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.
With the re-signing of Jerome Williams to a one-year deal, it seems increasingly likely that Kyle Kendrick has pitched his final game in red pinstripes. The seven-year veteran probably would have liked to go out on a higher note. Aside from a career high in innings pitched (199.0), it was a thoroughly forgettable season for Kendrick. Among all 43 qualified starting pitchers in the NL, his strikeout-rate (14.0%) was dead last and only Travis Wood (5.03) had a worse ERA than Kendrick (4.61).
Still, in a season that will be remembered for pitching injuries, it’s very much worth noting that only 16 NL pitchers threw more innings than Kendrick. In fact, since 2013, Kendrick’s 381.0 innings pitched ranks 36th in all of Major League Baseball. Innings pitched is not a sexy stat, but it’s an important one. The ability to eat innings, even if they’re sub-average innings is a skill set that will get Kendrick paid this winter. Add into the calculus the upside Kendrick offers and I think his deal is more likely to resemble last offseason Phil Hughes (3/$24M) than last offseason Roberto Fausto Hernandez Carmona (1/$4.5M).
When Bill gave out the report card assignments, I was probably least excited about writing up John Mayberry, Jr. I don’t have anything against the guy, but he reminds me just a little too much of all those bad Phillies teams from the late 80s and early 90s. Specifically, he reminds me of Wes Chamberlain, who I actually loved as a kid. Well what do you know, Wes Chamberlain is #7 on John Mayberry’s similarity score list (Dom Brown is #8!) on baseball-reference dot com. I’m not thrilled about the Phillies being just as bad now as they were when I was in elementary school, which isn’t JMJ’s fault at all, but here we are.
So I was really happy with myself Thursday morning when I had an epiphany: have some fun with it, don’t just write a regular analysis, do something quirky … Rickroll ‘em.
I spent a LOT of time writing this report card in an acrostic format, with the last paragraph in the article using the “down” in “never gonna let you down” only to discover (thanks to Bill) that browser resolution issues would render the joke useless to many readers. After accepting that, I realized that Rickrolling isn’t actually that funny anymore, anyway. And with that, I give you my evaluation of Yayberry. Continue reading…