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.