It’s a conundrum.
Sort of …
When it comes to moving on from the old guard, realizing its time to evolve and adapt, that change for the sake of change is a necessity, even if it means taking a step – or five – back in order to develop a sports franchise, yours truly usually is at the front of the “A-OK” line.
Especially when it comes to the Phillies, who have proven themselves to be Exhibit A organizationally with being slow as molasses with bidding the past adieu and welcoming the future.
But this desire to label Freddy Galvis as nothing more than mediocre, as merely a minor obstacle in J.P. Crawford’s path to the majors, as a disposable commodity whose stay as starting shortstop for Philly’s MLB operation will be limited to the next few months? Hmmm, can’t go there.
Make no mistake, the guy is a flawed player. If only in one realm. But it’s a biggie – getting on base, consistently. There is no way to sugarcoat his failure to avoid an out at least 30 percent of the time. Even his most ardent supporters cannot debate that.
Sporting an on-base percentage of .284 … well, that’s just woefully inadequate.
But here’s the rub: the guy is average to exceptional in every other facet of the game. Defensively, if you think the Phillies have endured any drop-off since Jimmy Rollins left, you’re drowning yourself in denial fueled by love for a former favorite. As great as J-Roll was with the glove and range, it was no better than what Galvis brings to the table.
Frankly, when it comes to the spectacular, not even sure he was as good.
But, let’s digress …
With frustration mounting anymore these days with the team dragging its feet in terms of bringing up prospects, Crawford’s name comes up a lot. Makes sense, too. The kid was a first-round draft choice, taken by the Phillies with the 16th pick in 2013. He has the family pedigree, with cousin Carl Crawford being a long-time major-leaguer. He has been ranked as high as No. 3 among prospects in the minors. Plus, he’s finally starting to put things together at Triple-A Lehigh Valley.
At 6-2, 180, he also looks the part of MLB starting SS for a lot of the “old school” types clinging to preconceived notions moreso than the compact, 5-10, 188-pound Galvis.
However, would Crawford really be an improvement?
Heck, would he even be a comparable replacement?
Not for nothing, but, having seen the kid play, it’s pretty obvious he is never going to flash the same kind of leather as Galvis does … and his being able to produce at the same level offensively is in question, too.
Even with the incumbent’s OBP failures.
Fact is, Galvis is productive. Seriously. Since becoming a regular in 2015, using 600 at-bats as a typical campaign, the guy has averaged 15 homers, 63 RBIs and 66 runs scored per season, including this one. That’s not quite Rollins-esque, but it ain’t as wildly far off as you might imagine. The three-time all-star’s typical year would 16, 67 and 101 in the same categories – with the benefit of batting high in the order.
That’s something new for Galvis, who previously had been buried in the eighth hole before getting bumped up to the No. 2 hole recently this summer.
No question, even being Galvis’ junior by five years, the 22-year-old Crawford has shown far better plate discipline during his professional baseball career, racking up a more-than-respectable .366 OBP in the minors.
But his power and production numbers at that level, up to now, don’t translate to matching what Galvis has done at a higher one – albeit mostly with few seeming to notice.
If it’s an age thing being the primary impetus for bumping Galvis, say, next year to make way for Crawford, not sure that makes any sense, either. The former turns 28 this coming November and seems to be just entering his prime.
Bromantic followers of Rollins take note: your guy was that age when he won the National League MVP in 2008.
Just sayin’ …
Thing is, not really sure benching or moving Galvis improves the Phillies’ shortstop situation in the near future. Probably because it’s one of the team’s spots that doesn’t seem in need of improvement anyway, and the option being suggested to do so isn’t exactly a given.
Put it this way, in this case, am A-OK with staying put for once.