A Crashburn Changeover

When I joined Crashburn Alley two and a half years ago, I had the pleasure of joining a writing crew of Michael Baumann, Paul Boye, Eric Longenhagen, Ryan Sommers and, of course, our bossman, Bill Baer. Over time I’ve watched as each of them has moved on and today, it’s time for me to do the same. Tomorrow I will be starting a new job writing for MLB.com’s Cut4 site which means this is my penultimate piece at Crashburn Alley.

I’ve deeply enjoyed the opportunity to talk about Phillies baseball with you over the past few years and cannot thank you, the readers, enough for helping create a community which makes Crashburn such a tremendous place to write. It’s not easy for me to say goodbye, but I am excited that my moving on means someone else has the opportunity to step up. We are absolutely thrilled to announce that Crashburn Alley isn’t going anywhere thanks to our new editor-in-chief, Spencer Bingol.

You’ve likely read some of Spencer’s excellent work here at Crashburn, but he’s also been a stellar writer and editor for Beyond The Box Score. I have full confidence in his ability to step up to the plate, as it were, and I cannot wait to see what he does with the place. I only ask that you treat him as well as you have treated me.

I want to thank our current writing staff, Adam Dembowitz, Brad Engler, Tim Guenther, Ben Harris, Michael Schickling, and Dave Tomar for their many contributions to the site. Additionally, I need to thank Bill Baer first for giving me the opportunity to start writing about baseball and then for trusting me to manage the site that he spent so many years building.

As I said up top, this is my penultimate post. Rather than making a self-indulgent note my final word, I’ll say goodbye to the site with a more baseball-relevant farewell which you will be able to read later this morning.

Thanks again to all of you. If you want to keep in touch, I’ll still be around on Twitter (@crashlandrey) and if you want to keep reading my work you can do so at Cut4 where I’ll be working full-time and at FanGraphs where I’ll now be contributing once a week.

Welcome to the Show, Alfaro and Quinn

So this is fun.

And as if that weren’t enough, Quinn will be in the starting lineup against the Nationals this afternoon batting second and playing center field. To date, the Phillies September call-ups have primarily been unexciting bullpen arms and increasingly veteran role players like Darin Ruf and Cody Asche. But with Reading’s elimination from the postseason last night, two of the Phillies top prospects have finally gotten the call.

Continue reading…

More Roster Reinforcements for the Phillies

Last night, the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs were eliminated from the postseason and the newest batch of September roster reinforcements are headed to join the Phillies as a result.

Continue reading…

Vince Velasquez and Secondaries

Vince Velasquez‘s 2016 season is officially in the books and it’s hard to find much to complain about. Despite a brief trip to the disabled list in June and an early September shutdown, he set a career high innings total at 136 and crossed the 100 innings mark for the first time since 2013. He struck out 27.6% of batters faced which ranks 9th in the majors among pitchers with 130+ innings and demonstrated an ability to maintain elite fastball velocity deep into outings. Although his run prevention leaves room for improvement (4.12 ERA), the overall performance was solid and more than a little encouraging for the 24-year-old in his first full season as a major league starter.

However, that’s not to say Velasquez is a finished product. His biggest weakness is the cause of his high rate of pitches per plate appearances — his 4.01 P/PA ranks 21st of 126 qualified pitchers — which, by extension, limited him to less than seven innings in 21 of his 24 starts this season. That weakness? You can either call it fastball over-reliance or ineffective secondaries depending on how you want to slant it.

Continue reading…

Crash Landing: The Enigma of Freddy Galvis

Favorite baseball players don’t come along very often, for me at least. A true favorite player is an emotional commitment and it takes time for that level of personal investment to build up. I can list dozens of players I love to watch play. I may even refer to some of them as favorites off-hand from time to time, but true genuine favorites in the literal sense of the word? For me only two players have achieved that status: Scott Rolen and Chase Utley. I don’t know when my next favorite will come along, but I know no one is particularly close right now. Instead, what I have right now are short-lived obsessions when one player is on an exciting tear. At various times this year, I’ve favored Odubel Herrera or Aaron Nola or Vince Velasquez or Maikel Franco. But at this specific moment in time, my “favorite” is a player I endearingly refer to as “The Enigma”, shortstop Freddy Galvis.

Here’s the most important starting point with Freddy Galvis: he has the worst on-base percentage in the majors among qualified hitters and the player with the second most, Alexei Ramirez, was released by his team earlier this week. Not only that, his .269 OBP isn’t far off from his career mark of .278. So it’s bad, but it’s also unsurprisingly bad. No one expects Galvis to be an offensive force because we’ve been watching him in the majors since 2012 and he’s consistently been ineffective at the plate. There’s absolutely nothing enigmatic about that.

But then there’s this ridiculous stretch he currently finds himself on. Entering play last night, he was sporting a .278/.333/.577 slashline in 105 plate appearances since (arbitrary end point alert) August 6th. A .577 slugging percentage! The power surge was thanks to seven home runs in the span of the month. Last year, Galvis set his career high for home runs in a single season with seven. This year he matched that in a stretch of 105 plate appearances!

Continue reading…

Crash Landing: Keeping An Eye On Ryan Howard and the Big Picture

I remember at some point last winter I declared that I was done writing about Ryan Howard only to go on to write about him often this season. This won’t even be my last post about him this year as I’m certain to want to use the occasion of his final game in red pinstripes as an opportunity to look back on a legendary career. Today, though, I want to talk about his most recent… controversy? Can you even call it that? How about this… his most recent news-making quote.

Yesterday, manager Pete Mackanin had this to say about first base playing time for the rest of the season as quoted by Bob Ford of The Inquirer:

Continue reading…

September Call-Up Preview

Baseball has this absurd annual tradition of expanding rosters each September. It’s ludicrous that the final pushes for playoff positions occur with baseball being played under an entirely different set of rules than those used for the first five months of the season, but that’s baseball for you. It’s a quirky sport ruled by tradition and one of those traditions is that teams are allowed to put enough players on the active roster to field four teams and still have four players left over. No team uses all 15 extra roster slots in September, but all teams will use some of those slots. So who will get the call for the Phillies?

The bulk of the new additions to the Phillies roster will be pitchers. Starting pitchers Vince Velasquez and Jake Thompson are likely to be shut down within the next week or so which means the rotation will need reinforcements. Plus, loading up the bullpen with extra is a time-honored September addition. So let’s start there with a look at what pitchers we can expect to see this month:

Continue reading…

Crash Bag, Vol. 9: Before and After

So…bad habits are bad, and are hard to break. One of mine is procrastination, as you’ll see by the dates of the questions submitted for this Crashbag. For months I just sat on this article — which I began writing in February — because I was embarrassed by the amount of time that had passed, and because I felt badly for the wonderful people who provided the great questions. Since I really like the people who asked these questions (or at least their online personae) and also enjoy writing the Crashbag, I thought it would be interesting to frame my responses in a before and after framework. I’ll answer each question in the “before” sense — that is, the way I answered (or in some cases, would have answered) in February — and then in the “after” sense, reflecting my current viewpoints.

Before: I suppose it’s theoretically possible, in the same way that it’s theoretically possible I win the lottery (if I played). However, I expect the Phillies to be right around 70 wins this year before making a big leap in 2017 into playoff contention. Right now there are too many holes, too many young players, and too many question marks.

Continue reading…

Goodbye, Chooch.

Hanging on the wall above my dresser, next to the decorative Phillies lamp, looking over the replica 2008 World Series trophy, is a framed commemoration of the great 2008 World Champions of Baseball. The multi-panel frame shows a box of infield dirt, which a hologram sticker assures me is from the actual playing surface. There’s also a picture of Cole Hamels finishing a pitch, under which is a shot of Shane Victorino leaping onto the victory dogpile. Undoubtedly, at the bottom of that pile is Carlos Ruiz.

Today, nearly eight years later and after eleven seasons in red pinstripes, Carlos Ruiz has been traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Continue reading…