There is one thing though that still makes my stomach turn — the Phillies center field situation.

While ostensibly the Phil’s have numerous options at the position — Adam Haseley, Roman Quinn, Scott Kingery, newly signed Travis Jankowski, and perhaps even Odubel Herrera — they lack one player that truly stands out as an everyday starter.

Well, Dylan, isn’t that what the six weeks in Clearwater are for? Figuring out the everyday centerfielder?

Yes, that’s the hopeful outcome of Spring Training, but I fear this situation may extend well into the regular season in the shape of the dreaded ﹘ gasp ﹘ platoon!

What bothers me about the concept of having a platoon in center field isn’t just that it’s not nearly as cool as the 1986 film, but rather that it creates inconsistencies in the lineup and player development that could have negative long-term effects. 

First, let’s dive into the Odubel Herrera situation.

Odubel Herrera

For the sake of this article, my take is simple: he shouldn’t play. While I understand it as a baseball move and truly miss seeing him on the field — Herrera is owed $10.35 million regardless if he plays or not this season and is better than any center field platoon of Haseley, Quinn, and Kingery the Phillies have put together — I’m just not sure there’s a place for someone charged with domestic violence on the roster.

This is not to say that I don’t believe in second chances or that Herrera is unredeemable by any means, but rather that redemption story shouldn’t take place in the City of Brotherly Love.

Now for the outliers: Scott Kingery and Travis Jankowski.

Travis Kankowski

But wait, isn’t Jankowski only on a minor-league deal and Kingery virtually guaranteed big-league playing time? Sure, but Kingery’s playing time will have to be hard-earned after skipper Joe Girardi named Jean Segura the starting second-baseman. Girardi plans on having Kingery in the super-utility role just as he was back in the Gabe Kapler era — filling in for infielders on off days, perhaps slotting in the DH role during road games against American League opponents — only mentioning the prospect of seeing time in center field at the end of the list of positions Scotty Jetpacks could play. While I think every Kingery loyalist would like to see him spend significant and consistent playing time at his natural position of second base, the presence of Jean Segura likely nullifies that option. 

The Phillies have a narrow window for championship contention —  Aaron Nola, Zach Wheeler, Bryce Harper, and J.T. Realmuto all have approximately 3-4 years left in the respective prime of their careers — meaning that player development isn’t exactly on the top of their agenda. It’s almost akin to rookie guard Tyrese Maxey and the Philadelphia 76er’s current season — we’d all love to see the Kentucky product have more chances to take ill-advised floaters, but ain’t nobody got time for that when we’re trying to win a championship!

Scott Kingery

In all seriousness, I’d like to see Kingery get a chance at centerfield if his bat can warrant him staying there. In 2019, he was one of only 15 center fielders in the bigs with a WAR of 1.0 or higher — not that his 2.4 WAR was spectacular, but still, it speaks to his ability to be a productive member of the outfield. Also important is Kingery’s defense, which while at times can look a bit clunky, grades out a tick better than both Haseley and Quinn. If Kingery’s offensive provides a consistent spark, he could easily beat out Quinn as Haseley’s main competition for the spot.  

Jankowski — given he can make the roster out of Spring Training — profiles similarly to Kingery as a productive defensive player who has been an offensive liability. Unless he can show some serious offensive prowess in Clearwater — or Haseley/Quinn show significant regression — I don’t see him as a major threat to take the centerfield job. After all, the Phillies still need roster spots for left-handed bats of Matt Joyce and ‘Bamboo’ Brad Miller — the latter of whom the Phillies are close to signing to a Major-League deal. 

That leaves us with the usual suspects of Quinn and Haseley. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:

Roman Quinn

Roman Quinn should not under any circumstances start over Adam Haseley. To be clear, this isn’t a Quinn bash-fest, frankly, I’ve found myself to be quite the Roman Quinn apologist in the past few years, but enough is enough. Yes, according to Statcast Quinn is the 2nd-fastest player in the Majors and is a joy to watch when he’s running around the bases — that is when he gets on base. If Kingery’s performance at the plate last year was abysmal, then Quinn’s was only a tick better at very poor.

A .213/.214/.315 slash-line just isn’t going to cut it if Girardi wants to have sustained success in the lineup. Moreover, without the Designated Hitter returning to the National League in 2021, Quinn will no longer have the privilege of being treated like another leadoff hitter while batting at the bottom of the order. 

Adam Haseley

Photo: —

Haseley, on the other hand, should be given his fair shot — perhaps even with the bias of 1st team reps going into Spring Training. Instead of making the lefty scrap and claw for every ounce of playing time, why not give the young-prospect more opportunities to fail instead of fewer opportunities to succeed? Last year, Girardi only gave Hasesely 10 at-bats against left-handed pitchers and even sat a healthy Haseley when facing a lefty — despite the fact that Haseley had 4 hits in those 10 at-bats and has historically hit well off of left-handed pitchers. 

Sure, Haseley projects best as a rangy corner outfielder and not a centerfielder, but with Andrew McCutchen and Bryce Harper manning the foul lines, the Phillies are stuck with what they’ve got. And as critical as I’ve been, what they’ve got really isn’t all that bad — in an era in which strong centerfield play is rare, a solid young player in Haseley, a speed-demon in Quinn, and a headache with upside in Kingery are champagne problems compared to what other teams have to face.

My plea for the Phillies is to focus on wringing out the most out of one player instead of having a revolving carousel of mediocre production from three or more candidates. A platoon of Haseley and Kingery is promising if Kingery can come close to what he’s capable of offensively, but the emergence of Haseley as a steady presence in centerfield would benefit the Phils for years to come.

Although lineups always shift during the progression of a season, greatness doesn’t typically come from a constant rotation of players, it arises from the permanence and stability that a solid core provides. The golden years of 2007-2012 didn’t come from a platoon of position players, they came from the stability of the infield and outfield units.

Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard, and Carlos Ruiz weren’t subject to a plug-and-play methodology — that’s why we know their names for crying out loud. Although he’s not on the same tier as his teammates, the same thing can be said for former center fielder Shane Victorino. 

Of course, this is all much easier said than done. Obviously, the Phillies would like to have an everyday starter in centerfield and not have to rely on a platoon.
In Adam Haseley, they have that player — they just need to give him a proper chance to prove himself.

Featured Image: ---

One Comment

  1. Glenn Dallmeyer

    February 17, 2021 at 12:37 PM

    Excellent article.

    The Phillies always have a way to screw up the easy decisions such as playing Haseley every day and seeing what he can do.

    About the only thing I will ever give credit to Kapler for is seeing the true talent in Haseley and giving him that chance.

    Girardi has already proven he’s an asshole and won’t give the kid a chance.

    I hope for Haseley’s sake they end up trading him and he comes back to bite them in the ass big time.

    I’ve watched them do this to far to many talented players while doting on losers like Dom Brown.

    Idiots !!!

    Glad to see there are still some decent, intelligent sportswriters out there that have a better clue of what should happen than ‘Sillie’s’ management.

    Good column !!

Check Also

Assessing the Phillies’ Starting Outfield Three Weeks into the Regular Season

The same thing happened last year. In the midst of the Phillies’ early-season medioc…