Over at HardballTalk, I argued that the Washington Nationals’ starting rotation — now with Max Scherzer in the mix — could challenge the 2011 Phillies as the best modern starting rotation. The 2011 Phillies’ (2.86) and 1992 Braves’ (2.95) rotations are the only ones to post a sub-3.00 ERA since 1990.
In a column for FOX Sports, Ken Rosenthal argues that the Phillies really shouldn’t be having much difficulty moving first baseman Ryan Howard. He quotes an American League executive, who discredit’s Howard’s ability to hit for power by citing his slugging percentage. Rosenthal counters by comparing Howard’s SLG to a selection of other players. It didn’t get to the root of the matter, however.
Update (1/13/15, 4:10 PM EST: Rodriguez failed his physical with the Phillies and has signed with the Braves, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.
Update (12/27/14, 5:50 PM EST): A source for CSN Philly confirms that the Phillies and Rodriguez have agreed to a minor league deal.
Per Phillies Spanish play-by-play broadcaster Angel Ibo Castillo, free agent pitcher Wandy Rodriguez is on his way to Philadelphia to take a physical. If all goes well, he’ll presumably ink a minor league deal with the Phillies. Castillo adds that Rodriguez is expected to compete for a spot in the starting rotation.
Update (1/5/15): Salisbury reports the Phillies have signed Harang to a one-year, $5 million deal.
(Posted 12/31/14): After confirming the Marlon Byrd trade to the Cincinnati Reds, CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury added that the Phillies were “poking around” free agent starter Aaron Harang. The Phillies’ interest in adding another starter, even after recently signing Wandy Rodriguez, makes sense as they are thin on rotation depth.
As the Phillies won’t jump head-first into the free agent pool once again this winter, it seems we fans are destined for a quiet December and January. We’ll unwrap our new Phillies 2015 desk calendars and count down the days until pitchers and catchers report to Clearwater, Florida. There, the Phillies will embark on yet another journey into the bottom of the NL East, biding the time until the young players mature and blossom into the next generation of marketable stars. This has all of the excitement of a library.
One understated aspect of both last year’s and this coming year’s Phillies squads are the cast-offs who can reestablish their image and become valuable assets to the Phillies. We saw this with Roberto Hernandez (formerly Fausto Carmona), who signed with the Phillies on a one-year, $4.5 million deal. The club’s new analytics department saw a potential bounce-back candidate in Hernandez despite a horrific performance with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2013. With marked improvements in his strikeout and walk rates, combined with an expected regression in his home runs allowed rate, Hernandez seemed like a solid bet to become a trade chip for the Phillies come summer.
On Twitter yesterday, Beyond the Box Score posted the top-five best and worst teams at each position as they are currently projected by the Steamer projections, which can be found at FanGraphs. In what should come as a shock to no one, the Phillies portend to be quite bad at several positions and it’ll be even worse if they end up moving a few players as expected.
Ken Giles pitched the first 45.2 innings of his Major League career in 2014, which is about 60% of a full season for a reliever. We can’t really draw any meaningful conclusions from a sample size that small. Sure, we could run through all the awesome highlights from Giles’ statistics in those 45.2 innings – for example, the fact that of 171 relievers who pitched 40 innings or more, Giles was seventh in K% at 38.6%, behind Aroldis Chapman (a ridiculous 52.5%), Andrew Miller and Brad Boxberger (42.6% and 42.1%, both also completely ridiculous), Dellin Betances and Wade Davis (39.6% and 39.1%) and Craig Kimbrel (38.9%). Or we could talk about his K-BB% of 31.9%, which was sixth behind Chapman, Miller, Sean Dollittle, Boxberger, and Betances (and better than Davis, Kenley Jansen, Greg Holland, Koji Uehara, Kimbrel, and David Robertson). Since this report card is supposed to be an evaluation of the player’s performance this season, that kind of analysis is warranted. OK, fine.
|Rank (of 171 RP with 40+ IP)||3rd||3rd||7th||5th||7th||49th||6th||5th|
Any way we slice it, Giles had a fantastic season in 2014. He struck out everybody, didn’t walk nearly as many batters as he did in the minors, and the ERA retrodictors indicate his performance is backed up by his skills. I don’t want to go any further with the numbers now, and if you want more, Bill already did some good statistical analysis in this August 20 article. I want to step away from the nerdtastic data analysis we usually do, just for a moment, to take a longer-angle view of Giles and how he symbolizes the next era of Phillies baseball.