CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury reports that the Phillies and outfielder Jeff Francoeur have mutual interest in a reprisal role in 2016. Francoeur signed with the Phillies on a minor league deal in November and made the Opening Day roster out of spring training, earning a $950,000 salary.
Third baseman Cody Asche hit a pair of solo home runs in Tuesday night’s 6-2 win against the Miami Marlins. It’s the first multi-homer game of his three-year career. Surprisingly, it was also his first multi-hit game since August 14.
Asche currently holds a subpar .303 weighted on-base average. The National League average for third basemen is .323 and the average for left fielders is .320. He would rank ahead of only Pablo Sandoval (.288) among qualified third basemen and ahead of only Michael Taylor (.280) and Ichiro Suzuki (.259) among left fielders with 400-plus plate appearances.
The Phillies, coincidentally, lost every game of their three-game weekend set in Atlanta against the Braves by a 2-1 score. The getaway game on Sunday included a late comeback to tie the game at 1-1, but it ultimately ended with the Braves walking off in the bottom of the ninth inning against Luis Garcia. Closer Ken Giles sat in the bullpen, unused in a week. In fact, Giles has been used only four times this month.
The Phillies made a ton of progress on the field this year. They successfully completed the hardest phase of their rebuilding process, trading away Cole Hamels along with a few others while saying goodbye to GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. Incoming president Andy MacPhail emphasized the importance of utilizing analytics when the Phillies introduced him in June. The Phillies may finish with 100 losses this season, but it has otherwise been a great year.
And then there was Sunday, when pride for their long-awaited modernization was erased by a revival of boorish jock culture. It started when interim manager Pete Mackanin benched Odubel Herrera for “pouting”, which is fine, because that pouting included a violent bat toss towards the Phillies’ on-deck circle, which could’ve hit someone. That deserves a punishment.
Fans of the Crash Bag have likely noticed it has been absent from the site for a while. We’re going to try to bring it back, perhaps at a twice-monthly rate and Adam and I will share the responsibilities. That could change going forward. The Crash Bag was something I always looked forward to reading when Michael Baumann started it and when Adam took over, so I’d love to keep it going.
If you have any questions you’d like to see me tackle next week, feel free to leave them in the comments below or mention me on Twitter. The questions don’t necessarily have to be Phillies- or baseball-centric.
Ryan Howard‘s struggles against left-handed pitching, his 2014 season notwithstanding, are well known. The New York Yankees took advantage of this during the 2009 World Series, having lefty reliever Damaso Marte face Howard four times in four games and getting the out all four times in two fly balls and two strikeouts. It then became the law of the land for opposing managers to bring in their lefty specialist to neutralize Howard.
Injuries, age, and defensive shifting sapped Howard of his potentially productive 30’s, but so did the evolving bullpen zeitgeist. Howard wasn’t the only one affected; sluggers like Adam Dunn, David Ortiz, and Adrian Gonzalez got the same treatment.
With the end of the season drawing near, the Phillies will be preparing first for a change in the front office ranks, as Andy MacPhail will be succeeding Pat Gillick as the team president. If he doesn’t assume direct control of baseball operations, he’ll be in charge of naming someone for that position, as well as finding a new GM after letting Ruben Amaro, Jr. go last week. And then he’ll have to find a permanent manager and revamp the coaching staff. It’ll be a project, to say the least.
Once the Phillies have names written next to their leadership positions, they can begin worrying about their 2016 roster configuration. By early December, they will have to identify to which players they will and will not tender a contract. Currently, 10 players are eligible for arbitration and they’ll have to make decisions on all 10 of them. Let’s run down this list in some detail.
Almost immediately after news of the Cole Hamels trade broke, the return was divided into three categories: the top prospects (Nick Williams, Jake Thompson, Jorge Alfaro), the big contract (Matt Harrison), and the other guys (Jerad Eickhoff, Alec Asher). Often times the other guys in trades are minor league depth or lottery tickets from the low minors, but this time the other guys were essentially MLB-ready starting pitchers who have already combined to start 8 games for the Phillies. While it’s been a rocky start for Alec Asher (0-3, 3 GS, 14.1 IP, 10.67 ERA), Jerad Eickhoff has quickly provided real value at the major league level.
His cumulative numbers aren’t eye-popping through the first five MLB starts of his career (1-3, 3.90 ERA, 19.5 K%, 7.3 BB%) but that includes one disastrous start in Boston: 4 IP, 8 H, 6 ER, 2 BB, 1 K. The results of his other four starts are significantly easier on the eyes — 26 IP, 2.77 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 22.5 K%, 6.9 BB% — and it’s worth noting that three of those four good outings were recorded against playoff-bound competition with the Cubs last weekend and the Mets twice. What’s been particularly interesting about Eickhoff’s major league introduction, though, is his pitch selection and how it changed in his most recent start.
Former Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon arrived with the Washington Nationals in Philadelphia yesterday to open up a three-game series. It’s his first time back in the city since he was traded in July. Papelbon, known for never biting his tongue, threw his former Phillies teammates under the bus when answering questions prior to Monday’s game.