Let's Trade Michael and Delmon Young Because I Don't Like Them Very Much

Let's Trade Michael and Delmon Young Because I Don't Like Them Very Much

Despite the rebuild-at-all-costs strategy supported, implicitly or explicitly, by many Phillies fans as the 2013 trade deadline approaches, I have a great deal of ambivalence about the idea of trading Chase Utley or Cliff Lee. If you can get back an absolutely dynamite set of prospects for either, I guess you have to, but as many have reminded, we traded Cliff for young'ns once before and it didn't work out so well, and if it's only a similar package of B-minus/C-plus-level talent that either will return, I don't see the point in jettisoning them just for the sake of doing so. I'd rather enjoy their remaining days as Phillies, even on a losing team, then ship them out just because "there's no point in keeping them around." I like both players immensely, and without there being much reward to losing them, that's point enough for me. (Besides, as Jonah Keri recently pointed out, the team's impending new TV deal means they have motivation to try to stay good and likeable short-term, which trading those guys would make much more difficult.)

I feel a similar, though less extreme level of conflict when it comes to many of the other Fightins rumored to be on the trading block. Jimmy Rollins certainly is getting paid a lot to do not all that much for the team at the moment, but will a diminished shortstop in his mid-30s fetch anything in return worth even the sentimental loss of the longest-tenured Phillie in decades? Same for Carlos Ruiz, currently mired in his worst offensive stretch of his Philly career (saying something, considering his first few seasons) and unlikely to be valued more by any other team than by the Phils, where he still has some residual fan-favorite status and arguably deserves the chance to hit his way out of this megaslump before entering free agency. And Jonathan Paplebon...well, he's also paid way too much, but having a closer that only sucks sporadically (and occasionally says amusingly dumb, obnoxious things) is a nice luxury. I'd rather have him than not have him, if there's not all that much to be gained by not having him.

But there's two players on this team about whom I feel no such ambivalence: Michael and Delmon Young. I would gladly ship both the Young Brothers out tomorrow for a 28-year-old Double A reliever and a Bag of Peanuts to be Named Later, solely to avoid my having to watch them play another game in the Red and White.

To be fair, both Michael and Delmon Young have come basically as advertised. Michael Young is a Professional Hitter on the wrong side of 35 who can't defend a lick and would probably come in third in a 100-yard dash against Pat Burrell and one of the "Thriller" zombies. Delmon Young is a prolific (though not old or respected enough to be Professional) hitter who doesn't walk, certainly doesn't run and gives up at least one hit in the field for every two he gets at the plate. These are not surprising things; we knew pretty much all of them when the two were acquired in the off-season.

What we didn't know--what I didn't quite know, anyway--was how unwatchable the two would be as everyday players. The reflexive wincing that would soon come with every grounder they hit, knowing there's not a place deep enough on God's green infield for them to have a chance of legging it out. With every time a sharp grounder was hit in Michael's direction, or a sinking liner in Delmon's, knowing that they were too slow and poorly coordinated to dive for them, but that they'd probably try anyway. With every time they came up with men on and one out, and you just hoped they'd strike or fly out rather than hitting into a double play. Lotta wincing, all told.

It might sound unfair to harp on both players' lack of athleticism and poor defensive instincts when speed and defense was never considered a strength of either, and both players might not be so terrible as DHs in the American League, where they probably belong. But it's not like either is exactly providing Miguel Cabrera production at the plate to make up for it--their slash lines are almost identically mediocre, Michael hitting .277/.342/.402 and Delmon hitting .266/.312/.402. Michael's decent OBP--his .342 is somehow a team-high--means he's at least a net positive on offense, but Baseball-Reference has his defense being such a negative that he's still a sub-replacement player on the whole. (Delmon only breaks even on offense, and defense...yeah.)

Bottom line: Not only are these players miserable to watch, they're arguably actively hurting this team's chances to win games, thus making their dismissal an obvious priority for this trade deadline. Could we get much for either? Probably not. Could we find a team at least willing to take one of them off our hands? It's not impossible. Some American League team looking for offensive depth could probably make use of one or both Youngs, particularly Michael, whose sort of Veteran Presence is always desired for a Veteran Playoff Push. (Supposedly M. Young gives great Clubhouse, though apparently such camaraderie building has little effect on a sub-.500 team such as the Phils.) Delmon might be a little tougher sell, but hey, he was ALCS MVP just last year. Maybe we can convince some contending team that once the calendar turns October, Delmon's clutchiness will invariably shine through. Worth a shot, anyway.

Chase and Cliff will likely pass through the trade deadline still wearing Phillies uniforms. I wouldn't be surprised if Jimmy, Chooch and Paps did so as well. And as disappointing as it may be to some or all if we pass up an obvious chance to jump-start the rebuilding process in the name of playing out the crappiest Phillies season in over a decade and trying again next year, if we could somehow get to Thursday without anyone named Young on our roster, I'd have to consider it at least a partial success. I'll never be so happy to see Michael Martinez and Steve Sudsorf written into our everyday lineup.

Tonight's lineup: Odubel Herrera leads off for first time in 84 games

Tonight's lineup: Odubel Herrera leads off for first time in 84 games

A day after going 0 for 5 with five strikeouts, Odubel Herrera is leading off for the Phillies in their series opener Friday night against the Reds (see game notes).

It's the first time Herrera is leading off since last Aug. 19, a span of 84 games.

Cesar Hernandez gets the night off, with Andres Blanco batting second and playing second.

Maikel Franco is back in the six-hole after going 1 for 5 with two strikeouts in the cleanup spot Thursday. Tommy Joseph bats fourth and Michael Saunders fifth.

Cameron Rupp, who walked three times in Thursday's win over the Rockies, catches Aaron Nola and bats seventh.

1. Odubel Herrera, CF
2. Andres Blanco, 2B
3. Aaron Altherr, LF
4. Tommy Joseph, 1B
5. Michael Saunders, RF
6. Maikel Franco, 3B
7. Cameron Rupp, C
8. Freddy Galvis, SS
9. Aaron Nola, P

Phillies-Reds 5 things: Aaron Nola looks to build on extremely impressive return from DL

Phillies-Reds 5 things: Aaron Nola looks to build on extremely impressive return from DL

Phillies (16-29) vs. Reds (22-24)
7:05 p.m. on CSN; streaming live on CSNPhilly.com and the NBC Sports App

Following their first win in a week, the Phillies open a new series this weekend against a beatable team in the Cincinnati Reds, who are 3-9 in their last 12 games and 1-7 in their last eight road games.

Let's have ourselves a look-see:

1. Nola's turn
Aaron Nola is on the mound tonight for his second start since a month-long DL stint. He was extremely impressive his last time out, allowing one run on four hits over seven innings in Pittsburgh.

Nola's fastball reached as high as 95.5 mph against the Pirates, which is notable because he threw only two pitches faster than 94 mph all of last season. His velocity was up before the lower back strain and it's a great sign that the elbow injury which ended his 2016 season is truly in the past.

In Pittsburgh, Nola (2-1, 3.52) threw 19 of 27 first-pitch strikes. He got 11 outs on the first three pitches of at-bats. 

He's faced the Reds twice in his career and dominated them both times, allowing two earned runs in 14 innings with one walk and 17 strikeouts.

Current Reds have gone 7 fo 39 (.179) against him with just two extra-base hits. Joey Votto is 0 for 5.

2. What to do with Odubel
Pete Mackanin has an interesting decision to make this weekend with slumping Odubel Herrera, who on Thursday became the first player in the majors this season to go 0 for 5 with five strikeouts in a game.

Herrera is down to .226 on the season with a .275 on-base percentage. In May, he's hit .194 with one walk and 28 strikeouts.

Mackanin could bench Herrera like he did with Maikel Franco for two games earlier this week. It would send a message to the player that poor at-bats and wild swings have consequences. And, quite frankly, sitting Herrera for a day or two might give the Phillies a better chance to win.

The issue, of course, is that there's a thin line between giving a player a chance to clear his head and ridding him of opportunities to get back on track.

Plus, the Phillies don't have great options in replacing Herrera in the lineup. They have a four-man bench at the moment and the only options would be putting Ty Kelly or Brock Stassi in left field and moving Aaron Altherr to center.

(Update: Mackanin is taking the opposite approach with Herrera, leading him off Friday night.)

Herrera just has not been himself this season and it's troubling. At this point last season, Herrera was hitting .327 with a .901 OPS. He's been an undisciplined hitter in 2017 and when you have two of them in the middle of the lineup in Herrera and Franco, it makes things really easy on pitchers at times.

Herrera started the year hot, hitting in his first eight games. Since then, he's hit .203/.239/.324 in 155 plate appearances with six walks and 42 K's.

3. Tommy time
Tommy Joseph has been one of the very best hitters in baseball this month, batting .329/.400/.671 with six doubles, six homers and 15 RBIs in 22 games.

He's 148 games and 499 plate appearances into his major-league career and has hit .257 with 23 doubles, 28 homers, 69 RBIs and an .804 OPS. That's about 10 points higher than the league average OPS from first basemen over that span.

Had Joseph's April slump continued into May, prospect Rhys Hoskins might have already been called up. But Joseph has done enough so far to hold off Hoskins, who appears to have more upside because of his combination of power and plate selection.

Controlling the strike zone is the next step for Joseph. He has a .311 OBP so far with 33 walks and 112 strikeouts as a Phillie.

But over the last two seasons, he's been one of the few Phils who's taken advantage of this ballpark. Joseph's hit .276 with an .844 OPS at Citizens Bank Park compared to .240 with a .769 OPS on the road.

4. Scouting the Reds
The Phillies face 29-year-old Reds right-hander Tim Adleman (2-2, 6.19).

You look at the ERA and think, OK, maybe the Phillies' bats will wake up tonight. But keep in mind that the Rockies' four starting pitchers this week entered the series with a combined 5.27 ERA and the Phillies scored three runs against them in 27 innings.

There's nothing special about the 6-foot-5 Adleman. He throws his fastball and sinker in the 88 to 91 mph range with a mid-80s changeup and mid-70s curveball. His opponents have hit .300 against his fastball and have eight extra-base hits with a .290 batting average against his changeup.

In six starts this season, Adleman's yet to go deeper than six innings. The Phils faced him last season and scored three runs in five innings. Cesar Hernandez went 2 for 2 with a walk and Franco went 1 for 3 with a double.

As for Cincinnati's offense, Votto is obviously the hitter you worry about most. He's hit .299/.422/.591 this season with 12 doubles, 12 homers, 38 RBIs, 35 walks and 24 strikeouts. A typical Votto season.

Shortstop Zack Cozart has been surprisingly hot these first two months, hitting .340 with 20 extra-base hits, 22 walks and 29 strikeouts. It's most surprising to see him walking this much because he never has. He's 15 walks away from matching his career high.

Leftfielder Adam Duvall has killed the Phillies over the last two seasons. He went 5 for 11 with two doubles and a homer in the season-opening series in Cincy and went 8 for 18 with four doubles against them last season.

5. This and that
• Over the last seven games, the Phillies' bullpen has allowed just two earned runs in 22⅔ innings.

• Howie Kendrick started at third base for Lehigh Valley during his rehab assignment Thursday. He was hit by two pitches and removed from the game.  

• Reds closer Raisel Iglesias is one of the most underrated relievers in baseball. He's 8 for 8 in save chances this season with a 0.73 ERA and 1.01 WHIP. He's struck out 28 and allowed just one home run in 24⅔ innings. His ability to go multiple innings is what makes him stand out — he's Andrew Miller-like in that regard. Iglesias has pitched more than one inning in 7 of his 19 appearances.