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Phillies Baseball

Updated: 2016-10-25T09:49:41.993-04:00


The Howard - Final 2016 Standings


The Howard- when a player strikes out, commits an error, and hits a homerun all within the same game.  Lovingly named after the Philadelphia Phillies slugger, Ryan Howard.Congratulations to Kyle Seager of the Seattle Mariners. His team might have the longest playoff drought in MLB, but they can claim this prestigious honor at the very least.The Howard - Final 2016 StandingsK. Seager/SEA- 5A. Duvall/CIN- 4D. Espinosa/WSH- 4A. Rosales/SDP- 4M. Sano/MIN- 4C. Davis/BAL- 3N. Hundley/COL- 3B. Lawrie/CHW- 3R. Odor/TEX- 3J. Baez/CHC- 2B. Belt/SFG- 2A. Bregman/HOU- 2C. Carter/MIL- 2Y. Escobar/LAA- 2T. Flowers/ATL- 2T. Frazier/CHW- 2F. Galvis/PHI- 2A. Garcia/ATL- 2D. Gregorius/NYY- 2J. Lamb/ARI- 2A. Russell/CHC- 2E. Suarez/CIN- 2Y. Tomas/ARI- 2N. Walker/NYM- 2T. White/HOU- 2M. Wieters/BAL- 2M. Williamson/SFG- 2C. Adames/COL- 1M. Adams/STL- 1Y. Alonso/OAK- 1T. Anderson/CHW- 1E. Andrus/TEX- 1O. Arcia/MIN- 1J. Arrieta/CHC- 1A. Beltre/TEX- 1X. Bogaerts/BOS- 1J. Bradley/BOS- 1J. Bruce/CIN- 1B. Buxton/MIN- 1K. Calhoun/LAA- 1W. Castillo/ARI- 1S. Castro/NYY- 1C. Colon/KCR- 1M. Conforto/NYM- 1W. Contreras/CHC- 1Z. Cozart/CIN- 1C. Crisp/OAK- 1K. Davis/OAK- 1D. DeShields/TEX- 1A. Diaz/STL- 1A. Dickerson/SDP- 1S. Drew/WSH- 1L. Forsythe/TBR- 1M. Franco/PHI- 1J. Gallo/TEX- 1S. Gennett/MIL- 1P. Goldschmidt/ARI- 1Y. Grandal/LAD-C. Headley/NYY- 1J. Heyward/CHC- 1A. Judge/NYY- 1H. Kendrick/LAD- 1I. Kinsler/DET- 1P. Kivlehan/SDP- 1E. Longoria/TBR- 1M. Machado/BAL- 1K. Maeda/LAD- 1M. Maldonado/MIL- 1J. Marte/LAA- 1J. Martinez/DET- 1J. Mathis/MIA- 1N. Mazara/TEX- 1B. McCann/NYY- 1J. Mercer/PIT- 1M. Montero/CHC- 1M. Moreland/TEX- 1W. Myers/SDP- 1M. Napoli/CLE- 1D. Navarro/CHW- 1H. Perez/MIL- 1T. Plouffe/MIN- 1G. Polanco/PIT- 1H. Ramirez/BOS- 1J. Ramirez/CLE- 1J. Realmuto/MIA- 1H. Renfroe/SDP- 1J. Reyes/NYM- 1M. Reynolds/COL- 1R. Rua/TEX- 1J. Salty/DET- 1D. Santana/MIL- 1R. Schimpf/SDP- 1J. Schoop/BAL- 1J. Segura/ARI- 1T. Shaw/BOS- 1J. Smoak/TOR- 1M. Smith/ATL- 1Y. Solarte/SDP- 1S. Souza/TBR- 1T. Story/COL- 1A. Susac/MIL- 1N. Syndergaard/NYM- 1M. Teixeira/NYY- 1M. Trumbo/BAL- 1J. Upton/DET- 1P. Valaika/COL- 1B. Wallace/SDP- 1B. Wilson/TBR- 1C. Yelich/MIA- 1Inside the Numbers:*151 Howards were committed in 2016, which ranks at the top of the pack since the stat's creation prior to the 2009 season. It's no surprise either, considering more homeruns were in this year than any other year in the history of baseball, except for 2000. Year - # of Howards: 2009- 111, 2010- 112, 2011- 107, 2012- 129, 2013- 92, 2014- 118, 2015- 116, 2016- 151.*The 2015 Howards standings will be archived on the right sidebar of the blog.[...]

2017 Player Review: Cedric Hunter


Editor's Note: This is the first in a series of looks at the men who suited up for the 2016 Philadelphia Phillies

Cedric Hunter was easy to pull for.
A former top prospect - a third rounder who reached No. 97 on Baseball Prospectus' top 100 list - he arrived in Spring Training and tore the cover off the ball. I remember seeing him jerk balls into the seats at Bright House Field and thinking, "Maybe he's the next Greg Dobbs."
He made the team out of Spring Training and got his first taste of the Big Leagues in five years. This was going to be a beautiful narrative.
Then the season started and he looked, well, lost.
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The numbers are brutal.
He went 3-for-34 with one solo homer.
He left 2016 with a .088/.139/.176 slash line.
If you add those numbers, you get .403.
That's not even a great slugging percentage.
Of course, the baseball gods being the evil monsters that they are, he went back down to Triple-A and hit .294/.324/.433 with 10 homers.
Let's talk about the baseball gods.
They really and truly are malicious beings.
Poor Cedric. Since 2014, he's basically hit .290/.333/.438 in the minors. The guy is so close to being a Big League player. But he's probably never going to be. Can you imagine what that must be like?
Growing up, I remember going to Red Barons games and watching Jon Zuber play.
You probably don't remember him.
Zuber arrived in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre two years after I became a baseball fan and quickly became one of my favorite players. He was a left-handed hitting first baseman/outfielder.
His first year, he hit .287/.360/.378 in 470 plate appearances. His second year, he hit .311/.394/.417. His problem was that he had no power or speed.
But the guy could hit. And he could get on base.
There's a part of me that always wondered if he'd played for Oakland, would he have ended up in the Big Leagues.
He got a brief appearance in 1996, hitting .253/.296./330 in 30 games for the 96 Phils.
In 1997, Zuber tore the International League to shreds. He hit .315/.421/.451 with 37 doubles and six homers. In 126 games, he scored 85 runs.
Here's the reason I think Zuber and Hunter are different.
Both played for franchises with bad teams. But Hunter was clearly outplayed by the likes of Peter Borjous (Yeah, that's how bad the outfield was this year) and Tyler Goeddel.
Meanwhile, the 1997 Phillies saw Greg Jefferies play 130 games, Midre Cummings play 63 games and Darren Daulton play 84 games.
Ruben Amaro was actually second in games played in the outfield, playing in 117, despite getting just 175 at-bats.
Zuber probably would have provided better value in the outfield than some of the guys who took up at-bats in 1997.
He returned to the Red Barons in 1998 and looked good again, hitting .325/.414/.479.
He got a call up that season and hit .244/.346/.489.
The point in looking at these two guys is that they were clearly extremely good baseball players. But they never stuck in the big leagues for one reason or another.

Season Grade
Will we see him back in 2017?

Yet Another Loss


Screw this offense.
Screw this bullpen.
Screw the manager.
Please upgrade for 2017.

I Hate This Bullpen


After starter Jake Thompson was chased from the game today, the Phillies ran out a quintet of relievers that were nothing short of disastrous. The score ended 17-0 in favor of the Mets and the Phils are left wondering just how bad can this bullpen be.

Today's 5 Relievers:
Phil Klein - 11.81/2.44
Colton Murray - 6.43/1.43
Frank Hermann - 8.78/1.65
Patrick Schuster - 48.60/5.40
Luis Garcia - 5.93/1.83

If that doesn't paint the picture of pathetically putrid poop for ya, check out these other relievers that have pitched for the Phillies this season too.

Other Shitty Relievers:
Severino Gonzalez - 5.35/1.31
Elvis Araujo - 5.60/1.90
Michael Mariot - 5.68/1.42
Adrew Bailey - 6.40/1.45
Daniel Stumpf - 10.80/2.20
James Russell - 18.69/3.23

Special Notes:
*Frank Hermann has allowed 7 HR in 13.1 IP. I'm honestly not sure if I were pitching that I could give up quite that many homeruns in such a short time. Of course, my ERA would be more along the lines of Schuster's than Hermann's.

*Patrick Schuster was bad with the A's earlier this season when he made his debut (10.80/2.25), but now he is downright terrible. The worst.

*Collectively the bullpen has 4.90 ERA and 1.44 WHIP with 79 homeruns surrendered. The ERA ranks 27th, WHIP 26th, and HR allowed 29th.

Reflections on a bad loss.


My god, that was brutal. Thursday night's loss to the New York Mets occurred during the final month of a season in which the Phillies never had any legitimate hope for a postseason berth. That didn't stop that 9-8 fiasco from stinging a lot. The Phillies have shown a marked improvement over last season. With nine games to play, they've already won six more games than last season. And we've seen the growth of several players. We now know Jerad Eickhoff can be part of the starting rotation for the next few years. Odubel Herrera has an All Star game on his resume. Cameron Rupp has developed. So has - to plenty of people's surprise - Cesar Hernandez. Tommy Joseph looks like a Big League bat. Vincent Velasquez looks like a Big League arm. And the Phillies were about to win their 70th game of the season, their third in a row. Then they coughed up the lead and the likely post-season-playing Mets had momentum. But no, the Phillies took the lead in the tenth. This was going to be one of those wins you looked back on in 2017 saying, "That's when I knew we had finally turned a corner." Instead, they coughed up another lead. Just brutal. I know I haven't been around the past month or so as much as I'd like to be. We're having a baby and my laptop is on the fritz. (The C button isn't working.) So it wasn't that this season beat me down and I stopped posting. Anyway, it's easy to get caught up in the negative. But we can't forget this season has been, by almost all accounts, a success. The franchise has turned a corner. The young kids are arriving in droves. And, with few exceptions, they're proving to be capable big leaguers. So that loss stung. But I think the Phillies might do even better than my preseason prediction of 72 wins. I'll definitely take that. In the coming weeks, I plan on doing a break down of each player who was on the team this year. It will be fun, but informed. Hope you enjoy them.

2 More Weeks, 12 More Games


The 2016 Philadelphia Phillies season in winding down. Two weeks and twelve games remain. At 67-83 a winning record or even .500 is unattainable. However, there is still reason to care about the waning moments...

Saying farewell to one of the best sluggers in Phillies history, Ryan Howard.

Getting a further look at Alec Asher and Jake Thompson in the rotation.

Seeing more out of Michael Mariot and Joely Rodriguez in relief.

Playing Aaron Altherr, Odubel Herrera, and Roman Quinn in the outfield together in preparation for that trio moving forward in 2017.

Getting some more at bats for Jorge Alfaro.

Seeing who wins the Phillies homerun crown for the year: Ryan Howard and Maikel Franco at 22 apiece and Tommy Joseph and Freddy Galvis each with 20.

Jerad Eickhoff gets 3 more starts and possibly racks up 200 innings (currently with 180.1).

Bad Jeanmar, Good Otero & Rivera


1. Jeanmar Gomez was thrust into the closer's role out of necessity in April and has stuck there ever since. His first half of the season was fantastic, but the second half has been disastrous.

Pre All-Star Break: 39 G, 24 SV, 2.59 ERA, 1.10 WHIP
Post All-Star Break: 26 G, 12 SV, 5.63 ERA, 1.71 WHIP

It's time to hand over the reigns to Hector Neris in save situations to close out the year and move Jeanmar back into a setup role.
2. Dan Otero was on the Phillies 40-man roster for a minute during the offseason after a waiver claim. However, he was designated for assignment and ended up with the Indians. Cleveland is thankful for the Phils mistake, as Otero has pitched brilliantly over 56 G and 62.1 IP. He sports a sparkling 1.58 ERA and 0.98 WHIP. The Phillies need that type of guy in their bullpen, but instead we suffer through the likes of Luis Garcia, Michael Mariot, Daniel Stumpf, James Russell, Brett Oberholtzer, Elvis Araujo, Adrew Bailey, Patrick Schuster, and Frank Herrmann. Good job Klentak.

3. Remember when I wanted the Phillies to take TJ Rivera in the Rule 5 draft? Well, they took the shitty hitting Tyler Goeddel with their 1st pick instead.  Rivera tore through Triple-A pitching this season (.353/.909 in 105 G) and has continued that trend since his promotion to the Mets (.333/.764 in 17 G). Goeddel, on the other hand, is clearly over-matched (.184/.533 over 90 G). Also, Rivera can play 2nd, 3rd and SS while Goeddel can basically only man corner OF. Good job Klentak. Noticing a pattern yet?

Peter Bourjos' Defense is Entirely Overrated


I'm tired of hearing about Peter Bourjos' defensive wizardry. He has been worth a collective -0.7 dWAR over the past 2 seasons, progressively getting worse each season. He's a free agent and should not be back with the Phillies next year, so why the hell does the almighty leader, Mackanin, continue to plug him into the lineup? The Phillies are the owners of the worst offense in MLB, so scoring more runs is essential to their improvement. Bourjos' scathing .686 OPS ain't doing it. I understand there may not be better options currently on the roster, but since this season is all about rebuilding, it's prudent that younger players that are likely to remain with the organization past this season be given opportunities (Goeddel, Paredes, Asche, Quinn, Ruf). Bourjos is quite possibly better defensively and offensively than that group, but he's not sticking around beyond 2016, so it doesn't make sense to keep playing him over players that could be part of the solution moving forward. It would have been nice if he was traded in August for anything, so that Mackanin didn't have him as an option.
"At this point it's flip a coin. I don't want to sound down about it, but we've got so many guys, and who do I play? I don't know. It's a guessing game. But when it comes to something like that, I'm going to play the best defense. Peter Bourjos is hard to take out of the lineup because he provides that defense."
~Mackanin in regards to finding playing time for everyone
The Howard Update:
Kyle Seager of the Seattle Mariners has pulled away from the pack with 2 Howards this week, upping his season total to 5. There's still time for others to catch him, but the better start mashing and hacking.

Some Sorta Terrible


This season was supposed to be a glimpse into the future of the Phillies. Well, I've gotten an eyeful and the future is bleak.  Regression, underperforming, stagnation, dismal.
Maikel Franco has 22 homeruns. Big f'n deal. Everyone is hitting homeruns this year. Steve Jeltz came out of retirement yesterday and went deep twice. His .732 OPS ranks 123rd out of 153 qualified batters and 23rd out of 24 qualified third basemen. That's shitty from the guy who was supposed to be THE GUY in the middle of the lineup.

Odubel Herrera has fallen apart, both defensively and offensively.

Aaron Altherr is proving all his doubters to be spot-on prognosticators.

Cody Asche...hahaha.

Darin Ruf...hardy-har-har.

Tyler Goeddel hits like he hasn't even hit puberty yet.

Freddy Galvis apparently goes into anaphylactic shock if he takes a walk.

Ryan Howard, well, he's Ryan Howard, enough said.

Aaron Nola took two steps forward early in the season to be bounced backward by the world's hardest hitting bumper car.

Zach Eflin showed up and put up numbers like he never should have.

Jake Thompson also showed up and has also put up numbers like he never should have.

Adam Morgan added 2 mph to his fast ball and 2 runs to his ERA.

The bullpen has been a rotating door of crap, poop, shit, and other fecal matter.

Taylor Featherston, Emmanuel Burriss, and Cedric Hunter are a combined 11-102. Pluck any Single-A player from whatever Podunk town and they would fair better.

Top prospects JP Crawford and Nick Williams puttered about in Triple-A for the majority of the season. Not sure why they weren't promoted, they'd have fit in perfectly with all the other underperforming players on the Phillies.

Cesar Hernandez, Cameron Rupp, Tommy Joseph, Jerad Eickhoff, Jeremy Hellickson, Hector Neris, Vincent Velasquez, and Jeanmar Gomez were the only positives, but none of them lit the world on fire.

The Phillies have the worst offense in MLB and have been outscored by the next lowest team (Braves) by 23 runs. They have the 2nd lowest batting average, lowest on base percentage, second lowest slugging percentage, and lowest OPS. Great job fellas! Their pitching hasn't been much better either, ranking 25th in ERA. So, despite their record, I am officially giving the Phillies the deSTINKtion as the worst team in baseball.

It's difficult to blog about, sorry.

Series Preview: Braves at Phillies III


The Phillies need to turn things around, having gone 4-10 since pulling within six games of a .500 record. They stand at 60-73 after being swept by the Nationals and losing two of three to the New York Mets. The baseball gods must be smiling on the Phillies, because they tossed the Braves on their plate. As bad as the Phillies are, they have to be looking to win or sweep this series.

The games
Friday, Sept. 2: 7:05 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 3: 7:05 p.m.
Sunday, Sept. 4: 1:35 p.m.

The matchups
Joel De La Cruz (0-7, 4.66) vs Jeremy Hellickson (10-8, 3.80)
Gant (1-3, 4.59) vs Vincent Velasquez (8-6, 4.21)
Julio Teheran (4-9, 3.12) vs Jake Thompson (1-4, 7.86)

What we know about the Braves
The Braves are the worst team in the National League, a full nine games behind the Phillies in the NL East. So far, the Phillies have an 8-5 record against Atlanta and they should improve on that this weekend.

Matchup we can't wait to seeSince he's still on the roster, every one of Jeremy Hellickson's starts is a must follow. If he can pull off a handful of quality starts as the season comes to a close, he'll clearly get an offer that will make him spurn the Phillies' qualifying offer. That means an extra draft pick in 2017.

What we're looking forward to
Odubel Herrera has been in freefall for quite awhile now. Since May 28, he's hitting .257/.311/.381. That's just not cutting it. I think there's a big reason that the Phillies have gone 34-51 since that day. Herrera has mediocre numbers against the Braves. In 32 games, he's got four homers and a .266/319/.414 line. His most recent series against the Braves saw him go 3-for-18 with one walk and no extra base hits. If he can turn it around against the Braves, the Phillies will have a chance to bounce back.  



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Carlos Ruiz was us. Despite having the toughest job on the field, he seemed the most like one of us. He was our avatar on one of the most dominant teams in Philadelphia Phillies.

Look at the rest of the main cast of characters.
For five years, Ryan Howard was a beast who could hit balls farther, with more regularity, than any player in team history. And he always seemed to be on fire when it mattered most.
Chase Utley was basically a god. He was the player we wished we were and that our sons would become. He was almost perfect.
Jimmy Rollins had a brash Philadelphia swagger, but he brought so much more to the table. It's hard to imagine yourself as the leadoff-hitting shortstop who wins MVPs.
Pat Burrell was the hyped draft-pick who made good, but not great.
Cole Hamels. He was Hollywood.
Roy Halladay was the right hand of God.
Cliff Lee was God's left hand.
Jason Werth was a freak who looked like that stoner in your Sunday softball league. Except he was an MLB All-Star. He was a huge man, who could run like the wind.
Shane Victorino had the energy and enthusiasm of a young fan, but again, he could do things none of us could really imagine doing.
Then there was Chooch.
Carlos Ruiz wasn't a big guy. He wasn't a fast guy. He seemed like everyone's little brother, but he somehow had everyone's respect. He was the guy Roy Halladay admired. He had a rifle for an arm and tackled the toughest job on the field with aplomb for much of his tenure in Philadelphia.
But still, he didn't seem as godlike or distant as his teammates.
His biggest hit was a 15 foot roller out in front of home plate, that's the hit we could get if we had 100 at-bats. But his won a World Series game. His best season came after the team fell into decline.
I thought it was perfect that he was one of the last two players from the glory years to survive.
He deserved that. We deserved that.

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Series preview: Cardinals at Phillies


So it sounds like J.P. Crawford might not get called up in September.I have no problem with that.It's a numbers game. The Phillies have several prospects who need to end up on the 40-man roster so they are protected when the Rule 5 draft comes around. Crawford hasn't been around as long and doesn't need protection. I'm sure the franchise isn't considering holding off starting his arbitration clock until May, right?This year is about finding what you have and this team is finding out it has some interesting offensive pieces. Not bringing up Crawford might mean finding out more about some other guys.Here's what we know about guys already in the big leagues.A. Maikel Franco is developing into a legitimate power threat. The 23-year-old has 22 homers this year. It's not hard to imagine him ending up with 25 homers and 25 doubles on the season.I'm not sure you can rely on a guy with a sub-7 walk rate to be a 3 or 4 hitter, especially if he's got a sub .300 batting average on balls in play, but Franco could be a fantastic 5-hole hitter in the coming years.B. Odubel Herrera has shown us two different players. In the first half he was a patient hitter who got all-star-level results. In the second half, he's been overly aggressive and seen his production plummet. He's also not a fantastic center fielder, but he's got speed to burn. He's also got more home run pop than the Phillies seemed to expect. In a lot of ways, he's a poor man's Jimmy Rollins. If he can stay focused for an entire season, he will be an MVP candidate. C. Cameron Rupp is a solid backstop with a lot of pop. No one should be uncomfortable with him holding down the position for another year or more as the younger catchers make their way onto the roster.D.  Tommy Joseph is a professional hitter who belongs in the Major Leagues. Maybe he's not the long-term answer at first base, but he's not bad to have around. He's got the power to hit 20-25 homers in a 500 at-bat season.E. Cesar Hernandez has a lot of flaws, but he provides some value.F. Aaron Altherr has  some Jayson Werth potential. If he can stay healthy, he can be an impact bat. I'm not sold that's what he'll be, but he should be good.This isn't a bad foundation to build on offensively. I'm not saying all of these guys are starters on a contending team, but I think they can be pieces on one, or be traded to get you pieces.The Phillies have two outfielders they're likely to call up soon in Nick Williams and Roman Quinn.Williams is in a bit of a slump and is hitting .268/.335/.478 in Triple-A. Quinn is hitting .271/.362/.402 with 27 stolen bases for Reading. But he's missed a ton of time again. He's never played in 90 games in a minor league season, so the Phillies don't really know what to expect. Both of these guys will likely need some September at-bats in a very crowded outfield.The Phillies will also, according to most reports, call up Jorge Alfaro.  He's a catcher who will get some games in and give Rupp and Carlos Ruiz a rest.If the Phillies can end September by solidifying their opinions on the guys listed above and getting a solid look at the young kids, that's a good cap to the season.Sure, we all want to see Crawford, but he doesn't need to be called up and take space on the 40-man roster before the Rule 5 draft this winter.Before all that unfolds, the Phillies have to face the Cardinals this weekend. Let's take a look at what to expect.The gamesFriday, Aug. 19: 7:05Saturday, Aug. 20: 7:05Sunday, Aug. 21: 1:35MatchupsAdam Wainright (9-7, 4.72) vs Adam Morgan (1-7, 6.62)Luke Weaver (0-0, 4.50) vs Jeremy Hellickson (9-7, 3.65)Mike Leake (8-9, 4.78) vs Vincent Velasquez (8-5, 4.14)What we know about the CardinalsThe Cardinals will make their annual trek into October baseball. If anyone is going [...]

Series Preview - Chase Utley at Phillies


Let's keep this simple.
All you need to know about this series is two things.
1. The Phillies are playing very well of late. Winners of four straight, they've also gone 26-20 since June 23. Thanks to this recent run and their hot start to the season, the Phillies have a legitimate shot at .500 - they're 7 games off that pace - and a not so legitimate shot at finishing with a Wild Card berth, currently 6.5 back.*
2. Chase Utley is coming home. Let's get something out of the way. If anyone boos Utley tonight - the likely culprit will be one of those guys who chants E-A-G-L-E-S at a Phillies, Flyers or Sixers playoff games and also probably buys shirts two sizes too small - they shouldn't be assaulted. They should be shunned. For at least six years. I felt the same way about all the members of the 2008 team, from Burrell to Werth.

I would love to see three things happen tonight:
    A. The Phillies fans give Utley a standing ovation as Kashmir plays while Chase walks to the batters' box for each of his at-bats.
    B. Chase Utley hit a late triple to tie the game.   
    C. Phillies end the evening with their winning streak in tact.

*If you can't tell the difference between going 25-18 the rest of the way to finish 81-81 and making up the ground needed to earn a Wild Card berth, that's on you.

Oh Hinojosa, Where Art Thou?


As the Phillies bullpen continues to struggle, one has to wonder...What the hell happened to Dalier Hinojosa? You know, the Cuban that came over from the BoSox last season via waiver claim that was lights out. The same guy that did alright to begin the season, but then landed on the DL. Since he hit the DL back in late April, he's been stuck in minor league purgatory even after fully recovering. Instead of continually having to suffer through Andrew Bailey (thank goodness that's over) or Luis Garcia or Elvis Araujo, why not give someone who's had nothing but success at the MLB level another chance?!
Dalier Hinojosa - 28 G, 34 IP, 29 K, 1.59 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, and a 1.1 WAR since joining the Phillies in 2015.

It's a head scratcher.

Quick Hits:
Ryan Howard is hitting .386 with five home runs and 13 RBI since the All-Star break. I've done my fair share of Howard bashing over the season, perhaps even too much, but I still love watching him get ahold of a baseball and driving it deep into the night. It would be awesome if he continues this second half bounce back performance to end his Phillies career on a good note.

Jake Thompson not only picked up his 1st MLB victory last night, he also became on the 2nd pitcher in Phillies' franchise history to record 4 strikeouts in 1 inning.

I've heard the idea of moving Aaron Altherr to center field and Odubel Herrera to right field. I like it, Altherr is like a gazelle gliding over the grasslands of the outfield and Herrera's defense will likely improve with the shift as well.

Sixto Sanchez, an 18 year old pitcher for the Gulf Coast Phillies rookie ball team, is having himself one helluva season. 9 games started, 43 IP, 33 K, 0.42 ERA, and a 0.81 WHIP. He hasn't allowed an earned run over this last 6 appearances, spanning 30 innings.

Off Day Ramblings


The Phillies have the day off, so I thought I'd offer some ramblings that have been on my mind...*Dan Otero - 42 G, 47 IP, 40 K, 1.53 ERA, 1.00 WHIP with Indians. He was Phillies property this offseason. Shouldn't have let him go! He'd really help sure up their craptastic bullpen.*Who would you rather have:Player A - 26 years old, .238/.276/.356/.632 batter over 435 games and 5 seasons with 55 DBL, 14 TRPL, 31 HR, 148 R, 150 RBI, 24 SB, and a 0.5 WAR.Player B - 26 years old, .275/.336/.347/.683 batter over 338 games and 4 seasons with 38 DBL, 12 TRPL, 4 HR, 129 R, 76 RBI, 31 SB, and a 1.1 WAR.Both are middle infielders. Player A is Freddy Galvis and Player B is Cesar Hernandez. Neither is a superstar, but Cesar's game seems to be continuing to progress while Freddy's has seemed to stall. I prefer Cesar, but unfortunately it doesn't appear Pete Mackanin does.*A pair of sluggers playing for the Reading Fightins have me excited. Rhys Hoskins/1B and Dylan Cozens/RF are having themselves a helluva season. Hoskins is 23 years old and is following up his productive 2015 season with an even bigger year - 110 G, .282/.959, 80 R, 24 DBL, 35 HR, 104 RBI, 4 SB. Cozens is 22 years old and built like a linebacker, but he's only had marginal success prior to his breakout performance this year - 109 G, .290/.983, 92 R, 33 DBL, 32 HR, 104 RBI, 19 SB.*I really looking forward to watching the young Phillies starting pitchers progress this season. It really hasn't gone that way though. Eickhoff looks to be solid and has been pretty consistent for most of the season. Velasquez definitely has the potential and filthy pitches to succeed, but he is going to implode every now and again, and doesn't work deep in the game. Nola took a big step backward and is health is a bit of a concern. Eflin showed he can dominate, but also showed he can get torched. He doesn't miss enough bats, which worries me, and his knee issues are worrisome too. Thompson only just made his debut, so I'll wait a bit longer to judge him.[...]

Series Preview: Phillies at Dodgers


Who is Cesar Hernandez? Kid has been around for four years. People have dug in. A lot of the online community loathes the fact he gets regular at-bats. But some fans still like him. I'll admit I'm somewhere in between.
Hernandez looked like he'd had a career year last season when he put up a .272/.339/.348 with 19 stolen bases and 25 extra-base hits.
But, after struggling in May, he has rebounded and is sporting a .290/.349/.374 mark this year. Despite his abundance of speed, he's just 11 for 19 in stolen base attempts. He's got a 1.1 WAR so far.
Because of his flaws - a lack of home run power and a slightly above average glove for a primary position - it's hard to imagine Hernandez as being one of the building blocks for the franchise.
If his base-running were better and he could get his on-base percentage up a tick, that might change.
Say he sported a .290/.360/.375 mark next year. That's not anything to sneeze at if he added in 25 stolen bases and 25 extra-base hits.
But here's the thing, which player would you rather have around next year to play second base: Hernandez or Freddy Galvis?
Those are the likely options next year, if the team doesn't go outside the organization. Galvis has more home run power and his a superior defender, but I'm not sold he helps the lineup in 2017. His low on-base percentage is brutal. His on-base percentage is lower than Hernandez' career batting average.
So who is Cesar Hernandez? Is he the 2017 Phillies' second baseman? Is he the backup infielder? Is he a future Atlantic Leaguer?

The games
Monday, Aug. 8: 10:10 p.m.
Tuesday, Aug. 9: 10:10 p.m.
Wednesday, Aug. 10: 3:10 p.m.

The matchups
Zach Eflin (3-4, 4.77) vs Julio Urias (1-2, 4.98)
Vincent Velasquez (8-3, 3.33) vs Kente Maeda (10-7, 3.22)
Jeremy Hellickson (9-7, 3.72) vs Scott Kazmir (11-5, 4.51)

What we know about the Dodgers
Los Angeles has the highest payroll in baseball. The money isn't being spent badly, on whole; but it could be better. They sit in a Wild Card position and are sniffing the Giants' tails in the West. They have the fourth best pitching staff, ERA wise.The offense is a bit scattershot. It's in the bottom half of the league as far as runs and on-base percentage go.
Their big problem: Clayton Kershaw sits on the DL.

Best matchup
Velasquez versus Maeda should be a good game. They both can dominate a lineup. The Dodgers are a playoff team and their likely No. 1 postseason starter is Maeda.

What we can't wait to see
Julio Urias has been one of the most talked about prospects in baseball for more than a year now. Kid is just 19. He'll likely be around for awhile, so enjoy your first look at him.

Series Preview: Giants at Phillies


So Matt Klentak didn't trade Jeremy Hellickson.
I don't think this was the screw up everyone else thinks it was, but I wish we knew what offers were made.
While everyone is pointing to the chances that the Phillies could get a draft pick if the right-hander turns down a qualifying offer this offseason as the main factor in the Phillies' decisions, I think another factor hasn't been talked about.
Just look at the previous highs in a season for the Phillies young hurlers compared to this year.

Aaron Nola: 187/111
Jerad Eickhoff: 184/132
Vincent Velasquez 124*/102.2
Zach Eflin 131/123.2
Jake Thompson 132/129
Ben Lively 143/74.1
* 2013

So, aside from Nola and Eickhoff, you're about to blow past the supposed innings limits on Eflin, Velasquez and Thompson.
I think there's a solid chance we see Ben Lively eat some innings in September. Maybe even Adam Morgan or Brett Oberholzer.
But having Hellickson around definitely eases any concerns. It's a lot easier on the young guys if he, Nola and Eickhoff shoulder the bulk of the upcoming innings.

That being said, with all the rumors that swirled around, it was a bit of a disappointment to not see something done.

As a professional journalist, the trade deadline bothers me. I see a lot of bad journalism out there. At one point, I saw two respected national journalists tweeting out conflicting reports on Hellickson. One said he was staying, the other said he was out the door.

Now I know a journalist is only as accurate as his or her sources. These two beat writers are being fed information and they parroted it out. I'm just not sure why. I don't get the point of the reporting. It doesn't make them more accurate. No one outside the industry gives a jolly damn about who got it first. Anyway, that's another discussion for another day.

Let's look at the Phillies first series in the dog days of August.

The games
Tuesday, Aug. 2: 7:05
Wednesday, Aug. 3: 7:05

The matchups
Madison Bumgarner (10-6, 2.09) vs Zach Eflin (3-4, 4.23)
Johnny Cueto (13-3, 2.63) vs Aaron Nola (6-9, 4.78)
Jeff Samardzija (9-7, 4.30) vs Vincent Velasquez (8-3, 3.32)

What we know about the Giants

It's an even numbered year and the Giants are again World Series contenders. Owners of the fourth best record in baseball, they don't get the attention the Cubs and Nationals do. But they are a force to be fearful of. The rotation is lights out. The lineup isn't spectacular, but there isn't an easy out in the bunch.

Best matchup

Madison Bumgarner is younger than Hector Neris. Think about that for a minute. Bumgarner is already a World Series legend, three time World Series Champion and four-time All Star. Dude has a 2.09 ERA, a 10-6 Record, a .987 WHIP and is allowing 6.7 hits per nine innings against 10.2 whiffs.
He pitches tonight against Zach Eflin, a kid who already has two complete games on his resume.
If that doesn't interest you as a baseball fan, I don't know what would.

What we can't wait to see
Aaron Altherr and Maikel Franco ended the Braves series on awful skids. Altherr was 0-9 with a walk. Franco was 0-17.
They're going to face some premiere pitching in this series and watching how the young sluggers respond will be interesting.

August and September should tell us a lot more about 2017


Sorry I've been missing for two series. This week was our 10th anniversary and we spent Friday in Philly, it's where we honeymooned, so we return every year. And I forgot the Atlanta series started yesterday.

The Phillies have struggled a bit recently, but I feel the need to point this out. If you take June away from the season, the Phillies are 38-38.

Think about that for a minute.

Now, you can't discount all of June. The 2016 Phillies are a below-.500  team, that's for sure. But I think they're a bit better than their  47-57 mark.

Aaron Altherr's return is a nice thing.

I think the next two months are really about seeing what the team has for 2017.

These roster spots should be locked down:
Zach Eflin, Jerad Eickhoff, Maikel Franco, Tommy Joseph, Tyler Goeddel, Odubel Herrera, Hector Neris, Aaron Nola, Edubray Ramos, Cameron Rupp, and Vincent Velasquez.

Each has had his ups and downs this season, but each one has proven they belong on a roster. Maybe Tyler Goeddel is the fourth or fifth outfielder, but the 23-year-old jumped two levels and showed a ton of promise. Maybe he doesn't start the season with the team, but he should spend some time on it.

I'd tentatively put Aaron Altherr on that list, too. If we can see 25-30 starts the rest of the way, we'll know a bit more about him and we can be a bit more confident in what he can bring to the table.

A few other characters have struggled, but proven they could be on the roster, but in different roles in 2017. Cesar Hernandez or Freddy Galvis might be a back-up infielder. I lean toward Hernandez just because he gets on-base at a clip above .300. Severino Gonzalez is also intriguing.

Now, however, it's time to see some new faces, even if it's for a small sample size.

The Phillies could promote Jake Thompson any day now. It will be nice to see what he can do over 5-7 starts at the big league level. JP Crawford has turned it around in Triple-A. Seeing him play 25 games at short the rest of the way would be worthwhile. I'm not sold Nick Williams has to be called up. The 18-90 walk to strikeout ratio bothers me.

The Phils have progressed. A year ago, they had the worst record in baseball and we knew very little about the players who would be around in three years. Now we see some spots in the order being sewn up. Herrera can be an All-Star. Franco can be a middle of the order bat. Nola, Eickhoff and Velasquez can be trusted with about 600 innings at the big league level.

The Phillies are not one of the worst teams in baseball anymore. Right now, nine teams have worse records. The Phillies could catch a couple of teams, but that might not be in their best interests. If they stay within the 10 worst records in baseball, they can sign a free agent without losing a draft pick.

By the end of the season, the Phillies will know how good they can be in 2017. My guess is above .500, but not quite a Wild Card game participant. They'll have to play their cards right, but they're certainly on their way.

Welcome Back Aaron Altherr


The Phillies' lineup needs a healthy dose of a healthy Aaron Altherr. Upon his return from a bum wrist, he went 3-4 with 2 runs, 2 RBI, and a homerun. Word.

Phillies @ Pirates


Hey, it's the Phillies vs. the Buccos...Phuccos!
Enjoy your weekend.

Marlins at Phillies II


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It's all about the young right-hander from Baton Rouge.
We've gone over how Aaron Nola got rocked in his recent outings. Tonight we'll see if two weeks of rest help.
He should have three goals for tonight.
1- Get past the fifth frame. He did it on July 2 and it was the first time since June 5 that he'd made it into the fourth. Actually, Nola didn't give up any runs in his last three innings of work.
2 - Get more strikes. He's always a strike-thrower. Even during his struggles, he tossed 63 percent of his pitches for strikes. But there is a fine line between solid work and getting your ears blown off. Nola should hope to get 66 percent or higher of his pitches for strikes.
3 - Get out of a jam. Nola has looked goood from the wind-up. He's gotta prove to himself that he can get out of trouble from the stretch position.

The games
Monday, July 18: 7:05
Tuesday, July 19: 7:05
Wednesday, July 20: 7:05
Thursday, July 21: 7:05

The matchups
Jose Fernandez (11-4, 2.52) vs Aaron Nola (5-8, 4.69)
TBD vs Vincent Velasquez (8-2, 3.32)
Wei-Yin Chen (5-3, 4.90) vs. Jeremy Hellickson (6-7, 4.03)
Tom Koehler (6-8, 4.68) vs. Jerad Eickhoff (6-10, 3.76)

What we know about the Marlins
The Fish are tied with the Mets for second in the National League East, owners of a tidy 49-42 record. Their offense can be beastly. They lead the league in hits and batting average. They're sixth in on-base percentage. However, Justin Bour is on the DL and Dee Gordon got nailed for PEDs, so the lineup has taken a hit recently. Still, Martin Pardo, Christian Yelich, Derek Dietrich and Marcel Ozuna each have batting averages above .295 and on-base marks above .356. Then there's Giancarlo Stanton to worry about. J.T. Realmuto also has a .314/.345/.420 slash line.
The Phils could sneak a few games out of this series, though.

Best matchup
It's not the best match-up, but it's the most intriguing. Jose Fernandez is one of the best in the division, so he's always fun to watch. Aaron Nola has the potential to be one of the best pitchers in the division in years to come. But can he bounce back from his struggles?

What we can't wait to see
Jeremy Hellickson is one of the better pitchers available on the trade market. Remember when Cole Hamels tossed that no-hitter right before he got traded? No one expects that from Hellickson. But going deep into Wednesday's game and not giving up three runs would be a good news for the Phillies.

Series preview: Mets at Phillies II


The Phillies went into the break on a fun, dynamic stretch, winning 12 of 17 games. That stretch included three games against the San Francisco Giants and three games against the Kansas City Royals. So they didn't just beat a bunch of pushovers.They will have a tough time duplicating that success in their first 13 games after the break. They will face the Mets for three games at home, then host the Marlins for four games, after that it's three games in Pittsburgh, before four more games in Miami. All of those teams are currently playoff contenders. But fans don't have to be hopeless heading into those series. The Phillies are 4-2 against the Marlins so far and 3-3 against the Mets. They have yet to face the Pirates.The second half could be a bumpy ride because several of the young pitchers could blow past their previous highs in innings pitched. They also face a lot of good teams. Of the remaining 72 games, 56 are against teams with winning records. That's 78 percent of the games coming against teams with winning records.San Francisco Giants (57-33): 3 gamesSt. Louis Cardinals (51-40): 3 gamesChicago White Sox (45-43): 4 gamesLos Angeles Dodgers (46-52): 6 gamesWashington Nationals (54-36): 7 gamesNew York Mets (47-41): 13 gamesMiami Marlins (47-41): 13 gamesPittsburgh Pirates (46-43): 7 gamesWhen you face that gauntlet the rest of the way, you have to start out strongly.The GamesFriday, July 15: 7:05 p.m.Saturday, July 16: 7:05 p.m.Sunday, July 17: 1:35The MatchupsBartolo Colon (7-4, 3.28) vs Jeremy Hellickson (6-6, 3.92)Logan Verret (3-6, 4.34) vs Jerad Eickhoff (6-10, 3.80)Justin deGrom (5-4, 2.61) vs Zach Eflin (2-2, 4.08)What we know about the MetsThe defending National League Champions are bumped and bruised. Matt Harvey is on the disabled list. So is David Wright. As is Lucas Duda. Michael Conforto got sent down to the minor leagues. But they are still a dangerous team. Though they are in second place in the National League, they have the fifth best record in the league and the tenth best in baseball. They're a World Series contender and shouldn't be taken lightly. They've got a lot of pop, but are toward the bottom of the league in on-base percentage and last in stolen bases. One good thing for the Phillies. They don't have to face Noah Syndegaard or Steven Matz.Best matchupGetting a win in the first game after the All Star break would be a nice lift for the Phillies. Pulling it off against the ageless Bartolo Colon isn't going to be easy. The former Cy Young winner might make people smile with his goofy at-bats and pudgy appearance, but the guy can pitch. His career really is remarkable. In 19 years, he's pitched for eight teams, been in an All Star game during three different presidencies and done well for himself in the post season.But Jeremy Hellickson has been fun to watch, too. He's been a lot better than most people expected heading into the season.What we can't wait to seeCesar Hernandez ended the first half on a nice little streak. He's definitely had a different approach of late and the results are startling. He's hit .462/.472/.519 over the past 12 games.  No way he keeps anything close to that pace. But it will be interesting to see if he can start the second half strongly. If he hits well, it could be a good omen for the offense.[...]

Position & Team Ranks


The 1st half of the 2016 MLB season is in the books and now the All-Star break is upon us. Let's take a moment to reflect on how the 42-48 Philadelphia Phillies have done so far...
Position Ranks:
Catcher - .266/.775, 36 R, 20 DBL, 12 HR, 37 RBI (7th)
1st Base - .210/.688, 36 R, 15 DBL, 20 HR, 43 RBI (27th)
2nd Base - .277/.684, 36 R, 9 DBL, 6 TRPL, 3 HR, 25 RBI, 7 SB (24th)
3rd Base - .272/.813, 40 R, 18 DBL, 18 HR, 56 RBI (11th)
Shortstop - .244/.672, 40 R, 17 DBL, 3 TRPL, 10 HR, 43 RBI, 7 SB (23rd)
Left Field - .218/.645, 31 R, 19 DBL, 8 HR, 31 RBI, 5 SB (27th)
Center Field - .292/.801, 50 R, 10 DBL, 3 TRPL, 10 HR, 33 RBI, 12 SB (9th)
Right Field - .264/.702, 33 R, 19 DBL, 4 TRPL, 5 HR, 26 RBI (28th)
Pitcher - .128/.335, 10 R, 5 DBL, 6 RBI (14th)
Pinch Hitter  - .153/.459, 4 R, 6 XBH, 8 RBI (27th)
Designated Hitter - .171/.514, 3 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI (27th)

R - 328 (9th)
AVG - .244 (24th)
OBP - .296 (30th)
SLG - .394 (27th)
OPS - .690 (29th)
DBL - 135 (27th tied)
TRPL - 23 (4th tied)
HR - 89 (22nd tied)
SB - 39 (17th)
BB - 209 (29th)
K - 704 (17th tied)

W - 42 (20th)
ERA - 4.35 (15th)
WHIP - 1.32 (12th)
K - 759 (5th)
BB - 242 (5th tied)
K/BB - 3.14 (5th)

Offense is up across baseball. Look at our right fielders for example, they've posted a .700+ OPS, yet rank next to last. The Phillies need to improve offensively if they're truly to be competitive. There is definitely some hope on the horizon waiting in the minor leagues, but that's far from guaranteed production. Too many at bats were wasted on Ryan Howard, Cedric Hunter, David Lough, and Emmanuel Burriss. While Darin Ruf, Tyler Goeddel, and Freddy Galvis under-performed expectations.

Pitching has been decent. If When Nola bounces back, the Phils have a pretty good rotation. The bullpen has been mediocre, but that was to be expected. Neris and Jeanmar have been great though.

1 Game Left...


1 game left in the 1st half of the 2016 MLB season. 1 more game until the All-Star break. 1 more game until the Phillies can get the hell outta Colorado's thin air. 1 more game to hopefully see...

Zach Eflin follow up his complete game win earlier this week with another gem.

Tommy Joseph continue to hit his way back into making people believe in him.

Cesar Hernandez to get a couple base knocks and finish the 1st half with a .300+ batting average.

The Phillies even up the series with the Rockies and end the 1st half on a high note with a 42-48 record.

Phillies at Rockies


The Phillies are skipping Aaron Nola's start today. It makes sense. He's been roughed up lately. Let's see if we can find out why.As of June 5, he'd made 12 starts, tossed 78 innings. He compiled a 2.65 ERA. His per nine rates were 7.15 hits, whiffed 9.8, walked 1.73 and gave up .8 homers.Since then, he's made five starts, tossed 18 innings and compiled a 13.50 ERA. His per nine rates were 19 hits, whiffed 10.8, four walks and 1.5 homers.So he's still striking out batters at a good rate, but he's giving up hits and an uncharacteristic amount of walks. Nola's young, but he's got a track record of throwing strikes. Beyond the numbers from earlier this year, he gave up just 2.2 walks per nine as a rookie and 1.5 in the minor leagues. The walks don't bother me because it's really rare that pitchers with strong command lose it like this. It's so rare, you remember the names of players who suffer from it: Steve Blass and Rick Ankiel.Let's delve a bit deeper. When he was pitching well, he threw 68 percent of his pitches for strikes, 25 percent of those pitches were called strike and 11 percent were swinging strikes. Twenty-five percent of his at-bats ended in line drives; four percent in pop-ups.Since then, he's thrown 63 percent of his pitches for strikes, 22 percent were looking and seven percent were swinging strikes. Thirty percent of his at-bats ended in line drives and three percent ended in pop ups.One thing that shows you is how close a pitcher can be from being dominant to being dominated. But there were signs of improvement in his last start. He made it out of the fourth inning for the first time in four starts. He also retired the last nine straight batters he faced. Nola might have turned a corner, but giving him some extra time off over the All-Star break is still probably a good idea. It's worth noting he's already tossed 96 innings this year. He tossed 187 innings last year. Missing a start here is probably not a bad thing.Before we move onto the preview of this week, I think we should disspell one train of thought: that Nola should be sent down because he's struggling. Plenty of good young Phillies pitchers had struggles in their first few seasons. Randy Wolf started off his Major League career with a 3.33 ERA through mid-July. Afterward he pitched to a 6.90 ERA before moving onto a successful Big League career. Brett Myers looked like a future ace in 2003, but he had a 6-start stretch that included a 6.90 ERA.In 2006, Cole Hamels had a 6-start run with a 7.13 ERA.Nola should be allowed to work through this, within reason.The GamesThursday, July 7: 8:40Friday, July 8: 8:10Saturday, July 9: 8:40Sunday, July 10: 4:10The MatchupsAdam Morgan (1-6, 6.31) vs Chad Bettis (6-6, 5.85)Vincent Velasquez (7-2, 3.34) vs Jon Gray (5-4, 4.81)Jerad Eickhoff (6-9, 3.30) vs Tyler Anderson (0-3, 3.03)Zach Eflin (1-2, 4.30) vs Tyler Chatwood (8-4, 3.08)What we know about the RockiesColorado was 37-39 before losing six straight earlier this week. The squad has struggled in one run games, going 5-11. It's also winless in extra innings. But as Chris Wheeler often reminded us, "No lead is safe" in Colorado.What we can't wait to seeMaikel Franco is still on fire. We told you to look out for him during the Braves series and he launched three home runs. If he stays within himself in Colorado, he could do a ton of damage. That said, the guy I want to see this series is Cesar Hernandez. The c[...]