Cedric Hunter, the feel-good story of the spring, has been sent down to Triple-A Lehigh Valley and, in his place, outfielder David Lough has been called up. And the Phillies are wasting no time, putting Lough in tonight's lineup against Noah Syndergaard, batting sixth.
Imagine the pure terror poor "Thor" is feeling right now.
Lough will try to help a Phillies outfield that is not conducive to winning actual baseball games here in 2016. Phillies left fielders have combined to put up an OPS of .248 so far this season, and Hunter was a big reason why. In 36 plate appearances with the Phils, Hunter put up a slash line of .088/.139/.176, with just three hits, although one of them was his first career Major League home run.
That was a fun little moment, but it would not last. After tearing it up this spring, Hunter could not duplicate his success once the regular season started. And so our lonely eyes turn to Lough, who hit .280/.308/.320 with a .628 OPS in 26 PAs in Lehigh, which is pretty much line with his career .672 OPS in 741 MLB plate appearances.
In other words, David Lough is not the answer. Of course, there is no answer, not until top prospects Nick Williams or Roman Quinn are ready for the Show. And they're not ready yet.
The curious part of the Phils' outfield situation is the lack of playing time seen by the team's Rule 5 pick, Tyler Goeddel. So far this season Goeddel has appeared in eight games but amassed just 13 plate appearances. He has only one hit in those 13 PAs and has struck out seven times with no walks, so it hasn't been a rousing success so far.
But seriously, this season is all about evaluation. It's not about wins and losses, otherwise the team would have put another capable outfielder on the roster. So why are we seeing so much of Hunter and Lough, two veterans who will not play a major role in the next good Phillies team? And why isn't Goeddel seeing way more playing time, even if he does look over-matched at times?
The Phillies let Odubel Herrera find his way last year as a Rule 5 pick, and it paid off. Why isn't Goeddel being afforded the same opportunity? He needs to play more. We don't know if he's a building block yet, but we're sure not going to find out by letting him rot on the bench.
As for the outfield as a whole, the team is what it is. They're just temps, holding down jobs until players like Williams, Quinn and hopefully Aaron Altherr are ready to play in the big leagues everyday. But there is no help coming immediately, so get used to seeing more of what you've seen.
Just have it include more Tyler Goeddel, and less Peter Bourjos and David Lough/Cedric Hunter, please. That will at least make the outfield situation more interesting, even if it doesn't make it better.