According to Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News, Mike Schmidt will be joining the Phillies’ broadcast team, calling all 13 Sunday home games. Schmidt is joining Jamie Moyer and Matt Stairs as recent additions to the team, replacing Chris Wheeler and Gary Matthews.
For the Yankees and Tigers, baseball kicks off today as they will face off against the Florida State Seminoles and the Southern Florida Moccasins, respectively. For the Phillies, baseball returns tomorrow afternoon against the Blue Jays, the first of many exhibition games between now and the beginning of the regular season on March 31 in Texas against the Rangers.
You might have noticed that a lot of young players – most of them Braves – have been inked to long-term, pre-free agency extensions recently. Freddie Freeman, Michael Brantley, Julio Teheran, Craig Kimbrel and Andrelton Simmons were each signed to a deal of four or more years this month, and while none of those players presents a great comparable for the Phillies’ Domonic Brown, I can’t help but wonder if a similar approach should be taken with regard to his contract situation.
NBA trade deadline, labor strife, Little Big League…we’ve got it all this week.
@truelladelphia: “How great is Sam Hinkie?”
Pretty great. Early in the season, I had an expectation of getting at least one first-round pick (either this year or next) for Evan Turner and Spencer Hawes, but that stopped being realistic a while ago, thanks to the quality of this year’s draft and the NBA’s inscrutable player movement rules, which gridlocked the draft pick market to a certain extent. Hawes and Turner were both going to walk as free agents this summer anyway, so getting literally anything for them was a win. I would’ve liked to see Hawes go to either Oklahoma City or the Clippers, where I think he could’ve played a significant role on a title contender as a rotation big, but Hinkie got a return on Hawes and Turner while not panic trading Thaddeus Young for 50 cents on the dollar. Second-round NBA draft picks are one of the most useless commodities in sports, but this is where the Astros comparison I’ve been harping on all year comes in–if you take over a team without serious assets, you bide your time by placing a bunch of long-shot bets until you can get some assets. Anyway, Hinkie got rid of three veterans (including Lavoy Allen) for which he had no use and took on a net of either five or six (almost certainly six) second-round draft picks. A smart team can get one rotation player out of six second-round picks, or trade them for something else. This is the guy trading the red paper clip for the house.
Background for this story: the Phillies selected left-handed pitcher Ben Wetzler in the fifth round of last June’s draft. Wetzler, however, turned down the Phillies’ signing bonus of about $400,000 to return to Oregon State for his senior season. Wetzler was a first-team all-Pac-12 selection in his junior year.
According to Baseball America’s Aaron Fitt, the Phillies turned in Wetzler to the NCAA for “inappropriate contact” with a financial advisor. Fitt added:
The Phillies, perhaps more than any other team, have a slew of players with those dreaded question marks hanging over them. Because of their collective age, propensity to get injured, and — for some — recent under-performance, the Phillies aren’t exactly anyone’s favorite to win the pennant. But it is a 162-game season and stranger things have happened.
With that said, let’s look at some of the important storylines facing the Phillies as they are set to begin their quest in 2014.
PECOTA, from Baseball Prospectus, projects the Phillies to finish at 76-86. FanGraphs puts them at 77-85. Atlantis, a sportsbook based in Reno, puts the over-under on the Phillies’ win total at 78. Ask any random baseball fan you see on the street how many games the Phillies will win in 2014, and their answer is likely to fall in the 70-80 range. Could we all have it wrong?
According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, GM Ruben Amaro thinks his team can make a run at the NL East crown, and subsequently the World Series, in 2014.
The Phillies appeared to be jumping into the 21st century when they promoted Scott Freedman from analytics extern to a full-time employee. At long last, we thought, the Phillies would join the other 29 Major League Baseball teams and embrace the utility of analytics.
That still may be true, but new pitching coach Bob McClure — Rich Dubee’s replacement — isn’t a big fan of using numbers. Via Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly:
Following the 2011 season, A.J. Burnett wasn’t looking so hot. Three years into a five-year deal signed prior to the Yankees’ 2009 World Series-winning campaign, Burnett had provided the Yankees with 584 innings of 4.79 ERA (92 ERA+) and a K/BB ratio under 2.0. With two years and $33 million remaining on the deal, Burnett was shipped out to Pittsburgh for minor leaguers Exicardo Cayones and Diego Moreno and 60 cents on the dollar (New York paid $20 million of the remainder).
It was there, in Pittsburgh, that Burnett turned things around. In 393.1 innings, Burnett provided the Bucs with a 3.41 ERA (107 ERA+) and a K/BB ratio of 3.02. What’s more, his home run rate was drastically reduced, going from 81 allowed in those 584 Yankee innings (1.2 per 9) to 29 in 393.1 (or 0.7 per 9).