Wednesday, July 05, 2017

About to Have a Good Problem

Aaron Nola is starting to look like the Aaron Nola we all anticipated when he was drafted a few years back. Nick Pivetta is doing alright. Mark Leiter Jr. has surprised me so far. Ben Lively isn't striking anybody out, but he's still doing his job. Jerad Eickhoff is on the mend, as are Zach Eflin and Vince Velasquez.

That's 7 starting pitchers. A rotation only holds 5 and the Phillies' current one still has veteran Jeremy Hellickson in it for the time being.
One easy fix - deal Hellickson for whatever. Honestly, he should have been dealt last season.

My rotation after Hellickson is traded would be - 1) Nola, 2) Eickhoff, 3) Pivetta, 4) Lively, and 5) Eflin. Move Leiter back to the bullpen and let Velasquez get some innings there as well.

Oh, the Phils have some guys in the minors seemingly ready too. Tom Eshelman, a forgotten man in the Giles trade, has bee excellent through 11 Triple-A starts (1.96 ERA/0.94 WHIP) and Brandon Leibrandt is making a good impression as well (7-2 with a 3.23 ERA/1.35 WHIP combined between Reading and Lehigh Valley). Of course, Jake Thompson is still around, but he's been terrible this year (5.97 ERA/1.67 WHIP) and Mark Appel continues to toil (4.87 ERA/1.67 WHIP).

It's Klentak's job to figure out what he's got moving into 2018. Personally, I think they're mostly backend starters with the exception of Nola and Eickhoff.

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Taking stock, halfway through the season

We're halfway through the season, so let's take stock of where the Phillies are, statistically. Yes, we know it's bad. But some things might surprise you how bad they are. Other things might surprise you with a bit of improvement. We'll start off with the record.

2016
36-45, 13 games back
2017
28-53, 20 games back

So, the Phillies are eight games back of last year's pace. That's a lot. If they win eight more games in the second half, they'll have 64 wins on the season.
Let's look at the rest of the numbers. We'll compare this year's half season to last year's full season. Then add in how much the stats differ at this point from half of last season's totals.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

NO! NO! NO! The Phillies should not trade Odubel Herrera


Yes, Odubel Herrera had a listless month of May. He hit .183/.196/.257. Yes, he has stumbled on the bases in frustrating and repeated fashion recently.
But the argument that Herrera isn't a valuable building block moving forward is patently absurd. Anyone who argues the Phillies should trade Herrera is a mouthbreather who couldn't beat a stalk of celery in a game of tic-tac-toe if you spotted that person two X's.
Look, if some team comes calling and offers two top 100 prospects as part of a package, you probably pull the trigger.
But Odubel Herrera will not make more than $12.5 million during his contract with the Phillies. With options, it can run through the 2023 season.
Meanwhile, Herrera enters today's game, despite his worst month in the big leagues, with a .698 OPS, with 5 home runs and 5 stolen bases. He has a .922 OPS this month. It's not hard to imagine Herrera ending the year with a third straight season of an OPS above .760. It's not hard to imagine him having a second straight season with more than 10 homers and 10 stolen bases. He's probably going to eclipse his career high of 30 doubles. He's on track to soar past his career high of 42 extra-base hits in a season.
Trading Herrera at this point, just to trade him, would be a horrifying mistake.

Just how bad is it?

The Philadelphia Phillies are on pace to lose 110 games this season. They're currently sitting on a record of 24-51, worst in baseball. They've been outscored by 102 runs by their opponents. Their offense and pitching are nearly the worst in baseball. They're getting below average production from every position except shortstop and left field (thanks Galvis, Kendrick, and Altherr!). This team is terrible. No hyperbole in that statement.
Offense:
R - 285 (29th)
AVG - .242 (27th)
OBP - .305 (27th)
SLG - .391 (28th)
OPS - .695 (28th)
DBL - 135 (12th tied)
TRPL - 14 (10th tied)
HR - 73 (29th)
SB - 29 (22nd tied)
BB - 220 (25th)
K - 639 (19th)

Pitching:
ERA - 4.90 (27th)
WHIP - 1.44 (26th)
QS - 29 (25th tied)
K - 552 (26th)
BB - 252 (17 tied)
HR - 107 (24th)
OPS - .802 (28th)
K:BB - 2.19 (23rd)

Offense Positional Ranks:
P - .142/.376 (7th)
C - .215/.667 (23rd)
1B - .241/.734 (25th)
2B - .282/.723 (19th)
SS - .246/.720 (14th)
3B - .216/.619 (29th)
LF - .272/.807 (9th)
CF - .252/.692 (24th)
RF - .236/.698 (27th)
DH - .333/.965 (3rd)
PH - .258/.735 (9th)

Pitching Splits:
SP ERA - 4.97 (27th)
SP WHIP - 1.42 (25th)
RP ERA - 4.81 (25th)
RP WHIP - 1.47 (29th)

Monday, June 19, 2017

Who's been the biggest disappointment this year?

Part of the thing that amazes me about how bad this year has been is that so many players, individually, have been awful. If you told me the team was going to finish with 90-plus losses, I'd have been as shocked as if you'd told me it would have won 90-plus games. But with the losses, I'd still expect to see some growth among several players.

Which players have been most disappointing?

Monday, June 12, 2017

Phillies take Haseley in first round

The Phillies selected Virginia outfielder Adam Haseley in the first round of the draft on Monday. While one could argue pitching should be a priority, the second and third round can give you a lot of rewards there if you're willing to pay the price.

We looked at Haseley as one of the five players we expected to the Phillies to pick. It's a solid selection, but with Pavin Smith off the board just one slot before, I can't help but think the Phillies missed one there.

A good thing about Haseley is that he comes from Virginia, which is becoming a power when it comes to producing Major League players.

The university currently has 10 players in the Big Leagues. Washington Nationals' Ryan Zimmerman leads the way. Sean Doolittle is an All-Star reliever (career 3.07 ERA, 2.50 FIP, .945 WHIP) for Oakland. Mark Reynolds has hit more than 200 home runs in his career.

The Angels picked Matt Thaiss last year and he's already climbing their system. Cleveland selected Mike Papi in the first round in 2014, and was hitting .287/.387/.434 in AA before a promotion to AAA earlier this season.

Taking a look at the Phillies' possible draft picks

Thanks to YouTube, baseball fans can have more of an educated opinions on the players their favorite teams will select in the draft. I spent several hours the past few days looking at some of the players to give you a brief breakdown of what the draft might offer for the Phillies.
Before we move on to the players, here's the skinny. The draft starts at 7 p.m. The Phillies pick eighth, with the Minnesota Twins, Cincinnati Reds, San Diego Padres, Tampa Bay Rays, Atlanta Braves, Oakland Athletics and Arizona Diamondbacks on the board ahead of them. Eighth isn't a bad spot because this seems to be a fairly deep draft.

Who will be off the board?

It seems a few players are all-but guaranteed to be selected with the first six picks. They are Brendon McKay, Hunter Green (What a baseball name), MacKenzie Gore, Royce Lewis, and Keston Hiura. I've seen a few guys other guys in and out of that top six, but rarely seen these five guys not in it.
If any of these guys fall to the Phillies, they have to pick them.

The Fab Five

There are five players I regularly see falling in the 5-10 range, but rarely see in the top 5. We'll briefly break them down alphabetically. I'm not going to pretend I know more about these guys than I do. But what I know, I'll give you. An argument could be made the Phillies should concentrate on pitching. But there is a very good chance a very good prospect will fall to them at 8. It's unlikely they won't dive on that opportunity.

Austin Beck

There is a good chance this right-handed hitting outfielder will be around when the Phillies pick at 8. In some ways, he reminds you of Mickey Moniak, the player the Phillies selected first overall last year. He's a high schooler, though. The Phillies have picked several high schoolers a lot recently (Moniak, Larry Greene Jr., Cornelius Randolph, J.P. Crawford) with so-so success.

Alex Faedo
Faedo has impressive stuff, but the right-hander out of Florida has some iffy mechanics. The Phillies selected a college starter at 7 not to long ago and it probably will work out. I'm still very high on Aaron Nola, though. We'll have to see if they'll take a chance on a guy with Faedo's stuff at 8, when I see a lot of mock drafts putting him a bit later. Adam Haseley
Here's another outfielder with a ton of tools. But as a prospect from Virginia, which seems to be doing a great job of sending its collegiate players to the Major Leagues, he's closer to the Bigs. He reminds you of a young Darin Erstad, plays good defense, gets on base, has some noticeable stuff. Also, he was a solid pitcher.

Pavin Smith
I'm not a huge fan of player comparisons, but that seems to be the gig when it comes to looking at prospects. That said, his swing reminds me of a combination of Joe Mauer and Jim Thome. The Virginia first baseman could be an impact bat. He should be around when the Phillies pick. He's probably my favorite player of the group.

Kyle Wright
A couple of years ago, I really wanted the Phillies to take Nola at seven. This is the guy I want to take at 8. The problem is I don't see him lasting that far. I like him a lot. I actually like him a lot more than some of the other guys in the Top 5. He's a right handed pitcher with polish out of Vanderbilt. You could imagine him hitting the rotation by 2018. If The Phillies end up with Wright, I'll be ecstatic. I think he could end up being the best first round draft pick for the ballclub in a decade.

Darkhorses

There are three names I could see the Phillies picking in this draft other than the five we've discussed.
Jeren Kendall is an outfielder with a ton of tools. The risk with him is that he strikes out a ton. It's not hard to imagine him striking out in a third of his professional at-bats for a few years.
Shane Baz has a ton of heat. Heat is sexy, but his mechanics aren't very repeatable and he's a high schooler. The Phils will have to take a few years developing him.
J.B. Bukauskas is another pitcher who is intriguing. I've seen him fall between 6 and 12 in some drafts. I wouldn't mind seeing the Phils pick him, but I like Baz, Faedo and Wright a lot more.

Sunday, June 04, 2017

Hiring Bob McClure was Ruben Amaro's worst decision as general manager

I've never understood why the Philadelphia Phillies have hired Bob McClure and I find it completely unfathomable why he's still employed by the franchise.

Track record

Bob McClure was the pitching coach for the Kansas City Royals and Boston Red Sox. He was fired by each organization. Let's break down how the pitching staffs performed under McClure. To set the scenes, the Royals hired McClure in the midst of their two decade long stretch of mediocrity while the Red Sox hired him four years after they won the World Series. The 2011 Red Sox finished ninth in ERA, third in hits allowed, eighth in home runs and 12th in walks.

Kansas City Royals

2006
ERA: Last
Hits allowed: 14
Walks allowed: 14
Home runs allowed: 13
Strikeouts: 14
All Stars: Mark Redman (Had a 5.71 ERA), a veteran trade acquisition

2007
ERA: 7
Hits allowed:  11
Walks allowed: 7
Home runs allowed: 10
Strikeouts: 13
All Star: Gil Meche, a free agent signee

2008
ERA: 10
Hits allowed: 7 
Walks allowed: 7
Home runs allowed: 6
Strikeouts: 7
All Star: 0

2009
ERA: 12
Hits allowed:  7
Walks allowed: 14
Home runs allowed: 2
Strikeouts: 4
All Star: Zach Grienke

2010
ERA: 14
Hits allowed:  14
Walks allowed: 10
Home runs allowed: 12
Strikeouts: 11
All Star: 0

2011
ERA: 12
Hits allowed:  12
Walks allowed: 14
Home runs allowed: 11
Strikeouts: 10
All Star: 0

Boston Red Sox
2012
ERA: 12
Hits allowed:  11
Walks allowed: 11
Home runs allowed: 11
Strikeouts: 8
All Star:  0

Just look at those rankings. What might be the most damning is what happened after he left each franchise. The Royals improved slightly in 2012 and, after adding James Shields and Jeremy Guthrie, became World Series contenders.  Meanwhile, the Red Sox won the World Series on the strength of their pitching staff the next season.

The lone bright spot on McClure's tenure is Zack Grienke's Cy Young Season in KC. But that goes up against Greg Holland, Andrew Miller, Mark Melancon, who pitched better after leaving his tutelage and highly touted prospects such as Luke Hochevar who never developed under him.

A bad fit with the Phillies

Under Andy MacPhail and Matt Klentak, the Phillies have stated that their goal is to grow arms. Is there any proof that McClure can develop a pitcher? His track record in Kansas City and Boston say not likely.

His record in Philly reinforces that belief. The Phillies have several well regarded pitching prospects. Aaron Nola was the seventh overall pick. He was a top 40 prospect. Vincent Velasquez was a top 60 prospect. One could argue Jerad Eickhoff has pitched well under McClure's charge, but he's clearly taken a step back this year from last year.

The pitching staff has not put up worthwhile numbers at all under McClure's watch.

2014
ERA: 12
Hits allowed:  11
Walks allowed: 14
Home runs allowed: 9
Strikeouts: 9
All Star:  0

2015
ERA: 14
Hits allowed:  15
Walks allowed: 8
Home runs allowed: 15
Strikeouts: 12
All Star:  0

2016
ERA: 12
Hits allowed:  11
Walks allowed: 4
Home runs allowed: 14
Strikeouts: 8
All Star:  0

2017
ERA: 14
Hits allowed:  9
Walks allowed: 3
Home runs allowed: 15
Strikeouts: 14
All Star:  0

The problems with this pitching staff are myriad. They can't put people away with two strikes. Because of that, the starters don't go deep into games. They give up a ton of home runs. The bullpen, despite having five arms - Pat Neshak, Joaquin Benoit, Hector Neris, Jeanmar Gomez- with strong track records, is in absolute disarray.

I'd argue a lot of this comes down to planning. It's not one pitcher who doesn't have a good two-strike approach. It's everyone. That means there's no game plan. McClure publicly took Cameron Rupp to task the other day, but if Rupp doesn't have a good philosophy, that also means there's a breakdown in planning. The team isn't just being beaten badly, it's being beaten the same way badly by the same teams.

The big question is whether or not a better pitching coach is available. Steve Schrenk in Reading seems to be doing well in Reading. It wouldn't shock me if Schrenk ended up being the pitching coach in Philly sometime soon.

Saturday, June 03, 2017

Phillies are Garbage

The Phillies are garbage. The rebuild is bullshit. Klentak and Co. are morons. Mackanin is a leader of losers. This is the worst they've been in my lifetime, hell, possibly my father's lifetime. I am not a fan of "booing", but dammit they deserve a heaping helping of it. See for yourself, they are literal trash...