Monday, August 31, 2015

Rebuild, Farewells, & Legacies

Hello, everyone. It has been awhile since I posted, but with rumors and moves seemingly coming every day, it made posting tough. As we know, at the beginning of the last offseason, the Phillies’ front office finally admitted that they needed to rebuild the roster: free agents + 2008 core no longer results in 85+ wins. This announcement, of course, should have happened at the end of 2013, the first of two 73-89 seasons. They announced that they would restock the farm system through drafting players (mostly college students in the first ten rounds) and trading veterans –AND– sign low-price-medium-risk-medium-age-medium-reward free agents (like Francouer, Williams, & Harang) to help ease the transition.

The task was not going to be easy: The Phillies didn’t seem to have lots of leverage and prospects have taken on a new meaning – more valuable now than when the Phillies were getting/ sending away Pence, Lee, Halladay, Oswalt, etc. However, the Phillies got the trades done: Ryan Howard & Carlos Ruiz are the only players left from the 2008 World Championship team. They drafted college players early (Nola), some high school players late, took a chance in the Rule 5 draft on a AA player (Herrera) and went for broke on the international market earlier this year (OF-1B Jhailyn Ortiz). Here are the trades:
1.      LHP Antonio Bastardo to Pirates for LHP Joely Rodriguez
2.      SS Jimmy Rollins to Dodgers for LHP Tom Windle & RHP Zach Eflin (from Padres)
3.      RF Marlon Byrd to Reds for P Ben Lively
4.      RHP CL Jon Papelbon to Nats for RHP Nick Pivetta
5.      LHPs Cole Hamels & Jake Diekman to Rangers for Matt Harrison, C Jorge Alfaro, RHP Jerad Eickhoff, OF Nick Williams, RHP Alec Asher and RHP Jake Thompson
6.      OF Ben Revere to Blue Jays for RHP Jimmy Cordero and RHP Alberto Tirado
7.      2B Chase Utley to Dodgers for IF Sweeney & RHP John Richy

That’s eight (8) players gone and fifteen (15) returned, which provides us with a lot of depth in addition to probably one or two more in a trade for Chooch and the draft:
·         2010 1st Round pick – LHP Jesse Biddle (AAA)
·         2011 2nd Round pick - OF Roman Quinn (AA Reading DL)
·         2013: SS J.P. Crawford (AA) & C Andrew Knapp (our first two selections)
·         2015 1st Round pick  Randolph (2015 1st Rounder)
o   Nola was our 2014 1st-Round pick
·         Former Intl F.A., now 3B Maikel Franco (DL – to return soon)
·         RHP CL Ken Giles and the entire bullpen (most developed by the Phillies org.)
o   LHP Mario Hollands (60-Day DL)
·         LF-3B Cody Asche (2011 4th Round pick) – probably a utility player at this point but still with .280-AVG potential.
·         OF Aaron Altherr (2009 9th round pick)
·         Former Intl FA’s, now Utility IFs Freddy Galvis & Cesar Hernandez
·         Former 2009 pick, now LF-1B Darin Ruf

The future is looking a lot brighter, especially with Reading taking the triple crown of honors: best record, best player & best manager. Congrats!!!

I do want to mention that this is not the way to run a system. They should have stopped trading after acquiring Halladay (him, Lee, & Hamels in the rotation) – no Oswalt. Also, we really didn’t need Pence. Signing Papelbon to $12.5MM AAV over four years was way overpriced, even w/ a 2.5-3-ERA & 90% SV pctg. And in early 2010, instead of signing Howard for three years past arbitration, they could have just let him hit free agency. Most importantly, instead of trading those prospects away, they could have called them up or promoted them, which the Cardinals do with their prospects – works very well for them. And the Phillies seem to haver a habit of hindering prospects’ development.

All of that is in the past. Ruben Amaro, Jr. is probably on his way out. A new manager (well, maybe MacKanin) and president are coming in and the latter may choose to have a G.M. more amenable to advanced stats.

Speaking of Amaro, what is his legacy? Right now I boil it down to three points:
1.      102 wins in 2011 was awesome to see.
2.      Bad Moves
a.       Not noticing steady decline in postseason results was because of declining offense (also blame Charlie Manuel for not seeing this – see #3)
b.      Extending Howard two years before hitting free-agency
c.      Trading players after Halladay cost the Phillies prospects
d.      Free-Agent signings to keep team afloat cost the Phillies draft picks
e.       Bad draft philosophy & hindering prospect development
3.      And finally, the public humiliations of Manuel, Howard, Utley and us fans after 2013.
-   None of his flaws (2a) made a mid-year firing ok.

However, a GM’s legacy is not complete until the prospects he acquires reach the majors, although it may not be enough to combat the above points.. As for Hamels & Utley, their legacy in Philadelphia is as follows:

Thank you, Cole & Chase for your dedication to the Phillies from your drafting to your debuts and to your All-Star appearances and the 2008 Championship. Chase, your baseball brain & hustle was fun to watch, the latter unfortunately resulting in decartilaged knees. Cole, thank you for the work you did/ do through your foundation. Your dedication, guys, is an inspiration to all Phillies fans and even current, former, and future Phillies coaches and players. You have earned the right to being traded to a contender in order to acquire more run support, Cole, and for both of you… wins & at least one more World Series ring. Upon retirement, you have every right to retire as a Phillie – on a one-day contract or as a coach/ instructor and should easily get a plaque on the Toyota Wall of Fame and even perhaps in Cooperstown. One last time, Thank You! Best of Luck in your baseball endeavors!