Opening Day Notes, Facts, and Trivia

It’s here. At 4:10 this afternoon, the Phillies and Reds will face-off at Great American Ballpark and the offseason will officially be over. It’s fitting in a way that these two teams will begin their season against each other. Last night, the two reigning pennant winners, the Mets and the Royals, opened the season against each other, so why not have the two reigning worst teams in the league kick things off as well?

Last year, the 63-99 Phillies narrowly beat out the 64-98 Reds for the right to call themselves the worst in the league and pick first in the 2016 amateur draft. This year, both teams figure to duke it out for bottom of the league once again. There is going to be a lot of bad baseball played this summer in Phillies and Reds uniforms, don’t miss your chance at the first glimpse of it all this afternoon.

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Crash Landing: Cedric Hunter and Perseverance

Five years ago this Saturday an 18-year-old Bryce Harper played the third regular season game of his minor league career, 19-year-old Mike Trout played his third ever game in Double-A, and 23-year-old Cedric Hunter made the last major league appearance of his career… until today. After a five year hiatus almost to the day, Cedric Hunter is about to return to the major leagues and I can’t stop thinking about it.

At the start of the 2011 season, Hunter appeared in six games for the Padres and made five plate appearances. Given that he was just 23 and had been a decently regarded prospect — the type that shows up on organizational Top 10s, but not necessarily global Top 100s — he had to think his major league career was just beginning, but in the five years since he’s made 2,075 plate appearances at the Double- and Triple-A level without another taste of the majors.

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Crashburn Alley’s 2016 Predictions

Opening Day is here which can only mean one thing… it’s time for us here at Crashburn Alley to make a bunch of predictions about the 2016 season that are absolutely, definitely, 100% guaranteed to be either right or wrong. In the comments section, be sure to share your predictions and let us know where we went right and where we went terribly wrong.

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An Educated Guess at the Phillies Roster

UPDATE: The Phillies have officially announced their 25-man roster and the roster below is correct. The three necessary 40-man moves to open spots for Emmanuel Burriss, Cedric Hunter, and James Russell were sending Matt Harrison, Aaron Altherr, and Mario Hollands to the 60-day disabled list.

On Twitter today, Jim Peyton of Phuture Phillies posted an updated Phillies minor league roster. This is not official and could certainly change at some point this weekend, but the players not included on the minor league roster do comprise a clear 25-man roster for the Phillies. Call this an educated guess at the Opening Day roster:

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Bold Prediction: Tyler Goeddel Will Compete For NL Rookie Of The Year

Corey Seager, Steven Matz, Julio Urias, Trea Turner, Tyler Goeddel. That’s how I see the 2016 NL Rookie of the Year race. There are some studs in this rookie class, but Goeddel is a multi-tooled offensive player, and is not likely to be a defensive liability. If he gets hot, he could put up counting stats that make some of the voters for the writers’ annual Post-Season-Make-Your-Own-News (POSMYON) Awards take notice. Yes, the Posmyons. The statues are lovely. It’s a likeness of William Randolph Hearst orchestrating a war. Ok…maybe that’s a bad comp.

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Bold Prediction: The Bullpen Will Be Slightly Better Than Terrible

We all got to pick our own topics for this week’s Bold Predictions series, which means I volunteered to do this. As soon as I did, I said to myself, I immediately regret this decision.

It’s not exactly easy to prove that our bullpen won’t stink. It’s kind of been our calling card in recent years.

Not only that, but for a team in the process of building a lineup and molding a rotation, the bullpen is not generally the first priority. A lot of the guys who will populate the cage beneath Ashburn Alley are there by default. Just ask aspiring starter Brett Oberholtzer.

But I made the commitment, and it wouldn’t be a bold prediction if it was obvious, or even likely for that matter.
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Bold Prediction: Maikel Franco Will Receive MVP Votes

This week, the Crashburn staff will be posting our bold predictions for the 2016 Phillies season.

I’m a person who is loathe to put my name next to baseball predictions of any sort – variation and randomness hold too much sway to be able to say much with confidence. Making a prediction that qualifies as “bold”, or, unlikely enough to be surprising? Even worse. However, I’ve attempted to find a sensational-sounding prediction that isn’t as unlikely as it initially appears (AKA, having my cake and eating it too).

The prediction? Phillies’ third baseman Maikel Franco will receive MVP votes in 2016. While predicting MVP votes for a player who has never received serious consideration for the award sounds like a bold move, there are a couple factors in Franco’s favor.

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Bold Prediction: The Phillies Won’t Finish Last in the NL East

Back in the old days when I lived in New Jersey, I read The Philadelphia Inquirer every day like a very good boy. One of my favorite routines was reading the weekly Eagles game preview, in which the paper summarized the two teams and — with little football helmets — indicated which team had a better quarterback, better wideouts, better coaching, and so on. This came to mind in thinking about my bold, daring prediction that the Phillies are going to be bad, but not quite as bad as the formerly mighty Atlanta Braves.

The Conventional Wisdom says the Phillies will be the worst team in baseball (again) this year, but I don’t see it that way. The Reds, Brewers, and Braves also look like pretty terrible teams, and any one of them could finish last. In its 2016 MLB preview, ESPN has ranked the Phillies dead last and projected the team to finish with a 68-94 record. The Braves are projected to finish *just* ahead of the Phillies with a not very nice record of 69-93. So, from that standpoint, making a case for the Braves to be worse than the Phillies is seemingly a pointless exercise in nitpicking over, inarguably, some very exhausting and minuscule differences.

*checks byline*

Yes, that’s exactly the kind of analysis that guy enjoys. Let’s break it down, without little football helmets, using projected rosters for both teams as of March 29. Continue reading…

Notes on a Busy Day In Phillies Camp

Will Venable Acquisition

A day after being released by the Cleveland Indians, 33-year-old Will Venable signed a minor league contract with the Phillies. With three of the five outfield roster spots locked up by Peter Bourjos, Tyler Goeddel, and Odubel Herrera, Venable will join David Lough, Cedric Hunter, and Emmanuel Burriss in the battle for the two remaining spots.

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Bold Prediction: Bourjos Will Make the Cardinals Look Foolish

This week the Crashburn staff will be posting our bold predictions for the 2016 Phillies season.

The St. Louis Cardinals organization has done a lot of things right over the last decade and a half. In 2003, they swapped one (admittedly great) season of J.D. Drew for a prospect you may have heard of named Adam Wainwright. They let franchise icon Albert Pujols walk when his free agent price tag became too unwieldy. Their player development staff has turned early-, mid-, and late-round draft picks into major league regulars at obscene rates. As a result, they’ve reached nine of the past 16 National League Championship Series and rapidly become America’s favorite team to hate. But contrary to what St. Louisans will tell you, the Cardinals are not perfect.

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