Steve Phillips is taking a ton of heat for his “I’d trade Strasburg for Oswalt” comments yesterday. And he deserves it. Rob Neyer, however, has decided to probe the question a little deeper and wonders whether you’d ever trade a Strasburg-level talent for a guy like Roy Oswalt. The answer? Sure you would.
The monster caveat: you just would never, ever do it if you were in the Nationals’ current position on the success cycle (i.e. not yet ready for a World Series push and desperately needing good young talent to make you competitive).
So yeah, Phillips is still crazy. He’s crazy, however, not for the idea of a trade like that full-stop. Indeed, both Phillips in his overall comments (read the full conversation here) and Neyer in correctly note the idea of the uncertainty involved in evaluating even the best pitching prospects. Phillips is just crazy for not appreciating where the Nats stand, competitively speaking, when counseling such a move.
In this Phillips is not unlike a lot of general managers over the years who have misjudged where their teams stood and attempted to make a playoff push when such a thing was either (a) a pipe dream; or (b) came at the expense of more sustained, long-term success. There are just far fewer of them in the game today because they burnt their teams one too many times.
Kinda like Steve Phillips did.
The Red Sox have some tough decisions to make in advance of the World Series next week; namely, what to do with some of their hottest-hitting players once the series shifts to a National League park — and National League rules. During a press conference on Saturday, manager Alex Cora said he’d be open to the idea of starting All-Star right fielder Mookie Betts at second base when the club’s regular DH, J.D. Martinez, is forced to play the outfield during away games.
The Red Sox carry home field advantage through the Fall Classic, so Games 1 and 2 will be played at Fenway Park — as well as Games 6 and 7, should those become necessary. Depending on the outcome of NLCS Game 7 later tonight, World Series Games 3 through 5 will be played at Dodger Stadium or Miller Park. That’s when Betts might take over the keystone from Ian Kinsler and Brock Holt, both of whom have shared second base duties over the course of the 2018 postseason.
The idea isn’t without merit. Betts and Martinez comprise two of the team’s top talents at the plate and, should the Red Sox need to stave off elimination in Games 4 and 5, sitting either of them doesn’t make sense. The 26-year-old Betts led the team with a staggering .346/.438/.640 batting line, 32 home runs, 30 stolen bases, and career-best 10.4 fWAR over 614 PA, while Martinez posted some career totals of his own, slashing .330/.402/.629 with 43 home runs, a 1.031 OPS, and 5.9 fWAR in 649 PA. This wouldn’t be the first time Betts has taken reps at second, either, as he’s logged 15 games at the position over the course of his five-year career, most recently during a 4-1 win over the Yankees in August.
Whether or not Betts is considered a lock for all three games is another question, one to which Cora didn’t give a definite answer. “I don’t know, man,” the skipper told reporters Saturday. “[Betts] already played second during the regular season, so there’s always a chance, I guess.” He later added that while Betts would be taking ground balls at second, it’s part of the routine he’s maintained all year — so nothing should be read into it until a clear decision has been announced.