Matt Klentak: Phillies' Logjam With Tommy Joseph, Rhys Hoskins ‘not Ideal'

The Phillies' brain trust held a three-hour meeting Friday about the state of the team, and the principals are certainly presenting a united front.

No, no one is untouchable with Major League Baseball's trade deadline drawing ever nearer.

Yes, something needs to be done about the first-base logjam.

General manager Matt Klentak, speaking before Saturday's game against San Diego, echoed the recent comments of team president Andy MacPhail on the first of those topics, and reiterated manager Pete Mackanin's stance on the second.

The Phils are the worst team in the majors and are almost certain to be sellers with the non-waiver deadline coming up on July 31. Klentak said the team has been fielding inquiries for "the last week to 10 days," but was quick to point out that the front office did not make a move last July.

"We'll make trades that make sense for this club, but if we feel like there's not fit, obviously as we demonstrated last year we're not afraid to hang onto guys," he said. "We'll have to see."

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The Phillies' most significant in-season move last year came before the waiver deadline at the end of August, when they sent Carlos Ruiz to the Dodgers. This year they have a handful of veterans on expiring contracts – starting pitcher Jeremy Hellickson, relievers Pat Neshek and Joaquin Benoit, utilityman Howie Kendrick and outfielder Daniel Nava – any one of whom might be attractive to a contender.

But MacPhail told reporters last week in New York that it's "pretty safe" to say that everyone is available for the right price. And Klentak did not disagree.

"You'll probably never get me to talk specifically about any one or two players," he said, "but as far as what Andy said and kind of piggybacking off of that, honestly whether you're a good team or a bad team, whether you're in a win-now mode or rebuilding mode, you have to be open-minded to different scenarios. You just never know what may present itself."

Mackanin told reporters Friday that Tommy Joseph and Rhys Hoskins – the Phils' current first baseman and the one tearing it up while manning the same position at Triple A Lehigh Valley – "can't coexist on the same team." Both are right-handed power hitters (see story). Both seem unlikely candidates for a position switch.

Klentak acknowledged the situation is "not ideal," and said that while the team has not taken a look at Joseph or Hoskins in left field, "I think there's a reason both of them are playing first every day."

Joseph, as a result, could very well find himself the odd man out.

The second-base situation is not quite the same, Klentak said, even though Cesar Hernandez has shown his worth and Scott Kingery, the team's second-round pick in 2015, was promoted to Triple A two weeks ago.

Kingery needs more time at that rung of the minors, in the eyes of the GM, and there is more flexibility with middle infielders than those who man the corners. Kingery, for instance, has been taking groundballs at third of late.

Hernandez, for his part, has been on the disabled list since June 11 with an oblique strain. He figures to be activated soon after the All-Star break, Klentak said. Same for Kendrick (hamstring) and pitcher Vince Velasquez (elbow), the latter of whom made a rehab start for Double A Reading on Thursday.

Klentak said shortstop Freddy Galvis has been "incredibly valuable" in terms of what he brings to the team defensively and in the clubhouse and spoke highly of third baseman Maikel Franco and centerfielder Odubel Herrera, both of whom have struggled this season.

Herrera, the GM said, has picked it up since "a terrible May," and the front office still likes his defense. The latter is also true of Franco, but he entered Saturday's game hitting .219.

"He's shown flashes of busting out of it," Klentak said beforehand, adding that Franco's walk rate is up, his strikeout rate down, his work ethic impressive.

"The numbers aren't there and I understand that, but we're going to continue running him out there." 

Which they can afford to do, because of "where we are as a franchise, trying to find out about players," he said.

Overall, though, there is no way to paint a smiley face on the season to date. Mackanin had spoken in spring training about playing .500 ball. Instead, the Phillies are on pace for over 100 losses.

"We've been frustrated, generally, with the team's play, and we've had our fair share of mistakes, whether on the mound, on the bases, at the plate," Klentak said. "We've not been a particularly good baseball team for the first half of the season. To say we have given up on players or the frustration has reached a point where we no longer feel players can help us, that is not true."

At the same time, they're going to have to start trading some of them away. And it could be anyone.

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