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…

Crash Bag #4: Desi Relaford is Salty

In case you hadn’t heard, Desi Relaford thinks Phillies fans are trash. Here’s a counterpoint: Desi Relaford is trash. In parts of five seasons with the Phillies, Relaford came to the plate 1189 times and produced a 66 OPS+. In every single season Relaford was with the Phillies, he was below replacement level.

Here are his WAR totals with the Phillies: -2.0 fWAR and -1.8 bWAR. I have produced exactly 0.0 fWAR and 0.0 bWAR for the Phillies. Therefore, it’s logical to conclude that I’m a better  baseball player than Desi Relaford.

In short, Desi Relaford is a bum and deserves to be booed. Continue reading…

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. 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…

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…

Crash Bag Vol. 45 – Poetry And Prospects And Punters (Wait…Quarterbacks, Not Punters)

I greet you with this query from Poet Laureate of The Phils Blogosphere:

My response to this reference to an interesting quote from our new field manager, is a verse for that February day when spring returns to Clearwater, Florida, while the rest of us still slowly move out of winter.


As frost wanes
As snow turns to rain
We push through the pains of stagnation
From a long winter spent in shelter
In stillness
Perhaps apathy

In the north
Still-chattering teeth
Remains of a wreath dying on a door
Remains of the season of mirth and cheer
From the midst of the season of death and despair

But in the south
The glorious south
The soil is prepared
The whitest chalk in the straightest lines
The maple and the ash
The leather
The rosin
The reddest of thread
Stitched twice all around the orb

Rejuvenation lurks!

But from now
Until that day
When givers and takers return to their fields
We have hope
For a man both strong and agile
Prince of the Chesapeake
But for just one spin ‘round the sun
The young flame coveted
Shall not depart
Maybe for like Franklyn Kilome or something, IDK

Do you all think the end needs work? Maybe a little.

Continue reading…

Crash Bag Vol. 44 – The Best Phillies Rotation

This week was a quiet one if you weren’t Jerry Dipoto despite it being the GM’s meetings. So with that, some questions.

@MichaelStubel: You’re tasked with putting together a rotation comprised of Phillies starters from the post-integration era. Who makes the cut?

I laid some rules for this exercise before starting.

  • The pitcher had to spend some of their prime with the Phillies, I couldn’t use Pedro’s prime just because he was on the 2009 Phillies.
  • I was looking for an average prime era season from the pitcher, not just a one year outlier.
  • I get the pitcher vs the batters of their era. I didn’t want to figure out Robin Roberts vs 2010’s era batters.

My first search was to find the top single season pitcher bWAR for Phillies pitchers to get a list of candidates. Then to remove innings as a driver I sorted it by ERA+ as well to get a list of candidates: Steve Carlton, Robin Roberts, Roy Halladay, Jim Bunning, Cliff Lee, Chris Short, Cole Hamels, and Curt Schilling. Continue reading…

Crash Bag Vol. 43: Missing Doc

We lost a legend this week. As I’m sure you’re aware, Roy Halladay, the greatest pitcher I’ve ever seen, died in a plane crash on Tuesday. He was only 40. And while the baseball world mourns his death, including here at the site, it’s important to remember that, even as we lost Doc, his children and his wife lost Dad. For us, the loss is still personal; he was our idol, our hero, but we saw him from afar. So let’s remember the Halladay family and keep them in your thoughts, as they’re living a nightmare.

It would be fitting to memorialize Doc here with statistics, to definitively show that he’s the best pitcher of his generation and one of the greatest ever, but you already know that. So in the spirit of the Crash Bag, I’m going to share a personal story about Doc. Continue reading…

Crash Bag Vol. 42 – It Might be a Little Late

I have promised this Crash Bag a few times now. So I will just post the answers now and stop delaying.

@mweintr: What are the chances the phillies go after Darvish this winter? 2 bad outings in WS? could get for a decent price tag?

I think the chances continue to be low. Given that Cueto and Tanaka have both opted into their contracts, the only two pitchers that could be described as front line starters are Darvish and Jake Arrieta. I think his World Series starts might make a few teams less all in on signing him, but I doubt it really affects his contract. The Phillies certainly have the money to sign Darvish, and unlike Arrieta, Lynn, and Cobb he won’t have any qualifying offer penalties attached. That should be attractive to the Phillies, but it should also be attractive to many teams. I just don’t get the feeling that the Phillies want to be the high bidder on either of the two big pitching contracts.

@g_linwood: @mlbtraderumors made some bold predictions for the Phillies: Tanaka and Chatwood, thoughts on this?

Since this question was asked, Tanaka opted into his contract with the Yankees. MLB Trade Rumors has the Phillies signing Tyler Chatwood for 3 years and $20M. Given the potential upgrade from going from Coors to not-Coors, $6-$7 million a year is not crazy for Chatwood. I don’t see the Phillies giving him that many years. Chatwood for 1-2 year with a team or mutual option makes sense in the Morton, Hellickson, Buchholz role, but I wouldn’t be running out to make it happen. Continue reading…

Crash Bag Vol. 41: Pitch Framing and Managing

I didn’t get many questions this week (I guess people are more interested in the World Series in the Phillies managerial search. Go figure), so I’ll just do something of a deep dive on the topics I was asked about.

@robertdalton52: How much of a difference does pitch framing make? Do the umps call strikes and balls based upon pitcher/catcher, and batter reputations?

The first part of this question is somewhat well-tread ground in sabermetrics. Pitch framing was always thought to be somewhat valuable, like blocking pitches, but research indicated that the overall spread in pitch framing value added was actually more on the order of wins than runs. According to Baseball Prospectus, the top pitch framer last year was Tyler Flowers, who produced 25.1 runs, or roughly two and a half wins, above average, while the worst surprisingly was former framing superstar Jonathan Lucroy at -17.7 runs. So the spread there was more than four wins. Continue reading…