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.

@Lead_FarmerSD: Who has your favorite definable skill on the team? Quinn’s speed, Cozens power, everything that is Sixto?

Aaron Nola’s command. I am a big fan of good pitching, and while it is nice to see 100s on the board, watching a pitcher surgically carve up a lineup is just special. Nola do this day is the only minor league pitcher I have ever seen show at least average command of their breaking ball in the minor leagues. There are guys who can throw stuff for strikes, or do basic things like go high or low, or try and get a chase. I have never seen anyone before or since hit their spot with a curveball nearly every time. It is one of those moments that really showed me the giant difference between major and minor league skills.

@EvanDkemelor: What do we do with all these AAAA pitchers that we have once the better pitchers in our system progress to LHV and beyond?

They either become major league starters, major league relievers, get traded, or get cut. We have already seen this start with Ricardo Pinto moving to the bullpen and it looks like Jake Thompson might be trending to that way. At some point these guys either are major leaguers or they are not. I think some guys will be secondary pieces in some minor trades, but I think the end result for a lot of guys is that they just don’t make it for the Phillies.

@MELKasinkas: What would you consider a successful 2018 season for the Phillies?

Given the current roster if this team goes .500 and doesn’t experience a major regression from multiple of it’s young offensive core I think the year will be a success and they will be set up for success going forward. I don’t think below .500 would be a failure, but it probably means something went wrong somewhere or everyone just stagnated.

@trevin_flick: Imagine that you are a baseball genie and that you can see into the future. you see that the phillies are in game 7 of the 2021 WS. you have the power to choose any SP from today to start the game for the phillies (SP is also 3 years older). who do you choose and why?

So I am going to treat this as a two part question with part 1 being any pitcher in baseball, the second one is Phillies specific. I think the overall answer is Noah Syndergaard, though I really want to take 33 year old Clayton Kershaw. Assuming his arm stays attached, Thor should be still in his prime at age 28. His stuff might not be as electric as it is right now (or it could still be), but I feel like 3 years is enough time to add some of those street smarts. In a one game winner take all I want the guy who could just be lights out and that is probably Thor.

On the Phillies side it is got to be Aaron Nola. By 2021 I expect that 23 year old Sixto Sanchez will be in the majors, and there is a chance he is one of the best pitchers in the game. I still go Nola for a reason very different, yet similar to Syndergaard. I don’t think Nola is necessarily the best option to just blow the competition away, but I feel like by 28 he will be well into his prime and I think he will have all of the weapons and experience he needs to go out and keep you in the game.

@PaulSocolar: Anything new and noteworthy about Mark Leiter?

His splitter may be a good pitch. I am still not a big believer, but kitchen sink with an actual swing and miss pitch mixed in, can work in 2-3 inning stints in the bullpen.

@bergotero: Do the Phillies still have Crawford rated highly ? If they go after Machado does Crawford stay at ss? Does he go to third?

Yes they do. They really like his glove and his batting eye. If Machado’s condition to sign with you is to play SS, you let him play SS and you move Crawford to 3B. You probably take a defensive hit at SS, but you should be elite at 3B (not that you wouldn’t with Machado). It is the same in your lineup no matter which plays which position. In a few years when Machado slows a bit more and can’t play SS, you can flip them back.

@GlennQSpoonerSt: Provision that calls for $ in multi year deals to be avg when determining luxury tax seems to go against spirit of rule. Mainly because it does not incentivize rebuilding orgs to spend since they will not be able to offset costs in future. Will Union try to change in next CBA? TY

I think the players will challenge a lot of things in the new CBA and the luxury tax will be one of them. The average salary over the course of the contract does incentivize is on pre-FA extensions. For example the Phillies are paying Odubel Herrera $3.35M this year and $10.35M in 2021, but both years count as $6.1M against the luxury tax. The problem with not averaging it out is that teams could get really weird with year to year $ amounts to circumvent the tax all together.

@sway300: Will the Phillies move Hernandez this season for Kingery or make him a utility man for the time being.

Until someone blows the Phillies away with an offer, Cesar Hernandez is the Phillies second baseman. I like Kingery, but Hernandez is really good right now. So Kingery will go to AAA to work on his plate discipline and when he is ready he will come up and the Phillies will find room for him. If Cesar, Crawford, or Franco hits the DL, I expect Kingery to be the one to come up and take their spot. These things tend to have a way of working themselves out, and this one might not get fully resolved until next offseason.

@EoSNick: How much higher is Kingery’s ceiling than Cesar’s? He’s being looked at as untouchable, but isn’t it with considering keeping Cesar and using Kingery as a trade chip for a better pitcher than Cesar would fetch?

I think Kingery gives you more power and speed than Cesar, but I doubt he ever reaches Cesar’s on base prowess. I think the Phillies have considered keeping Cesar over Kingery if that is the difference in getting what they need, especially on the pitching side, but I don’t think it is a move they are eager to make. Kingery has the slightly higher ceiling, but more than anything he fits their timeline a lot better, and really sets them up to have a nice core going forward.

@bergotero: Jhailyn Ortiz… what is his ceiling? For 19y/o is he ahead of his age group?

All-Star RFer who hits 35+ home runs a year. He is ahead of the average 19 year old, but is behind the elite members of his signing year like Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Fernando Tatis Jr.

@RadcatGudas: Do you think Alfaro and Williams will be able to solve their strikeout issues? I can’t see them sticking as MLB players unless they fix their plate discipline, but they’ve been able to hit in the minors despite swinging at everything, so I’m not sure what to think.

I think Williams settles in more in the 25% range long term. His swing should generate plenty of contact, and ideally you would like to see him get that BB% up from 5.8% to close to 7%. If he does that he should be fine. Alfaro you are probably hoping for something more in the 5% BB% and 25% K% range. Like Williams there is some innate feel for good contact, and Alfaro especially has been good at going up the middle. The thing that both have going for them is that is more in the approach and discipline and not in the pitch recognition like someone like Dylan Cozens. I think you can work with both to have more targeting aggression at the plate, not make them into Rhys Hoskins, but have them be more selective in which pitches they look to drive (like Alfaro getting himself in position for the grand slam last week). All that said, there is a lot of risk because major league teams and pitchers are relentless when they find your weaknesses.

@KRAM209: What are your thoughts about extreme shifts of outfielders? It seems to me that even though you’re playing the odds, if you come out wrong you might not only give up a hit but a HUGE hit.

You have to really have your numbers correct and you have to have the outfielders that can make up ground (so not Tommy Joseph or Rhys Hoskins). I think the idea is that you are giving up a double or triple instead of maybe a single or double at a higher chance of getting an out. I am sure there are some smart people running the numbers and it feels like the Phillies are definitely open to the idea of adapting them based on certain situations and not adhering 100% to the numbers.

@LONG_DRIVE: of all the rankings you’ve seen of Phillies prospects, which ones were the wildest. mlb.com putting Moniak at #1?

Moniak at 1, especially going into last year had some merit, by mid season it was a bit crazy, that said the tiny blog lists can be nuts. From this year’s list, here are some of the biggest outliers and weirdest rankings, list writer not included.

  • Nick Fanti #11 on a list to 50
  • Arquimedes Gamboa unranked on a list to 25, actually a lot of Gamboa ranks in general
  • Jose Gomez #20
  • Jonathan Guzman and Simon Muzziotti not make a Top 30

Most outlier weird ranking involve low tool, good stats performers and low minors latin american teenagers that people don’t really know.

@loudfartnoise: what’s your go to beer these days? something you’d buy a case of for your fridge.

We don’t really have one right now. The closest probably is Karben4’s Fantasy Factory, which is our go to pitcher at the bar down the street when we hang out there. It is a solid, drinkable IPA from Madison. We started brewing again (Caite is the brewmaster in the house and would have actual answers to brewing related questions) so by the summer the answer to this may be a recipe we find we like and keep making.

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1 comment

  1. Eddie

    March 05, 2018 01:53 PM

    “In a few years when Machado slows a bit more and can’t play SS, you can flip them back.”

    Not sure if it would be quite that easy. If Machado is selfish enough to want a team to take a defensive hit for him when he signs, seems likely he might want them to keep on taking it.

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