The Future Is Unwritten: Albert Cartwright Scouting Report

Every piece of an organization is important, especially when your roster is shallow and old enough that injuries and poor play mean Michael Martinez spends nearly a fifth of the season on your big league roster. Marginal improvements, even deep in the annals of the organizational depth chart, can impact your big league club in some way if things break right. Roster expansion in September means teams can utilize players who were wholly insignificant during the season in ways that their most prominent skills can impact the game. Francisco Rodriguez for the Angels in 2002, Franklin Morales for the Rockies in 2007, Dan Johnson for Tampa in 2011, Billy Hamilton for the Reds this year, there’s a long list of guys dripping with anonymity that were called up late in the year or forced up due to injury that have contributed to the cause. Or at least were good enough that they didn’t irreparably damage the cause. That’s why today I’d like to take a look at an unglamorous but interesting player named Albert Cartwright. Continue reading…

Amaro Hints at Analytics Incorporation

With the way Major League Baseball operates in the year 2013, little things like this shouldn’t necessarily be news. But given the organization’s stubbornness and obstinance vis a vis the incorporation of analytics into player evaluation, this quote from a piece by MLB.com‘s Todd Zolecki feels important:

“We’re going to make some changes,” Amaro said. “I think we’re doing some stuff analytically to change the way do some evaluations. Look, we are going to continue to be a scouting organization. That said, I think we owe it to ourselves to look at some other ways to evaluate. We’re going to build more analytics into it. Is it going to change dramatically the way we go about our business? No, but we owe it to ourselves to at least explore other avenues. We may bring someone in from the outside, but we have not decided that yet.”

Whether this is the first step toward a total renovation of player evaluation or merely a placation of a growing portion of the fanbase remains to be seen, but it’s encouraging nonetheless. A moment of lauding for the much maligned RAJ, either way.

Looking Back at Pre-Season Projections

Part of the fun going into every season are the projections. There are quite a few systems out there, including Steamer, Oliver, Marcel, and my personal favorite, ZiPS. ZiPS didn’t paint a very rosy picture of the Phillies’ offense, projecting only Chase Utley Domonic Brown, and Carlos Ruiz to cross the .330 mark in terms of weighted on-base average. For the sake of comparison, the average wOBA across the National League for non-pitchers was .318.

Continue reading…

Thank You for A Great Season

It may have been a disappointing season for the Phillies, but nevertheless, it has been another great year interacting with you, the loyal readers and commenters here at Crashburn Alley. On behalf of Michael, Paul, Eric, and Ryan, we can’t thank you enough for making our site a part of your routine. Just because the season is over, though, doesn’t mean we’re going away. We’ll still be here throughout the off-season providing the most thorough and objective analysis of the Phillies around, so don’t clear us from your bookmarks yet.

On a related note, thank you to the diligent writers on the Phillies beat for making our jobs possible and much, much easier. Matt Gelb, Chris Branch, Todd Zolecki and a host of others have been doing the dirty work so the rest of us don’t have to clean the Cheeto and Dorito dust off of our fingers to find something to blog about.

When we’re not posting stuff here, we’ll be putting our thoughts on Twitter, so make sure to follow us:

Starting on October 1st and running well into November, we will be providing report cards on every player to don Phillies pinstripes this season.

The Future is Unwritten: Malquin Canelo Scouting Report

Not every name you’ll see me bring up this offseason will be one you’re immediately familiar with. There are plenty of players whose names you don’t know at all (and who I’ve overlooked) who will make noise as prospects at some point soon, potentially next year. Hell, Kelly Dugan didn’t even make Baseball America’s Phillies top 30 this year where was listed on their organizational depth chart as a first baseman (he’s a plus defender in the OF) and he’s one of the more interesting guys in the entire system now. That word, “interesting,” is an important one to keep in mind this offseason as we plow through as many scouting reports as we can here at Crashburn. Not every prospect we’ll talk about is special, there aren’t enough special prospects in any system to sustain an entire offseason’s worth of content if that’s a requisite criterion. But everyone is interesting, especially the fatally flawed ones who are walking reminders of how sacred we should hold the ones that are truly special. One of these paper tigers is shortstop Malquin Canelo who spent most of this year at Short Season Williamsport. Continue reading…

The Afterthought Lies In Wait

This has been a ripe year for trivia questions we’ll ask ourselves years down the line. Can you name every player who played center field? How many players had first names starting with J? Who were the two Steves that saw playing time? Test your friends!

It’s a forgettable year, but one that was expected by everyone this side of the Marcus Hayes Line. Even the rosiest glasses were scuffed by the letdown of 2012, and the possibility that 2013 would play out just as it has was far from the craziest of suggestions.

Aside from meaningless minutiae and realized disappointments like that, the hope is that the next question asked alongside those will go something like this: remember that time we forgot about Ryan Howard?

Continue reading…

Crash Bag, Vol. 73: Did You Mean Felman Shrung?

Greetings, Crash Bag readers. I am not Michael Baumann. I’m Liz Roscher, Supreme Blog Mistress over at The Good Phight, and I’m filling in for Baumann this week. He still loves you all very much, though. At least that’s what he said. He could have been lying.

On to the questions!

@ilrosso_: Can you describe the Phillies season in a series of Project Runway gifs?

Project Runway is probably my second favorite reality competition show on TV right now. There’s no eating of nasty things, no surviving on an island for 30 days (or as long as other people can stand you), no singing, no housewives, no hoarding, no ducks, and no creepy tiny beauty queens. The contestants make clothes, and they live and die on their talent. Heidi Klum is gorgeous and marvelously, bluntly German. Tim Gunn is wise and fatherly, if your father wore impeccable suits and dispensed brilliant fashion advice.

Project Runway is about fashion and there is almost no overlap with sports. One season they did design costumes for WWE wrestler women, and then there was the season where they had to design a suit for former football player and noted tiny man Tiki Barber. But while there is a dearth of sports, there is no shortage of DRAMA. Fights, breakdowns, crying jags, temper tantrums, back talking, and endless reaction shots of judges looking at singularly ugly clothing. So, @ilrosso_, I absolutely can describe the Phillies season in a series of Project Runway gifs, owing to the intense DRAMA that makes up every single episode. Continue reading…

Chasing the Protected Pick

As the month of September has been winding down, you have probably heard people allude to the Phillies losing on purpose to secure a protected draft pick. They have lost six out of their last seven games — three each to the Mets and Marlins. The new collective bargaining agreement changed some of the ways bad teams were, essentially, given a kick in the right direction. Dave Cameron highlighted these changes at FanGraphs last October. He wrote:

Instead of offering arbitration, teams must now submit a qualifying offer equal to the average salary of the 125 highest paid players in the game – this year, that works out to $13.3 million. In essence, a team that wants to be compensated for losing a free agent has to be willing to bring that player back for $13 million in 2013, which will greatly reduce the amount of players who get tagged with a compensation requirement.

[…]

Not only has the pool of players requiring compensation changed, so too have the specifics relating to the draft picks and where they go. Previously, the top 15 picks were protected, so any team finishing in the lower half of the standings could sign a free agent and only have to surrender their second round choice. That protection has been altered to only cover the top 10 selections. Additionally, because the Pirates get the ninth pick in next year’s draft for failing to sign Mark Appel, only the teams with the nine worst records in 2012 have draft pick protection – the Astros, Cubs, Rockies, Twins, Indians, Marlins, Red Sox, Royals, and Blue Jays will get to keep their first round selection even if they sign a player who received a qualifying offer. Everyone else would have to forfeit their first round pick.

Teams that finish in the bottom-ten in terms of won-lost record have their draft pick protected. In the case of a tie, which is a very real possibility this year, the team with the worst record in the previous year is given preference.

The standings prior to today’s action:

Team W L PCT GB
1 Houston Astros 51 108 .321 -
2 Miami Marlins 59 100 .371 -
3 Chicago White Sox 62 96 .392 -
4 Chicago Cubs 66 93 .415 -
5 Minnesota Twins 66 92 .418 -
6 Seattle Mariners 70 89 .440 -
7 Milwaukee Brewers 71 87 .449 -
8 Colorado Rockies 72 87 .453 -
9 Philadelphia Phillies 72 86 .456 -
10 Toronto Blue Jays 72 86 .456 -
11 San Francisco Giants 73 85 .462 1.0
12 New York Mets 73 85 .462 1.0
13 San Diego Padres 74 84 .468 2.0

With just a four-game set against the Braves remaining in the regular season, the Phillies still aren’t guaranteed that protected pick. They can finish as “low” as sixth or as “high” as 13th.

Why does this matter? The Phillies may not be big spenders during the off-season, but GM Ruben Amaro may look to add at least one player via free agency, particularly one to pitch in the outfield. Shin-Soo Choo, Nelson Cruz, and Curtis Granderson are just a few who should receive qualifying offers from their current teams. If the Phillies finish outside of the “top” ten, record-wise, they may have to settle instead for signing a part-time player like Nate McLouth. The cost/benefit analysis is a subject for another article, but it will be considered. Not having to forfeit their draft pick makes any signing less of an issue.

This is all the Phillies are playing for in these final four games. Root, root, root for the home team. If they don’t lose, it’s a shame.