When the Crashburn Alley crew received its year-end report card assignments for the 2015 season, I somehow managed to end up with the unenviable task of writing up Aaron Harang, Jerome Williams, AND Sean O’Sullivan. You can read my thoughts on those three fellows here (Harang), here (Williams), and here (SOS). Without forcing you to relive the tire fire that was the 2015 Phillies starting rotation, I’ll simply say you’re in for a much more pleasant experience this season. Now, with no further discussion of that 2015 rotation ever ever ever, I present your shiny, new Phillies starting pitchers.
So, let me clear something up here, right off the bat. Maybe you’ve already figured this out, but, technically, “Prospects” is not a position. However, on the 2016 Phillies, prospects are as important a subset of the roster as any. And so, if I haven’t completely blown your mind, I hope you’ll follow along with me as I take a look at a handful of guys who will be worth watching in spring training, and in their minor league seasons at Reading and Lehigh Valley.
It’s been said before about a thousand times, and I’m not sure I can add much to the conversation here, but let me try: JP Crawford has awesome dogs. Have you seen them? Beautiful. Here’s one of them.
Literally think he is my bestfriend. pic.twitter.com/GpXcsMVuy4
— jp crawford (@jp_crawford) February 23, 2016
Gone are the days of Michael Martinez. Gone are the days of John Mayberry Jr. Gone are the days of “maybe Cesar Hernandez” and “I don’t know man, Grady Sizemore?”. The 2016 Phillies have actual center fielders coming to camp to back up an incumbent. Odubel Herrera enters the spring with a firm grip on a starting role, but behind him, there is a crowd vying for the other outfield spots. Almost all of them have at least some ability in center, and one of them might even push El Torito to a corner.
It’s the first week of Spring Training, so that means ESPN’s Keith Law has been working nonstop on his prospect rankings. He released his top 10 Phillies prospects list today, and threw in ten more for good measure. The fact that the list has an extra 10 names on it is one indicator of how deep the Phillies’ farm system has become. Here’s the list, with the player’s KLaw top-100 ranking in parentheses where applicable. Continue reading…
When you haven’t had a Crashbag since Thanksgiving, the only thing better than one Crashbag is a double portion. Grab a snack, and let’s get into it right away.
@adamd243 if the Phillies young players develop this year, is Strasburg a logical target for the team?
— Llcooolg (@g_linwood) December 6, 2015
In a bit of under the radar news that’s highly significant for the Philadelphia Phillies, Ben Badler of Baseball America reported that the Venezuelan Summer League is cancelling its 2016 season.
The Phillies were one of four teams with an affiliate in the league which is comprised primarily of 17- to 19-year-olds that are unknown to virtually all baseball fans stateside. The 2015 VSL Phillies top performers were: a 19-year-old outfielder named Enger Jimenez who batted .307/.380/.443 and has been playing for the VSL Phillies since he was 16 and a 20-year-old left-handed pitcher named Sergio Velis who posted a 1.33 ERA in 74.2 innings. Take a look at their roster on Baseball-Reference. If there’s a name you’ve heard of it might be catcher Lenin Rodriguez who signed with a $300,000 bonus in 2014 or maybe you’ve seen the name Freddy Zorrilla before simply because his name is Freddy Zorrilla. Beyond that, it’s littered with names even the most devoted Phillies fans have never heard and, likely, never will hear. The chances of making it all the way from a foreign rookie league like the VSL or the Dominican Summer League to the majors are minimal at best.
I don’t write often about the mental aspect of the game here at Crashburn and, contrary to dated stereotypes, it’s not because I don’t believe it has a real impact on the game. It’s a topic I avoid because analyzing “makeup” or “chemistry” is often a fruitless undertaking. It takes extreme conditions for anyone on the outside to accurately assess anything as abstract as the mental or emotional conditions of a situation.
It’s a bit like trying to understand someone else’s family dynamics. Chances are you can pick up on the extreme marital discord between Uncle Bobby and Auntie Sue almost immediately, but the more subtle family dynamics like cousin Jack’s relationship with his father would take years for you to unpack. I prefer to write what I know and I don’t know why Jack tenses up around his father or what goes on inside the head of athletes, but I know marital stress when I see Bobby and Sue and I know Ryne Sandberg lost the clubhouse… and I know something encouraging is happening in the Phillies organization right now.
The report date for pitchers and catchers is rapidly approaching and if you’ve forgotten how to get excited about the Phillies over the long offseason, the Phillies dropped some news today to help you get back in the spirit:
#Phillies have announced the following nine players have been invited to major league spring training as non-roster invitees:
— Phillies (@Phillies) January 6, 2016
— Phillies (@Phillies) January 6, 2016
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’s a neighborhood here in Washington, D.C. called Adams Morgan. There’s a bar there called Madam’s Organ. Clever, I know. A band I was in played open mic there once, circa 1999. We were in town for a gig at a private art show, where an artist who was trying to sell some of her pieces rented out a small space for an afternoon. The band was asked to dress all in black. It felt like a funeral when she sold literally zero works of art that afternoon. We all helped her pack up her things and she went off into whatever was next for an artist who couldn’t sell one single work in an afternoon.