By last September, the majority of Phillies fans had understandably shifted their attention to football or bonsai tree pruning or organizing the mysterious kitchen drawer or doing literally anything other than watch hideously awful baseball. By now those fans have no doubt caught up on the very few highlights they missed: the debut of Maikel Franco, the continued dominance of Kenny Giles and a surprise combined no-hitter in Atlanta. But there was another September surprise that received very little hype and is now one of the storylines I’ll be keeping a close eye on this spring: Luis Garcia.
The Phillies are certainly no strangers to that part of the off-season — they nabbed Shane Victorino in 2004’s Rule 5 draft from the Los Angeles Dodgers — but in recent years, they’ve been inconsequential. In December 2012, the Phillies took outfielder Ender Inciarte from the Arizona Diamondbacks, but returned him shortly after the start of the 2013 season. A stipulation for keeping a player from the Rule 5 draft is that the acquiring team has to keep him on the 25-man roster all season. Inciarte turned in a decent year with the D-Backs last season, posting a .303 weighted on-base average with 19 stolen bases.
This year, Herrera is the big gamble and he stands a much better chance of remaining on the Phillies’ roster as they’re now officially in a rebuild mode. In 2012, they fancied themselves contenders still. Herrera, 23, led the Texas League (Double-A) in batting average last season at .321 in 408 plate appearances. He didn’t show much in the way of power (only two home runs plus 16 doubles and four triples with Double-A Frisco) but showcased decent speed (21 stolen bases in 31 attempts) and was voted the best defensive second baseman in Baseball America’s Best Tools survey. The Phillies are using him in the outfield, given their current needs. At worst, the Phillies will have attempted to turn him into a more versatile player.
This latest salvo of Cole Hamels analysis comes from Tony Blengino at FanGraphs. Blengino is a former stat wizard with the Seattle Mariners. The analysis gives off the appearance of thoroughness but it’s a simple FIP-ERA comparison that uses the assumption that the Phillies’ outfield defense was “reasonably strong” — a laughable assertion.
I don’t have the time right now to go into it in depth, but thought I’d pass along the link if you want something to hate-read. I may add more here when I have more time.
The Phillies will officially kick off Grapefruit League action against the Yankees at 1:05 PM ET this afternoon, ending a dreary winter and beginning what should be a dreary spring and summer.
Your lineups, via Steve Gross of The Morning Call and the New York Post’s Ken Davidoff:
It’s been more than a year since the exciting announcement that the Phillies front office added Scott Freedman to help improve their usage of analytics was paired with the endlessly mock-able revelation that he was actually an “extern” whose salary paid not by the Phillies but by Major League Baseball. While every other MLB team accepted the value of data analysis to some degree, it appeared from the outside that the Phillies relationship with analytics was much like that of a stubborn young child with broccoli leaving MLB and parents alike with no option but to force feed their obstinate charges. It was laughable and, frankly, embarrassing for analytically-minded Phillies fans, but sometimes even the tiniest step in a positive direction can result in momentum leading to positive change and maybe, just maybe, that’s what has occurred in the Phillies front office since the extern experiment.
The alarmist analysis of the Phillies’ Cole Hamels situation by the national media has become something of a running gag. Throughout the off-season, we’ve been inundated with articles suggesting GM Ruben Amaro has been too greedy and unrealistic when negotiating a potential Hamels trade with other teams. We’ve heard that sand is slowly falling in the hourglass and once it’s all gone, Hamels will turn into a pumpkin. Of course, the situation is not that dire.
I wanted to post my Top 30 Prospects list on the day pitchers and catchers report because it’s symbolic of the passing of not just one year to another, but one generation to another. Ok, I’m lying – it’s because I procrastinated for a very long time and this seemed like the latest I should let it go. So as late as I am, I thought it would be interesting to compare my list with a sample of those from around the industry. The very excellent Matt Winkelman (@Matt_Winkelman) from the very excellent PhilliesMinorThoughts.com had a big list of industry lists already, so I stole that and mushed it all together to create a consensus ranking for all of these players. Good man, that Matt Winks.
Now, this ranking comparison is by no means scientific – Continue reading…