2014 Phillies Report Card: Darin Ruf

Do you remember 2012? Those glorious days when we hadn’t yet accepted what the Phillies would become? In those days, Darin Ruf was the shining light, the prospect everyone held up as the answer, the heir to Abreu, Werth and Pence as the slugging corner outfielder. That was before everyone realized that “playing well in AA and not having any major league experience” isn’t the same thing as “prospect.”

I’m sorry. I’ll let that go. It’s time.

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2014 Phillies Report Card: Justin De Fratus

Did you know that the Phillies had an exciting young right-handed reliever dominate the league with a slider this past season? Did you know they had another one not named Kenny Giles?

For the first time in his career, Justin De Fratus spent Opening Day on a Major League roster. Unfortunately for him, his stay in the bigs was notably short lived. He threw five innings over four games and surrendered four runs on a 2-run homer by Mark Reynolds and a 2-run homer by some guy named Giancarlo Stanton. The day after the Stanton blast, the Phillies took advantage of De Fratus’ final option year and sent him down to Lehigh Valley.

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2014 Phillies Report Card: David Buchanan

On May 21, Cliff Lee hit the disabled list for the first time. Their pitching depth in the upper minors thin, the Phillies turned to a 25-year-old rookie to fill Lee’s spot in the rotation, an unheralded seventh-round draftee who made an impression in the spring. That rookie, David Buchanan, would go on to spend the next month-and-a-half pitching frequently respectable outings. And you know what? There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.

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2014 Phillies Report Card: Carlos Ruiz

Catcher Carlos Ruiz could have signed with another team — perhaps a contender, for one last shot at a championship — but both he and the Phillies decided to continue their partnership, agreeing on a three-year, $26 million contract last November. Ruiz became one of only three catchers to ink a contract of three years or longer during the off-season, joining Brian McCann (five years, $85 million with the New York Yankees) and Jarrod Saltalamacchia (three years, $21 million with the Miami Marlins).

To some, Ruiz was a microcosm of the modus operandi that has doomed the Phillies over the last five years: signing aging, injury-prone players to expensive multi-year deals. However, while the Phillies had catching depth, there was no obvious candidate with whom they felt comfortable starting five or six games a week. Cameron Rupp would have been the first choice, and the Phillies weren’t even confident in him backing up Ruiz, so they signed Wil Nieves for the back-up role in December. While Ruiz’s deal was for multiple years and relatively expensive given what other catchers received, in the grand scheme of things, it’s not a contract that will affect their payroll flexibility nor does it have any sizable risk attached to it.

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2014 Phillies Report Card: Jake Diekman

Here’s a pretty thing:

RP K IP K/9 G
Dellin Betances 135 90.0 13.50 70
Wade Davis 109 72.0 13.63 71
Aroldis Chapman 106 54.0 17.67 54
Brad Boxberger 104 64.2 14.58 63
Andrew Miller 103 62.1 14.93 73
Kenley Jansen 101 65.1 13.96 68
Jake Diekman 100 71.0 12.68 73
David Robertson 96 64.1 13.48 63
Craig Kimbrel 95 61.2 13.97 63
Cody Allen 91 69.2 11.84 76

That, friends, is a who’s who of the elite relief pitchers in Major League Baseball. Aroldis Chapman. Craig Kimbrel. Kenley Jansen. Wade Davis. Dellin Betances. Andrew Miller. And … Jake Diekman? The Phillies’ lefty from Nebraska, who was picked in the 30th round of the 2007 draft, finished seventh in the majors in strikeouts among qualified relief pitchers.

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2014 Phillies Report Card: Mario Hollands

Mario Hollands‘ name was something of a surprise on the Opening Day 25 man roster. The 25 year old had pitched well in the spring, during which Ryne Sandberg appeared to take quite a shining to him; only 3 other pitchers made more spring training appearances than Hollands, a non-roster invitee who spent all of 2013 in either Clearwater or Reading.

The notion of spring-training-as-tryout should probably draw more ire than it does from those of us that wring our hands constantly about sample size. Maybe Sandberg saw some potential in Hollands’ 94 to 95 mph fastball generating ground ball outs, or a slider which, at its peak, can be impressive. Or maybe he was just pleased that Hollands allowed only 4 runs in 11 and 2/3rds innings. Either way, he certainly does not wring his hands about sample size, and not only did Hollands make the Opening Day roster, Sandberg tossed him into the furnace on opening day in Arlington, into a 2-2 tie in the bottom of the 9th against the Rangers.

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2014 Phillies Report Card: Tony Gwynn Jr.

When Jayson Werth went to the Nationals after the 2010 season, the Phillies not only lost their primary source of right-handed power, they also lost their back-up center fielder. From 2008 to 2010, the Phillies played 70 games with a starting center fielder not named Shane Victorino and of those, Werth played center in 60. His positional flexibility allowed the Phillies to roster corner outfielders as their 4th and 5th outfielders rather than worry about keeping a backup center fielder on the 25-man.

From 2011 to 2013, however, the most commonly used backup center fielders by games played in CF is a damning list: Continue reading…

2014 Phillies Report Card: Ben Revere

I am a malcontent idiot when it comes to baseball sometimes. I watched Ben Revere last year and saw only an empty-average, speed-compensating-for-instincts center fielder and thought, “well, I can put up with that, I guess.” At some points during this season, I still found myself biting a lip at his walk totals or banging a fist at his judgment in the field. He’s not a perfect player, but he’s better than I give him credit for, and his season should be remembered more purely than its caveats would have you believe it was.

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2014 Phillies Report Card: Marlon Byrd

In November, the Phillies signed Marlon Byrd to a two-year, $16 million contract on the heels of a breakout season split between the New York Mets and Pittsburgh Pirates. The Phillies had just completed a season in which they saw Delmon Young, John Mayberry, and Darin Ruf take the bulk of the playing time in right field, only to compile an aggregate .297 wOBA compared to the .325 major league average. Though Byrd was 36, the thought was that his breakout was legitimate and he would stabilize the Phillies’ outfield along with Ben Revere and Domonic Brown.

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Crashburn Alley 2014 Playoff Predictions

The playoffs are finally upon us, which means it’s time for some more Predictions Which Are Bound to Make Us All Look Stupid. Our pre-season predictions weren’t so hot, but we’re going to put the pedal to the metal again to see which among us can see best into the future.

The numbers under the logos indicate the W-L from the previous round. The World Series winners have been double-underlined in case the bracket is too hard to follow. Click on a name to go to the top of his or her bracket.

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