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.
The Phillies’ front office had become a national laughingstock, starting in 2013 when the effects of former GM Ruben Amaro, Jr.’s decisions were finally being realized. The trades to acquire starter Roy Oswalt and outfielder Hunter Pence cleared out the minor league system, Ryan Howard‘s $125 million contract extension returned almost no value, and free agents the Phillies signed relinquished first-round draft picks.
For Phillies fans, the 2015 season was a summer of baseball discussions primarily revolving around draft positions, rebuilding, and tanking. The team entered the All-Star Break with a nearly unfathomable 29-62 record and a 9 ½ game lead on the race for the #1 pick in the 2016 draft. The dispiriting race to the bottom tightened throughout the second half, but in the end the Phillies secured their rightful place on the Losingest Team in Baseball throne. Now, with just one relatively minor off-season move, it already appears as though the tide is beginning to change and we may need to search for new talking points in the 2016 season.
In a typical year, a Rule 5 guy hitting .297/.344/.418 with 3.9 fWAR and 3.8 rWAR would be an absolute lock to receive Rookie of the Year votes, if not win the whole dang thing. Unfortunately for Odubel Herrera, this was not a typical year. As I noted last week in a piece for The Hardball Times, the percentage of league WAR contributed by rookies in 2015 was the highest it’s been since World War II. The elite rookie class and Rookie of the Year ballots limited to just three names made it extraordinarily difficult to grab NL ROY votes this year. Check out the NL contenders by WAR* Leaderboards:
MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki reports that the Phillies are finalizing a trade with the Diamondbacks for starter Jeremy Hellickson. MLB.com‘s Steve Gilbert reports the Phillies are sending pitcher Sam McWilliams to Arizona. CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury was the first to break news of the trade.
Christian Moreno of ESPN Deportes reported on Thursday that the Phillies have interest in trading for Marlins outfielder Marcell Ozuna. Ozuna struggled in the first half of the season before being demoted to Triple-A New Orleans in early July.
There’s more to Ozuna’s demotion than performance. Team owner Jeffrey Loria didn’t want to play Ozuna due to playing time concerns, and former GM and manager Dan Jennings played Ozuna against Loria’s wishes, as USA TODAY’s Bob Nightengale reported. That led to Jennings’ dismissal at the end of October.
Since the beginning of October, we’ve been posting a report card for nearly every player to don Phillies red pinstripes in 2015. At long last, the list has been exhausted (as are we). If you missed any of them, use the convenient list below. Each author’s name is a link to his or her Twitter account, so make sure you’re following all of us!
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.
@adamd243 What top prospects will be called up in 2016?
— Philles News (@NotDomonicBrown) October 30, 2015
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…
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…
There will be a day when Ryan Howard is no longer employed by the Philadelphia Phillies. The ill-fated contract extension which kicked in during the 2012 season and, at the time, seemed interminable is, in fact, terminable. The Phillies may opt to keep Howard through the natural conclusion of his contract after the 2016 season or, as has been rumored for nearly half a decade, they may decide to trade or release him. Since 2012, Howard has been a neutral or negative contributor to the Phillies by WAR but removing him from the roster was never previously a priority.
Keeping Howard made sense for a few reasons (beyond the obvious that no other team was itching to acquire him): he wasn’t blocking a prospect, the team was paying him regardless, and the team wasn’t competitive. However, the 2015 season was in many ways a transition year for the Phillies and they will enter 2016 as a franchise with new priorities. A franchise which can no longer afford to keep Ryan Howard on the roster. This winter, it’s time to finally say goodbye to the man who is second to only Michael Jack Schmidt in home runs in Phillies history.