The past few years have see many beloved Phillies and Michael Young torn from/shoved out of the city.
It's been the Dodgers who have typically grabbed for Phillies at the end of their careers, giving them a big open field to run off the rest of their steam. But Ken Rosenthal says it might be a good idea for the L.A. to start sniffing around Cesar Hernandez who, if anything, might only be at the start of the most effective chapter of his career.
Hernandez’s exposure almost literally doubled each year from 2013 to 2015, from 34 games his first year in the bigs to 127 in 2015. Last season, he was a genuine starter at 26 years old, and a hilarious thing started happening.
Franzke -"Hernandez slides 10 feet past the 3rd base bag"— Franzke & LA (@FranzkeLA) July 25, 2016
LA -"Well that wasn't very smart"
Ha ha, no; not one of the many blunders that made you question not only Hernandez’s grasp on base running, but also on the rules of baseball and where he was on planet earth at a given moment. The fact that he seemed to lead the team in every offensive category except for the ones led by Odubel Herrera was new, though, as Hernandez finished the year hitting .294 with 11 triples and 3.3 WAR, well above his career highs.
If anything, this highly scientific process indicates that the Dodgers may have lost their chance, if their intention had ever been to acquire Hernandez and make use of the pocket of productivity he's discovered. The 26-year-old might be too good to let go at this point, depending on the offer. In this way, Hernandez slots into the rest of the Dodgers' Philadelphia acquisitions in the vein of "missed windows."
Chase Utley: The Man left Philadelphia hitting .217 and finished the 2015 season in Los Angeles at .202. But after an off season of doing push-ups in an unfinished basement under a swinging light bulb, he ripped April and May off the 2016 calendar and ate them. By May, he had the fourth best lead off OBP in baseball. People didn’t even need qualifiers to establish his success anymore.
Chase Utley is the best grey haired lead off hitter we've had since Brett Butler— NotYasielPuig (@NotYasielPuig) April 24, 2016
Chase Utley is the best lead off hitter the @Dodgers have had since Brett Butler...— NotYasielPuig (@NotYasielPuig) May 25, 2016
The rest of the season was a slow, but steady, decline into .250-.260 areas with an OPS that managed to stay above .700. This makes Utley the most successful Dodgers acquisition from the Phillies on this page.
Jimmy Rollins: Had five hits, two doubles, a triple, and a game-winning home run in 2015’s opening four games! And then things went pretty sideways.
Carlos Ruiz: Few trades have brought on more tears than the one that sent Chooch to the Dodgers and brought A.J. Ellis to the Phillies. We cried, Clayton Kershaw cried, drivers swerved through their emotions on I-95. Then, it was time to move on, and Ruiz - who'd been hitting .261 - did by knocking only three hits in his first 22 PA as a Dodger. He was also a soothing presence to the pitching staff and worked out a warm report with all of them in shockingly little time, blah blah blah, etc.
Shane Victorino: Shane was hitting .242 in 2012, two weeks before he was traded, then had 20 hits in his last 15 Phillies games, including a three-night streak of tripling. After arriving in L.A., he had 17 hits, including five doubles, in his next 13 games. He’d finish the season with 12 hits in his last 11 games, but in between the two hot patches, there was a lot of flailing. In his classic spitfire way, Victorino helped the Dodgers finish second in the NL West, failing to catch both the Giants for the division or the Reds for the Wild Card. Crap.
Joe Blanton: After giving up eight runs to the Pirates in 4.1 IP, Blanton finally got a lid on things and kept his ERA under 5.00 to finish the season. What am I trying to prove, again?
Well, hey, Blanton bounced across town to the Angels, technically retired from baseball, then came back and threw for the Royals and Pirates before returning to L.A. in 2016 and generated 1.7 WAR as a reliever with a 2.48 ERA. Does that count? That might count.
Roberto Hernandez: After his best, longest start of the entire 2014 season (8.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 BB, 5 H), Hernandez was shipped to L.A. and had trouble lasting past the fourth or fifth frame for the rest of the year. He survived a total of 20.2 IP in a combined five starts.
Michael Young: What? I have to do Michael Young, too? Young’s power and on-base numbers stayed pretty much on the level they were when he was a Phillie after he was traded out west, but he got a smooch from the BABIP gods, seeing his BA rise from .276 to .314 with the Dodgers.
Darin Ruf & Darnell Sweeney: Well,
Maybe the real question here is why the Dodgers keep trading with the Phillies in the first place. Except for Utley, most of these guys had trouble keeping their heads above water for a significant period of time.
But now we’re here in the 2016 off season - having just completed another trade with the Dodgers, remember, only this time the Phillies took control of one of the Dodgers’ veteran starters - and L.A. could wind up poking around the Phillies’ middle infield again.
Perhaps the Dodgers have missed their window on the newly weaponized Cesar Hernandez, however. L.A. has a way of catching Phillies’ runoff, but their interest may be too late; at this point, even I want to see what the Phillies have with Hernandez. This isn't like a crusty team mainstay who has been around forever; this is one of the Phillies ambiguous assets of the future. Matt Klentak is still looking down at all of his pieces, and guys like Hernandez - who you think you have a handle on, and then has a terrific year from nowhere - just add to the pile.
With a lot interesting, moving parts at his disposal - don't forget Hernandez's middle infield colleague Freddy Galvis tapped into some unforeseen power this year - Klentak will have some moves to make. The Dodgers' new hobby of being potentially interested in a Phillies player closer to the start of his career than the end of it may be poorly timed.
We could flip them Howie Kendrick, however.