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.