Pete Mackanin didn’t mince words after the Phillies’ disastrous 14-4 loss to the New York Mets on Tuesday night.
“Another embarrassing game against the New York Mets,” Mackanin said.
Indeed it was, but it also highlighted the good and the bad that the Phillies have seen in their offseason acquisitions through the first week and a half of the regular season.
Clay Buchholz, brought in via trade from the Boston Red Sox, has a $13.5 million price tag besides his name for the 2017 season, and while he’ll be off the books after this year, it certainly hasn’t gone the way the team had intended.
While general manager Matt Klentak said over the weekend that this organization doesn’t necessarily view the veterans they bring in as potential trade deadline bait – if they turn out to be so, Klentak said, than that’s a bonus – Bucholz appeared destined to be just that with the slew of young arms waiting on the farm.
After just two starts though, Buchholz is out for the year with a partial tear in his forearm. The right-hander finishes 2017 with a 0-1 record and a 12.27 ERA in just seven innings of work through two outings.
Having been through injuries before, Buchholz called the situation “frustrating.”
Jake Thompson, Zach Eflin or Nick Pivetta will likely replace Buchholz in the Phillies’ starting rotation.
Would any team have wanted Buchholz at the deadline anyway, especially considering the little interest he had this offseason? Probably not.
Thankfully for the Phillies, there’s Howie Kendrick and to a lesser degree, Michael Saunders.
Kendrick, brought in through a trade, has been nothing short of spectacular on a team that has been lackluster. The 33-year-old leads the team with a .407 average, is one back of the lead in RBI with five and has three doubles and a triple, as well.
He has a hit in all but one game he’s played in this season.
As for Saunders, he has yet to really make his mark, but has driven in five runs and when he’s flashed, he’s done so in a big way with a pair of multi-hit games, including a strong 3-for-5 game against Washington in which he fell a homer shy of the cycle.
Between the two of them, there’s certainly going to be some interest from contending teams come the deadline assuming they maintain or in Saunders’ case, elevate just a little bit more, to keep up their value.
As for the pitching staff - well - the Phillies are seeing that maybe not even a veteran out to prove his worth can replicate what Jeremy Hellickson did on a one-year deal in 2016.
So, yes, there’s some risk to bringing in veterans as the Phillies did in three players this offseason, but if they can hit on at least two of them, they could definitely become commodities over the summer.