Well, it was bound to happen:
Nick Williams on Phillies, Gabe Kapler's lineups: 'I guess the computers are making it' https://t.co/9XbLumCk90— Philly.com (@phillydotcom) April 6, 2018
Starting the spring knowing that four outfielders were going to be in the rotation to get playing time was an obvious challenge to Gabe Kapler. Then Scott Kingery went and had himself a spring, earning a spot on the 25-man roster and adding another wild card to equation. Someone was bound to lose at bats to the young prospect and so far it has been Williams drawing the short end of the stick. The frustration he is feeling oozes out of every statement he makes, as evidenced by these quotes:
“I guess the computers are making it, I don’t know,” Williams said, referencing the team’s reliance on analytics when charting a lineup. “I don’t get any of it but what can I do? I’m not going to complain about it because I have zero power. I’m just letting it ride.”
“Coming in and facing a guy throwing 100 right away? That’s kind of set up for failure,” Williams said. “I’m just letting them do what they do. This is their job to do this. It’s not mine. I don’t have any say. I’m not a veteran.”
Of course, one can only guess the reaction that Phillies fans are giving to Williams and his bluntness:
Shut up and play when they tell u Nick Williams. Today u were the 5th outfielder— Edward J. Casey (@achs_fred) April 6, 2018
Nick Williams, you don't even have a year of service time and your throwing your bosses under the bus. I have a huge issue with the comments made here, and it won't be forgotten. https://t.co/eoQUR7gkuG— Jesse Levine (@JesseLev7) April 6, 2018
You can’t blame Williams for being honest. After all, he ended up with some pretty decent numbers last year (.288/.338/.473, 112 OPS+, 110 wRC+) and looked like a building block heading into the offseason. The acquisition of Carlos Santana muddled the picture a good deal since it shifted Rhys Hoskins to the outfield and left the other three options scratching for playing time, the result of which has left one of the players feeling left out. It’s natural for a player to want to be in the lineup every day, but with the way this team is currently constructed, that just isn’t going to happen. Kapler has said all the right things so far about how the need for rest, optimal matchups and other factors will lead to a good amount of playing time for each player, but it is getting increasingly hard for us to envision this happening.
We can sit here on our high horse and say how Nick Williams needs to “shut up and play” or quote how poorly he is hitting, justifying his spot on the bench. But this is a situation that has been brewing since December and will only get worse unless a change is made. When they cast their lot with putting Santana at first base and Hoskins in the outfield, Matt Klentak and company had to know that there might end up being frustrations with those players hat would stand to lose playing time. We can speculate that perhaps they tried to clear the glut of players via trade, but since nothing came to fruition, we can only look at the current roster and scratch our heads at its construction. Klentak and Kapler have made this bed, now they have to lie in it.
Now, whether this previously stated change is an injury, a trade or a demotion, we can’t say right now. Instead, what we have to go on are the promises that Kapler has previously made that the communication he has had with each player about how their playing time will be affected will continue, that he will be open with each player about when they are playing and why they might not be. We also have to hope that each player is open and professional about these conversations and will continue to go about his business, staying ready to play each and every day. After all, all it takes is one twinge of a hamstring and all the best laid plans are gone.
These types of stories will leak out, especially when the team isn’t playing well. Hopefully, Kapler sees it, talks about it with Nick, and both move forward in trying to help this team win baseball games. After all, the best cure to any kind of team strife is winning.