Wednesday, May 09, 2018

Progress Report: The second tenth of the season

Three games have been played since the Phillies played their second 16-game stretch of the year. This report does not include those three games. Let's look at how the Phillies have been so far. Here's what we had to say the first time through.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Offensive Struggles

OPS By Position:
Pitcher - .354 (5th)
Catcher - .551 (25th tied)
First Base - .587 (27th)
Second Base - .817 (11th)
Shortstop - .702 (17th)
Third Base - .697 (24th)
Left Field - 1.037 (2nd)
Center Field - .865 (5th)
Right Field - .564 (27th)
Designated Hitter - .516 (23rd, which is last in this case)
Pinch Hitter - .455 (22nd)
Only 3 positions on the diamond are getting above average production, thanks to Rhys Hoskins, Odubel Herrera, and Cesar Hernandez. I'm tired of hearing about how unlucky Carlos Santana has been. Put up or shut up! I'm tired of hearing about Jorge Alfaro and JP Crawford's potential. The offense has been dreadful. They've struck out 275 times in 27 games, which is 2nd worst in all of baseball. I don't want to hear about all the pitches they're seeing. Seeing a bunch of pitches doesn't mean shit unless that also equals scoring runs. Sure, they're taking walks (119, 3rd best in MLB), but walks typically don't score runs unless base hits follow them. Their .232 batting average and .695 OPS are pitiful. They have no power. Hoskins is having an amazing year, but really isn't hitting homers.

I truly don't understand the Santana signing. It pushed Hoskins to left field, where he is clearly deficient defensively. It's not like Santana is some stud either. He routinely puts up good, but not great offensive seasons, and perhaps his age downturn is coming sooner rather than later. Last season he only hit 23 homeruns, and I say "only", because everyone was cranking the longball last year, but he only managed 23 at a power premium position. His 23 homers in 2017 ranked him tied for 21st in MLB for first baseman and his OPS of .818 only ranked 15th, so it's not like the Lord of Walks is fantastic. And don't get me started on his overrated defense. He had one decent season defensively, and that was last year. For his career he owns a -5.2 dWAR. Don't forget the Phillies surrendered a high draft pick to sign him too! I don't hate Santana, but I don't exactly like him either. I just don't understand the point of him on this team.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

This is a Problem...

The start to the Phillies 2018 season could be deemed as a success, as the Phillies have a winning record of 14-8 and the pitching has been largely effective. However, dive into the numbers a bit, and a problem is pretty evident...
1. They aren't beating good teams. They've beat up on the Marlins, Reds, Rays, and Pirates, which are all teams that were expected to be poor this year. They've gotten their asses handed to them by the Braves, Mets, and Diamondbacks. The Mets and Dbacks are decent, and the Braves have surprised so far.

2. They can't hit! Their team batting average of .229 ranks 21st in MLB. I understand that hits aren't everything, because walks are nice too, but their OPS of .692 ain't cutting it either with a matching 21st MLB ranking. They have struck out 227 times, which is tied for 4th worst in baseball. They average 10.3 Ks per game. Alfaro has struck out in half of his plate appearances!

3. Their defense is bad. Hoskins is playing out of position, and it's obvious, albeit not his fault. Crawford, who has always been lauded for his defense, seems to have the yips (can't make his throws without skipping it or pulling the 1st baseman off the bag). The catching duo of Knapp & Alfaro have committed 6 errors between them. Santana seems overrated all-around, as I've not seen anything special with the bat nor glove.

Maybe I'm just being a typical Negadelphia (negative Philly sports fan), but I think if those areas of concern aren't fixed soon, then the Phillies record will reflect it come mid-summer. And by "reflect" I mean losing...sorry to burst your bubble.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Sunday Nuggets

*The Phillies are sporting a sparkling 3.09 ERA as a team, which ranks 5th in MLB and 2nd in NL. Starters - 3.02 ERA and Relievers - 3.34. Matching their 5th place ranking for ERA is their WHIP coming in at 1.15. They've also allowed the least amount of homeruns in baseball (11, tied with the BoSox).
Image result for phillies
*As fantastic as the pitching staff has been, the 1st inning is proving difficult, as opponents have scored 13 runs in the 20 1st innings and are batting .321/.909.

*As disastrous as the 1st inning has been, the 7th is a polar opposite. They've allowed merely 1 7th inning run all season. Damn!

*Mr. Computer (aka - Kapler) seems to be settling in with his bullpen usage. He been allowing the starting pitchers to actually pitch when they're doing well and has been mixing and matching relievers effectively. As a first year manager, he is learning. It does seems he is actually learning, which was what I was afraid he wouldn't do.

*Mixing and matching with the bullpen isn't the only task at hand for Kapler, as he needs to find playing time for 2 extra players. Thus far, I feel he's adequately given Williams, Altherr, Kingery, Crawford, and Franco time. None of that group are lighting the world on fire, pressing Kapler's hand to play them more, so the time share plan is working.

*The Phillies 108 runs ranks them 8th in MLB. That's good. The Phillies 93 walks has them ranked 2nd. Also good. The Phillies .231 batting average is tied for 20th...not good. Their OPS of .701 ranks them 19th. They need to start getting more hits. Too many low batting averages. The main culprits being - Williams, Crawford, Knapp, Alfaro, Santana, and Altherr. That group is batting .172 (51-297).

*Something that might help the batting averages is putting the ball in play more often. The Phillies have struck out 199 times, ranking 7th worst in baseball. They average 10 strikeouts per game.

*Once Santana's hard contact finally starts falling for some hits, the top 4 of the lineup are fearsome (Cesar, Santana, Odubel & Hoskins).

*The National League's batting average leader, Ryan Flaherty (.362), was cut at the end of Spring Training by the Phillies.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Progress report: The first tenth of the season

We're a tenth of the way into the season Well, .09876 percent of the season is in the books. Anyway, let's take a look at how each player has done so far in 2017.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Nearing Opening Days Thoughts

1. Jake Arrieta on a 3 year deal is just what this staff needed. Unlike most of the pundits, I am not convinced of Arrieta's demise. He was largely mediocre for the first half of the 2017 season (4.35 ERA/1.30 WHIP), but returned to his ace-like ways to close things out (2.28/1.09). I think he settles somewhere in the in-between (3.30ish ERA/1.20ish WHIP). That's a solid starting pitcher right there. One that will certainly help the Phillies win. Also, he's a tremendous competitor, and his fiery spirit is welcomed in the clubhouse and around such a young staff.
2. Kapler's bench is going to be one of versatility. Andrew Knapp is likely to be the backup catcher, but he can also man 1st base and is a switch hitter. Knapp's likely bench mates will be Jesmuel Valentin and Pedro Florimon, also switch hitters and can play all over the diamond. Rounding out the bench is 5th outfielder and speedster Roman Quinn, who has been playing shortstop in Spring Training like he did when he first joined the minor leagues.

3. Who should be in the rotation beyond Arrieta and Nola? I'm all for giving Nick Pivetta the ball every 5th day, because he has shown the ability to miss bats and could turn into a solid 3rd starter. I'm not so inclined with Vince Velasquez. He struggles to go 5 innings due to high pitch counts and seems to be better suited for the bullpen. However, he gets one more chance to make it as a starting pitcher, much like this is a make or break season for Franco at 3rd base. That leaves one hole to fill, due to Jerad Eickhoff's injury that likely doesn't have him returning until late May/early June. I'm in favor of Ben Lively. He auditioned well last season and has been bulldogging his way through Spring Training now too. Zach Eflin might have upside, but I just don't see the results, Jake Thompson is probably becoming a relief pitcher, Drew Hutchison should serve as Triple-A depth, and Tom Eshleman needs a bit more time in the minors.

4. Cameron Rupp looks like the odd man out in the Phillies catching duo. He's set to earn $2M+ this season and really doesn't deserve minor league banishment. He'd make a fine backup on most teams, so trading him makes sense. I see the Brewers and Nationals as fits. Make it happen Klentak.

5. Good bye Tommy Joseph. He's a feel good story of a prospect fallen on hard times due to injuries (concussions) and then forgotten, to rise from the ashes like a phoenix and make something of himself. But then the Phils went and signed Carlos Santana and had no room for him. Now ToJo takes his bat to Texas to slug with the Rangers. The American League is a good fit for the defensively deficient Joseph. Farewell.

6. As long as everyone is hitting in the outfield, Kapler has the chance to keep everyone fresh and happy with playing time. Hoskins and Herrera will start nearly every game, but even they need days off. Williams and Altherr will split right field. Assuming there's roughly 2000 plate appearances for all 3 outfield positions combined, that equals 500 per player if split evenly. I foresee Hoskins and Herra getting about 550 apiece, Altherr 425, Williams 375, and Quinn 100. If matchups are played to the Phillies advantage, this could lead to a very productive outcome.

7. Get your bobbleheads. I have a bobblehead collection and continue to add to it slowly. I recently added some from Phillies and Eagles lore. Check out National Bobblehead Hall of Fame.

8. Do you love the Phillies? Do you like trivia? Of course you do. So, check out So You Think You're a Philadelphia Phillis Fan. It's written by fellow blogger and good guy Scott Butler.

Sunday, March 04, 2018

Philadelphia Beer and Baseball

Enjoying baseball in Philadelphia is one of the best ways to experience the city with friends. After all, the Phillies are the oldest franchise team in American sports. We're here with a couple of suggestions to elevate your baseball experience with something that pairs perfectly: craft beer. Be sure to consider checking out some of these spots before or after a Phillies game.

Tria Taproom
2005 Walnut Street There are nearly thirty different craft beers on tap at this local hot spot, and their iPad ordering system makes everything that much more efficient. You can read more about the alcohol content and background of each brew as you peruse through the selections. They're also known for their food, some notable choices are their Duck and Burrata flatbread options.

Crime & Punishment Brewing
2711 W Girard Avenue This craft brewery has a playful Russian literature theme. The brewers here pride themselves on brewing classic recipes with state of the art equipment and techniques. Some of the favorite brews here include the Ghost Station made with raspberries, House Arrest, and the Grod Inquisitor. The rustic atmosphere is very charming.

Monk's Cafe
264 S 16th Street The folks at Monk's are beer experts! This spot takes care to ensure their equipment is up to date, clean, and beer stored under optimum conditions. With 25 beers on tap and over 200 bottles available, the only thing difficult about the experience here is choosing a beer. Their Beer Bible will help you find one that fits your specific tastes.

Anybody who has driven to a Phillies game knows that it can be challenging navigating traffic and finding a good parking spot. When you reserve with a Philadelphia Party Bus and Limo service, you'll bypass all of this and the issue of finding a designated driver. It's easy to safely hop from one craft beer destination to the next with professional transportation. The electric energy you feel inside of Citizens Bank Park is sure to carry on into the rest of your evening. The price is similar to that of a ride share when it is split among everybody in the group, too. Everyone can enjoy a convenient night with local sports and beer!

Philly Limo Service
2546 East Indiana Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19134
(215) 607-7222

Friday, February 02, 2018

Season Recap: Luis Garcia

Let's talk about Luis Garcia. The big right-hander pitched in 66 games for the Phillies, tossing 71 effective innings. He's had an interesting career since the Phillies signed in 2010.

In the coming days, we're going to recap every player who spent a part of  2017 with the Philadelphia Phillies. The previous post looked at relief pitcher Michael Saunders. We even have a landing post with a link to each player's season.

Garcia has pitched in 192 games for the Phillies. If he lasts another full season in Philly, he'll likely end up pitching in more games than Larry Anderson and Brad Lidge. He appeared in 72 games two years ago, but was limited to just 17 in 2016.

Garcia's numbers are pretty impressive. In 198 innings, he's given up just 14 home runs while allowing 8.8 hits per nine. The big issue is that he walks way too many batters, about 4.8 per game. That number fell to 3.3 last season. If he can repeat that success, he'll be valuable again in 2018.

Season Recap: Michael Saunders

Michael Saunders was supposed to stabilize the lineup. Instead, he was one of the biggest free agent busts in recent Phillies seasons. And that says something.

In the coming days, we're going to recap every player who spent a part of  2017 with the Philadelphia Phillies. The previous post looked at relief pitcher Andrew Knapp. We even have a landing post with a link to each player's season.

Saunders was coming off of an All Star season and hit .202/.256/.344. Look at those numbers. They are awful.

Season Recap: Andrew Knapp

Who will catch the most games for the Phillies in 2018? There's little doubt that Jorge Alfaro is the most talented of the three likely catchers. We also know that Cameron Rupp is the most experienced catcher. But I'd argue there's a good chance Andrew Knapp gets the most starts in 2018.

Look, Alfaro drips talent, but he's still incredibly raw behind the plate. Rupp has been a solid catcher, but he's averaged 91 games caught the past three seasons and he seemed to take a slight step back in 2017. So it stands to reason that Knapp could, if an injury occurs and the Phillies are playing well, get a good stretch of playing time. So let's look at what he did in his rookie season.

In the coming days, we're going to recap every player who spent a part of  2017 with the Philadelphia Phillies. The previous post looked at relief pitcher Edubray Ramos. We even have a landing post with a link to each player's season.

Knapp played in 56 games, slashing a respectable .257/.368/.368/.735. In his previous three minor league seasons he had a .385, .375, .330 on-base percentage. That's a valuable took. He also has a solid track record with extra base hits, but didn't really drive the ball in his rookie season. He hit just eight doubles, a triple and three home runs during the year. Defensively, he gave you basically what you expect from a rookie catcher.

Season Recap: Edubray Ramos

Edubray Ramos was a solid bullpen piece in 2017. Oh, his 4.21 ERA wasn't fantastic. But his other numbers belied a much better season.

In the coming days, we're going to recap every player who spent a part of  2017 with the Philadelphia Phillies. The previous post looked at first baseman Brock Stassi. We even have a landing post with a link to each player's season.

Ramos had a 2.92 FIP, allowed just four home runs in 57 innings, struck out more than 11 batters per nine innings and, despite a high walk rate per nine innings, a huge discrepancy between his strikeout rate and walk rate.

Ramos struggled through a brutal stretch in July, giving up nine of the 29 runs he gave up all season in a span of just eight days. If you take away that week, he had a 3.20 ERA on the season. 

Expect a third straight solid season from Ramos in 2018, particularly since the Phillies should have a deeper pen that will put him in lower leverage situations. 

Season Recap: Brock Stassi


I first saw Brock Stassi in person at spring training two years ago. He seemed to mash everything in sight. Then he made the Phillies last season and it seemed like he was a Cinderella story.

In the coming days, we're going to recap every player who spent a part of  2017 with the Philadelphia Phillies. The previous post looked at relief pitcher Rhys Hoskins. We even have a landing post with a link to each player's season.
Sadly Midnight arrived too early. The 27-year-old hit just .167/.278/.295 in 90 sporadic plate appearances. 

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Season Recap: Rhys Hoskins

Rhys Hoskins was a freak. He arrived on August 10th and destroyed everything thrown his way for two months.

In the coming days, we're going to recap every player who spent a part of  2017 with the Philadelphia Phillies. The previous post looked at relief pitcher Pat Neshak. We even have a landing post with a link to each player's season.

Hoskins played well enough that MLB Network's hosts had him as a top 10 left fielder today. In 212 plate appearances, he bashed 18 home runs, drove in 48 runs and batted .259/.396/.618. He had a .416 WOBA. That he crushed the ball is something everyone knows.

When you dig in to his minor league numbers, you see some very promising trends. Over the past three years, his walk rate went from 10.5 to 12.1 to 13.5 percent. That's a track record of knowing the strike zone. And his knowledge is improving.

Hoskins was a huge highlight of the Phillies season and fans are ready for an encore in 2018.


Wednesday, January 03, 2018

Season recap: Pat Neshek

I don't think fans realize how much of a stud Pat Neshek was last season. In 43 games, he had a 2.1 bWAR. Because it's a cumulative stat, it's hard for a relief pitcher - particularly in the modern game - to get that high of a WAR number.
Consider these are the highest career WAR of all time for relief pitchers.

Dennis Eckersley - 63.0
Mariano Rivera - 57.1
Hoyt Wilhelm - 47.3
Rich Gossage - 42.0
Tom Gordon - 35.3

In the coming days, we're going to recap every player who spent a part of  2017 with the Philadelphia Phillies. The previous post looked at outfielder Cam Perkins. We even have a landing post with a link to each player's season.

So, who was the last Phillies relief pitcher to accumulate 2.1 WAR in a season. 
Was it Hector Neris, who pitched in 80 games in 2016?
Was it fireballer Ken Giles in 2015?
No and no. It was Jonathan Papelbon, who had 2.8 WAR in 2014. But he was a closer. What about a non-closing relief pitcher.
Ryan Madsen had to have pulled it off in 2008, right? J.C. Romero? No and no. You have to go all the way back to Geoff Geary's efficient 2007 campaign. Did you forget about that? When he tossed 91 innings, allowing just 6 home runs and 20 walks.

Yeah, Neshek was pretty special.
The good news is he's back. And he wasn't just good last season. In the past six seasons, he has a 2.50 ERA, a 3.23 FIP, a .971 WHIP and a 4.68 strikeout to walk ratio.

Season recap: Cam Perkins

Cam Perkins hit .182/.237/.273/.510 with some moderate success defensively. He will not return.
In the coming days, we're going to recap every player who spent a part of  2017 with the Philadelphia Phillies. The previous post looked at outfielder Hyun Soo Kim. We even have a landing post with a link to each player's season.
Perkins had been a fringy Phillies Prospect for several seasons. His tools will give him a chance as a fourth outfielder in the big leagues for some time. But don't expect to regret him being let go.