Saturday, July 16, 2016

July 2016 Update - Rebuild Going Well in Year 2!

Hello, folks. It has been awhile. The Phillies have been evolving themselves in all aspects of the game and seemingly quickly. The rebuild is going great at all levels with at least half the names of last year have moved up a level and are keeping the AA & AAA squads well above .500. We’ll see most of them in the majors by next September (2017), with a chunk of them coming this year. At the major-league level, the Phillies are 6 games under .500… they are 12 games back of the division and 6 games back of the 2nd wild card, with the NL East taking both wild card spots (St. Louis & Pittsburgh are between the Phils & Mets-Marlins). The 2015 Phillies were 33 games under .500 at the break and ended up the worst team in the majors at 63-99 and were able to draft OF Mickey Moniak at No. 1 this year. Nice improvement!!!

The rebuild is still the same as it was under Ruben Amaro, Jr. (no, the Red Sox are not failing at base-running): get some veterans to fill-in at the major-league level while the guys continue to develop in AA & AAA. Everyone should be ready for being traded or promoted (respectively) come July 31st or even Aug. 31st. There is a bit more emphasis on utilizing sabermetrics and advanced stats to sign certain players. So, here’s the new front office:

Team Owner: John Middleton
President: Andy MacPhail
Chairman: David Montgomery
Chairman Emeritus: Bill Giles
Sr Advisor: Pat Gillick
Gen. Manager: Matt Klentak

And the coaching staff has some changes now that Pete MacKanin is secured at the helm for the next 2-3 years:

Bench: Larry Bowa
Hitting: Steve Henderson
Pitching: Bob McClure
Bullpen: Rick Kranitz
1st Base: Mickey Morandini
3rd Base: Juan Samuel
Catching: John McLaren

The only changes are new coaches at Bullpen, First Base and Catching. Congrats, Mickey, on your promotion. He has been a manager for short-season A-affiliate Williamsport and low-A Lakewood and an All-Star 2B for the Phillies. A year or two ago, the Phillies coaching staff emphasized fundamentals (the whole organization did as well). So far at the majors, I am not dazzled by the results, despite their near-winning record at the Break. But I’ll cut them some slack as most of them only just got to the majors and had many coaching changes over the last few years. It is time to push though!

So the rebuild is going well – the AA & AAA teams are winning and the Phillies have drastically improved over this time last year. I must say that Pete has impressed me in that he is and was able to get his players on the same page unlike Ryne - do know that I really liked Ryne. The team does have some players improving in the fundamentals department... the best example of that is our lone representative to the All-Star Game, Odubel Herrera.

His walk rate has increased every half-season since an impressive rookie campaign where he put himself into consideration for a top-ten position in RoY voting. He’s even hitting more, trading off 2B for HRs, and taking better routes to fly balls! It’s not just Herrera that is better this year – the rotation has improved; Jenmar Gomez has found that he can be a good closer; and Franco, Joseph and Rupp are hitting like crazy. If the team as a whole can get better plate discipline, follow Burjols’ lead on defense, and keep the team in games pitching-wise, they will certainly contend for a division crown next year. This year, a WC berth is in reach but with a team of guys with little experience in being a part of a push for the post-season and meager experience in the majors; they ultimately will fall short in my opinion. Would be a great experience for these guys!

Speaking of Burjols, the trade rumors are flying like crazy. Howard, Chooch, Hellickson, and even guys like Rupp & Galvis are being talked about in addition to Pete B. While they need to make room for some guys this year, here’s an idea: the first three names on that list have experience with successful playoff races/ runs in Aug. & Sept. This would be a great mentoring opportunity, which the first two names on that list have been doing the past couple of years. And while Howard really has to go, he will be gone at the end of the season and I don’t think anyone will take him. Since they are contenders right now, they should strongly consider standing pat. I don’t think you need to trade for veterans – that will come this off-season or more likely next July or the following off-season. Back to this year… if the return is dazzling – probably won’t be – Klentak should go for it like he did with Ken Giles.

Enjoy the games!