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.

I still don’t think Scott Kingery can play shortstop or third base over a long period of time because of his arm, but the Phillies are going to play him at those two positions in the minors. It could be a path to playing time in the majors in a utility role. The big reason is in case Crawford or Franco is injured at any point. Kingery may not be ideal at short or third defensively, but getting his bat in the lineup will be worth the defensive downgrade over a player like Pedro Florimon.

Aaron Altherr can play all three outfield positions, and that is where he will stay. Back when he was in short season ball, the Phillies tried him at third base in Florida Instructional League. The fact that it never progressed beyond that should tell you everything about his position going forward. Nick Williams is left handed, so he is limited to the outfield and first base.

@dannmaal: If the Phillies actually sign any other free agents, they’ll need to make some cuts to the 40-man roster to make room. Who would be most likely to go? Tommy Joseph, Zac Curtis, someone else?

Joseph would be the first one to get cut for me. I think he is a better player than Curtis, but right now the Phillies have 6 lefties in camp, and Ranger Suarez and Cole Irvin are not making the team. While Curtis might not be great, he is left handed and the Phillies are going to want a second lefty beyond Adam Morgan. Other players in danger include Eliezer Alvarez, who is a bit redundant as a second baseman in the Phillies system, and whoever is lowest in the Phillies RH SP pecking order (it might be Jake Thompson). I think Ricardo Pinto and Yacksel Rios are safe for now with the Phillies going heavier with relievers. Both need some AAA seasoning but have solid upside because of their plus fastballs and plus offspeed combinations.

@Anton_Smolka: What are your early predictions for the final 25 man roster on opening day

2B Cesar Hernandez

1B Carlos Santana

LF Rhys Hoskins

RF Nick Williams/Aaron Altherr

CF Odubel Herrera

3B Maikel Franco

SS J.P. Crawford

C Jorge Alfaro

Bench Andrew Knapp, Altherr/Williams, Roman Quinn, Jesmuel Valentin

SP Aaron Nola, Jerad Eickhoff, Vince Velasquez, Nick Pivetta, Zach Eflin

RP Hector Neris, Pat Neshek, Tommy Hunter, Edubray Ramos, Adam Morgan, Luis Garcia, Hoby Milner, Mark Leiter Jr

I am not sure on the lineup order, but it seems the most radical and gets a lot of men on base early. I gave Valentin a slight edge on Florimon because of 40 man roster status. I think there is some momentum for Quinn over a second infielder. I think the Phillies will value Knapp’s OBP over Rupp’s power. In the rotation, I think a healthy Eflin can edge Ben Lively and Drew Hutchison. It feels like the Phillies want Leiter in the long man role in an 8 man bullpen, and that seems fine to me.

@flounder588: It seems like back in our playoff days, we specialized in drafting and teaching the changeup.  What is the current philosophy of pitches/pitching for the organization?

It is hard to nail down one specific thing, especially in the majors given the turnover, but cleaning up deliveries and getting velocity out of guys has been a hallmark of the lower minors. This has been especially evident with the Latin American pitchers with the development staff turning out pitchers like Franklyn Kilome, Adonis Medina, and Sixto Sanchez with a scary amount of regularity. The current pitching regime has not really had a signature pitch, no changeup, cutter, or slider like some coaches have as their signature. One thing that is different from the previous regime is a willingness for pitchers to have two distinct breaking balls, and there are quite a few pitchers in the systems with curveball and sliders, as well as others that are adding the other pitch to an existing arsenal. When it comes to drafting and signing, the Phillies are less height inclined than they have been in the past, and the system is littered with guys on the shorter end of the spectrum. Otherwise they tend to favor athletes and guys with solid foundations to build on.

@Sixers2017Draft: What do the Phillies do with all this money if they DON’T land Harper or Machado next year?

Harper and Machado are not the only two big free agents next year. The list also includes Josh Donaldson, Charlie Blackmon, Adam Jones, A.J. Pollock, Andrew McCutchen, Brian Dozier, Elvis Andrus, Gio Gonzalez, Clayton Kershaw, Dallas Keuchel, Drew Pomeranz, Cody Allen, Craig Kimbrel, Andrew Miller, and Zach Britton. I think the Phillies will be players for pitching regardless, and if they don’t get Machado, I am sure they will be in on Donaldson. Also this means there are going to be a lot of teams looking to sign major free agents while trying to avoid the luxury tax. There are going to be teams looking to shed good players on expensive deals, and I am sure the Phillies will be willing to use some of their money to take back a good player a team is trying to shed. In reality they probably aren’t going to get Harper or Machado, the collective odds of any other team signing them is just too high. That said, they can spend a lot next year to shore up a lot of holes on the team, even if they don’t make the big signing.

@mattymatty2000: What is the name of your cat?

Her name is Starshine. For those that don’t follow me on Twitter, here she is.

She is just a bit over 6 and has been with us for 5 years. She is from a feral cat shelter here in Madison. They have a letter each month and all of the cats that come that month have a name starting with that letter, and she came in during the S month and we couldn’t bring ourselves to change it. She had a reputation for being unkind to children and being a problem at adoption fairs. She is an adorable sweetheart and is a tiny ball of fluff and cute. I say all of this as a plug to adopt your cats and look past some of the rough exterior, because with love and attention they can be really awesome cats.

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  1. Wawa Mike

    February 16, 2018 03:00 PM

    I’m still not sold on the 8 man bullpen. If the Phillies sign or trade for a good starting pitcher, and with the off days and rain outs in April, I’d go with 7 to start the year.

    • Steve

      February 16, 2018 03:38 PM

      The off days in April might make it possible for them to skip the carry 4 SP and 8 RP rather than 5 SP and 7 RP. I would expect them to lean that way if they choose to manipulate the roster at all. Regardless, sooner or later they are going to need 5 SP and unless a few of them start to pitch deeper into games, they will probably need 8 RP. I think there is enough position flexibility on this roster to allow for a short bench, but it definitely isn’t ideal.

    • sammy spivous

      February 16, 2018 05:21 PM


      Who gives a fuck about your cat… Baseball. Not about you.. About the game.. Your job.

      • Matt Winkelman

        February 16, 2018 05:26 PM

        Given that I make absolutely no money writing here, and it is not my job this has done nothing but make me want to write an entire Crash Bag about my cat.

      • JerseyJim

        February 16, 2018 06:36 PM

        It’s Friday. Wrap up the day and relax a bit.

      • Adam Dembowitz

        February 16, 2018 08:52 PM

        “Sammy” – all of us write for exactly zero dollars on this site and we all have actual jobs. This is a labor of love. It requires us to stay up late or wake up early or squeeze in an article whenever we can. It also requires us to be so passionate about baseball and the Phillies in particular that we’re willing to work *for nothing* simply to produce content for you to enjoy…for free. If you don’t like what you read here, don’t visit the site, but don’t come in here and try to be Mr. Tough Guy Keyboard Warrior.

        And for the record, I care about Starshine and a lot of people around the world love Matt. Maybe instead of thinking the world is designed to serve you, you could consider yourself an insignificant speck on a tiny grain of sand adrift in the endless vastness of the cosmos. Have a fantastic rest of your life.

      • Jerry Spradlin

        February 16, 2018 11:09 PM

        Crap – the next Crash Bag was going to be all about Sammy Spivous, but I think you blew it, dude…

      • Hinkie

        February 17, 2018 01:48 AM

        No need to be an ignoramous.
        Matt … I love the story about your cat. Pets complete a family. Those of us lucky enough to have them, know there’s nothing quite like the unconditional love your dogs, cats, etc. show you.
        On a Phillies note … I also believe Zach Efflin beats out Ben Lively for the last spot in the starting rotation.

      • awh

        February 18, 2018 04:22 AM

        sammy, don’t be such a hater. I love cats. I had one when I was in the far East. It was very tasty. 😉

  2. JimmyThunder

    February 16, 2018 04:41 PM

    That starting rotation isn’t scaring anyone. Neither is the pen. Any chance the Phils are still looking to sign a FA pitcher to help out?

    • Matt Winkelman

      February 16, 2018 05:29 PM

      I think they are set in the bullpen, and if Edubray Ramos and Adam Morgan can duplicate their second halves, it should be a pretty good bullpen, I don’t see any more reliever signings.

      I don’t think they are looking to sign a FA SP help out, at least they seem to be actively showing that they don’t want to sign anyone. If for some reason the market actually collapses on FA pitchers and they can do a low year, high AAV deal with one of the top arms, I could see them doing it.

      • Steve

        February 17, 2018 10:01 AM

        Lol, and then they Abad. This has truely been an unconventional off-season.

  3. Wawa Mike

    February 17, 2018 09:34 AM

    Rating the prospects must be a daunting feat, and I thank you for your work. I was wondering today if you deduct points on Elniery Garcia for his PED use? Do you add points because he’s a lefty, and the Phillies have a shortage? I don’t remember hearing the usual denial from Garcia.

    • Romus

      February 17, 2018 07:26 PM

      Wawa Mike…..Dickie Noles is there to assist Phillies kids/players when they run into any of these type mishaps in their careers.
      You probably will not hear many flat out denials from minor league players , in any org when it comes to the usage of PEDs, and in Elniery’s case one like Boldenone, an anabolic steroid.
      He did however say he was sick and used medications that he did not know were on the banned list. That is about all he said on the subject.

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