By Andrew Porter
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — One of the more honest voices in the Phillies organization is former shortstop and fan-favorite Larry Bowa. The Phillies bench coach spoke candidly about some of the team’s most pressing issues on the 94WIP Morning Show with Howard Eskin, including the likelihood of trading left-handed ace Cole Hamels.
Bowa put the pressure on the Phillies’ scouts and front-office.
“You can’t miss on this, Howard [Eskin],” Bowa said on Monday of trading Hamels. “You got to make sure you get the right kid here when you trade him. There can’t be any, ‘Well maybe this guy can develop.'”
Listen: Larry Bowa on the 94WIP Morning Show with Howard Eskin
The Boston Red Sox were reportedly among four teams that made an offer for Hamels. None of which, apparently, were willing to give up the right package for the Phillies.
“I know there’s no guarantees of prospects playing at the Big League level, but when you have scouts all over the country that are naming a couple guys in that Boston Red Sox’s near cant-misses barring injuries, you gotta hit on something like that,” Bowa continued. “And right now, I guess Boston’s not willing to give up any of those kids.
“Pat Gillick is pretty good. And if you keep reading his comments, you have to be very patient when it comes to somebody like Cole Hamels.”
Phillies infielder Maikel Franco is the 55th ranked player on MLB.com’s top-100 prospect list. Franco, 22, struggled in 58 plate appearances (16 games) with the Phillies last season (.179/.190/.214), but has been red hot this Winter.
Will he start the season in the Big League’s?
“That’s gonna be up to, probably [General Manager] Ruben [Amaro Jr.],” Bowa said. “There’s a certain date, I think it’s May 3rd, where the clock gets turned on again. You miss the first month and it buys another year or so of arbitration. It’s gonna be a matter if they want to do that or if Franco comes in here and blows everybody’s doors off. He had an unbelievable winter ball. That’s one of those decisions that the front-office people are probably going to have to make.”
While his eventual position with the Phillies is somewhat in question, Franco is a natural third baseman.
“He’s been playing third [base] down here [in Clearwater, Florida] and he’s also been taking balls in left field,” Bowa explained.
“He can play first [base], he can be third [base]. He’s been exceptional, I mean [an] exceptional third baseman. A lot, reminds me a lot of Adrian Beltre—hand-wise and arm-wise. Obviously he’s not there hitting wise, but has those nice hands, tremendous arm—a little unorthodox when he throws like Beltre—but tremendous velocity. His first step is very quick, not a real fast runner but first step off the ball—right or left—is extremely quick. He’s a big league third baseman.”
The most awkward situation during Spring Training will undoubtedly be the Ryan Howard situation. Amaro has publicly acknowledged that the Phillies would be better off without the struggling first-baseman saying, “We are looking for younger and more athletic players and [Howard] is not as young and as athletic as he used to be.”
“I’m surprised in the fact that if I’m an America League—I mean, [Ryan] Howard, let’s face it,” Bowa said. “We all know what he’s capable of doing. Supposedly last year’s bad year he still hit, what 20 [home runs] and 95 [RBI’s]. If I’m an American League team, those are good numbers especially the way run production is in baseball all over—National and American League.”
Bowa says Howard will be much better off in the American League as a designated hitter.
“He really hasn’t made any comment one way or another, what he would like to do, but I’m just saying easier on your body if you’re a big guy like that and you’ve had leg problems. If you want to DH, I think it would just take a lot of stress off your body.”