How Phils' big moves impact 2023 and beyond
This story was excerpted from Todd Zolecki’s Phillies Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.
The Phillies introduced Trea Turner on Thursday at Citizens Bank Park, and there were a few immediate takeaways, including Turner’s future spot in the lineup.
Hint: It could change once Bryce Harper rejoins the team this summer.
Here are a few other Phillies thoughts with left-hander Matt Strahm (two years, $15 million) introduced Friday and right-hander Taijuan Walker (four years, $72 million) likely to be introduced next week:
Phillies manager Rob Thomson and president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski got asked a couple times at the Winter Meetings about the 2022 workloads and potential hangovers for Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola, who tired or struggled late in the postseason.
First, they said Wheeler and Nola are healthy.
Then they said they have no plans to ease the pitchers into the season. They said they expect them to begin their throwing programs as normal and pitch as they typically pitch in Spring Training. Dombrowski said he recalls one season with one team when they tried to ease their starters into the season, following a long postseason. He said it backfired. Nobody was ready. They started slowly. The bullpen got burned out.
“Pitchers got to pitch,” Thomson said.
Is the Phillies’ defense better with Turner at shortstop, Bryson Stott moving from shortstop to second base and a full season with Brandon Marsh and Matt Vierling in center field?
“We’re obviously a lot more athletic, and that’s taking nothing away from the guys that were here before,” Thomson said. “Stott and Trea, they can cover a lot of ground, and it’s really important now that you can’t have three guys on one side of second base. Now you add Marsh in center field. You already had Vierling. You have the best catcher in baseball [J.T. Realmuto] behind the plate. Our defense looks really good right now.”
There are areas to watch and improve, of course. Turner was -7 Outs Above Average in April/May, but +7 OAA the rest of the season. He said positioning improved his metrics, for what it’s worth. Stott was +3 OAA in limited action at second base, which is encouraging. In center field, Marsh and Vierling have blazing speed, but they need to get better jumps. Vierling ranked 103rd out of 105 center fielders in reaction time. Marsh ranked 71st.
The Phillies issued a conservative timeline for Harper’s return from Tommy John surgery. They said they expect him back by the All-Star break. Others think he could return weeks before that.
“Our history with Bryce is he has super healing qualities,” Harper’s agent Scott Boras said. “I just think there's going to be an attitude on his part that as much as the doctors allow, I'm sure Bryce will get back on the field. I think with these types of procedures, you have to be cautious, step by step. You have to be delicate with it. You kind of measure it normally every couple of weeks as you advance. It's kind of hard to say specifically. Could it be early? Could it be later? Those are really unknowns until you know how the status of his rehabilitation goes month to month.”