Phillies DFA Gomez, Saunders as placeholder purge begins
Jeanmar Gomez was DFA'd today by the Phillies
A quick scan of the current 2017 standings reveals that the Philadelphia Phillies are the worst team in Major League Baseball.
The 22-46 record that the club has produced is no fluke. The Phillies are 29th in runs scored, 28th in OPS, 24th in steals. The lineup produces little consistent power or speed, and the overall approach of the hitters remains awful.
For roughly six weeks now, I have been calling for major changes to the Phillies lineup. It has been clear for at least that long that the current crop of placeholder players is simply not good enough to compete in MLB on a consistent basis.
It appears that the Phillies may now be coming to that same realization themselves. This afternoon, the Phillies announced that both reliever Jeanmar Gomez and right fielder Michael Saunders have been DFA (designated for assignment.)
In their place, reliever Hoby Milner and outfielder Cameron Perkins have been promoted from the club’s AAA Lehigh Valley IronPigs roster.
PENTHOUSE TO OUTHOUSE FOR GOMEZ
The 29-year old Gomez served as the Phillies closer for much of the 2016 season. Though he recorded 37 Saves, the fact is that he was walking a tightrope for much of the year in that role.
Over the second half of that 2016 campaign, Gomez fell apart. After the MLB All-Star break, Gomez had an 8.33 ERA. He allowed 42 hits over his final 27 innings, and had a .356 Batting Average Against.
Things didn’t improve this season. At the time of his release, Gomez has a 7.25 ERA and a 1.701 WHIP mark. He has allowed 31 hits over 22.1 innings. Gomez has also surrendered seven home runs, one more than he allowed all of last season.
SAUNDERS WAS BROWN ALL OVER AGAIN
Saunders was a questionable signing from the beginning. He had played in eight MLB seasons and had produced a career .235/.309/.402 slash line. Saunders produced just 75 homers, 55 stolen bases, and 298 runs scored over 2,513 big league plate appearances.
The argument that he was an AL All-Star last year was a specious one at best. The Phillies saw that act before in the form of Domonic Brown in the 2013 season.
Saunders made that all-star appearance, the only one of his nine-year big league career, on the strength of an uncharacteristically strong stretch in the first half.
After the 2016 MLB All-Star break, Saunders went .178/.282/.357 with eight home runs and just 15 RBI over 214 plate appearances.
This year, Saunders was hitting for a .205/.257/.360 slash line with six homers and 20 RBI over 214 plate appearances. The best predictor of future performance is past performance, especially when that past performance is substantial. Saunders 2017 performance was easily predictable.
SMALL CHANGES JUST A WARNING SHOT
So the Phillies have decided to begin to transition away from the placeholder crew. In some ways, they took the easy way out. They cut two players who have been clearly substandard for a full year. They replaced them with two of the lowest possible profile prospects.
It’s not that Perkins and Milner have not earned their shot. Perkins was hitting .298/.388/.476 for the IronPigs. Milner had allowed 24 hits in 27.2 innings with a 27/4 K:BB ratio out of the Lehigh Valley bullpen.
But neither is a top prospect, and both will simply be role players. While the Phillies have fired an unmistakable shot across the bow of the locker room, the real change still desperately needed has only just begun.
Not until the Phillies promote and regularly play truly exciting prospects such as Nick Williams and Rhys Hoskins will we begin to see through the placeholder fog to a brighter future at Citizens Bank Park.