As the Philadelphia Phillies continue their improbable current hot streak and look to make some waves in the unimpressive NL East, one thing that the team has to keep in mind is that they have to stay healthy. The last few weeks have seen the Phillies suffer a rash of injuries to key players, including Cliff Lee, Ben Revere, Cody Asche and now backup catcher Wil Nieves. Nothing will derail a trip to the postseason quicker than a roster full of walking wounded.
Which makes the importance of a player like John Mayberry Jr. all the more evident.
Since Revere went down, Mayberry Jr. has been starting in center field and has been acquitting himself nicely, showing off his skills at the plate with three RBIs thanks to a bases-loaded walk and a single in Wednesday’s win against the Atlanta Braves. On the season he is hitting .256 with five home runs and more importantly has shown he can handle coming off the bench or starting, which is an ability a lot of ballplayers just don’t have.
It’s why the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox have been scouting Mayberry Jr. pretty intently as both teams need some help in their respective outfields. And while it may have been tempting to trade Mayberry Jr. to get a player or prospect last month when the Phillies were in free fall, now the situation has changed. The Phillies are in the midst of a run, and considering how sad the rest of the NL East is, there is a good, not great, but good chance the team could make the playoffs. That’s especially true when you factor in that 14 of the Phillies’ final 21 games before the All-Star break are against opponents in their division.
But for that to happen, the Phillies need depth in their dugout as the long MLB season goes on, and trading someone like Mayberry Jr. would be a huge mistake as he has the experience and the skills needed to be an everyday player. Late in the season, if the Phillies are in the midst of a playoff hunt, Ryne Sandberg is going to want players like Mayberry Jr. at his disposal, not rookies who haven’t had any exposure to the pressure of August and September baseball.
Mayberry Jr. will never make an All-Star roster and I doubt Phillies fans will ever be getting excited to go to a John Mayberry Jr. bobblehead giveaway, but he is just the kind of ballplayer the Phillies are going to need to turn their season around. They should think long and hard before they consider trading him.