When the real estate agent takes a couple through an old house, he or she focuses on the possibilities and not the shortcomings of each room.
The Philadelphia Phillies, an aging house, have a nice modern room at third base right now with Cody Asche, but the room could have a much higher ceiling and sky light with a little refurbishing in a year (Maikel Franco). At his best, Asche could be pretty good and has a Chase Utley-type ceiling and temperament. Franco could be an Albert Pujols-type. Asche’s ceiling is about 15 homers, .280 and 80 RBI. Franco could go 30-120-.300 or better.
Because Franco’s ceiling is much higher than Asche’s, that’s who the Phillies have to build their long-term planning around. Plus, if Asche has a good year, the Phillies could move him for another young star. Franco is not Pujols just yet, and that’s the reason why Asche should come north with the team and be the starting third baseman. Franco probably will be ready by 2015 with a nice Triple A season under his belt, and that’s the kind of construction the Phillies should have in mind right now.
Consider this — in his first minor-league season, Class A ball (2000) at Peoria (IL), Pujols had 17 homers, 84 RBI and a .324 batting average. In Franco’s first full year of Class A ball (2012), Lakewood (NJ), he had the same number of RBI, three less homers and a .280 batting average. Franco, however, blew up in a good way last year with 31 homers, 103 RBI and a .320 average split between high Class A (Clearwater) and Double A (Reading).
His confidence could use a similar year in Triple A and Asche is a more than serviceable stopgap until the time Franco is ready. That would give the Phillies the best room that they’ve had in their third-base house since Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt sat in it.