Tuesday, December 27, 2016

2016 Player Review: Joely Rodriguez

Editor's Note: This is the 12th in a series of looks at the men who suited up for the 2016 Philadelphia Phillies. AJ Ellis was the last player profiled. 

Only 17 pitchers have pitched more games for the Philadelphia Phillies than Antonio Bastardo. In many ways, it's a who's who of Phillies greats. Robin Roberts, Steve Carlton, Ryan Madson and Tug McGraw are the top four. Grover Cleveland Alexander is ninth. Cole Hamels is 15th. Carlton, Madson and McGraw all won rings. Carlton, Alexanader and Roberts have legitimate claims on being the best pitcher ever in Phillies pinstripes.
Much of the rest are relief pitchers who spent several years in Philly. Ron Reed is sixth. Rheal Cormier is seventh.  Ricky Bottalico is 11th.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

2016 Player Review: A.J. Ellis

Editor's Note: This is the 11th in a series of looks at the men who suited up for the 2016 Philadelphia Phillies. Zach Eflin was the last player profiled. 

After spending nine seasons in Los Angeles, and being in the middle of a playoff race, it made sense that A.J. Ellis didn't want to come to Philadelphia in the Carlos Ruiz trade.
But he came. He saw. He kicked ass. And now he's gone.

Else arrived after putting up a career worst line of .194/.285/.252. In 11 games in Philly - small sample size warning - he hit .313/.371/.500.

There was talk the Phillies might bring him back. That talk didn't make sense to me. With two prospects - Andrew Knapp and Jorge Alfaro - knocking at the door, one of them had to start the season in the big leagues or be traded this winter.  I didn't see how the Phillies would carry a catcher other than Rupp and Knapp on the roster out of spring training, unless Knapp scuffled mightily and Alfaro tore the cover off the ball in Clearwater.

Well, Ellis' resurgence earned him a 1-year 2.5 million deal, according to Buster Olney. 

2016 grade: A
Will he be back in 2017: Nope

Friday, December 23, 2016

2016 Player Review: Zach Eflin

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

I've been moderately excited about Zach Eflin since the Phillies acquired him in the Jimmy Rollins trade on Dec. 19, 2014.  A former first rounder with the San Diego Padres, his stuff looked good when you watched him on video. His minor league numbers, while light on strikeouts, were impressive. He didn't give up homers or walks, he had two straight seasons of 120 innings pitched.
Maybe he wouldn't be a star, but he could be someone the Phillies could plop into the No. 4 spot in the rotation.

He looked good when I saw him in person, too.
When he got called up to start a June game, I was excited. Then he gave up nine runs in less than three innings.
Eflin had a rocky two months in Philly. He had three starts in which he gave up seven or more runs in five innings or fewer. Was he a poor man's Kyle Kendrick?
Maybe not.
He had two complete games, one a shutout. That stands out. They came against Atlanta, a bad team, and Pittsburgh, a playoff caliber team.
Between those five great and terrible starts, he looked like an average starter.

June 19: 2 runs on one walk and four hits over 5.2 innings.
June 24: 1 run (no earned) on five hits and no walks over 6 innings.
June 29: 4 runs (3 earned) on six hits and no walks over 6 innings.
July 10: 2 runs on seven hits and two walks over six innings.
July 17: 3 runs on five hits and two walks in six innings
Aug. 2: 6 runs on six hits and three walks in five innings.

That last start, and his final appearance (7 runs over three innings) were probably affected by the issues that lead to postseason surgery.

Since his surgery, he seems to be progressing.

The Phillies have stockpiled young arms and Eflin is one who could have a long future in Philadelphia, or be part of a trade for the third time in his career. He, Jake Thompson and Aaron Nola are no longer considered prospects. but the Phillies eighth (Franklin Kilome), ninth (Kevin Gowdy), 10th (Mark Appel) and 15th (Ricardo Pinto) best prospects according to MLB pipeline are all starting pitchers.

No doubt some of these guys will miss, but what we've seen from Thompson and Eflin surely have us thinking a brighter future is on the way.

2016 grade: B
Will we see him again in 2017: Most likely

2016 Player Review: Jake Thompson

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

I was very excited about Jake Thompson headed into the season. I thought he could be a guy who would pay off big time in the Cole Hamels trade. Maybe he wouldn't be an ace, but I figured he would be a No. 3 starter or reliable bullpen arm.
Then I saw him scuffle in a Triple-A start against the Scranton Wilkes-Barre RailRiders.
As the season moved on, the 22-year-old right-hander tabbed as the 34th best prospect in baseball by Baseball Prospectus began to flourish. He finished his AAA season with an 11-5 mark and a 2.50 ERA. He struck out just 6 batters per nine innings, but didn't give up many home runs and was pretty stingy with the free passes, too.
Then he made his first Big League start on Aug. 6.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Phillies 12 Days of Christmas - Volume XI

On the twelfth day of Christmas, the Phillies gave to me... 
12 Months of rebuilding (good luck Klentak)
11 Triples from Cesar Hernandez
10 Earned runs allowed in 10.2 IP from Phil Klein (have fun in Asia)
9 RBI from Darin Ruf (have fun in LA)
8 Ball Girls a milking
7 Intentional Walks issued to Maikel Franco
6 Nightmarish appearances from Patrick Schuster (45.00 ERA)
5 Year contract to Odubel Herrera
4 Starts from $8M mistake Charlie Morton
3 Doubles in 213 at bats from Tyler Goeddel (weak)
2 Saves from future closer Hector Neris
1 More year of Jeremy Hellickson (accepted qualifying offer) 
and ZERO more seasons from Chooch & Howard (thanks for the memories)
Previous Installments:
*2006 - Volume I
*2007 - Volume II
*2008 - Volume III
*2009 - Volume IV
*2010 - Volume V
*2011 - Volume VI
*2012 - Volume VII
*2013 - Volume VIII
*2014 - Volume IX
*2015 - Volume X

Friday, December 16, 2016

2016 Player Review: Dalier Hinojosa

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

Cuban defector Dalier Hinojosa sometimes seems like one of Matt Klentak's more shrewd pickups.
Since being claimed off waivers on July 15, 2015, the righthander has given up 6.3 hits, .5 home runs, 3.5 walks and struck out 7.7 batters per nine innings.
The problem is, he's only pitched in 28 games for the Phillies. The 30-year-old has spent much of his time in AAA or injured. He was hurt early in 2016 when a comebacker clipped his hand.
But he's got Big League talent. His fastball still sits in the low- to mid-90s and his slider comes in between 84-86.
Pete Mackanin considered him as a possible closer for the Phillies last year, before the injury.
Hinojosa was left unprotected before the Rule 5 draft, but he's still in the organization. I don't think it's out of the realm of possibility that Hinojosa returns to the Big Leagues with the Phillies in 2017.

Grade: D
Will we see him in 2017: It's likely

Thursday, December 15, 2016

2016 Player Review: Daniel Stumpf

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

Daniel Stumpf was picked by the Phillies in the 2015 Rule 5 draft. Matt Klentak plucked the 25-year-old fireballer off the Kansas City Royals Organization.
He appeared in seven games, giving up 10.80 ERA, striking out just two batters in five innings and giving up 16.2 hits per nine.
His major league debut came on April 7.
On April 14, he was nailed for testing positive for dehydrochlormethyltestosterone. That meant an 80-day suspension.
The Phils designated him for assignment on July 22 and he was returned to the Royals later that month.
The Detroit Tigers are taking a chance on him, picking him off the Royals' roster in this year's rule 5 draft.

Grade: F
Will we see him in 2017: No.

Blanco Back, Shaffer Aboard, Klein to Asia, Rollins in Limbo & Other Moves

The Phillies needed a utility infielder, so they brought back a familiar face in the form of Andres Blanco. "Whitey", as he's known to the team, has been a positive fixture in the clubhouse over the past 3 years and churned out some decent stats too: 221 G, .274/.795, 62 R, 42 DBL, 12 HR, 49 RBI, 1.7 WAR while playing 2B, SS, 3B, and 1B. He signed a 1 YR/$3M deal, so he's not going to be blocking any prospects.
Richie Shaffer was claimed off waivers from the Mariners. The third basemen has experienced minimal success in the Majors, but has a nice minor league track record. In 51 MLB games he's posted a .213/.720 batting line and played 3B, 1B, and corner OF. The former 1st round pick is set to turn 26 in March and has hit .246/.769 in the minors showing some pop with 71 HR and the willingness to take a walk (.333 OBP despite low AVG).

To make room on the 40-man roster for the above acquisitions, lefties David Rollins and Phil Klein were designated for assignment. Klein is said to be seeking employment in Asia and the Phils hope Rollins goes unclaimed so they can sneak him back down to the minors like they did with Michael Mariot.

Other Moves:
The Phillies received Mario Sanchez as the player to be named later in the Jimmy Cordero trade. Not really worth writing about as he's basically organizational filler.

Other "fill" were signed to minor league contracts - utility infielders Pedro Florimon (great glove, horrible bat) and Hector Gomez (decent glove, questionable bat).

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 sixth 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 fifth 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 fourth 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 third 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


Saturday, November 12, 2016

Welcome Aboard Neshek and Kendrick

Phillies GM, Matt Klentak, has been a busy boy in the early going of the offseason. He's already landed a reliable veteran relief pitcher and now a sturdy veteran bat that can play left field or second base. Well done, as they are two moves I thought made sense before they were even announced.

First up, the bullpen help - Pat Neshek. He comes from way of the Houston Astros, who the Phillies gave up very little to obtain. He's a 36 year old right-handed, side-arming gunslinger. Over 10 MLB seasons he's posted a 2.93 ERA and 1.05 WHIP...damn good! He's set to make $6.5M next year, an option the Phils picked up when they traded for him. He's appeared in 60+ games in each of the last 3 seasons and is hell on right-handed batters. Hopefully Mackanin is smart enough to use him sparingly against lefties.

Next up, the bat - Howie Kendrick. He comes from the Dodgers. Ha, imagine that? The Phillies seem to make a trade with the Dodgers every other month. Anyway, he's a 33 year old right-handed batter that is capable of playing left field and second base. He's long been a 2-sacker, but recently took a move to the outfield with aplomb. He suffered through his worst offensive campaign last year, but a return to his high batting average and middling OPS days are quite possible. For his career, Howie is a .289/.749 hitter over 1344 games in 11 seasons. He'll hit doubles, pop the occasional homerun, and surprise you with a stolen base every now and again. He'll make $10M in the final year of his contract. Darin Ruf and Darnell Sweeney were sent in the return package.
Since Klentak has been seemingly reading my mind, I'll just throw out a few more players that might be worth looking into as well...Free Agents to sign to short-term contracts: Colby Lewis for rotation, Mike Dunn as lefty in the bullpen, Clayton Richards as swingman (reliever/starter), Andres Blanco or Daniel Descalso for utility infielder, and Santiago Casilla, Sergio Romo or Joaquin Benoit as veteran right-handed reliever. Guys in final year of arbitration or contract: Ryan Flaherty as a utility infielder, and Miguel Gonzalez or Anibal Sanchez for rotation. And of course, I always recommend signing as many guys to minor league deals in hopes that they might bounce back.

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

The Ryan Howard Era is Officially Over in Philly

Guest Post By: Will Kay

It was no surprise to Philadelphia fans and sportswriters who cover major league baseball that the Phillies officially ended their 15-year relationship with slugger Ryan Howard by declining his $23 million option for next year. Instead, the Phillies will pay Howard $10 million sum to buy out the 2017 option and release him to seek employment elsewhere as a free agent. Howard, who will soon be 37, says he intends to play for another club in 2017. "I know there's more in the tank,'' he said recently.

Even with his sterling record with the Phillies, Howard might find it difficult to sign a guaranteed contract because of his age. His only option would then be to win a job in spring training or retirement.

Although he tied for the Phillies team lead in in 2016 with 25 home runs, his batting average declined to a career-low of only .196. This was a far cry from the young Ryan Howard who was named the National League MVP in 2006 when he hit 58 home runs, had 149 RBIs and posted a .313 batting average.

The slugger helped the Phillies win the World Series over the Tampa Bay Rays in 2008 when he hit three home runs and had six RBIs in Philadelphia's five-game victory. In 2009, Howard was named the National League Championship Series MVP in a five-game victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers. He batted .333 against the Dodgers with two home runs and eight RBIs.

Howard ranks second only behind Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt in homeruns for the Phillies with 382, and his total of 1,294 RBIs ranks him third in the club’s history. Based on his early success, the three-time All-Star signed a five-year, $125MM extension with the Phillies in April of 2010. Unfortunately, the deal was disastrous for the team. From the point forward, Howard batted a meek .240 in 3,386 plate appearances. He did add another 160 more homers, but his declining offense, inability to run bases and lack of defense eventually caught up with his career. To the Phillies credit, they respected Howard enough not to trade him at any point for young talent.

One thing is certain about Ryan Howard: he leaves behind a lot of loyal fans who were sorry to see him leave. During a drawn-out “farewell tour” at the end of the 2016 season, Howard did his best to hold back his feelings. But he finally gave in to his emotions during a tribute to him before his final game with the Phillies. His voice cracked and the tears welled up as he spoke to the crowd of 36,935 fans at Citizens Bank Park. When Howard said that he was just a laid-back cat from St. Louis out here trying to play ball, the crowd roared their approval. They continued even louder win Howard added, “It's been fun, man, these last 12 years. You guys all made it possible.”

A bronze plaque was then unveiled by Howard’s son, Darian. It recognizes Howard’s club record 58 homers in 2006 and will be placed in the spot where the 58th home run ball landed in the left field seats. Mike Schmidt was also on hand to make the presentation to Howard.

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Phillies Roundup

*Matt Stairs has been named the Phillies newest hitting coach. He has a tall task ahead of him, as the Phils were the shittiest offense in the Majors last season. They've got nowhere to go but up. I like the hire, as Stairs was always referred to as a "professional hitter", which means he knew what he was doing. Now it's time he teach others what to do...like blast moonshots deep into the night.
*John Kruk recently ended his tenure with ESPN, but it looks like their loss might become our gain. Rumor has it he is in discussions with Comcast Sports Network to join the Phillies broadcast booth, which will be the best thing since Harry Kalas rocked the mic.

*Not everything was horrible for the Phillies in 2016, Odubel Herrera and Freddy Galvis played some sparkling defense and have been nominated at CF and SS respectively. What what it's worth, I would liked to see Cesar Hernandez added to the second base group too.

*Aaron Nola is healing and should be ready to go for Spring Training. He is a BIG part of the Phillies future, so that's great news.

*Aaron Brown/OF, Mitch Walding/3B, Scott Kingery/2B, Jeff Singer/RP, Victor Arano/RP, and Miguel Nunez/RP are representing the Phillies in the Arizona Fall League. Kingery has been named to the All-Star squad, but Singer, Nunez, and Walding have been the ones shining. Singer - 0.00 ERA and 0.72 WHIP in 9.2 IP with 8 K. Nunez - 1.13 ERA and 1.13 WHIP in 8 IP. Walding - .325/.924 in 13 G.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Predicting the Phillies Offseason

While the Philadelphia Phillies only managed to win 71 games during the 2016 season, fans have to be encouraged by the team's performance. The team maintained a .500 winning percentage for most of the season before a poor second half derailed their season. This decline can be attributed to injuries and young players getting tired after a long season. The Phillies still have to be happy with the way most of their young players progressed during the 2016 season. Since the team is filled with so many youngsters, it is pretty easy to breakdown what to expect from the team during free agency this offseason.

The biggest name on the team that has the potential to be a free-agent this offseason is first baseman Ryan Howard. While the Phillies have the option to resign Howard for one more season, they have already expressed their desires to cut ties with him. Howard was one of the hitters in baseball when he signed a five-year contract worth $125 million in 2012.Howard's performance immediately started to decline as soon as he signed that big contract. While he has hit at least 23 home runs the last three seasons, Howard does not make enough contact to get consistent playing time with the Phillies.

The most productive Phillies player hitting the free agent market this off-season is starting pitcher Jeremy Hellickson. The Phillies will provide a qualifying offer worth $17.2 million to Hellickson, but he will be looking for a long-term contract after his impressive 2016 season. The Phillies most likely will not be willing to provide big money to him for more than one year because of the young pitching depth in the organization. If Hellickson signs with another team, the Phillies will be awarded a first-round pick in the 2017 draft.

Backup catcher A.J Ellis is also likely to leave the team this offseason. While Ellis would be a great fit for the team, he seems to be only interested in playing for the Dodgers next year. If Ellis does not get to return as Clayton Kershaw's personal catcher in Los Angeles, then he will likely retire.

The free agent that appears most likely to resign with the Phillies is Andres Blanco. The utility infielder has been a solid performer during his three years with the team. Since he is unlikely to get much interest from other teams, the Phillies should be able to get Blanco fairly cheap. The veteran infielder will continue to serve as a mentor to the young stars of the Phillies as his career comes to end in a few years.

Outfielder Peter Bourjos and reliever David Hernandez are the final two Phillies entering free agency this offseason. Philadelphia will likely show moderate interest in both players. The team will seek to upgrade each position, but will have no problem bringing back either player if their other options do not pan out. Since he will get less interest from other teams, Bourjos seems more likely to return than David Hernandez.

*Guest Post by Will Kay

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

The Howard - Final 2016 Standings

The Howard- when a player strikes out, commits an error, and hits a homerun all within the same game.  Lovingly named after the Philadelphia Phillies slugger, Ryan Howard.

Congratulations to Kyle Seager of the Seattle Mariners. His team might have the longest playoff drought in MLB, but they can claim this prestigious honor at the very least.

The Howard - Final 2016 Standings
K. Seager/SEA- 5
A. Duvall/CIN- 4
D. Espinosa/WSH- 4
A. Rosales/SDP- 4
M. Sano/MIN- 4
C. Davis/BAL- 3
N. Hundley/COL- 3
B. Lawrie/CHW- 3
R. Odor/TEX- 3
J. Baez/CHC- 2
B. Belt/SFG- 2
A. Bregman/HOU- 2
C. Carter/MIL- 2
Y. Escobar/LAA- 2
T. Flowers/ATL- 2
T. Frazier/CHW- 2
F. Galvis/PHI- 2
A. Garcia/ATL- 2
D. Gregorius/NYY- 2
J. Lamb/ARI- 2
A. Russell/CHC- 2
E. Suarez/CIN- 2
Y. Tomas/ARI- 2
N. Walker/NYM- 2
T. White/HOU- 2
M. Wieters/BAL- 2
M. Williamson/SFG- 2
C. Adames/COL- 1
M. Adams/STL- 1
Y. Alonso/OAK- 1
T. Anderson/CHW- 1
E. Andrus/TEX- 1
O. Arcia/MIN- 1
J. Arrieta/CHC- 1
A. Beltre/TEX- 1
X. Bogaerts/BOS- 1
J. Bradley/BOS- 1
J. Bruce/CIN- 1
B. Buxton/MIN- 1
K. Calhoun/LAA- 1
W. Castillo/ARI- 1
S. Castro/NYY- 1
C. Colon/KCR- 1
M. Conforto/NYM- 1
W. Contreras/CHC- 1
Z. Cozart/CIN- 1
C. Crisp/OAK- 1
K. Davis/OAK- 1
D. DeShields/TEX- 1
A. Diaz/STL- 1
A. Dickerson/SDP- 1
S. Drew/WSH- 1
L. Forsythe/TBR- 1
M. Franco/PHI- 1
J. Gallo/TEX- 1
S. Gennett/MIL- 1
P. Goldschmidt/ARI- 1
Y. Grandal/LAD-
C. Headley/NYY- 1
J. Heyward/CHC- 1
A. Judge/NYY- 1
H. Kendrick/LAD- 1
I. Kinsler/DET- 1
P. Kivlehan/SDP- 1
E. Longoria/TBR- 1
M. Machado/BAL- 1
K. Maeda/LAD- 1
M. Maldonado/MIL- 1
J. Marte/LAA- 1
J. Martinez/DET- 1
J. Mathis/MIA- 1
N. Mazara/TEX- 1
B. McCann/NYY- 1
J. Mercer/PIT- 1
M. Montero/CHC- 1
M. Moreland/TEX- 1
W. Myers/SDP- 1
M. Napoli/CLE- 1
D. Navarro/CHW- 1
H. Perez/MIL- 1
T. Plouffe/MIN- 1
G. Polanco/PIT- 1
H. Ramirez/BOS- 1
J. Ramirez/CLE- 1
J. Realmuto/MIA- 1
H. Renfroe/SDP- 1
J. Reyes/NYM- 1
M. Reynolds/COL- 1
R. Rua/TEX- 1
J. Salty/DET- 1
D. Santana/MIL- 1
R. Schimpf/SDP- 1
J. Schoop/BAL- 1
J. Segura/ARI- 1
T. Shaw/BOS- 1
J. Smoak/TOR- 1
M. Smith/ATL- 1
Y. Solarte/SDP- 1
S. Souza/TBR- 1
T. Story/COL- 1
A. Susac/MIL- 1
N. Syndergaard/NYM- 1
M. Teixeira/NYY- 1
M. Trumbo/BAL- 1
J. Upton/DET- 1
P. Valaika/COL- 1
B. Wallace/SDP- 1
B. Wilson/TBR- 1
C. Yelich/MIA- 1

Inside the Numbers:
*151 Howards were committed in 2016, which ranks at the top of the pack since the stat's creation prior to the 2009 season. It's no surprise either, considering more homeruns were in this year than any other year in the history of baseball, except for 2000. Year - # of Howards: 2009- 111, 2010- 112, 2011- 107, 2012- 129, 2013- 92, 2014- 118, 2015- 116, 2016- 151.

*The 2015 Howards standings will be archived on the right sidebar of the blog.

Monday, October 03, 2016

2016 Player Review: Cedric Hunter

Editor's Note: This is the first in a series of looks at the men who suited up for the 2016 Philadelphia Phillies

Cedric Hunter was easy to pull for.
A former top prospect - a third rounder who reached No. 97 on Baseball Prospectus' top 100 list - he arrived in Spring Training and tore the cover off the ball. I remember seeing him jerk balls into the seats at Bright House Field and thinking, "Maybe he's the next Greg Dobbs."
He made the team out of Spring Training and got his first taste of the Big Leagues in five years. This was going to be a beautiful narrative.
Then the season started and he looked, well, lost.

The numbers are brutal.
He went 3-for-34 with one solo homer.
He left 2016 with a .088/.139/.176 slash line.
If you add those numbers, you get .403.
That's not even a great slugging percentage.
Of course, the baseball gods being the evil monsters that they are, he went back down to Triple-A and hit .294/.324/.433 with 10 homers.
Let's talk about the baseball gods.
They really and truly are malicious beings.
Poor Cedric. Since 2014, he's basically hit .290/.333/.438 in the minors. The guy is so close to being a Big League player. But he's probably never going to be. Can you imagine what that must be like?
Growing up, I remember going to Red Barons games and watching Jon Zuber play.
You probably don't remember him.
Zuber arrived in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre two years after I became a baseball fan and quickly became one of my favorite players. He was a left-handed hitting first baseman/outfielder.
His first year, he hit .287/.360/.378 in 470 plate appearances. His second year, he hit .311/.394/.417. His problem was that he had no power or speed.
But the guy could hit. And he could get on base.
There's a part of me that always wondered if he'd played for Oakland, would he have ended up in the Big Leagues.
He got a brief appearance in 1996, hitting .253/.296./330 in 30 games for the 96 Phils.
In 1997, Zuber tore the International League to shreds. He hit .315/.421/.451 with 37 doubles and six homers. In 126 games, he scored 85 runs.
Here's the reason I think Zuber and Hunter are different.
Both played for franchises with bad teams. But Hunter was clearly outplayed by the likes of Peter Borjous (Yeah, that's how bad the outfield was this year) and Tyler Goeddel.
Meanwhile, the 1997 Phillies saw Greg Jefferies play 130 games, Midre Cummings play 63 games and Darren Daulton play 84 games.
Ruben Amaro was actually second in games played in the outfield, playing in 117, despite getting just 175 at-bats.
Zuber probably would have provided better value in the outfield than some of the guys who took up at-bats in 1997.
He returned to the Red Barons in 1998 and looked good again, hitting .325/.414/.479.
He got a call up that season and hit .244/.346/.489.
The point in looking at these two guys is that they were clearly extremely good baseball players. But they never stuck in the big leagues for one reason or another.

Season Grade
Will we see him back in 2017?

Saturday, October 01, 2016

Yet Another Loss

Screw this offense.
Screw this bullpen.
Screw the manager.
Please upgrade for 2017.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

I Hate This Bullpen

After starter Jake Thompson was chased from the game today, the Phillies ran out a quintet of relievers that were nothing short of disastrous. The score ended 17-0 in favor of the Mets and the Phils are left wondering just how bad can this bullpen be.

Today's 5 Relievers:
Phil Klein - 11.81/2.44
Colton Murray - 6.43/1.43
Frank Hermann - 8.78/1.65
Patrick Schuster - 48.60/5.40
Luis Garcia - 5.93/1.83

If that doesn't paint the picture of pathetically putrid poop for ya, check out these other relievers that have pitched for the Phillies this season too.

Other Shitty Relievers:
Severino Gonzalez - 5.35/1.31
Elvis Araujo - 5.60/1.90
Michael Mariot - 5.68/1.42
Adrew Bailey - 6.40/1.45
Daniel Stumpf - 10.80/2.20
James Russell - 18.69/3.23

Special Notes:
*Frank Hermann has allowed 7 HR in 13.1 IP. I'm honestly not sure if I were pitching that I could give up quite that many homeruns in such a short time. Of course, my ERA would be more along the lines of Schuster's than Hermann's.

*Patrick Schuster was bad with the A's earlier this season when he made his debut (10.80/2.25), but now he is downright terrible. The worst.

*Collectively the bullpen has 4.90 ERA and 1.44 WHIP with 79 homeruns surrendered. The ERA ranks 27th, WHIP 26th, and HR allowed 29th.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Reflections on a bad loss.

My god, that was brutal. Thursday night's loss to the New York Mets occurred during the final month of a season in which the Phillies never had any legitimate hope for a postseason berth. That didn't stop that 9-8 fiasco from stinging a lot. The Phillies have shown a marked improvement over last season. With nine games to play, they've already won six more games than last season. And we've seen the growth of several players. We now know Jerad Eickhoff can be part of the starting rotation for the next few years. Odubel Herrera has an All Star game on his resume. Cameron Rupp has developed. So has - to plenty of people's surprise - Cesar Hernandez. Tommy Joseph looks like a Big League bat. Vincent Velasquez looks like a Big League arm. And the Phillies were about to win their 70th game of the season, their third in a row. Then they coughed up the lead and the likely post-season-playing Mets had momentum. But no, the Phillies took the lead in the tenth. This was going to be one of those wins you looked back on in 2017 saying, "That's when I knew we had finally turned a corner." Instead, they coughed up another lead. Just brutal. I know I haven't been around the past month or so as much as I'd like to be. We're having a baby and my laptop is on the fritz. (The C button isn't working.) So it wasn't that this season beat me down and I stopped posting. Anyway, it's easy to get caught up in the negative. But we can't forget this season has been, by almost all accounts, a success. The franchise has turned a corner. The young kids are arriving in droves. And, with few exceptions, they're proving to be capable big leaguers. So that loss stung. But I think the Phillies might do even better than my preseason prediction of 72 wins. I'll definitely take that. In the coming weeks, I plan on doing a break down of each player who was on the team this year. It will be fun, but informed. Hope you enjoy them.

Monday, September 19, 2016

2 More Weeks, 12 More Games

The 2016 Philadelphia Phillies season in winding down. Two weeks and twelve games remain. At 67-83 a winning record or even .500 is unattainable. However, there is still reason to care about the waning moments...

Saying farewell to one of the best sluggers in Phillies history, Ryan Howard.

Getting a further look at Alec Asher and Jake Thompson in the rotation.

Seeing more out of Michael Mariot and Joely Rodriguez in relief.

Playing Aaron Altherr, Odubel Herrera, and Roman Quinn in the outfield together in preparation for that trio moving forward in 2017.

Getting some more at bats for Jorge Alfaro.

Seeing who wins the Phillies homerun crown for the year: Ryan Howard and Maikel Franco at 22 apiece and Tommy Joseph and Freddy Galvis each with 20.

Jerad Eickhoff gets 3 more starts and possibly racks up 200 innings (currently with 180.1).

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Bad Jeanmar, Good Otero & Rivera

1. Jeanmar Gomez was thrust into the closer's role out of necessity in April and has stuck there ever since. His first half of the season was fantastic, but the second half has been disastrous.

Pre All-Star Break: 39 G, 24 SV, 2.59 ERA, 1.10 WHIP
Post All-Star Break: 26 G, 12 SV, 5.63 ERA, 1.71 WHIP

It's time to hand over the reigns to Hector Neris in save situations to close out the year and move Jeanmar back into a setup role.
2. Dan Otero was on the Phillies 40-man roster for a minute during the offseason after a waiver claim. However, he was designated for assignment and ended up with the Indians. Cleveland is thankful for the Phils mistake, as Otero has pitched brilliantly over 56 G and 62.1 IP. He sports a sparkling 1.58 ERA and 0.98 WHIP. The Phillies need that type of guy in their bullpen, but instead we suffer through the likes of Luis Garcia, Michael Mariot, Daniel Stumpf, James Russell, Brett Oberholtzer, Elvis Araujo, Adrew Bailey, Patrick Schuster, and Frank Herrmann. Good job Klentak.

3. Remember when I wanted the Phillies to take TJ Rivera in the Rule 5 draft? Well, they took the shitty hitting Tyler Goeddel with their 1st pick instead.  Rivera tore through Triple-A pitching this season (.353/.909 in 105 G) and has continued that trend since his promotion to the Mets (.333/.764 in 17 G). Goeddel, on the other hand, is clearly over-matched (.184/.533 over 90 G). Also, Rivera can play 2nd, 3rd and SS while Goeddel can basically only man corner OF. Good job Klentak. Noticing a pattern yet?

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Peter Bourjos' Defense is Entirely Overrated

I'm tired of hearing about Peter Bourjos' defensive wizardry. He has been worth a collective -0.7 dWAR over the past 2 seasons, progressively getting worse each season. He's a free agent and should not be back with the Phillies next year, so why the hell does the almighty leader, Mackanin, continue to plug him into the lineup? The Phillies are the owners of the worst offense in MLB, so scoring more runs is essential to their improvement. Bourjos' scathing .686 OPS ain't doing it. I understand there may not be better options currently on the roster, but since this season is all about rebuilding, it's prudent that younger players that are likely to remain with the organization past this season be given opportunities (Goeddel, Paredes, Asche, Quinn, Ruf). Bourjos is quite possibly better defensively and offensively than that group, but he's not sticking around beyond 2016, so it doesn't make sense to keep playing him over players that could be part of the solution moving forward. It would have been nice if he was traded in August for anything, so that Mackanin didn't have him as an option.
"At this point it's flip a coin. I don't want to sound down about it, but we've got so many guys, and who do I play? I don't know. It's a guessing game. But when it comes to something like that, I'm going to play the best defense. Peter Bourjos is hard to take out of the lineup because he provides that defense."
~Mackanin in regards to finding playing time for everyone
The Howard Update:
Kyle Seager of the Seattle Mariners has pulled away from the pack with 2 Howards this week, upping his season total to 5. There's still time for others to catch him, but the better start mashing and hacking.

Sunday, September 04, 2016

Some Sorta Terrible

This season was supposed to be a glimpse into the future of the Phillies. Well, I've gotten an eyeful and the future is bleak.  Regression, underperforming, stagnation, dismal.
Maikel Franco has 22 homeruns. Big f'n deal. Everyone is hitting homeruns this year. Steve Jeltz came out of retirement yesterday and went deep twice. His .732 OPS ranks 123rd out of 153 qualified batters and 23rd out of 24 qualified third basemen. That's shitty from the guy who was supposed to be THE GUY in the middle of the lineup.

Odubel Herrera has fallen apart, both defensively and offensively.

Aaron Altherr is proving all his doubters to be spot-on prognosticators.

Cody Asche...hahaha.

Darin Ruf...hardy-har-har.

Tyler Goeddel hits like he hasn't even hit puberty yet.

Freddy Galvis apparently goes into anaphylactic shock if he takes a walk.

Ryan Howard, well, he's Ryan Howard, enough said.

Aaron Nola took two steps forward early in the season to be bounced backward by the world's hardest hitting bumper car.

Zach Eflin showed up and put up numbers like he never should have.

Jake Thompson also showed up and has also put up numbers like he never should have.

Adam Morgan added 2 mph to his fast ball and 2 runs to his ERA.

The bullpen has been a rotating door of crap, poop, shit, and other fecal matter.

Taylor Featherston, Emmanuel Burriss, and Cedric Hunter are a combined 11-102. Pluck any Single-A player from whatever Podunk town and they would fair better.

Top prospects JP Crawford and Nick Williams puttered about in Triple-A for the majority of the season. Not sure why they weren't promoted, they'd have fit in perfectly with all the other underperforming players on the Phillies.

Cesar Hernandez, Cameron Rupp, Tommy Joseph, Jerad Eickhoff, Jeremy Hellickson, Hector Neris, Vincent Velasquez, and Jeanmar Gomez were the only positives, but none of them lit the world on fire.

The Phillies have the worst offense in MLB and have been outscored by the next lowest team (Braves) by 23 runs. They have the 2nd lowest batting average, lowest on base percentage, second lowest slugging percentage, and lowest OPS. Great job fellas! Their pitching hasn't been much better either, ranking 25th in ERA. So, despite their record, I am officially giving the Phillies the deSTINKtion as the worst team in baseball.

It's difficult to blog about, sorry.

Friday, September 02, 2016

Series Preview: Braves at Phillies III

The Phillies need to turn things around, having gone 4-10 since pulling within six games of a .500 record. They stand at 60-73 after being swept by the Nationals and losing two of three to the New York Mets. The baseball gods must be smiling on the Phillies, because they tossed the Braves on their plate. As bad as the Phillies are, they have to be looking to win or sweep this series.

The games
Friday, Sept. 2: 7:05 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 3: 7:05 p.m.
Sunday, Sept. 4: 1:35 p.m.

The matchups
Joel De La Cruz (0-7, 4.66) vs Jeremy Hellickson (10-8, 3.80)
Gant (1-3, 4.59) vs Vincent Velasquez (8-6, 4.21)
Julio Teheran (4-9, 3.12) vs Jake Thompson (1-4, 7.86)

What we know about the Braves
The Braves are the worst team in the National League, a full nine games behind the Phillies in the NL East. So far, the Phillies have an 8-5 record against Atlanta and they should improve on that this weekend.

Matchup we can't wait to see Since he's still on the roster, every one of Jeremy Hellickson's starts is a must follow. If he can pull off a handful of quality starts as the season comes to a close, he'll clearly get an offer that will make him spurn the Phillies' qualifying offer. That means an extra draft pick in 2017.

What we're looking forward to
Odubel Herrera has been in freefall for quite awhile now. Since May 28, he's hitting .257/.311/.381. That's just not cutting it. I think there's a big reason that the Phillies have gone 34-51 since that day. Herrera has mediocre numbers against the Braves. In 32 games, he's got four homers and a .266/319/.414 line. His most recent series against the Braves saw him go 3-for-18 with one walk and no extra base hits. If he can turn it around against the Braves, the Phillies will have a chance to bounce back.  

Friday, August 26, 2016



Carlos Ruiz was us. Despite having the toughest job on the field, he seemed the most like one of us. He was our avatar on one of the most dominant teams in Philadelphia Phillies.

Look at the rest of the main cast of characters.
For five years, Ryan Howard was a beast who could hit balls farther, with more regularity, than any player in team history. And he always seemed to be on fire when it mattered most.
Chase Utley was basically a god. He was the player we wished we were and that our sons would become. He was almost perfect.
Jimmy Rollins had a brash Philadelphia swagger, but he brought so much more to the table. It's hard to imagine yourself as the leadoff-hitting shortstop who wins MVPs.
Pat Burrell was the hyped draft-pick who made good, but not great.
Cole Hamels. He was Hollywood.
Roy Halladay was the right hand of God.
Cliff Lee was God's left hand.
Jason Werth was a freak who looked like that stoner in your Sunday softball league. Except he was an MLB All-Star. He was a huge man, who could run like the wind.
Shane Victorino had the energy and enthusiasm of a young fan, but again, he could do things none of us could really imagine doing.
Then there was Chooch.
Carlos Ruiz wasn't a big guy. He wasn't a fast guy. He seemed like everyone's little brother, but he somehow had everyone's respect. He was the guy Roy Halladay admired. He had a rifle for an arm and tackled the toughest job on the field with aplomb for much of his tenure in Philadelphia.
But still, he didn't seem as godlike or distant as his teammates.
His biggest hit was a 15 foot roller out in front of home plate, that's the hit we could get if we had 100 at-bats. But his won a World Series game. His best season came after the team fell into decline.
I thought it was perfect that he was one of the last two players from the glory years to survive.
He deserved that. We deserved that.


Friday, August 19, 2016

Series preview: Cardinals at Phillies

So it sounds like J.P. Crawford might not get called up in September.
I have no problem with that.
It's a numbers game. The Phillies have several prospects who need to end up on the 40-man roster so they are protected when the Rule 5 draft comes around. Crawford hasn't been around as long and doesn't need protection. I'm sure the franchise isn't considering holding off starting his arbitration clock until May, right?

This year is about finding what you have and this team is finding out it has some interesting offensive pieces. Not bringing up Crawford might mean finding out more about some other guys.

Here's what we know about guys already in the big leagues.

A. Maikel Franco is developing into a legitimate power threat. The 23-year-old has 22 homers this year. It's not hard to imagine him ending up with 25 homers and 25 doubles on the season.
I'm not sure you can rely on a guy with a sub-7 walk rate to be a 3 or 4 hitter, especially if he's got a sub .300 batting average on balls in play, but Franco could be a fantastic 5-hole hitter in the coming years.
B. Odubel Herrera has shown us two different players. In the first half he was a patient hitter who got all-star-level results. In the second half, he's been overly aggressive and seen his production plummet. He's also not a fantastic center fielder, but he's got speed to burn. He's also got more home run pop than the Phillies seemed to expect. In a lot of ways, he's a poor man's Jimmy Rollins. If he can stay focused for an entire season, he will be an MVP candidate.
C. Cameron Rupp is a solid backstop with a lot of pop. No one should be uncomfortable with him holding down the position for another year or more as the younger catchers make their way onto the roster.
D.  Tommy Joseph is a professional hitter who belongs in the Major Leagues. Maybe he's not the long-term answer at first base, but he's not bad to have around. He's got the power to hit 20-25 homers in a 500 at-bat season.
E. Cesar Hernandez has a lot of flaws, but he provides some value.
F. Aaron Altherr has  some Jayson Werth potential. If he can stay healthy, he can be an impact bat. I'm not sold that's what he'll be, but he should be good.

This isn't a bad foundation to build on offensively. I'm not saying all of these guys are starters on a contending team, but I think they can be pieces on one, or be traded to get you pieces.

The Phillies have two outfielders they're likely to call up soon in Nick Williams and Roman Quinn.
Williams is in a bit of a slump and is hitting .268/.335/.478 in Triple-A. Quinn is hitting .271/.362/.402 with 27 stolen bases for Reading. But he's missed a ton of time again. He's never played in 90 games in a minor league season, so the Phillies don't really know what to expect. Both of these guys will likely need some September at-bats in a very crowded outfield.
The Phillies will also, according to most reports, call up Jorge Alfaro.  He's a catcher who will get some games in and give Rupp and Carlos Ruiz a rest.

If the Phillies can end September by solidifying their opinions on the guys listed above and getting a solid look at the young kids, that's a good cap to the season.

Sure, we all want to see Crawford, but he doesn't need to be called up and take space on the 40-man roster before the Rule 5 draft this winter.

Before all that unfolds, the Phillies have to face the Cardinals this weekend. Let's take a look at what to expect.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Series Preview - Chase Utley at Phillies

Let's keep this simple.
All you need to know about this series is two things.
1. The Phillies are playing very well of late. Winners of four straight, they've also gone 26-20 since June 23. Thanks to this recent run and their hot start to the season, the Phillies have a legitimate shot at .500 - they're 7 games off that pace - and a not so legitimate shot at finishing with a Wild Card berth, currently 6.5 back.*
2. Chase Utley is coming home. Let's get something out of the way. If anyone boos Utley tonight - the likely culprit will be one of those guys who chants E-A-G-L-E-S at a Phillies, Flyers or Sixers playoff games and also probably buys shirts two sizes too small - they shouldn't be assaulted. They should be shunned. For at least six years. I felt the same way about all the members of the 2008 team, from Burrell to Werth.

I would love to see three things happen tonight:
    A. The Phillies fans give Utley a standing ovation as Kashmir plays while Chase walks to the batters' box for each of his at-bats.
    B. Chase Utley hit a late triple to tie the game.   
    C. Phillies end the evening with their winning streak in tact.

*If you can't tell the difference between going 25-18 the rest of the way to finish 81-81 and making up the ground needed to earn a Wild Card berth, that's on you.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Oh Hinojosa, Where Art Thou?

As the Phillies bullpen continues to struggle, one has to wonder...What the hell happened to Dalier Hinojosa? You know, the Cuban that came over from the BoSox last season via waiver claim that was lights out. The same guy that did alright to begin the season, but then landed on the DL. Since he hit the DL back in late April, he's been stuck in minor league purgatory even after fully recovering. Instead of continually having to suffer through Andrew Bailey (thank goodness that's over) or Luis Garcia or Elvis Araujo, why not give someone who's had nothing but success at the MLB level another chance?!
Dalier Hinojosa - 28 G, 34 IP, 29 K, 1.59 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, and a 1.1 WAR since joining the Phillies in 2015.

It's a head scratcher.

Quick Hits:
Ryan Howard is hitting .386 with five home runs and 13 RBI since the All-Star break. I've done my fair share of Howard bashing over the season, perhaps even too much, but I still love watching him get ahold of a baseball and driving it deep into the night. It would be awesome if he continues this second half bounce back performance to end his Phillies career on a good note.

Jake Thompson not only picked up his 1st MLB victory last night, he also became on the 2nd pitcher in Phillies' franchise history to record 4 strikeouts in 1 inning.

I've heard the idea of moving Aaron Altherr to center field and Odubel Herrera to right field. I like it, Altherr is like a gazelle gliding over the grasslands of the outfield and Herrera's defense will likely improve with the shift as well.

Sixto Sanchez, an 18 year old pitcher for the Gulf Coast Phillies rookie ball team, is having himself one helluva season. 9 games started, 43 IP, 33 K, 0.42 ERA, and a 0.81 WHIP. He hasn't allowed an earned run over this last 6 appearances, spanning 30 innings.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Off Day Ramblings

The Phillies have the day off, so I thought I'd offer some ramblings that have been on my mind...
*Dan Otero - 42 G, 47 IP, 40 K, 1.53 ERA, 1.00 WHIP with Indians. He was Phillies property this offseason. Shouldn't have let him go! He'd really help sure up their craptastic bullpen.

*Who would you rather have:
Player A - 26 years old, .238/.276/.356/.632 batter over 435 games and 5 seasons with 55 DBL, 14 TRPL, 31 HR, 148 R, 150 RBI, 24 SB, and a 0.5 WAR.
Player B - 26 years old, .275/.336/.347/.683 batter over 338 games and 4 seasons with 38 DBL, 12 TRPL, 4 HR, 129 R, 76 RBI, 31 SB, and a 1.1 WAR.
Both are middle infielders. Player A is Freddy Galvis and Player B is Cesar Hernandez. Neither is a superstar, but Cesar's game seems to be continuing to progress while Freddy's has seemed to stall. I prefer Cesar, but unfortunately it doesn't appear Pete Mackanin does.

*A pair of sluggers playing for the Reading Fightins have me excited. Rhys Hoskins/1B and Dylan Cozens/RF are having themselves a helluva season. Hoskins is 23 years old and is following up his productive 2015 season with an even bigger year - 110 G, .282/.959, 80 R, 24 DBL, 35 HR, 104 RBI, 4 SB. Cozens is 22 years old and built like a linebacker, but he's only had marginal success prior to his breakout performance this year - 109 G, .290/.983, 92 R, 33 DBL, 32 HR, 104 RBI, 19 SB.

*I really looking forward to watching the young Phillies starting pitchers progress this season. It really hasn't gone that way though. Eickhoff looks to be solid and has been pretty consistent for most of the season. Velasquez definitely has the potential and filthy pitches to succeed, but he is going to implode every now and again, and doesn't work deep in the game. Nola took a big step backward and is health is a bit of a concern. Eflin showed he can dominate, but also showed he can get torched. He doesn't miss enough bats, which worries me, and his knee issues are worrisome too. Thompson only just made his debut, so I'll wait a bit longer to judge him.

Monday, August 08, 2016

Series Preview: Phillies at Dodgers

Who is Cesar Hernandez? Kid has been around for four years. People have dug in. A lot of the online community loathes the fact he gets regular at-bats. But some fans still like him. I'll admit I'm somewhere in between.
Hernandez looked like he'd had a career year last season when he put up a .272/.339/.348 with 19 stolen bases and 25 extra-base hits.
But, after struggling in May, he has rebounded and is sporting a .290/.349/.374 mark this year. Despite his abundance of speed, he's just 11 for 19 in stolen base attempts. He's got a 1.1 WAR so far.
Because of his flaws - a lack of home run power and a slightly above average glove for a primary position - it's hard to imagine Hernandez as being one of the building blocks for the franchise.
If his base-running were better and he could get his on-base percentage up a tick, that might change.
Say he sported a .290/.360/.375 mark next year. That's not anything to sneeze at if he added in 25 stolen bases and 25 extra-base hits.
But here's the thing, which player would you rather have around next year to play second base: Hernandez or Freddy Galvis?
Those are the likely options next year, if the team doesn't go outside the organization. Galvis has more home run power and his a superior defender, but I'm not sold he helps the lineup in 2017. His low on-base percentage is brutal. His on-base percentage is lower than Hernandez' career batting average.
So who is Cesar Hernandez? Is he the 2017 Phillies' second baseman? Is he the backup infielder? Is he a future Atlantic Leaguer?

The games
Monday, Aug. 8: 10:10 p.m.
Tuesday, Aug. 9: 10:10 p.m.
Wednesday, Aug. 10: 3:10 p.m.

The matchups
Zach Eflin (3-4, 4.77) vs Julio Urias (1-2, 4.98)
Vincent Velasquez (8-3, 3.33) vs Kente Maeda (10-7, 3.22)
Jeremy Hellickson (9-7, 3.72) vs Scott Kazmir (11-5, 4.51)

What we know about the Dodgers
Los Angeles has the highest payroll in baseball. The money isn't being spent badly, on whole; but it could be better. They sit in a Wild Card position and are sniffing the Giants' tails in the West. They have the fourth best pitching staff, ERA wise.The offense is a bit scattershot. It's in the bottom half of the league as far as runs and on-base percentage go.
Their big problem: Clayton Kershaw sits on the DL.

Best matchup
Velasquez versus Maeda should be a good game. They both can dominate a lineup. The Dodgers are a playoff team and their likely No. 1 postseason starter is Maeda.

What we can't wait to see
Julio Urias has been one of the most talked about prospects in baseball for more than a year now. Kid is just 19. He'll likely be around for awhile, so enjoy your first look at him.

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Series Preview: Giants at Phillies

So Matt Klentak didn't trade Jeremy Hellickson.
I don't think this was the screw up everyone else thinks it was, but I wish we knew what offers were made.
While everyone is pointing to the chances that the Phillies could get a draft pick if the right-hander turns down a qualifying offer this offseason as the main factor in the Phillies' decisions, I think another factor hasn't been talked about.
Just look at the previous highs in a season for the Phillies young hurlers compared to this year.

Aaron Nola: 187/111
Jerad Eickhoff: 184/132
Vincent Velasquez 124*/102.2
Zach Eflin 131/123.2
Jake Thompson 132/129
Ben Lively 143/74.1
* 2013

So, aside from Nola and Eickhoff, you're about to blow past the supposed innings limits on Eflin, Velasquez and Thompson.
I think there's a solid chance we see Ben Lively eat some innings in September. Maybe even Adam Morgan or Brett Oberholzer.
But having Hellickson around definitely eases any concerns. It's a lot easier on the young guys if he, Nola and Eickhoff shoulder the bulk of the upcoming innings.

That being said, with all the rumors that swirled around, it was a bit of a disappointment to not see something done.

As a professional journalist, the trade deadline bothers me. I see a lot of bad journalism out there. At one point, I saw two respected national journalists tweeting out conflicting reports on Hellickson. One said he was staying, the other said he was out the door.

Now I know a journalist is only as accurate as his or her sources. These two beat writers are being fed information and they parroted it out. I'm just not sure why. I don't get the point of the reporting. It doesn't make them more accurate. No one outside the industry gives a jolly damn about who got it first. Anyway, that's another discussion for another day.

Let's look at the Phillies first series in the dog days of August.