2017 Phillies Report Card: Rhys Hoskins Crashbag

I met the man at a pretty good tapas joint in Barcelona on the eve of the Catalan Secession Referendum. He was having a Sangria, of course, and talking up the Ibérico he’d earlier sampled at the all-too-brightly-lit spot around the corner. I wondered if he really knew what he was talking about, or if he was just halfway drunk already, because that place, I’d been told just the day before, always, *always* passes off their lower-end Jamóns to tourists.

Rhys Hoskins stood out like a sore thumb, what with his imposing physicality, and the fact that he clearly learned the broken Spanish he was mustering from spending last winter as a line cook at Distrito. Continue reading…

Crash Bag Vol. 39: Outfield Defense, the Offseason, and Vacation Destinations

With the 2017 Phillies season in the books, the questions this week focus mostly on the offseason and shaping the roster for 2018.
@RobertDalton52: 40 man roster, who gets cut/released/freeagent and who is on the bubble?
Including injured players, the Phillies have 47 players on the 40-man roster. Sure bets to be gone include free agents Clay Buchholz, Andres Blanco, Daniel Nava, and Hyun Soo Kim. Kevin Siegrist will probably be gone, along with Pedro Florimon. There’s talk of Florimon coming back as a utility player next year, but I don’t really see that happening. With that, we’re down to 41. Continue reading…

Crash Bag Vol. 38: Pete Mackanin is No Longer the Manager

The Phillies fired Pete Mackanin today. It is a move that isn’t really surprising given that the team has fully transitioned from a rebuild into a straight build now. The Phillies have their offensive core in the majors now, they needs some pitchers and have the means to do so. It is an exciting time to be a fan, and the first question today jumps right into all of this.

@theotherguysmom: If the Phillies move on from Pete and the Mets letting Collins go, which team would be considered a more attractive landing destination?

I think it is easily the Phillies. I think the Mets have the better situation to contend in the 2018 season. If they get Cespedes and Syndergaard back fully healthy and pair that with deGrom and whatever they get from Matt Harvey, they have a solid core. That said, that organization is an absolute train wreck, whether it is meddling owners who are also cheap, or the fact that all of their pitchers just combust. It is a toxic situation, and one where instant success will be the expectation, because right now the Mets have no more farm system.

On the other hand the Phillies are young and imprintable. There is some personality to this current group, and any sort of style would err on the side of young and energetic, but it would be the new manager’s team. You also know that a deep farm system and deep pockets mean that there will be reinforcements. If the Phillies fire Pete, it likely means there will be expectations on growth and performance, but there is a developing core here that could allow for that to happen. Continue reading…

Crash Bag Vol. 38: Adam Morgan, Leadoff Hitters, and Sports Movies

This week of Phillies baseball has been awesome. Winning consecutive games started by Clayton Kershaw (on the Altherr grand slam), Yu Darvish (on the Hoskins three-run double), and Alex Wood (on the Altherr two-run single) has been awesome. It looks like the Phils are going to avoid 100 losses, which I’ll call a moral victory. It’s also something I outlined as a sign of a successful second half after the All Star Break. Phillies baseball is fun again!

On to the questions:

@riceid: Could Adam Morgan be a Ryan Madson type who continues to pick up velo and becomes a bullpen stud, or is he just a fun bright spot?

For those of you who may not remember, in 2006, Ryan Madson started for about a third of his appearances with a FIP just south of 5. The next year, he came back as a low-leverage multi-inning reliever and produced well with the customary bullpen bump moving his fastball average to 91.4. His 3ish ERA appeared to be a fluke, though, as his 4.20 FIP would indicate.

The following year, he (and his improved 93 mph fastball) struck out nearly 20% of hitters (hey, that was kind of a lot then) and established himself as the Bridge to Lidge en route to the Phillies’ second straight playoff appearance. Then, in the playoffs, all hell broke lose. Madson all of a sudden was throwing 95 and bumping it up to 97 at times. He was dominant, striking out 12 batters to just 1 walk and allowing three runs in 12.2 innings, as the Phillies won the World Series. The following season, Madson averaged 95 on his fastball and struck out nearly 25% of hitters. The season after that, Madson struck out almost 30% of hitters.

Adam Morgan, in 2016, was a terrible starter with a FIP of about 5, fastball velocity sitting at about 91, and a below-average strikeout rate. This year, he’s bumped up his fastball velocity to 94.4 mph en route to striking out 27% of hitters. His FIP is still over 4, because he allowed 5,345 home runs (check my math on that) in the first couple months of the season, but in the second half, his FIP has been just 2.70. He looks like a really good pitcher all of a sudden. You can see the similarities. Continue reading…

Crash Bag Vol. 37: Catchers, Otani, and 2018

@Anton_Smolka: Do you think Alfaro will ever become a decent defensive catcher and fix his issues at the plate (approach, swing, etc.)

I don’t fancy myself a scout, so I can’t really add anything about Alfaro’s defense that I haven’t heard from somebody else. I’ve seen scouts put him somewhere between slightly below-average and slightly above-average in the field, with potential improvements down the line. His arm is a literal cannon, but he’s a big dude, and crouching for three hours every day with consistent form and fundamentals is hard when you’re a big dude. I don’t think anyone will confuse him for a Molina brother back there, but early returns in the big leagues say that he’s adequate back there now with room to grow, as catcher defense tends to mature more slowly than other positions. Calling a game is an entirely different skill that I’m even less well-suited to answer, so I won’t even try. Continue reading…

Crashbag Vol. 36: The Future Infield

Last night the minor league regular season ended, the IronPigs are still in playoffs and sending a AA rotation to the mound. Oh and the major league club has Rhys Hoskins, J.P. Crawford, Nick Williams, and Jorge Alfaro up with Odubel Herrera back from injury.

@totommit: Kingery’s K% has risen to 20.3% and BB% has dropped to 4.5% at AAA. Is this just a blip, or does he have plate discipline problems?

In 2016:

Clearwater: 7.9% BB% 12.9% K%
Reading: 3.0% BB% 21.7% K%

In 2017:

Reading: 8.8% BB% 16.1% K%
Lehigh Valley: 4.5% BB% 20.3% K%

Kingery does have some approach issues. He is an aggressive hitter at heart, and at each new level pitchers have been able to make him expand the strikezone. That said I am not really worried about him. He is never going to walk like Hoskins, Crawford, or Cesar Hernandez, but he also isn’t Nick Williams or Jorge Alfaro. He has always made the adjustment at each level, it just has taken him some time. This is part of why there haven’t been any rumblings about promoting Kingery to the majors, he hasn’t made the AAA adjustment yet. He will also only be 23 on opening day next year and should be on pace to compete for a major league spot should the Phillies trade Hernandez this offseason or ready as soon as the Phillies can move Hernandez during the season. So not a blip, as much as it is part of a pattern of struggle and adjustment. Continue reading…

Crashbag Vol. 35: The Rotation, Prospects, and Seasons

Lets jump right in.

@stee_jobs: what’s the 2018 starting rotation (include possible free agents)

As I mentioned in a post earlier this week, the rotation is not exactly an area of strength heading into 2018. We know (barring injury) that Aaron Nola, Jerad Eickhoff, and Vince Velasquez will be back. There had been some thought that Velasquez, after another inconsistent and injury-riddled season, would enter 2018 in the bullpen, but based on the Phillies public comments, they plan to give him another shot to stick in the rotation. We’ll assume that happens. If I’m the Phillies, I hope to sign or trade for a young controllable mid-rotation starter and let the dregs of the 2017 rotation compete for the fifth starter role. Let’s take a look at free agents who fit or exceed the “mid-rotation starter” mold. I’m assuming the Phillies won’t want anyone on the downside of their career, so I took out anyone over 32 years old. I’m using the list of 2017-2018 free agents on MLBTradeRumors, so if I missed anyone, it’s all their fault. Continue reading…

Crashbag Vol. 34: Future Edition

This week I asked for questions during a Phillies game which meant everything was Phillies related, and much of it was not particularly deep, I just answered everything.

@andrewrinnier: What are realistic goals for the young guys down the stretch?

Just going to go quick bullet points on the major guys

  • Jerad Eickhoff – 6 innings each start, try to keep it under 4 runs
  • Ben Lively/Mark Leiter – Hold off regression while trying to find a sustainable pitch
  • Aaron Nola – Stay healthy
  • Nick Pivetta – 4-5 solid innings each start, it doesn’t matter if you implode in the 5th or 6th
  • Jorge Alfaro – Just 1 walk, maybe 2 walks?
  • Maikel Franco – Just show in one game that you learned something this year
  • Rhys Hoskins – Fight through the first slump when it hits
  • Nick Williams – Just keep up the approach gains
  • J.P. Crawford – Don’t force things in majors or minors
  • Scott Kingery – Try and bring the strikeouts under control and walk a bit more
  • Odubel Herrera – Have a solid end of year
  • Aaron Altherr – Get healthy, stay healthy
  • Andrew Knapp – Show enough defensive growth to have the Phillies trust you to be the opening day starter and pair with Alfaro next year

Continue reading…

Crashbag Vol. Something: Seems To Me We’ve Lost Count

Let’s start with one from in-house.


Maybe I could come up with something. Maybe. I’ll need to spin that “d” and cover over part of it to make an “F”, I think.


Damn, a baseball question? Ok, I guess. Cesar Hernandez sure did turn himself into a player, eh? I will admit I assumed he would never amount to more than a non-shortstop bench player, and those jobs are hard to find if you also lack any power, which I assumed he always would. But he’s racked up nearly 7 fWAR over the last two years, even with some missed time this season. His speed has still helped him plenty, even if he hasn’t been an overwhelming threat to steal – he’s 13/16 this year, much better than his 17/28 last year. He’s MLB Top Ten in infield hits and Fangraphs’ speed stat, and led the league in triples in 2016.

But what to do with another potential first-division starter in Scott Kingery waiting behind him? One of them will have to go, and I think it’s obvious that Cesar is the choice right now. His value this offseason, with 4 years of control remaining, will likely never be higher. I’m far from an expert on “what kind of return do you get from…”, but assume with all their high-minors talent, the Phils are looking for big leaguers to fill rotation spots or back-end bullpen roles, and/or minor leaguers who don’t need 40-man roster spots yet. However the second base market shakes out this offseason, Cesar is a mid-first division guy. That’s an upgrade for a lot of teams. Continue reading…

Crash Bag Vol. 32: The Infield of the Future and Boozin’ With Phillies

I would like to start this Crash Bag off by revisiting my well-thought-out, certainly-not-off-the-cuff Bobble-WorthinessTM rankings from a few Crash Bags ago. With Odubel Herrera’s recent sizzlin’ hot streak, he’s on pace for nearly four wins this season. By my criteria from that post, Herrera is on pace to be legitimately Bobble-WorthyTM next season. PUT IT ON THE SCHEDULE, PHILLIES.

Stay tuned for more hard-hitting bobblehead analysis.

Continue reading…