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…

Crash Bag Vol. 31: Looking Back 3 Years

The trade deadline is over, and the Phillies traded nearly everyone they could and got some stuff back. The team is still bad, and a sweep at the hands of the Angels reinforced that the bullpen is a major problem and the starting pitching is shaky on days when Aaron Nola doesn’t pitch. But, let’s just forget about all of that and take a step back in time to talk about some prospects and some of your other questions this week.

@PaulSocolar: Your 2014 prspct list led w Crawford-Nola-Franco; top 10 also had Biddle-Sandberg-Dugan. Where would those 3s 2014 selves be on current list

I am just going to go for the whole list and not just the groupings of 3. For those that want to read 3 year old wrong opinions, here is the link, but for those with less time, here is my 2014 midseason top 10 (which I have no clue why I wrote it on June 24).

  1. J.P. Crawford
  2. Aaron Nola
  3. Maikel Franco
  4. Roman Quinn
  5. Jesse Biddle
  6. Deivi Grullon
  7. Cord Sandberg
  8. Carlos Tocci
  9. Kelly Dugan
  10. Aaron Altherr

Continue reading…

Crash Bag Vol. 30: The Next Great Phillies Team

Late last week, there was word from the front office that the Crash Bag was involved in a potential trade, and so it was pulled from its regularly scheduled appearance on Friday. But the buyers backed out at the last minute to pursue a less costly upgrade. Consider this post safe for now. Although there are still a few hours before the deadline.

joelrineer: If you had to pick 3 of Altherr, Herrera, Quinn, Williams, Cozens, Tocci, Randolph, Moniak, Haseley who would you take and why?

I take the two birds in hand. Herrera and Altherr are both good players, and it would not shock me to see either post a 5+ WAR season at some point in the future. The Phillies need good position player talent and these two fit that description. It would take a clear cut superstar to supplant either one and I don’t see that among the rest of the players listed.

As to those players and the coveted third spot, here is what we are considering.

Continue reading…

Crash Bag Vol. 29: Looking to the Future, Because the Present Sucks

First of all, thanks everyone for helping us keep the lights on here. Writing for Crashburn Alley has been amazing, and thanks to you wonderful readers, I get to keep doing it. It really warms the cockles of my cold sabermetric heart to see such a robust and immediate response to our pleas.  You guys and gals are awesome.

Most of the questions this week focused on the Phillies future. 2019 records and 2020 starters; trades and prospects. The present is bleak, but there’s nowhere to go but up.

@TylerSmithEtown: What will the Phillies win differential be from the 2017 season to the 2019 season?

This is really two separate questions with a simple math step at the end. I’ll start with the 2017 team. Continue reading…

Crash Bag Vol. 28: The Mighty Contract Of Giancarlo Stanton

The Phillies have not lost a baseball game in almost a week. It’s a good time to be a fan.

@MisterZoomer: I still have faith in Franco being at least league average at 3B. Am I delusional? At what point do I accept this is what he is?

Let’s walk backwards in the Maikel Franco timeline.

The 2017 disaster is about the ground ball. Franco has a .132 average on ground balls this year, and he hits too many for a player of his skill set. No slow-footed hitter is going to excel by killing worms. But there is a large dose of bad luck in this number. The league as a whole has a .249 average (.256 for right-handed batters) on ground balls spanning the last three years. And here are the career marks of some other locomotively-challenged hitters from the right side.

Continue reading…

Crash Bag Vol. 27: Equal Opportunity Uselessness

Let’s peer into the depths of a bleak future.

@Wzeiders: After the trade deadline, what does a failure for the Phillies look like?

Pat Neshek is still their best reliever come August.

But this is a failure on par with not claiming the free ticket you won on a lottery scratch-off. The real failure is not that you missed out on another one in a million chance to win big. It’s that you weren’t paying attention to the ticket expiration date. Or that you thought framing the winning ticket and hanging it next to the motivational cat poster in your room would be good for morale.

Continue reading…

Crash Bag Vol. 26: Bobbles, Bullpens, and Long Lost Friends

This is my first Crash Bag, and what an honor it is! On to our ambivalent adoring readers’ questions:

@mjspv: Only 3 bobblehead giveaways on the schedule: Phanatic (bobblebody), Rose, and Schmidt. Who will be the next bobble-worthy player? #crashbag

At first, I thought this might be a difficult question to answer. But when I looked at the 2016 promotional calendar, I saw that there was a Maikel Franco bobblehead given away in June last season (although it looked nothing like Maik). Franco played bobble-worthily at the end of 2015, but right now he’s not even worth a fake Phanatic bobblebody they’re giving away this year, let alone a real one.

*I should note that in my cubicle I have a real actual Phillie Phanatic bobblehead that I purchased in a store like a true blue-blooded American capitalist.

In 2016, they also gave away a Star Wars themed Phanatic bobblehead, a “Phanatic Variant Bobblehead”, and most confoundingly of all, a bobblehead of the Phanatic’s mom knitting. Now I’m all for Phillie Phanatic bobble heads – nobody loves the Phanatic more than me – but three bobbles in one year is far too many. Let’s limit this to one every two years, Phillies.

In 2015, they gave away a weird retro bobblehead, and a Larry Bowa bobblehead. In 2014, we got bobbles of Chase Utley, Roy Halladay, and Ryan Howard, which seems entirely reasonable. It seems like the Phillies go with stars, old fan favorites, or variants on the Phanatic. So, while Maikel Franco has clearly already gotten a bobble, I’d argue that the bobble was not earned, and he is not a Bobble-WorthyTM player.

So who is the next Bobble-WorthyTM Phillie? I’ll make up the arbitrary criteria that you have to be an above-average player for several years in a row. If Odubel Herrera can turn his season around and put up another 4 WAR campaign, I think he deserves a bobble next season.  Entering the season, Herrera was 67% bobble worthy. If we generously say that he has a 1-in-4 chance of going on a tear and pulling out a 4 win season, that makes him (67% + 1/4*33% = ) 75% Bobble-WorthyTM.

If Herrera can’t pull it out, we may be waiting a while. Here is a list of current Phillies, arranged by Bobble-WorthinessTM:

Odubel Herrera – 75% Bobble-WorthyTM

Jerad Eickhoff – 50% Bobble-WorthyTM – The Phillies most consistent pitcher over the past three years. Not All-Star caliber but he’s still the bobbliest we’ve got.

Aaron Nola – 38% Bobble-WorthyTM – Not currently very Bobble-WorthyTM, but if he stays healthy for a full season, he could put up the kind of Cy Young-caliber numbers that make a player immediately Bobble-WorthyTM.

Cesar Hernandez – 33% Bobble-WorthyTM – He’s had one 4 win season. Stack on a couple more, and you’ll be bobblin’ till the cows come home.

Freddy Galvis – 20% Bobble-WorthyTM – His talent is below replacement bobble, but he is the longest tenured Phillie, and that’s got to be worth something.

Everyone else on the Phillies is Bobble-UnworthyTM.

Now that I’ve spent a totally reasonable amount of time answering this important question, let’s move on. Continue reading…