The Many Sides of Pulling Aaron Nola Early

There has been a lot written and said angrily about Gabe Kapler pulling Aaron Nola after 68 pitches in the 6th inning of Opening Day against the Braves. I took a side yesterday, it turned out to not be the reason the Phillies used, and of course the bullpen gave up a bunch of runs and blew the game. So rather than give a single side, I am going to look at all the various parts of the decision.

Rest Nola, It Is Game 1 of 162

This was my initial gut feeling on the move. Aaron Nola threw in the high 60 pitches in his last spring training start, he could have gone probably into the low 80s, but he wasn’t going for a long outing. At the time of the move, there was a man on base and the Phillies were up 5-0. The information at the time was that the Phillies had 9 pitchers in the bullpen (we later learned Pat Neshek was injured), which should be fine for getting 11 outs (at least that is the theory). So overall the thought here is that Nola pitched less than 170 innings last year, and with the Phillies’ emphasis on rest and keeping their pitchers healthy, this game presented an opportunity to get out of it with a sub 70 pitch outing from Nola to have him well rested for his next start and the rest of the season.

Third Time Through the Order Plus Two Lefties Could be a Problem for Aaron Nola

.216/.267/.374
.197/.248/.300
.315/.381/.455 Continue reading…

Crashburn Alley’s 2018 Predictions

The 2018 season kicks off today. The Phillies have high expectations relative the past few years, but they aren’t the only team with high expectations. Once again the members of the Crashburn Alley staff has put together their predictions for standings, awards and other things.

Participating this year:

  • Matt Winkelman
  • Brad Engler
  • Adam Dembowitz
  • Michael Schickling
  • Colbert Root
  • Liam Murphy
  • Jack Merlino

Continue reading…

In Signing Scott Kingery the Phillies Show the Complicated Process of Building a Young Core

On Sunday, the Phillies announced both that Scott Kingery would be on the opening day roster and that they had agreed to a 6 year deal with 3 options years. There is a lot going on in that statement, both for the Phillies and Scott as baseball entities, and for the two of them as financial entities.

It is probably best to start with the ugly part first, the financial aspect of this contract. For the Phillies, they guarantee Kingery the most money ever to a player with no MLB service time and a contract that is at least market compared to other early pre-arb contracts. In theory, the Phillies are taking on a lot of risk here. Kingery has some flaws, flaws that are why he is a good, but not top in the game prospect. The problem is there is no actual risk. The Phillies are paying $8M in the 6th year of this deal, which is a tiny bit of money in relation to their overall revenues and not a huge overpay if Kingery is just a solid utility bench player by that point in his contract. Kingery’s profile plays well into this as well. He is a good defender with great speed, and a good feel for contact. On its own, he is a fine utility infielder. His question marks are in his power and on base abilities. He has answered a lot of questions about whether his power is at least average, but the questions on his approach still remain. He does not have a long track record of struggle, he just lacks the upper minor league track record of success (it is a small sample size when talking about walk and strikeouts rates). The Phillies take on very little risk here, and the upside of this deal is that they just locked up an All-Star caliber player for his entire prime, for less than $7M AAV over the course of the 9 years of the deal. Continue reading…

Remembering Cameron Rupp

In a move clearly intended to dominate headlines, the Phillies moved right-handed pitcher Drew Hutchison to their 40-man roster, likely guaranteeing him a spot in the Opening Day bullpen. To make room, catcher Cameron Rupp was designated for assignment, ending his tenure as a member of the Philadelphia Phillies.
Rupp, in a way, never stood a chance. That sentiment holds true no matter what context you look at it in, be it filling Chooch’s shoes in the eyes of the fanbase, trying to hold off two far-sexier prospects in Jorge Alfaro & Andrew Knapp, or trying to hit a pitcher who throws a decent fastball.
Originally drafted by the Phillies in the 3rd round out of the University of Texas, Rupp was never considered much of a prospect. Touted as a defense-first catcher who could hit enough to hold a backup job, Rupp failed to crack most top-prospect lists, constantly being overshadowed by the likes of Sebastian Valle, Gabriel Lino, and Deivi Grullon. By the time catchers like Knapp and Alfaro were added to the system, he could kiss his childhood dream of being in the Philadelphia Phillies top-30 prospect list goodbye. Continue reading…

Nick Williams: A Comparison, and What Should We Expect?

I’ll be completely honest right from the beginning; I love Nick Williams.

When he was announced in the Cole Hamels trade, my heart leapt in my chest and I envisioned a Phillies lineup with Williams batting 3rd or 5th, a left-handed outfielder with tools who could be an anchor to the tune of 25 home runs, 80 RBIs, and a .290 batting average, and who could play sound defense.  Maybe he’d even chip in a double-digit amount of stolen bases.  Basically (at the risk of nauseating you readers), he’d be what Dom Brown was supposed to be.

When I saw him in person for the first time later that summer, the Reading Phillies were in Trenton to play the Thunder.  Mid-way through the game, Williams hit a laser – and I mean this thing was on a frozen rope – off the centerfield wall for a triple.  My expectations were gratified.  The Phils had their lefty outfield slugger waiting in the wings; we’d finally see a player of a caliber that had largely gone missing since Raul Ibanez left. Continue reading…

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…