Monday, July 24, 2017

Trade Deadline Preview

Hello, everyone. Hope all of you are doing well. Been busy here. Still thinking about the Phillies! My thoughts right now: trade players soon, call up some from AAA. So who is going? We have four categories: (1) near-guarantee, (2) actively shopped and likely to go, (3) actively shopped and unlikely to go, (4) not actively shopped but could go.
  1. Pat Neshek, our lone representative to the All-Star Game, is a sure bet to be traded. The 'pen is still rough and will be worst without him but he can fetch us a nice prospect, probably at AA or AAA. His spot won't open up much at the bigs but perhaps create a chain reaction down to Lakewood (low A) - I'm looking at JoJo Romero in Cleawater and M Moniak, S Sanchez, A Medina, and others (esp'ly the rotation - 1.76 ERA!!!) in Lakewood.
  2. After Pat, there really is no guarantee that anyone else will be traded, so I'll stick with bullpen for a moment: J. Benoit. He's probably a category three. Could package him. His departure would be similar to Neshek's.
  3. Let's go to category two now: J Hellickson (doing well overall. Intl Leauge ASG starter Tom Eshelman called up), H Kendrick (doing well when on the roster, so there might be an Aug. waiver deal), T Joseph (doing well and we'll get to see R Hoskins)
  4. And category three: D Nava (D. Cozens called up). You could put Tommy Joseph in this category.
  5. And category four: pretty much every non-pitcher except for Williams, Knapp, Perkins & Kelly. Rupp would not go unless a better veteran is acquired. Franco is unlikely to go since we dont have anyone in the pipeline at AAA. Herrera might not go since we signed him thru his arb years which is a team-friendly deal. He, Rupp and Franco are getting better (luckier) offensively. All three hold their own defensively. Hernandez could be packaged. Galvis could be our future - his glove plays excellently here. Maybe that'll be enough to be a key bench piece - or he could also be packaged. Altherr (currently DL'd) is part of our future. Many others on the 40-man (and some on the 25-man) not really considered part of the core could be packaged, traded in August, or DFA'd (then either released or assigned to AAA). I'm looking at A Blanco & A Morgan, possibly L Garcia & B Stassi.
So who else might we see? Quinn is coming back from another injury but he should be back soon, perhaps Sept. Ben Lively & Zach Eflin could return. Leiter, too. Crawford is doing better but his difficult transitions will likely keep him in AAA until next trade deadline.

Who won't we see: Alfaro is not ready but will likely make the team next Spring primarily because of the option years situation. If he's called up, we risk loosing him if he's sent down. Kingery is doing well but just arrived at AAA and the front office doesn't want to start his option clock yet - and no protection req'd yet.

Oh, and if you're wondering, the contention timeline is slowed a bit at the beginning, IMO, but still expecting success from 2019 on. I do think adding more successful outsiders is necessary. No shame in admitting that you need more outside help as half our core during the '05-'12 ere were non-draftees: 1-2 rule 5s (Victorino, primarliy), 4+ trades (Halladay, Lee, Oswalt, Lidge), & 3-4 FA's. And there are lots of players we can call up during the next few years throughout our system, most of the ones you hear about are from Lakewood and higher. Maybe our bad luck developing prospects will end.

Have a great night and happy tracking the trades.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Aplogies, Roster, Concerns

Apologies for not posting here recently. Spring Training is going very well for the Phillies. Less than two weeks to go and a concern is that stats are down a bit but that is normal. I have faith in the players we've got to win 75-80+ games. What's your prediction? 71 like last year? 78, which is my goal for this team? Or even 83 and makes things interesting in Sept.? Helping the stat problem is that it's affecting primarily the pitchers. Hitters are doing well and we're seeing some break-out performances from many. Yes, that is also normal for the Spring. The best news: NO BIG INJURIES!!! I have an idea to share but first, let's predict the O.D. Roster - it's easy though - just four spots to predict really:

Pitchers (13)

Rotation:
  1. Hellickson
  2. Eickhoff
  3. Buchholz
  4. Velasquez
  5. Nola
  6. Adam Morgan (long-man)
Barring injuries, this will be your rotation. The first week will require only a 4-man, 5-day rotation with the off days. So, Nola (injured last year) is eased back in (three or four starts in April) - thanks, PhilliesNation.com! - and all these guys are capable of sub-4 ERAs w/ 6+ IP/start. Velasquez didn't do that last year on avg. but his new pitch - a curve Hellickson helped him with!!! - should help him achieve better efficiency. Later on in the year, we have we have 5-6 guys at AAA that can come up and our young depth gets better after the trade deadline.

Bullpen:
  1. Adam Morgan (L), long-man/ specialist
  2. Jeanmar Gomez (R), closer
  3. Hector Neris (R), set-up man
  4. Joaquin Benoit (R), late-relief
  5. Pat Neshek (R), mid-late relief
  6. Edubray Ramos (R), mid-late relief
  7. Joely Rodriguez (L), specialist/ mid-late relief
  8. Dalier Hinojosa (R), mid-relief or Pat Venditte (S), primarily a lefty-on-lefty specialist
Gomez, Neris, Benoit, and Neshek are locks. Morgan is not a lock but is close enough given his experience, age & spot on the 40-man. Rodriguez, obtained in a trade with the Pirates a few years ago, made a few appearances for us last year; being a lefty gives him an advantage. Hinojosa & Ramos, part of last year's somewhat-successful 'pen, are probably the last two in. Venditte - a switch pitcher! - is on the bubble.

Hitters (12)

Catcher:
  1. Rupp
  2. Knapp
We don't have the veteran presence from the Chooch years but Rupp has been on the 25-man for the last few years. He hits with a tremendous off-the-bat speed and throws runners out, but has not called most games well, which needs to be corrected this year. Knapp is pretty much on the fast track primarily because of his age, roster status and capabilities as a catcher. I have every confidence in Matt Stairs' ability to help him (and others) with hitting. As long as he holds his own offensively, is eager to listen to coaching staff and excels behind the dish... we'll be good for next year.

O.D. Line-up (defensively 3-9):
  1. Pitcher
  2. Catcher (R)
  3. 1B Tommy Joseph (R)
  4. 2B Cesar Hernandez (S) - utility capable
  5. 3B Maikel Franco (R)
  6. SS Freddy Galvis (S) - utility capable
  7. LF Howie Kendrick (R) - can play 2B, RF and possibly all-around utility
  8. CF Odubel Herrera (L) - can play 2B and some corner OF
  9. RF Michael Saunders (L)
Bench:
  • OF Aaron Altherr (R)
  • 1B, OF Brock Stassi (L)
  • 2B-3B Andres Blanco ()
Pretty balanced if you ask me: righties, lefties, switch-hitters, veterans, and young guys. We need to see half the Phillies' 2017 wins on the backs of Franco and Herrera with strong contributions from Hernandez and I hope (but not critical) Joseph. I have faith in Galvis' ability to hit decently and play solid defense everywhere.

Prediction

This offense, the depth behind them (in the minors), the aforementioned hitting coach Matt Stairs, and the improved pitching depth will keep the Phillies in more games than last year (above .500 through game 60 instead of game 45)\, plus winning a few more games through come-back games (both sides) and shorter loosing streaks late in the year.

Focus
  1. Hitting depth is going to be the primary focus at all levels in 2017. The key guys are:
    • Herrera & Franco in MLB
    • I'd love to see Galvis, Joseph, Knapp, Hernandez, Altherr, Goeddel demonstrate they're part of the future... at least the next 2-3 years.
    • SS JP Crawford, IF Alfaro, OF Cozens, IF Hoskins, IF Valentin, OF Quinn, & OF Williams in AAA
    • IF Kingery at AA.
    • 1B J. Ortiz & OF Moniak in A.
  2. Maintaining our current pitching depth (minus Hellickson & Buchholz) is important for this year heading into 2018. Without free agents, we need ~7 starters ready in S.T. for a call-up pre-deadline. We need about 3-5 more ready for call-ups after the deadline. Seeing progress of the guys in the upper-tier of the minors (particularly the 6 that were up here in S.T.) will be key in 2017. Nola, Eickhoff, and Velasquez' development at the MLB-level is also a high priority.
Concern
 
Seeing the following guys make big steps this year means we have a new core in-progress: starters Nola, Eickhoff & Velasquez; relief P Neris; 3B Franco; and CF Herrera. We do have a fall-back: the upper-tier of the minors, but that is slower and more unknown at this time. Either will open the door to free agency next year. Otherwise, the Phillies will (thru unattractiveness or their own decision(s)) have to buy low in a huge free agent market and will be tough to watch the next year or two.

You ready for this year? They most likely won't contend but will be interesting to watch!