Crash Bag #5: Investing in Prospects

Did you know the Phillies signed Jake Arrieta this week, because they did. It means there are no questions this week about whether the Phillies should sign Jake Arrieta. Instead this week I go on a tangent about paying minor leaguers. Also look for exciting site developments next week.

@andrew_pantano: What would be the first steps to creating a fair-pay minor league system?

Before getting into logistics, I want to make a few things clear. Minor leaguers are only paid during the season so no offseason or spring training. Minor leaguers are not subject to minimum wage laws. The salaries of minor leaguers are paid by the major league club and not the minor league team. College baseball rarely give out full scholarships due to limits on number of scholarships per team. Continue reading…

Jerad Eickhoff Out For 6-8 Weeks With Lat Injury

It has been less than a week since the Phillies made a major rotation upgrade, and already there are chinks in the solidified pitching staff.

This is a bigger blow for long term implications that it is for the Phillies in the immediate future. This is a similar injury to the one that caused Eickhoff to miss time last year. After the 2016 season, it looked like Eickhoff might be a 180-200 innings workhorse, and now there are real questions about his ability to stay healthy. With Vince Velasquez and Nick Pivetta in the rotation the Phillies were already going to be in need of innings from their bullpen, this opens up a larger burden on the pen to cover innings this year, and potentially in the future. It is also fair to worry about what Eickhoff’s success will be when he gets back on the mound. Continue reading…

The Phillies Rebuild is Over

The Phillies are back, baby. This is a shocking turn-around from Andy MacPhail’s end-of-season press conference wherein he insisted the Phillies were unlikely to invest in players and instead would invest in ballpark improvements and fan experience. Well it appears the team’s research showed that the fan experience is best at Citizen’s Bank Park when the Phillies are good. Continue reading…

Phillies DFA Tommy Joseph, Hopefully Give Him an Opportunity Elsewhere

After signing Jake Arrieta the Phillies were forced to remove a player from the 40 man roster, and rather than looking at one of their marginal relievers, the Phillies decided they had reached the end of the road with first baseman Tommy Joseph. It is a bittersweet moment for the player and the organization. Joseph has been nothing but a hard worker for the Phillies, and he is coming off his second straight 20 home run season in the majors after seeing his career almost end. He is having a good spring training this year, while trying to learn third base and left field. The truth is that Joseph was a long shot to be a part of the 2018 Phillies, and an even longer shot to be a part of their future.  Continue reading…

Phillies Reportedly Sign Jake Arrieta

According to all of the writers on the internet, the Phillies are signing right handed pitcher Jake Arrieta for 3 years and $75 million. At times this move felt needed or inevitable for the Phillies, but they constantly stuck to their terms on making any deal for a free agent pitcher. Up until the middle of today, that seemed like it would cost them a chance at signing any of the top starting pitchers. Whether they needed to make a pitching move or not is a bit up for debate, but after signing Carlos Santana, Tommy Hunter, and Pat Neshek the Phillies put themselves in a place where they have a foot into some playoff races. Arrieta is a clear upgrade on the Phillies projected #5 starter (which looked like a Ben Lively and Zach Eflin competition), and doesn’t make the Phillies a Wild Card favorite, but it does make them a contender. Continue reading…

Crash Bag #4: Desi Relaford is Salty

In case you hadn’t heard, Desi Relaford thinks Phillies fans are trash. Here’s a counterpoint: Desi Relaford is trash. In parts of five seasons with the Phillies, Relaford came to the plate 1189 times and produced a 66 OPS+. In every single season Relaford was with the Phillies, he was below replacement level.

Here are his WAR totals with the Phillies: -2.0 fWAR and -1.8 bWAR. I have produced exactly 0.0 fWAR and 0.0 bWAR for the Phillies. Therefore, it’s logical to conclude that I’m a better  baseball player than Desi Relaford.

In short, Desi Relaford is a bum and deserves to be booed. Continue reading…

Phillies Positional Preview – Corner Infielders (Carlos Santana Edition)

Gabe Kapler, looking for a little show of leadership in the Phils clubhouse, asked newcomer Carlos Santana to talk with the squad about the potential he sees at the corner infield spots for the year. The following is a transcript of his remarks.

I want to thank Gabe for asking me to do this today. I’ve played with some fine infielders in my day, and on paper, I see that level of ability here. We all just need to Make It Real. Continue reading…

Crash Bag Volume #3: A Spring Training Lightning Round

None of the questions this week had deep answers needed, so I just answered them all. A big thank you to everyone who applied to write here. I will get back to you this weekend, and for the rest of you I am excited about some of the new voices we may add to the site.

@derrick_gentner: What’s your opening day lineup?

2B Cesar Hernandez
1B Carlos Santana
LF Rhys Hoskins
RF Nick Williams (assuming RH starter for Braves)
CF Odubel Herrera
3B Maikel Franco
SS J.P. Crawford
C Jorge Alfaro
SP Aaron Nola

I could see Herrera #2 and moving everyone down, but I like the OBP of the 1-2-3. Continue reading…

Quick Thoughts on Outfield Shifts

Today for the second time this Spring Training, the Phillies had their left and right fielders swap. As Matt Gelb wrote last week, the Phillies are looking to be more aggressive with their outfield shifts. Positioning players to be deeper or shallow based on game situation (outs, batter, pitcher, count, and potentially a lot of other variables) seems actually fairly normal given what we have seen on the infield. Shift don’t always work, and when they don’t, it can look pretty bad, but playing the percentages makes some sense.

Then there is your left and right fielders running past your center fielder before a batter steps to the plate. Having players change positions mid inning is something that we are seeing on infield shifts more. Last year it led to Anthony Rizzo gaining second base eligibility in some fantasy leagues. No one has really employed outfield positional switches regularly. But they make a lot of sense, because they are something very fundamental. Growing up, nearly everyone pulled the ball and nearly everyone hit right handed. The worst fielder on the team often played right field, because nothing was being hit there. When the big power guy on the other team came up you would play everyone deeper, and if you were on your feet your right fielder was practically playing center as you shifted the outfield. When the lefty came up, you would try to quickly get the poor sap in right field out of there. Continue reading…

Crashburn Alley is Looking For New Writers

If you haven’t noticed, there is baseball in the world once again. As the writers here at Crashburn are gearing up for the season, we are looking to add more writers to the site.

The goal of Crashburn Alley is not to publish game recaps or regurgitate the news of the day. It was founded on sabermetric principles, but I have a wider view of the game. There will always be a place for advanced metrics and statistical analysis here, but not everything can be captured in a spreadsheet. I think part of the challenge of writing about baseball is looking at those connections and interactions that we may someday quantify, or never be able to capture analytically. This site also has a history of blending baseball with popular culture, and I don’t think there is anywhere where that is more evident than the Crash Bag. Baseball is fun, I think writing about it should be too. Continue reading…