With the end of spring training drawing near, it’s time to take stock of which players helped or hurt their own causes in Grapefruit League action. Spring training playing time constitutes a small and nearly useless sample of playing time, but teams still use it to figure out who belongs on the roster and how much playing time to allot to whom. With that said, let’s see how some key Phillies contestants fared.
Manager Ryne Sandberg started Ben Revere in left field in Sunday’s Grapefruit League game against the Detroit Tigers. It went well, as Revere leaped over the fence to steal a solo home run away from Rajai Davis in the third inning. (Funny story about that here.) Sandberg said the position change is likely permanent, as Meghan Montemurro of The News Journal reported yesterday. With Revere out of center field, the Phillies are expected to have Odubel Herrera take over that position on a regular basis to start the season.
First, via MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki, top prospect and shortstop J.P. Crawford is expected to miss four to six weeks with a strained left oblique. It’s not a big deal as long as the injury doesn’t linger. Crawford will only miss a month and change, and it won’t affect the timeline of his progression to the major leagues. Baseball America rated Crawford as the 14th-best prospect in baseball recently following his 2014 campaign in which he posted a .781 OPS with 11 home runs and 24 stolen bases in 538 plate appearances between Single-A Lakewood and Clearwater. He’s seen as the next franchise shortstop following the departure of Jimmy Rollins.
The Phillies starting rotation situation is a spicy hot flaming pile of pain and torture which, no matter how hard you try, cannot be extinguished by your tears. There’s a beautiful alternate dimension in which pitchers don’t break and the Phillies enter the season with a rotation of Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee, Chad Billingsley, Aaron Harang and the victor of a Clearwater competition for the fifth spot. In this barbaric world, however, Lee is out indefinitely, Billingsley will miss at least the first few weeks of the season as he continues to recover from his elbow surgeries, and Harang has missed time this spring due to back soreness. What was once a battle for the fifth rotation spot has evolved into a desperate allocation of rotation slots to any and all available pitchers in camp. As a result, David Buchanan suddenly finds himself thrust into the role of “rotation lock,” and, fortunately for the Phillies, he’s looked entirely deserving of his new role thus far.
I and my colleagues at Rotoworld responded to a bunch of prompts, predicting the upcoming season. Give it a read using the link above, tell me what you think, and feel free to post your own predictions in the comments. If you haven’t already, make sure to get the Rotoworld 2015 Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide before you start drafting in your fantasy leagues.
The Crashburn season predictions will be posted on Sunday, April 5, the day before Opening Day against the Boston Red Sox.
If you missed any of the weekend posts:
The Colorado Rockies released starter Jhoulys Chacin today, MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez reports. The right-hander had a miserable spring, allowing seven runs in 9 2/3 innings on 16 hits and four walks while striking out five. The move comes as a bit of a surprise as Chacin was penciled in behind Jorge De La Rosa and ahead of Kyle Kendrick in the Rockies’ rotation. The Rockies will be on the hook for 45 days of pay for Chacin, or $1,359,890, per Joel Sherman of the New York Post. He has $4,140,110 remaining.
Chacin struggled last season as well, finishing with a 5.40 ERA and a 42/28 K/BB ratio in 63 1/3 innings. He missed time during spring training and at the beginning of the season due to right shoulder issues, as his season debut didn’t occur until May 4. His last start came on June 28 as he went back on the disabled list with more right shoulder issues. It has been a frequent problem for Chacin, as he made only 14 starts in 2012 for similar reasons.
Cole Hamels had an unfortunate start to Saturday afternoon’s Grapefruit League start against the Toronto Blue Jays. He served up a solo home run to Jose Reyes on the first pitch of the game, then later let Jose Bautista go yard to straightaway center field. It’s the continuation of what has been a slow spring for Hamels, as he’s currently sporting a 7.59 ERA in 10 2/3 spring innings. To his credit, Hamels settled down as those were the only two runs he allowed over 3 2/3 innings.
Hamels’ spring performance was frustrating Phillies fans and serving as a deterrent to some fans of other teams, as Matt Winkelman of Phillies Minor Thoughts highlighted on Twitter:
Early in the winter, there was a clamor for the Phillies to sign Cuban outfielder Yasmany Tomas. On the heels of Jose Abreu‘s breakout campaign for the Chicago White Sox, the thought was the Cuban market would be a good way to infuse some star power back into the Phillies’ system during a rebuild. With a then-estimated five- or six-year deal, Tomas would be around for at least three years of projected competitive baseball in Philadelphia.
The Phillies did show interest, but it waned the more their scouts watched him. His defense was not major league caliber and his propensity to strike out did not project well in ascending to the major leagues. The Phillies dropped out of the running in late November. Two days before Tomas signed with the Diamondbacks on a six-year, $68.5 million contract, our own Corinne Landrey wrote why the Phillies had justification in souring on him:
MLB.com’s Thomas Harding reported yesterday that former Phillie Kyle Kendrick will start on Opening Day for the Colorado Rockies. They’ll open up the season on April 6 in Milwaukee to face the Brewers. Lefty Jorge De La Rosa, unarguably a much better pitcher than Kendrick, will be saved for the Rockies’ home opener on April 10 against the Chicago Cubs. The Rockies signed Kendrick to a one-year, $5.5 million contract in early February.