2015 Phillies Report Card: Sean O’Sullivan

Well, here we are. Here is, specifically, the place where the Phillies slowly, surreptitiously decline year after year, then become the laughingstock of the baseball world, then finish in dead last. It’s the bottom of the barrel and it’s a dark place, and it’s Sean O’Sullivan‘s place, and no, you can’t come in because you laughed (a lot) at that .gif of Sean getting hit in the throat. There are plenty of players who represent this particular version of terrible Phillies baseball — players who fairly or unfairly embody the ineptness of the team, including Domonic Brown, Darin Ruf, and Cody Asche — but none of them fit the description quite as well as Sean O’Sullivan. It’s not his fault and he’s probably a nice guy, but here we are.

Sean O’Sullivan started 13 games for the 2015 Philadelphia Phillies. In those 71 innings, he registered a 6.08 ERA and a 1.606 WHIP. In his final three starts, culminating in a July 6 loss in Dodger Stadium, he gave up six runs in each game. He gave up 16 home runs and only had 35 strikeouts. He was Bad. Even for the Phillies.  Continue reading…

2015 Phillies Report Card: Jake Diekman

When I evaluated Jake Diekman‘s season last year, I gave him an A- on the strength of unmistakable strikeout prowess. In 2014, Diekman struck out 100 batters in 71 innings, and finished the season seventh in the majors in strikeouts among qualified relief pitchers. He made a lot of appearances, ninth in the National League in that category. Manager Ryne Sandberg showed no mercy on the lefty, and also exposed Diekman by having him face too many righties. Though his strikeout numbers were elite, he had a 1.42 WHIP and a 104 ERA-, both of which were bad enough to place Diekman in the bottom quartile of relievers. In my 2014 report card, I argued that if Sandberg protected Diekman a little bit more in 2015 and didn’t have him face so many righties, it would help Diekman take the next step.  Continue reading…

2015 Phillies Report Card: Darnell Sweeney

The 2015 Phillies are history. In a franchise with no shortage of truly awful teams, this season’s group will someday fade into its place within a beautiful tapestry of failure. The 2007-2011 years were but a dream. Yes, there’s 1980 and 1993 and many other adored teams, but the Phillies as a franchise are the worst overall in the history of baseball. The image of losing on the back of the cave wall may as well be this video.

Of course, there’s plenty to like about the 2015 version of Phillies baseball, particularly the emergence of Odubel Herrera, Maikel Franco, Aaron Nola, and Jerad Eickhoff. Somewhere, between high hopes for the future and a dull, dismal reminder of the pain of being a Phillies fan, is Darnell Sweeney.

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Crash Bag, Vol. 2: Don’t Worry, Be Happy

Well, that was unexpected. At the beginning of the season, do baseball players consciously plan on playing every day? Do elementary school kids decide in September that they’re going to have 100% attendance that year? I foolishly thought I would start my own Baumann/Ripken streak and rattle off weekly Crashbags. Hey, maybe I still can. But it’s not as easy as running in the ball from the 1-yard line on second down with Marshawn Lynch.

Baseball season is currently wiping the sleep out of its eyes and deciding whether to hit snooze again, or maybe think about getting out of bed. There’s a tastefully small amount of the offseason left. The Best Shape of His Life stories are stacking up, and the stack is getting bigger each day. Before you know it, it’ll be time to hit the back fields in Clearwater. So let’s get to work.

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Rollins Retrospective: The Minors and Rookie Campaign

Sometimes a guy comes into the minors with high hopes and fails. Sometimes a guy comes in with little hope, or no hope at all, and fails. The successes are all rare, expectation or not. And careers like Jimmy Rollins‘…well…every year over 2,000 guys are drafted or sign internationally. Two win an MVP, like Jimmy did in 2007. He’s been the rarest of the rare. Continue reading…

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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