Girardi 'not happy' with Phils' CF struggles

April 20th, 2021

PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies are running out of patience in center field.

If their center fielders' play doesn’t improve soon, they will have to look elsewhere for help. Their struggles continued in Monday night’s 2-0 loss to Gabe Kapler’s Giants at Citizens Bank Park, where went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts. The Phillies’ starting center fielder has not gotten a hit since April 4, their third game of the season. got the last hit as a center fielder on April 9, Philadelphia's seventh game of 2021, but he entered that game as a defensive replacement.

“We’re not happy with what’s going on,” Phillies manager Joe Girardi said. “We’re on our third center fielder, in a sense. Mickey is getting a chance and we’ll continue to give him a chance. I know they’re all capable of hitting at a much higher clip. They’re not just doing it for whatever reason. But we need someone to be somewhat productive out there.”

Phillies center fielders finished the night with a combined .240 OPS, which ranked last in the Majors. The only position on any team with worse production is the D-backs' shortstops (.227 OPS). To further put the struggles into perspective, eight National League teams are getting more offensive production from their pitchers.

“Yes, I am concerned about a lack of production in center field,” Phillies president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said before the game. “I mean, we need more production out of the position, there's no question about it. We haven't gotten the offensive production we need.”

The Phillies started the season with Adam Haseley (.421 OPS in 21 plate appearances) and (.285 OPS in 29 plate appearances) in center field. Haseley left the team Wednesday because of personal reasons and it is unknown if he will rejoin the team this year. Moniak took Haseley’s place. He is hitless in his 12 at-bats since joining the team, striking out eight times and walking twice. Moniak struck out on six pitches in the second and fourth innings against Giants right-hander Kevin Gausman. He swung and missed at four of them.

Moniak’s strikeout in the fourth inning loomed large because the Phillies had runners on second and third and no outs. Philadelphia stranded 11 runners on the night and went 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position.

“He probably needs to relax a little bit,” Girardi said of Moniak. “I’ve seen him chase maybe more in this short time than I did all of last year. And that was not the Mick that we saw, so we’ve got to get him back on track.”

If not, is in Triple-A Lehigh Valley. He has the best track record playing center field of anybody in the organization. He has not played with the Phillies since May 2019 because of his arrest and 85-game suspension for violating the league’s domestic abuse policy.

Dombrowski said ownership has given him the OK to promote Herrera, if needed.

So then why wasn't Herrera called up last week?

“We had a lot of conversation on it,” Dombrowski said. “We just thought Moniak was playing a little bit better [now]. But it’s one of those [situations] where we go back and forth on that conversation. We just thought that he’d have more of an opportunity -- he’d be playing on a regular basis somewhat. In Moniak’s case, for example, we’re facing a lot of right-handers, so he’d be playing more. That was really the reason. Herrera hadn’t really gotten going with the bat at the time. It’s almost day to day when you’re having those types of conversations, and at that time the decision was toward Moniak.”

It is difficult to imagine the Phillies making a trade before giving Herrera or Scott Kingery an opportunity, but a trade is already on Dombrowski’s mind.

“Nobody is doing the job at that particular moment,” he said. “You have to keep your mind open to what other opportunities are outside the organization. We haven't reached that point yet. You always got your mind open to that. But you also have to make sure if you're making moves that they're going to be what you consider an upgrade to your situation.

“We're hopeful that Moniak gets going. He hit a ball [Friday], I think it would have been a home run if it wasn't for the wind blowing in. Hopefully it'll come from within at this point. If they don't get going, we do have Herrera and we have [Scott] Kingery at Triple-A, and we'll see how they're doing at that time.”