Upping the Down(trodden): Stairs’ Case

Along with their quiet fury of moves this offseason, the Phillies made a lone coaching change, coaxing 2008 NLCS folk hero Matt Stairs down a few flights of, ahem, stairs, out of the broadcast booth and back into those familiar snug red pinstripes.

The goal? Improvement.

It’s no secret the Phillies lacked offensive firepower last season. Last in runs scored and OPS in the majors, they posted a .301 on-base percentage, their worst in four and a half decades. Among 2016 MLB teams, they finished five points off the lowest batting average, two points better than the worst OBP and one point above the worst slugging percentage.

So how will Stairs improve the bats? He spoke with CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury during the Phils beat writer’s Countdown to Clearwater series and outlined his plan.

He focused on a handful of points, almost echoing the sentiments of a buzzed-on-Jim-Beam Crash Davis who, in Bull Durham, spoke of how one dying quail, one ground ball with eyes per week is the difference between a .250 and a .300 hitter. Stairs said: “If every player gave away five at-bats per week that’s 120 at-bats per season. Now, think about it if you can cut that number in half.” Continue reading…

Crashburn Roundtable: Grading the Phillies Offseason

With pitchers and catchers having reported this morning to the Phillies Spring Training Facility in Clearwater, Florida, there seems no better time to place some closure on the most recent offseason. We’ve already seen a number of attempts to grade MLB teams’ offseason pop up over the past couple days and the coming week should see many more such posts. In what follows, we, the writers at Crashburn Alley, enter our contributions to the Phillies offseason grade book.

What grade would you assign the Phillies offseason? Continue reading…

Crash Bag, Vol. 6: Prospects, Underrated Right Fielders, and Hibachi

This time next week, the Crash Bag may have the pleasure of featuring an actual baseball question. Pitchers and catchers report report to camp Monday and position players on Thursday. Who will show up late, i.e., precisely on time? Will that be a BIG DEAL? Those are questions that may be answered in the past and present tense next week. For this week, however, we must continue to entertain ourselves with pure nonsense.

@scottdkessler: Who on the Phillies could eat the most sushi in one sitting, and would they puke like I did tonight?

As best I can reckon, no one currently on the Phillies 40-man roster has played in Japan, which eliminates me taking an easy way out of this question.

This question is similar to the Wing Bowl question I answered last week where I declared Cameron Rupp the winner after Tommy Joseph had to find a CVS to buy some Tums. However, I project a closer battle between Joseph and Rupp in the sushi eat off because indigestion would be less of a factor with sushi, provided Joseph lays off the wasabi. If we’re eating with a fork or fingers, this is the battle. Continue reading…

Who Are You: Michael Saunders

This post is part of a weekly series which will run each Thursday. Over the next several weeks, I’ll take a deep dive look at new members of the Phillies roster. We’re just a couple months away from settling down to watch these guys day-in and day-out for half a year, so let’s try to find out who they are and what to expect from them in 2017.

Previous Installments:

Howie Kendrick

Pat Neshek

Joaquin Benoit Continue reading…

A Too Early Look at the 25-Man Roster: The Last Man In

With pitchers and catchers scheduled to report to Clearwater on February 13th–one short week from now–it is certainly early to look forward to which 25 players will emerge from Spring Training as members of the Phillies Opening Day roster. Two weeks ago, we looked at the locks to break camp with the Major League club. Last week, we began looking at the actual roster battles that could emerge over the next two months. We’ll conclude that series today with the battle for the 25th and final spot on the Opening Day roster.

Previous installments:

Pitching (Locks)

Infield (Locks)

Outfield (Locks)

Backup Catcher

Lefty Reliever

Fifth Outfielder

Seventh Reliever

Continue reading…

A Too Early Look at the 25-Man Roster: Seventh Reliever

With pitchers and catchers scheduled to report to Clearwater on February 13th–one short week from now–it is certainly early to look forward to which 25 players will emerge from Spring Training as members of the Phillies Opening Day roster. Two weeks ago, we looked at the locks to break camp with the Major League club. Last week, we began looking at the actual roster battles that could emerge over the next two months. We’ll conclude that series this week.

Previous installments:

Pitching (Locks)

Infield (Locks)

Outfield (Locks)

Backup Catcher

Lefty Reliever

Fifth Outfielder Continue reading…

A Too Early Look at the 25-Man Roster: Fifth Outfielder Battle

With pitchers and catchers scheduled to report to Clearwater on February 13th–one short week from now–it is certainly early to look forward to which 25 players will emerge from Spring Training as members of the Phillies Opening Day roster. Two weeks ago, we looked at the locks to break camp with the Major League club. Last week, we began looking at the actual roster battles that could emerge over the next two months. We’ll conclude that series this week.

Previous installments:

Pitching (Locks)

Infield (Locks)

Outfield (Locks)

Backup Catcher

Lefty Reliever

Candidates

With four outfield spots essentially on lockdown with the starting outfield of Odubel Herrera, Michael Saunders, and Howie Kendrick and Aaron Altherr likely to make the team as a fourth outfielder, the Phillies will be looking to find a fifth outfielder out of the remaining candidates in camp.

Those include two non-roster invites in Chris Coghlan and Daniel Nava, who have both, at various points in their careers, have had success in the major leagues. They are joined by Roman Quinn, who was impressive in his September major league debut, but could potentially benefit more from the regular playing time that would be afforded him at Lehigh Valley than a bit role against major leaguers as a fifth outfielder. Continue reading…

Phillies Avoid Arbitration with Cesar Hernandez

The Phillies reached a contract agreement with Cesar Hernandez Friday afternoon to avoid an arbitration hearing, according to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports. With the deal, Hernandez is set to make $2.55 million in 2017.

This is Hernandez’s first exposure to arbitration due to his Super 2 status. The $2.55 million figure is near midpoint of the figures the two sides exchanged last month when they were unable to reach an agreement before the deadline to avoid scheduling a hearing. The Phillies filed for $2.0 million while Hernandez and his representation filed for $2.8 million. Prior to the offseason, MLB Trade Rumors–which is usually pretty good at estimating arbitration figures–predicted Hernandez would earn $2.55 million. In short, nothing out of the ordinary to see here. Continue reading…

Crash Bag, Vol. 5: Wing Bowl, Ice Cream, and Conception

Congratulations, everyone! We’ve nearly made it through the 2016-17 offseason. This marks the first Crash Bag of February and, therefore, the first Crash Bag of my doing in a month where baseball players will do baseball things wearing their teams’ uniforms. The darkness is almost lifted on the offseason, but we have some dark questions to bring us back down to earth, starting with a biggie.

@Chet_Youbetcha: Which current player would win wing bowl? Who would be the most fun to attend with? Any wing bowl mail bag discussion would be neat.

I had the misfortune of attending Wing Bowl a couple years ago, I believe it was 2014. At the time, I worked with Skin and Bones, a local fixture on the Wing Bowl scene. A couple of us took off work that day and went to see him eat wings. I knew, generally, what Wing Bowl was, and was ready to feel out of place and be constantly appalled by my fellow attendees. But, that abstract distaste was nothing compared the the actual disgust I felt during the two or three hours I was in the Wells Fargo Center. Continue reading…

Phillies Sign Chris Coghlan

It is difficult to muster enthusiasm for a player on a minor league contract. As to the selection of a team’s fifth outfielder, it is much the same. Today, then, the Phillies doubled down on unexciting in the minor league signing of Chris Coghlan, who will come to Spring Training with aspirations of netting one of the remaining bench slots on the roster.

Continue reading…