#Phillies have claimed RHP Dan Otero off waivers from the Oakland Athletics.
— Phillies (@Phillies) November 3, 2015
Those of us who really dig deep into Phillies prospects every year have been in on Maikel Franco for a long time. He exploded onto the national scene with a huge 2013 that included half seasons in Clearwater and Reading, but anyone paying attention in 2012 saw the signs of that leap forward. Franco had a dismal first half of the year at Low-A Lakewood, then turned it on and finished strong. The same thing happened in 2014, as Franco struggled mightily early at Lehigh Valley before mashing his way through the second half of that season, (though he mostly crashed throughout a September callup).
If October proved anything it’s that the Philadelphia Phillies have a mountain to climb in order to reemerge as a legitimate contender in the National League East. The New York Mets, while not without flaws, have a super rotation that is the envy of every team in the league and, unlike the 2011 Phillies super rotation, the Mets version could stick around for a long while.
On paper, their 2016 rotation looks like this (in some order): Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler, Steven Matz. The most senior member of those five by service time is Matt Harvey who will be in his first year of arbitration. This means that, should they so choose (and should everyone stay healthy), the Mets have this entire five-headed rotation monster under team control for three more seasons. Yikes.
As the Royals proved this week, however, these Mets are not infallible. Their offense remains a concern going forward especially considering they’re poised to lose their 2nd half offensive savior, Yoenis Cespedes, and their unlikely postseason hero, Daniel Murphy, to free agency. Their bullpen proved to be a pivotal weakness in the World Series and the rotation, while stellar, appeared to meet its match in the Royals’ unconventional offense. In a series significantly closer than the four-games-to-one final result indicates, Kansas City successfully and dramatically took down the Mets to bring home a championship for the first time in 30 years. How did they do it and are there any lessons the Phillies ought to take away from their triumph over a team Philadelphia faces 19 times a year?
Darin Ruf is one of the more polarizing players the Philadelphia Phillies have had in the Citizens Bank Park era. To some, he’s an underutilized power bat with untapped potential, while to others he’s (at best) a replacement player who gets a lot of hype because he’s Not Ryan Howard. In the past, I’ve made it abundantly clear that I’m in the latter camp in the Ruf debate. I want to be wrong about him, and I’m happy to change my opinion if there’s a good reason to do so. Continue reading…
Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Clearly it’s the egg, because that’s where chickens come from, and the egg’s parents were some sort of freak chicken-like thing that somehow made the first chicken. I know, I know, but where did the freak chicken-like thing come from? An egg. Simple. Anyway, in the forthcoming analogy, Ryne Sandberg and his staff are assumed to be the freak chicken-like thing.
It seems the 2015 Phillies and manager Ryne “Cluck U” Sandberg were going to use Justin DeFratus in a multi-inning relief role, no question. Former Blue Jay Dustin McGowan was at the bottom of the depth chart, but waiver pickup Jeanmar Gomez and unproven pitcher-turned-barber-turned-reclamation project Luis Garcia managed to be ahead of DeFratus coming out of camp. In a three-appearance span between April 23 and April 30, DeFratus threw 126 total pitches, and this (adjusts tie) pecking order became obvious to all who were paying any attention.
Now that Jimmy Rollins (’96 draftee), Chase Utley (’00 draftee), and Cole Hamels (’02 draftee) have been traded away, most Phillies fans can tell you who the two longest tenured Phillies are: Carlos Ruiz (’98 international FA) and Ryan Howard (’01 draftee). But who is the third longest tenured* Phillie? Until last week the answer was Domonic Brown who signed June 16, 2006 after the Phillies selected him in the 20th round of the 2006 amateur draft. But now Brown is a free agent and the illustrious title of third longest tenured Phillie is a tie between two middle infielders who signed as 16-year-old international free agents out of Venezuela on July 2, 2006: Freddy Galvis and Cesar Hernandez.
Sixteen years ago, in October 1999, the Atlanta Braves beat the New York Mets in the NLCS in six games. The Braves unleashed an unbelievable pitching staff that included Greg Maddux, John Smoltz, Tom Glavine, and Kevin Millwood. Oh, and Terry Mulholland! The Braves were then summarily dismissed by the New York Yankees in four games, and haven’t been back to the World Series since. That was the second consecutive World Series sweep for New York, and the second of two titles the Yankees won against Atlanta in the 1990s.
A few months prior, in June 1999, Jerome Williams was drafted 39th overall by the San Francisco Giants, 27 picks after the Philadelphia Phillies chose Brett Myers. Williams was chosen with a supplemental pick the Giants received as compensation for the departure of free agent Jose Mesa, who would go on to pitch for the Phillies in 2001. During Spring Training in March 2001, about two years after he was drafted, Jerome Williams lost his mom Deborah to breast cancer. That’s why Jerome wears a pink glove in games, pitching with his Mother’s memory in his heart and his hand.
October is national breast cancer awareness month. We all know someone affected. You don’t have to be a major league pitcher to do something to help the fight against breast cancer. Jerome Williams is awesome for helping to raise awareness of breast cancer, and he’s battled hard to stay in the majors for 10 seasons, and he’s probably a really good guy. It hurts me that the following evaluation of his season is not favorable.
For Aaron Nola, after being the college pitcher of the year in 2014, and the #7 overall pick in that summer’s draft, a ticket to the majors was printed on opening day of 2015. The date of arrival was the only thing left blank. Nola spent a couple months in AA and AAA before he got to write in “July 21”, and honestly, it’s pretty stunning how lax the TSA is with 2014 First Round draft picks. One of those guys could be an ISIS in disguise. (My money’s on Michael Conforto, mostly because he’s on The Mets, and I dislike them so much that I’d prefer to be marooned on top of a mountain with my religious sect than see them win a World Series. Go Royals, Boo Mets, as they say). Continue reading…
Relievers are fickle. It’s become a truism in baseball, due mostly to the recent ubiquity of analytics. The numbers show that it’s quite tough to predict what one relief pitcher will do from one season to the next. For example, in 2012, Fernando Rodney posted a 0.60 ERA for the Tampa Bay Rays. This past season, he finished with a 5.68 ERA before the Seattle Mariners sent him to the Chicago Cubs. Neal Cotts: 1.11 ERA in 2013; 4.32 in 2014. Huston Street: 1.37 in 2014; 3.18 in 2015.
That being said, a handful of relievers have proven themselves to be reliable year in and year out. This list includes Mariano Rivera, Trevor Hoffman, and Billy Wagner. More recently, additions to the list have included Jonathan Papelbon, Greg Holland (before his injury), Aroldis Chapman, and Craig Kimbrel. Soon, we may be able to add Ken Giles to that list.
Last December, the Phillies selected Odubel Herrera in the Rule 5 draft, using the eighth pick on the second baseman from the Texas Rangers organization. Although Rule 5 draftees rarely turn out to be as successful as Shane Victorino or even Ender Inciarte, and although the Rangers had a deep farm system, it was a bit surprising when the Rangers did not protect Herrera. As a member of the Rangers’ organization, Herrera played mostly second base and finished the 2014 season in AA. Between A+ Myrtle Beach and AA Frisco, in 2014 Herrera hit .315/.383/.388. He led the Texas League in batting average and was named that league’s best defensive second baseman, according to a Baseball America survey. Continue reading…