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2019 Phillies in review: The Extras

These guys were here. They did stuff. Now they’re gone.

Philadelphia Phillies v Washington Nationals - Game Two Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

The numbers:

Logan Morrison: .200/.263/.400, 38 PA, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 7.9 BB%, 26.3 K%, -0.1 fWAR
Deivy Grullon: .111/.111/.222, 9 PA, 0 HR, 1 RBI, 0 BB%, 22.2 K%, -0.2 fWAR
Mitch Walding: 2 PA (he struck out both times)
Dylan Cozens: 1 PA
Rob Brantly: 1 PA (he struck out)
Jose Pirela: .235/.316/.471, 19 PA, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 10.5 BB%, 21.1 K%, 0.0 fWAR

The good:

Was there anything good?

Jose Pirela got into a game over better options once. That made us write some things up about him. Deivy Grullon gained some valuable learning experiences in the bullpen during September, even getting into a game and garnering a Baseball Reference page. Logan Morrison was added as a power bat off of the bench and had a few home runs, yet really didn’t do much of else either. With the other guys, well, they did....something. I think.

The bad:

There really wasn’t much bad here either. Morrison wasn’t what Gabe Kapler thought he would be. Pirela wasn’t either. I truly don’t even know what Brantly did this year. Did he warm up the pitcher while J.T. Realmuto was getting ready in between innings?

The Dylan Cozens and Mitch Walding Experiments are mercifully over. We had always held out hope that perhaps Cozens would hit juuuuuust enough to warrant a fourth outfielder’s spot, but that never actually happened. Walding was simply bad. He never hit or fielded well and now can go look for work overseas.

To me, these guys giving next to nothing isn’t really a testament to their own lack of talent. Instead, it’s a good example of the how poorly a job Matt Klentak does at building viable major league depth on the roster.

The 2018-19 offseason was spent chasing stars. It was common knowledge that the Phillies, Klentak in specific, had targeted that campaign as the time to open the checkbook and add the cornerstone that the team needed in order to polish off the rebuild. The pursuit of Harper, and the ensuing reluctance to go over the luxury tax, meant that pieces couldn’t be added to a roster that sorely lacked necessary depth to last the entire season. What happened was that the team surrounding these cornerstones was never built up enough so that when these pieces (Machado, Harper, Corbin) were added, there wasn’t enough to push the roster as a whole into playoff contention.

Looking back, when the team was constructed, there seems to be a huge reliance on the growth of certain young players and the continued growth of those that had already established themselves. There wasn’t really much thought to “what happens if these guys regress or get hurt?” When that finally happened, the reinforcements that were brought up - the Pirelas, the Morrisons, the Brantlys - they just couldn’t get the job done. It then forced players to play more than they were supposed to, which lead to their being exposed as the roster flotsam that they are.

This lack of quality depth at the major league level is purely the fault of Matt Klentak and those that construct the roster. It would be foolhardy to expect them to pack a roster full of All-Stars as there wouldn’t be enough time and at bats to pass around. Yet somehow, the Dodgers are able to find players willing to spread the time around at different positions and do it effectively. The Phillies have players like Harper, Realmuto and Hoskins that you don’t necessarily want to take out of the lineup, but at positions that required at least a little production, the front office was not able to provide that to Kapler. You could say that’s because the team, heading into the season, looked like there wasn’t going to be much playing time to be had outside of the starting eight, but counting on health and above average production from each position is poor planning. There should have been someone available off the bench other than Scott Kingery that could provide a spark to the lineup. There was none and when injuries/suspensions struck, the team was not prepared for it.

Headed into 2020, there are several positions that you could make the case are in flux - centerfield, third base and second base, with another (left field) that has a player coming back from a major injury. It is imperative that the team not get caught with its pants down yet again. Depth must be brought in at some level to guard against what happened in the past. Otherwise, history could repeat itself in an unsavory way.

The future:

There is nothing much to add here. Cozens isn’t even with the organization anymore; he’s in Tampa Bay, where his power and the addition of another roster spot in 2020 could help him get some major league service time. Grullon might have the inside track on the backup catcher’s position for 2020. The rest of these guys will be signing minor league deals at best this offseason, with an invitation to spring training sprinkled in here and there. Whether that’s with the Phillies or not, who knows, but it’s a safe bet that they won’t be thought of again unless its a Sporacle quiz or something.