now.
The pitching staff has been serviceable at best, but its ace, Cole Hamels, has been absent for the entirety of the spring. The offense, on the other hand, has been nonexistent. Of the team's eight likely everyday starters, only four are batting at least .250 on the spring, and just two—outfielders Ben Revere and Marlon Byrd—are batting over .300. Normally, a .300 average would be commended, but keep in mind that we're talking about 43 and 38 at-bats for these guys, respectively. It's a small sample size.
An honorable mention would be that the collective Phillies offense has been a colossal disappointment. Even the team as a whole could be categorized as the biggest letdown of the spring. Both arguments are merited. However, certain players have been worse—much worse—than others. Here's a list of the most disappointing Phillies players this spring.
SS Jimmy Rollins
There's no sugarcoating this one.
As the subject of many a trade rumor this spring, Jimmy Rollins' presence in the baseball news circuit came to a climax earlier this week. After being drilled with questions about whether he'd heart the rumors, Rollins reiterated, via Todd Zolecki of MLB.com, that he cannot be traded without his consent due to his 10-and-5 rights. Even general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. called the trade rumors silly, per Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com.
The issues don't stop here, as Rollins hasn't been earning his keep on the field, either. This spring, J-Roll is batting just .138 with a .506 OPS and four RBI, and his only extra-base hit is a lone home run. He's got as many walks as strikeouts at five apiece.
Per Salisbury, Rollins stated that he might consider a trade if the Phillies were in last place and completely out of it. If that's the case, will he stay true to his word?
If he continues to play like this when the season starts, he may not be tradable for other reasons.
3B Cody Asche
Cody Asche was not handed the third base job this spring by any means. But while top prospect Maikel Franco continues to fight for consideration, Asche still has to do less than Franco has to do in order to win the battle.
Although Asche is primed to be the Opening Day starter at the hot corner for the Phillies, it comes with a bit of concern. On the spring, he is hitting just .139 with a .640 OPS. He does have two homers and five RBI to his credit, but he's also second on the team in strikeouts to Ryan Howard, and his five total hits are not encouraging.
Additionally, Asche's fielding percentage on the spring stands at just .947. Yes, that means only one error in a small amount of time, but the Phillies need his defense to hold up even if his offense is streaky.
The good news for Asche is that Franco hasn't been much better this spring. But he has been better. And if these trends continue in their current directions, Franco could take Asche's job by midseason.
LF Domonic Brown
Domonic Brown had a breakout 2013 season. He was an All-Star who belted 27 home runs, leading the Phillies in the statistic. He also contributed 83 RBI and an .818 OPS.
This spring, though, Brown has been an entirely different story. He's batting .171 with four RBI and a .554 OPS that's actually comprised of a lower SLG at .229 than his OBP of .326. Brown's 12 strikeouts trail behind Asche's 14 and Howard's 16, but it's still disconcerting.
Most worrisome of all? Brown's only extra-base hit amongst his six total hits is a triple. Things have not begun to look up for him yet, and this kind of play brings to mind the thought that his 2013 season might have been a fluke.
The Phillies can't afford for that to be the case, so if anything needs to be corrected mechanically, now's the time to take care of it.
SP A.J. Burnett
A.J. Burnett was brought in late this spring to be a right-handed guarantee in a rotation otherwise lacking one. Jonathan Pettibone was still dealing with a lingering shoulder injury, Ethan Martin was inconsistent and later hurt and Miguel Gonzalez was and is an enigma.
Based upon his spring, though, Burnett is something of an enigma with the Phillies too. While Kyle Kendrick has been underwhelming as well from the right side, his mixed results are somewhat to be expected. The same goes for Roberto Hernandez.
Burnett's spring is comprised of a 1-2 record with a 10.00 ERA, 1.56 WHIP and .316 batting average against. He's given up 10 earned runs on 12 hits while only striking out four. None of these stats lean in his favor.
With the amount of money Burnett is due to be paid over the next year—and possibly two—the Phillies need to make sure that their luxury tax-sniffing investment was worth it. Yes, Burnett's still got a little bit of time to turn this around. But time is of the essence, and if the season started today, he would likely be a concern for the Phillies.
RP Jake Diekman
Jake Diekman broke out in a massive way in the second half of last season. The once-shaky reliever seemed to find his niche as a dependable lefty in the Phillies bullpen, which was especially significant considering that Antonio Bastardo was out on a 50-game suspension as a part of the Biogenesis scandal.
Diekman came into spring training as close to a lock as there is without actually being one. Little has changed on that front. What has changed is the Phillies' potential trust in his stuff.
Yes, spring training can be tough on everybody. But it's been especially difficult for Diekman in 2014, who's posted an 0-1 record, 7.50 ERA, 1.50 WHIP and .320 batting average against. His six strikeouts in six innings are respectable, but his five earned runs on eight hits raise some negative eyebrows.
Diekman has a rather long leash since the Phillies have faith in him. But they will also shorten that leash if the regular season doesn't show more promising results. Like Burnett, Diekman has time, but only so much of it. And unlike Burnett, Diekman actually has minor league options left.
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