Bill BaerBill Baer

Recent articles by Bill Baer


2015 Phillies Report Card: Chad Billingsley

The Phillies entered the 2015 season with a dearth of starting rotation depth and thus no reason not to gamble on a starting pitcher or two. And so that’s what they did in signing Aaron Harang and Chad Billingsley in January. The hope was that Billingsley would be able to recover from last year’s flexor tendon surgery and
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Crashburn Alley 2015 Playoff Predictions

The MLB playoffs will kick off on Tuesday with the Yankees hosting the Astros in the American League Wild Card game. On Wednesday, the Pirates host the Cubs to determine who makes it into the Division Series. Here are the predictions from the Crashburn staff. Feel free to list your own predictions in the comments
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Phillies Finish Worst Season Since 1972

The Phillies avoided ignominy in Sunday’s season finale, beating the Miami Marlins 7-2 to finish with only 99 losses. It’s their worst record since the 1972 Phillies went 59-97.  They would have been the first Phillies team to lose 100 games in a season since the 1961 squad, which finished 47-107. The Phillies’ .389 winning
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Phillies Clinch #1 Overall Pick in 2016

After the Phillies dropped Game 1 of Saturday’s doubleheader against the Miami Marlins, they needed the Cincinnati Reds to beat the Pittsburgh Pirates or a loss to the Marlins on Saturday or Sunday. Either result would clinch the worst record in baseball, which means they would pick first in the 2016 draft and secure themselves
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Jeremy Affeldt Pans Philly Fans in Farewell Article

San Francisco Giants reliever Jeremy Affeldt announced on that he is retiring at the conclusion of the 2015 season. The 36-year-old is a veteran of 14 seasons, the last seven of which have come with the Giants, so he’s earned three World Series rings in the process. Affeldt wrote about the five things he
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Jerad Eickhoff: Hidden Gem of the Cole Hamels Trade

The Phillies ended months of conjecture at the end of July by sending ace Cole Hamels to the Texas Rangers in a trade that also involved reliever Jake Diekman and brought six players back to Philadelphia. One of them, Matt Harrison, offset some of Hamels’ salary and three were highly-touted prospects — pitcher Jake Thompson, outfielder
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The Ethics of Tanking

During last night’s series opener against the New York Mets, a brief debate emerged on Twitter about the ethics of tanking. It’s no secret that the Phillies had no designs of being a winning team in 2015, and though no one involved with the team will openly admit it, every loss has been good for
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Somehow, There Are Jonathan Papelbon Defenders

At FOX Sports, former major leaguer C.J. Nitkowski wrote a most mind-numbing defense of Jonathan Papelbon for his attempt to choke teammate Bryce Harper on Sunday afternoon at Nationals Park. Fisking has been out of style for a while now, but that’s how I’m going to respond to Nitkowski’s points here. His quotes in bold,
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Phillies Finish Their Worst Season Since 1972

The Phillies avoided ignominy in Sunday’s season finale against the Miami Marlins, winning 7-2 finish with only 99 losses. They’ve been around for 133 seasons, dating all the way back to 1883. Their last 100-loss season came 54 years ago in 1961, when the team finished 47-107.


Jonathan Papelbon Tried to Choke Bryce Harper

The Phillies scored eight runs in the ninth inning, including five against closer Jonathan Papelbon, to break a 4-4 tie in Sunday’s win against the Washington Nationals. That wasn’t the big story during and after the game, however. Outfielder Bryce Harper flied out to start the bottom of the eighth inning and he didn’t run
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Aaron Altherr Hit An Inside-the-Park Grand Slam

Aaron Altherr gave the Phillies a 4-1 lead last night when he hit what turned out to be an inside-the-park grand slam against Nationals starter Jordan Zimmermann. The outfielder hit a sinking liner in front of center fielder Michael Taylor, who made an ill-fated dive. He never touched the ball, which skipped past him towards
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Crash Bag: Season 3, Episode 1

Welcome back to the Crash Bag! It’s been a long time. Unsurprisingly, a lot of you had questions about the Phillies’ minor league system as opposed to the major league roster. Let’s jump into it.


Phillies Want Jeff Francoeur Back in 2016

CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury reports that the Phillies and outfielder Jeff Francoeur have mutual interest in a reprisal role in 2016. Francoeur signed with the Phillies on a minor league deal in November and made the Opening Day roster out of spring training, earning a $950,000 salary.


The Phillies Should Explore Trading Cody Asche

Third baseman Cody Asche hit a pair of solo home runs in Tuesday night’s 6-2 win against the Miami Marlins. It’s the first multi-homer game of his three-year career. Surprisingly, it was also his first multi-hit game since August 14. Asche currently holds a subpar .303 weighted on-base average. The National League average for third
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Phillies Extend Pete Mackanin Through 2016

News from the Phillies: #Phillies have extended the contract of Pete Mackanin as manager through the 2016 season. The extension includes a club option for 2017. — Phillies (@Phillies) September 22, 2015


Pete Mackanin Won’t Use Ken Giles in a Tie Game on the Road

The Phillies, coincidentally, lost every game of their three-game weekend set in Atlanta against the Braves by a 2-1 score. The getaway game on Sunday included a late comeback to tie the game at 1-1, but it ultimately ended with the Braves walking off in the bottom of the ninth inning against Luis Garcia. Closer
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One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

The Phillies made a ton of progress on the field this year. They successfully completed the hardest phase of their rebuilding process, trading away Cole Hamels along with a few others while saying goodbye to GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. Incoming president Andy MacPhail emphasized the importance of utilizing analytics when the Phillies introduced him in
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Bringing Back the Crash Bag

Fans of the Crash Bag have likely noticed it has been absent from the site for a while. We’re going to try to bring it back, perhaps at a twice-monthly rate and Adam and I will share the responsibilities. That could change going forward. The Crash Bag was something I always looked forward to reading
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Together, Ryan Howard and Darin Ruf Make a Decent First Baseman

Ryan Howard‘s struggles against left-handed pitching, his 2014 season notwithstanding, are well known. The New York Yankees took advantage of this during the 2009 World Series, having lefty reliever Damaso Marte face Howard four times in four games and getting the out all four times in two fly balls and two strikeouts. It then became
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Phillies Upcoming Non-Tender Candidates

With the end of the season drawing near, the Phillies will be preparing first for a change in the front office ranks, as Andy MacPhail will be succeeding Pat Gillick as the team president. If he doesn’t assume direct control of baseball operations, he’ll be in charge of naming someone for that position, as well
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Jonathan Papelbon Threw His Former Teammates Under the Bus

Former Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon arrived with the Washington Nationals in Philadelphia yesterday to open up a three-game series. It’s his first time back in the city since he was traded in July. Papelbon, known for never biting his tongue, threw his former Phillies teammates under the bus when answering questions prior to Monday’s game.
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Philly Fans Hate Jeff Francoeur Now

CSN Philly’s Leslie Gudel posted this picture of Phillies outfielder Jeff Francoeur to Instagram on Monday night after the season-opening game between the Eagles and the Atlanta Falcons. Francoeur is seen smiling, wearing a Falcons jersey. Here’s a smattering of Philly fans’ responses to the picture:


Phillies Wise to Move on from Ruben Amaro, Jr.

The Phillies, after much consternation and conjecture, finally turned the page on the Ruben Amaro, Jr. era by handing him his pink slip on Thursday. With incoming president Andy MacPhail set to steer the Phillies into what we hope is a much more prosperous era, it was time to clear out what was left of
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Aaron Nola Exceeding Early Expectations

Through his first 10 major league starts, Aaron Nola has been better than former Phillies ace Cole Hamels was at the same point in his career. In fact, it’s not even close, going by ERA.  Player GS IP ERA K% BB% GB% Nola 10 60.2 3.56 20.6% 6.1% 45.8% Hamels 10 50.1 5.36 22.1% 11.0%
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Odubel Herrera Ranks Among Best Rule-5 Picks Ever

Odubel Herrera keeps on truckin’. The Phillies’ center fielder went 2-for-3 with a walk and a three-run home run, putting Tuesday night’s game against the Atlanta Braves out of reach at 5-0. Herrera bolstered his triple-slash line to .302/.340/.434 and crossed the 3-WAR threshold on the season, according to both Baseball Reference and FanGraphs. Matt Winkelman
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Phillies’ Run Differential Already 20th-Worst in Team History

Early in this season, much was made of the Phillies’ abysmal start, particularly in the run differential department. Here’s what was written on May 2:


Checking In with An Old Friend

Former Phillie Kyle Kendrick hasn’t had a great 2015, pitching half his games at Coors Field with the Colorado Rockies. He entered Monday’s start with a 6.29 ERA and he missed the entire month of August due to inflammation in his right shoulder. He’s had better years. Kendrick did something on Monday that he never did
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Graph of the Intermittent Time Period

A doff of the ballcap to Corinne for the inspiration: The September race I'm watching — August 7 (Utley's return): Utley .529 OPS, Cesar .714 OPS Today: Utley .657, Cesar .686 — Corinne (@Ut26) September 6, 2015


Phillies’ Youth Movement Paying Off Early

The Phillies still have a ways to go before they can legitimately be considered a threat in the NL East again, but it’s hard not to be enthused by the team’s play in the second half, especially after pawning off a handful of veterans. They’re 24-19 in the second half, though they’ve narrowly outscored opponents
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The Aaron Harang vs. Yoenis Cespedes Battle

As strange as it sounds, since they won by six runs, the Phillies held on to beat the New York Mets in Tuesday night’s game at Citi Field. The Mets scored four runs against Aaron Harang in the fifth inning to chase him from the game, and then once in each of the final four
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The Phillies Struck Gold with Rule 5 Pick Odubel Herrera

The Phillies made a couple of unheralded Rule 5 picks during the off-season, selecting pitcher Andy Oliver from the Pittsburgh Pirates and outfielder Odubel Herrera from the Rangers. Oliver showed some good swing-and-miss stuff, but faltered with his control and the Phillies wanted to send him to Triple-A Lehigh Valley rather than keep him on
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Phillies to Lead the Charge on Expanding Protective Netting

There have been a handful of incidents this season in which fans have been hurt by foul balls and broken bat shards, leading some — including Detroit Tigers players Anthony Gose, Justin Verlander, Nick Castellanos, and Alex Avila — to stump in favor of expanding protective netting at the ballpark. Major League Baseball has been
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Jeff Francoeur Enjoying A Good Season Despite Negative WAR

Recently, a little debate stirred on the ol’ Internets when ESPN’s Keith Law cited Phillies outfielder Jeff Francoeur‘s negative WAR in response to a piece of trivia which painted the veteran in a positive light. Law isn’t wrong about Frenchy’s poor on-field value: Baseball Reference lists him with -0.3 WAR while FanGraphs has him at
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Enter DraftKings $300,000 Fantasy Baseball Contest Tonight

DraftKings is offering Crashburn Alley readers access to a free fantasy baseball contest with $300,000 in prizes! All you have to do is pick the 10 MLB players you think will score the most fantasy points during the MLB games on Monday, August 24th. Draft 1 C, 1 1B, 1 2B, 1 3B, 1 SS,
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Utley Retrospective: The Man

Over the next few days, we’ll be looking back on the most memorable moments of Chase Utley’s career with the Phillies. You can conveniently find everything that’s written about the subject under the category “Utley Retrospective” above. If you follow me on Twitter, you’ve probably seen me send out a tweet with the hashtag “#TheMan“. Early
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Chase Utley’s Indelible Mark on the Phillies, Baseball

As Adam Dembowitz wrote about earlier, the Phillies traded second baseman Chase Utley to the Los Angeles Dodgers for two as yet unnamed minor league players. He will likely be the last veteran player the Phillies trade this season and joins Cole Hamels, Jake Diekman, Ben Revere, and Jonathan Papelbon as players to be flipped
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It’s Time to Cut Aaron Harang Loose

The Phillies made a pair of starting pitching signings in January, hoping to buy low and sell higher the way they did with Roberto Hernandez in 2014. Aaron Harang was coming off of a solid season with the Braves, but at 36-going-on-37, he only cost the Phillies $5 million on a one-year deal. Chad Billingsley
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Phillies, Giants Discussing Chase Utley Trade

Via Jon Morosi of FOX Sports: Sources: #SFGiants and #Phillies in ongoing talks about Chase Utley trade. Stage is advanced enough that prospect names have been discussed. — Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) August 12, 2015


Time to Ease Up on Justin De Fratus

I’ve been beating this drum for months in the hope that someone might forward it to Phillies management. Alas, there has been no progress in that regard. Justin De Fratus threw 37 more pitches in Monday’s 13-3 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks. He recorded four outs and allowed three runs on four hits.


Phillies Acquire Tyler Pastornicky from the Rangers

The Phillies announced earlier today that they acquired infielder Tyler Pastornicky from the Texas Rangers in exchange for cash considerations. He’ll report to Triple-A Lehigh Valley.


The Pete Mackanin-Led Phillies Are Surging

The Phillies completed a series sweep in San Diego against the Padres on Sunday afternoon, running their second-half record to 16-5, the best in baseball in that span of time. They’ve lost their stranglehold on the worst record in baseball, falling a game ahead of the division rival Miami Marlins. They’re only 2.5 games up
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Phillies Should Audition, but Not Trade, Chase Utley in August

Chase Utley is coming back soon. Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News reported yesterday that the second baseman is headed back to Philadelphia to consult with the team and could potentially be activated on Friday. If not then, sometime very soon. Utley has been out since June 23 with a right ankle injury. He
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An Updated Look at the Phillies’ Minor League System

The Phillies made three trades leading up to the 4 PM EST deadline on Friday, sending closer Jonathan Papelbon to the Washington Nationals, starter Cole Hamels to the Texas Rangers, and outfielder Ben Revere to the Toronto Blue Jays. Coupled with trades made last year to eschew Jimmy Rollins, Marlon Byrd, and Roberto Hernandez, the
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Phillies Trade Ben Revere to the Blue Jays

Ahead of the 4 PM EST trade deadline, the Phillies traded outfielder Ben Revere to the Toronto Blue Jays,’s Todd Zolecki reports. CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury reports that the Phillies will get a pair of pitchers in return, Alberto Tirado and Jimmy Cordero.


The Top 10 Starts of Cole Hamels’ Phillies Career

The Phillies traded Cole Hamels to the Texas Rangers last night, and it wouldn’t be appropriate to move forward sans the ace lefty without first remembering the lefty’s 14-year career with the organization.


Is Jonathan Papelbon A Future Hall of Famer?

The Phillies traded closer Jonathan Papelbon to the Washington Nationals yesterday, ending the right-hander’s four-year stint in Philadelphia after signing a record four-year, $50 million contract in November, 2011. Though he’ll be remembered more for his antics and media sound bites, Papelbon more than lived up to expectations given the size of his contract, compiling
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Phillies Trade Jonathan Papelbon to the Nationals

Jon Morosi of FOX Sports confirms a report initially from Barry Svurluga of the Washington Post: the Phillies have agreed to trade closer Jonathan Papelton to the division rival Washington Nationals for minor league pitcher Nick Pivetta (as reported by’s Todd Zolecki).


Phillies Trade Rumor Roundup

It’s July 28. Do you know where your trade chips are?


Phillies Coming Out of the Break on All Cylinders

Cole Hamels‘ no-hitter Saturday against the Chicago Cubs sent the Phillies’ record to 7-1 since the All-Star break, the best record in baseball — tied with the St. Louis Cardinals and San Francisco Giants — in that span of time. Their one loss was the 1-0 game against the Tampa Bay Rays in which Aaron Nola
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Cole Hamels No-Hits the Cubs at Wrigley Field

Cole Hamels came into Saturday afternoon’s start at Wrigley Field against the Chicago Cubs the subject of intense trade speculation and with a little bit of worry considering he had been hit hard in his previous two starts. He had everything working against the Cubs, using his patented mid-90’s fastball, loopy curve, and one of
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