Crash Bag, Vol. 6: Prospects, Underrated Right Fielders, and Hibachi

This time next week, the Crash Bag may have the pleasure of featuring an actual baseball question. Pitchers and catchers report report to camp Monday and position players on Thursday. Who will show up late, i.e., precisely on time? Will that be a BIG DEAL? Those are questions that may be answered in the past and present tense next week. For this week, however, we must continue to entertain ourselves with pure nonsense.

@scottdkessler: Who on the Phillies could eat the most sushi in one sitting, and would they puke like I did tonight?

As best I can reckon, no one currently on the Phillies 40-man roster has played in Japan, which eliminates me taking an easy way out of this question.

This question is similar to the Wing Bowl question I answered last week where I declared Cameron Rupp the winner after Tommy Joseph had to find a CVS to buy some Tums. However, I project a closer battle between Joseph and Rupp in the sushi eat off because indigestion would be less of a factor with sushi, provided Joseph lays off the wasabi. If we’re eating with a fork or fingers, this is the battle.

However, things change dramatically if we go with the chopsticks as the utensil of choice. We want someone skilled with the stick. Here, I would go with Maikel Franco. He seems like he could have an ability to eat and has more reach and bat control than Rupp and Joseph. He would be less limited by the chopsticks and would be able to simply get to more sushi before the restaurant closes.

Regarding puking: These are professional athletes, and, as such, are likely far more competitive than you or I. I have no doubt that any combatant would drive themselves to the absolute limit of their eating abilities in order to take home the crown in this sushi eat-off. I absolutely expect this to end in the bathroom and the sidewalk outside the establishment.

@bxe1234: Which Phillies guy is most likely to have an embarrassing off-field injury and what kind of injury?

Historically, this seems like a pretty bland group of Phillies players. There’s no Pat Burrell to get injured partying, or Brett Myers to get injured falling out of his truck, or Roy Oswalt to potentially get hurt in a hunting accident. However, I believe there is a clear answer: Cesar Hernandez.

For a moment, lets extrapolate Hernandez’s base running to the performance of simple household tasks. His main flaw on the base paths is not that he’s a poor runner, but that he often seems to overestimate his abilities as a runner. Yes, there are the occasional brain farts out there, but, for the most part, he’s just trying to steal and advance bases as if he has 80 speed, when he is merely a 70 or so.

In the kitchen, that translates to losing a finger (or toe) while attempting the sort of knife-related maneuvers typically on display at a hibachi joint. In the bedroom, that’s going to be a pulled hamstring or calf while trying to copy what he just saw in a Brazzers video. He seems likely to get a hernia or have piece of furniture fall on him when he’s trying to move the solid mahogany hutch all by himself. Life is an adventure for Hernandez, not because he is inept, but because he is skilled enough to think he’s a master when, in fact, he’s just a tick below that.
@Wet_Luzinski:Phillies prospect lists, Longenhagen vs. Law: Who wore it better?
On the pages of Crashburn Alley, it would be slanderous to answer anything other than in favor of Eric Longenhagen. But, I truly believe I can answer in his favor earnestly. You should check out their work. You can read Law here and Longenhagen here.

Specific to the Phillies system, Longenhagen has a huge advantage over Law in his familiarity. While Law has been on the national prospect beat for years, Eric was covering the Phillies as recently as 2014, meaning he has intimate knowledge of many of the prospects still in the system like Andrew Knapp, J.P. Crawford, and Dylan Cozens. Additionally, we can somewhat safely assume that he pays a bit more attention to the Phillies, as a former fan, than the average national prospect writer.

In terms of publishing lists, I also think Eric has an advantage over Law writing at FanGraphs. Eric was able to write at length about 33 prospects in the Phillies system because FanGraphs caters to the nerdier fan, while Law was likely constrained by ESPN to keep his list appetizing for the average fan.

That’s a lot in favor of Longenhagen, but I also like his list a bit better. As a rule, I’m uncomfortable picking between prospect lists based on how much I agree with them. There’s a reason Law and Longenhagan are writing professionally about prospects and I’m not: they know way more about it than I do.

Let’s look at their main areas of difference:

Law Longenhagen
Rhys Hoskins 4 9
Dylan Cozens 5 10
Mark Appel 7 25
Sixto Sanchez 15 4
Ben Lively 22 NR

Admittedly, I don’t have much to go off here other than other lists that have come out this offseason, but Sanchez at 15 seems very low. I’ve heard suggestions that he was in the conversation for at least one well-regarded top-100 list. Appel at 7 seems to be a bit optimistic for a guy that seems destined to end up in the bullpen. Still, 25 seems low for a 1-1 pick who, by all reports, still flashes 1-1 stuff. Longenhagen’s decision not to rank Lively is bold and may be more of a rhetorical device than valuation of his talent, but I like the chutzpah of it.

It should be noted that, in my estimation, Law and Longenhagen are among the best in the industry–if not the best in the industry. So, when I see a ranking that strikes me as odd from either one, my first reaction is to question my perception of the player. The differences between their lists, I think, is best seen as a reflection of the depth of the Phillies system: They have a lot of guys in the 40-50 future value camp and a large difference in ranking may not be an indication of a large difference in valuation.

Still, whether it’s directly related to writing at FanGraphs instead of ESPN, I think Longenhagen’s full report is better because of the depth of explanation he offers for each of his rankings. The international consistency of the list is laid bare on the page. I respect Law too much to not believe he has a similar process. I bet ESPN simply limited his ability to express it in the depth Longenhagen did. But, at the end of the day, if you’re looking for one national list of Phillies prospects as a primer to the system, Longenhagen’s depth of analysis and familiarity with the system makes it a good pick.

@Baer_Bill: Which former Phillie could you most see yelling at ownership and then getting dragged out by CBP security?

First off, thank you Bill for patronizing this Crash Bag despite the fact that each iteration of it likely damages the credibility of the very site you worked so hard to build up to it’s current status.

Secondly, oh man, is that a question! Phillies history is littered with players who one could easily imagine escalating an argument with ownership to the extent that it would necessitate the intervention of professional security personnel.

I should acknowledge the low-hanging fruit of this question by stating that Larry Bowa, Pete Rose, Curt Schilling, Jonathan Papelbon are all solid answers to this question. In fact, they’re the most likely answers to the question as well. But, you all know that, and I’m here to have fun.

I’ll offer up the Backwoods Rebel himself: Brett Myers. While in Philadelphia, Myers displayed a penchant for rage. There was an incident of domestic violence in 2006 when he reportedly punched his wife in Boston. The next year, he threatened to knock out a reporter. He never got injured kicking a chair like Ryan Madson, but he has a longer history of anger. Additionally, based on the title of his debut EP, Backwoods Rebel, he sees himself as the sort who fights the power. Combine that with his inability to keep his cool and ownership could be in for something.

@Phixated: Who is the most underrated Phillie of all time?

As a relatively young fan, I lack the historical perspective to really speak to players before, say, the mid-90s here, so you’ll have to bear with a limited scope to the response to your entirely reasonable and far-reaching inquiry. In my lifetime, two players pop first to mind, and both, oddly enough, were right fielders.

The first is Bobby Abreu. At the time, he was so underrated–and frankly, loathed–by the wider fan base that an internet weblog had to be created to defend his good name. That website is one of the few Phillies blogs that remains today, The Good Phight. After the Phillies acquired him straight-up for Kevin Stocker, Abreu went on to produce 47 bWAR and 40.7 fWAR with the Phillies over nine seasons. In that time, he made two All-Star teams, received MVP votes in five different seasons, and hit at least 25 percent better than league average every season.

With the Phillies, his overall batting line was .303/.416/.513, which, even in the heart of the steroid era, made him one of the best hitters in baseball. He’s sixth on the Phillies all-time bWAR leaderboard. He won’t make the Hall of Fame, but his career bWAR and fWAR of 59 and 59.2, respectively, means that he at least deserves some votes.

Despite all that, he was run out of town because of a perception that he didn’t like to hustle in the outfield and, unlike legendary superstar Aaron Rowand, valued being in the lineup over losing months of action to record one out. Oh yeah, and he “let the Home Run Derby ruin his swing” that one year. Those negative perceptions were “confirmed” when the Phillies played better down the stretch in 2006 without him. Now, all this happened before sabermetric thinking permeated the public appreciation of the game, so he never truly got the respect he deserved during his time in Philadelphia. He’s indisputably one of the greatest Phillies players of all time.

The second is Jayson Werth. As far as I’m concerned, Werth is the prototypical baseball player. He played good defense, was insanely patient at the plate, drew long at-bats, hit home runs, and stole bases efficiently. I don’t know what more you can ask for. He was only a full-time player for two seasons with the Phillies and made the All-Star game in one of them and received MVP votes in both of them. Across four seasons, he was worth 15.7 bWAR and 18.1 fWAR as a Phillies. Unlike Abreu, the brevity of his tenure in Philadelphia means that he won’t appear on franchise leaderboards for fans 50 years hence to marvel at his contributions.

Like, Abreu, however, he was vilified both during his time here and upon his departure. During his time here, he got a poor reputation because he didn’t talk to reporters. That’s silly not only since it has nothing to do with his contributions on the field but also because it’s a standard that is not universally applied. Upon leaving on a seven-year/$126 million deal with the Washington Nationals, fans declared that he didn’t care about winning because he took money over staying with a team that had been to the playoffs four straight seasons. That’s stupid. The dude was in his 30’s and that 2011 offseason was likely his only chance to get paid after a late rise to success. Again, fans let irrelevant things get in the way of appreciating a really good baseball player.

Thank you all for your patronage of the Crash Bag. At any point in the week that a question springs into your mind, I encourage you to direct it to the Bag via Twitter (@CF_Larue) using the #crashbag hashtag or email at eric[dot]chesterton[at]gmail[dot]com.

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12 comments

  1. Eddie

    February 10, 2017 08:07 PM

    Perhaps not “most” underrated, but younger fans probably don’t realize how much crap Schmidt put up with in the first half of his career. The 1980 season was the turning point, but even after that you had people questioning his HOF credentials and complaining about his strikeouts.

  2. Romus

    February 11, 2017 01:32 PM

    ELongenhagen vs KLaw.
    Granted Eric L. was covering the Phillies system thru 2014, and would be familiar with many of the current prospects at the AA/AAA level,.
    However KLaw lives in Delaware and does have decent access to the Phillies AA affiliate and even the BlueClaws for evaluation purposes.
    Perhaps one reason he isso high on Hoskins an Cozens vs Eric L. and virtually all the remaining national publications.

  3. Mike

    February 13, 2017 04:39 AM

    I don’t remember Werth being vilified during his time with the Phillies. Maybe I wasn’t close enough to see his relationship with the media, but my impression was that the fans loved him because he was plucked from the ranks of the underachievers and became a star. Abreu was frustrating because we hadn’t had a hitter put up monster numbers since Schmidt. It seemed like every other team had a 40+ homer guy except us. We wanted something more than .300 avg., 100 bb, 100 rbi. We let our expectations get the best of us and that homerun derby didn’t help with that.

    • larry

      February 13, 2017 07:48 AM

      as a afan, i don’t remember the hate for Werth, until he left…but my memory of that isn’t that good….

      Bobby Abreu is becoming so “underrated” that he is overrated :)….the most underrated Phillie of “all time” maybe Sherry Magee or (oddly) his teammate Pete Alexander

    • Dan K.

      February 13, 2017 11:16 AM

      I also don’t remember Werth being hated while here. Not saying it wasn’t the case, just wasn’t part of my experience as a fan.

      As for when he left, my feelings on that were much the same as my feelings toward Howard: I was upset, but not really at him. I don’t blame either for taking the money offered to them. I just wish both had worked out in favor of the home team (that is to say, I wish Werth stayed and Howard wasn’t being paid over 20M a season to decline rapidly).

      I can’t recall ever booing him (Werth) after joining the Nats. Other than to boo him doing direct damage to us, at least.

      • Steve

        February 13, 2017 12:28 PM

        Yeah i dont remember any hated for Werth until he left. I dont blame him for taking the money, but i understand the reception fans gave him.

      • Romus

        February 13, 2017 03:41 PM

        Amaro signed Werth in Dec ’08 for two years…..for the ’09 and ’10 seasons
        Three years would have been ideal, if Dom Brown was going to be his heir replacement. Brown could have come up in 2012 with more AAA experience. However, Werth, I assume, preferred two years to get that magic contract at the right opportune time.
        As for the bad press when he was here….only time I saw anything was the incident in the RF stands with that fan and the ball when he went over to catch the foul ball.
        Most of the other was after he left.

    • Pete

      February 13, 2017 11:43 PM

      @Mike

      I think your recollection of the attitude toward Abreu is pretty accurate. There was some of the typical–he doesn’t play hard enough nonsense–but there was a lot of frustration that the Phillies didn’t have a huge power threat (40 homeruns was the mantra), which many fans thought Abreu could be. Fans wanted him to be more aggressive at the plate, especially late in games with men on base when dreck was following him in the lineup.

  4. Berdj J. Rassam

    February 13, 2017 02:28 PM

    It’s going to be interesting to see how well the Phils are going to play in 2017.

  5. Pete

    February 14, 2017 12:10 AM

    I would like to add that when he first came up, Abreu was closer to an Aaron Rowand type than people might remember. Maybe not in terms of going back on balls, but in charging them, definitely. Bobby used to charge hard hit ground balls and challenge hitters slow out of the box with throws to first. I remember him throwing out his fair share too.

    In later years with the Phils, he seemed to stop doing that. Unfair or not, I think that’s where some of the effort criticism came from, rather than it being about him crashing into walls.

    Abreu was a supremely gifted baseball player, a true five-tool player, capable of spectacular plays. Fans could see that, and expectations on him were sky high, perhaps too high. It’s a shame if that frustration prevented fans from enjoying what Abreu was–the most gifted and talented (if not the best) Phillies baseball player for the last 30 years. Only Rolen, Utley and Rollins could make a case for that title, but each falls short in one way or another.

    • Steve

      February 14, 2017 09:25 AM

      Could you imagine if Abreu was in his prime with the Phillies in the 07-12 years? Howard was the power guy, Rollins was the vocal leader, Utley was the nose to the grindstone guy….. Abreu could’ve been just another piece, instead of “the guy.” I think that would’ve suited him better. Plus hed look great as a 2/3 hitter somewhere between Rollins, Utley, and Howard.

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