Crash Bag Vol. 19: Rapid Fire Answers
This week no one gave me a deep question to get lost in for half a day. Instead, this week you all delivered a bunch of quick, but good questions that inspired a lot of varied discussions. So I tried to answer as many questions as I could. Enjoy.
@John__Wetzel: If all players in the Phillies org reached their ceiling, what would be the starting lineup/rotation?
1B Rhys Hoskins
SP Aaron Nola
The tough call was the outfield. This may seem like an overreaction to Altherr’s season so far, but he is uber athletic and now that he is showing more power, his ceiling his really high. I went with Nick Williams as the more the dynamic outfielder than Dylan Cozens. This scenario gives you 3 20-20 outfielders with plus gloves. It might seem strange to see Nola in the rotation, but if he locate everything and always command his curveball and changeup, he could be dominant.
@viscof1: Maybe for next mailbag: what are your thoughts on pursuing Gerrit Cole trade? Worth offering Moniak/Kilome in such a deal or untouchable?
Cole is a free agent after 2019 and is really good now. I would not make Moniak and Kilome untouchable in a deal like that. It really comes down to whether you think the injury last year is a trend. Cole is the kind of trade target that makes some sense to the Phillies. He is a huge upgrade over what they have (remember an acquired pitcher upgrades your #5 pitcher), to help give them push this year. At the same time he makes the 2018 Phillies a legitimate threat for a Wild Card, and he joins whatever you spend on in the 2018 offseason to push forward for a playoff spot. All that being said, I think Pittsburgh requires Crawford or Alfaro in that deal in addition to the pieces mentioned, and that makes a deal at this time much less likely.
@TylerSmithEtown: Who is Phillies second baseman in 2019?
I will say Scott Kingery. Cesar is a free agent after the 2020 season and would enter 2019 having just been paid in arb and coming up on his 29th birthday. I don’t know how the second base situation works itself out, but I think the most likely scenario is Cesar is traded and Kingery gets a shot, but I probably would take all the other scenarios combined (Cesar stays, Valentin does something, they acquire a 2B, etc.) over Kingery being the second baseman.
@joelrineer: Which helps Phillies org the most: Cozens reaches hit tool potential, Quinn stays healthy, Alfaro is Molina lite or Crawford becomes a star?
Crawford becomes a star. Stars are hard to acquire, because they rarely reach free agency or the trade market, and when they do the price is outrageous. Cozens hitting his hit tool projection is a slugger you can find 85% on the market (think Mark Trumbo or Nelson Cruz a few years ago). A healthy Quinn is a dynamic player, but is he really better than Herrera? Probably not. The most tempting is Alfaro, because franchise catchers are hard to find. The only problem is that Molina light is just not an amazing player. Going to Baseball Prospectus’ WARP, which has the most up to date catcher framing numbers, Molina was 4 to 5 win player a year with a two year 8.3 and 6.9 win spike in 2012-2013. What is the light version of that? A 3 win a year player with a two year All-Star level spike? I will take the star shortstop over that.
@steven_d_fisher: If you had to redo the Phillies’ 1st Round pick in the 2015 MLB Draft, who would you pick now?
I wanted Ian Happ, but he didn’t fall to the Phillies. I think if I got to redo it, I would take the next guy I wanted at #10 in the #14 overall pick Kolby Allard. Allard looks like a top of the rotation starter, and he is already in AA. He fell to the Braves at #14 because of back injuries that ended up costing him the whole 2015 season after he was drafted. Now we know he is healthy, but at the time he was a big risk.
@Gregg_Millward: Do Beniot’s comments throw gasoline on the debate of defined roles of relief pitchers vs high/low leverage?
Baseball players are weird superstitious creatures. Relievers, doubly so. I think there is generally things wrong with the fluid bullpen with no defined roles because of warm ups and mental preparation over a long period of time. I don’t know if relievers are physically different in an inning other than when they expect, but if they feel off I am sure that affects their ability to pitch. I think at the base it is about communication and players knowing what is expected of them.
@daanmaal: Brock Stassi was the darling of spring training but is now hitting under .200. When is it time to demote him?
It could happen when Howie Kendrick comes back. Stassi fits a role for this team as a bench player, because right now they don’t want any of their prospects on the bench. When Kendrick comes back, the locks for the bench are Kendrick, Andres Blanco, and Cameron Rupp. That leaves Ty Kelly, Daniel Nava, and Brock Stassi for 2 spots. Nava has unsurprisingly cooled off, and while his position says OF, he is probably a worse fielder than Stassi, but he is a switch hitter, which matters off the bench. Ty Kelly has hit in his limited PAs, but he really shouldn’t see the field for the Phillies. His job is to allow the Phillies to deploy Blanco as a fielder or pinch hitter (though that is needed less with Howie Kendrick back as Kendrick can backup Blanco). Stassi can play LF, but is functionally a 1B. Joseph has started to heat up, which has lessened the need for a backup there, and unlike Joseph, Stassi is only usable against one side pitching. It probably comes down to Nava vs Stassi, and Stassi can just be optioned to AAA. So the answer is that his time likely ends when Kendrick gets back.
@PompeyMalus: How will pitchers adjust to Altherr?
The textbook way of attacking long armed batters is hard in on the hands and soft away. Right now, Altherr’s biggest weakness is expanding the zone, especially against right handed pitchers. Altherr seems to excel at hitting balls down in the zone, so it is possible pitchers will start attacking up and out of the zone. Altherr is always going to have some swing and miss, so the key will be continuing to lay off the close pitches, since he has the bat speed to get to anything in the zone.
@PompeyMalus: Which prospect below Clearwater will rise fastest?
Sixto Sanchez. His stuff is just so advanced that he might not get challenged in the low minors for very long. His ERA is not as good as his rotation mates, but his underlying numbers are dominant. I think he could finish 2017 in Clearwater and 2018 in Reading. Not the question, but Cole Irvin is the fast riser in Clearwater.
@babsell_champ: What specifically is the issue with Rupp’s game calling and can it be improved?
I have not watched enough this year to comment specifically on 2017, but last year there were two noticeable but connected issues. One was the pitchers were very predictable with two strikes, especially seeing Nola, Velasquez, and Eickhoff waste curveballs trying to get a chase. This tied into the other problem which is that he didn’t fully utilize a pitcher’s arsenal, such as abandoning Eickhoff’s changeup and slider. We saw Mackanin pull Ruiz and Ellis in to help solve these problems last year.
@DashTreyhorn: If Tommy Joseph starts hitting (and Hoskins continues to hit), what’s your preferred outcome for those two in 2017?
I think I prefer Hoskins’ ceiling, because I think his approach is a bit more stable and he is less streaky, but Joseph is the better defender and might have more raw power. That means my prefered outcome is a midseason trade of Joseph in a package for a controllable player at a position of need (high end starter) or high end prospect, and pair that with Hoskins taking over as the everyday first baseman.
@BobbyWright: Any minor league options to fix this bullpen or will Pete/Klentak just let them work themselves out of this bad stretch?
The Phillies best pure relief prospect entering the year was Victor Arano, but he was injured in Spring Training and won’t be throwing until the middle of the season. On the starting side, their best conversion candidate was Nick Pivetta, but he is in their major league rotation. None of the AAA relievers are anything more than filler. Yacksel Rios and Jesen Therrien are off to hot starts in AA, and Rios can get up to 97, but they are more middle relief arms than impact relievers. However, they could reach the majors at some point this year. Clearwater has interesting arms in Austin Davis and Edgar Garcia, but they are far away. In other words, there is no real help on the way, and they are going to have really go with what they have and the retreads in AAA.