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…

Crash Bag Volume #2: The Third Base Problem

There is currently a baseball game playing on a screen in front of me. We are still 5 weeks from opening day, thus we enter a time of questions and praying for health.

@KRAM209: It seems like the Phillies have had trouble finding 3B prospects of late.  Why?  What do you think they should do differently?

Here are the third basemen the Phillies have drafted with day 1 or 2 picks (or paid that type of money in bonus to) in recent years. I am using their intended pro position, not their pre-draft or first year position.

  • Jake Scheiner (4th rd, 2017, Jr) – It is still really early on Scheiner who might actually be a 2B.
  • Jake Holmes (11th rd, 2017, HS) – Holmes had a solid debut and is just starting to move over from SS.
  • Cole Stobbe (3rd rd, 2016, HS) – Stobbe had a good first year and then just failed to recognize off speed pitches and solid out his contact for power in Williamsport.
  • Luke Williams (3rd rd, 2015, HS) – Williams was always a weird fit at third. He has below average power, plus speed, and a good glove. He just hasn’t hit much.
  • Josh Tobias (10th rd, 2015, Sr) – Moved to 2B and traded to Boston for Buchholz.
  • Jan Hernandez (3rd rd, 2013, HS) – Hernandez has never shown a good approach and has lately struggled to hit righties. The Phillies moved him to RF to add flexibility last year and he took the position quickly.
  • Trey Williams (7th rd, 2013, JC) – Williams just never hit in his two year in pro ball.
  • Zach Green (3rd rd, 2012, HS) – Green showed big time power, but his approach has been poor and his swing stiff. Wrist and other injuries have limited his playing time over the years.
  • Harold Martinez (2nd rd, 2011, Jr) – Martinez had big power as a college freshman and it never came back. He hung around as a good org hitter until 2017.
  • Cody Asche (4th rd, 2011, Jr) – Asche was never a great defender at third, but he showed enough hit tool to be a second division regular at 3rd. His hit tool fell apart when he reached the majors.
  • Mitch Walding (5th rd, 2011, HS) – Walding had (and still has) a beautiful left handed swing. It took until 2016 for him to show any power. Had a breakout year of sorts in 2017 at age 24 in AA. He has a lot of swing and miss in his game, but is a good defender and potential 4 corner utility bat.

Continue reading…

2017 Phillies Report Card: Aaron Nola

Aaron Nola‘s arm injury in 2016 might have been the low point of the Phillies’ rebuild. Nola was supposed to be the sure thing in the rebuild, a command oriented middle of the rotation arm advanced beyond his years. After an offseason of worry, things did not get off to a good start. A back injury and poor performance had Nola sitting at 6 games started, 32 innings, and a 5.06 ERA by the end of May.

The rest of the season was dominant.

In the next 4 months, Nola would not miss a start. He pitched 136 innings, had a 3.18 ERA, and struck out 155, while walking only 38. He topped it all of with 43 strike outs in 30.1 innings in September. Not only did he put up great numbers in 2017, Nola showed that he was not only healthy, he was better. His fastball (both 4 and 2 seam) averaged over a mile per hour higher than it had in 2016. He found feel for his changeup more, throwing it much harder than he had in the past and nearly twice as often. The consequence was a higher whiff rate on the pitch. As his changeup improved, so did his curveball. Early in the season he was unable to miss bats with it, but by the end of the season it was an elite weapon again. Continue reading…

Monday Round Table (2/19): Spring Training Is Here

Today is the first day of full squad workouts in Clearwater. That means the winter is over and baseball can begin, or at least something like that. With that in mind I asked the writers for some roster predictions and other questions heading into a week of stretching and drills.

Who will be the Phillies #5 starter?

Adam: I really hope it’ll be Nick Pivetta because that means someone else has slotted in above him. I’m still, perhaps somewhat foolishly, holding out hope the Phillies will sign Jake Arrieta to a four-year, $22.5M AAV deal with a player option and incentives. If they don’t, then I suppose I’ll put money on Ben Lively, who somehow became a quality start machine even though he can’t strike out anybody. Continue reading…

2017 Phillies Report Card: J.P. Crawford

J.P. Crawford played some baseball in the majors last year. There’s not a lot of #analysis to do with 87 plate appearances, but the real story is that Crawford finally made it to Philadelphia and showed he could handle himself at the highest level. In that limited playing time last September, Crawford displayed the three core aspects of his game that carried him from Lakewood High through the Phillies’ minor league system: an ability to get on base, control of the strike zone, and excellent defense. Continue reading…

Crash Bag S2018 Volume #1: Baseball Is Back

In just under a week the Phillies will be playing their first baseball game of the year as they try to not lose to a bunch of college students. Until then it is time for fuzzy pictures of players stretching, worry about the state of the rotation, and apparently a picture of my cat.

@DaleACooke: I love Roman Quinn at SS bc elevates flexibility joe Maddon-esque. Are Phillies looking to others for this (Altherr, Williams,Kingery)?

I want to touch on Quinn first. He has not played SS since 2014, and he wasn’t amazing at the position back then. Quinn is not going to be the primary infield backup. However, if the Phillies run with only 4 bench players and one of them is Altherr/Williams and another is a catcher, that leaves two spots left, one of which must play infield. If you ever want to use that hitter as a hitter (say a defensive replacement, pinch hitter, punch runner), then you need that other player to be able to play shortstop if everyone gets hurt. If Quinn can be that, then he can be that 4th bench player. Continue reading…

2017 Phillies Report Card: Freddy Galvis

I haven’t been particularly kind to Freddy Galvis in the past on this site, but I think I’m still going to miss him a little bit in 2018. El Falcon’s 2017 season turned out to be his last one in red pinstripes, as he’s now a San Diego Father. Freed from the burden of having to evaluate Galvis in the context of J.P. Crawford, I want to take a fresh look at Freddy and see if time, distance, and a twinge of nostalgia can change my mind.

In 2017, at age 27 Freddy Galvis probably had his most complete season as a major leaguer. He set single-season career bests in games played (162), plate appearances (663), hits (155), doubles (29), triples (6), runs (71), walk rate (6.8%), OBP (.309), wOBA (.298), and wRC+ (80). From that standpoint alone I give him full marks, and considering the value of reliability (he played literally every day) and nearly top tier fielding at shortstop, Galvis probably earned something like a C grade. On the other hand, topping out at a .309 OBP is Exhibit A for my general lack of interest in Galvis. Continue reading…

The Phillies Need to Acquire Another Starting Pitcher

Yu Darvish just received a 6 year contract from the Cubs. Darvish is the first of the major free agent starting pitchers to sign, leaving Jake Arrieta, Alex Cobb, and Lance Lynn all currently unsigned. All three of them rejected their qualifying offers and with Darvish getting below anticipated market, but not dramatically so, they should all get paid close to market. Right now the Phillies are projecting a rotation of Aaron Nola, Jerad Eickhoff, Vince Velasquez, Nick Pivetta, and Ben Lively. Continue reading…

2017 Phillies Report Card: Hector Neris

In a 2016 bullpen marred by some blindingly bad performances, Hector Neris and Jeanmar Gomez helped the Phillies the Phillies have a great win percentage in 1 run games. Gomez fell apart down the stretch, leaving Neris as the only reliable bullpen arm in the Phillies opening day bullpen.

In 2017, Pete Mackanin made Jeanmar Gomez his closer with Neris instaled in the 8th inning. When Gomez inevitably blew up, Pete turned to Joaquin Benoit, who also blew up. Neris was then installed in the closer role on April 20 and he responded with a clean 1-2-3 inning. He then proceed to give up a run in 4 of his next 5 appearances, capped by 3 home run and 4 runs to the Dodgers on the road on April 29. Continue reading…

2017 Phillies Report Card: Bullpen Breakouts

I realize it has now been over a month since the last post here and posts were not frequent before that. I am still trying to figure out how to get everything done. With my prospect list finished I am going to doing a mad rush to finish out the report cards here before we launch into yet another baseball season. Thank you for bearing with us.

Early in the 2017 season the Phillies bullpen was much maligned. Pat Neshek was good, Neris was shaky, and Joaquin Benoit and Jeanmar Gomez were blowing games. By midseason, the Phillies had traded Neshek and Benoit, and released Gomez. And yet, in the second half the Phillies posted the 10th best bullpen ERA in baseball. This was while Jesen Therrien and Ricardo Pinto pitched nearly 40 innings of 9 ERA baseball. So how do you turn around a bullpen midseason without acquiring any players?

Player A:

  • April – July: 28 IP 6.43 ERA 12 BB 30 K
  • August – September: 26.2 IP 1.69 ERA 6 BB 33 K

Player B: 

  • April – June: 31 IP 5.52 ERA 22 BB 38K
  • August – September: 26.2 IP 2.70 ERA 6 BB 37 K

Player C:

  • April – May: 15.2 IP 2.30 ERA 4 BB 7 K
  • June – July: 55.2 IP 2.75 ERA 22 BB 53 K

Continue reading…