Cole Hamels “Embarrassed” By Tuesday’s Start

In a rain-soaked game between the New York Mets and the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on Tuesday night, an alien Cole Hamels showed up in the mound. Hamels had trouble finding the strike zone all game long, and he couldn’t make it through the fifth inning as a result. With 106 pitches, Hamels went 4 2/3 innings, allowed eight hits, walked five, and struck out three.

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Crashburn Alley Is Looking for Writers

As the title says, I’m looking to bring on one or two writers to contribute to Crashburn Alley. If you’re knowledgeable about the Phillies with a passion for writing on at least a weekly basis, read further.

With Eric Longenhagen soon moving to Arizona, I’ll be looking for someone to fill the Minor League guru role. Those with a deep knowledge of the Phillies’ Minor League system will be given preference. If you fancy yourself a whiz on Minor League affairs, be sure to point that out when you email me.

Other criteria I’m looking for, non-prospect guru division:

  • Available to contribute at least one article per week, preferably two
  • Currently enrolled in college or completed college (focus is not particularly relevant; I just don’t want to hire writers still in high school — nothing personal, high schoolers.)
  • Experience with using WordPress and blogging in general (e.g. embedding data tables and images)
  • Knowledge of the basics of HTML and CSS (not a requirement, but preferred)
  • Familiarity with social media, particularly Twitter
  • Strong grasp of Sabermetric concepts (if you’ve read Tom Tango’s “The Book” and understood most of it, you should be fine)
  • Familiarity with statistical concepts such as “small sample size” and the ability to use spreadsheets to organize data

The position is non-paying. However, you will be contributing to an ESPN-partnered site, which looks great in a writer’s portfolio Most of the writers to have passed through Crashburn Alley have gone on to take on other, often bigger writing roles that do pay. You will also have the opportunity to participate in ESPN group projects if/when they pop up, and the availability to contribute to the Sweet Spot blog directly (which pays), depending on the level of mutual interest. Your work at Crashburn Alley will be read by thousands every day.

If you are interested, send an email to CrashburnAlley [at] gmail [dot] com with a relevant subject. Introduce yourself a bit, and highlight your strengths that you think make you a good fit here. Resumes are fine, but not required — organize the details as you see fit. Include relevant details such as your Twitter handle, your blog URL, and any work you may have done elsewhere that highlights your skills. Attach a writing sample of any length on any Phillies-related topic of your choosing. Assume it will get posted on the site to be read by all publicly.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments or send me an email. I look forward to hearing from you!

Rosenthal: Phillies’ bullpen “alarmingly thin”

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports wrote a small blurb about the Phillies’ bullpen in his column posted on Monday:

The Phillies, after losing their first two games to the Rockies, went an impressive 6-4 on their trip to Colorado, Los Angeles and Arizona. Still, the team’s right-handed relief after Jonathan Papelbon and Mike Adams remains alarmingly thin – and Adams, coming off shoulder surgery, needs to be handled with care.

Right-hander Ken Giles is throwing 98 mph at Double A with a 21/3 strikeout-to-walk ratio, but this is his first season above Class A. An outside addition would be helpful – Brad Lincoln, B.J. Rosenberg and Justin De Fratus have not proven to be the answers.Ken Rosenthal, FOX Sports

As I wrote recently, the Phillies would be best served by being patient with Giles. It’s easy to be overwhelmed by his numbers right now, but remember that he’s only logged 11 innings this season, the equivalent of about two outings for a starting pitcher. And, as Rosenthal mentioned, this is Giles’ first taste of competition above A-ball. If he can consistently overpower Double-A and Triple-A competition, then he could be considered a viable option for the Phillies. For now, though, bringing him up would A) stunt his development, and B) start his service time clock way earlier than is necessary. Giles alone is not going to fix the Phillies’ bullpen woes, so they would simply be losing a year of control for a very marginal upgrade, if any at all.

Kevin Gregg is one possibility. Gregg, 35, is still a free agent despite posting a 3.48 ERA over 62 innings with the Cubs last year. He has no injury history, which is nice. However, the dings against him are obvious: he’s relatively old, doesn’t have great control (walked 12% of batters in each of the last two seasons), and is fly ball-prone (ground ball/fly ball ratio was below 1.1 in three of his last four seasons). Beggers, however, can’t be choosers and if the Phillies are looking for bullpen depth, one can do worse than swapping out whoever’s on the seventh rung of the bullpen — Shawn Camp at this point — for Gregg.

Via Gordon Wittenmeyer of the Chicago Sun-Times, Gregg says he’s still waiting for a phone call. While he’s been jobless, the right-hander has been working out and pitching to college hitters near his Oregon home.

Joel Hanrahan is another option. Hanrahan, 32, had been working out for teams. Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish reported last week that the right-hander has received “a few” offers from interested teams, but was not close to signing. Hanrahan spent 2013 with the Red Sox, but went on the disabled list in early May with an elbow injury. He underwent Tommy John surgery on May 16. Hanrahan also had a procedure done to repair his flexor tendon and remove bone chips.

The Pirates took a flier on Hanrahan, acquiring him in a trade with the Nationals in June 2009. It turned out to be a great gamble for the Pirates, as Hanrahan went on to post a 2.59 ERA with 82 saves and a 2.7 K/BB ratio in 229 1/3 innings.

Octavio Dotel is also available. The 40-year-old hasn’t retired and told’s Bobby Nightengale last September that he’s still interested in pitching. Dotel, pitching for the Tigers, suffered a right elbow injury in mid-April, knocking him out for the season. As recently as 2012, however, he posted good strikeout and walk rates and only allowed three home runs in 58 innings.

Trading for a reliever would be a bit more difficult this early in the season. Those options are more likely to open up once more teams realize their fate and make some of their players available. So if the Phillies don’t want to sign one of the few veteran relievers still available, they would have to wait another month or two before any real options would present themselves.

How A.J. Burnett Got His Groove Back

A.J. Burnett finished off a successful West coast road trip for the Phillies with eight shutout innings against the Diamondbacks on Sunday afternoon. The win, completed by Jonathan Papelbon, left the Phillies with a 6-4 record over their ten games against the Rockies, Dodgers, and D-Backs. For Burnett, it was his third successful start out of three since being diagnosed with — and choosing to play through — an inguinal hernia.

The hernia isn’t affecting him too much. If anything, it’s made him better. Here’s a look at those three starts:

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Fun With Small Sample Sizes: Ryan Howard is Crushing Southpaws’ Sliders

A pamphlet titled How To Pitch To Ryan Howard sits in every dugout in Major League Baseball published and bound in a sexy, leather cover, or at least I assume that’s the case. The text is simple, concise and goes something like this: To retire Ryan Howard, bring in a left-handed pitcher who can pound him down and away with sliders. It probably even has nifty illustrations that look like this. To date, no team has gone looking for a refund on their copy of this book because the strategy has worked like an absolute charm.

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Carlos Ruiz Still Has It

Catcher Carlos Ruiz was the hero in Thursday night’s series finale against the Los Angeles Dodgers, as he reached base in all five of his plate appearances. He singled, walked twice, and doubled twice while scoring twice and driving in two runs in the Phillies’ 7-3 victory. The Phillies wrap up their ten-game road trip in Arizona after taking three of four from the Dodgers.

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Losing Faith in the Cody Asche Experiment

Third baseman Cody Asche hasn’t been in the Phillies’ starting lineup since Sunday’s series finale in Colorado against the Rockies. Asche has compiled a meager .567 OPS in 52 plate appearances and has been subpar defensively in the early going. As illustrated here, the Phillies have had the worst production at the hot corner out of all 30 Major League teams.

Two of the last three starters the Phillies have faced have been left-handed, so that may be why the switch-hitting Freddy Galvis has started twice and the right-handed Jayson Nix has made one start over those three games while Asche has sat on the bench. However, earlier in the season, Asche started against two left-handers in a row in the Rangers’ Robbie Ross and the Cubs’ Travis Wood.

Could the Phillies be losing faith in the Asche experiment already?

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Looking at the Phillies’ Offensive Production by Position

Through 21 games, the Phillies stand at 10-11, which is about where people expected them to be at this point in the season — perhaps slightly better for the pessimists. They’ve held their own with some tough teams: fighting tooth and nail against the Rangers in a 1-2 opening series; playing some close, low-scoring games with the Braves in a 1-2 series; and winning the first two games of a four-game set with the Dodgers.

The starting pitching has been great — the rotation has the third-best xFIP in baseball — while the defense and bullpen have left a lot to be desired. The offense has been a bit of an enigma, at times looking like it’s capable of taking on anyone, and at other times looking like even Adam Eaton (the former pitcher, not the White Sox center fielder) could shut it down.

Let’s take a look at how the Phillies have fared offensively position-by-position.

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