Crash Bag: Season 3, Episode 1

Welcome back to the Crash Bag! It’s been a long time. Unsurprisingly, a lot of you had questions about the Phillies’ minor league system as opposed to the major league roster. Let’s jump into it.

From commenter JustBob:

Favorite break out prospect(s) next year now that the minor league teams are finally finished?

Does Franklyn Kilome count as someone who could break out? I feel like his hype train is already in motion. The 20-year-old just finished up his first season at Single-A with solid stats across 11 starts — a 3.28 ERA with a 36/21 K/BB ratio over 49 1/3 innings. Along with our own Brad Engler, Matt Winkelman of Phillies Minor Thoughts is my go-to guy for analysis on the Phillies’ system. He wrote about Kilome recently, as the right-hander made the top-20 prospects in the New York Penn League. Winkelman described Kilome as flashing “top of the rotation stuff” including a mid- to high-90’s fastball. Definitely someone I’ll be checking in on next year.

From commenter JRFarmer:

Need help choosing who to root for in the post season.

Mets and Giants are obviously off the table. Definitely rooting for Dodgers and Rangers, but what if they face each other in the WS?

What’s the statute of limitations for a team hitting only the second-ever World Series-ending walk-off home run in baseball history? (The other, of course, was hit by Bill Mazeroski.) To me, 22 years is more than enough time to get over that grudge, and particularly so for my generation. I was five years old when Joe Carter bested Mitch Williams. I remember it, but not vividly, and it doesn’t serve as an emotional moment in my life. I’m cool rooting for the Blue Jays in the post-season this year.

Here’s why:

  • R.A. Dickey is awesome. He’s a 40-year-old knuckleballer and an author of children’s books. From all accounts, he’s a great guy.
  • Ben Revere is on the team. Remember him? Revere was fun to watch in a Phillies uniform.
  • They hit a lot of dingers. The Jays have been, by far, baseball’s best offense, averaging 5.48 runs per game, more than a half-run per game better than the second best offense (Yankees, 4.81). They lead in the majors in home runs as they have three players with 35-plus round-trippers: Josh Donaldson (39), Jose Bautista (36), and Edwin Encarnacion (35).
  • Marcus Stroman. He’s made only three starts because he tore his ACL. He wasn’t even supposed to pitch this year! But he recovered way quicker than expected and he’s come back in top form. Stroman was fired up in Wednesday’s start against the Yankees — the most important start he’s made in his career — in which he tossed seven shutout innings. If you don’t like Stroman, you don’t like baseball.

The Dodgers are a fine National League choice, since they have former Phillies icons Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley. But neither player will have a spotlighted role on the team, unfortunately. If big money isn’t your flavor, you can’t go wrong with the Pirates.

From commenter Bob:

Will Jimmy Rollins or Chase Utley retire? Should Rollins or Utley retire? Where do you see either playing next year?

If the Dodgers win the World Series, I could see both retiring. Not knowing either player and not having read any public comments on the matter, if I had to wager, Rollins almost certainly plays next year and there’s about a 50/50 shot Utley plays next year because of his degenerative knees. They’d have to take incentive-based one-year deals from small-market and mid-range contenders. The Brewers, Athletics, and Mariners come to mind, as do the Orioles. If both indeed are interested in playing in 2016, they likely won’t find a new home until some time in January.

From commenter LAPhilsPhan:

Which of our prospects are Rule 5 draft eligible next season and which will we protect on the 40 man roster?

Winkelman did a post on that here which has the full list. Rather than copy it here, click the link and give him some well-deserved traffic. Colton Murray is already on the 40-man roster and Roman Quinn will obviously be protected. Beyond that, however, the Phillies have enough depth where they don’t need to jump out and protect anyone else if they don’t want to. Lino likely gets added to the 40-man because he’s a catcher, despite that he hasn’t been able to hit much.

From commenter Alex:

Do we/can we know the approximate cut off dates for Crawford’s and Williams’ Super 2 designation at this point? Do you think the Phillies should/will bring them to the majors as soon as those dates pass in 2016, assuming they continue on their current developmental trajectory?

To become Super Two-eligible, a player must rank among the top 22 percent of the group of players which has accrued between two and three years of service time. Generally speaking, a team can feel confident a player won’t become Super Two-eligible after 65 service days have passed. The Cubs called up up Kris Bryant in mid-April as opposed to late May or early June this season, and as a result, Bryant will assuredly get four rather than the typical three years of arbitration eligibility.

Crawford and Williams will start next season with Triple-A Lehigh Valley, their first taste of Triple-A competition. They’re pretty close to major league ready, and a strong start to the 2016 season might be all the Phillies need to pull the trigger on a promotion. I wouldn’t be surprised to see both players in the majors by the All-Star break.

From commenter TommyDigital:

Either way…who’s the number 1 pick next year? Florida kid?

I admittedly do not follow college baseball in the slightest. This is what I’m able to gather from what I’ve read and heard from people much more knowledgeable than myself.

The top end of the 2016 draft class is pitching-heavy. A.J. Puk, from the University of Florida, is the name I’ve seen most often. There’s also Alec Hansen from the University of Oklahoma. High school pitchers who could go early in the draft include Riley Pint, Jason Groome, and Austin Bergner. I wouldn’t be surprised if the top five or six picks in the 2016 draft featured only pitchers.

As for position players, almost all of the top candidates are college hitters. Nick Banks from Texas A&M is the highest-ranked as he’s a five-tool player with all five tools playing above-average according to scouting reports. There’s also Ryan Boldt, a center fielder from the University of Nebraska, whose draft stock took a hit due to an injury. Kiley McDaniel of FanGraphs wrote that, despite the injury, Boldt “is still an easy plus runner that profiles in center”.

The Phillies’ best starting pitching prospect, Jake Thompson, doesn’t profile as an ace. If the Phillies lack one thing in their minor league system, it’s the presence of a potential ace pitcher. That might be Kilome, mentioned above, but he’s still at least a few years from the majors. The Phillies, in the past, haven’t had much luck drafting high school pitchers early — the most recent were Shane Watson, Mitch Gueller, and Jesse Biddle — so it wouldn’t be shocking to see them go the college route. Hansen and Puk are safer options but Pint may have the most end-game reward.

From commenter Nick:

Apologies is this has been asked before: what would you change about CBP? Doesn’t matter how small or large, or what it’s relevant to – just curious because it’s a very nice stadium, but nothing is perfect.

I love going to games at Citizens Bank Park. It has a terrific atmosphere and there are only a few subpar places to watch a game, all of them in right field. I haven’t gone to many games in the last couple of years because the prices have been exorbitant. It was shocking since the Phillies have been so bad for a while. One would think a drop in ticket prices would follow.

I complained about this earlier this season when I considered going to a home game against the Pirates:

I don’t live in Philly, so I’d need to drive there, and parking is $15 at Citizens Bank Park. If I wanted to bring a compatriot, it would run us $75 just to enter the ballpark. I forget what the food and drink prices are, but if we each wanted to get a hot dog and a soda, you can tack on another $10 each. In this economy, I can find much better use for $50-100 than watching a sub-.400 baseball team while eating a mediocre hot dog and an ice watered-down soda.

So if I were to change anything about Citizens Bank Park, I’d lower the prices across the board. Of course, managing the Phillies’ and Aramark’s bottom line isn’t my job, so it’s easy for me to say. I think it’d be more beneficial, however, to take the short-term loss in profits as it would eventually lead to longer-term profits by inviting fans back to the ballpark and growing an attachment to the new crop of players.

From commenter Chris S.

I was looking at the MLB standings and maybe you don’t want to handle any non phillies question, but why are the Rangers 17.5 games better than the A’s even though their run differential is only 8 runs apart with the Rangers at -5 and the A’s at -13. It would also be interesting to see if any team has won their division and had a negative run differential like the Rangers are on track to do.

This exemplifies one of the flaws of run differential, which is that it doesn’t account for the distribution of runs. The Athletics have played 49 one-run games and won only 17 of them. Meanwhile, the Rangers have played 46 one-run games and emerged victorious in 26 of them. You can chalk some of this up to bullpens. Though both teams have a bullpen ERA that ranks in the bottom-third of the majors, the Athletics have been about a half-run in ERA worse than the Rangers. Oddities between actual records and run differentials can usually be explained in some way by the bullpen. The Athletics have also been blown out a bunch, which makes them look worse than they really are.

From Woj on Twitter:

I’m going to use Woj’s question to go off on a little tangent here. I fully realize I am playing the role of the grinch in saying this, but I don’t enjoy the presence of mascots at games. They’re distracting and, when they’re in my section, block my view of the game. I think mascots cause a safety issue at the ballpark.

As we’ve seen in the news throughout the year, fans continued to get injured by foul balls and bats that happen to fly into the stands. We still don’t have protective netting — which we totally should — because most people’s responses to fans getting injured is “shoulda been paying attention to the game, idiot”. But when the Phillie Phanatic is strutting down the aisles, blocking my view and shaking his green gut in my face, how can I possibly react properly if a foul ball happens to speed towards me?

Now imagine a young kid. It’s tough enough keeping a kid’s attention for more than two or three seconds, but throw in a furry green giant that looks like he’s from Sesame Street? Good luck keeping the youngster’s eyes on the ball. And then the kid’s parent(s) is/are distracted trying to keep him from jumping over the seats to hug the mascot, and you have an entire family at risk for getting beaned by an errant foul. Probabilistically, they’ll all be fine, but all it takes is for that roulette wheel to land on double-zero once to suffer a traumatic injury or be killed.

To answer Woj’s question, the answer is obviously Iggy.

That’ll wrap up this week’s edition of the Crash Bag. Feel free to comment, message me on Twitter, or send me an email to ask a question for the next Crash Bag.

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  1. Nick

    September 25, 2015 01:08 PM

    I actually just went to the Phillies-Cubs game a couple Sundays ago. I bought 2 things at the stadium, a slice of pizza and a milkshake, and both cost about $5. I agree 100% about lowering prices – both the food and the tickets cost too much (as does parking, but I don’t drive).

  2. Michael C Lorah

    September 25, 2015 03:14 PM

    My wife got me tickets for the final Saturday game (for two-year-old, myself and my parents, as a late birthday gift for me) and I was pretty shocked that we wound up laying out $40/ticket. We briefly discussed just walking up to the ticket window and seeing what kind of discounts are available on game day, but we both prefer having our ducks in a row and opted to pre-purchase. Add parking, gas, NJ Turnpike tolls and food and it’s a lot of cash for a “meaningless” game between two “meaningless” teams. But with the baby just born in June, it’ll be the only game I attend at CBP this season (actually, my first game at CBP in three seasons, with the older boy having just been a baby himself the previous couple summers).

  3. Shane

    September 25, 2015 10:20 PM

    On Utley and/or Rollins retiring: I’m sure neither of them WANT to retire, it’s just a question of whether any club is willing to throw money at them. I doubt that. Bad years at this stage in their careers only signal the end of their careers. They are not even playing at replacement level, really. Great guys, both of them, but better and cheaper options are available.

  4. Francisco (FC)

    September 26, 2015 11:40 AM

    I may root for the Blue Jays if only so that if they win they can finally show off something different at the park instead of the Joe Carter shot whenever I go to Rogers Centre. They show that highlight. Every. Single. Time. I’m sick of it.

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