Thursday, March 22, 2012

What's a Freddy Galvis?

A Mr. Freddy Galvis is your new starting second baseman for the Philadelphia Phillies, and that's problematic.
Oh, it's not that Galvis can't play the position. Going into last year in the minors, his defense was major league caliber at shortstop; there'll be no problem with him sliding a little bit down the defensive spectrum. And he's certainly the best defensive option the Phils have at second base, now that Chase Utley's timetable looks more and more like "Waiting for Godot". Michael Martinez is injured, just like most of the rest of the Phils' infield. Ty Wiggington knows where second base is, but that's about it, and besides, he's probably going to be needed at 3rd to spell the increasingly fragile Placido Polanco.
No, there are two problems with Galvis playing second base for a team with World Series aspirations and an aging roster. One is that he can't hit. Until last year, he might as well have been carrying an inflatable lawn gnone to the dish with him; even last year's offensive "surge" only brought him up to "decent for the minors". Asking him to replace the production of an Utley, even an injured Utley, even an injured and declining Utley, is like asking a line cook from Jim's to step in at Bec Le Fin. (I'm old. Work with my references here, people.)
And the other problem is that, as feeble as Galvis may be at the plate, there's not a lot they can do to replace him. The Phils are built to win now. They've gone all in, emptying the farm system to get Lee and Halladay and Lee again and Blanton and Pence and, well, sooner or later that well runs dry. There's nobody in the Phillies' system who makes other teams drool. There's nothing left to swap for a  middle infielder worthy of a spot on a championship-quality team. Maybe they'll move damaged uber-prospect Domonic Brown; maybe they'll try to get something for hulking excess starter Joe Blanton. But the drive to win now has left them perilously thin, perhaps too thin to achieve that stated goal. That's the problem with going all in - sometimes you need to go a little further, and you're tapped when you do.
Of course, all hope is not lost. The Phillies still run Halladay and Lee and Hamels at you, which is enough to win three games out of five without breaking a sweat. They still have above-average production from behind the plate and in 2/3 of their outfield, and the relentless Jimmy Rollins at short. They have monsters at the back end of the bullpen, and they have more interesting pieces on the bench than they've had in years.
But that's all they've got, and it only gets harder from here.
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