2017 Phillies Report Card: Rhys Hoskins Crashbag

I met the man at a pretty good tapas joint in Barcelona on the eve of the Catalan Secession Referendum. He was having a Sangria, of course, and talking up the Ibérico he’d earlier sampled at the all-too-brightly-lit spot around the corner. I wondered if he really knew what he was talking about, or if he was just halfway drunk already, because that place, I’d been told just the day before, always, *always* passes off their lower-end Jamóns to tourists.

Rhys Hoskins stood out like a sore thumb, what with his imposing physicality, and the fact that he clearly learned the broken Spanish he was mustering from spending last winter as a line cook at Distrito. Continue reading…

2017 Phillies Report Card: Michael Saunders

Before going into the 2016 offseason Pete Mackanin asked for the Phillies’ front office to get him a few bats to help out the young Phillies pitching staff. The two big spots of need were the two corner outfield positions. In 2016 Phillies right fielders hit .231/.291/.350 (70wRC+) and their left fielders hit .207/.278/.316 (59 wRC+). Early in the offseason the Phillies traded some spare parts for Howie Kendrick and declared him their opening day left fielder. With Yoenis Cespedes, Dexter Fowler, Ian Desmond, Josh Reddick, and Jose Bautista coming with large salary numbers attached, the Phillies decided to step into the second tier and sign Toronto outfielder Michael Saunders.

Saunders has been a bit of a decisive player in his career. His talent always was larger than his output, and when combined with a habit of never being healthy, it left him as a bit of an enigma. In 2016, Saunders had been an All-star based on a first half where he hit .298/.372/.551, but a second half swoon (.178/.282/.357) had dragged his value down. Even with the swoon, Saunders had posted a 117 wRC+ with the Blue Jays over 140 games, which looked to be a massive upgrade for the Phillies. Even if Saunders didn’t quite reach the heights of his 2016 season, from the 2012 to 2016 Saunders had played in 482 games and put up a 110 wRC+. The Phillies also didn’t spend big on Saunders, giving a him a 1 year contract worth $8M with a $10.5M club option with a $1M buyout. This put the Phillies total commitments at $9M for what seemed like a massive offensive upgrade in right field. Continue reading…

2017 Phillies Report Card: Andrew Knapp

2017 was the season of the rookie for the Phillies. The late season headlines were dominated by top prospects like Rhys Hoskins, J.P. Crawford, and Nick Williams, but the first prospect up was forced into major league action by roster need. It is well documented that the Phillies had a roster crunch that forced them to have more prospects than could be sent to the minors. Enter Andrew Knapp, backup catcher.

Knapp was the Phillies’ 2nd round pick in the 2013 draft. He struggled at times, but burst on to the scene with a breakout second half in Reading during the 2015 season. A down year in AAA in 2016, caused him to lose some shine, but Knapp was widely expected to be a major leaguer. It just happened sooner than expected.

With the Phillies in need of prospects to open the year on the major league roster, Knapp started as the backup to Cameron Rupp. By the middle of the season, Knapp had become the primary catcher in the time share. However, a hand injury caused Knapp to miss a month and a half, and he received only limited playing time when he returned.

It is not a stretch to say that rookies are not the baseball player they will become, but Knapp seemed to take every part of this to the extreme: Continue reading…

2017 Phillies Report Card: Nick WIlliams

Coming into 2017, Nick Williams’ stock was down. Critics saw a sputterring offensive game in the second half of 2016, and conflict with coaches in Lehigh Valley, and couldn’t help but conclude Williams was starting down the road to ruin. But throughout 2017, Nick Williams put ruin in the rearview and stood on the gas.

No one will confuse Williams’ offensive game with that of his rookie cohorts – a patient power hitter like Rhys Hoskins, or an on-base machine like JP Crawford – though you could find similarities to Jorge Alfaro. Williams’ tendency to swing freely was on display in 2017, as he posted a 44.6% swing rate outside the zone, (O-Swing% league average was 29.9%), and his K Rate was 28.3%, well above his most promising minor league season in 2015, where he kept that rate below 20% at AA. Continue reading…

Crash Bag Vol. 39: Outfield Defense, the Offseason, and Vacation Destinations

With the 2017 Phillies season in the books, the questions this week focus mostly on the offseason and shaping the roster for 2018.
@RobertDalton52: 40 man roster, who gets cut/released/freeagent and who is on the bubble?
Including injured players, the Phillies have 47 players on the 40-man roster. Sure bets to be gone include free agents Clay Buchholz, Andres Blanco, Daniel Nava, and Hyun Soo Kim. Kevin Siegrist will probably be gone, along with Pedro Florimon. There’s talk of Florimon coming back as a utility player next year, but I don’t really see that happening. With that, we’re down to 41. Continue reading…

2017 Phillies Report Card: Pedro Florimon

Baseball is weird.

Pedro Florimon made his debut with the Baltimore Orioles on September 10, 2011. Since then the Dominican infielder has appeared in 256 major league games and recorded 742 plate appearances. In that time he hit .200/.261/.297 with 2.4 WAR. Most of that came in 2013 when he hit .221/.281/.330 with great defense for the Minnesota Twins. He then bounced around the league, mostly in AAA and as a September call up. That is the job the Phillies brought him in this year to perform. Florimon went down to Lehigh Valley and hit .265/.347/.410 for the IronPigs.

On August 17 the Phillies called Florimon up to the majors. Odubel Herrera was about to go on the DL and the Phillies desperately needed someone who could play center field.

Florimon went on the greatest cameo appearance of the 2017 Phillies season. Continue reading…

You Can’t Make a Unicorn by Putting a Horn on a Horse’s Head

Yesterday Phillies president Andy MacPhail sat down and answered questions about the Phillies rebuild and the direction the team would take going into the offseason. When asked about where they would go with pitching, MacPhail responded with this.

“We get inundated with stories across the game about everybody is looking for starting pitching. Just get two quality starters and we’ll be all set. Well, you might as well look for a unicorn at the same time. It’s tough.”

“You don’t want to be paying for past performance,”…”That’s often what you’re confronted with – someone who has probably logged over 600 innings in the last three years and been a great pitcher and now we’re on the wrong side of 30 and here we go.”Philly.com

Today Bob Brookover wrote a piece with this title “Phillies’ Andy MacPhail must not fear unicorns or long-term pitching contracts” where he argued the Phillies should not be afraid to spend money on pitching. While I don’t disagree that MacPhail might be a big gun shy on the Phillies signing a long term pitching contract, I don’t get the argument that it is a move the Phillies should make right now. In his piece, Brookover argues that the Phillies should follow the example of the Yankees (CC Sabathia), Diamondbacks (Zack Greinke), and Nationals (Max Scherzer) and give a giant contract to an ace level pitcher. Here are those pitchers plus a few more that meet that level of mega contract that Brookover is indicating, more specifically here is the combined line of their 3 seasons prior to being a free agent. Continue reading…

2017 Phillies Report Card: Jerad Eickhoff

Since his strong rookie season, Jerad Eickhoff’s stats are basically all trending down. His share of “automatic outs”, or strikeouts plus infield fly balls, has gone from 36.6% in 2015 to 33.3% in 2016 to 28.1% in 2017. It shouldn’t surprise you to know that his BABIP has increased every year as well. His walk rate is up, his swinging strike rate is down. There’s no other way to slice it; he just didn’t look good this season.  Continue reading…

2017 Phillies Report Card: Joaquin Benoit

The 2016 Phillies had the 3rd worst bullpen ERA in baseball at 5.05. The Phillies entered the offseason looking to provide some stability to the late innings and signed Joaquin Benoit to go along with earlier acquisition Pat Neshek.

Whereas Neshek was coming off a subpar year, Benoit had just gotten off a great end of the year with the Blue Jays (23.2 IP 0.38 ERA) after coming over in a trade from Seattle. More than just trying to build on a hot end of year, Benoit truly represented some stability for the Phillies. From 2010 to 2016, Benoit pitched in 439 games (427.0 IP) with a 2.40 ERA and a 3.23 FIP. Despite some time as a closer with Detroit and San Diego, Benoit had developed a reputation as a solid 8th inning reliever. Thanks to an ill advised decision to have Jeanmar Gomez open as the closer, Benoit opened as a 6th/7th inning arm for the Phillies.

After Gomez lost the closer’s job, Benoit was promoted past Hector Neris into the closer’s role. After a successful save on April 15, Benoit allowed Bryce Harper to murder a baseball:
Continue reading…