On September 11, Roman Quinn was promoted from Lehigh Valley and abruptly slipped into the Phillies lineup as the centerfielder. With the anticipated arrival of a long-awaited speedster, and the likes of Aaron Altherr and Nick Williams still around here somewhere or presumed to be around here some day soon, there had already been back in August some loud talking about what the Phillies could fetch in a trade for Odubel Herrera, their opening day centerfielder and sole 2016 all-star.
It was certainly one of those "Would they? Could they?" narratives based on educated guessing rather than hot tips and loose lips (common terms used in the highly erotic journalism industry). Herrera didn’t help matters by going 4-for-28 to start the month of September. Everybody podcasted about what a Herrera trade would mean and then went back to hoping to not be killed by a Freddy Galvis home run ball.
The night after his promotion, Quinn was back in the lineup, but Herrera was, too; shifting the rookie out of center and into right field. Pete Mackanin explained this.
"We don’t want to send any kind of message to Odubel that he’s not going to be in center," Mackanin said Monday afternoon before the Phillies took on the Pirates. "He’s our centerfielder right now."
Did Mackanin mean anything by "... right now?" Yes he did. Baseball managers are always speaking in coded messages about the inner workings of the franchise for fans to interpret, so that we may know the real truth. But, until everyone else starts knowing that, I guess I’ll stay the only informed person.
The point is, there was a trend in Phillies circles gaining momentum - that after being yet another Rule 5 gem who had charmed the fans to boot, Herrera could be finding himself the odd man out. He does have value and the Phillies could spare him. At least, he’d had value right around the All-Star Game and into the trade deadline, when the concept of dealing him was uttered between assumptions that Jeremy Hellickson, Peter Bourjos, Andres Blanco, or literally anyone was on their way out (they weren’t).
Now, the whole 4-for-28 in September thing was starting to permeate the league - Herrera had hit .324 in May and saw that sink to .227 by the end of June; dear lord that’s even worse than I remember - and suddenly he was just another outfielder on a crap team.
Or... was he...
Solo home run for Odubel Herrera, who has been on fire lately after slowing down in second half. Phils up 3-0 in 3rd— Jim Salisbury (@JSalisburyCSN) September 18, 2016
I think the Phillies should think long and hard before going in a different direction from Odubel Herrera— Michael McGarry (@ACPressMcGarry) September 17, 2016
it's been a long time, shouldn't have left you, without a dope bat flip to step to pic.twitter.com/xfJ0WVMWCL— chris jones¯\_(ツ)_/¯ (@LONG_DRIVE) September 18, 2016
Little by little, El Torito has been huffing his way out of the hole, back to slashing .300/.349/.438 over the last four weeks. The walks we loved so much back in April are mostly gone - he had 23 in the season’s first month and only seven in August with four so far this month - but at least he’s hitting the ball and flipping the bat again.
All of this is coming with 12 games left on the schedule, but whether you want to see what Herrera can get you on the trade market or not, it’s good to see. He’s either ending on a strong note or stirring that value back up to a desirable level. I recently advocated for keeping Herrera, and I don’t remember how I worded it exactly, but it really just boils down to "because he is cool." Let’s have some cool things.