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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  1. denzen

    June 23, 2017 08:16 PM

    I think I am coming around on Vince Velasquez in the pen. He just seems to get hurt too much to be a regular in the rotation. So put him in pen and see what happens. Much the same reasoning as just make Roman Quinn a 4th or 5th outfielder to preserve his health.

    • Mike Fassano

      June 24, 2017 11:13 AM


      Welcome to the Velasquez in the pen club (prepare to be bashed by every writer and fan). Once Neshek and Benoit are gone, it’s going to be mighty thin out there. You can promise him a chance to win a starters spot next Spring.
      If the Phillies hadn’t traded for that professional hitter in right we likely would have seen a platoon of Altherr and Quinn in RF.

      • David Vickers 10

        June 24, 2017 12:18 PM

        At least get your snark right – Saunders was in no way ever considered a “professional hitter” – exactly the opposite if anything.

      • Michael C Lorah

        June 26, 2017 07:56 AM

        I don’t think anybody needs to be “bashed” over moving Velasquez to the bullpen. I just think it’s much too early.

        I’d point out that Velasquez has thrown less than 240 career MLB innings, and he’s only 25. For comparison (and this is not to suggest that yes, Vince Velasquez will absolutely be 100% this good one day, but even 80% of that good would be extremely valuable to the Phillies), Randy Johnson didn’t start to really turn into Randy Johnson until he was 29 years old and more than 800 innings into his career. He wasn’t a fully realized Randy Johnson until he turned 31!

        Max Scherzer didn’t put it together until his fourth or fifth full season, age 27-28.

        Johnson and Scherzer were guys with big fastballs and erratic control, but they figured it out and became huge assets to their teams. Maybe Vince never will figure it out, but the Phillies have time to see if he can. They don’t have too many pitchers in the system who have the upside to be that true number one. Giving up on that potential after 240 innings seems short-sighted to me. Protecting (non-existent) leads in 2017 is pointless, wouldn’t we agree?

      • Steve

        June 26, 2017 08:13 AM

        I think Scherzer is a good anecdotal comparison, but he is definately best case scenario. There are more examples of guys like Jonathan Sanchez who never really put it all together. All this to say you are probably right to leave him in the rotation, there is still tine to figure it out. I think maybe his TJ history has us all counting inning and watching the clock until his elbow explodes.

  2. Steve

    June 24, 2017 08:38 AM

    Appel has actually been decent for about a month now. BB rate is still high, but he has shown the ability to throw 100+ pitches more than once. With the high turnover in the MLB rotation, he could get a chance mid-July if he can sustain his current level of effectiveness. Probably a long shot, but he was mentioned in the post, and chances to talk about him are few and far between.

  3. Steve

    June 24, 2017 09:53 AM

    What type of return could Neshek get? Another Pivetta- like return would be good. Ironically the Nats are rumored to be in the market.

    • David Vickers 10

      June 24, 2017 12:11 PM

      Ironically, Pivetta was also a guy like VV & Appel – genius, shortsighted fans swore he didn’t have what it takes to start & should be moved to the pen.

      • denzen

        June 24, 2017 02:48 PM

        I think Valasquez has what it takes to start. I keep thinking about that 16 strikeout, no walk, complete game he threw early last year, but if he can’t stay healthy maybe his outings can be better controlled from the pen, at least for now.

  4. David Vickers 10

    June 24, 2017 12:15 PM

    The Orioles will come knocking for Kendrick. You heard it here first. Nashek is a tougher call, but think he ends up on the Diamond Backs.

    • Romus

      June 24, 2017 12:28 PM


      I am wondering of Klentak will decide to trade any other players that are not one of the trade chips (Hellickson, Neshek, Kendrick, Benoit) people have been talking about for the last few months.
      Someone like Tommy Joseph could help a few AL teams in need of a 1st/DH player….Yankees, mariners and Rangers could be destinations. And his value may be a little higher with his age and contract/financial as pluses.
      That would free up the position to bring up Hoskins.

      • Ricky Dixon

        June 24, 2017 01:00 PM

        Why would any pennant contender want to bring in an unproven player like TJ & pay for the privilege? But TJ, Freddy, Cesar, Nava, Rupp, Benoit, Narris, all on the trade block. Just a matter of what can be had in return; which is not much/not worth making a deal.

      • Romus

        June 24, 2017 01:20 PM


        Cesar could fetch a prospect of note…. didn’t the Blue Jays just lose the 2nd baseman?
        That would leave a path for Kingery’s elevation.

      • Romus

        June 24, 2017 01:23 PM

        As for TJ…..33 HRs in his last 557 ABs may be a tempting to a team that needs some pop from first base.

      • Steve

        June 24, 2017 03:07 PM

        Pretty sure i just read somewhere the redsox production from 1b and 3b is terrible. ….. just saying i wouldnt shed any tears if franco and Joseph were packaged for somthing of sufficient value

      • Romus

        June 24, 2017 06:00 PM

        Steve….Moreland has started coming around at first base for the Sox….third base is still an issue if Pablo/Rutledge do not produce like they want.
        Giving up Franco is asking a lot during this rebuild….and there is no one in the system right now at LHV that can back fill the position.

      • Steve

        June 25, 2017 07:40 PM

        i would do franco for groome. We can find a FA 3b…… Machado?

  5. Eddie

    June 24, 2017 02:41 PM

    “… the fresh voice of Matt Stairs might get through to him.”

    Or more likely, the fresh voice of hitting .174 and striking out in 40% of his plate appearances.

  6. RU

    June 24, 2017 03:10 PM

    At the rate we are seeing season ending injuries to both pitchers and fielders in 2017 one never knows what some team may pay for one of the more pedestrian players the Phils will try to move ? If anything, it is becoming more unpredictable – now that’s not to say they will hit the mother lode, but rather, a desperate team in the west NL may pay more than they should ???? And what is Washington waiting for to rebuild that bullpen ? Neshek has to be worth something to them ?

  7. Chris S

    June 26, 2017 09:09 AM

    I see the Phillies record and I know it’s bad, but the Phillies have not played as poorly as their record indicates. They have lost an insane number of close games this year. And over the last two weeks they have had 9 one run/extra inning games and they have won 1 such game. I guess this makes up for us winning all those 1 run games last year…

    • Romus

      June 26, 2017 10:19 AM

      ChrisS…they have loss 19 one-run games so far…….ironically, last year was just a polar opposite.

      • Chris S

        June 26, 2017 11:40 AM

        This team is playing better than their record indicates. Especially over the last 18 games where they have only won 3.

      • Romus

        June 26, 2017 04:43 PM

        The Phillies overall record in one-run games is 10-19.
        The DBacks have the best record in baseball at 16-7
        Now on the other hand, the Phillies 10 wins are also better than 16 other MLB teams.
        And the Phillies, have played the most one-run decided games at 29….second to them is the Pirates, who are 13-12.

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