Monday, July 20, 2015

All-Star Report

It was not a very successful All-Star Festival for the Phillies as Papelbon continued to reiterate his desire to leave ("Trade me or get off the pot") and did not play in the game. After pitching 6 innings over the weekend, Aaron Nola also didn't pitch in the Futures game. He'll make his ML debut tomorrow vs. the Rays. The only All-Star success story for a Phillies organization player is SS J.P. Crawford - drove in a run & continued to flash leather in the Futures Game. However, Philly natives Todd Fraizer (Toms River, NJ) and Mike Trout (Millville, NJ) stole the show by winning the Derby & the All-Star Game MVP respectively.

Commentary & Analysis

Papelbon needs to learn how to say "no comment" on trade rumors.

Nola's debut comes at an interesting time. His last start was a rough outing - L, 7 H, 2 BB, 6 R (2 HR, 5 ER) in 3 innings. In his last three starts combined: 15 IP, 11 R (10 earned for an 6.00 ERA & 3 HRs), 27 base-runners for an 1.80 WHIP and 15 Ks & 4 BB. These starts were on the road, which I pointed out has been an issue for him. And showing resiliency has been Ruben Amaro, Jr.'s No. 1 mentioned prerequisite for a debut. I guess he's making up for (1) holding him back in AA & disparaging fans in the process and (2) trying to increase ticket sales. It is worth noting that about half of the ML debuts of starting pitchers over the past 5-6 years have not gone well (via CSNPhilly,com). Perhaps Nola's reputation as being the most polished in last year's draft and a desire to bounce back will improve our averages slightly, plus he's debuting at home. Best of luck, Aaron.

Crawford, if all goes well, seems likely to make his debut in the middle of 2016. If all goes well for him, if Quinn recovers from injury and debuts in 2017, if Utley & Howard are gone, if Cole Hamels & Jon Papelbon (and possibly others like Revere, Frenchy, Brown, Chooch) are traded for good prospects (hitters), and if most of our top-level starting pitchers make an impact... then I think 2018 and possibly 2017 will be great years for the organization.

Congrats to the All-Stars on your selections & recent successes the past week. Good luck to all!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

A Rotation in Limbo

Today, I make sense of the whirlwind of roster moves the Phillies made over the last 36 hours. I’ll start with a summary:
  • Sean O'Sullivan (1-6, 6.08 ERA; 0-3, 10.88 ERA in last 8) has been out-righted off 40-Man; he can elect free-agency or report to AAA.
  • Hector Neris has been recalled from AAA, at least until Saturday, when David Buchannan will rejoin the rotation after ineffectiveness & injury.
  • Kevin Correia (0-3, 6.56 ERA; 0 quality starts) has been designated for assignment & Severino Gonzalez has been recalled once again to fill his spot.
  • 2014 1st-Rd pick Aaron Nola (3-0, 2.28 ERA @ AAA) is likely to debut shortly following his appearance at Sunday’s Futures Game.
  • To fill Gonzlaez’s spot in AAA, the Phillies finally promoted 2010 1st-rounder Jesse Biddle after a career 4.18 ERA in parts of 3 years in AA (7-2, 4.34 ERA this season).


Out with the old, in with the new as the aging veterans are sent down/ away and the younger guys move up. The veterans in the rotation, except for Hamels & Harang, have struggled to hold the fort as the younger guys develop. Many were injured, but the ones who largely remained healthy have not gotten past inning 5 most of the time. This put tremendous strain on the bullpen: getting a fresh arm in the is part of the reason for these moves. This rotation shake-up is great for the Phillies’ future – time to start evaluating all these players for 2016 & beyond.

Buchannan is back after a rough first-half of the year. Gonzalez has struggled in limited action in the bigs this year, but being a rookie & constantly shuttled back-and-forth hasn’t helped much. Biddle has had a rollercoaster-style development, but his lack of control (high BB-rate) & mental issues have held him at AA the last few years despite skipping Lakewood. Although, I do think Rube made some bad decisions: not considering lack of run support as a possible reason for his 5-14 record in ’13. He’s still off (good record, highish ERA) but I think he’s had enough tests in AA. Nola is very close. Some minor kinks (shortening his at-bats plus solving his road ERA differential I mentioned two weeks ago) to work out this month, but if he can do well in the Futures game and have most of his July starts w/ 6.1 IP or more, expect him at the majors in late-July/ early Aug.

In other news, congrats go out - once again - to Maikel Franco on his selection as the NL Rookie of the Month for June. Further congrats to Jon Papelbon upon being selected as lone Phillie representative to the All-Star game. The Phillies recently signed Dominican Slugger Jhailyn Ortiz for $4.5MM bonus and traded two A-level pitching prospects to the D'Backs for the No. 1 slot – in order to avoid a stiff penalty. And Chase Utley is on the 15-Day DL w/ ankle issues and not expected to return until late-month. Not too long ago, Amaro said that Chase will be second on the depth chart behind Hernandez upon his return. Another #RuinTomorrowMoment by the Phils’ GM.

Next entry is likely to be the projections on Jesse Biddle, and I may have updated projections on Nola based on his AAA numbers. I may also have an All-Star festivities recap, including Nola’s & Crawford’s Futures game performances.