Pending Arbitration Cases for the Phillies

The Phillies have three players in line to file for arbitration prior to tomorrow’s filing deadline: Jeremy Hellickson, Jeanmar Gomez, and Freddy Galvis. Unless they agree to contract terms this week, the three players will each exchange contract figures with the team on Friday. If they remain unable to agree to terms in the upcoming weeks, they will go to a hearing in February where an arbiter will choose either the salary figure submitted by the team or the one submitted by the player.

Arbitration essentially guarantees a raise to eligible players on their previous season’s salary and uses back of the baseball card statistics as a basis to determine how large the raise will be. (Note: As a result, this is one area of baseball in which stats like pitchers wins or RBI, which are often ridiculed around these parts, are very consequential.) Here are the projected 2016 salaries for the Phillies’ eligible players according to the arbitration projection model developed by Matt Swartz at MLB Trade Rumors:
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Would Justin Upton on a One-Year Deal Make Sense for Philadelphia?

Recently there have been whispers that teams are considering free agent Justin Upton on a one-year deal. While it’s not unprecedented for a free agent saddled with draft pick compensation to settle for a one-year deal — Nelson Cruz signed with the Orioles at 1/$8M just before spring training two offseasons ago after rejecting a qualifying offer for Texas — I find it extraordinarily difficult to buy that there’s much substance to these rumors. Cruz was 33, a one-dimensional player fresh off a PED suspension, and coming off three consecutive sub-2 fWAR seasons. Upton is 28, can still handle a corner outfield position, maintains an attractive power-speed combo at the plate, and is coming off three consecutive 3+ fWAR seasons. He’s not quite as attractive a free agent as Jason Heyward was, but he’s not far behind and he’s certainly no 2013-2014 offseason Nelson Cruz.

A mega-deal for Upton was a given when this offseason began and yet it’s January and Upton remains unsigned. Upton isn’t alone, fellow outfielder Yoenis Cespedes remains unsigned and Alex Gordon re-signed with the Royals just two days ago. Whatever the reasons for the lag in the position player free agent market, I find it hard to imagine that there’s been a seismic shift that prevents Upton (or Cespedes) from getting their expected paydays. But the whispers do raise a fascinating hypothetical: If Upton is available on a one-year deal, could the Phillies be a fit?

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Phillies Sign Bailey & Mujica

The Phillies have signed veteran right-handed relievers Andrew Bailey and Edward Mujica to minor league deals with invitations to big league Spring Training, putting a ribbon on a total bullpen overhaul that shifts the team from a homegrown crew to a grab bag of reclamation projects and newer, shinier organizational arms. Bailey is a Proven Closer who began his career in Oakland, but has dealt with a litany of injuries and hasn’t pitched more than 40 innings in a season since 2011. Mujica saved 37 games for the Cardinals in 2013, thus earning the Proven Closer tag as well, but has spent most of his career as a 7th/8th inning guy. The two newest Phillies, who were born three weeks apart in 1984, will compete for late-inning duties with David Hernandez and Ernesto Frieri, also recently signed by the Klentak regime.

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Crash Bag, Vol. 6: Hot Stove with Gravy

Happy Thanksgiving! This is my favorite holiday of the year. There’s no agenda other than to eat an enormous, irresponsible quantity of amazing food, do no work, and spend time with friends and family. No gifts, no praying, nothing … except an awful, murderous backstory that’s really convenient to tuck away for the sake of celebrating and giving thanks. So without further ado, let us commence the Thanksgiving Crash Bag.

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Crash Bag, Vol. 5: The 2016 Phillies

The Crash Bag is back just in time for Hot Stove season! After a disastrous and depressing season of 99 losses, the Phillies enter a strange new world. The next Phillies team will be the first without Jimmy Rollins or Chase Utley since 1999. There’s a lot to look forward to, so let’s get to it.

If we’re all very good girls and boys, September 2016 will be J.P. Crawford time. I’m not expecting him to be Carlos Correa as a rookie, but considering the options and the implications on his development, I don’t see Crawford batting eighth. If he and Nick Williams come along as expected, I imagine the lineup may look something like this: Continue reading…

2015 Phillies Report Card: Ruben Amaro Jr.

It’s been easy to shit on Ruben Amaro Jr. Has been for years. After all, he was given a championship club and turned it into a 99-loss disaster over the course of his six seasons as Phillies General Manager. He did some good things, like trading for Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee, and eventually signing Cliff Lee as a free agent. But we all know he also did some things that were bad, (Ryan Howard’s bloated and unnecessary contract extension), dumb, (signing Jonathan Papelbon when waiting a week would have saved him a first-round draft pick penalty), and downright ugly, (the second Cliff Lee Trade – I mean, gross, right?). Continue reading…

2015 Phillies Report Card: Aaron Harang

Seventy-eight starting pitchers threw enough innings in 2015 to qualify for the MLB ERA title, from Yordano Ventura and Erasmo Ramirez, squeaking in with 163.1 innings, to Clayton Kershaw, leading the league with 232.2 innings. Only one of those 78 finished the season with the Philadelphia Phillies, and it wasn’t Cole Hamels, who was traded to the Texas Rangers in a franchise-altering deadline deal. Let’s talk about Aaron Harang.

He led all Phillies hurlers in innings pitched (172.1), games started (29), and batters faced (748), and allowed the most hits (189), runs (100), earned runs (93), homers (26), and walks (51). Among those aforementioned 78 starters, Harang was 74th with 0.8 fWAR. Now, WAR isn’t an infallible statistic that explains everything about a player, but it does provide helpful context for comparing players. In this case, Harang was good enough to pitch the requisite number of innings, but finished among the bottom five in fWAR, ERA (74th), ERA- (77th), FIP (78th), xFIP (77th), SIERA (77th), and K% (74th). Somewhat admirably, he ate the innings the Phillies paid him to eat when they signed him to a one-year, $5 million deal last winter.

Because you’ve heard enough about Jerome Williams and Sean O’Sullivan, and because the story’s not much different for Harang, let’s get to some numerology, at your request. Continue reading…

2015 Phillies Report Card: Darin Ruf

Darin Ruf is one of the more polarizing players the Philadelphia Phillies have had in the Citizens Bank Park era. To some, he’s an underutilized power bat with untapped potential, while to others he’s (at best) a replacement player who gets a lot of hype because he’s Not Ryan Howard. In the past, I’ve made it abundantly clear that I’m in the latter camp in the Ruf debate. I want to be wrong about him, and I’m happy to change my opinion if there’s a good reason to do so. Continue reading…

2015 Phillies Report Card: Jerome Williams

Sixteen years ago, in October 1999, the Atlanta Braves beat the New York Mets in the NLCS in six games. The Braves unleashed an unbelievable pitching staff that included Greg Maddux, John Smoltz, Tom Glavine, and Kevin Millwood. Oh, and Terry Mulholland! The Braves were then summarily dismissed by the New York Yankees in four games, and haven’t been back to the World Series since. That was the second consecutive World Series sweep for New York, and the second of two titles the Yankees won against Atlanta in the 1990s.

KEN SAKAMOTO / STAR-BULLETIN

Ken Sakamoto / Star-Bulletin

A few months prior, in June 1999, Jerome Williams was drafted 39th overall by the San Francisco Giants, 27 picks after the Philadelphia Phillies chose Brett Myers. Williams was chosen with a supplemental pick the Giants received as compensation for the departure of free agent Jose Mesa, who would go on to pitch for the Phillies in 2001. During Spring Training in March 2001, about two years after he was drafted, Jerome Williams lost his mom Deborah to breast cancer. That’s why Jerome wears a pink glove in games, pitching with his Mother’s memory in his heart and his hand.

October is national breast cancer awareness month. We all know someone affected. You don’t have to be a major league pitcher to do something to help the fight against breast cancer. Jerome Williams is awesome for helping to raise awareness of breast cancer, and he’s battled hard to stay in the majors for 10 seasons, and he’s probably a really good guy. It hurts me that the following evaluation of his season is not favorable.
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2015 Phillies Report Card: Odubel Herrera

Last December, the Phillies selected Odubel Herrera in the Rule 5 draft, using the eighth pick on the second baseman from the Texas Rangers organization. Although Rule 5 draftees rarely turn out to be as successful as Shane Victorino or even Ender Inciarte, and although the Rangers had a deep farm system, it was a bit surprising when the Rangers did not protect Herrera. As a member of the Rangers’ organization, Herrera played mostly second base and finished the 2014 season in AA. Between A+ Myrtle Beach and AA Frisco, in 2014 Herrera hit .315/.383/.388. He led the Texas League in batting average and was named that league’s best defensive second baseman, according to a Baseball America survey. Continue reading…