The obvious problem with the Philadelphia Phillies is the bullpen, but it is not the only one the Phillies have. The offense has surprised some people so far this season, but third base has been a hole in the lineup.
The Phillies have a history of good to great third baseman. From perhaps the greatest third baseman of all-time in Mike Schmidt, to All-Star gold glove winners such as Scott Rolen and Placido Polanco. Third base has rarely been a lot of trouble for the Phillies during their more successful seasons. However, this season Cody Asche has struggled so far, and manager Ryne Sandberg has scrambled to fix the issue.
While Sandberg has not given up on Asche yet, none of the other players that he has tried at third have proven to be the solution. While Asche has struggled offensively this season, his backups in Jayson Nix and Freddy Galvis have performed even worse this season, possessing the worst two averages on the team. However, Galvis is the best defensive third baseman of the three, which could give him the edge for the time being.
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The one thing that is important to keep in mind is that the season is still young, and still in its first month. There is still the chance that Asche could turn things around, despite poor performances, such as his four strikeout performance in Sunday’s game against the Diamondbacks. After all, he showed last season that he is more than capable of going on a hot streak. The thing that Asche has to work on is not letting himself fall behind in the count so early, leaving himself in 0-2 holes. For the time being, the Phillies will likely stick with Asche in hopes that he turns it around, and no one can fault them for that.
However, if Asche continues to struggle as the season goes on, they have to give someone else a chance at third base, but it has already been pointed out that the options behind Asche are even worse offensively. Therefore if the Phillies look to replace Asche, they should turn to prospect Maikel Franco.
Last season, Franco was a hitting machine at the single and double A levels in the minors, finishing with a .356 batting average with 31 home runs and 103 RBIs. He started this season at the triple A level, but has gotten off to a slow start, only hitting .173. His coaches believe that part of his struggles are due to the weather, since Franco is not used to the cold weather since he is from the Dominican Republic.
Franco’s own struggles at the triple A level show that it is right for the Phillies to stick behind Asche for the time being. This is because going from a young third baseman who is struggling in the majors, to a young third baseman struggling in the minors makes absolutely no sense. Franco should only be a last resort by the Phillies at this point and time of the season. However, if third base continues being an out for the team in the lineup, the Phillies may have to turn towards Franco, because they are out of other options.
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