MLB Issues Ridiculous Defense Of Anti-Player Legislation

*Cracks Knuckles*

Thursday, in response to the anti-player Save America’s Pastime Act proposed by some jerk in Congress and denounced by it’s no-longer-as-jerky co-sponsor a day after she was bombarded with negative reactions, MLB released a totally bogus statement siding with the legislation, that makes them sound like a bunch of freaking idiots. In my humble opinion. I’ll just walk us through the text, point by point, and tell you why they’re either wrong or dumb, or maybe just making things up. Continue reading…

What Should the Phillies Have Discussed in their Team Meeting?

After Thursday night’s 13-2 loss against the Blue Jays, Phillies manager Pete Mackanin held a team meeting to discuss the Phillies’ poor play of late. After starting the season 24-17, the young team has been much worse over the past 30 days, with a record of 6-20. While the meeting may have simply been filled with platitudes about “working harder day in and day out” and “keeping your heads up,” I wanted to find concrete things the Phillies could do better to recapture some of their early season magic.

Offense

Over the past 30 days, the Phillies have easily the worst wRC+ among Major League teams. Their 68 wRC+ is a full 8 points lower than the White Sox in 29th place. Their hitters have the second-lowest walk rate, and the highest K%-BB%. They also have the lowest WAR at 0.0. In short, the Phillies need to do everything better. But that’s not exactly instructive, so let’s dig in and find a few specific things the lineup could improve upon. Continue reading…

Phils Pick RHP Kevin Gowdy, Plus Day 1 Wrap and Sentimental Rambling

With the first pick in round two, and 42nd overall on the night, The Phillies picked RHP Kevin Gowdy from Santa Barbara High School in (wait for it) Santa Barbara, CA. He’ll be an overslot sign to buy out his commitment to UCLA, and he’s been ranked #24 overall by Keith Law, #33 by John Sickels at Minorleagueball.com, #39 by Baseball America, #37 by MLB.com. Sickels is right at the average, and pick 33 this year was worth $1.9M. So probably we can start there and go up. The club likely knows what he’ll take and is ready to nab someone else tomorrow morning at 3.1 with some or all of whatever bonus money’s leftover. Continue reading…

2016: Philadelphia’s Year of the Draft

Continuing our draft coverage, I took a macro look at the Phillies’ draft day situation in relation to the rest of the city’s pro teams. For a good read on just how convoluted the MLB Draft is a la “slot values” and high schoolers attempting to exert leverage over multi-billion dollar organizations, check out Corinne’s rundown. It’s the Wild Wild West…in Secaucus, New Jersey. It’s all meaningful for the Phils, who control the board with the first overall selection. For a taste of what Klentak, MacPhail and Co. may do with 1/1, read Brad Engler’s preview.

The folklore surrounding the first overall selection in professional sports drafts is unparalleled. It’s the sole factor linking the Greg Odens, Ryan Leafs (Leaves?) and Brien Taylors of the sporting universe, whose immense expectations are met only with more significant letdowns.

But here in Philadelphia, the first city ever bestowed with three top-two picks in the same calendar year (Phillies and Sixers with no. 1 overall, Eagles with no. 2), the repercussions of each selection could not be more different.

Continue reading…

Ryan Howard Has Come Full Circle

I remember when Ryan Howard first made his mark on the Phillies. I was thirteen years old, and he was called up to replace an injured Jim Thome. I love Jim Thome; he’s my favorite player of all time. So when Howard hit 22 home runs in about half a season, and I read reports that Howard was ready to replace Thome permanently, I was not happy. Then he won Rookie of the Year. That offseason, Thome was traded to the White Sox for noted face-smasher Aaron Rowand and a couple prospects, including Gio Gonzalez.

This was before I paid attention to the minor leagues and before I knew anything about advanced stats. All I knew was that I loved Jim Thome, and Ryan Howard forced him off the team. I was furious.

Then Ryan Howard came out in 2006, hit 58 home runs, and won the MVP. All with that charismatic smile and swagger. Being a fickle young fan, my opinion immediately changed. I still loved Jim Thome, but there was room in my heart for Ryan Howard too. And there was plenty of room for his trademark booming opposite field home runs. Continue reading…

A Miracle Season For Chooch, Why Not?

If you’ve been reading my work at Crashburn for a while, then you may know one unavoidable truth about me: I’m extraordinarily sentimental. Millenials receive plenty of criticism for being overly nostalgic and maybe another time I’ll discuss my theories about why that is, but for now let’s just say I fully admit that I can be a bit of a sap. I don’t know if that’s a contradiction given that I’m a writer on a site which seeks to find objective truths, but it’s very much a part of who I am and how I engage with the sport of baseball.

I intended to write today with my objective lens fully in place and really dig into what’s happening with the Phillies right now. There are many factors to their success which are simply unsustainable and we’ve tried hard to keep that in mind with our commentary on this site this season. But then, Jim Salisbury wrote a piece and my penchant for sentimentality won out. There are more than 120 games left in the season and we’ll have plenty of time to analyze what’s going right and what could go horribly wrong, but today I want to live in the moment and talk about Carlos Ruiz.

Continue reading…

There’s Nothing Wrong With Jerad Eickhoff

This headline could make me look foolish depending on the outcome of tonight’s game, but despite his relative struggles (4.43 ERA this year vs. 2.65 ERA in 2015), there’s nothing to indicate that Jerad Eickhoff has been a worse pitcher this season than last.

First things first, let’s take a look at Eickhoff’s underlying stats this year versus last.

Capture

As you can see, his HR/FB% and BABIP have both increased since last year, while his rate of runners left on base plummeted almost 15 percentage points. However, his FIP, xFIP, and SIERA have hardly changed, despite the roughly 2 run difference in ERA.

Continue reading…

Things Fall Apart: Cliff Lee’s Greatest Game

It’s hard to pinpoint the exact moment you knew something very, very good was about to go very, very bad. Logically there’s a moment when the trajectory of a failed relationship switches from falling in love to falling apart; when a television show transitions from genius to clichéd slop; when a borderline dynastic baseball team becomes a crumbling roster of aging heroes. There are many moments which can be identified in retrospect as watershed moments for the most recent Phillies collapse — naming Ruben Amaro the GM, the Ryan Howard extension, the Hunter Pence acquisition, Howard’s ankle explosion, the Jonathan Papelbon signing — and each of them triggered key components of both the inevitability and the rapidity of the collapse. But when did we, the fans, know the collapse had arrived? I’ll posit it was the day Cliff Lee turned in the finest outing of his Phillies career.

Yesterday Ken Rosenthal broke the news broke that Cliff Lee is not expected to play this season which will effectively end Lee’s career. The news is hardly a shock given that Lee hasn’t pitched in the majors since July 31st, 2014, but it does serve as the latest in a seemingly never-ending stream of moments which demand reflecting on the Phillies’ most recent glory years.

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A Changing of the Guard

To avoid burying the lede: I will no longer be running or contributing to Crashburn Alley for the foreseeable future. And Crashburn Alley is not going away.

NBC was brave enough to take a chance on me several years ago, allowing me to cover baseball at HardballTalk with a handful of terrific baseball writers and tremendous people. Now, I will be writing there on a full-time basis, five days a week. Part of this agreement requires my full attention at NBC Sports, so I can no longer write here.

Continue reading…

Utley Retrospective – The Minors and Rookie Campaign(s)

I’m going to take a close look at Chase Utley‘s minor league career and rookie season(s), much like I did with Jimmy Rollins when he was traded to The Dodgers. When I wrote about the franchise-best shortstop last winter, I called James Calvin Rollins “the rarest of the rare”. Damned if we didn’t have two gems surrounding the Keystone Sack in the Keystone State for more than a decade. This is how we got from the draft to a big-league superstar named Chase Cameron Utley. Continue reading…