Crash Bag, Vol. 95: American Virtue

@jimmyfricke: “Should Phillies fans be upset about Cruz being signed for 1 year 8 mil while we’re stuck with Byrd for 2 years 16 mil”

Absolutely not. Cruz is a 33-year-old power-before-hit corner outfielder who produces no value on the bases or in the field. Those guys tend to have a couple things in common: they’re overrated in their primes, because they produce homers and RBI, which are flashy, but nothing else. The other thing is that when the bat starts to slip even a little, the whole package falls apart. Look for Nelson Cruz comps and you’ll find names like Juan Gonzalez and Henry Rodriguez, and when those guys started to slip, things got ugly fast. Byrd is older, and didn’t have Cruz’s prime with the bat, but he was, at one point in the past, a good athlete, and I’m not convinced Byrd won’t be better than Cruz in 2014.

The other thing is Cruz costs a draft pick, and for a guy who makes you a 79-win team when John Mayberry makes you a 76-win team, that’s not even worth a second-rounder. The Orioles were in need of a DH and have a better shot at contending than the Phillies do, so this signing makes more sense for them–and even then, I’m not in love with it–but signing Nelson Cruz for a battle for third place is exactly the kind of pothole-in-front-of-the-rebuild move Ruben Amaro deserves credit for not making. The past two offseasons.

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Crash Bag, Vol. 94: Ben Wetzler Lightning Round

NBA trade deadline, labor strife, Little Big League…we’ve got it all this week.

@truelladelphia: “How great is Sam Hinkie?”

Pretty great. Early in the season, I had an expectation of getting at least one first-round pick (either this year or next) for Evan Turner and Spencer Hawes, but that stopped being realistic a while ago, thanks to the quality of this year’s draft and the NBA’s inscrutable player movement rules, which gridlocked the draft pick market to a certain extent. Hawes and Turner were both going to walk as free agents this summer anyway, so getting literally anything for them was a win. I would’ve liked to see Hawes go to either Oklahoma City or the Clippers, where I think he could’ve played a significant role on a title contender as a rotation big, but Hinkie got a return on Hawes and Turner while not panic trading Thaddeus Young for 50 cents on the dollar. Second-round NBA draft picks are one of the most useless commodities in sports, but this is where the Astros comparison I’ve been harping on all year comes in–if you take over a team without serious assets, you bide your time by placing a bunch of long-shot bets until you can get some assets. Anyway, Hinkie got rid of three veterans (including Lavoy Allen) for which he had no use and took on a net of either five or six (almost certainly six) second-round draft picks. A smart team can get one rotation player out of six second-round picks, or trade them for something else. This is the guy trading the red paper clip for the house.

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Crash Bag, Vol. 92: Past Tense Utley

Let’s kick the tires and light the fires.

@bxe1234: “Which would you most like to try: luge/skeleton/bobsled? Also, if you could two-man luge with a Phil, who would it be?”

I’m terrified of speed. I’ve never gone skiing and probably will never go skiing for this reason. So I’ll take bobsled, because that’s the one where I can push like a lunatic and sit in the back with my head down until the whole thing’s over. And as far as two-man luge is concerned, I want to be on the bottom so I can’t see where I’m going and have an excuse to just shut my eyes and scream. Ben Revere is very light so he wouldn’t crush me in the high-gee turns, and he seems like a patient man who wouldn’t stab me to death after I’d been screaming in his ear for a 75-second trip down the chute. Continue reading…

Crash Bag, Vol. 91: Winter Storm Neymar

So I’ve been encountering a phenomenon recently where journalists gripe about how, in the context of a postgame interview, “Talk about…” isn’t a real question. And it’s not. “Talk about how Cole Hamels got out of that sixth-inning jam” is not literally a question. But I don’t know why this is an issue–beat reporting isn’t Jeopardy. Everything doesn’t need to be in the form of a question. The object of the postgame scrum is to get the best, most relevant sound byte you can, and if you’re focusing on how the reporter generates that response (which will likely run without the question that prompted it), you’re reaching into “hilariously missing the point” territory.

@LeftysCurve: “Your projected starting outfield come, say, May 1”

Pretty sure it’s Brown, Revere and Byrd, unless someone gets hurt. I can’t imagine that changing based on the preseason and a month’s worth of games. Revere and Brown are both cheap and played quite well last year, and Byrd just got inked to a multi-year contract after having a better 2013 than either of them. This is probably the most stable outfield situation the Phillies have had to start a season since 2010 or so? After that, Raul Ibanez started sucking, Jayson Werth walked and Domonic Brown came up, so things got a little unpredictable. The earliest–again, barring injury–that I can see this changing is if Byrd gets flipped at the deadline. Continue reading…

Crash Bag, Vol. 90: Naming Your Baby

Greetings. Let’s talk about how great it is that Bobby Abreu is on the Phillies again.

@Wzeiders: “how great is it that Bobby Abreu is a Phillie again, even if it’s just a fleeting dream I’m scared to wake from?”

It’s pretty great, I tell ya. It’s pretty great. I try not to swear above the break in these posts, but my official position on Bobby Abreu is that if you don’t love him, or at least recognize what a great player he was, you can fuck off and die.

Go ahead. I’ll wait.

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Crash Bag, Vol. 89: Merciless and Unyielding

One of my Facebook friends shared a photo essay of someone discovering a 15-foot snake crawling out of their toilet. The overwhelming majority of snake-related fear porn on the internet is fake, like the one that was going around about the boa constrictor in India swallowing the town drunk whole while he was passed out, so I presume nobody’s actually pulled a reticulated python out of their commode. But it’s enough to make you uneasy dropping a deuce in your own home, which is a more unsettling feeling than you’d think. Snakes are creepy and terrifying, and so is Facebook.

@djmofsett: “Which Phillies player reminds you the most of your own dad? Which players dad do you want to meet? Da-doo-da doo-do.”

Not being particularly eager to untangle that particular Freudian knot right now (for reasons that include the likelihood that my dad will probably read this and get angry if I compare him to the wrong player–SORRY, POPS, YOU WERE A REAL JONATHAN PETTIBONE OF A ROLE MODEL!), I’m going to pass on the first question and skip straight to the second.

And the answer to the second question is pretty clearly Antonio BastardoContinue reading…

Crash Bag, Vol. 88: Paul Bunyan Lager

I know y’all are probably sick of hearing about the Hall of Fame, but I’ve got one last parting shot: I don’t think taking the vote away from the writers is the answer, because if you assign it to a special committee, it will concentrate power in a smaller, less empirically inclined, more reactionary group than ever. Just look at the NHL, or even baseball’s Hall of Fame itself–most of the most embarrassing members of the Hall of Fame are Veterans Committee candidates who made the grade based on cronyism and old grudges. If the Hall of Fame does commission a special panel, I bet Jay Jaffe isn’t on it, despite his having come closer than anyone else to quantifying the Hall of Fame case and writing more extensively on the debate than any other writer. Maybe you get John Thorn. Maybe you get Bill James as a form of analytical tokenism. But I guarantee you that panel produces worse results than an electorate of sportswriters.

If I had unlimited time and this month to do over again, I’d try to craft an alternative electoral system to try to get around the issues posed by the 75 percent threshold and 10-vote maximum. But I only remembered that I owned a copy of Arend Lijphart’s Patterns of Democracyso that wasn’t in the cards. Though if you’re at all interested in comparative electoral systems, it’s worth the cent a used copy will run you on Amazon.

Anyway, Crash Bag 88. Lindros. Let’s go. Continue reading…

Crash Bag, Vol. 87: Blizzard Shopping with Ruben Amaro

Hey, hey hey, interrogate me hey…

@mdubz11: “your hall of fame ballot, opinions, etc etc”

I’m shocked that nobody asked me this before now, but I guess there’s a certain point past which nobody cares about my opinion. Anyway, I answered this last year, and nobody got in, so a lot of my answers are the same…actually, look at that, it was Dubs who asked for my hypothetical Hall of Fame ballot last year too, the sneaky bastard.

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Crash Bag, Vol. 86: Basal Ganglia

I’m down to my last month or so in Madison (side note, if anyone wants to pay me to write or edit anything, I’m very much available), and let me say this: I am entirely sick of snow. We got about eight inches dumped on us in what seemed like an hour, and I’m so tired of having to go five months between grass sightings. This place is so cold all the doctors are named Yuri and write horrible poetry. I took the garbage out on Monday and got icicles on my beard and in my nose after about 30 seconds. I’m just so done with snow.

But I’ll say this–it being 10 below up here isn’t even close to the most miserable weather I’ve ever experienced. Because I’d take this winter over Philadelphia winter anytime. Philadelphia winter is 34 and overcast and unrelenting sleet and freezing rain and wind and I want to punch John Bolaris in the forehead right now just thinking about winter weather in Philadelphia. The worst place on the planet in winter is on the campus of Temple University, under the footbridge between Gladfelter and Anderson halls, where if you step out you get your ears frozen off from the sleet and belted by wind so strong you wonder if NASA’s testing a static airframe for a new hypersonic rocket plane. It is the most miserable place I’ve ever been.

Your questions.

@dj_mosfett: “Over this Holiday Period, I have consumed much Egg Nog. What are your thoughts on Nog? What is your preferred Nog recipe?”

My preferred Nog recipe goes something like this: