Crash Bag Vol. 22: Gods and Rap Battles

So last week we celebrated a win. This week this best I can do is celebrate that it is no longer May.

For now the best place to ask questions is on Twitter, either @ me (@Matt_Winkelman or @CrashburnAlley). But you can also reply in the comments here and I will will have some sort of better way for future mailbags.

@StelliniTweets: Can the Phanatic beat Mr. Met in a rap battle?

The answer is of course, but keep in mind his words are more of the visual style.

But, the Phanatic’s got skills

And his rhymes are as dirty as his tricks

And he shows no mercy

And he’s used to winning

And he will crush anything you got

In sum…

@jphorne89: If God was real wouldn’t he put an end to our baseball sufferings? Also who gets the first “major” callup?

Are we assuming a benevolent and loving god or one that cares little for individual sufferings? I tend to think that if God were real, they probably would care little for our daily happenings. Though if this divine being had a sense of humor, sports would be a great way to mess with humans, because we are already programmed to see the supernatural in sports. Are we sure that God isn’t real and is not already messing with us through the lens of sports? Nah, the Cubs won the World Series, which pretty much definitively disproved any idea of a higher power.

By major callup, I would assume we are talking about Crawford, Alfaro, Williams, Quinn, Hoskins, Cozens, and Kingery? I still think the answer is Roman Quinn. He just missed a couple games to a minor arm injury from a slide, but he should be back soon. He already has some MLB time and has the most defensive flexibility, so he could get at bats in a variety of ways. There is also a longer list of players that could get hurt and trigger his call up. That said, an injury to Rupp, Knapp, Galvis, or Joseph could trigger a call up for Alfaro, Crawford, or Hoskins. I don’t see Kingery up this year unless he just blitzes AAA.

@beetlebayley219: Is Sixto a top tier prospect as in stuff equals mlb projection

At this point, the only real concern about Sixto Sanchez as a pitching prospect is his lack of experience. He has yet to pitch deep into games, and he has yet to shoulder a full season workload. His fastball is well documented at this point, sitting 94-97 touching 98+ with his 4 seam fastball and sitting a bit lower with his two seam fastball (92-95). The biggest problem with Sanchez’s offspeed stuff is just how many pitches he has as he narrows in on what works with him. So far he has flashed a plus curveball, slider, splitter, and changeup. His curveball can get a bit loopy and inconsistent. The changeup and splitter might be the same pitch thrown differently, with splitter a bit harder with diving action. He will need to lose some pitches and polish the rest, but he is an 18 year old with impressive feel for pitches and above average command. He is legitimate and I think there is front of the rotation upside here.

@EvanDkemelor: Any chance of Eshelman getting a summer call-up if he continues dominating the minors? What about Venditte/Fien?

Eshelman has become the prospect crush du jour after having a dominating week in AAA. Despite the great numbers, Eshelman lacks dominating stuff. He was 87-90 recently with his fastball, and none of his secondary pitches are anything special. What he does have is great command, and he is able to keep hitters off balance with both his location and pitch mix. That combination does not have a long history of success. The two pitchers who come to mind are the Cubs’ Kyle Hendricks and the Astros’ Dallas Keuchel. The problem is that Hendricks has a 70+ grade changeup and Keuchel has elite ground ball rates. This makes Eshelman a #5 starter with a #4 starter ceiling. That puts his ceiling behind guys like Zach Eflin and Nick Pivetta, and his experience in AAA is behind Jake Thompson and Ben Lively. This means that Eshelman has to make a midseason jump in stuff, or he needs everyone in front of him to fail.

Given the core of the bullpen rebounding, the Phillies have less urgency to bring up bullpen arms. Venditte is a soft tosser from both sides, which makes him an inferior reliever to Hoby Milner from the left side and less than a whole host of guys from the right side. He has funk in his delivery and slow stuff that some people have never seen, but he has not had sustained MLB success. With Pinto moving to the bullpen, the Phillies have some relievers to move up and down. Fien has some velocity, but has not had a ton of success. Much like Venditte, the move of Pinto to the bullpen blocks the chances Fien had to be a callup.

@CracktheYank: Phillies-May thankfully in rear view mirror! Can you give 3 positives to look for in June?

Promotions/Season Starts: They may not all be from AAA to the majors, but with both the draft and short season ball starting, there will be some movement in the minors. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Kingery to AAA, maybe a CLW OF to AA, and some starting pitching moves. They aren’t really promotions, but the DSL season starts this weekend, Williamsport starts on June 19, and the GCL on June 26. That means we will see the July 2 signings from last year, as well as players like Kevin Gowdy, Jhailyn Ortiz, and Cole Stobbe take the field in actual games for the first time this year. I like following a loaded AAA roster, but you really get a feel for the full depth of the system once the short season leagues get going.

New Rotation Faces: I don’t have high hopes for Ben Lively or the return of Nick Pivetta (or Thompson, or Eflin), but these are guys that the Phillies need to figure out the future of. Neither is going to be a front of the rotation starter, and Lively might not be more than a #5 guy. However, if you can find some useful major league starters, then the shopping list this offseason in free agency or trade is the top of the rotation, instead of a long list of rotation filler you need just to make it through the season. We may also learn that neither can pitch in a rotation, and so they will join Ricardo Pinto in the bullpen transition. It may not be pretty or exciting, but it is progress.

It Can’t Really Get Worse: Yes it can always get worse, but in reality everything went wrong in May. Every facet of the team except for the bullpen got worse, plus they had injuries and some amount of bad luck. Odubel Herrera and Maikel Franco have too much talent to be this bad. If Tommy Joseph can’t carry a hot May into June, Rhys Hoskins is waiting. It is fine to give Michael Saunders some time to figure things out, but there is going to be a point this month where it is no longer just a bad start, and he is not going to recover value. I believe in Aaron Nola, and I think Jerad Eickhoff will have some bounce back. This team is bad, but it is really hard to see a repeat of May given the underlying talent.

@Drewdacris: how should we feel about the Phillies return in the Ken Giles trade at this point?
You should feel fine. Ken Giles has been good in Houston, but not as good as he was in Philly (though his underlying numbers are very good). Meanwhile Jonathan Arauz is currently serving a suspension, though I still believe in him. Mark Appel has been a bust, but he also hasn’t really gotten worse in Philly, he just hasn’t gotten better. Thomas Eshelman looks like a #5 starter and one who could be in the majors fairly soon (he would be more in line to help the Phillies if they didn’t already have a bunch of #5 type starters). Harold Arauz is org filler, and Brett Oberholtzer was bullpen filler. That leaves Vincent Velasquez. Velasquez is currently hurt, and we don’t yet know how long he will be out for. He is also only 24 (for a week), so it isn’t like his career is over. He is clearly still working through things, but we have seen the pieces to be a good major league starting pitcher, he just hasn’t put it all together. We also haven’t seen him in a bullpen if that is the eventual home for him. There is always going to be some dwelling on the deal, because Derek Fisher is hitting and was rumored to be part of the deal (he was never part of the deal), but the Phillies still got good value for Giles and we are a long way from having a final verdict on the trade.

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  1. Mike Fassano

    June 02, 2017 06:31 PM

    With the draft coming up, and the Gulf Coast Phillies and Woodcutters set to start their seasons, June should be an exciting time for the fans. My 81-81 prediction has gone out the window, but I believe that .500, or close to it, is not impossible the rest of the way. I haven’t got a clue about what Klentak is planning for the trade deadline (Do you?), but I hope he makes at least one major subtraction (Galvis or Hernandez). Baseball instincts are something that you have or don’t have. Lonnie Smith had talent, but he never had baseball instincts. With Velasquez on the shelf, and Nola coming off of his worse start of the year, I’m inclined to keep Hellickson even if it means we get nothing in return. A lot can happen between now and July 31st though. Nola and Velasquez can be fine, and we can trade Hellickson for a case of beer and a bag of pretzels. I was a little surprised that Stobbe didn’t follow Moniak to Lakewood, were you?

    • Romus

      June 03, 2017 08:18 AM

      Mike Fassano….this is where we differ…..I want that number one pick next 2018 draft…..hopefully Seth Beer. Perhaps the best bat since Harper came out in the draft seven years ago.
      If the Phillies continue to play this way for the next four months, so be it. And if so for the next two months, then we will see more of the prospects from LHV playing in August and September. Every positon on this current Phillies team, with the exception of third base and Franco, has a corresponding positional prospect at AA/AAA level close to ready to move up.
      The competition should be good veiwing

      • Mike Fassano

        June 03, 2017 09:08 AM

        Romus. I live in Las Vegas. If you’re suggesting that the Phillies follow the 76’ers lead and tank the season, I’m outta here. I’ve got the Dodgers, Diamondbacks, Angels, and Giants to choose from.

      • denzen

        June 03, 2017 10:01 AM

        Is that what we are reduced to checking minor league stats, and waiting for the 2018 draft.? I hope not. But we are checking. We are being disappointed by Crawford, and figuring Roman Quinn is hurting again. Then wondering when Kingery gets moved up to AAA, and thinking 3 or so years from now Randolph, Moniak, and Kilmone may make the big club is getting old real quick.

      • Eddie

        June 03, 2017 12:01 PM

        Some of like checking minor league stats, and always have.

        Also, Crawford posted a .379 OBP in May, and I’m not disappointed by that.

      • denzen

        June 03, 2017 01:23 PM

        Eddie, I also like checking minor league stats, always have. What I said was I did not like being “reduced to checking minor league stats”. I would kind of like some major league baseball to go along with my minor league stats. Sorry if I wasn’t clear. As for Crawford, if you are not disappointed with his offense well….OK. You’re a better man than I am. When I go online and see 0 for 3 with a walk, I’m kind of disappointed. I still have visions of Davey Conception, but obviously not yet. PS. I have been hooked on minor league baseball since I watched Nomar Garciaparra and Vladimir Guerrero in AA.

    • Romus

      June 03, 2017 12:49 PM

      Mike F………..tanking has evolved into negative connotations these days.
      In the past the teams from all sports, that would do it, were considered doing it for long-term strategic planning.
      It served its benefit for teams like the Penguins in the 80s and then a decade ago….or the Blackhawks
      The current Nats, Cubs, and even the Giants from 10 years ago or so, seem to finish at or near the bottom and reap the benefits of better talent.
      Does it guarantee championships, no….but maybe a better product on the field at some point that will contend come August and September.
      The make up of this current Phillies team…will not, for the most part, be the same in 2/3 years.
      IMO, let them finish out the season doing what they seem to want to do best.
      The future of this team and the players who will drive the bus are the JPCs, Kingerys, Moniaks, Quinns, Hoskins, Cozens, Williams et al.
      I do not see anyone out there now, perhaps with one exception Franco maybe, who will be central to a championship run in the future.

      • RU

        June 04, 2017 09:50 AM

        Romus – you have had a rough go of it lately on this site with alot of thumbs down in your direction. Frankly, your comment(s) above are probably very accurate. What this year has shown us – is there is an awful lot of work to be done. For one, FO needs to reevaluate the pitching needs. No team is going to win with a host of # 4’s and 5’s. Nola could be solid but it appears he is going to be injury prone, as is Velasquez. The other pitchers, other than Pivetta, don’t appear to have “put away” pitches to get out of jams. It remains a matter of consternation when we repeatedly see other teams like the Yankees and Rockies bring up unheralded kid pitchers and they are succeeding. So to your point that the future is still well below (in the minors) – ‘cept Franco and maybe Herrera unless he becomes more disciplined – few on the current roster will be present on a “good” team, I would concur.

      • Romus

        June 04, 2017 10:11 AM

        RU…concerning that pitcher at the TOR, the Phillies may have to buy the pitcher or get lucky in a trade like the Cubs did with Lester and Arrieta respectively. Nats were fortunate with number one pick Strasburg and later pick Zimmerman, when he was there before his TJ, and then signing Scherzer and trading for Gio.
        Also you are spot on…Phillies have plenty of mid-to back guys in the system. No worries there.
        Matt Klentak has to see what everyone else can see.
        He still may go for a pitcher in two weeks in the Rule 4…though all the mocks look like a hitter is what the Phillies are scouting for now with Charlie Manual and the crew catching the ACC playoffs/regionals of late.

      • Joker

        June 05, 2017 10:44 PM

        There is almost no one on this current MLB roster who will be on this next playoff team which I will bet be sometime in the 2020s.

        This season has already exposed the younger talent at the MLB level and some of the real shortcomings in their prospects at Lehigh.

        MacPhail is going to fail here just like he did in Baltimore and go down as a guy who won early in Minnesota and was largely a disappointment after his tenure there.

  2. Andrew R.

    June 03, 2017 08:59 PM

    Eshelman has 38 starts, not quite 200 innings, and is still only 22 (23 next week). I don’t like how he is written off as a #5 so quickly. Maybe his prospect status isn’t as sexy as Eflin, Thompson, etc., but that doesn’t mean he can’t be better than them. If he elevates one pitch to plus, he will serve well beyond a #5. I wish we had some legitimate #5’s on this team now.

  3. TommyDigital

    June 05, 2017 08:24 AM

    For a “Rebuild” in baseball like the phillies are in…do you think it’s “normal” to have a year like this (it’s only june but I think we can agree we are at that crossroads). I naively thought this would be a step forward year but really their roster doesn’t allow for that. Most of the guys that will be here when they are good again are in the minors and rightfully so. They’re close so no big moves are made and you’re left with guys that won’t be here and aren’t good enough playing at the mlb level. 10 – 0 games are unwatchable, and I would never think of wasting my money to see the game live right now…but is this just part of the process (and no it’s not like the NBA where 1 guy can change a team). What do you realistically think is the next step? Next year, opening day, if things go ok with the minor league guys who’s coming up? Who will need more time? Is it an offseason for any signings?

    • Mike Fassano

      June 05, 2017 09:31 AM

      You won’t see many familiar faces in next years opening day line up. Best Guess. Joseph or Hoskins at 1B, one will be traded. Kingery at 2nd, and Crawford at SS, with Franco remaining at 3rd. Rupp is gone and Knapp and Alfaro will split time behind the plate. In the outfield I see Quinn in Left, Herrera in Center, and Williams in Right. Altherr will remain as the fourth outfielder. I hope the Phillies carry a 3rd catcher on the roster next year, a veteran that can teach Knapp and Alfaro the Ropes (Chooch?). This way Knapp can back up at first and both he and Alfaro can pinch hit. Pitching? Your guess is as good as mine.

      • Steve

        June 05, 2017 12:19 PM

        I would be shocked if all of those guys are on the MLB team opening day 2018. I would say joseph/hoskins, cesar, galvis, franco, herrera, altherr, quinn and maybe alfaro.

        If JPC is performing well we might see him as soon as service time is not an issue for 2018. But they maybe look to trade either Galvis or Hernandez of either one is playing well enough to have value.
        Kingry probably gets at least a half of a season in AAA unless he forces his way up. Williams and Cozens will be on speed dial if any Outfielders seriously struggle.
        I also wouldnt be shocked to see 2 names from this group get moved for MLB pitching help.

      • Romus

        June 05, 2017 02:59 PM

        Mike F…….Alfaro’s splits are disconcerting. He rarely walks and has too much swing and miss….but when he does connect, it is max exit velo. The offensive bar for catchers is not that high in the majors these days… he has that to fall back on.
        Defensively he is very inconsistent according to the Morning Call’s Pigs beat writer. The arm is plus-plus but blocking, lateral movement, and even glove work can be sporadic… one game great, another average to poor.
        I think the Phillies will bring him up September again and give him some opportunities. But will he win the job out of ST 2018, he may have to put in the work to do that. I remember in 2015 Gary Sanchez of the Yankees had developed some defensive reputations that needed to be sorted out….and he seem to do it. So Alfaro , who has the right attitude, could do the same.

      • Rei de Bastoni

        June 05, 2017 09:05 PM

        Whoever downvotes Romus doesn’t have a soul. He is the greatest Phillies commenter on the internet.

  4. RU

    June 05, 2017 11:33 PM

    Romus – rather than add more thumbs down, thank you for your always prescient comments and phan orientation….often I agree with you, so perhaps I am patting both of us on the back. This year has been a struggle – but it is not over. There is much to be revealed. So before we jump off the 4th level of CBP – let’s look at all the good things and hope that the bad things turn out to be “better.”

    Is it bad that Bucholtz crashed ? Maybe to many, but it gave us an opportunity to see some of these young pitchers ? Does it say Mr. K was wrong, perhaps, but he tried, and for a not too significant cost. Can we say the same about Benoit ? Saunders ? to date, a washout. Let’s at least give the kid Klentak credit for trying – and he must be working hard.

    As to the many young players who are failing – hey, youth fails, and then they succeed, somehow, it is wholly unpredictable. This system is not made up of alot of Mike Trouts. It is made up of those kinds of players who were the neo-championship team of 1993 – the guys who were overlooked and somehow made it – for one great year. This is a very long work in progress and it is going to be very painful – to loyal fans who are older (elderly) and who want to see another championship before they die – like me, this is not fun to watch, because we wonder – will we live to see it. Sound like a Cub fan, don’t I.

    Anyway, it is happening – but way slower than we would all like it to be…..I can’t say keep the faith, because our greatest faith was in those many possible HOF’ers that we saw on the last great teams, Rollins, Utley, Halliday, Lee….who we “knew” would do it again….but didn’t. All we can do is hope, and root, and somehow it happens, or it doesn’t – analytics or not. It is going to happen again – we just can’t see how right now…….not with these players………


    • Romus

      June 06, 2017 08:50 AM

      RU…..I think we can agree…..that the Phillies do seem to be headed in the right direction. Perhaps the money that they keep saying will be there to spend after next season will bring in an Otani, or Machado or Harper. That may be what the club will need to make the turnaround successful.

  5. TommyDigital

    June 06, 2017 08:33 AM

    It can be depressing looking at minor league numbers for other teams…like houston…Derek Fisher .338/.397/.606…The one asset we had in giles and we flipped him for a 4 inning starter on a good day and mark appel who i think keeps the books for the Iron Pigs…nice call on that one

    • Romus

      June 06, 2017 08:47 AM

      Eshelman looks like he will be a decent mid-rotation starter.

    • Chris S

      June 06, 2017 09:19 AM

      There is no proof that Derek Fisher was ever in that trade. It was a rumor that he was part of the initial deal, but everything since the deal has said that he was never even in the trade.

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