Phillies Reportedly Sign Jake Arrieta

According to all of the writers on the internet, the Phillies are signing right handed pitcher Jake Arrieta for 3 years and $75 million. At times this move felt needed or inevitable for the Phillies, but they constantly stuck to their terms on making any deal for a free agent pitcher. Up until the middle of today, that seemed like it would cost them a chance at signing any of the top starting pitchers. Whether they needed to make a pitching move or not is a bit up for debate, but after signing Carlos Santana, Tommy Hunter, and Pat Neshek the Phillies put themselves in a place where they have a foot into some playoff races. Arrieta is a clear upgrade on the Phillies projected #5 starter (which looked like a Ben Lively and Zach Eflin competition), and doesn’t make the Phillies a Wild Card favorite, but it does make them a contender. Continue reading…

Crash Bag #4: Desi Relaford is Salty

In case you hadn’t heard, Desi Relaford thinks Phillies fans are trash. Here’s a counterpoint: Desi Relaford is trash. In parts of five seasons with the Phillies, Relaford came to the plate 1189 times and produced a 66 OPS+. In every single season Relaford was with the Phillies, he was below replacement level.

Here are his WAR totals with the Phillies: -2.0 fWAR and -1.8 bWAR. I have produced exactly 0.0 fWAR and 0.0 bWAR for the Phillies. Therefore, it’s logical to conclude that I’m a better  baseball player than Desi Relaford.

In short, Desi Relaford is a bum and deserves to be booed. Continue reading…

Phillies Positional Preview – Corner Infielders (Carlos Santana Edition)

Gabe Kapler, looking for a little show of leadership in the Phils clubhouse, asked newcomer Carlos Santana to talk with the squad about the potential he sees at the corner infield spots for the year. The following is a transcript of his remarks.

I want to thank Gabe for asking me to do this today. I’ve played with some fine infielders in my day, and on paper, I see that level of ability here. We all just need to Make It Real. Continue reading…

Crash Bag Volume #3: A Spring Training Lightning Round

None of the questions this week had deep answers needed, so I just answered them all. A big thank you to everyone who applied to write here. I will get back to you this weekend, and for the rest of you I am excited about some of the new voices we may add to the site.

@derrick_gentner: What’s your opening day lineup?

2B Cesar Hernandez
1B Carlos Santana
LF Rhys Hoskins
RF Nick Williams (assuming RH starter for Braves)
CF Odubel Herrera
3B Maikel Franco
SS J.P. Crawford
C Jorge Alfaro
SP Aaron Nola

I could see Herrera #2 and moving everyone down, but I like the OBP of the 1-2-3. Continue reading…

Quick Thoughts on Outfield Shifts

Today for the second time this Spring Training, the Phillies had their left and right fielders swap. As Matt Gelb wrote last week, the Phillies are looking to be more aggressive with their outfield shifts. Positioning players to be deeper or shallow based on game situation (outs, batter, pitcher, count, and potentially a lot of other variables) seems actually fairly normal given what we have seen on the infield. Shift don’t always work, and when they don’t, it can look pretty bad, but playing the percentages makes some sense.

Then there is your left and right fielders running past your center fielder before a batter steps to the plate. Having players change positions mid inning is something that we are seeing on infield shifts more. Last year it led to Anthony Rizzo gaining second base eligibility in some fantasy leagues. No one has really employed outfield positional switches regularly. But they make a lot of sense, because they are something very fundamental. Growing up, nearly everyone pulled the ball and nearly everyone hit right handed. The worst fielder on the team often played right field, because nothing was being hit there. When the big power guy on the other team came up you would play everyone deeper, and if you were on your feet your right fielder was practically playing center as you shifted the outfield. When the lefty came up, you would try to quickly get the poor sap in right field out of there. Continue reading…

Crash Bag Volume #2: The Third Base Problem

There is currently a baseball game playing on a screen in front of me. We are still 5 weeks from opening day, thus we enter a time of questions and praying for health.

@KRAM209: It seems like the Phillies have had trouble finding 3B prospects of late.  Why?  What do you think they should do differently?

Here are the third basemen the Phillies have drafted with day 1 or 2 picks (or paid that type of money in bonus to) in recent years. I am using their intended pro position, not their pre-draft or first year position.

  • Jake Scheiner (4th rd, 2017, Jr) – It is still really early on Scheiner who might actually be a 2B.
  • Jake Holmes (11th rd, 2017, HS) – Holmes had a solid debut and is just starting to move over from SS.
  • Cole Stobbe (3rd rd, 2016, HS) – Stobbe had a good first year and then just failed to recognize off speed pitches and solid out his contact for power in Williamsport.
  • Luke Williams (3rd rd, 2015, HS) – Williams was always a weird fit at third. He has below average power, plus speed, and a good glove. He just hasn’t hit much.
  • Josh Tobias (10th rd, 2015, Sr) – Moved to 2B and traded to Boston for Buchholz.
  • Jan Hernandez (3rd rd, 2013, HS) – Hernandez has never shown a good approach and has lately struggled to hit righties. The Phillies moved him to RF to add flexibility last year and he took the position quickly.
  • Trey Williams (7th rd, 2013, JC) – Williams just never hit in his two year in pro ball.
  • Zach Green (3rd rd, 2012, HS) – Green showed big time power, but his approach has been poor and his swing stiff. Wrist and other injuries have limited his playing time over the years.
  • Harold Martinez (2nd rd, 2011, Jr) – Martinez had big power as a college freshman and it never came back. He hung around as a good org hitter until 2017.
  • Cody Asche (4th rd, 2011, Jr) – Asche was never a great defender at third, but he showed enough hit tool to be a second division regular at 3rd. His hit tool fell apart when he reached the majors.
  • Mitch Walding (5th rd, 2011, HS) – Walding had (and still has) a beautiful left handed swing. It took until 2016 for him to show any power. Had a breakout year of sorts in 2017 at age 24 in AA. He has a lot of swing and miss in his game, but is a good defender and potential 4 corner utility bat.

Continue reading…

2017 Phillies Report Card: Aaron Nola

Aaron Nola‘s arm injury in 2016 might have been the low point of the Phillies’ rebuild. Nola was supposed to be the sure thing in the rebuild, a command oriented middle of the rotation arm advanced beyond his years. After an offseason of worry, things did not get off to a good start. A back injury and poor performance had Nola sitting at 6 games started, 32 innings, and a 5.06 ERA by the end of May.

The rest of the season was dominant.

In the next 4 months, Nola would not miss a start. He pitched 136 innings, had a 3.18 ERA, and struck out 155, while walking only 38. He topped it all of with 43 strike outs in 30.1 innings in September. Not only did he put up great numbers in 2017, Nola showed that he was not only healthy, he was better. His fastball (both 4 and 2 seam) averaged over a mile per hour higher than it had in 2016. He found feel for his changeup more, throwing it much harder than he had in the past and nearly twice as often. The consequence was a higher whiff rate on the pitch. As his changeup improved, so did his curveball. Early in the season he was unable to miss bats with it, but by the end of the season it was an elite weapon again. Continue reading…

Monday Round Table (2/19): Spring Training Is Here

Today is the first day of full squad workouts in Clearwater. That means the winter is over and baseball can begin, or at least something like that. With that in mind I asked the writers for some roster predictions and other questions heading into a week of stretching and drills.

Who will be the Phillies #5 starter?

Adam: I really hope it’ll be Nick Pivetta because that means someone else has slotted in above him. I’m still, perhaps somewhat foolishly, holding out hope the Phillies will sign Jake Arrieta to a four-year, $22.5M AAV deal with a player option and incentives. If they don’t, then I suppose I’ll put money on Ben Lively, who somehow became a quality start machine even though he can’t strike out anybody. Continue reading…

2017 Phillies Report Card: J.P. Crawford

J.P. Crawford played some baseball in the majors last year. There’s not a lot of #analysis to do with 87 plate appearances, but the real story is that Crawford finally made it to Philadelphia and showed he could handle himself at the highest level. In that limited playing time last September, Crawford displayed the three core aspects of his game that carried him from Lakewood High through the Phillies’ minor league system: an ability to get on base, control of the strike zone, and excellent defense. Continue reading…

Crash Bag S2018 Volume #1: Baseball Is Back

In just under a week the Phillies will be playing their first baseball game of the year as they try to not lose to a bunch of college students. Until then it is time for fuzzy pictures of players stretching, worry about the state of the rotation, and apparently a picture of my cat.

@DaleACooke: I love Roman Quinn at SS bc elevates flexibility joe Maddon-esque. Are Phillies looking to others for this (Altherr, Williams,Kingery)?

I want to touch on Quinn first. He has not played SS since 2014, and he wasn’t amazing at the position back then. Quinn is not going to be the primary infield backup. However, if the Phillies run with only 4 bench players and one of them is Altherr/Williams and another is a catcher, that leaves two spots left, one of which must play infield. If you ever want to use that hitter as a hitter (say a defensive replacement, pinch hitter, punch runner), then you need that other player to be able to play shortstop if everyone gets hurt. If Quinn can be that, then he can be that 4th bench player. Continue reading…