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.

SOIL

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
Rich
Groomed
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
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…

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…