Friday, November 13, 2015

What did the Phillies get in Dan Otero and James Russell?

It's probably not a coincidence Matt Klentak's first two moves this offseason - and as a general manager - were to acquire bullpen depth.
The Phillies selected Dan Otero off waivers from the Oakland Athletics on Nov. 3 and added James Russell on a minor league deal on Thursday.
Neither name is eye-popping of course, but both could prove valuable.

Each player came cheap in terms of money and not losing any prospects because they had terrible 2015 seasons. Otero, a right-hander, had a 6.75 ERA in 41 games. Russell, a left-hander, had a 5.29 ERA in 49 games.
Their peripherals weren't nearly as bad. Otero had a FIP of 4.40 and Russell had a FIP of 3.90, so luck might have played a role in those bad numbers.
Let's take a closer look.
They gave up a lot more hits than normal last year.
Russell gave up a rough .347 batting average on balls in play. That's way off the .290 mark from the 272 games he pitched from 2010-2014. Otero gave up a .356 BABIP, which is even further off the .292 he gave up in 2013-14.
Against the long ball, Russell kept up his good numbers while Otero had his worst career year. Russell gave up .8 homers per nine innings, which is identical to the number he gave up from 2012-14. Otero, on the other hand, went from a guy who gave up four long balls in his first 138 innings to seven in 42.3 innings.
That doesn't bode well for Citizens' Bank Park. But Otero, who had a 2.01 ERA from 2013-14, might have went through an aberration.
One thing we do know about these two is that they don't walk many batters.
Otero has walked 1.4 batters per nine innings for his career, and had his lowest number last year (1.2). Russell meanwhile allows just 2.4 walks per 9 innings. Combined, the two relievers have walked two batters in an appearance just five times the last two years.That's a span of 228 games.
So why isn't it a coincidence Klentak has picked up two experienced relievers at little cost to the club?
Unless Cesar Hernandez turns into Rogers Hornsby and Adam Morgan morphs into Greg Maddux, the Phillies aren't going to contend in 2016.
But fans are going to see plenty of young arms during the season. Aaron Nola and Jerad Eickhoff should get 55-60 starts between them. But they have just 128 innings of Major League experience between them and neither has topped 160 innings in a professional season. There is also a chance Alec Ascher (29 career Major League innings), Zach Eflin (never pitched above double-A), Ben Lively (ditto) and Jake Thompson (ditto again) could pitch in the big leagues too.
Toss in Adam Morgan, who has hadn't pitched more than 150 innings in a season since 2012 until last year, and its very likely you're going to have three young arms without a history of holding down many innings in a season.
So, while the the Phillies are expected to sign one or two starters to eat innings in 2016, the team is going to need some depth in the pen.


Beer-a-Thon said...

I like both moves. They're cheap, came at the cost of no prospects, and have been very good in the past. If either of them bounce back, it's a boon. If both bounce back, it's genius.

Bob D said...

I like the moves it adds to the bullpen by having competition in spring for the 7 spots. I would hope that lefty Hollands will be back early in the season after TJ surgery. Also I would say the rule 5 pick has a 55% chance of being a pitcher who most likely would be in the bullpen if they keep him. Giles has something to prove as a closer since he has had only about half a year doing it. As a reliever he does not have anything to prove.

The Kimbrel trade can be used as an ideal trade scenario. Kimbrel has been a closer for longer and just as effective as Giles (albeit shorter career) but he is 2 years older, one less year of control, and much more expensive (11mil vs 0.5 mil). The differences between them pretty much balance out.

Padres got 2 top 100 prospects along with 2 other quality prospects for closer Kimbrel. All 4 do not figure to become major leaguers in 2016 except maybe a cameo appearance in September for one. For the Phillies they should seek at least 3 prospects with 2 of them being top prospects for a Giles trade. That would be the floor of where trade talks start. If nothing similar is offered up then no big deal move on with Giles as closer. There is no need to move him just to move him. He could be useful in 2017 when the team may actually have an outside chance of contending and in 2018 and beyond when the team could well be on the way of being good.

Bob D said...

Don't get me wrong, I think the Phillies should keep Giles because I do think he could have a very effective career especially over the next 5 years.

GM-Carson said...

Jeremy Hellickson brought into rotation for very low level prospect. I like it. Post forthcoming.

Bob D said...

McWilliams was highly regarded as a prospect. However he is further away from majors if he makes it. I like the Hellickson trade as he will only be 29 and has some decent potential. If Thompson and other in minors show to be ready come the 2nd half of season then he could be a trade candidate.

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