Who Are You: Pat Neshek

This post is part of a weekly series which will run each Thursday. Over the next several weeks, I’ll take a deep dive look at new members of the Phillies roster. We’re just a couple months away from settling down to watch these guys day-in and day-out for half a year, so let’s try to find out who they are and what to expect from them in 2017.

Previous Installments:

Howie Kendrick


Pat Neshek – RHP

Born: 9/4/1980 – entering age-36 season

Height: 6’3″ Weight: 220 lb.

2016: 47.0 IP, 3.06 ERA, 23.2 K%, 6.0 BB%, 130 ERA+

MLB Career: 383.1 IP, 2.93 ERA, 24.5 K%, 7.8 BB%, 137 ERA+

Contract Status: Final year of a three-year, $18.5 million contract. Owed $6.5 million in 2017. Continue reading…

Ryan Hanigan Enters The Mix

The Phillies today signed Ryan Hanigan to a minor league contract. Stapled to that contract was a formal invitation to Spring Training, where the 36 year-old will compete with Jorge Alfaro, Andrew Knapp, and Bryan Holaday for the coveted role of back-up catcher to Cameron Rupp. If Hanigan emerges victorious, he will earn a salary of $1.25 million, with incentives to earn an additional $375k.

Continue reading…

A Too Early Look at the 25-Man Roster: Outfield Locks

With pitchers and catchers scheduled to report to Clearwater on February 13th–three short weeks from now–it is certainly early to look forward to which 25 players will emerge from Spring Training as members of the Phillies Opening Day roster. This week, we’ll look at the locks to break camp with the Major League club before turning to potential roster battles in the final two weeks before pitchers and catchers report.

Previous installments:

Pitching (Locks)

Infield (Locks)

Odubel Herrera (CF): After signing his extension and averaging 4.0 rWAR over his first two seasons in the major leagues, Herrera is undoubtedly the Phillies starting center fielder not only in 2017, but for years to come. Herrera showed a number of promising improvements in 2016 over his rookie season:

BB% K% HR/FB SB
2015 5.2 24.0 7.6 16
2016 9.6 20.4 10.6 25

Despite the slight backtrack toward the end of the season in his plate discipline numbers, Herrera’s 2016 season, overall, established him as much more than a Rule 5 pick with a fluky debut. This is a potentially multi-time All-Star.

Continue reading…

A Too Early Look at the 25-Man Roster: Infield Locks

With pitchers and catchers scheduled to report to Clearwater on February 13th–three short weeks from now–it is certainly early to look forward to which 25 players will emerge from Spring Training as members of the Phillies Opening Day roster. This week, we’ll look at the locks to break camp with the Major League club before turning to potential roster battles in the final two weeks before pitchers and catchers report.

Previous installments:

Pitching (Locks)

Cameron Rupp (C): Rupp is well on his way to a long career as a backup catcher in the major leagues, but with no one in the organization ready to take the starting job from him in camp, he’ll remain as the team’s starter for a second-consecutive season. He fell off a bit in the second half, but, overall, posted a batting line almost exactly league average (99 OPS+). Ideally, Jorge Alfaro will take over this job by mid-season, but he won’t start the season there. Continue reading…

A Too Early Look at the 25-Man Roster: Pitching Locks

With pitchers and catchers scheduled to report to Clearwater on February 13th–three short weeks from now–it is certainly early to look forward to which 25 players will emerge from Spring Training as members of the Phillies Opening Day roster. This week, we’ll look at the locks to break camp with the Major League club before turning to potential roster battles in the final two weeks before pitchers and catchers report.

Starting Rotation

With the return of Jeremy Hellickson and the addition of Clay Buchholz through trade, the composition of the Phillies starting rotation is more or less set.

Aaron NolaThe only question with Aaron Nola is his health. After prematurely ending his 2016 season with an elbow injury, he elected a rest and rehab approach rather than undergo surgery. He recently claimed that he feels 100%, but manager Pete Mackanin expressed some tempered skepticism on that front. At 100% health, Nola is among the best pitchers in baseball, as we saw for his first 12 starts of 2016 in which he had a 2.65 ERA with a 27.2 percent strikeout rate. Continue reading…

Who Are You: Howie Kendrick

This is the first post in a weekly series which will run each Thursday. Over the next several weeks, I’ll take a deep dive look at new members of the Phillies roster. We’re just a couple months away from settling down to watch these guys day-in and day-out for half a year, so let’s try to find out who they are and what to expect from them in 2017.

Howie Kendrick (OF/2B) – RHB

Born: 7/12/1983, entering age-33 season

Height: 5’11”, Weight: 220 lb.

Contract Status: Will make $10 million in 2017, the final year of his contract.

2016 Stats: 543 PA, 9.2 BB%, 17.7 K%, .301 BABIP, .255/.326/.366, 91 wRC+, 0.9 fWAR, 0.5 rWAR

Career: 5457 PA, 5.3 BB%, 17.2 K%, .337 BABIP, .289/.332/.417, 106 wRC+, 26.9 fWAR, 29.1 rWAR Continue reading…

Phillies Upgrade Right Field, Sign Michael Saunders

In what will likely be the final piece added to the offensive puzzle heading into 2017, the Phillies signed Michael Saunders Monday to a one-year deal worth $9 million with an incentivized option for 2018 worth between $11-14 million. The 30-year-old Saunders, an All Star last season in his second of two with the Toronto Blue Jays, will help plug the Phillies’ right field leak that last season put up the second-fewest wins above replacement (according to Baseball-Reference) in the majors, and finished last in weighted on-base average and wRC+. The position, which was manned in 2016 by Peter Bourjos, Aaron Altherr, Jimmy Paredes, Tyler Goeddel, David Lough, Roman Quinn and Cedric Hunter also ranked in the bottom three in the league in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage.

That cadre of right fielders hit just eight home runs last year, tied for fewest in the majors. Saunders, whose main draw is his power from the left side, has matched or topped eight homers in every season that he’s played at least 78 games.

Pete Mackanin made it known at the end of 2016 that he wanted to add a professional hitter or two to the lineup. With Howie Kendrick and now Saunders strengthening their deficient corner outfield spots, Matt Klentak granted him that wish. Continue reading…

Phillies Avoid Arbitration with Jeanmar Gomez, Will Exchange Figures with Hernandez

After reaching a $4.35 million agreement with Freddy Galvis on Thursday to avoid arbitration hearings, the Phillies gained varying levels of closure with their two remaining arbitration candidates on Friday afternoon.

Matt Gelb was the first to report that the Phillies have settled with 2016 closer Jeanmar Gomez for a $4.2 million salary for 2017. He made $1.4 million in 2016 and was projected to receive $4.6 million in arbitration according to MLB Trade Rumors. Prior to a late-season meltdown, Gomez was a surprisingly reliable ninth-inning option for the team, notching 37 saves after recording only one for his career entering the season. His 4.85 ERA is the result of a disastrous final month. Through the end of August, he had a 2.97 ERA and 3.64 FIP.

With the additions of Pat Neshek and Joaquin Benoit plus last year’s breakout performance from Hector Neris, Gomez figures to return to the sixth or seventh inning option for which he is better suited. His low-strikeout (career 14 percent K-rate), high groundball (career 50.2 percent) style isn’t typical of the modern high-strikeout closer. But, since 2013, he’s used that repertoire to prevent runs well. He’s a valuable bullpen piece and, at $4.2 million, he should be a positive asset for a much deeper Phillies bullpen in 2017. Continue reading…

Reminiscing with Graphical Representation: The 2008 Phillies

On Tuesday, I unveiled my full-season infographic detailing the season that was for the Philadelphia Phillies using Wins Above Average (WAA) by position. The season was, for all intents and purposes, pretty ugly. But what makes a (hopefully) successful rebuild so rewarding, what makes the special seasons (like 2008) so truly special are the years like these that often proceed them.

As a quick reminder, here’s what the 2016 season looked like for the Phillies. The full story and graphics can be READ AND SEEN HERE.

In 2016, the Phillies tied for last in the league with -16 wins above average. They played at or above league-average in just three positions: catcher, second base and center field. Of the remaining positions, their starting rotation ranked 18th in the league while every other position ranked no better than 24th. Spelling the rotation, the bullpen’s WAA was second-worst in the league and the position players as a whole posted the lowest wins above average in the majors with -11.2.

Terrible position players, terrible relievers, okay starting pitching. Thus was the story of 2016.

So were this rebuilding process to bare similar fruits to the most recently constructed Phillies powerhouse, what would that look like? Here’s what the Phillies 2008 roster looked like when it took home the team’s first World Series trophy in 28 years.

*Reminder: positions marked in red are the top half in the league, those in blue are in the bottom half. The darker the red, the closer to the position was to leading the league, the darker the blue, the closer it was to league-worst.*

Continue reading…

2016 Phillies Report Card: Nick Williams

Reaching back to last offseason, the prevalent expectation for Nick Williams was simple: spend a few months tearing apart AAA pitching, fine tune the outfield defense, get fitted for red pinstripes. By the summer, the front office would be forced to bring the Cedric Hunter experience to an abrupt end. By the end of the season, the outfield would have twice as much certainty. This Report Card would be glowing.

It’s fair to say those expectations were not met.

Continue reading…