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.
Offense:
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)

Pitching:
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

BOO!!!
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?

No.

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.

Oof.

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


via GIPHY

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.