2014 Phillies Report Card: Ryne Sandberg

Grading players is easy. Every little thing a batter or pitcher does throughout the course of a season is run through a spectrometer whose readings spew statistics that traverse the visible range of objective (and subjective) evaluation. What’s left is a full color palette, hues unblended, from which an encompassing picture can be painted.

There is no such spectrometer for managers. How many of the Phillies’ 73 wins in 2014 came as a direct result of a decision made by Ryne Sandberg? Was the decision textbook or unconventional? Was it really good process, or did it just luck out? By the same token, how many of those 89 losses can be hung around Sandberg’s neck?

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2014 Phillies Report Card: Reid Brignac

A bit more than a decade ago, Reid Brignac began his professional baseball career with plenty of promise. A second-round pick of the then-Devil Rays in 2004, Brignac flirted with top prospect status after an excellent 2006 saw him chip in a .321/.376/.539 line between two levels as a shortstop at age 20. Not bad, huh?

That would be the pinnacle of Brignac’s minor league career and, to spare the details of a long journey in the interim, Brignac wound up signing a minor league deal with the Phillies in November 2013, ostensibly as Chase Utley/Jimmy Rollins insurance. When Freddy Galvis decided to contribute two hits in his first 46 PA with 12 strikeouts, Brignac found himself back in the Majors quicker than he might have pictured.

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2014 Phillies Report Card: Cesar Jimenez

Did you find yourself watching one of the 16 games Cesar Jimenez appeared in this season and experiencing a certain feeling of malaise or gently lingering dread? Did a wave of resignation sweep over you as you suddenly started feeling a little more sleepy than you initially realized?

It’s not just you! Jimenez had the honor of appearing in those 16 games for the Phillies this season, only to have 14 of those result in losses. Thirteen of the 16 appearances came at a point in the game where the Phillies were already losing, and a fourteenth came with a seven-run lead. You would be correct in assuming Jimenez didn’t exactly rack up many points in the leverage department.

Separating Jimenez from things almost entirely not his fault, however, we find something a little less morose – if no more interesting or encouraging – when examining his 2014 season.

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2014 Phillies Report Card: Maikel Franco

PERSPECTIVE.

What does that word mean to you? From artists to politicians to baseball people, this multifaceted word wields lots of power, and calibrating it properly is critical. As it relates to baseball – and, specifically, Phillies rookie Maikel Franco – perspective is important for realizing exactly what a given thing means at a point in time.

Take Franco, who turned 22 years old just shy of two months ago: a near-consensus top-100 pick (or better!) made his debut for the Phillies this summer and logged 58 plate appearances. By and large, they were not great plate appearances, but this is where that pesky word “perspective” comes into play, full-bore.

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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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The Extension Parade and Domonic Brown

You might have noticed that a lot of young players – most of them Braves – have been inked to long-term, pre-free agency extensions recently. Freddie Freeman, Michael Brantley, Julio Teheran, Craig Kimbrel and Andrelton Simmons were each signed to a deal of four or more years this month, and while none of those players presents a great comparable for the Phillies’ Domonic Brown, I can’t help but wonder if a similar approach should be taken with regard to his contract situation.

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The Reinvention of A.J. Burnett

Following the 2011 season, A.J. Burnett wasn’t looking so hot. Three years into a five-year deal signed prior to the Yankees’ 2009 World Series-winning campaign, Burnett had provided the Yankees with 584 innings of 4.79 ERA (92 ERA+) and a K/BB ratio under 2.0. With two years and $33 million remaining on the deal, Burnett was shipped out to Pittsburgh for minor leaguers Exicardo Cayones and Diego Moreno and 60 cents on the dollar (New York paid $20 million of the remainder).

It was there, in Pittsburgh, that Burnett turned things around. In 393.1 innings, Burnett provided the Bucs with a 3.41 ERA (107 ERA+) and a K/BB ratio of 3.02. What’s more, his home run rate was drastically reduced, going from 81 allowed in those 584 Yankee innings (1.2 per 9) to 29 in 393.1 (or 0.7 per 9).

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Phillies Avoid Arbitration with Ben Revere

The Phillies closed the books on their arbitration season Friday, reaching an agreement with center fielder Ben Revere on a $1.95 million deal for the 2014 season. This is Revere’s first year or arbitration eligibility.

Revere, 25, was acquired last offseason for pitchers Vance Worley and Trevor May, and played in 88 games before breaking his right ankle fouling a pitch off it in July. Revere was in the midst of a two-and-a-half-month-long rebound from an abysmal April before the injury, hitting .347/.380/.404 in 240 PA from May 1 on.

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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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