Swing Appetizer: Cord Sandberg

Hey everybody. Obviously with me in Arizona I can’t see your guys and therefore can’t give you longform reports or updates on the guys in the Philadelphia system.  But the magic of the internet gives me access to video and the little Buncha Crunch sized scouting goodness it provides. Do you guys like Buncha Crunch? Me too. Stick some in the next batch of brownies you make or straight up mix it with your popcorn when you next go to the movies. We need Dark Chocolate Buncha Crunch. Anyway, no amount of video provides you with enough information to write full scouting reports, but it gives me the opportunity to do little pieces like this that zoom in on a few dots of the Georges Seurat painting that is scouting.

So what we have here is video are some short snippets of batting practice in Williamsport that was shot by Mitch Rupert who covers the Crosscutters for the Williamsport Sun-Gazette. Go find and follow Mitch on Twitter, he’s posting more and more pop times and run times every day. Let’s talk about each of these swings and what clues they give us regarding our overall assessment of the player while keeping in mind that these are just BP swings, and in-game swings are always a better source of information than these things are. Again, this is but a miniscule part of the scouting process. Here is the video. I’ll spread these out, doing an individual player in each post. We start with Cord Sandberg, whose session lasts from the 7 second mark in the video until about the 50 second mark. Refer back to the video and my text constantly as you read, this piece should be consume slowly and indulgently if you’re going to extract any real value from it. Continue reading…

Fait Accompli

The fatalists among us figured this was the way it was always going to end. The Phillies’ signing of Jonathan Papelbon in the waning months of 2011 – and, as I’ll never forget to remind everyone, a single week before a rule change would have kept the club from forfeiting their draft pick to do so – was going to end in one of two ways: the club would either win a World Series with Pap on the roster, or he’d become dead weight.

Actual, on-field performance barely matters here. That Papelbon is pitching well only means that he appears palatable to other teams, worth the cost of a marginal prospect or two and a heavily discounted assumption of contract. The Phillies did not claim their second World Series title since the turn of the milennium, and so this is where we stand.

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Chase Utley’s All-Star Performance A Rare Feat by A Phillie

Chase Utley doubled in the National League’s first run of the game in the 2014 All-Star Game at Target Field on Tuesday night. Utley ripped a Jon Lester fastball that bounced high off of the fence in right-center — a home run in many other ballparks — to score Aramis Ramirez, cutting the American League’s lead to 3-1.

It was a nice sight to see, a Phillies player doing well in the All-Star Game. A Phillies hitter hadn’t reached base with a hit in the All-Star Game since Shane Victorino in 2009. Between 2009-13, Phillies All-Star hitters were a combined 1-for-12. But Utley’s feat was even rarer than that:

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Crash Bag, Vol. 108: Cape Cod League

@Ut26: “What current Phillie would make the best road trip partner?”

It depends on what you want out of a road trip partner. Really, it depends on what you want out of a road trip. Because if this is your cross-country vacation, you want something different than if you’re just getting from point A to point B. If I’m just in a two-man Cannonball Run, all I want is someone who likes driving more than I do. I hate driving. Ideally, I’d like to control the radio at least up to a point and be left alone to sleep when I’m not driving, but those are negotiable. KTLSW, for instance, is content to carry more than half of the driving load when we go on road trips, which means I can live with her controlling the radio and her refusal to allow me to play Springsteen under any circumstances. Marriage is about compromises.

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Looking Ahead to Domonic Brown’s Second Half

Back on June 13, I put up a quick poll to get a feel for what fans expected of Domonic Brown in terms of weighted on-base average (wOBA) going forward. I had a bit of an ulterior motive because I expected that the responses would skew negative (though less negative than that of the general Phillies fan population).

After closing the poll results, here’s how they look (out of 306 responses):

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Kyle Kendrick Has Had Some First-Inning Issues

Jayson Werth‘s three-run home run in the first inning off of Kyle Kendrick in Sunday’s first-half finale was about the most predictable thing that could have happened. Kendrick entered the game having allowed 21 earned runs in 18 first innings. At the end of the first ion Sunday, his opening frame ERA was an ugly 11.37. Kendrick blanked the Nationals over the next four innings, then allowed one more run in the sixth before leaving with two outs. Mario Hollands later allowed one of Kendrick’s inherited runners to score, giving Kendrick a line of five earned runs allowed in 5 2/3 innings.

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Phillies Call Up Grady Sizemore from Triple-A

With the All-Star break just three days away, the Phillies decided to add an extra outfielder to the roster. MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki reports that Grady Sizemore has been called up from Triple-A Lehigh Valley. The Phillies signed Sizemore to a minor league deal back on June 24 after he was let go by the Boston Red Sox.

To make room for Sizemore on the roster, the Phillies made a pair of procedural moves, which you shouldn’t read anything into:

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A Word Of Caution On Kenny Giles

The 2014 Phillies season is a barren wasteland in which Phillies fans have mercifully been given a beautiful oasis named Kenny Giles. As he rose through the Phillies minor league system, Giles was noted for his plus-plus fastball velocity and he has not disappointed. Obsessive radar gun watching in anticipation of triple digits is a must during Giles’ appearances but not only has he delivered on the promise of his fastball, he’s given a surprise gift to Phillies fans in the form of a wipeout slider. There was some buzz that Giles had a secondary pitch with potential, but the slider he brought with him to the Major Leagues is no development project — the purported potential has been actualized in a pitch that makes opposing hitters flail with utter abandon.

Outside of surrendering a home run to the first batter he faced, Giles couldn’t have asked for a better introduction to the majors. Through 12.2 innings, he’s sporting a 0.71 ERA with 17 K’s and making the best hitters on the planet look positively foolish with his two pitch arsenal. According to Brooks Baseball, he’s cracked 100 MPH with his fastball in four of his twelve appearances. But the slider, oh, the slider. Since his call up, he’s induced 39 swings on the 77 sliders he’s thrown. Of those 39 swings, 21 (53.9%) have been whiffs. Fooling Major League hitters that badly is a phenomenal feat; it’s also one that’s unlikely to last.

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