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…

Phillies Positional Preview – Corner Infielders (Carlos Santana Edition)

Gabe Kapler, looking for a little show of leadership in the Phils clubhouse, asked newcomer Carlos Santana to talk with the squad about the potential he sees at the corner infield spots for the year. The following is a transcript of his remarks.

I want to thank Gabe for asking me to do this today. I’ve played with some fine infielders in my day, and on paper, I see that level of ability here. We all just need to Make It Real. Continue reading…

Quick Thoughts on Outfield Shifts

Today for the second time this Spring Training, the Phillies had their left and right fielders swap. As Matt Gelb wrote last week, the Phillies are looking to be more aggressive with their outfield shifts. Positioning players to be deeper or shallow based on game situation (outs, batter, pitcher, count, and potentially a lot of other variables) seems actually fairly normal given what we have seen on the infield. Shift don’t always work, and when they don’t, it can look pretty bad, but playing the percentages makes some sense.

Then there is your left and right fielders running past your center fielder before a batter steps to the plate. Having players change positions mid inning is something that we are seeing on infield shifts more. Last year it led to Anthony Rizzo gaining second base eligibility in some fantasy leagues. No one has really employed outfield positional switches regularly. But they make a lot of sense, because they are something very fundamental. Growing up, nearly everyone pulled the ball and nearly everyone hit right handed. The worst fielder on the team often played right field, because nothing was being hit there. When the big power guy on the other team came up you would play everyone deeper, and if you were on your feet your right fielder was practically playing center as you shifted the outfield. When the lefty came up, you would try to quickly get the poor sap in right field out of there. Continue reading…

Crashburn Alley is Looking For New Writers

If you haven’t noticed, there is baseball in the world once again. As the writers here at Crashburn are gearing up for the season, we are looking to add more writers to the site.

The goal of Crashburn Alley is not to publish game recaps or regurgitate the news of the day. It was founded on sabermetric principles, but I have a wider view of the game. There will always be a place for advanced metrics and statistical analysis here, but not everything can be captured in a spreadsheet. I think part of the challenge of writing about baseball is looking at those connections and interactions that we may someday quantify, or never be able to capture analytically. This site also has a history of blending baseball with popular culture, and I don’t think there is anywhere where that is more evident than the Crash Bag. Baseball is fun, I think writing about it should be too. Continue reading…

2017 Phillies Report Card: Aaron Nola

Aaron Nola‘s arm injury in 2016 might have been the low point of the Phillies’ rebuild. Nola was supposed to be the sure thing in the rebuild, a command oriented middle of the rotation arm advanced beyond his years. After an offseason of worry, things did not get off to a good start. A back injury and poor performance had Nola sitting at 6 games started, 32 innings, and a 5.06 ERA by the end of May.

The rest of the season was dominant.

In the next 4 months, Nola would not miss a start. He pitched 136 innings, had a 3.18 ERA, and struck out 155, while walking only 38. He topped it all of with 43 strike outs in 30.1 innings in September. Not only did he put up great numbers in 2017, Nola showed that he was not only healthy, he was better. His fastball (both 4 and 2 seam) averaged over a mile per hour higher than it had in 2016. He found feel for his changeup more, throwing it much harder than he had in the past and nearly twice as often. The consequence was a higher whiff rate on the pitch. As his changeup improved, so did his curveball. Early in the season he was unable to miss bats with it, but by the end of the season it was an elite weapon again. Continue reading…

Monday Round Table (2/19): Spring Training Is Here

Today is the first day of full squad workouts in Clearwater. That means the winter is over and baseball can begin, or at least something like that. With that in mind I asked the writers for some roster predictions and other questions heading into a week of stretching and drills.

Who will be the Phillies #5 starter?

Adam: I really hope it’ll be Nick Pivetta because that means someone else has slotted in above him. I’m still, perhaps somewhat foolishly, holding out hope the Phillies will sign Jake Arrieta to a four-year, $22.5M AAV deal with a player option and incentives. If they don’t, then I suppose I’ll put money on Ben Lively, who somehow became a quality start machine even though he can’t strike out anybody. Continue reading…

2017 Phillies Report Card: J.P. Crawford

J.P. Crawford played some baseball in the majors last year. There’s not a lot of #analysis to do with 87 plate appearances, but the real story is that Crawford finally made it to Philadelphia and showed he could handle himself at the highest level. In that limited playing time last September, Crawford displayed the three core aspects of his game that carried him from Lakewood High through the Phillies’ minor league system: an ability to get on base, control of the strike zone, and excellent defense. 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…

2017 Phillies Report Card: Freddy Galvis

I haven’t been particularly kind to Freddy Galvis in the past on this site, but I think I’m still going to miss him a little bit in 2018. El Falcon’s 2017 season turned out to be his last one in red pinstripes, as he’s now a San Diego Father. Freed from the burden of having to evaluate Galvis in the context of J.P. Crawford, I want to take a fresh look at Freddy and see if time, distance, and a twinge of nostalgia can change my mind.

In 2017, at age 27 Freddy Galvis probably had his most complete season as a major leaguer. He set single-season career bests in games played (162), plate appearances (663), hits (155), doubles (29), triples (6), runs (71), walk rate (6.8%), OBP (.309), wOBA (.298), and wRC+ (80). From that standpoint alone I give him full marks, and considering the value of reliability (he played literally every day) and nearly top tier fielding at shortstop, Galvis probably earned something like a C grade. On the other hand, topping out at a .309 OBP is Exhibit A for my general lack of interest in Galvis. Continue reading…

2017 Phillies Report Card: César Hernández

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I’ve had an up and down opinion of César Hernández since his debut – originally I thought he was on his way to being the kind of player he finally became, but in between I was…kind of mean to him on this here website.

I thought for most of 2016 that César Hernández was a fake. A fraud. A phony, playing the role of a big league second baseman, and at some point, his mound-dwelling counterparts would expose him like so many skinny middling one-half-of-the-middle-of-the infielders are exposed much earlier on in their pro careers. But in 2017 César Hernández proved he wasn’t an imposter, but rather a capable hitter with good enough skills elsewhere to make him an easy first-division second baseman. This all was allowed to unfold as it did, in part because of a little used roster tool – THE FOURTH OPTION *50s B-Horror-Movie sound effect*.

Continue reading…