Monday Morning Roundtable: Sometimes It is the Little Things

Each Monday morning the Crashburn Alley writers weigh in on various questions about the state of the Phillies.

The Phillies are starting a 10 game road trip (and by the time this is published will have already played 3), what is one thing you want to see out of this team over that stretch?

Michael: It’s hard to put so much stock in any ten-game stretch in this long lost season, so wins are not especially important to me in the grand scheme of things. What I’d like to see is improved play from individual players. I’d like to see Maikel Franco string together a few barrels; starters continuing to hit six innings in their starts; Odubel Herrera taking a few walks. Individually it might not mean much, but if a bunch of players can make incremental improvements, the wins will come.

Brad: I’d like to see less than three walk-offs on a ten game roadie. I know, maybe that’s not realistic. How about less than five?

Honestly, a handful of saves for the pen would be nice. Whether you value the stat, (I do not), there’s no harm in adding some confidence into a reliever’s psyche, and it also means winning a game that could be easily lost by virtue of all the bad things this team is so prone to do. Continue reading…

Crash Bag Vol. 25: New Levels of Futility

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, there have been more Crash Bags in 2017 than Phillies’ wins.

On to the questions.

@viscof1: What kind of market/return is out there for Howie Kendrick? I know it won’t be a lot but he looks good at the play on the bases.

Kendrick is hitting .440 on balls in play. That BABIP fuel will run out. What’s left is an average bat that can run the bases well and play a few positions on the field. That is what teams are buying in Kendrick. He is the best hitter on the Phillies but a solid utility player to the rest of baseball. Enjoy the perspective.

Continue reading…

Location Matters For Nick Pivetta

The strength of the Phillies’ system was supposed to be young pitching. Through the first few years of the rebuild, the Phillies have had mixed results with their young starters. Injuries this year have forced the Phillies to reach down to their minor leagues for starters earlier this season. After struggling through his first 6 starts, one of those young players is suddenly looking dominant.

This is Nick Pivetta’s second call-up of the year. In his first stint, he pitched in 4 games going 19.1 innings with a 5.12 ERA and 9 walks to 21 strikeouts. Pivetta’s starts were marked with poor command and inefficiency. It was much different than his time in the minors where he walked 2 to 37 strikeouts in 32 innings. Pivetta then pitched in two games after being recalled on June 5, and he was worse than his first time around pitching 10 innings with a 6.30 ERA, 7 walks, and 6 strikeouts.

Things have turned around dramatically for Pivetta, and against the Red Sox and Cardinals he has pitched 13 innings with 3 runs (2.08 ERA), 3 walks, and 19 strikeouts. Continue reading…

Phillies Finally Call Up Some Prospects, Also DFA Gomez and Saunders

Matt Klentak finally answered everyone’s angry tweets and comments, and made a roster move!

Let’s start with the named players in this deal. The Phillies have cut ties with their opening day closer and right fielder. Yes, Jeanmar Gomez and Michael Saunders have both been designated for assignment by the Phillies. Both players were supposed to be stop gaps to the future and instead were leaky sieves. Gomez got another crack at the closer role this year, but proved he couldn’t hold down that or a low leverage inning role. Michael Saunders was supposed to be the answer to the Phillies problems in right field (he wasn’t). He had a poor second half in 2016, but still posted a .253/.338/.478 season line. This year he did everything worse but strikeout, instead he traded some of those for more weak contact. In the end, Saunders hit .205/.257/.360 over 61 games and 214 plate appearances. The Phillies had a team option on Saunders and Gomez was a free agent so there is no longer term impact on the Phillies. Continue reading…

Monday Morning Roundtable: Trying to be Optimistic About Young Pitching

We are kicking off a new series here, well really an old series just reborn. It is the return of the roundtable where the writers here weigh in on some topics about the Phillies. The goal is touch on some things that don’t fully warrant a bunch of words or might be too depressing to sit down and write a piece about. This week we attempt to be positive about the Phillies.

Since the injuries to Clay Buchholz, Zach Eflin, and Vince Velasquez we have gotten a chance to see two of the Phillies’ young starters in Ben Lively and Nick Pivetta. What are your initial impressions of the pair and does either of them give you any confidence about their future?

Michael: I haven’t yet watched a Ben Lively start, so I’m not going off much visually. But I don’t think I need much visually to realize that a 5.9% K% is bad. Or that a 3.4% HR/FB% isn’t sustainable. Or that walking three guys for every two you strike out isn’t a recipe for success. I’ll have to actually watch him before I get too in depth, but the early returns are far from encouraging, despite the 70 ERA-. Continue reading…

Phillies Take Cal Poly RHP Spencer Howard with the 45th Pick

Phillies Scouting Director Johnny Almaraz said they liked this year’s college pitching crop, and they used their second pick to dip into that group. Howard was not rated highly by public scouting sources with MLB Pipeline coming in the highest at #99. The Phillies came right out and called him a potential front line starter.

This would put them much higher on him than the public sources. The general consensus is that he sits 92-94 touching 96 and that he has good slider and then a usable cutter and changeup. Many seen him as a reliever, and potentially a quick moving one. Continue reading…

Phillies Take Virginia CF Adam Haseley with the 8th Pick

Mickey Moniak, Cornelius Randolph, Aaron Nola, J.P. Crawford, Shane Watson, Mitch Gueller, Larry Greene Jr., Jesse Biddle, Anthony Hewitt, Zach Collier, Joe Savery, Travis d’Arnaud, Kyle Drabek, Adrian Cardenas, Greg Golson, Cole Hamels, Gavin Floyd. The thing those 17 names have in common is that they were taken in the first round of the draft by the Phillies in the 17 years between when the Phillies selected a hitter out of college (the last was Chase Utley out of UCLA in 2000). In that time period the Phillies have been one of the worst drafting teams in the majors. There are some hits, but a lot of guys who couldn’t hit. In Adam Haseley the Phillies have the guy we always wanted them to take. He combines high level hitting ability in one of the best conferences in college as well as the scouting reports to back it up.

On the scouting side here is what the internet had to say about him. Continue reading…

Is Odubel Herrera Back?

Odubel Herrera ended the month of May sporting a 51 wRC+ and just 0.3 WAR. After two seasons in which the Rule 5 pick was arguably the Phillies’ best player, Herrera received a five year extension that established him as the first building block of the rebuild to be signed long term. He was one of several Phillies, including Jerad Eickhoff, Maikel Franco, and Tommy Joseph, who have experienced significant drop-offs in production the likes of which haven’t been seen since the Monstars roamed the earth.

Since the calendar turned to June, coinciding with a several-game sabbatical imposed by Pete Mackanin, Herrera has done nothing but tear the cover off the ball. In five games, Herrera has hit .550/.571/1.300 including 2 home runs and 9 doubles. He also recorded his first walk in nearly a month. The outburst has raised Herrera’s wRC+ 31 points to a somewhat respectable 82. He’s accumulated 0.9 WAR in that time, and now rates middle-of-the-pack among centerfielders in terms of value. Continue reading…

Tommy Joseph is Having a Platoon Problem

With Odubel Herrera re emerging in June and Howie Kendrick returning to the lineup on fire, the number of questions facing the Phillies offense have reduced some. Maikel Franco continues to be an enigma, and one that probably deserves an entire week of columns to decipher the problems with his season. Meanwhile, Tommy Joseph has cooled off again, and Michael Saunders has been shoved to the bench. The problem is that both are not doing their primary job well. This seems a simple thing to say about bad players, but part of this season is about dealing with player’s strengths and weaknesses and finding who is at least a bit player on a good team. In the case of Joseph, he is not hitting left handed pitchers well, and it is dragging down his whole profile.

Last year, Joseph was mostly Ryan Howard’s platoon partner as the Phillies gave the veteran slugger his farewell tour. In that role, Joseph was masterful.

PA AVG OBP SLG BB% K% BABIP wRC+
100 .281 .350 .562 10.0% 19.0% .281 140

Continue reading…

The Phillies Have Starting Pitching Depth?

The Phillies were supposed to have a young rotation full of upside. They were supposed to have depth on the way to fill in any cracks. As we open June, the rotation is still young, with only Jeremy Hellickson over 26 years old. They have had cracks, as Vince Velasquez joins Clay Buchholz on the DL. They have had depth that has been shoved in the cracks in a desperate attempt to hold the whole thing together. Right now the rotation is Hellickson, a struggling Jerad Eickhoff, and a fresh off the disabled list Aaron Nola. Nick Pivetta and Zach Eflin have had their shot at the rotation and have had mixed success, but both are in AAA right now. The Phillies have two rotation spots to fill and a lot of depth to fill them, but is it really going to hold back a complete collapse? Continue reading…