Crash Bag, Vol. 2: Santa and Non-Functional Weight

Welcome back to another week of the Crash Bag, an important ploy to fill offseason content quotas but an even more necessary creation for enduring a long baseball season. Thank you to all who submitted questions. If you find yourself with a burning question you would like answered in a future iteration of this series, I encourage you to submit it via Twitter (@cf_larue) or the comment section of this edition.

@Margerine2000:  should the Phillies explore signing “Mr Punch,” Jose Bautista?

If you’re terminally ill and have fewer than 15 months to live or are otherwise disposed to not consider the consequences of actions beyond their likelihood of providing immediate enjoyment–i.e., you’re under the age of 16–yeah, go ahead. Between Bautista and Odubel Herrera, it would be difficult to find a better bat flipping 1-2 punch in the game. Add Yasiel Puig, and you’d have the most GIF-able outfield in the game by a large margin.

However, if your starting assumption is that, as a team unlikely to make the playoffs with or without Jose Bautista, the Phillies should take actions that further, or at least don’t get in the way of, the goal of winning in years beyond 2017, the answer here is a firm no.

First, it’s unclear how much of an improvement over Howie Kendrick, Aaron Altherr, or Roman Quinn he provides. After six consecutive All-Star seasons in which he was worth an average of 5.6 bWAR and 37 home runs per season, Bautista hit 22 home runs and produced a mere one win above replacement. Smart money is on him bouncing back, but, entering his age-36 season, it’s fair to wonder how much he can bounce back. There’s more risk there than is typical of a player with Bautista’s recent level of performance. That risk is directly tied to the likelihood that the team will be able to trade him for anything of value at the deadline.

Second, consider what the Phillies would have two give up to get Bautista. The most obvious is the supplemental draft pick they would surrender. Research by Ronnie Socash at Beyond the Box Score suggests that players selected in the supplemental round have something like a 30-40 percent chance of becoming major league regulars. That has value to a rebuilding team.

In addition to the potential future value of that drafted player, the Phillies would also give up about $1.5 million in the 2017 draft by losing their second round pick. This might even be more valuable than the pick itself for finding a future contributor.

Lastly, Bautista’s presence on the team will inevitably take plate appearances away from Roman Quinn and Aaron Altherr (and, possibly, Nick Williams), playing time which may be essential for their long-term development and the organization’s information gathering on who belongs on the team going forward.

I know you’re itching for fun baseball. I am too. But making the playoffs is more fun than watching a now-75 win team win 80 games. Bautista helps with the latter, but probably not the former.

@KeithWinder: Better stand in for Santa: Charlie Manuel or John Kruk?

Charlie Manuel. I spent the last 10 minutes trying to construct an acceptable argument for Kruk over Charlier. Couldn’t do it.

@bxe1234: Which current or former Phillies seem like they would make good distance runners?

As someone who places a disproportionate amount of evaluative weight on projected mile times, I’ve spent a good deal of time thinking about this. One disclaimer up front: all baseball players would be bad distance runners. Every position requires a prohibitive amount of upper body strength. That translates to more upper-body muscle, which means more non-functional–for distance running purposes–weight they have to carry with every step.

The best candidates, I’ve decided based on nothing resembling scientific evidence, are starting pitchers. They’re the only players aside from catchers–who are disqualified because we’ve all seen them try to run–who are active on every play and whose job relies on endurance. As importantly, we’ve never actually seen a starting pitcher seriously run. That unknown is better than the disqualifying performances of many other players.

Obviously, I’m not referring to pitchers like Aaron Harang or Curt Schilling, who would be indisputably terrible at any distance over 50m. I’m referring, mostly, to Cole Hamels. At 6’4″, he’s a bit tall*–again, non-functional weight–but, as far as baseball players go, the way he carries muscle isn’t particularly bulky. For similar reasons, I always thought Jayson Werth had some potential as well.

Most of the players we think of as good runners are sprinters, which has very little carry-over to endurance. So, while it’s tempting to put Odubel Herrera or Shane Victorino on this list, I don’t see much there beyond their speed on the base paths, which, we have to remind ourselves, means next to nothing for this question.

Other players of intrigue: Roy Halladay, Mickey Morandini, Doug Glanville, anyone who played before baseball teams and players figured out that endurance training was useless for baseball, Roy Oswalt.

*Pull up Youtube and watch a race video of Chris Solinsky. If you didn’t know better, you’d think he was like 6’5″ with how he towers over the rest of the field. He’s 6’1″ and a giant for events longer than 1500m. There’s a reason for that.

@mholt74: 2017 Biggest surprise, Biggest disapointment in  MLB, MiLB?

I’m going to answer these with minimal explanation for two reason. 1) I’ve had some long answers already. 2) As surprises and disappointments, these are unlikely scenarios, so they don’t have much in the way of reasoned explanation. This is the “gut” portion of the Crash Bag.

Biggest Surprise MLB: Jorge Alfaro takes the starting job by early June and finishes in the top-3 in NL Rookie of the Year voting. I’m not a trained prospect person, but, once a player gets past, say, high-A I want tools. Alfaro has tools. He has never played at AAA, so he’ll start the season there. But, he’ll tear it up and push Cameron Rupp off the starting spot.

Biggest Surprise MiLB: I mean, someone you’ve never heard of is going to be in the organizational top 10 next offseason, but I’m not informed enough to tell you who that is. But, since the disappointment query locks me into picking someone here, I’ll go with Deivi Grullon. He’s a defensive stud at catcher at a good time to be that. If his hitting progressed a little bit, he could shoot his way toward being in the conversation for a top-10 spot in the system. I’ve liked him for some time and he’s only going to turn 22 next month. His defense makes him a solid backup candidate as a floor, so any step forward offensively would by huge.

Biggest Disappointment MLB: Aaron Nola’s season ends in May, after a poor first month, to undergo Tommy John surgery. Sorry.

Biggest Disappointment MiLB: I’m sure the readers are familiar with this, but let me reiterate Michael Baumann’s Law of Prospects: The modal outcome of prospects is failure. Neither Hoskins nor Cozens cracks 20 home runs and neither is even talked about for a late-season call-up.

@tdoublefox: should chargers fans keep being chargers fans?

Short answer: yes.

Long answer: Fandom is about bonds that you form with players and the aesthetic of the team, not with ownership. The Chargers will be moving to Los Angeles, which, according to Google Maps, is a mere tw0-hour drive from San Diego. That’s close enough that any fan can be just as much a fan as they were before. Until another team moved to San Diego, all Chargers games will be broadcast in San Diego and a two-hour drive eight weekend days a year is far from prohibitive for season-ticket holders. What choice do you have? Cheer for the Rams? I get that ownership has spurned San Diego, but this isn’t the Colts bussing equipment out of Baltimore in the middle of the night to move to Indianapolis. Los Angeles is close enough to stay in touch and, again, who else will you cheer for?

@Wet_Luzinski: If Scott Franzke and LA narrated the Wanamaker’s light show instead of Julie Andrews, how much more often would you go?

No one is going to like my answer to this, but, regardless of narration, the Macy’s light show is a waste of time. For one, I hate crowds. Sitting in an overcrowded second grade classroom, I sympathized very strongly with Schoolhouse Rock’s portrayal of Western Expansion as a search for “elbow room.” I like to move around freely and get incredibly anxious when other people don’t allow me to do so. I went to the light show once a couple years ago and almost died coming down an escalator because crowds were such that I was nearly unable to get off of it at the bottom.

To me, the light show is a lot like fireworks in that we need a concerted public boycott to spark innovation. The technology of the light show is, as best I can tell, the same as it was 40 years ago. Why hasn’t it changed at all in my lifetime? Because people eating it up. Same with fireworks. Every Fourth of July, we flock to whatever local place is shooting these things into the sky, buy cotton candy, a beer, and listen to “Born in the U.S.A.” Yet, they still can’t get a heart shaped firework to consistently come close to resembling a heart. They should be able to shoot an explosive device that literally paints a picture on the sky at this point. Both the light show and fireworks reek of complacency. We need to collectively demand better from our public entertainment. Boycott the light show and your local fireworks display. That’s the only way innovation will happen. Go the the Dickens Village, though, because it’s rad.

To actually answer your question, Wet, I would certainly be more likely to go to the Macy’s light show if Franzke and LA narrated because, a) I know who they are (I had to Google Julie Andrews before answering this) and b) I would expect LA to express my same level of disappointment with the product.

@ethan_witte: What has to happen this year for Mackanin to get a) his option picked up, or b) an extension beyond 2018?

Man, three real baseball questions in one Crash Bag. This isn’t what I signed up for, but I’ll go with it anyway.

To get his option picked up, I don’t think Mackanin has to do much of anything. He’s already done enough in terms of keeping the clubhouse together in the midst of consecutive 90+ loss seasons to be allowed to oversee the rebuild through its completion. The Phillies are unlikely to make the playoffs in either of the next two seasons–though 2018 shouldn’t be completely ruled out–and Mackanin has proven that he, like Brett Brown of the Sixers, can oversee such a lack of success on the field without the negative morale that often goes along with it. I’d be surprised if he doesn’t have his option picked up early in 2017.

To get an extension, Mackanin probably needs to do a bit more next season to show that he can effectively manage a pitching staff and bullpen. Far too often, he trusts his pitchers an inning or a batter longer than he should. He needs to get better at preemptively making pitching changes before the wheels come off. Maybe that comes with additional experience and higher stakes, or maybe it’s just part of his character as a players’ manager. With at least moderately competitive teams the next two season, the Phillies should be able to get that information on his managing to make a decision. Then they can decide whether he is the long-term answer or whether they need to bring in a “superstar manager” along with a couple other impact players in the 2018-19 free agent class.

That will do it for this edition of the Crash Bag. I’ll see you again next week with, probably, less baseball content.

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8 comments

  1. Moose

    January 13, 2017 02:02 PM

    Doug Glanville is 100% the correct answer for the endurance runner question.

  2. Jerry Spradlin

    January 14, 2017 09:43 AM

    My dark horse breakout minor- league is Jose Pujols. He has tons of power but also, strikes out a ton. Not a great year at Lakewood but he is still only 20. I’m taking a flier on him and guessing he rockets up the prospect list in 2017.

    Full disclosure- Cord Sandberg was my 2016 dark horse. Say no more…

    • Romus

      January 14, 2017 01:50 PM

      JS…it is easy to fall in love with the power.
      However, his splits vs low A SALLY pitching right handers is 231 /.298 / .692 …with a Krate of 33% .He did however, have an average BB rate of 8%….but a total of 8 were IBB or HBPs.
      If I were Joe Jordan, with that explosive arm in RF, maybe the best in the system sans Alfaro….I would try his luck on the mound.
      If it could work for J. deGrom, maybe it could also work for Pujols.

      • Jerry Spradlin

        January 14, 2017 04:17 PM

        Roma’s- all fair points, which why I see him as a dark horse. I would note that August/September was his best speech of the season. Hopefully he’s figuring this hitting thing out.

        I can see taking a chance on him as a pitcher if he does not pan out as a hitter (and like most prospects he probably will not) but given his power I’m not ready to give up on him as a hitter, yet.

  3. Buried by Richie Hebner

    January 15, 2017 03:01 PM

    I suppose I’m alone in thinking that Larry Anderson is terrible on the radio.

    Certainly not Chris Wheeler-annoying, but he’s not as funny, insightful, or interesting as he thinks he is.

    And the best thing you can say about Franzke is that at least he isn’t the phoney-voiced Scott Graham.

    If you have to google who Julie Andrews is, are you really qualified to write Crashbag?

    Question for a future edition: Isn’t it time for philly.com to get another picture of GM Matt Klentak than the one of him from spring taining last year wearing sunglasses and that terrible track suit/sweatshirt thing styled similar to a ’70s Phillies uni top? It’s like having your drivers license photo at the top of your obituary.

    • rlh1004

      January 16, 2017 10:12 AM

      Two things.
      1) How dare say LA is terrible? Franske and LA calling a game on the radio is the only thing that makes being too poor to afford a cable package containing CSN bearable!
      2) How does knowing who Julie Andrews is even remotely figure into qualifying someone to write about the Phillies? If someone’s name starts with “Sir” or “Dame”, the are officially disqualified from being relevant in a baseball discussion.

      Last thing. Spot on with Philly.com needing a new pic of Klentak.

    • JC

      January 16, 2017 06:50 PM

      What do you look for in an announcer? Franzke and LA are fantastic to my ears, and I truly miss Scott Graham. Obviously, none of them are HK, but nobody ever will be.

  4. TelemacoTuesday

    January 15, 2017 03:11 PM

    I love Pujols. Yes, he strikes out a ton, but the power is real, the arm is amazing, and the kid’s body and athleticism is amazing. He has an easy, loping gait and perfect throwing mechanics, and room to add 20 pounds of muscle as he matures.
    Of course, he’s gotta cut the K numbers (a lot) for any of this to play.

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