Crash Bag Vol. 27: Equal Opportunity Uselessness
Let’s peer into the depths of a bleak future.
@Wzeiders: After the trade deadline, what does a failure for the Phillies look like?
Pat Neshek is still their best reliever come August.
But this is a failure on par with not claiming the free ticket you won on a lottery scratch-off. The real failure is not that you missed out on another one in a million chance to win big. It’s that you weren’t paying attention to the ticket expiration date. Or that you thought framing the winning ticket and hanging it next to the motivational cat poster in your room would be good for morale.
That’s unlikely to happen. The front office has made smart and easy and mostly boring moves over the past year. They will continue that tradition admirably.
But at some point in the next six months, the Phillies are going to make some impactful decisions. They will move mediocre players like Cesar Hernandez or Freddy Galvis or Tommy Joseph. They will make room for prospects or trade them for young and talented major league players. They are going to stop pushing the competitive timeline back yet another year.
The most interesting scenario would be a bold trade for a player like Christian Yelich. To acquire a cheap, young, and good major leaguer would cost the Phillies real prospect talent most would be uncomfortable parting with.
That’s the type of move with potential for real failure. Like, Cliff Lee to Seattle level failure.
@sumfatkid: Why are the Phillies bats useless when someone is already on base?
The same reason the Phillies’ bats are useless when the bases are empty. They are not very good.
The idea of situational hitting failures is pushed because it makes an interesting narrative and adds depth to the otherwise boring story of this season. If only they were clutch! They’re so close to winning a few more games!
In reality, there’s no marked difference between their performance in these scenarios. The Phillies are slashing .247/.305/.395 with men on base and .239/.304/.388 when they are empty. The more painful truth? The Phillies can’t hit in any situation.
Brian: How do we have a solid amount of young talent in the majors, maybe like 6-8 top 100 prospects spread out over the diamond well (plus more prospect depth on top of that), yet I see no path to the Phillies ever being competitive?
You’re a Philly sports fan. Unrelenting pessimism is a part of your biological makeup.
The less scientific answer is the Phillies don’t have an offensive stud to build a lineup around.
Look at the rebuilds of the Cubs and Astros. Both teams turned the corner in 2015. But they ended their 2014 seasons with loaded farm systems, money to spend, and an impact bat or two. The Cubs had Anthony Rizzo and the inevitability of Kris Bryant. The Astros had Jose Altuve and George Springer with Carlos Correa on the horizon. They spent their offseasons filling in the holes around these players.
The Phillies have the farm system and the money. Do they have the player to build the lineup around? Maikel Franco didn’t become the 130 wRC+ middle of the order bat we all hoped. Tommy Joseph didn’t take a step forward. Rhys Hoskins and Scott Kingery are hitting in AAA, but they aren’t close to the no-doubt level of pedigree that Bryant and Correa claimed.
This could all change by the end of the year. Aaron Altherr might keep doing his best George Springer impression. Rhys Hoskins could spend the last two months of the season tearing into major league pitching like Anthony Rizzo.
But at this point, it’s difficult to envision anything but a lineup full of mediocre hitters. It’s a lineup that can be competitive. But it doesn’t inspire much optimism.
@CavalierJP: How about your thoughts on Randolph’s production at Clearwater? Is he fine considering age? Underperforming expectations?
Cornelius Randolph was drafted for his ability to hit. He was promptly moved to the near bottom of the defensive spectrum. Expectations for his bat should be high.
In that regard, the 27% strikeout rate and the lack of significant power is concerning. But he’s barely 20 years old and in high A ball and still maintaining a better than average offensive line. He’s also hitting more balls in the air this year, a positive development in the quest for more power.
I don’t think he’s meeting the statistical expectations of a bat-only first rounder. And he’ll need either a big reduction in strikeout rate or big increase in power to fit as a corner outfielder in the major leagues. But this could just be a lull before the breakout. He should be in AA next year, and Reading can make a power hitter out of anybody.
That’s my expert opinion based entirely on scouting the stat line. And any prospect expert worth his salt knows you should always scout the stat line.
Do you hear that? That’s the sound of Matt Winkelman’s head exploding.