Crash Bag Vol. 25: New Levels of Futility

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, there have been more Crash Bags in 2017 than Phillies’ wins.

On to the questions.

@viscof1: What kind of market/return is out there for Howie Kendrick? I know it won’t be a lot but he looks good at the play on the bases.

Kendrick is hitting .440 on balls in play. That BABIP fuel will run out. What’s left is an average bat that can run the bases well and play a few positions on the field. That is what teams are buying in Kendrick. He is the best hitter on the Phillies but a solid utility player to the rest of baseball. Enjoy the perspective.

Kendrick gets the Phillies an “A” ball prospect that is athletic but needs to figure out how to play baseball or has power but nothing to the rest of his game. It doesn’t sound like much, but these are the prospects with a real chance to become the next Darnell Sweeney or Darin Ruf. After toiling in the minor leagues through their late twenties they will be traded for the next Howie Kendrick, thus completing the prospect circle of life.

The Phillies seem to be breaking every longstanding record of futility this year. Which record or statistic sums up this season best?

Odubel Herrera has more bat flips than base hits this year.

@NickTomasello: Better chance to succeed as a reliever, Appel or Vinny V?

A’s reliever Sean Doolittle has a simple approach to pitching. He throws a high fastball. And when there are two strikes, he throws it a little higher. He owns a 30% strikeout rate. He pitched in an All-Star game. He collected 5.6 fWAR in three years as a reliever before suffering a shoulder injury.

Would it shock you to see that written about Vince Velasquez in five years? Put him in the bullpen. Tell him to throw fastballs at the letters. Repeat until injury.

Now consider Mark Appel. His fastball is straight. His plus slider comes and goes. He has problems working from the stretch. Apart from that, he has all the tools to thrive in the bullpen.

There is a path to bullpen success for Appel. But it’s not as plug ‘n play as Velasquez.

Why won’t the Phillies call up Nick Williams?

Nick Williams has a great swing path and great bat speed and great barrel control. He’s had positive results at every level of affiliated baseball. But his plate discipline makes Odubel Herrera look selective at the plate. That will get exploited at the major league level.

In Klentak terms: he needs to control the strike zone.

The best argument for promoting Williams is that he’s not going to learn these things in AAA, and the fresh voice of Matt Stairs might get through to him. He creates enough damage on contact to stay afloat in the major leagues. And it gives the Phillies’¬†hitting coach an opportunity to chew his ear off about being stubborn at the plate. Also, it is a well known fact that Nick Williams is a better hitter when he is gently stepping on Matt Stairs’ foot.

Who would have a better record, this year’s Phillies or the 2011 Phillies at their current ages?

You can build a case for the 2011 Phillies on the pitching.

After two years of resting his elbow, you could probably get ten vintage starts out of Cliff Lee before his throwing arm literally snaps off mid-pitch and he nonchalantly catches it in his glove, shrugs, and then walks off the mound.

The same goes for Roy Halladay, except he would insist he still has something left in the tank before the medical staff is forced to walk away with the detached limb.

The key is bullpen usage. Joe Blanton and Vance Worley pitch the games in which then de facto ace Kyle Kendrick puts the team in an insurmountable hole. All fifteen of them. The high leverage innings go to Ryan Madson and Wilson Valdez.

But it all falls apart on offense.

In hindsight, exercising Ryan Howard‘s $23 million option was ill-advised, and the front office can’t bring itself to eat that money and give the first base job to Rhys Hoskins.

The outfield is a mess. Shane Victorino pulls a hamstring on day one. That opens things up for Roman Quinn to pull a hamstring on day two. Raul Ibanez finds out he can’t legally be a member of both the AARP and the MLB Player’s Union at the same time. John Mayberry Jr. exists.

Chase Utley tries to carry the offense on his own. But the weight is too much. The superglue holding his knees together finally gives out.

The 2011 Phillies at their current ages come close but fall just short of this year’s team. Also, same answer for the 2027 Phillies at their current ages.

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