Recently, manager Ryne Sandberg said he’d be stressing small ball throughout spring training. He’s held true to his word, and that was quite evident in the fifth inning during Friday afternoon’s game against the Tampa Bay Rays, when the Phillies were leading 2-1.
Among the bizarre health issues that have befallen Jesse Biddle in the last couple years, (you may recall he basically pitched through whooping cough in 2013), getting a concussion from a hail stone takes the cake. He was pitching well at AA Reading early in 2014, then he got plunked fleeing for cover from his busted up car during a wild storm, and his season all but fell apart.
— Jesse Biddle (@jessebiddle_54) May 22, 2014
Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg is stressing small ball this spring, Meghan Montemurro of The News Journal reports:
Sandberg on calling for sac bunts/hit & run/bunt for hits aka small ball: “It’s something I’m stressing this spring.” #Phillies
— Meghan Montemurro (@M_Montemurro) March 11, 2015
Cliff Lee started Thursday afternoon’s contest against the Houston Astros and all seemed to go well: he went two innings, gave up two hits but no runs, walked none, and struck out none. He told the media he felt “normal” after the game and that was that.
The next day, he reported feeling a twinge in his elbow. The Phillies sent him for an MRI on Saturday, which revealed swelling in the same area of his elbow that bothered him last season and forced him onto the disabled list twice. As might have been obvious, Lee’s next scheduled start for Tuesday has been cancelled. He’ll do some light throwing and, in the meantime, his MRI results will be examined by Dr. James Andrews.
By last September, the majority of Phillies fans had understandably shifted their attention to football or bonsai tree pruning or organizing the mysterious kitchen drawer or doing literally anything other than watch hideously awful baseball. By now those fans have no doubt caught up on the very few highlights they missed: the debut of Maikel Franco, the continued dominance of Kenny Giles and a surprise combined no-hitter in Atlanta. But there was another September surprise that received very little hype and is now one of the storylines I’ll be keeping a close eye on this spring: Luis Garcia.
The Phillies are certainly no strangers to that part of the off-season — they nabbed Shane Victorino in 2004’s Rule 5 draft from the Los Angeles Dodgers — but in recent years, they’ve been inconsequential. In December 2012, the Phillies took outfielder Ender Inciarte from the Arizona Diamondbacks, but returned him shortly after the start of the 2013 season. A stipulation for keeping a player from the Rule 5 draft is that the acquiring team has to keep him on the 25-man roster all season. Inciarte turned in a decent year with the D-Backs last season, posting a .303 weighted on-base average with 19 stolen bases.
This year, Herrera is the big gamble and he stands a much better chance of remaining on the Phillies’ roster as they’re now officially in a rebuild mode. In 2012, they fancied themselves contenders still. Herrera, 23, led the Texas League (Double-A) in batting average last season at .321 in 408 plate appearances. He didn’t show much in the way of power (only two home runs plus 16 doubles and four triples with Double-A Frisco) but showcased decent speed (21 stolen bases in 31 attempts) and was voted the best defensive second baseman in Baseball America’s Best Tools survey. The Phillies are using him in the outfield, given their current needs. At worst, the Phillies will have attempted to turn him into a more versatile player.
This latest salvo of Cole Hamels analysis comes from Tony Blengino at FanGraphs. Blengino is a former stat wizard with the Seattle Mariners. The analysis gives off the appearance of thoroughness but it’s a simple FIP-ERA comparison that uses the assumption that the Phillies’ outfield defense was “reasonably strong” — a laughable assertion.
I don’t have the time right now to go into it in depth, but thought I’d pass along the link if you want something to hate-read. I may add more here when I have more time.
The Phillies will officially kick off Grapefruit League action against the Yankees at 1:05 PM ET this afternoon, ending a dreary winter and beginning what should be a dreary spring and summer.
Your lineups, via Steve Gross of The Morning Call and the New York Post’s Ken Davidoff:
It’s been more than a year since the exciting announcement that the Phillies front office added Scott Freedman to help improve their usage of analytics was paired with the endlessly mock-able revelation that he was actually an “extern” whose salary paid not by the Phillies but by Major League Baseball. While every other MLB team accepted the value of data analysis to some degree, it appeared from the outside that the Phillies relationship with analytics was much like that of a stubborn young child with broccoli leaving MLB and parents alike with no option but to force feed their obstinate charges. It was laughable and, frankly, embarrassing for analytically-minded Phillies fans, but sometimes even the tiniest step in a positive direction can result in momentum leading to positive change and maybe, just maybe, that’s what has occurred in the Phillies front office since the extern experiment.