Wednesday, July 05, 2017

About to Have a Good Problem

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Taking stock, halfway through the season

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

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

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

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

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

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

Just how bad is it?

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

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

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

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

Monday, June 19, 2017

Who's been the biggest disappointment this year?

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

Which players have been most disappointing?

Monday, June 12, 2017

Phillies take Haseley in first round

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

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

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

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

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

Taking a look at the Phillies' possible draft picks

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

Who will be off the board?

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

The Fab Five

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

Austin Beck

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

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

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

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


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

Sunday, June 04, 2017

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

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

Track record

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

Kansas City Royals

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A bad fit with the Phillies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, June 03, 2017

Phillies are Garbage

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

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Phillies Keep Losing

Since the Phillies keep losing, currently on pace to lose 106 games this season, I figured I'd search for a Phillies related image that brought me a sense of joy. Here you go, may it ease your tortured Phan heart as well.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Eff This

Worst team in baseball...

Monday, May 22, 2017

Still Sad

Last 21 games for the Philadelphia Phillies has resulted in a 4-17 record. They suck.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Continued Sadness

Remember when the Phillies had that 6 game winning streak? Yeah, me too, barely. The date was April 28th and the Phils were 11-9 and heading to the West Coast to take on the Dodgers. They lost that evening and have been losing on the regular ever since. They have 3 wins over the last 16 games and have fallen to the 3rd worst record in baseball and are tied for the fewest wins in MLB. The sadness continues...

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Two-strike home runs are killing the Phillies

The Phillies have given up an absurd amount of home runs. The team has given up 48 home runs in just 30 games. That puts them on a pace for 259, which would break the record 258 allowed by the 2016 Cincinnati Reds.
The scary thing is the number of two-strike home runs the team has allowed. Let's take a look. Here are the pitchers who have been hit by two-strike home runs.

Vincent Velasquez: 4
Jeremy Hellickson: 3
Adam Morgan: 3
Nick Pivetta: 2
Joely Rodriguez: 2
Zach Eflin: 1
Aaron Nola: 1
Hector Neris: 1
Joaquin Benoit: 1
Clay Buchholtz: 1

That's 19 2-strike home runs. To put that in perspective the Kansas City Royals have given up 27 home runs total all season. The Cleveland Indians have given up just 28 home runs in 2017. Let that sink in. The Phillies have given up a two-strike homer in two out of every three games.

That's madness.

What causes it? I'm not sure. Three parties deserve some part of the blame: the pitchers who aren't executing, the catchers who are calling the two-strike pitches, the pitching coach who sets the game plan.

It's still a small sample size, but Velasquez gave up seven two-strike home runs last season (24 starts) and four in six starts this year. Hellickson gave up 10 two-strike home runs in 32 starts in 2016 compared to three in seven this year.

What's interesting is, to a large extent, the cast involved is the same. It's the same pitchers, the same starting catcher, the same pitching coach.

I'd guess something is wrong in the game plan that is leading to bad pitch calling.

Saturday, May 06, 2017

From 6 Game Winning Streak to Complete Crap in One Week

The Phillies set off to the Left Coast last week to start a 7 game road trip against the Dodgers and Cubs. They were riding high on a 6 game winning streak and looking to make a statement against formidable opponents. They were slayed. The Dodgers ended the winning streak last Friday and then a comedy of errors played out over the course of the following week. They have won one game over the past week, having gone a dismal 1-7 over that span. Relief pitching continues to plague this team. Lack of production from the corner infielders has also been a problem. This might just be a tough stretch, but closing out this series against the Nationals with two victories would certainly help boost spirits.

Monday, May 01, 2017

Release This Pitcher

The name of this blog is We Should Be GMs, so playing that role is the name of the game here. As a GM, one should always be evaluating their team and looking to make improvements wherever possible. Today I provide the reader with an exercise in roster management.

I present Exhibit A:
39 G, 36.1 IP, 8.67 ERA, 1.95 WHIP, and 7 HR allowed since All-Star break 2016.

This pitcher is not a prospect. This pitcher is not locked into a multi-year multi-million dollar contract. This pitcher owns a 0.3 WAR over 8 MLB seasons. 

What do you do with Exhibit A?

Peace out Jeanmar Gomez. Thanks for half a season of excellence followed by endless frustration.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

I Hate the 9th Inning

Relief - a feeling of reassurance and relaxation following release from anxiety or distress.

The 9th inning is a problem for the Phillies. A wasteland where seemingly quality relief pitchers go to die. If a loss is Hell then the 9th inning is the River Styx for the Phils.

Jeanmar Gomez began the season as closer and failed. Next in line was Joaquin Benoit, who also failed. Now Hector Neris. Once again, FAIL.

Collectively the Phillies bullpen has been the worst in the 9th inning onward this season, owning an 8.38 ERA and a 1.86 WHIP due to 9 homeruns allowed and a .321 average and 1.054 OPS against. Is the opposition batting Mike Trout, Eric Thames, and Ryan Zimmerman against them?!

This 2017 Phillies team is flawed and I don't have illusions of contention. However, any team, rebuilding or playoff bound, cannot continue to endure such suffering.

Maybe Mackanin should throw Mark Leiter Jr. into the fire. Couldn't do much worse...

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Series Preview: Phillies start critical road trip in Los Angeles

This might be the most important road trip the Phillies have taken since they traveled to St. Louis during the 2011 NLDS. Having started the season 11-9 and rolling into the trek on a six-game winning streak, the squad will battle two expected World Series contenders, the Los Angeles Dodgers and the reigning champion Chicago Cubs.
Coming home from the seven-game trip with three, four or five wins would be a huge boost for the young squad.
But it's not just the games on the field that will matter.
During the road trip, the Phillies will also find out how healthy Aaron Nola is. It's hard to expect the Phillies to have a strong season if Nola, who went on the new 10-day disabled list earlier this week, spends much time on the disabled list.
Luckily for the Phillies, the trip to the DL was only a precaution. Nola's back was bothering him; it wasn't the elbow that caused him to miss the final two months of last season forcing him to the DL this time around.
If Nola doesn't pitch during the road trip, the Phillies might be in trouble. As it stands, he's tentatively expected to start on May 1, the first game against the Cubs.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Let's Go Ranking

Our beloved Philadelphia Phillies are playing .500 baseball (9-9) and there are definitely some things to like through the first 18 games of the season. I don't want to be too optimistic though, as the bullpen has been garbage thus far, and the corner infielders aren't hitting. Also,  Kendrick is likely on the DL through mid-May and Nola was just disabled today. However, others are thriving and carrying the load. So, let's take a look at the Phils MLB ranks in major offensive and pitching categories.
Runs - 85 (tied for 12th)
Average - .250 (11th)
On Base % - .324 (13th)
Slugging % - .416 (11th)
OPS - .730 (15th)
Doubles - 35 (tied for 7th)
Triples - 5 (tied for 3rd)
Homeruns - 19 (tied for 19th)
Stolen Bases - 10 (tied for 11th)
Walks - 54 (23rd)
Strikeouts - 164 (24th)

ERA - 4.26 (25th)
WHIP - 1.26 (17th)
Strikeouts - 143 (tied for 19th)
Quality Starts - 8 (tied for 18th)
K:BB - 2.51 (17th)
Starter's ERA - 4.09 (19th)
Bullpen ERA - 4.52 (22nd)
Run Differential - +7 (tied for 12th)

Saturday, April 22, 2017

16 games in, what have we learned?

One tenth of the season is in the books. So what have we learned about the 2017 Phillies?
They sit at 7-9, in fourth place in the National League East. The offense is sixth, sixth, fourth and seventh in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage and OPS. The pitching staff is 15th in ERA, 14th in home runs, 13th in strikeouts and 5th in walks.
So the Phillies are a mediocre team that will win 70-75 games, right.
Well, maybe not.

Let's take a look.

Hellickson Good, 9th Inning Woes, Unheralded Prospects, Improved Offense, The Howard & Run Support

*Jeremy Hellickson has the best WHIP (0.71) in the NL, albeit through merely 4 starts. However, this is on the heels of a strong 2016 campaign, so he's lining himself up as a sought after trade chip. Of course, he could potentially stay with the Phillies, as a mid-season extension could be a viable option.
*The 9th inning onward has been a disaster for the Phillies so far, no matter who is handed the ball. In 13.2 innings they've allowed 5 homeruns to go along with a ghastly 7.24 ERA, 1.46 WHIP, an .892 OPS against.

*Andrew Pullin is a bit of a forgotten man in terms of outfield prospects, but since being promoted to Double-A Reading last season he's laid waste to poor defenseless pitchers. In 59 games, he's hit .344/.967, with 38 R, 16 DBL, 13 HR, and 39 RBI. Double-A is where Dylan Cozens put his name on the map, so perhaps the same will ring true for Pullin.

*Cole Irvin was the Phils 5th round draft pick last year and he's making good on their trust. Through his first 13 G, 10 of them starts, he has a 7-2 record over 65.2 innings with a 1.64 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, and 54 strikeouts. Currently in Clearwater, he has the potential to move through the system quickly. A mid-season promotion to Reading is likely in my opinion.

*The Phillies offense has been improved overall since last season, especially considering many players still haven't found their stride (Franco, Galvis, Rupp, Joseph, Saunders). They lead MLB in pitches seen per plate appearances and are middle of the pack in runs, batting average, and OPS. Once the pitching sorts itself out, this team should be able to contend on the daily basis.

*Once again, WSBGMs is tracking The Howard (homerun, strikeout, and error by the same player in one ball game). Tampa Bay Rays' third baseman, Evan Longoria, has moved atop the leader board after committing his 2nd Howard of the seasons yesterday. Congrats! For reference, The Howard is on the right sidebar of the blog.

*Now, time to give Jerad Eickhoff some freakin' run support!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Aaron Nola Watch: Episode 2

Aaron Nola's second start built off of his first. He pitched just five innings, but he looked very strong. The right-hander scattered six hits and no walks against six strikeouts.
He's building up a strong base for the season.
Let's break down his last start and his season so far.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Tuesday Tee-Up

As I type this, Tommy Joseph pops up to the 3rd baseman. He's been woeful so far this season. Small sample size, but whatever, I wanna see some good results.

Before that crap at-bat by Joseph, Odubel went deep for his first HR of the season. Woo hoo!

Alright, onto business.
*Howie Kendrick, one of the guys actually contributing at the plate, has hit the DL. In his place the Phils have called up Mark Leiter Jr., who is not an outfielder, nor even a position player. He's a relief pitcher that'll hopefully show his mettle and remain in the bullpen. He's capable of going multiple innings, as he's started 69 of his 95 minor league appearances. Minor league numbers - 445.1 IP, 417 K, 3.38 ERA, and a 1.22 WHIP. WSBGMs wishes good luck to the 26 year old right-hander.

*Remember Alec Asher? Klentak traded him to the O's at the end of Spring Training and the player to be named later remains nameless. Asher sucked, like really bad, like extremely bad, in his MLB debut season of 2015. However, he bounced back in 5 starts last year and turned in a nifty 2.28 ERA and a 0.94 WHIP. Hey, guess what, he made his debut with Baltimore over the weekend and went 6.1 innings, allowing only 1 run and 4 base runners. That would look good in the Phillies rotation, wouldn't it?!

*Speaking of the Phillies rotation, Clay Buchholz underwent surgery today by the famed Dr. Andrews and is out for the next 4-6 months. As you know, or should if you read regularly, I didn't see a purpose in trading for Buchholz. He was kinda terrible last year with the BoSox and cost them a fringe prospect and $13.5M in contract obligations. Now he's likely out for the year. If Klentak truly wanted another veteran in the rotation to absorb innings and be a potential trade chip come July, he could have went another route - see contracts signed by Bartolo Colon, RA Dickey, Scott Feldman, Derek Holland, Jered Weaver, Clayton Richard, or Brett Anderson. Just sayin'. Or he could have let one of the bountiful prospects toe the rubber every 5th day. Just sayin'.

*Zach Eflin's 2017 Phillies debut is not going well. Jitters? Hopefully...

Monday, April 17, 2017

Monday Morning Musings

Phillies relief pitchers have surrendered 13 homeruns. That's 3 more than the next closest team (Nationals).

Phillies bullpen ERA is 5.62, which ranks 24th in MLB. That is not improved from 2016. Trust the process though, right?

Phillies starting pitchers have a 4.50 ERA, which ranks 25 in MLB. What's that company line again? Oh yeah, "trust the process". Ahem, bullshit. Sorry, had something in my throat.

I'm tired on Maikel Franco's pull happy, swinging from the heels approach at the plate. It's as if I'm watching the right-handed version of Ryan Howard.

Cesar Hernandez, Howie Kendrick, Odubel Herrera, and Daniel Nava are the only Phillies doing anything worth a damn at the plate. Corner infielders need to get straightened out and start contributing.

I don't hate that Joaquin Benoit was moved into the closer's role following Jeanmar Gomez's debacle, but how long is Mackanin going to try avoiding the unavoidable and finally give his blessing to Hector Neris?

Zach Eflin gets first dibs as Buchholz spot in the rotation. Godspeed.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Aaron Nola Watch, Episode 1

Aaron Nola's first start was fairly impressive.
Though he seemed to have trouble locating his curveball in the game, the right-hander held a very good lineup to limited damage.
We'll recap all of his starts this season.
Considering how important his health and success is to the Phillies' season and future, we'll look at specific goals

Series Preview: Phillies look to keep up strong work against the Nationals in DC

The Phillies won five games against the Nationals last year. If they sweep the Nationals this week, they'll have that many wins against the Nats in April alone.

OK, no one expects a sweep in Washington, but let's be honest. We'd love two victories in this series.
Luckily, the Phillies have what are probably their three best pitchers going in the series.
So let's break it down.

On personnel notes, Adam Morgan is gone and we're waiting for a second opinion on Clay Buchholtz' forearm injury.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Simple Truths (No Alternative Facts)

Wanna read something terrifying? Of course you do, that's why all baker's dozen of you that the follow this blog come here semi-regularly. Anywho...

The Phillies pitching staff is the worst in Major League Baseball. I know, that can't be! We're supposed to have a new and improved bullpen with a rotation to be reckoned with. Well, not so much. Luckily the 2017 season is still in its infancy. Unfortunately, it's been a disaster.

5.35 ERA - worst in MLB
.876 OPS allowed - worst in MLB
18 HR allowed - worst in MLB
1.47 WHIP - 26th in MLB

Possible good news - Buchholz could be sidelined for a long time, meaning Eflin likely gets the call-up to fill his void (something he could have done from the beginning because Phils never needed Buchholz to begin with!). Also, batting practice pitcher Adam Morgan has been demoted and Luis Garcia has been promoted. Garcia is an enigma. He has lights out stuff, but that has not be the case in terms of performance. Maybe it'll be different this time around. And maybe if I flap my arms really fast I'll fly. Just sayin'...

Jake Thompson's AAA ERA is 28.93 in 2 starts. Only Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder is outpacing him.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Lefty for the Sake of Lefty...Dumb

The Situation - tie game (2-2) in the top of the 8th inning with 2 outs, a runner on first base, Edubray Ramos on the mound, and Jay Bruce at the plate.

Gotta bring in the lefty, right?


Not when the lefty is Joely Rodriguez and his lifetime line against same-handed batters is .417/1.101 in 29 plate appearances and only 2 K. 

Stay with the power armed righty with a chip on his shoulder (Ramos). Using a lefty for the sake of using a lefty is being too cute with your pitching staff. It might make Tony LaRussa proud, but the outcome was predictably disastrous (2-run homerun, Mets went onto win the game 4-3). 

Ramos career against LHB - .244/.774, which isn't ideal, but is a helluva lot better than Rodriguez's.
Joaquin Benoit career against LHB - .215/664, would have been the best choice for a 4-out save, but I'd have just rolled the dice with Ramos.  

Mackanin and Co. need to learn how to manage a pitching staff. This has been my major complain against him since he took over as manager. Well, that and his unwarranted loyalty to players despite better choices (Howard, Jeanmar, Chooch).

Monday, April 10, 2017

Series Preview: Phillies host expected contenders, the New York Mets.

There has been a lot to like so far in the Phillies young season.
The first time through the rotation, Aaron Nola, Jeremy Hellickson and Jerad Eickhoff looked very good. The team continues to show patience. After walking 12 times in the first series, the Phils added 14 walks against the Nationals. The offense looks a bit improved over last season, which was to be expected.
The next three games against the New York Mets will test that early season trend.

Jeanmar No More!

Pete Mackanin, omnipotent manager of the Philadelphia Phillies, announced prior to the 2017 MLB season that Jeanmar Gomez would be the club's closer because he earned/deserved it. Well, he couldn't be anymore wrong. I've been pitching a fit with my pitchfork over Mackanin's decision and I'm about to recruit an angry mob to overthrow him if he doesn't change his mind soon.
Jeanmar Gomez since All-Star break 2016:
34 G, 30 IP, 9.00 ERA, and a 2.00 WHIP

If those numbers have earned him the closer's role, then dig Tim Worrell's ass outta retirement and let him have a go at it too.

More puzzling Mackanin moves...
The rotation's #1 starter is Jeremy Hellickson and he's pitched accordingly, having allowed only 1 run in 2 starts. However, Mackanin has yanked him after 5 innings in both of his starts, with only 67 and 70 pitches thrown respectively. WTF?!

Saturday, April 08, 2017

If I'm To Keep Going...

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away...

The year - 2006. The place - We Should Be GMs blog. The mission - writing non-sugarcoated shit about the Phillies. Aka - keepin' it real.
Fast forward to present day...

Here I am, GM-Carson, in my 12th season of blogging Phillies baseball. I was there for the rise to prominence, whence the Phils reigned supreme o'er the NL East for 5 straight seasons. I was there for the collapse, circa 2012. I am here for the rebuild. I am here.

IF I am to keep blogging, I've gotta be me, and me is not always liked. I'm harsh, dramatic, and bi-polar. But dammit, I'm fun and funny (at least according to my Mom).

So without further ado...

*Vinnie Velasquez striking out 10 in 4 innings = awesome. Being chased from the game due to high pitch count and ineffectiveness after 4 innings = poop.

*I'm predicting Tommy Joseph starts the year 0-27. I've not seen a string of at bats so hapless since Kevin Millwood "attempted" to hit. 

*Eff Jayson Werth. Skeezy looking MF'er.

*I'm starting to think Maikel Franco is overrated/over-hyped. He's got the talent, but what goes on between his ears is puzzling.

*It's time to cut bait on Adam Morgan. Terrible last season and looks to be playing the part again.

*Jerad Eickhoff is getting the Cole Hamels treatment, in that the offense never produces for him and therefore his win-loss record is unimpressive despite good ERA/WHIP. If I were Eickhoff, I'd stand on the table of the post-game spread and piss all over it, because that's what the offense does to his chances of picking up the W every time he starts.

*I've been beating the "Mackanin sucks at managing" drum for awhile now, but to no avail. He yanked Hellickson after 67 pitches/5 innings/1 run. He yanked Eickhoff after 80 pitches/6.2 innings/2 run. Take the kiddie gloves off and let the big boys play for shit's sake! 

*I originally prognosticated 79-81 wins for the Phillies this season. I renege. I now foresee 23 wins, 26 max. They're shitty.

Friday, April 07, 2017

Series Preview: Phillies start first homestand with Washington Nationals

Two things looked good in the first series of the season. The Phillies showed more patience than they have in recent years. The team earned 12 walks over three games. That's four walks a game. I know, small sample size. But the Phillies walked just 2.6 times per game last season. Secondly, the pitching staff held the Reds two five runs over the first two games.
The bad thing is that the Phillies lost two games with the offense struggling. Pete's boys scored just eight runs in three games.
The offense needs to get going.

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Our take: What the GMs think the season will bring

GMs Carson and Pat fired off some emails, regarding their expectations for the season. Here are their thoughts.

I guess we'll start with our predictions. How many wins do you expect from the 2017 Phillies?

Carson: I look across the entire team and see players that can make incremental steps forward in performance, but not many players I expect to regress (aside from maybe Hellickson). I think the rotation, bullpen, and offense will all be better, so I'm going with 79-81 wins.

Pat: It depends on so much. I really think the season hinges on Aaron Nola's performance. If he pitches a lot and pitches somewhat well, I see them winning 77-79 wins. If he returns to his early season 2016 form, I could see the Phillies sneaking up on every one and getting to 82 wins.

What are the storylines you're most interested in? 

Carson: What happens to the veterans blocking up-and-coming minor leaguers. What if Cozens, Crawford, Quinn, Williams, Hoskins, Eflin, Thompson, Alfaro, and/or Lively are killing it for Lehigh Valley? Do you wait until the end of July to trade a Hellickson, Buchholz, Kendrick, or Saunders? What about young controllable guys like Rupp, Joseph, and Galvis? Do you trade them while value is high and hand the job to a rookie? This is a HUGE transition year for the Phillies and it's going to be interesting to see how the organization handles it.

Pat: Aaron Nola's arm is No. 1. I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop there. No. 2 is Tommy Joseph and Aaron Altherr. Neither of them are uber prospects like J.P. Crawford and such, but they have some intriguing potential. No. 3 is how the minor leaguers do. Will we see J.P. Crawford, Jake Thompson, Mark Appel, Roman Quinn or Nick Williams.

How long will Jeanmar Gomez remain the closer?

Carson: I'm hoping he never loses it, because that means, theoretically, he pitched well all season and deserved to remain the closer. However, I don't think that will be the case and I'm thinking early May...Cinco de Mayo.

Pat: I think he could end up in that spot all year. He was solid last season, until September. Financially, it might help the Phillies to have Neris not close much this year. That said, if Gomez is going to lose the spot, it will happen early. So by April 25.

Who gets traded first?

Carson: Honestly, if Hellickson is pitching as well as he did last season, I could see him being an early-to-mid July trade, and not waiting until the end of the month. My second choice is Cameron Rupp and for a decent prospect.

Pat: I think Saunders is the most likely trade prospect just because Roman Quinn is probably the most likely candidate to push for playing time early in the season. My second choice is Pat Neshak.

What could surprise fans in 2017?

Carson: Biggest surprise...hmm...Cesar Hernandez bats .315/.780, 100+ R, 35+ SB, and makes the All-Star team.

Pat: Aside from a breakout season from the entire club - which I don't think is very likely - I think the Phillies might trade for a decent player and not just offload veterans. There's a chance the Phillies are close to competing in 2018. They have a lot of nice assets in the minor leagues. They could make a move now that won't cost them as much as it would this winter. 

Monday, April 03, 2017

Series Preview: Phillies Open the Season in Cincinnait

It's finally here. The 2017 starts with the Phillies in Cincinnati, the birthplace of professional baseball.
For the second time, Jeremy Hellickson gets the nod as Opening Day starter. The Phillies enter the season with a ton of question marks and some interesting plotlines.
The first quarter of this year's schedule is going to be brutal. This is one chance to start out on the right foot.

Lights out stuff: The 2017 Player Preview for Hector Neris

Hector Neris has a chance to be really, really good. We're talking Andrew Miller valuable.

After a one game cup of coffee wit the Phils in 2014, Neris pitched 32 and 79 games in the next two seasons. He took a big step forward last year.

In those 79 games, Neris whiffed 11.4 batters per nine innings. That's impressive. He had a 2.58 ERA, a 3.30 FIP and a 1.108 WHIP. That's really impressive. Could he be even better in 2017?

This is the seventeenth in a series of posts previewing the 2017 Philadelphia Phillies. Our previous post looked at bounceback candidate Jeanmar Gomez. This post looks at Hector Neris' chance to establish himself as a lights out reliever.

Sunday, April 02, 2017

Bouncing back: The 2017 Player Preview for Jeanmar Gomez

Man that September was brutal for Jeanmar Gomez. The Phillies reliever lost his spot as the closer, tossing out a 19.18 ERA after giving up 21 hits and five walks in eight innings. That's three base runners an inning.


The righthander, meanwhile, has been so solid since the start of the 2013 season. During that span, he's appeared in 213 games, compiling a 3.59 ERA, a 3.83 FIP and a 1.346 WHIP.

This is the 16th in a series of posts previewing the 2017 Philadelphia Phillies. We most recently looked at Aaron Altherr. This post looks at closer Jeanmar Gomez, who has been a consistent reliever for much of the past four years. Then the final month of the season changed all that.

Saturday, April 01, 2017

The Wild Card: 2017 Player Preview for Aaron Altherr


Tommy Joseph snuck up on everyone in 2016. A castoff heading into last year, he made himself a focal point of this season's offense. The Phillies have a guy on the roster who could shock people this year.

With the hype around Nick Williams, Dylan Cozens and Roman Quinn alongside the acquisitions of Howie Kendrick and Michael Saunders, everyone has forgotten about Aaron Altherr.

This is the 15th in a series of previews for the 2017 Philadelphia Phillies. We recently looked at starting pitcher Clay Buchholz. This post looks at how Altherr is a complete Wild Card for the Phillies.

Friday, March 31, 2017

The Former Ace: The 2017 Player Preview for Clay Buchholz

I've been perplexed by the acquisition of Clay Buchholz since the move was announced.

At first, I didn't understand why the team would acquire someone coming off of such a bad season while the team had so many young arms that seem to be ready for the big leagues. Then, I could see how it might be valuable to have him eat some innings when you have Aaron Nola coming back from injuries and Vincent Velasquez not having pitched a full big league season yet.

Then Buchholz got hit hard throughout Spring Training. What should we expect from the talented right-hander?

This is the 14th in a series of posts previewing the 2017 Phillies. We previously looked at outfielder Michael Saunders. This post looks at how unpredictable Clay Buchholz is.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Unfullfilled Promise: The 2017 Player Preview for Michael Saunders

It looked like the Seattle Mariners might have had something when Michael Saunders arrived on the scene in 2009.
The 22-year-old could pick it in the outfield, ran pretty well, had some pop and could take a walk.
Saunders scuffled a bit, then seemed to put it together in 2012, knocking 19 homers, swiping 21 bases, slapping 31 doubles and producing 57 runs batted in and 71 runs in just 139 games.
The next year, his power dropped but he increased his on-base percentage to a career-high .323.
If he could put it all together...
This is the 13th in a series previewing the 2017 Phillies. The most recent post looked at
reliever Joaquin Benoit. This post looks at Michael Saunders' unfulfilled promise.

The Bullpen Staple: 2017 Player Preview for Joaquin Benoit


You know who has had a really good Major League career? Joaquin Benoit.
Oh sure, no one is confusing him with a Hall of Famer. He's not Mariano Rivera. He's not even Tug McGraw. But he's had some very strong seasons.

This is the 12th in a series previewing the 2017 Philadelphia Phillies. Most recently, we looked at Pat Neshak. This post looks at how the Phillies' under the radar move to pick up a solid bullpen piece.

Benoit has pitched in the big leagues through three presidencies. At times, he's put up All-Star worthy numbers. The Phillies picked him up for $7.5 mill. He could end up being very valuable.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The Veteran Arm: 2017 Player Preview for Pat Neshak

One of the Phillies' biggest problems last season was an inconsistent bullpen. They took a huge step in addressing that need on Nov. 4 when they acquired right-hander Pat Neshak for cash considerations or a player to be named later.

The former All-Star was coming off of a season that saw him pitch 47 innings over 60 games. The Astros offered him up in a salary dump despite him giving up a 3.06 ERA, 3.68 FIP, .936 WHIP and 8.2 whiffs against 2.1 walks per nine innings.

As we continue our series previewing the 2017 Philadelphia Phillies, we take our first look at the bullpen. Our last installment in the series looked at Professional Hitter Howie Kendrick. This post will look at how Neshak will solidify the Phillies bullpen.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

The Professional Hitter: 2017 Player Preview for Howie Kendrick


Leftfield was an abyss for the Phillies in 2016. The cast of miscreants who played the position provided Philadelphia with a putrid .212/.284/.332 batting line. That's just brutal.

As the season neared its merciful end, manager Pete Mackanin basically begged for professional hitters. General Manager Matt Klentak obliged. He brought in Howie Kendrick, a 33-year-old former All-Star who rolls out of bed and plays above average ball.

You can expect Kendrick to put up solid numbers for the Phillies this year and really stabilize a lineup that needs it. This is the tenth in a series of posts previewing the 2017 Phillies. This post looks at how Professional Hitter Howie Kendrick will affect Pete Mackanin's lineup.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

R.I.P. Dallas Green

The man at the helm of the Philadelphia Phillies first World Series Championship in 1980 has passed away. Rest In Peace Dallas Green.

Friday, March 17, 2017

The Focal Point: The 2017 Player Preview of Cesar Hernandez

Cesar Hernandez can impress and confound you in a manner of minutes.
The 28-year-old can put a brutal 0-2 pitch in play, race up the first base line and earn an infield hit. Then, on the first pitch to the next batter, he'll get picked off first base.
Heading into his age 27 season, with nearly 400 games under his belt, one would think Hernandez would have a better grasp of the game. But the kid who led the league in triples last year, got nabbed on the basepaths 13 times against 17 stolen bases.
This is the ninth in a series of posts previewing the 2017 Philadelphia Phillies. The previous post looked at Tommy Joseph. This one looks at Cesar Hernadez and wonders how good he could be if he could maintain his focus.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

The Zen Master and the Hunter Pence Trades: The 2017 Player Preview for Tommy Joseph

Let's talk about the Hunter Pence trades. A little more than two years ago, Phillies fans continued to lament the move that brought Pence to the Phillies. They saw burgeoning stars in Houston, where Jon Singleton had already signed a $10-million deal, Jarred Cosart was in the process of winning 13 games, Domingo Santana was tearing up the minors and Josh Zeid was pitching in the big leagues.

It was one of the big knocks on Ruben Amaro's win-now managerial style. He'd given up the farm for a guy who, after a season and a half, was already out of town and winning a handful of rings in San Francisco. He seemed to have been shipped off for parts. Tommy Joseph looked like he'd never reach the Big Leagues. Nate Schierholtz had been cut loose only to have a good season in Chicago. Seth Rosin pitched himself out of Philly.

Fans were probably right to be concerned that the deal would be monumental flops At this point, let's remember Gust Avrakatos' favorite story in "Charlie Wilson's War."
This is the eighth in a series of previews for the 2017 Philadelphia Phillies. Our most recent one took a look at Cameron Rupp. This post takes a Zen Master approach to Tommy Joseph.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The Stopgap: 2017 Player Preview for Cameron Rupp

Cameron Rupp is who we think he is. And that's OK. In fact, that's something we can be thankful about.
Rupp is a burly catcher with slightly above average defensive metrics and power and slightly below average on-base capabilities. He's got flaws. He's got plusses. He's a perfect stopgap for one of the Phillies young catching studs.

This is the seventh in a series of posts previewing the 2017 Philadelphia Phillies. Most recently, we chronicled the Question Mark that is Aaron Nola. This post looks at Cameron Rupp and what he means to the organization.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The question mark: 2017 Player Preview for Aaron Nola

Aaron Nola could be a future ace. Through his first 25 starts, he looked the part. The young right-hander had tossed 155 frames of 3.12 ERA, with 153 strikeouts against 18 home runs and 34 walks.
Then he turned into a 6-foot-2, 195 pound batting tee. From June 11 to July 28, he gave up 54 hits and 14 walks in 33 innings. What was strange was that he only gave up three home runs and struck out 36 batters.
This is the sixth in a series previewing the 2017 Philadelphia Phillies. The previous post looked at Vincent Velasquez. This post looks at the impact of Aaron Nola's health.
Nola's health is likely the key to where the Phillies finish in the standings.

Friday, March 10, 2017

The Live Arm: 2017 Player Preview for Vincent Velasquez

If Vincent Velasquez ever puts it together, he's going to be a force in the National League East.
The young gun showed a ton of promise early in 2016, rolling out to an 8-2 mark and a 3.15 ERA by the end of his 16th start with 98 strikeouts in 85 2/3 innings pitched. If he ever puts those numbers up over a full season, the Phillies will be exceptionally lucky.
The problem is that Velasquez put up a 0-4 record with a 5.96 ERA over his final seven starts and had to justifiably be shut down because of an innings limit.
This is the fifth in a series to preview the 2017 Philadelphia Phillies. The previous post in the series covered Jerad Eickhoff. This post looks at what to expect from the live arm of Vincent Velasquez.

Thursday, March 09, 2017

Young Reliable: 2017 Player Preview for Jerad Eickhoff

Jerad Eickhoff doesn't have an arm you dream on. He has an arm you rely on.
A former 15th round draft pick who was acquired in the Cole Hamels trade, Eickhoff wasn't expected to be the ace of the staff. He didn't have a live arm. He didn't have a dazzling repertoire of pitches. He didn't have an insane frame. His minor league stats were far from dominating. At best, people saw him as a fifth starter.
Meanwhile, Eickhoff is the only pitcher in camp other than Jeremy Hellickson with a chance to start on Opening Day. This is the fourth in a series of posts previewing the 2017 Philadelphia Phillies. The previous post profiled Maikel Franco. While we won't dream of Eickhoff taking the hill on Opening Day, we can expect him to take his spot in the rotation every day thereafter.

Thursday, March 02, 2017

The Big Bat: 2017 Player Preview for Maikel Franco

Maikel Franco is still every young. It doesn't seem like it because his whip-quick bat has been around for parts of three seasons.
But, remember this: He is younger than Mark Appel, Andrew Knapp and Ben Lively.
He's younger than Tommy Joseph, Vincent Velasquez, Jerad Eickhoff.
He's younger than Joc Pederson and Oscar Tavares.
So the fact he didn't break out in 2016 isn't something people should be worked up about.

This is the third in a series of previews on the 2017 season. Most recently, we looked at expected Opening Day starter Jeremy Hellickson.

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Opening Day Starter: 2017 Player Preview for Jeremy Hellickson

Barring an injury, Jeremy Hellickson will start his start on Opening Day for the second time on April 7. This is the complete list of pitchers who will have done that more times than Hellickson:

  1. Hall of Famer Kid Gleason (three times)
  2. Hall of Famer Grover Cleveland Alexander (five times)
  3. Jimmy Ring (three times)
  4. Hall of Famer Robin Roberts (12 times)
  5. Chris Short (six times)
  6. Hall of Famer Steve Carlton (14 times)
  7. Terry Mulholland (three times)
  8. Curt Schilling (three times)
  9. Brett Myers (three times)
  10. Roy Halladay (three times).
None of us are arguing Hellickson, who earned a Rookie of the Year award six seasons ago and owns a career 61-58 record, will ever visit Cooperstown without a ticket. But Hellickson will definitely leave Philadelphia having made a mark.

This is the second in a series of posts previewing the 2017 Phillies. Our first post looked at Odubel Herrera.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The Face of the Franchise: The 2017 Player Preview of Odubel Herrera

At one point this offseason it looked like Odubel Herrera was trade bait. Instead, the Phillies signed him to a new 5-year contract, thereby making him the face of the franchise.

This is the first in a series previewing the 2017 Phillies. We start with Odubel Herrera because, as we said, he's the face of the franchise. He's an All-Star and has an 8 WAR since being plucked from the Rangers in the 2015 Rule 5 draft. Let's look at our expectations for 2017.

Herrera is quickly becoming one of the best Rule 5 picks in history.

Monday, February 06, 2017

2016 player review: Jeremy Hellickson

Editor's Note: This is the 27th in a series of looks at the men who suited up for the 2016 Philadelphia Phillies. Elvis Aurajo was the last player profiled.

Let's be honest, Jeremy Hellickson was fantastic in 2016. The Phillies gave up a rookie league pitcher for Hellickson in a low-risk move. At worst, the former rookie of the year would eat some innings. Maybe they'd spin him off in a trade to a team that needed a fifth starter.

Who expected Hellickson to...

Pitch 189 innings of a 3.98 FIP, 1.153 WHIP and a 3.0 WAR?
Finish with per nine averages of 8.2 hits, 1.1 home runs, 2.1 walks and 7.3 strikeouts?

Yeah, it would have been nice if the Phillies traded him for a prospect at the deadline, but assuming he'd walk as a free agent after getting a qualifying offer was the right decision. He was going to be, at worst, the third best starter on a weak free agent market.

Well, we all know he accepted the qualifying offer, so the Phillies have him back in 2017.

2016 grade: B+
Will we see him again in 2017: yes

2016 Player review: Elvis Araujo

This is the 26th in a series of looks at the men who suited up for the 2016 Philadelphia Phillies. David Lough was the last player profiled.

I was sure Elvis Araujo would be a huge part of the bullpen and the Phillies future. He looked so good in 2015, pitching to a 3.38 ERA in 40 games as a 23-year-old.
To be clear, Elvis gave up too many walks - 4.9 per 9 innings - he allowed just one home run in 34 and 2/3 innings and struck out 8.8 per nine.
This year, the walks and strikeouts increased. He also gave up more home runs - four in 27 and 1/3 innings - and hits.
On Nov. 18, the Phillies lost him to the Marlins in a waiver claim. He was granted free agency on Jan. 5.

Sunday, February 05, 2017

2017 Free Agent Squard

Spring Training is about 2 weeks away, yet many seemingly useful veterans remain in the limbo of free agency. Keeping with my annual tradition, I've constructed a team consisting solely of free agents. The rotation is a bit thin, overall defense would be sub-par, and there's not much speed, but I think collectively they'd still have a chance to outplay a handful of teams out there (I'm looking at you Padres, Reds, Twins, A's, Brewers, and even our beloved Phillies).
Matt Wieters - .243/.711, 48 R, 17 DBL, 17 HR, 66 RBI, 1.7 WAR
Dioneer Navarro - .207/.587, 26 R, 13 DBL, 6 HR, 35 RBI, -0.8 WAR

First Base:
Mike Napoli - .239/.800, 92 R, 22 DBL, 34 HR, 101 RBI, 5 SB, 1.0 WAR

Second Base:
Chase Utley - .252/.716, 79 R, 26 DBL, 14 HR, 52 RBI, 2.0 WAR

Daniel Descalso - .264/.773, 38 R, 12 DBL, 8 HR, 38 RBI, 0.6 WAR

Third Base:
Aaron Hill - .262/.714, 48 R, 14 DBL, 10 HR, 38 RBI, 1.2 WAR

Angel Pagan/LF - .277/.750, 71 R, 24 DBL, 5 TRPL, 12 HR, 55 RBI, 15 SB, 1.0 WAR
Michael Bourn/CF - .264/.684, 48 R, 13 DBL, 6 TRPL, 5 HR, 38 RBI, 15 SB, 0.3 WAR
Franklin Gutierrez/RF - .246/.780, 33 R, 9 DBL, 14 HR, 39 RBI, 0.3 WAR

Pedro Alvarez/1B/3B - .249/.826, 43 R, 20 DBL, 22 HR, 49 RBI, 0.7 WAR
Chris Carter/1B/OF - .222/.821, 84 R, 27 DBL, 41 HR, 94 RBI, 0.9 WAR
Erick Aybar/UTL - .243/.623, 34 R, 19 DBL, 34 RBI, -0.2 WAR
Kelly Johnson/UTL - .247/.698, 25 R, 14 DBL, 10 HR, 34 RBI, 0.5 WAR

1. Michael Bourn/CF
2. Angel Pagan/LF
3. Mike Napoli/1B
4. Chris Carter/DH
5. Matt Wieters/C
6. Daniel Descalso/SS
7. Franklin Gutierrez/RF
8. Chase Utley/2B
9. Aaron Hill/3B

Jason Hammel - 30 GS, 15-10, 166.2 IP, 144 K, 3.83/1.21, 1.1 WAR
Doug Fister - 32 GS, 12-13, 180.1 IP, 115 K, 4.64/1.43, 0.0 WAR
Colby Lewis - 19 GS, 6-5, 116.1 IP, 73 K, 3.71/1.13, 2.4 WAR
Jered Weaver - 31 GS, 12-12, 178 IP, 103 K, 5.06/1.46, -0.7 WAR
Jorge De La Rosa - 27 G, 24 GS, 8-9, 134 IP, 108 K, 5.51/1.64, 0.0 WAR

Travis Wood - 77 G, 4-0, 61 IP, 47 K, 2.95/1.13, 0.5 WAR
Joe Blanton - 75 G, 7-2, 80 IP, 80 K, 2.48/1.01, 1.7 WAR
Luke Hochevar - 40 G, 2-3, 37.1 IP, 40 K, 3.86/1.07, 0.3 WAR
David Hernandez - 70 G, 3-4, 72.2 IP, 80 K, 3.84/1.50, 0.9 WAR
Peter Moylan - 50 G, 2-0, 44.2 IP, 34 K, 3.43/1.30, 0.6 WAR
Javier Lopez - 68 G, 1-3, 26.2 IP, 15 K, 4.05/1.46, 0.2 WAR
Tommy Hunter - 33 G, 2-2, 34 IP, 23 K, 3.18/1.27, 0.6 WAR

Jake Peavy/SP, Mat Latos/SP, Jon Niese/SP, Edwin Jackson/SP, Nolan Reimold/OF, Coco Crisp/OF, Adam Lind/1B, Seth Maness/RP, Yusmeiro Petit/RP, Chien-Ming Wang/RP, Gordon Beckham/UTL, Billy Butler/1B, Jeff Francoeur/OF, Cole Gillespie/OF, Chris Johnson/UTL, Ryan Howard/1B, Drew Stubbs/OF, David Lough/OF, Alexei Ramirez/SS.

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

2016 Player Review: David Lough

Editor's Note: This is the 25th in a series of looks at the men who suited up for the 2016 Philadelphia Phillies. Severino Gonzalez was the last player profiled.

David Lough has some interesting tools. He plays great defense. He doesn't strike out much. He can run a bit, too.
He's not a bad fifth outfielder to have around. In just 96 games during the 2013 season, he pulled off a 2.7 WAR. That season, he had a .286/.311/.413 slash line, stole five bases, hit five home runs and slashed 17 doubles. He put up similar numbers in 2014, his first year with the Orioles.
Since then, however, he's had trouble converting his contact to hits.
Early on, it seemed as if Lough had figured things out. He hit .311/.364/.379.
Afterward, however, he hit .184/.326/.263.
The Phillies released Lough in August.

2016 grade: C-
Will we see him again in 2017: Not likely.

2016 Player Review: Severino Gonzalez

Editor's Note: This is the 24th in a series of looks at the men who suited up for the 2016 Philadelphia Phillies. Brett Oberholtzer was the last player profiled.

Severino Gonzalez has bounced back and forth between Philadelphia and Lehigh Valley for the last two years. In the minors, Gonzalez has put up solid numbers, limiting walks (1.5 per nine) and home runs (.7 per nine). He's also compiled some decent strikeout numbers (7.3 strikeouts per nine).
During his time in red pinstripes, however, he's been very ineffective, giving up a 6.68 ERA, a 1.484 WHIP and giving up nine home runs and 84 hits in 66 innings.

Despite his youth and decent stuff, the Phillies shipped him to the Marlins for a player to be named later.

2016 grade: F
Will we see him again in 2017: If he makes the Marlins roster, he'll pitch against the Phillies.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

2016 Review: Brett Oberholtzer

Editor's Note: This is the 23rd in a series of looks at the men who suited up for the 2016 Philadelphia Phillies. Michael Mariot was the last player profiled.

The narrative was there. Brett Oberholtzer, a kid from Delaware, would come home and pitch well as part of a haul that would reinvigorate the franchise.

The left-hander acquired in the Cole Hamels Ken Giles trade had promise, arriving with a career 1.332 WHIP and a 3.72 FIP. He had solid control (2.1 walks per 9) and didn't allow home runs in Houston's bandbox.

Hitters rocked him for an 8+ ERA by the end of April. Despite a promising June, posting a 3.31 ERA that month, it wasn't enough as he was placed on waivers in August.

2016 grade: D
Will we see him again in 2017: Only if he pitches against the Phillies.

Monday, January 23, 2017

2016 Player Review: Michael Mariot

Editor's Note: This is the 22nd in a series of looks at the men who suited up for the 2016 Philadelphia Phillies. Vincent Velasquez was the last player profiled.

This might sound nuts, but if you asked me how many games Michael Mariot pitched for the Phillies, I'd have guessed 40 to 50.
Mariot only pitched in 25 games and that shocked me.
It's probably because he gave up so many home runs - 5 - in such a short amount of time that it couldn't be possible he only pitched 21.2 innings.
Mariot is an interesting guy to look at. There's some promise there. He pitched to a 2.23 ERA in Lehigh Valley. He struck out 9.6 batters per 9 innings in Philly. He also gave up just 7.5 hits per nine in the Big Leagues.
But the control killed him. He gave up 5.8 walks per nine and 2.1 home runs. Those last two numbers will derail the good from the previous numbers.

That's why the Phillies designated the 28-year-old for assignment. But the Phillies know he's still worth a shot, so they invited him to Spring Training.

2016 grade: D
Will we see him in 2017: Probably

2016 Player Review: Vincent Velasquez

Editor's Note: This is the 21st in a series of looks at the men who suited up for the 2016 Philadelphia Phillies. Colton Murray was the last player profiled.

The early returns on the Ken Giles trade have been mostly fantastic. Giles, who was fantastic in Philadelphia, struggled a bit in Houston. He posted a  2-5 record with a 4.11 ERA and just 15 saves in 65 innings. That said, his peripherals looked good. He posted 14 Ks per nine. His FIP was 2.86. He'll be fine. Houston will enjoy having him.

On the Phillies' side, Brett Oberholtzer pitched his way off the team. I was somewhat surprised by that. While I didn't expect him to be an All-Star, I expected more than a 4.83 ERA. Harold Arauz looked good for Lakewood. The 21-year-old appeared in 19 starts, pitching to a 3.55 ERA, 1.040 WHIP and allowing just four home runs and 24 walks in 99 innings. Thomas Eshelman got hit hard in Reading after some success at Clearwater. He is still just 22. Mark Appel suffered an injury in Triple-A. Appel (10) and  Eshelman (18) enter the season ranked among the Phillies' top prospects, according to

But the guy who shined the most was Vincent Velasquez. The 24-year-old tossed 131 often electric frames, pitching to a 4.12 ERA, a 3.81 FIP, a 1.328 WHIP. He allowed 21 home runs and 45 walks, but he struck out 152 batters. 

Velasquez exploded on the scene with a 16-K, three-hitter against the San Diego Padres. Though he had to spend some time on the disabled list in June, he looked grat through July 19, holding down a 3.19 ERA and an 8-2 mark. At that point, he had pitched 85 innings. The wall was coming. In 2015, he had pitched 88 innings. In 2014, he had pitched even fewer frames than that.

From July 19 on, Velasquez had a 5.96 ERA, giving up 11 homers and 30 walks in 45.1 innings.

Velasquez was the subject of trade speculation at the deadline and this offseason, but it's hard to imagine the team trading a guy with his capabilities when they won 71 games last year and added some intriguing pieces this offseason.

2016 grade: B+
Will we see him in 2017: Barring anything catastrophic, he'll be in the rotation.

Friday, January 20, 2017

2016 Player Review: Colton Murray

Editor's Note: This is the 20th in a series of looks at the men who suited up for the 2016 Philadelphia Phillies. Adam Morgan was the last player profiled.

The Phillies drafted Colton Murray in the 13th round of the 2011 Amatuer Player Draft. He is the fifth player from that class to make it to the Major Leagues.
Considering that the class was so recent, that's not a bad haul so far. The other players were Ken Giles in the seventh round (Big win there), Cody Asche in the fourth round, Adam Morgan in the third round and Roman Quinn (Possibly a win there) in the second round.
Of course, the first rounder, Larry Greene Jr., bottomed out fairly quickly. 
Mitch Walding and  Harold Martinez remain in the system. Austin Wright was used in the Jeremy Hellickson trade.

Murray hasn't pitched particularly well in his appearances with the Phils over the past two years. He has a 6.18 ERA and a 5.05 FIP. He doesn't have terrible control, and he misses bats, so he's not a lost cause as a Major Leaguer. He's been invited to spring training. 

2016 grade: D
Will we see him again in 2017: Probably at some point

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

2016 Player Review: Adam Morgan

Editor's Note: This is the 19th in a series of looks at the men who suited up for the 2016 Philadelphia Phillies. Aaron Nola was the last player profiled.

I have a soft spot for Adam Morgan. I like left-handed pitchers. I like players who work back from injuries. I like pitchers who don't walk anyone.

So I hoped Morgan would have a strong season in Philly. Instead, he got shipped out of town at the expense of Brett Applesauce Oberholzer. I didn't get that move when it happened.
Morgan eventually got called back to the big leagues for an April 29 start.
Morgan never got into a groove, ending up 2-11 with a repugnant 6.04 ERA and allowing 23 home runs in 113 innings.
He did, however, remain stingy with walks (2.3 per 9) and improved his strikeout numbers (7.5).
His velocity increased and it almost seemed like the 26-year-old couldn't harness it.
I don't think he's a bad pitcher. But I think he could be slightly better than his career has shown. It wouldn't shock me if, at some point, he put together a 12-10 season with a 4.20 ERA and a 3.76 FIP thanks to his low walks and about 7 strikeouts per 9.
Morgan is probably a little bit more than organizational filler at this point - because he has experience - but I don't see him fitting in with the team's long-term plans.

2016 grade: D
Will we see him again in 2017: Possibly.

Monday, January 16, 2017

2016 Player Review: Aaron Nola

Editor's Note: This is the 18th in a series of looks at the men who suited up for the 2016 Philadelphia Phillies. Taylor Featherston was the last player profiled.

Aaron Nola is supposed to be a linchpin in the Phillies' future success. The former 7th overall pick had a strong rookie campaign, logging a 6-2 mark with a 3.59 ERA, a 4.04 FIP, a stingy 2.2 walks per nine innings and a respectable 7.9 strikeouts per nine. He was just 23 when the season began.

And he looked like a cornerstone.

Through 12 starts, Nola had a 5-4 mark and a 2.65 ERA. He'd tossed at least 100 pitches in five starts. He'd struck out seven or more batters in seven starts. He'd walked two or fewer batters in all but one start. He'd given up five home runs in 84 frames. His fastball darted. His curveball bit. 

A possible ace was in the making.

At that point in the season, the Phillies were a surprising 28-29.

After that point, the Phillies would go 43-62 and Nola would get roughed up, to the tune of a 9.82 ERA and opponents hitting .367 with a .531 slugging mark. 

It would turn out the right-hander was pitching through some elbow issues and Nola would go on the disabled list on July 28 and not pitch again. He had a low-grade sprain of his UCL and a low-grade strain of his flexor pronator tendon.

His future is in doubt. 

Now, I'm not as concerned as most. I don't think this definitely means Tommy John surgery is in his future. Then again, I'm no doctor. I understand the surgery is more likely than with someone who hasn't strained those tendons.

One good note is the Phillies haven't shied away from promoting Nola in the lead up to the 2017 season. He's attending an autograph signing with Tommy Joseph on Wednesday at Citizens' Bank Park and will be at a couple of banquets in Reading and Allentown.

2016 grade: C
Will we see him in 2017: If all goes well, he'll make 28 or more starts.