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
@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.