Phillies Prospect Conversations: Chris Crawford (MLBDraftInsider and ESPN)

And so we begin a new season’s worth of conversations with the internet’s best prospect writers. We’ll examine those writers’ lists and talk with them about the Phillies system. Our first participant this year is Chris Crawford, he of ESPN’s MLB Draft coverage and Chris does really terrific work and his readership is deservedly growing at an exponential rate. He’s currently mowing through farm systems as he pumps out reports with his Top 14 in ’14 series. The Phillies list is here. It’s free and it includes meaty reports on all fourteen guys he ranks as well as present/future tool grades. If you like his work (you will) and you’re interested in the upcoming draft (you should be) then I’d encourage you to buy Crawford’s excellent Draftbook. It’s just $1.99 and for that you’ll get 150 amateur scouting reports in a neat and clean PDF whhich will be emailed to you within an hour or two of purchase. You’ll also get an updated version of the book closer to draft day. It’s a terrific resource, one I used to build my preliminary amateur schedule for this spring, and it can be ordered here.  Let’s get to my chat with Chris. Continue reading…

Crash Bag, Vol. 91: Winter Storm Neymar

So I’ve been encountering a phenomenon recently where journalists gripe about how, in the context of a postgame interview, “Talk about…” isn’t a real question. And it’s not. “Talk about how Cole Hamels got out of that sixth-inning jam” is not literally a question. But I don’t know why this is an issue–beat reporting isn’t Jeopardy. Everything doesn’t need to be in the form of a question. The object of the postgame scrum is to get the best, most relevant sound byte you can, and if you’re focusing on how the reporter generates that response (which will likely run without the question that prompted it), you’re reaching into “hilariously missing the point” territory.

@LeftysCurve: “Your projected starting outfield come, say, May 1”

Pretty sure it’s Brown, Revere and Byrd, unless someone gets hurt. I can’t imagine that changing based on the preseason and a month’s worth of games. Revere and Brown are both cheap and played quite well last year, and Byrd just got inked to a multi-year contract after having a better 2013 than either of them. This is probably the most stable outfield situation the Phillies have had to start a season since 2010 or so? After that, Raul Ibanez started sucking, Jayson Werth walked and Domonic Brown came up, so things got a little unpredictable. The earliest–again, barring injury–that I can see this changing is if Byrd gets flipped at the deadline. Continue reading…

Scouting Notes from Nine Baseball’s MLK Invitational

This past Martin Luther King Day I had the opportunity to attend Nine Baseball’s invitation-only tryout for East Coast high schoolers at the Pocono Dome. I’ve included my notes on most of the notable young men in attendance below. I wanted to get these up sooner but a death in the family has prevented me from doing so until now. Amateur baseball in the northeast is generally poor because the weather only lends itself to favorable baseball conditions for maybe 5 months. As such, I have a tendency to be optimistic about even the most mediocre pro prospects in the area because there are so few of them at all. Keep that in mind as you read. Also, there were 60 players in attendance and I regretfully couldn’t write up every one of them. There were several players whose names are underlined and starred on my scouting sheet that don’t get mentioned here because of time and space, but they are noteworthy nonetheless. Kids like Luke Bonfield, Kyle Stinson, Gavin Sheets and Endy Sanchez, just to name a few, are all really interesting young baseball players who I liked quite a bit but decided not to include bulky reports on in the notes that follow. If you’re one of the players from the event and don’t see your name below I encourage you to bust your ass in school and at practice to make me look like an idiot. Until then, let’s discuss the kids that stood out to me. Continue reading…

Do the Phillies Have Payroll Space to Afford A.J. Burnett?

Yesterday, Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported that starter A.J. Burnett, who had been mulling retirement, decided to make his services available for at least one more season. Obviously, the Pirates are interested in bringing him back, but the Orioles and Rangers are two other teams expected to show interest. The Phillies, with a mediocre starting rotation beyond Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels, could also decide to pursue the right-hander on a short-term deal. Sawchik reported that they have interest.

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Finding A Glimmer of Hope for the 2014 Phillies

The Phillies are old. It’s a narrative that both is true and has been repeated ad nauseam for the third straight year. The Phillies’ success in 2014 will depend largely on the health and performance of the five position players 34 years or older expected to accrue at least 400 plate appearances: Marlon Byrd (36), Jimmy Rollins, Carlos Ruiz, Chase Utley (35), and Ryan Howard (34). If things start to trend positive for the first time in a while, the Phillies could improve on last year’s 73-89 record. If not, they’ll likely keep the Marlins company at the bottom of the NL East.

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The Goldilocks Zone of Losing

There is a point at which all things break, or melt, or freeze. There is a point at which something’s physical state becomes changed, transformed into something atomically similar to what it once was, but usually not physically or visually reminiscent of past form.

In 2012, the Phillies resembled the early stages of 2003’s disaster-porn flick The Core, wherein the Earth’s magnetic core has stopped spinning, creating ever-intensifying abnormalities on the surface that ever-increasingly threaten normal life. In 2013, those surface problems were dialed up a notch. You see where I’m going with this.

Ruben Amaro, Jr. is looking for the nuclear reaction to get the core of this team spinning again, and he’s trying to do it by straddling the line between full competitive team-building and blow-it-up rebuilding, as noted by CSN’s Justin Klugh. As also noted by Klugh, this isn’t really a thing that happens. At least, it isn’t a tactic that results in something even remotely resembling a quick turnaround.

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Phillies Avoid Arbitration with Ben Revere

The Phillies closed the books on their arbitration season Friday, reaching an agreement with center fielder Ben Revere on a $1.95 million deal for the 2014 season. This is Revere’s first year or arbitration eligibility.

Revere, 25, was acquired last offseason for pitchers Vance Worley and Trevor May, and played in 88 games before breaking his right ankle fouling a pitch off it in July. Revere was in the midst of a two-and-a-half-month-long rebound from an abysmal April before the injury, hitting .347/.380/.404 in 240 PA from May 1 on.

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The Future is Unwritten: Larry Greene

I enjoy violent contrast in tone and mood in my entertainment. There’s just something about it that tickles me. In high school, I wrote a very uplifting short story called, “Charlie’s Bucket,” for Mr. Whitehead’s sophomore English class. In that story, a little boy named Charlie is new at school and is struggling to make friends. He decides, in desperation, to “make” himself a friend using some things he finds lying around in his family’s shed. As you may be able to guess based on the story’s title, he uses a bucket for the head. He returns to school and starts to talk about his new friend, who sounds awesome, around the other kids. The other children at school start to think, “Gee, if Charlie has such a cool friend, he must be pretty cool.” They start to take to Charlie before learning of the bucket. By then, however, they realize that when Charlie was talking about how nice and fun his “friend” was, he was actually describing himself. The kids at school realize this, totally understand and embrace Charlie. The End. Continue reading…

Crash Bag, Vol. 90: Naming Your Baby

Greetings. Let’s talk about how great it is that Bobby Abreu is on the Phillies again.

@Wzeiders: “how great is it that Bobby Abreu is a Phillie again, even if it’s just a fleeting dream I’m scared to wake from?”

It’s pretty great, I tell ya. It’s pretty great. I try not to swear above the break in these posts, but my official position on Bobby Abreu is that if you don’t love him, or at least recognize what a great player he was, you can fuck off and die.

Go ahead. I’ll wait.

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