Crash Bag, Vol. 108: Cape Cod League

@Ut26: “What current Phillie would make the best road trip partner?”

It depends on what you want out of a road trip partner. Really, it depends on what you want out of a road trip. Because if this is your cross-country vacation, you want something different than if you’re just getting from point A to point B. If I’m just in a two-man Cannonball Run, all I want is someone who likes driving more than I do. I hate driving. Ideally, I’d like to control the radio at least up to a point and be left alone to sleep when I’m not driving, but those are negotiable. KTLSW, for instance, is content to carry more than half of the driving load when we go on road trips, which means I can live with her controlling the radio and her refusal to allow me to play Springsteen under any circumstances. Marriage is about compromises.

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Looking Ahead to Domonic Brown’s Second Half

Back on June 13, I put up a quick poll to get a feel for what fans expected of Domonic Brown in terms of weighted on-base average (wOBA) going forward. I had a bit of an ulterior motive because I expected that the responses would skew negative (though less negative than that of the general Phillies fan population).

After closing the poll results, here’s how they look (out of 306 responses):

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Kyle Kendrick Has Had Some First-Inning Issues

Jayson Werth‘s three-run home run in the first inning off of Kyle Kendrick in Sunday’s first-half finale was about the most predictable thing that could have happened. Kendrick entered the game having allowed 21 earned runs in 18 first innings. At the end of the first ion Sunday, his opening frame ERA was an ugly 11.37. Kendrick blanked the Nationals over the next four innings, then allowed one more run in the sixth before leaving with two outs. Mario Hollands later allowed one of Kendrick’s inherited runners to score, giving Kendrick a line of five earned runs allowed in 5 2/3 innings.

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Phillies Call Up Grady Sizemore from Triple-A

With the All-Star break just three days away, the Phillies decided to add an extra outfielder to the roster. MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki reports that Grady Sizemore has been called up from Triple-A Lehigh Valley. The Phillies signed Sizemore to a minor league deal back on June 24 after he was let go by the Boston Red Sox.

To make room for Sizemore on the roster, the Phillies made a pair of procedural moves, which you shouldn’t read anything into:

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Giles gif

A Word Of Caution On Kenny Giles

The 2014 Phillies season is a barren wasteland in which Phillies fans have mercifully been given a beautiful oasis named Kenny Giles. As he rose through the Phillies minor league system, Giles was noted for his plus-plus fastball velocity and he has not disappointed. Obsessive radar gun watching in anticipation of triple digits is a must during Giles’ appearances but not only has he delivered on the promise of his fastball, he’s given a surprise gift to Phillies fans in the form of a wipeout slider. There was some buzz that Giles had a secondary pitch with potential, but the slider he brought with him to the Major Leagues is no development project — the purported potential has been actualized in a pitch that makes opposing hitters flail with utter abandon.

Outside of surrendering a home run to the first batter he faced, Giles couldn’t have asked for a better introduction to the majors. Through 12.2 innings, he’s sporting a 0.71 ERA with 17 K’s and making the best hitters on the planet look positively foolish with his two pitch arsenal. According to Brooks Baseball, he’s cracked 100 MPH with his fastball in four of his twelve appearances. But the slider, oh, the slider. Since his call up, he’s induced 39 swings on the 77 sliders he’s thrown. Of those 39 swings, 21 (53.9%) have been whiffs. Fooling Major League hitters that badly is a phenomenal feat; it’s also one that’s unlikely to last.

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A’s Trade a Blueprint for Phillies?

Billy Beane‘s somewhat shocking, all-in trade of Addison Russell, Dan Straily, and Billy McKinney to Chicago for Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel last week signals the official start of trading season. Oakland has made a deal, similar to Milwaukee’s CC Sabathia trade in 2008, that includes an extra month to use its new players and build a lead for the stretch run. The deal also takes away valuable assets from other teams that are likely to make trades for starting pitching and other useful parts. The Phillies should exploit that competition as much as possible, as soon as possible, to both control the market (instead of waiting for it), and to give their trade partners more value.

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Crash Bag, Vol. 107: WAR for Managers

@rarmstrong7777: “is there a manager equivalent to WAR? Could there be if there isn’t?”

There isn’t, and there probably can’t be. The manager’s job is done largely at the margins and behind the scenes, so it’s hard to tell if, for instance, Joe Maddon bringing snakes into the clubhouse has an effect on his team’s performance. Anyone who’s ever had a job knows how much better life is when you have a boss you like and respect, so I don’t doubt that there’s an intangible benefit to having a good manager. How much of a benefit is a harder question to answer. I’ve heard it said that three-time Cy Young winner and Hall of Famer Jim Palmer wouldn’t have stuck in the majors if not for the influence of Earl Weaver. So it’s possible that Earl Weaver was worth 68 WAR to the Orioles just because he mentored Palmer. Or that could be bullshit.

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Reports of Jonathan Papelbon’s Demise Greatly Exaggerated?

Early in the season, I wrote several blog posts discussing Jonathan Papelbon‘s waning velocity and tumbling strikeout rate, but all the right-hander has done over the first half of the season is pitch lights out. Despite missing out on a nomination to the National League All-Star team, Papelbon has been among the game’s best closers. Following last night’s save, a 1-2-3 inning against the Milwaukee Brewers, Papelbon is now 21-for-23 in save opportunities with a 1.27 ERA.

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