Monday, March 28, 2016

2016 preview: Brett Oberholtzer

As we move toward the 2016 season, let us take a look at each player on the roster and what a reasonably successful season would look like. We started with Aaron Nola. Our most recent entry was Adam Morgan.

Name: Brett Oberholtzer
Position: Pitcher
Age:Was 26 in July
Bat/Throw: Left/Left
Number: 34
Experience: 45 games (42 starts)

 What we saw in 2015

Brett Oberholtzer spent half the season in the Pacific Coast League and the other half in Houston. While in Houston, he continued to be an average Major League pitcher. In 45 big league games over three seasons, he has been hit harder each year he's been in the big leagues. Oberholtzer isn't expected to start much for the Phillies. The Phillies likely won't use him as a loogy, though. His splits against lefties - .299/.321/.448 - is noticeably worse than his numbers against righties, who have hit him for a .272/.316/.406. One thing to remember about Oberholtzer is that he pitched in a home run heaven and allowed fewer than a home run every 9 innings.

Important goals for 2016 

Limit walks: Oberholtzer spent the first two years of his career in the big leagues compiling a walks-per-9 innings rate below 2. That's pretty economical. Last season, Oberholtzer more than doubled his walk rate, hitting 4.0. He's got to go back to his previous numbers if he's going to be successful.
Keep missing bats: One thing Oberholtzer improved on last season was piling up strikeouts. In a small sample size, he whiffed 6.3 batters per 9, which was a tick above his normal marks. If he could keep that number up while getting his walk rate back to normal, the Phillies benefit.
Get ahead: In his first season, Oberholtzer threw a first pitch strike in 65 percent of at-bats. Since then, he's been around 60 percent. That small difference can lead to more success. It's pitching 101. If he gets ahead of 5 more batters out of every hundred, he's likely getting 4 of those guys out. That could drop a batting average against from .310 to 270.


It's hard to be too high on Oberholtzer, but he's a serviceable veteran. If he can provide leadership to the young arms and pitch better than recent years, the Phillies will be a step closer to having earned some value in the Ken Giles trade.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Player Preview: Jeanmar Gomez

As we move toward the 2016 season, let us take a look at each player on the roster and what a reasonably successful season would look like. We started with Aaron Nola. Our most recent entry was Adam Morgan. Name: Jeanmar Gomez
Position: Pitcher
Age:Was 28 in February
Bat/Throw: Right/Right
Number: 46
Experience: 185 games

Friday, March 18, 2016

Player Preview: Adam Morgan

As we move toward the 2016 season, let us take a look at each player on the roster and what a reasonably successful season would look like. We started with Aaron Nola. Our most recent entry was Darin Ruf.

Name: Adam Morgan
Position: Pitcher
Age:Was 26 in February
Bat/Throw: Left/Left
Number: 39
Experience: 15 starts

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Monday, March 14, 2016

Maikel Franco is a Beast

Maikel Franco could be on the cusp of super stardom.  He was well on his way to a fantastic rookie season before injuring his wrist and missing 2 months.  It seems he's come into Spring Training determined to become the Phillies next franchise cornerstone.  Through 11 games he's batting .367 with a lofty .967 slugging percentage, buoyed by 6 homeruns and 14 RBI.  He's a M-F'in beast!

Sunday, March 13, 2016

"It's Only Spring Training" Be Damned

"It's only Spring Training" be damned. The Phillies are winning, so let's celebrate while we can.
Record: 9-3-2

R - 86 (1st)
AVG - .289 (8th)
OPS -  .868 (5th)
DBL -  33 (2nd)
TRPL - 6 (3rd)
HR - 19 (3rd)
BB - 51 (2nd)
SB - 8 (14th)

This is encouraging. They're getting on base via hit or walk and hitting for power as well. Big whoop if it's only Spring Training, this is exactly what the Phillies needed to do this preseason to be more competitive come time when the games matter.  I'd like to see the stolen base utilized a bit more and successfully.  They have been caught stealing as many times as they've recorded an outright theft.

ERA - 3.67 (4th)
WHIP - 1.35 (13th)
K - 118 (1st)

Once again, encouraging! Keeping the WHIP in the middle of the pack are the free passes the pitching staff has surrendered (48 BB in 125 IP).  If they can harness their control, this staff is looking even better.

Things I Would Like To See:
*Carlos Ruiz traded.  Both Alfaro and Knapp will be ready sometime this season and JP Arencibia can serve as backup to Rupp until then.  If the Phils eat most of Chooch's salary, they could get a low level "prospect" in return.

*Ryan Howard swing the bat better.  He's currently 1-15 with a .258 OPS, compared to Ruf's 1.218 (although Howard missed about a week with the flu).

*More of David Lough.  With Altherr out most of the season and Asche still mending, the Phils need another outfielder.  Lough could be that guy.

*Both Hinojosa and LaFromboise to make the team.  They have both looked outstanding this Spring, and Hinojosa looked outstanding late last season too.

*Luis Garcia to get his shit together.  In 3.1 innings, he's allowed 11 base runners (8 H, 3 BB).

*Aaron Nola to have a good start.  The kid has always had his head screwed on straight, but last thing we want is him developing self-doubt to continued fails in Spring Training.

*Jerad Eickhoff back on the mound.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Player Preview: Darin Ruf

As we move toward the 2016 season, let us take a look at each player on the roster and what a reasonably successful season would look like. We started with Aaron Nola. Our most recent entry was Darnell Sweeney.

Name: Darin Ruf
Position: Infielder/Outfielder
Age: 29 in July
Bat/Throw: Right/Right
Number: 18
Experience: 262 games

What we  learned in 2015

 Darin Ruf is a solid backup first baseman. He's got some impressive pop. But I've always suspected he could be a bit more. Sure, he's not great defensively and he's slow on the base paths, but when he plays regularly, some of his faults drop away.
Ruf Started in 22 of the team's final 29 games (playing in 25). That means he started in 75 percent of the games and played in 86 percent. During that stretch, his on-base percentage was .333 and his slugging percentage was .481. Prior to that, he had played in 81 of the teams first 132 games (.613 percent) and started 40 games (.30 percent). Over those games, he had a .284 on-base percentage and a .385 slugging mark.

Important goals for 2016

Playing time: At this point, the Phillies are best served with a full Ryan Howard/Ruf platoon. They can limit each player's faults and capitalize on their strengths. I would like to see Ruf end up playing about 70 percent of the games and getting starts in 45-50 percent of them.
On-base percentage: With  his limited wheels, Ruf isn't going to find many hits on balls he doesn't hit hard. To truly be effective, he needs an on-base percentage above .330. Based on some of his minor league numbers, I don't think it's a stretch for him to reach that.
Power surge: Aside from Howard and Franco, Ruf is the team's best power source. If they're going to move forward as a team, the Phils need him to showcase that talent. Maybe he's not the first baseman of the future. But if he shows off some pop early in the season, he could be a guy who nets a prospect in the offseason or at the deadline.


For two years, I have wanted to see Ruf get 350 at-bats in a season, suspecting that could lead to 25 homers for a weak lineup. The organization probably has a spot for him over the next two seasons if he can provide that.

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Clearwater recap

Let's get the most important thing out of the way quickly.
If you have a chance to go to Spring Training, go. And I recommend going early. First of all, the games are cheaper and you get to see some of the younger guys. Also, because there are fewer fans, it seems the players are more accessible.
But it's definitely worth it. And you can do so much. Traveling to the different ballparks. Traveling to the different state and National Parks. Visiting Disney or Universal or Cape Canaveral.
Oh, and the food in Clearwater wasn't badly priced, either. We live in Wilkes-Barre, and the food wasn't much more pricey than a night out here.
Now for the on the field reaction.

Monday, March 07, 2016

Spring Training- What We've "Learned" So Far

Daniel Stumpf is the best Rule 5 draftee ever!  Not only should he make the team, but he shouldn't just be relegated to the lefty specialist role...hand him the keys to the closer's Corvette.

Aaron Nola is a wannabe.  C'mon, dude (or should I say "dud") gave up 4 runs in 2 innings and has an unsightly 18.00 ERA.  Clearly not ready to handle MLB action, send him back down to Rookie ball.

Edubray Ramos has NO control!  5 walks in a mere 2.1 innings.  His 2014 - 2015 walk rates must be a outlier (2.1 walks per 9 innings pitched).

Cedric Hunter may be an unknown minor league lifer now, but come April he'll become a MLB superstar.  How could he not be with 6 RBI and a 1.036 OPS through 5 Grapefruit League games?

Watching yesterday's game against the Yankees, I couldn't help but think "This is likely Charlie Morton's best start of the season."  Glad I tuned into the meaningless game.

Ryan Howard is going to go hitless for the entire 2016 season, but Pete Mackanin plays him everyday regardless, due to "what he's meant to the organization".  Then the Phillies do the unthinkable and actually pickup Howard's 2017 option, claiming "he's due for a rebound".

The Phillies are 3-3 through the first week of Spring Training games.  That equates to an 81-81 record over the course of an entire season.  Seems legit.

For those of you that haven't been able to decipher the amount of cynicism in my writing, shame on you.

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Clearwater: Day 4: Spring Training Opener against the Blue Jays

A bit of housecleaning before we start today's roundup. I should have mentioned I wasn't going to write anything yesterday. The Phillies had a golf outing, so we went to Bradenton for the Pirates' Black and Gold Scrimmage. It's a nice little stadium and, even though I'm supposed to not like Pittsburgh fans because I'm a Philadelphia fan, I found the people genuinely nice. But I've come to expect that. I think Pittsburgh fans a genuinely under appreciated in the sports world. They tend to be knowledgeable, friendly and passionate about their team. That said, I'm running a bit of triage because The Boy has announced he's a Pirates fan. It's hard to compete, mascot-wise. Once he met Marty, he was hooked.
The Girl, however, is firmly entrenched in Phillies camp, thanks to the Phillie Fanatic.
Now, for thoughts on today's game.