Crash Bag, Vol. 95: American Virtue

@jimmyfricke: “Should Phillies fans be upset about Cruz being signed for 1 year 8 mil while we’re stuck with Byrd for 2 years 16 mil”

Absolutely not. Cruz is a 33-year-old power-before-hit corner outfielder who produces no value on the bases or in the field. Those guys tend to have a couple things in common: they’re overrated in their primes, because they produce homers and RBI, which are flashy, but nothing else. The other thing is that when the bat starts to slip even a little, the whole package falls apart. Look for Nelson Cruz comps and you’ll find names like Juan Gonzalez and Henry Rodriguez, and when those guys started to slip, things got ugly fast. Byrd is older, and didn’t have Cruz’s prime with the bat, but he was, at one point in the past, a good athlete, and I’m not convinced Byrd won’t be better than Cruz in 2014.

The other thing is Cruz costs a draft pick, and for a guy who makes you a 79-win team when John Mayberry makes you a 76-win team, that’s not even worth a second-rounder. The Orioles were in need of a DH and have a better shot at contending than the Phillies do, so this signing makes more sense for them–and even then, I’m not in love with it–but signing Nelson Cruz for a battle for third place is exactly the kind of pothole-in-front-of-the-rebuild move Ruben Amaro deserves credit for not making. The past two offseasons.

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Phillies Prospect Conversations: Josh Norris (Baseball America)

Better than anyone, Baseball America has been providing comprehensive coverage of all levels of America’s Pastime for over three decades. Whether you’re a subscriber to their website, magazine or purchase the annual Prospect Handbook (which you can find here) you’re going to get well written, informative, dynamic content. I visit their site on a daily basis and encourage you to do the same. The July 2 coverage is second to none, they do outstanding reporting (like Aaron Fitt has on the Phillies/Ben Wetzler story) and generate content with excellence in all forms of media. I’ve been purchasing the Prospect Handbook since my senior year of high school (when Phil Hughes was on the cover) and have been a subscriber ever since I left the IronPigs and could no longer steal the new mag issues from the Coca-Cola Park press box. This year the BA writer covering the Phillies list is Josh Norris, formerly of The Trentonian. Our conversation follows. Continue reading…

Looking Forward to the 2014 Phillies

Oh hi, Crashburn Alley! I’m Corinne Landrey (Twitter handle: @Ut26) and I’ll be joining the Crashburn crew for the 2014 Phillies season. I’m a lifelong Phillies fan whose earliest baseball memories include poring over box scores at the breakfast table as soon as I learned to read and developing an intense dislike for Kyle Abbott at the ripe old age of 6. I have an insatiable desire to continue learning about the greatest sport around and I’m really looking forward to the opportunity to share the ups and downs of Phillies fandom with you here on this gem of a website Bill provides for us.

With the Phillies entering a season I anticipate will provide many chances for angst and pessimism, I’ll take this moment to make my first piece here a light-hearted outlook on the upcoming season. Here are five reasons baseball will be fun in Philadelphia during the 2014 season:

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A Quick Note on Spring Stats re: Ryan Howard

Recently, I wrote about why spring training stats can be misleading. There aren’t many reasons why one should ever need to take a player’s spring training stats with anything less than a gigantic grain of salt, even just to look at strikeout and walk rates, which stabilize faster than most other stats and the only ones to stabilize in fewer than 240 trips to the plate.

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FanGraphs: The Phillies are MLB’s second-most improved team

FanGraphs: The Phillies are MLB’s second-most improved team

Note: Formatting look weird? It’s a feature of the new website design. The header above is a direct link to the article I discuss below. We’ll be trying out some different styles throughout the year, so make sure to let us know what you think.

In a simple add-up-the-WARs operation, Jeff Sullivan of FanGraphs sought to find baseball’s most- and least-improved teams. Surprisingly, the Phillies came in as the second-most improved team. He credits this to positive regression to the mean, the addition of some productive free agents, and the lack of actively harmful players who had significant playing time last year, such as the injured Roy Halladay and the terrible Delmon Young.

Three Up, Three Down

It’s no secret that many wearing Phillies red last season underwhelmed with their performances on the field. Additionally, as a function of their aged roster, GM Ruben Amaro dealt with a number of his key players winding up on the disabled list at some point during the season. The Phillies finished at 73-89, their worst finish since 2000. They were even worse if you judge them by their expected won-lost record, which was 66-96 according to Baseball Reference.

The silver lining, if there is one, is that the past year makes it possible for some of those who disappointed to bounce back and gain re-entry into our good graces. Below, I’ll identify three Phillies I think could have a bounce-back season, along with three I think might not improve on last year’s numbers.

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Baseball Starts Tomorrow

For the Yankees and Tigers, baseball kicks off today as they will face off against the Florida State Seminoles and the Southern Florida Moccasins, respectively. For the Phillies, baseball returns tomorrow afternoon against the Blue Jays, the first of many exhibition games between now and the beginning of the regular season on March 31 in Texas against the Rangers.

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The Extension Parade and Domonic Brown

You might have noticed that a lot of young players – most of them Braves – have been inked to long-term, pre-free agency extensions recently. Freddie Freeman, Michael Brantley, Julio Teheran, Craig Kimbrel and Andrelton Simmons were each signed to a deal of four or more years this month, and while none of those players presents a great comparable for the Phillies’ Domonic Brown, I can’t help but wonder if a similar approach should be taken with regard to his contract situation.

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