On the Pathetic Phillies

I was cruising FanGraphs this week, desperately looking for something interesting to write about. You see, the Phillies, as you may have noticed, are soul-crushingly bad this season. There are only so many times you can look for silver linings or potential improvements before it becomes an exercise in futility. Therefore, I’ve decided to lean in to the madness. The Phillies leaders in fWAR this season are Jerad Eickhoff, Pat Neshak, and Odubel Herrera, all at 1.2 fWAR. They’re all on pace to be above-average players this year, if you set the “average” bar at 2 fWAR.

But let me tell you something about them you may not have realized: Eickhoff’s ERA is almost 5.00. Neshak is a reliever. Herrera is running a wRC+ of just 78. When your best starter has an ERA 14% worse than league average, your best hitter can’t hit, that leaves a reliever to be the best player on your team, which is… not ideal. And that’s how you wind up with the worst team in baseball. Continue reading…

Monday Morning Roundtable: Sometimes It is the Little Things

Each Monday morning the Crashburn Alley writers weigh in on various questions about the state of the Phillies.

The Phillies are starting a 10 game road trip (and by the time this is published will have already played 3), what is one thing you want to see out of this team over that stretch?

Michael: It’s hard to put so much stock in any ten-game stretch in this long lost season, so wins are not especially important to me in the grand scheme of things. What I’d like to see is improved play from individual players. I’d like to see Maikel Franco string together a few barrels; starters continuing to hit six innings in their starts; Odubel Herrera taking a few walks. Individually it might not mean much, but if a bunch of players can make incremental improvements, the wins will come.

Brad: I’d like to see less than three walk-offs on a ten game roadie. I know, maybe that’s not realistic. How about less than five?

Honestly, a handful of saves for the pen would be nice. Whether you value the stat, (I do not), there’s no harm in adding some confidence into a reliever’s psyche, and it also means winning a game that could be easily lost by virtue of all the bad things this team is so prone to do. Continue reading…

Crash Bag Vol. 25: New Levels of Futility

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, there have been more Crash Bags in 2017 than Phillies’ wins.

On to the questions.

@viscof1: What kind of market/return is out there for Howie Kendrick? I know it won’t be a lot but he looks good at the play on the bases.

Kendrick is hitting .440 on balls in play. That BABIP fuel will run out. What’s left is an average bat that can run the bases well and play a few positions on the field. That is what teams are buying in Kendrick. He is the best hitter on the Phillies but a solid utility player to the rest of baseball. Enjoy the perspective.

Continue reading…

Location Matters For Nick Pivetta

The strength of the Phillies’ system was supposed to be young pitching. Through the first few years of the rebuild, the Phillies have had mixed results with their young starters. Injuries this year have forced the Phillies to reach down to their minor leagues for starters earlier this season. After struggling through his first 6 starts, one of those young players is suddenly looking dominant.

This is Nick Pivetta’s second call-up of the year. In his first stint, he pitched in 4 games going 19.1 innings with a 5.12 ERA and 9 walks to 21 strikeouts. Pivetta’s starts were marked with poor command and inefficiency. It was much different than his time in the minors where he walked 2 to 37 strikeouts in 32 innings. Pivetta then pitched in two games after being recalled on June 5, and he was worse than his first time around pitching 10 innings with a 6.30 ERA, 7 walks, and 6 strikeouts.

Things have turned around dramatically for Pivetta, and against the Red Sox and Cardinals he has pitched 13 innings with 3 runs (2.08 ERA), 3 walks, and 19 strikeouts. Continue reading…

Phillies Finally Call Up Some Prospects, Also DFA Gomez and Saunders

Matt Klentak finally answered everyone’s angry tweets and comments, and made a roster move!

Let’s start with the named players in this deal. The Phillies have cut ties with their opening day closer and right fielder. Yes, Jeanmar Gomez and Michael Saunders have both been designated for assignment by the Phillies. Both players were supposed to be stop gaps to the future and instead were leaky sieves. Gomez got another crack at the closer role this year, but proved he couldn’t hold down that or a low leverage inning role. Michael Saunders was supposed to be the answer to the Phillies problems in right field (he wasn’t). He had a poor second half in 2016, but still posted a .253/.338/.478 season line. This year he did everything worse but strikeout, instead he traded some of those for more weak contact. In the end, Saunders hit .205/.257/.360 over 61 games and 214 plate appearances. The Phillies had a team option on Saunders and Gomez was a free agent so there is no longer term impact on the Phillies. Continue reading…

2017 Williamsport Crosscutters Season Preview (Pre-Draft Edition)

The future of the Phillies rests in their minor leagues. Not every prospect will come up to help the major league team, some will be traded, and some will stumble along the way. Today we continue Crashburn’s preview of the minor league system with the WIlliamsport Crosscutters. The goal is to give a quick overview of the team and the top prospects, but also a deeper dive into all 25 player on the roster.

The Williamsport Crosscutters kick off their season Monday night. The Phillies are still triaging and signing draft picks, so the Crosscutters will start with a roster in transition. There are a bunch of teenagers here, not all of which will be on the roster long term. We will have a full update when all of the draft assignments have been made.

Quick Pitch:

The Williamsport roster is lacking in star power, with Kevin Gowdy lagging behind and the 2017 draft players still signing and working out in Florida. What it does have is a bunch of teenagers, both on the field and on the mound. The offense lead by four million dollar man Jhailyn Ortiz should have plenty of power. The pitching is not as well known, but features the remainder of a dominant 2016 GCL rotation, including the lanky Kyle Young and the loose armed Luis Carrasco. The team should see reinforcements soon, but for now there is a lot of young talent that could breakout on this roster. Continue reading…

Monday Morning Roundtable: Trying to be Optimistic About Young Pitching

We are kicking off a new series here, well really an old series just reborn. It is the return of the roundtable where the writers here weigh in on some topics about the Phillies. The goal is touch on some things that don’t fully warrant a bunch of words or might be too depressing to sit down and write a piece about. This week we attempt to be positive about the Phillies.

Since the injuries to Clay Buchholz, Zach Eflin, and Vince Velasquez we have gotten a chance to see two of the Phillies’ young starters in Ben Lively and Nick Pivetta. What are your initial impressions of the pair and does either of them give you any confidence about their future?

Michael: I haven’t yet watched a Ben Lively start, so I’m not going off much visually. But I don’t think I need much visually to realize that a 5.9% K% is bad. Or that a 3.4% HR/FB% isn’t sustainable. Or that walking three guys for every two you strike out isn’t a recipe for success. I’ll have to actually watch him before I get too in depth, but the early returns are far from encouraging, despite the 70 ERA-. Continue reading…

Crash Bag Vol. 24: Did You Know the Phillies Drafted Some Baseball Players?

The draft was this week and I am struggling to think about things that are not the draft.

In draft news, but actually on the topic of the Crash Bag, this will no longer be just me writing the Crash Bag after this week. Instead the Crash Bag will be written by a different Crashburn writer each week, including some appearances by some Crashburn writers who are too busy with actual real world things to regularly contribute. You can still send your questions to me on twitter and I will forward them on, you can also send them to the Crashburn Twitter or whichever writer is doing over for the week. If you aren’t on twitter you can send post them in the comments here until I figure out a good email address for them.

@DashTreyhorn: Are the Phillies *really* this bad?

No, but they are pretty bad. Pretty much everything that could have gone wrong, has gone wrong for the 2017 Phillies. They have lost Aaron Nola, Vince Velasquez, Clay Buchholz, and Cesar Hernandez to injuries at various points in time. Their big free agent signing in Michael Saunders has been incredibly bad. All of their young players other than Aaron Altherr are having worse statistical seasons. Their young pitching has been ineffective when it has come up. The bullpen picked the only good stretch by the team to be a complete disaster. Jeremy Hellickson just stopped being about to pitch competently. Continue reading…

Phillies Draft Day 2 Recap

After taking Virginia’s Adam Haseley and Caly Poly’s Spencer Howard in the first two rounds, the Phillies faced 8 rounds of picking players. Yesterday was a lazy jaunt, today was a slow descent into madness. By the 7th round Jonathan Mayo and Jim Callis were glued to their phones hoping scouts would bail them out with reports on players that they had never heard of. It only devolved from there as teams took college seniors to save money to spend later. In the end the Phillies walked away with a mixed group of players and the greatest mystery of the draft so far.

So who did they take?

3rd Round – Connor Seabold – RHP – Cal State Fullerton

Seabold comes out of the same college as current IronPigs starter Thomas Eshelman, and draws a lot of similar reviews. Seabold has slightly more velocity than Eshelman, but his command might be a step his fellow Titan. Unless he makes a sudden unexpected improvement, Seabold should be a quick moving back end starter, and he could reach the majors as soon as 2019 if the Phillies want to push him. Continue reading…

Phillies Take Cal Poly RHP Spencer Howard with the 45th Pick

Phillies Scouting Director Johnny Almaraz said they liked this year’s college pitching crop, and they used their second pick to dip into that group. Howard was not rated highly by public scouting sources with MLB Pipeline coming in the highest at #99. The Phillies came right out and called him a potential front line starter.

This would put them much higher on him than the public sources. The general consensus is that he sits 92-94 touching 96 and that he has good slider and then a usable cutter and changeup. Many seen him as a reliever, and potentially a quick moving one. Continue reading…