Crash Bag, Vol. 1: Crash Bag 2.0
We find ourselves at the end of an era. As Jimmy Rollins trades in his beautiful red Phillies pinstripes for plain old Dodger blue, our very own Michael Baumann (officially) ends his tenure as your beloved Crash Bag curator. Like Rollins, Baumann was remarkably consistent, at one point boasting 99 consecutive weeks of Crash Baggery. And just as Jimmy was the best Phillies shortstop of all time, Baumann was the best Crash Bag…Guy…in Crashburn Alley history. So what if he was also the only one, and thus the best by default! The point is, I’m honored to take over as your NEW Crash Bag guy. Anyway, I hope I can be more J.P. Crawford than Freddy Galvis, but there’s a long way to go before we find out (and hopefully, being J.P. Crawford turns out to be a good thing). Remember to use the hashtag #crashbag on the twitters. Let’s get to the questions.
Rollins is gone. It’s been almost two weeks since the news broke, but still, those words are tough to read. He was the man. He’s one of three players in baseball history with 400 steals, 200 homers, and 100 triples. The other two guys are Johnny Damon and Paul Molitor. By the time he retires, Rollins will likely be the only player EVER with 500 steals, 250 homers, and 100 triples. His departure leaves a gaping hole in the middle of the infield, at the top of the lineup, and in our hearts. Sniff.
There’s been an outpouring of feelings on this site and our twitter accounts, so I’ll spare you any more nostalgia. But I do want to point out (as I did on twitter) that, whether we realize it or not, or want to acknowledge it or not, there is an undercurrent of racism in singling out players of color for “not hustling” or “putting themselves before the team” while simultaneously praising white players for being “gamers” or for “playing the game the right way.” I won’t get into it any more, but if you want to do some deep diving on this, check out the Atlantic article that Bill posted last week.
Without a doubt, I think the answer is Domonic Brown. Is there a Phillies player with a bigger target on his back? At this point, we just accept Ryan Howard and know he will probably not be remarkable. But there’s a ton of pent-up frustration with Dom after his atrocious performance in 2014, and I feel like he’s going to get an earful from the fans, especially if he struggles early in the season. I still believe in Dom, but this is his last shot.
— Brad In DC (@bxe1234) December 3, 2014
Gee, thanks Brad. I’m glad I don’t actually have to watch either guy next year. Both had some great moments in Philadelphia, and both left town after bad final seasons. No hard feelings toward either player, but I’m just ready for a different team in 2015. There will of course be many familiar faces, but there will be no John Mayberry, Jr. or Kyle Kendrick, no A.J. Burnett, Antonio Bastardo, or Roberto Hernandez, AND NO JIMMY ROLLINS. By Spring Training, there may be no Marlon Byrd either. The Phillies are going to be a very bad team, but at least it’ll be a different bad team than last year.
If I absolutely had to choose though, I’d go with Kendrick. Why? One, I need to get back on Corinne’s good side. Two, maybe the Phillies can just stipulate in the new contract that he has to be “the good Kendrick” instead of “one of the five or ten worst pitchers in the league.” Three, Mayberry’s skill set has been easily replaced. Four, sometimes innings are just innings, and in 2015 there’s going to be about 1,458 innings or so of mostly bad baseball. The Phillies might as well have enough arms to pitch those innings. Again, this is if I had to choose.
Mayberry staying in the division (if you missed it, he signed with the Mets) fascinates me. I imagine he’ll continue his decline, which I outlined in my 2014 report card. Will he get vociferously booed in Philadelphia while he plays out the back half of his career, or will we just not care enough to expend the energy? Perhaps in place of apathy, we can simply nod knowingly in solidarity with our tortured Mets fan brethren.
I actually stopped listening to drive-time sports talk a year or so ago in favor of NPR (and luckily for me, I’m blessed with KCRW). But, in the wake of the bombshell that Jimmy Rollins would be traded to the Dodgers, in a desperate search for any additional information, I did listen to sports talk on my drive home that Wednesday night. And it was excruciating.
Like local sports radio anywhere, the LA stuff is super homery. Any move that doesn’t grossly favor the home team is met with loud skepticism. To me, if I have to listen, that’s entertaining. On the night the Rollins trade was first announced, Max and Marcellus thought an appropriate trade for Hamels would be Hyun-jin Ryu. Like, straight up. I surmise that a real trade, one that actually benefits the Phillies, would make their world come crashing down.
Cliff Lee is a total mystery right now. He could be a 5-win player, or he could blow out his elbow and never pitch for the Phillies again. So much has to break right for Lee to have a successful season – after all, he’s 36 years old – but it would make the Phillies much more bearable if he pitches well. Watching Hamels and Lee a few times a week, feeling the world slowly heat up a little, maybe enjoying a nice rookie season from Maikel Franco and one more good start from Chase Utley … well, it wouldn’t be the worst way to pass the time until Aaron Nola is called up.
But the memory of Halladay’s shocking, accelerated descent is still fresh. There’s a nonzero chance that we’ve seen Cliff Lee pitch his last inning as the puckish, nonchalant, strikethrowing machine we loved so much. If he manages to start 30 games this year and finish as a top-50 starter, we should feel lucky. If he doesn’t, we’ll be seeing a lot more of David Buchanan or Jerome Williams or whoever. Perhaps it’s offseason optimism talking, but I don’t think this is a Halladay situation. That would be too cruel. Not even Philadelphia fans could take that punishment.
I wrote about this back in July when Jeff Samardzija was traded to the A’s, and in the past several months we’ve seen a BUNCH more package trades involving veteran players. The Phillies would certainly benefit from such a deal to unload veteran players, but they would probably have to take one (or more) vets back. The prime candidates to be shipped out are Jonathan Papelbon, Marlon Byrd, and Ryan Howard (Chase Utley doesn’t want to leave).There were rumors that the Phillies offered Byrd and Howard to Baltimore, so it seems like they’re trying. I’d relieve Baltimore of Ubaldo Jimenez if they took Ryan Howard, Marlon Byrd, and $21 million (the money to cover the difference between Howard’s $60 million through 2016 and Jimenez’s $39 million through 2017). Innings are innings, and Jimenez was nonawful in 2013, and moving to the easier league can’t hurt. In this scenario, it’s not unreasonable for the Phillies to ask Baltimore for a prospect in the 10-20 range, perhaps one of David Hess, Stephen Tarpley, Oliver Drake, Tyler Wilson, Mike Wright, Steve Brault, or Parker Bridwell. Baltimore badly needs a productive corner outfielder, so this trade isn’t so crazy. Both teams get rid of a toxic contract, the Orioles get Byrd, and the Phillies (only if they send the cash for Howard) get a minor league arm, of which Baltimore has enough to spare. It’s a little bit of shuffling deck chairs on the Titanic, but it would open up two spots for young(er) players to show what they can do, and extra pitching depth is always a plus.
The Tigers still don’t have a good bullpen, still seem like they’re going for it, and still seem like the ideal landing spot for Jonathan Papelbon. Maybe after all this time, if it hasn’t happened already, it won’t happen ever. But there isn’t a more logical destination for his services. If simply clearing his $13 million salary from the payroll isn’t motivation enough to like that deal, just imagine the ninth inning being the sole province of 100 Miles Giles.
* Googles Brandon Leibrandt. * Ah yes, Brandon Leibrandt. This could go in a lot of different directions. What does this question really mean?
1. Do we ever see him pitch as in, will he get hurt and never make it to the majors?
Damn it man, I’m a doctor, not a psychic. Wait, I’m not a doctor. Right. Stuff happens, especially if you’re a Phillies pitching prospect. Just ask Jason Knapp, Adam Morgan, Ethan Martin, Jonathan Pettibone, or Jesse Biddle.
2. Will he not progress and just end up an organizational depth guy?
This brings up perhaps the most important rule of prospects: they’re just prospects. There are plenty of smart scouts and analysts out there, and the amount of data and the methods to analyze it are always improving. But projections aside, it takes years before we really find out. So, maybe?
3. Do we want to see him pitch? Well, for those of us who are old enough to remember his DAD pitching, maybe not. Thanks for the reminder that death is one day closer, Tom.
4. Does he get traded like so many Phillies prospects before him?
Who knows, right? That’s the real reason I took this question. Although the Phillies have traded many of their young players over the last five years or so, that train stopped rolling. The team has finally dug in for a full rebuild, and Ruben Amaro, Jr. and Pat Gillick have made several positive moves in the past year. The Roberto Hernandez, Antonio Bastardo, and Jimmy Rollins trades have all been steps in the right direction. Given the recent trend, I think it’s more likely than not that Leibrandt will stay in-house for a while. It’s also more fun this way, because if the on-field MLB product is going to produce 70 to 75 wins and is going to be a chore to watch on most days, then we can at least distract ourselves with projecting all the minor league players.
That’s all the time we have today, friends. See you next week.