Sunday notes – March 8th

Hello, its me. Now that we have spring training games happening, there are more things to talk about. The college baseball season is under way, there will be draft things to discuss, and so I hope to begin writing this notes column on a weekly basis, and then I might also throw in a few other random writings depending on my free time available. I’ll share some thoughts on our prospects and the draft, and some other random stuff. So, lets get started.

* I don’t want to tell you how to watch baseball games or follow the minors. If you’ve been around for a while, you know how I approach things, but I wanted to make a few points before the minor league season starts.

  1. Sample size – Be patient. One good or bad week/month should not be over magnified. Even one season is a small sample. It is really easy to get swept up in the excitement, and we’ve all done it, including me, but it is important to remember to stay calm
  2. For hitters, look at indicators – The whole “don’t scout the stat line” one liner made popular by Keith Law is applicable, but there are 2 things I actually look at for hitters: changes in K rate and changes in BB rate. There could be reasons for either to go up/down, but big changes can tell you something might be happening.
  3. For pitchers, I like to look for changes in the pitcher’s profile. For example, seeing a pitcher who previously had middling groundball rates suddenly start inducing 60% groundballs. You need to see it over a larger sample, but those are good early indicators.
  4. Read scouting reports – Obviously this is the most important thing. Learn who is giving the report, what their track record is, and then take what they are saying and compare it to the actual numbers the player is putting up.
  5. Stay calm – Its a long season. The goal for most of our prospects should be solid gains and staying healthy.

* Rule 5 pick Odubel Herrera has looked pretty decent early on. He hit a fairly empty .315/.383/.388 last season in AA, but he was only 22, so it isn’t like hes minor league cannon fodder. He was 21 for 31 in stolen bases, not much to get excited about, but obviously we only really care what he can do this year. Given that the Phillies will likely be horrible this year (despite what our esteemed closer says) so there is no harm in keeping him on the roster and seeing what he can do. Its a shame he can’t play shortstop (well, maybe he can, he played 60 games at SS in 2012) because that could be a path to regular at bats. If he can play 2B and all 3 OF positions (or at least LF/CF) then he could be a useful utility player. That’s nothing to get super excited about, but filling out the roster with versatile players making the league minimum is never a bad thing.

* This is obviously an important season for Jesse Biddle. Though I do not think I’d call it make or break, given that he is just 23 and lefthanders can pitch until they are 45. We all know that Biddle has a filthy curveball and that alone will probably allow him to have some kind of major league career, even if he doesn’t develop further. He is one season removed from a decent AA campaign at age 21, and we know last year was a bit of a disaster in every way. I’d actually bet on him getting back on track this year. I think he’s likely going to be a #4 if things work, not a front of the rotation guy, but the tools are still there.

* The early read on this upcoming draft is not good. Every year, it seems that scouts/people who know say that a draft is weak, usually in January or February, and then by April there are a bunch of pop-up guys who suddenly fly up draft boards and the draft starts to look better. This year, the pop-up guy is Dillon Tate, a righthanded pitcher from UC Santa Barbara. Tate has starter stuff, but was used as a reliever for his first 2 seasons and is now starting. He’s got a big time arm and a bit of funk in his delivery. He went from a sandwich round guy to a potential top 10 guy.

* With the Phillies picking 10th, they likely aren’t going to have a shot at Brady Aiken, who I think is the best prospect in the draft. The one guy I’d love to grab at #10 is Dansby Swanson, from Vanderbilt. Keith Law ranked him #9 in the fall, and the big question has been whether he can play SS in the majors. For me, I want him at 2B, where I think he’d be a plus defender. He has excellent bat to ball skills and is a good athlete, and could be a bigger version of peak Dustin Pedroia, playing elite level defense, hitting for average, and racking up tons of extra base hits. He’s played at a big time school in a good conference and has had nothing but success, and those are the guys I like betting on. If teams are convinced he can stick at SS, he will likely go before #10, but if they think he might have to move to 2B, I think he could be there at #10.

I’ll have more thoughts on the draft over the next 6 weeks or so, hopefully we’ll get a few more exciting high school guys popping up over that time. Until the next one…

40 thoughts on “Sunday notes – March 8th

  1. Does anyone know what happened to 1st rd pick Larry Greene. I know he has not played very well but I never saw that he was released. Jusy picked up a minor league roster at complex today and he is not listed.

    1. Someone on another thread tracked down an article from Jay Floyd at that said he voluntarily retired.

  2. On Herrera at SS at Myrtle Beach in 2012……I think the Rangers moved him off SS to 2nd base….I believe he was on a record error pace at short. But in a pinch I think he could handle it.

    1. Michael Chavis and Michael Conforto were both available to the Phillies last year in the first round. Alex Verdugo was available in the second round and Verdugo might be a better bat than Corey Seager, and Verdugo is playing CF

      1. Verdugo was big in his first pro season but I actually liked the Imhof selection. I also think Nola was a great selection for a team with considerable financial resources. A low floor and cost controlled contributor slotting in the middle of a first division team’s rotation will allow the team to spend it’s resources elsewhere.

        1. The only place they are spending their resources is on John Middleton’s castle and real estate and film production companies for his son @johnmiddleton

          Yoenis Cespedes
          Yasiel Puig
          Jose Abreu
          Jorge Soler
          Rusney Castillo
          Yasmany Tomas
          Yoan Moncada

          Let me know when you figure it out.

            1. Why does this guy keep going after Middleton, If he had control he would spend. YOUR nuts. its the devil giles, who stop the spending and tied middletons hands, who would bust slot. so top blaming the wrong guy. omg

          1. Guess__Who…I think I solved your riddle and figured it out..
            All the players you mentioned are Cubans, and since the Middletons are noted for their tobacco empire, they are thinking of switching and hiring Cuban cigar-rollers and letting the Dominicans walk. Correct?

          2. I figured it out long ago. You don’t have a clue what you’re talking about. Almost all the guys you list were signed before Middleton had his present level of influence. Monty ruled the roost. Also, this is a partnership. Middleton can’t just spend his own money on the Phillies. Even if he is the 48% owner, he can only spend Phillies team money. Owners can only inject more $ if they all proportionally pay in more money or the owners agree to allow another owner to increase his share. Since Middleton already owns the maximum 48% permitted by the partnership agreement, even that is foreclosed unless the partnership agreement is amended. Phillies money is not being spent on Middleton’s home or his son’s move making efforts. It is beyond ridiculous to suggest this.

            Phillies total spending hasn’t been the problem. They spent $177 million on major league salaries last year and finished with 73 wins. That isn’t inadequate spending, that is misallocated, stupid spending. They have consistently spent too much on very old vets and not nearly enough on kids. I’d also like them to have spent more on over-23 international talent than they have.

            As an example of horrendous spending, last off-season’s spending was beyond stupid. They spent big on very, very old, deeply in decline vets, for a team with zero chance to contend and in a way that adds zilch to the organizations future. It was not trivial $ spent, either.

            1. Congratulations, you’ve made a list of over-23 Cuban signees. The first 4 for certain have nothing to do with Middleton and the 5th likely also is on Monty. However long a list of Cubans you provide, it has zilch to do what Middleton spends on housing.

            2. “”We’re spotlight avoiders,” John Middleton said.”


              His son is on TWITTER!


              He’s a Hollywood Producer. He has his profile at IMDB. He tweets pics of himself with other actors.

              This ridiculous liar is supposed to be the messiah who will liberate Phillies fans from over three decades of torture?

              Sounds like another 34 years of two impact free agents being signed.

              JOHN MIDDLETON


              CURT SCHILLING -Three Rings

              HUNTER PENCE – Two Rings

              SCOTT ROLEN – One Ring

              SHANE VICTORINO -One Ring

              BOBBY ABREU

              CLIFF LEE

              JIMMY ROLLINS


              VICENTE PADILLA

              That’s SEVEN Rings in 14 years while the Phillies have won two World Series in 125 years.

              You win by BUYING players. I see where our money is going. I see the beach houses and castles going up.

              How much is your house worth? Can you conceive of owning a “house” so huge and valuable that the yearly property taxes exceed $400,000?

              Our Phillies owners can.

              That is what we have been paying for.

              Start planning for Clearwater. All of your favorite Camden Riversharks will be there.


              Highlight and Google: John Powers Middleton Felony Fraud


            3. sllentown1…save your post,and copy and paste in rebuttal when the Middleton rant keeps coming up, since I have the feeling it will be same rant, one after another for awhile..

            4. $400, 000 a year in property taxes!
              . Whoa!
              That’s a lot for sure….I wonder how much of that is school taxes!
              But then again he may have kids in the public school system in Florida. 🙂

  3. I don’t follow the baseball draft at all, much more of a hockey guy but does anyone know how the 2016 draft is shaping up or is it too early to tell? Just wondering in case the phils end up with the top pick or close to it since vegas appears to think that might happen.

    1. Local kid LHPJason Groome is going to be a first rounder if not a top 10 pick, maybe even a top 5 pick or could even go number 1. I’m sure the Phillies wouldn’t mind grabbing an arm like his esp being from the area. This is for the 2016 draft.

  4. Don’t know much about the 2016 draft but the strength of this year’s draft appears to be college pitching. That seems to be the 1 area that seems pretty solid early on. With that being said, I think Phils prefer a bat if everything is equal. Not a lot of big hitting college bats out there. There seems to be some decent middle infield prospects,though. Another guy to keep your eye on is Daz Cameron. Last year at this time he appeared to be the possible early favorite to be 1st pick. Right now he appears to have a legit shot to be there for Phils at 10. Don’t know what lies ahead over the next 3 months but just some things I’ve come across for the draft.

    1. There are a couple of promising college OF projected to go right around the Phillies slot at #10.

      1. Well whether you like it or not, there are in fact two promising college OD projected to go around #10. Their names are Happ and Stewart and they are off to good starts with the bat.

  5. Looking at the status of the big team and through our minor lg teams, it seems the ‘most wanted” positions are P, OF, & C. Of course, that could be amended when looking at our minors in June. to look for progress….and including any players obtained via trade(s).

    Recognizing our Pitcher needs in ’14, we got Nola (P) with out #1 pick. Better evaluations of our own “holes” will aid in our choices.

    By the way, we DO have a 2nd baseman vying for MLB-ship in Valentin who is listed as within our 10 best prospects by Baseball America. Given near equality of draftee prospects likely, isn’t it best to seek players who fill one or more of those holes?…unless, of course, a choice is obvious on a “certainty” at #10.

    Yes, the Red Sox have led the MLB pack in choosing their draftees; perhaps the Phils are in the process of learning from them and others re: analyitics. Failure to adapt has been the bugaboo of this franchise leading to the present horrendous shape. Bill James!!! needed.

    1. I might be wrong, but didn’t Larry Anderson say this about metrics:
      ‘Some people are just too anal about analytics’

      1. Maybe not HS draftees , nor even LA 16-year old signees….but one can make a case for college draftees, since there is some evidence of historical competitive stats.

          1. Savery was an injury gamble which the Phillies lost. I’d never bet on recovery from shoulder surgery — the odds are against you. Hamels was an injury gamble the Phillies won. Savery’s K-rate was a red flag but knowingly accepted as a gamble upon continued return of arm strength as he got farther away from shoulder surgery and participated in an MLB physical training program. You are going to lose at least half of bets like this. Savery should have been started as a 1B– well, really he shouldn’t have been taken in the first round.

      2. Not at all true. One of the early uses of analytics by the Athletics was in the evaluation of college draft eligibles. Admittedly analytics are fairly worthless for HS talent, although analytics does add insights, such as the importance of considering the age difference between young and old HS seniors. Hewitt’s age on draft day and the quality of his average opponents should have been read flags on draft day.

        1. Yes forgot about the age theory.
          A BP study by R, Jany showed nineteen year old seniors drafted in the first round faired lower then 17/18-year old seniors in the long run.

    2. Utley is the exception of MLB 2B who were drafted as 2B. To be drafted in the first round as a 2B is even rarer. A lot of 2B start out as SS. The Phillies have spent fairly big $ on Latin American SS. Crawford is our best prospect. One of those LA SS will be a future 2B. Then there is also Valentin, Hernandez, and Pullin. I’m not overly concerned about 2B. We won’t replace Utley, because a 2B with the D and offense of vintage Utley is once in a generation. Most are either/or, with neither the either or the or being as good as Utley. Our crying need in the major leagues and on the farm is corner OF. We don’t have a soul at either level who has shown himself likely to be even an average starting MLB corner OF. On a whole-year basis Brown has yet to do it and Dugan, Sandberg, Cozens, Perkins, and Brown have yet to put up adequate minor league numbers and seem to each have significant holes in their game. They are either just ‘projections’ at this point, or guys who look to fall a bit short of MLB average starter, i.e. more 4th or 5th OF than starters. Since a lot of a team’s offense traditionally comes from the corner OF positions, this leaves us severely hurting.

      The Phillies seem a little desperate to fill this hole, going first to the failed LGJ, then to $1 million for Encarnacion, and now supposedly $4 mill for an overweight LA 16-year old.

      1. Pray hard that they go hard in the Int’l July draft for some righty (!) power competent right fielder…….And, maybe the emphasis in the June draft by teams preceding the Phils will be on this “pitchers’ draft.” Which could leave some goods OFs available at #10…just hoping.

  6. Great to hear your thoughts again on the Phillies and baseball. Looking forward to reading more from you in the future.

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