Saturday, December 10, 2016

Benoit, Burnett & Nava

Matt Klentak is having a nice offseason so far by my measurements. The Howie Kendrick move was one I would have done. Non-tendering Cody Asche, I would have done. Present Jeremy Hellickson with qualifying offer, I would have done and then been happy that he accepted. The trade for Pat Neshek is exactly what I would have done. Signing a proven veteran relief pitcher to a 1 year deal (Joaquin Benoit) is precisely the move I would have made. Loading up with veterans on minor league deals is what I would still be doing (Daniel Nava and Sean Burnett). Seriously, this is the exact blueprint I would be following if I were anointed Phillies GM.
The New Guys:
Joaquin Benoit - 39 year old right handed reliever of 15 MLB seasons. He has been absolutely great since 2010 (Year/ERA: 2010 - 1.34, 2011 - 2.95, 2012 - 3.68, 2013 - 2.01, 2014 - 1.49, 2015 - 2.34, and 2016 - 2.81). He's the perfect fit for a relatively young Phillies bullpen. Having him, Hector Neris, Edubray Ramos, and Pat Neshek is a helluva lot better than what the Phils had last season. Michael Mariot was designated for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster.

Sean Burnett - 34 year old lefty reliever of 9 MLB seasons. Hasn't been consistently healthy since 2012, but has a decent tract record when he feels right. His career 3.52 ERA and 1.33 WHIP would be a welcome addition to the Phillies bullpen if he could replicate those numbers. The former 1st round pick is better suited facing same-handed batters, as he's held lefties to a .225/.626 line over the course of his career. He's been signed to a minor league contract with a March 26th opt out date if he's not added to the 40-man roster by that time.

Daniel Nava - 33 year old switch-hitting outfielder of 6 MLB seasons. He hasn't been worth a damn since 2014, but there's always a chance for a rebound, and the risk is merely a minor league contract. A career .262/.727 batter over 509 games. Worth noting - he also has experience at 1st base. Side note-  I don't foresee Nava making the team. It makes more sense to give playing time to Altherr and Quinn, who are young with upside. However, having Nava stashed away in Triple-A helping mentor up-and-comers Nick Williams and Dylan Cozens would be nice.

Potential 25-Man Roster:
SP1 - Jeremy Hellickson
SP2 - Jerad Eickhoff
SP3 - Aaron Nola
SP4 - Vince Velasquez
SP5 - Alec Asher, Zach Eflin, Adam Morgan, or Jake Thompson

CL - Hector Neris
RP - Joaquin Benoit
RP - Pat Neshek
RP - Edubray Ramos
RP - Jeanmar Gomez
RP - Joely Rodriguez
RP - Luis Garcia, Severino Gonzalez, David Rollins, or Sean Burnett

1. Cesar Hernandez/2B
2. Howie Kendrick/LF
3. Odubel Herrera/CF
4. Maikel Franco/3B
5. Tommy Joseph/1B
6. Cameron Rupp/C
7. Freddy Galvis/SS
8. Roman Quinn/Aaaron Altherr/RF

C - Andrew Knapp or Jorge Alfaro
UTL - Jesmuel Valentin
*Two more wide open bench spots

I think Klentak could add a utility infielder and veteran outfielder on MLB deals and risk losing Phil Klein, Luis Garcia, or Severino Gonzalez on waivers in order to create room on the 40-man roster. I would also consider trading Gomez if anyone would be willing to take him. Possible targets - Andres Blanco/UTL, Chris Coghlan/UTL/OF, Franklin Gutierrez/OF, Kelly Johnson/UTL/OF, Michael Bourn/OF, Desmond Jennings/OF, Nolan Reimold/OF, Stephen Drew/UTL, Adam Rosales/UTL, and Gregorio Petit/UTL. Highlighted = Best Options.

Friday, December 09, 2016

2016 Player Review: James Russell

Editor's Note: This is the second in a series of looks at the men who suited up for the 2016 Philadelphia Phillies. Jorge Alfaro was the last player profiled. 

James Russell pitched in seven games for the Phillies. He was about as effective as a jobber in a 1988 bout with Randy Macho Man Savage.

In those seven games, he pitched 4.1 innings, giving up nine hits, five walks and two home runs.
He got hit hard.


That leaves you with an 18.69 ERA, which would still be terrible if you cut it in a third; a 3.231 WHIP, which wouldn't be good if you cut it in half; and a 10.4 walks and 18.7 hits allowed per nine innings, which is just incredibly terrible. Try as I might, I couldn't find a glimmer of hope in the 30-year-old's stats. He inherited three runners, all of whom scored. He gave up a .429 batting average against, a .519 on-base percentage and a .762 slugging percentage. It was like watching a teenager pitch to Babe Ruth, except this guy once went three years and 217 games with a 120 ERA-plus and a 3.76 FIP.
Let's be honest, this was worse than Randy Savage and the Brooklyn Brawler. Did Randy ever sucker punch some livestock? Kick a puppy? *searches Giphy* Ah, here it is.


Grade: F
Will we see him back in 2017: No.
For the record, I liked this signing when it happened.


Friday, December 02, 2016

Decision day for the Phillies when it comes to four players

Hey, it's deadline day for players eligible for salary arbitration.


That means the Phillies have to decide what to do with Freddy Galvis, Cesar Hernandez, Jeanmar Gomez and Cody Asche.

So what are the chances each player gets a contract?

2016 Player Review: Jorge Alfaro

Editor's Note: This is the second in a series of looks at the men who suited up for the 2016 Philadelphia Phillies. Patrick Schuster was the last player profiled.  If you'd told Phillies fans gathered around the fields at the Carpenter Process in Spring Training that Jorge Alfaro would be with Philadelphia by the end of the season, they probably wouldn't have been surprised. Alfaro looked impressive. Carlos Ruiz was old, and a trade candidate.
Alfaro, who was the No. 31 prospect in all of baseball at one point - he was No. 70 at the start of this season, was a safe bet to arrive in Philly. And arrive he did.
But only to play in six games.
So what did we see in such a small sample size? Well, he struck out in half (eight) of his at-bats. He went 2-for-16 with a walk and no extra base hits. Defensively, he caught the only base runner who attempted to swipe a bag on him. He didn't have any errors, allowed one passed ball and five wild pitches across five starts.
In other words, the kid was still raw, and not in a rhythm of playing every day.
His minor league numbers were impressive. The 23-year-old hit .285/.325/.458. That's a notch above his .266/.326/.437 average. He launched 15 homers, 21 doubles and two triples in just 97 games. But it was at Reading and we should all look at Reading's numbers as being slightly inflated, until proven otherwise. Far more power prospects are going to leave Reading and play like Darin Ruf in the Big Leagues than they will Ryan Howard.
That Alfaro earned a promotion says a lot about his season. It also says a bit about Andrew Knapp's season. He was, after all, in Triple-A and didn't earn a promotion.
You can somewhat fairly judge Alfaro's season based on where he is right now on many prospect lists.

Friday, November 25, 2016

2016 Player Review: Patrick Schuster

Editor's Note: This is the second in a series of looks at the men who suited up for the 2016 Philadelphia Phillies. Alec Ascher was the last player profiled. 
Patrick Schuster has a great first name, a commendable beard and a solid minor league reputation.
Dude has ripped off a 3.24 ERA and 1.290 WHIP in 296 minor league games.
The 25-year-old made it to the big leagues this year and got rocked in five appearances in Oakland. A 10.80 ERA and a 2.250 WHIP.
The Phils claimed him off waivers. He pitched ahandful of games in Lehigh Valley, compiling a 1.50 ERA. But his work in Philly was brutal.
Schuster gave up a 45.00 ERA and a 5.000 WHIP in 2 innings over six games.
He walked 18 batters per nine innings.
That said, he's left-handed so it was no doubt he'd find  a job in 2017.
He signed a contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Season Grade: F
Will we see him back in 2017: He's already signed with the Dodgers. No doubt, he'll pitch successfully against the Phillies at some point. That's OK, we wish him and his beard some luck.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

2016 Player Review: Alec Asher

Editor's Note: This is the second in a series of looks at the men who suited up for the 2016 Philadelphia Phillies. Charlie Morton was the last player profiled. 

I've never known what to think of Alec Ascher.
When he came over in the Cole Hamels deal, I assumed he was organizational depth the Phillies were willing to take a flyer on. While he doesn't walk many batters and has decent strikeout numbers, he gave up his fair share of homers in the low minors. 
Then he showed up at Lehigh Valley and pitched to a 2.08 ERA in four starts and the Phillies promoted him.
And he got rocked. 
In his first four Big League starts, he got kncocked around to the tune of a 9.78 ERA, allowing six home runs and 30 hits in 19.3 frames.
That's some rough stuff. 
Then he took the hill against the Marlins on Sept. 24 and threw seven innings of three-hit ball.
He finished the season getting rocked again and walking away with a 9.31 ERA.
It seemed safe to assume we would rather have David Buchanan eat some innings than Alec Asher.
Then, at the middle of the year, he got hit with an 80 game suspension for baseball's drug policy while pitching in the minors.
For all intents and purposes, I was done with him.
But the 25 year old did pitch this year, so let's look at what he did.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

2016 Player Review: Charlie Morton

Editor's Note: This is the second in a series of looks at the men who suited up for the 2016 Philadelphia Phillies. Phil Klein was the last player profiled.

Charlie Morton arrived in Philadelphia to help eat innings for a young rotation. To get the then 33-year-old from the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Phillies had to give up David Whitehead, a 34th-round pick out of Elon University.

It's probably a good thing the Phillies didn't give up much more.

Morton, who had never pitched more than 171.2 innings, had only topped 150 twice, and has had a string of injuries, started out looking pretty serviceable. After getting smoked by the Cincinnati Reds in his first start, the right-hander logged six or more frames in his next two starts, giving up just 1 run. 

But he didn't make it out of the first inning on April 23 and never pitched again.

Before the season started, a good friend and I disagreed over who would be the better pitcher, Morton, Aaron Nola or Jeremy Hellickson. I didn't expect Morton to be as good as the latter two, but I expected him to be around for awhile. 

Morton's injury, and other factors, allowed us to get an 11-game look at Zach Eflin, who impressed until his own injury sidelined him.

Morton ended up being a safe bet that failed for GM Matt Klentak. Those happen. 

Considering David Whitehead put up an 8.41 ERA in the minors last season, with 7.5 walks per nine innings, it was a failed move that didn't cost the Phillies anything.  

Season Grade: F
Will we see him back in 2017: No. He signed with the Astros 

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Sure, the draft pick would have been nice, but having Hellickson around isn't too bad

Did Matt Klentak overplay his hand with Jeremy Hellickson?

At first glance, I think so.

Sure, the Phillies could have gotten a midlevel prospect or two at the trade deadline, but they were willing to ask for a higher price with Hellickson hitting an open market that didn't have much, pitching-wise.

But the Phillies will likely benefit from having Hellickson on the roster going into 2017.

Hellickson has been healthy for all but 1 season of his career. He's had three years in his six full seasons in which he was at worst a No. 3 starter. From 2011-12, he went 23-21 with a 3.02 ERA, 1.202 WHIP, 7.6 hits per nine and 3.2 BB per nine over 60 starts. Last year, he went 12-10 with a 3.71 ERA, 8.2 hits per nine and 2.1 hits per nine.

But take a closer look at what he's done since July of 2014. It's a 42 game run that includes 251.1 innings pitched.

That's not a small sample size.

Since then, he's walked 63 batters and struck out 205 while allowing 33 home runs and 230 hits. That's 2.25 walks per nine, which is .75 walks fewer than his career up to that point. That's 7.3 K's per nine, a significant increase over his previous mark of 6.5. His 8.2 hits per nine are a slight decrease over what he previously allowed (8.4) He still gives up 1.1 homers per nine, which isn't spectacular, but not worrisome when you look at his other numbers.

In all, it seems Hellickson has turned a corner in his career.

If he keeps those numbers up in April, May and June of 2017, the Phillies could get a nice return on their investment of Sam McWilliams. The 20-year-old who was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks had an interesting season in A-ball? He pitched to a 3.98 ERA in 15 starts and walked just 18 in 74 innings, but allowed 10.4 hits and struck out just 5.2 batters.

No doubt the Phillies would have liked getting the supplemental pick that would have come their way had Hellickson signed elsewhere. But keeping things in perspective, they've so far gotten a starting pitcher who performed above expectations in 2016 and could be a valuable member of the team in 2017.

2016 Player Review: Phil Klein

Editor's Note: This is the second in a series of looks at the men who suited up for the 2016 Philadelphia Phillies. Cedric Hunter was the first player profiled.

Phil Klein has the look of a Big League pitcher. The 6-7, 27-year-old right-hander has a low 90s fastball. He was plucked off waivers from the Texas Rangers in June and pitched in four games after being brought up to the Major Leagues. He tossed 10.2 innings, getting touched for 15 hits, seven walks and an 8.44 ERA. He owns a career 5.50 ERA, 5.02 FIP and 1.545 WHIP.

But Klein might not be a guy the Phillies give up on. He's got a career 2.10 ERA and 1.136 WHIP in 161 minor league games. His peripherals are really impressive. He's allowed just 15 homers in 343 minor league innings while accumulating 400 whiffs. The problem is he allows a ton of walks, including 4.0 per 9 innings.

His first foray into The Show was also quite effective, tossing 19 frames in 17 games, allowing a 2.84 ERA and a 1.105 WHIP.  He did give up three home runs in that stretch.

It's hard to imagine the Phillies keeping Klein on the 40-man roster because of the glut of prospects that must be protected. However, if the Phils can find a way to keep him around, those previous numbers mean he could provide valuable bullpen innings down the road.

He's one of those guys. Someone you could easily see going to another organization and putting up impressive numbers. Remember when Ryan Vogelsong was let go? Dan Otero? There's a risk in letting him go or not protecting him.

Season grade: D.
Will we see him back in 2017? Possibly