The last two seasons of Maikel Franco’s career have mirrored the script from the “bring out your dead” scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, and the final whack on the third baseman’s head might have come Sunday before the Phillies’ deflating 10-5 loss to the Chicago White Sox at Citizens Bank Park.

And action:

The cart master walks down a dark, gloomy street cluttered with the sick and frail. He clangs a bell and pleads with the people to “Bring out your dead.” Finally, a customer provides a human offering for the cart, only to be interrupted before making his payment of nine pennies.

The Phillies decided to keep Sean Rodriguez over Maikel Franco Sunday after they activated Brad Miller from the injured list.
YONG KIM / Staff Photographer
The Phillies decided to keep Sean Rodriguez over Maikel Franco Sunday after they activated Brad Miller from the injured list.

Dead man: “I’m not dead!”

Cart master: “What?”

Customer: “Nothing, here’s your nine pence.”

Dead man: “I’m not dead!”

Cart master: “He says he’s not dead.”

Customer: “Yes, he is.”

Dead man: “I’m not.”

Cart master: “He isn’t?”

Customer: “Well, he will be soon. He’s very ill.”

Dead man: “I’m getting better!”

Customer: “No, you’re not. You’ll be stone dead in a moment.”

The scene ends with the cart master performing “a favor” for the customer as he whacks the dead man over the head.

And cut.

Time will tell if Maikel Franco’s career with the Phillies finally expired Sunday when the team optioned him to triple-A Lehigh Valley in order to make room for bench player Brad Miller to come off the injured list. In all likelihood, he’ll be back in September if not sooner. But his days are clearly numbered.

Once considered the best prospect in the Phillies’ farm system, Franco’s third-base job with the Phillies has been on life support several times over the last couple seasons.

Bring in your new third baseman. Clang.

In June of last season, it appeared as if he was going to lose his third-base job to J.P. Crawford. Instead Crawford got hurt, Franco got hot and he kept his job.

Bring in your new third baseman. Clang.

By the end of the season, Franco was again among the players the Phillies least wanted to bring back. He’d have been gone if the Phillies had signed Manny Machado instead of Bryce Harper.

Bring in your new third baseman. Clang.

The end appeared near again for Franco during a West Coast trip to Los Angeles and San Diego in late May. Scott Kingery looked like he was going to get the bulk of the playing time at third base, but then Andrew McCutchen and Adam Haseley suffered injuries before the trip was over and Kingery was back in center field.

Franco got hot for a three-week stretch (he batted .338 with six home runs and 14 RBIs from June 24 to July 23), but then he cooled again and the Phillies decided this time to do something drastic.

Bring in your new third baseman. Clang.

“Well, [Franco], he doesn’t play multiple positions,” manager Gabe Kapler said shortly after the Phillies announced the roster move. “He plays one position and he hasn’t really hit left-handed pitching well. So we have a left-handed power bat and on-base threat in Brad Miller and we definitely want to have that profile available on our bench.”

Maikel Franco tosses his helmet after striking out.
YONG KIM / Staff Photographer
Maikel Franco tosses his helmet after striking out.

It was not just a roster trade of Miller for Franco. The Phillies also decided that they are better with Kingery at third base and with Sean Rodriguez coming off the bench. It’s difficult to argue the former. Kingery, 25, has been a superior offensive player to the wildly inconsistent Franco, who will turn 27 later this month.

Franco has played a terrific third base, but beyond that it’s difficult to defend his offensive numbers. Kapler noted that Franco has not hit left-handed pitching and he’s right. Franco left for Lehigh Valley hitting .198 (17-for-86) against lefties with a .639 OPS. A total of 169 big-league hitters have 80 or more at-bats against lefties this season and only 26 of them have a lower OPS than Franco. Only nine true right-handed hitters among those 26 have a worse OPS than Franco.

The idea that the Phillies are better with Rodriguez instead of Franco on the roster is not as easy a sell, although Kapler peddled it hard.

“We have to be very cognizant of our bench roles,” Kapler said. “Sean Rodriguez plays shortstop, he plays center field, he plays left field, he plays right field, he hits left-handed pitching, so he profiles in that role.”

Rodriguez was hitting .306 (11-for-36) against lefties going into Sunday’s game and his chance to make an impact came in the bottom of the sixth with runners on first and second and the Phillies within two runs after falling behind 5-0 in the second. The White Sox went to lefty Aaron Bummer. Kapler countered with Rodriguez hitting for pitcher Ranger Suarez. Rodriguez grounded into a 6-4-3 double play and the Phillies’ deficit would eventually grow to 10-3.

“Big play in the game,” Kapler said. “Nobody is more frustrated in that than Sean.”

Rodriguez is only hitting .156 (5-for-32) against right-handed pitching and he is 2-for-16 as a pinch-hitter.

What’s most disturbing about the Phillies’ decision on Franco is that it again appears to make him the scapegoat for what ails this team. Only one member of the 2019 team was benched for failing to hustle this season and that was Franco, even though plenty of other players were guilty of the same offense.

And now, before the Phillies concluded a 4-5 homestand with a loss to a team that had dropped 16 of 20 games before arriving in Philadelphia, it is Franco who feels most of the repercussion again. He’s not blameless, but it’s a crowded ship and only Franco has been forced to walk the plank.

Bring in your new third baseman. Clang.