Open Discussion: Week of March 16th

The Phillies have an 8-5 Grapefruit League record.  They have a .615 winning percentage.  If we could project this into late July, they would be 64-40 with a 6-7 game lead in the division.  That would make them buyers rather than sellers as they approached the trading deadline.

Just kidding.  We all know that team records don’t mean much during spring training.  The 2008 Phillies finished the spring with a 12-18 record.  Winning now helps build the culture of winning that probably doesn’t exist in the organization’s affiliates.  If you have players who become accustomed to losing in the minors, it can be difficult to foster a winning attitude in the big leagues.

With their offensive explosion against the Red Sox on Sunday, the Phillies are sporting the following slash – .225/.276/.315/.592, the worst in each category among National League teams.  They were able to slip past the Baltimore Orioles and rank 29th among all MLB teams in AVG, SLG, and OPS. They still rank last in OBP.

Six of their 8 home runs, their only triple, and 5 of their 15 doubles have been hit by players who will probably not be on the 25-man roster.  In their new era of small ball, 5 players have successfully sacrificed, only Ben Revere has been successful more than once.  They have been successful on 9 of 13 steal attempts, only Odubel Herrera has more than one steal.  (Over at the Carpenter Complex, I saw Jessie Valentin sacrifice after a lead off double by Carlos Tocci.)  Looks like they’re serious throughout the organization about “small ball”.

So far, their pitching is respectable.  But with injuries to Lee and Harang, and Gonzales looking less likely to be able to begin the season as a starter, the rotation is starting to look a little thin.   I don’t know if small ball is going to be enough.  BTW, Valentin’s sacrifice worked when Tocci avoided the tag at the plate on a fielder’s choice.

136 thoughts on “Open Discussion: Week of March 16th

  1. Jim, for a minute, I thought you’d lost your mind. I’d like to see the big club hit more. I don’t care if you call it small ball. Having guys on base is a heck of a lot better than 3 up 3 down every inning. You’ll never win a game with no one on base… ever. I hope that gets perpetuated down through the minors. Reading and CLW are the two stops I’d like to see some hitting to match up with the pitching. It’s fun to see a box score with 10 hits or more. We see too little of that.

    1. OBP does count.
      Say what you want, but guys like Burrell, Abreu, Werth, Ibanez (first couple years in Philly), Utley, in his prime, had better then average OBPs.
      Then they were replaced by the Youngs, Revere, Brown , who did not come around as expected, a disappointing Freddy G, and then Marlon Byrd, then add in an aging injured Howard and Ruiz and the offensive decline became more evident.

      1. Yes! I love using Burrell as an example of a hitter who became more selective at the plate from year to year. After a 2003 season where he struck out almost twice as much as he walked (142 K/72 BB), he progressed to an unheard of 1:1 (almost) ratio in 2007 (120 K/114 BB). From 2005-08, when he averaged about 30 HRs, his OPS+ was greater than 120 in each of those seasons with 99, 98, 124,102 BBs.

    2. Getting a lot of men on base to me is counter to small-ball. Small-ball focuses upon ‘productive outs’ to advance baserunners. Getting a lot of guys on base is an obp-focused approach which values walks and avoids outs, productive or otherwise. It may just be my mistaken sense of what the Phillies mean by small-ball approach, but I see it as sacrificing the chance for a big inning to try to score one run. Except for specific late game situations, I think bunting to advance a runner should be limited to pitchers.

      1. Trying to understand your first sentence….’Getting a lot of men on base to me is counter to small-ball’.
        It would appear, you cannot play , what they call ‘small-ball’, without men on base, thru walks or HBPs or however they can get on.
        Having low team OBP prevents the concept of small ball.
        it would force a team to rely on the HR.
        And isn’t ‘long-ball’ offense defined as waiting for the HR and hoping that there are men on base for the ‘crooked’ numbers they talk about?
        Just trying to understand what you mean by the phrase high OBP or getting a lot of men on base is counter to small-ball’
        .

        1. Yes, long-ball approach requires men on base to succeed, so you want a lot of walks and singles ahead of your power hitters.

          Why I label small-ball as not at all the same as lots of guys on base is that once you get a guy on base, you deliberately give away outs to advance that one runner. Every intentional productive out is a lost opportunity to put another player on base. Every intentional out by bunt is a lost opportunity to make the pitcher throw more pitches. You don’t get lots of baserunners and crooked score innings by deliberately bunting, hitting sac flies, and trying to hit a grounder behind the runner which provides little chance for a base hit. The Phillies aren’t a speedy team. They aren’t going to advance a lot of runners not named Revere by stealing bases, so if the present Phillies squad is going to play small ball, they are going to give away a lot of outs to advance runners, which is going to mean fewer baserunners per game and the other teams’ starters going deeper into games.

          1. The opposite of small ball with a roster like the Phillies have is not hitting a ton of HR, since they aren’t capable of hitting a ton of HR. It is a high OBP approach. Every batter other than the pitcher tries his best to get on base via hit, BB, or HBP. That is, no batter other than the pitcher (or in unique late game situations) ever sacrifices a chance to get on base in order to advance a runner. By its essence — taking the productive out — small ball will always lead to a team having a lower OBP than it would otherwise have, if everyone was just trying to get a hit by swinging at good pitches or accepting a walk if the good pitches aren’t there.

          2. I do not like the Phillies version of small ball. On a few occasions, I have watched them trade two outs for one run after getting the first two men on base – single, walk, sacrifice, ground out rbi, inning-ending out. I understand the need to practice bunting runners over in spring training, but I really hope that they do not follow this script all season.

            1. Alas, I think we are going to see more of the same. The most basic things the Sabermetric people learned like 30 years ago about not trading outs for runs has not reached the desks of Ruben Amaro, Ryne Sandberg or their team of abacus-wielding statisticians. It’s pretty sad that the Phillies appear to be resigned to doing blatantly and unnecessarily stupid things – it’s all part of the arrogance, although, frankly, what they have to be arrogant about lately is anyone’s guess.

            2. Catch, it most certainly has reached their desk… at least long enough for them to crumble up the memo and toss it in the trash

  2. The Boston papers continue to write articles pushing for a Hamels trade. They say Betts is unavailable but Swihart and Owens could be abailable if the Phillies are contract. It’s the combination of prospects and money that is holding up a trade. We can’t know for certain, but if that’s the case then the Phillies are idiots for not eating some of the contract.

    1. Perhaps Cecchini, Bradley, Coyle (briefly) and Swihart were all showcased yesterday…..though the Sox deny that report.

    2. I just came over here to post the same thing. Owens, swihart and a couple lesser prospects Maybe even one of the sox extra out fielders. I’d pickup a good chunk of money for that kind of return. I’d love Betts though.

    3. The reports/rumours from Boston indicate that they want to trade their excess MLB players for Hamels which is not what the Phillies need.

      1. I really want Margot, but if we can get Owens and Swihart, then two lesser prospects are just fine.

        1. According to the Sox, it appears Betts, Swihart and Rodriguez are the only ones off limits.
          Then I’d to persuade them for Vazquez, Owens, Cecchini, and Margot, and maybe Coyle for good measure!

          1. I think Vazquez, Owens, and Margot would just about get it done for Hamels. Adding Cecchini would seal it for sure. If I were the Phillies, I’d even throw in half a year’s salary for Hamels in the deal.

            1. One of Margot or JBJ(preferably the former) should be included in any deal. To preempt a freak-out, JBJ would be a throw-in, nothing more. He could be a 3rd(with two strong prospects), 4th or 5th player in a deal…but Herrera could soon make JBJ even less desirable, as making Revere expendable would be a secondary, if not primary reason for acquiring JBJ.

              If any deal goes down before June, I’d want PTBNL, as I’m intrigued by several of their 2014 picks and recent IFAs. If they’re eligible when the deal happens, those players be significant in the deal. Their first four picks last year: Chavis, Kopech, Travis, Cosart are all intriguing as possible inclusions.

            1. Bogaerts was another who they didn’t want to include. I guess he is not a prospect anymore.
              Over the last ten years, the Red Sox, along with the Yankees, seem to have their share of high rated positional prospects and they did not materialize as they expected. Of course, Pedroia and Cano worked out very well.
              Not sure why that is.

  3. I used to be of the mindset that you eat no money if you trade Hamels but someone wrote that the Phillies have plenty of money. So if we need to eat some of the contract, that’s fine because that’s a resource we have a lot of

  4. Pitching so far has been very good. Araujo and Oliver have been having nice springs so far. I could see one or both of them making the club along with Diekman as our LHPs in the pen. Hollands could go back to the minors and get some work in coming off an injury. It also looks like Luis Garcia is making a push to make the club. It would be nice if he could translate his success at AAA to the bigs.

    It has also been nice seeing Morgan have some success and looking healthy, Rodriguez is another lefty I am keeping my eye on. I’d like to see him get some more strike outs, but he has only given up 2 hits and 2 BBs through 7IP.

  5. I’m not sure what everyone is thinking, but I think the hype/hope for Maikel Franco needs to be quelled immediately. His approach is not even close to be acceptable enough against MLB pitching. Goes to show that even with excellent coaches and technology, a player has can still be a defiant jerk that doesn’t do anything that he’s told. Perfect example is Ryan Howard and sliders low and away. He HAS to know they’re coming in certain situations, yet he still commits to taking bad swings.

    1. Why do we have to put this issue in the inaccurate and nasty frame of “defiant jerk” and “commits to taking bad swings?” The fact is that some players have poor pitch recognition skills – it isn’t a “bad attitude” or “not listening” or anything like that.

      That said, if we’re talking about Franco’s prospects – and I’ve always been cautiously optimistic on that front – if I’m right, that may be even more problematic. If Franco was simply choosing to swing at bad pitches. If it was simply a “choice” or stubbornness it could be easily fixed (and likely would be).

      1. If a HOF player is your Coach, and he publicly states that he is seeing the same exact actions & problems from a player that happened just a year before, you wouldn’t classify this player as “defiant”? Imagine being in their shoes, telling him every single day for 8 months to take a different approach to a day’s at-bats. Jerk may not be strong enough LarryM. Yes in regards to his prospects, we need to stay cautious with how we look at Franco. There’s only one way to stop on top of your game in all aspects in life, and that’s make constant adjustments while being receptive to constructive criticism.

        1. He’s a HOF player, not a HOF manager. As a manager, Sandberg is WAY out of his depth. His ignorant comments about Rollins certainly proved THAT. Fortunately he’ll be gone LONG before the team is ready to contend again,

          1. To avoid falling into the same trap as Triles, let me clarify:

            While increasigly not a fan of Sandberg, I was a tad harsher than I should have been, accepting Triles characterization of Sandberg’s remarks as true. In fact, I haven’t seen comments anywhere near as harsh as this from Sandberg directed at either Franco or Howard. If Sandberg really had publicly said something that harsh or unfair, then IMO that’s a firing offense.

          2. I’m not at all confident Sandberg will be gone anytime soon. The Phillies are quite adept at keeping underperforming managers around.

            Though perhaps you were merely commenting on how long it will be before the Phillies are competitive again.

            1. Yeah, I don’t think the Phillies eat much in the way of manager’s salary. Manuel kinda forced their hand about 40 games sooner than they wanted. Bowa did the same with a couple games left. I think Nick Leyva was the last time they ate a major portion of a manager’s salary, after 12(?) games in ’91(?) before Fregosi was hired.

        2. Like Larry said, pitch recognition is a skill, not just something a player can decide to showcase or not. Ryne or any other person on earth could tell Ben Revere that he should hit for more power, but it’s not going to happen because he doesn’t possess that skill. Franco may or may not have the ability to have better at-bats, but it’s still something he has to work to develop; it’s not as simple as just deciding to be better.

        3. This is crazy. You can coach all you want and you won’t create new skills. The pitch recognition and plus hit skills either exist or they don’t. You can improve things around the edges, but you cannot add tools to the toolbox through coaching. Even if it is a case of bad ingrained habits, they are very difficult to change, especially in a game situation, where your swing needs to be a natural response to what you see — think about it and the pitch is in the catcher’s glove. Take our distinguished GM as an example. He was a very weak hitter. No amount of coaching or super-positive attitude was going to change that. The Phillies have trained up Howard and Brown to hit the way they do for close to a decade in the case of Brown and over a decade in the case of Howard. The way they were coached to hit during all those seasons has become muscle memory and is difficult to alter. Yes, Howard is pull happy. No, he doesn’t slap balls into the holes created by the shift. Manuel wanted him to be a HR hitter and his approach is based on that. It is very late in his career to easily make a major change. This isn’t stubbornness or defiance, it is simply a very difficult change to make. Sandberg wants small-ball, Manuel sought the 3-run HR. It is a major change in approach.

          As Skip Kelly knows, it is difficult to implement a new system successfully with the prior coach’s players. They may buy in totally and try to cooperate with the new regime, but they were selected because they had certain skills, which management thought were a fit with the old game plan, then they were trained up to make those existing skills even more congruent with the old game plan. When you convert a guy picked and trained to be a 4-3 defensive end and switch to a 3-4 and need him to now be an outside linebacker, it really isn’t his fault if he has trouble making the transition at an advanced sports age.

          Players want to succeed. They generally try to adapt and give their best. Their best may either no longer be good enough or may be a mismatch to the new system. No defiance or stubbornness or bad attitude involved. That’s just how life is. If you needed a point guard, you shouldn’t have drafted a 6-10 power forward. That’s on the coach and GM. Howard is what Howard is. That and his age are the big reasons he needs to be gone.

          1. Here is a little something for you guys to feast on. Dabble in that and see what these guys are talking about. Greg Gross spoke at the New Jersey coaching clinic last winter and made a point to say that some particular players he coached blatantly denied any personal instruction. You can improve pitch recognition and your approach to having a quality at bat, especially if you are a paid professional.

            http://sports.yahoo.com/news/mike-schmidt-todays-hitters-dont-210254128–mlb.html

        4. I don’t know dude, why don’t you try to hit a major league breaking pitch with some consistency before you start ascribing a 22-year-old’s inability to do so (thus far) to some kind of character flaw.

          I’m not a huge apologist for Franco: I am actually adjusting my expectations way downward based on what I’ve seen of him the last couple of years, including my latest trip to Spring Training. Honestly, I’m not sure I have seen him either 1)take a pitch or 2)hit the ball out of the infield. SSS, of course, but definitely a telltale indicator (among many others) that he has major pitch-selection issues.

          But saying the guy is a defiant jerk because he swings at baseballs too often is just kind of … jerky. And I can’t help but point out that these kind of labels seem only to be placed on our black and Latin players. Cody Asche has so far struck out in close to 25 percent of his major league at-bats, and yet you don’t see people calling him a defiant free swinger. No, he reminds people a lot of Chase Utley!

      2. I’m fairly confident that I watch as much Spring Training Baseball as anyone not paid to do so thanks to the MLB networks expanded coverage. I don’t think Franco is a defiant jerk at all.

        Franco can still be a solid MLB regular but his problems do tend to start with pitch recognition skills. Franco has elite contact skills but that alone will not produce an elite hitter.

        The example if there was a stat for this is the high rate at which he rolls over on pitches or gets induced into weak contact. He very much reminds of Shefield without the ability to see off speed right away.

        Maikel just needs more time in the league. I think and I could be wrong he will come around once he cycles through the leagues pitchers a few times. I see a .270 type hitter 20-30 bombs a year, 5 hole type hitter.

        1. The resident in-the-booth hitting instructor, Matt Stairs, said yesterday….Franco needs to make some adjustments.
          Franco has adjusted at every level to date. The highest and hardest, may just take a little longer then a half-year.

  6. Small ball … look, there IS a time and a place for it. But …

    Let’s step back a little. There’s room to argue, I think, on the margins. But before we get to the margins … run scoring can MOSTLY be explained by two things – getting on base, and advanced base runners via hits. OBP and SLG, that is, though not equally (OBP is more important that SLG). This is not a remotely disputable point.

    Then there is a definitional issue as well … just what do we mean when we talk about “small ball?” Let’s go with a fairly expansive definition, which would basically be “everything else” – sac flies, sac bunts, stolen bases, and so on. Now, I think it’s pretty clear that those strategies CAN increase scoring, and (in limited cases) can increase wins without increasing net runs. We can argue along the margins just HOW MUCH. A skeptic will argue that MOST “small ball” strategies have a net negative effect. That may be overstating the case. Let’s take a more “small ball” optimistic case.

    Here’s the thing. Make the most positive (but still reasonable) assumptions in the world. The advantage is (at best) small. You rank near the bottom in OBP and SLG, you rank near the bottom is scoring. Period.

    Also important of course is that you need the right players to execute small ball strategies. IMO the “best” “small ball” strategy is to steal a lot of bases at a high percentage – but obviously you need the right players to execute that “strategy.” Also true of stuff like “hitting behind the runner.” A marginal benefit AT BEST – but some players are just better at it that others, not because of effort or practice, but just because some players have better bat control than others.

    In other words, you can’t just “decide” to use more small ball strategies. And when you do – when you try to force players not suited to such strategies to use them – that’s when small ball strategies actually cost you runs (and wins).

    1. My take on “small ball” (and I think most here are saying something similar) is that it incorporates several factors, some (most?) of which the Phillies do not seem suited – walks, stolen bases, sacrifice bunts, sac flies, hit-and-run, hitting behind runners, and aggressive baserunning.

      “Small ball” is sometimes a derogatory term used to label a team that doesn’t have power. And sometimes is a complimentary term for a manager who is real “hands on” with in-game decisions. In both cases, the term implies that a team sometimes incorporates “small ball” when it is deficient in some other facet of the game.

      In reality, a team incorporates a “small ball” strategy when –
      1.) the opposing pitcher allows few runs and it wants to take advantage of early base runners (one could argue that could be most pitchers that the Phillies will face);
      2.) the team is confident that their starter will allow few runs and early runs could win the game (yeah, no. Maybe once every 5 starts?);
      3.) the team doesn’t generate many base runners (low AVG, low OBP) and tries to take advantage of the few batter who reach base (this sounds familiar);
      4.) the team has more than a couple players able to steal a base or take an extra base (there are a lot of base cloggers in the Phillies projected starting line up and not a lot of base stealing speed other than Revere);
      5.) late inning strategy.

      It would seem that the Phillies don’t have the personnel to incorporate a “small ball” strategy except as a late inning strategy.

      Does that about cover it? Too simplistic?

  7. I think small ball is best suited. When you have great pitching, and guys with speed and not much power. Guys who could steal a base , be bunted over. and score on sac fly or other ways from third. this team imo. doesn’t have the personal.

  8. Small ball still requires hitting skills, albeit of a contact/OBP/work pitchers nature. It is not just something that you do when you have guys with no power. The Phils do not have enough guys who have any hitting skills at all. We need to give Franco a chance. We are only guessing about the ceiling for his ability, and we mostly think there was no chance that he started the season on the Major League team. He will be at LHV, and we can only hope that his pitch recognition improves. If not, we guessed wrong on him, and we are 1 more player short of ever contending. And, I agree with LarryM. The manager for the team when/if they ever contend again will not be Ryne Sandberg.

  9. I love franco, watching him the last two years. He seems to adjust and come on, He showed me a lot from what I saw in april and what he was in august. A completely different hitter.

      1. I’m reserving judgment. I like his glove and I like his easy power. But can he adjust to good breaking balls (and by “adjust” I don’t mean learn to recognize and not offer at)? I don’t know. I hope so, but just because a guy can make adjustments at various minor league stops doesn’t mean he can do the same thing in the majors.

        1. That’s true that not all players can make the major league adjustment. but I like to think and am optimistic that he will be able to do that, to the extent at least that he is a serviceable hitter, a .270 type with 20/25 HR power. I just mentioned that he was able to make adjustments in the minors at a half-season pace for the most part…..whereas in the majors it make take longer.

        2. Catch I know its the minors. but I saw him almost every Saturday on tv in beginning of season. The triple a veterans were getting him out on bad, in the dirt breaking balls. he looked overmatched. Come july thru august he was so patience and was really laying off the bad pitches, and was smashing the ball. so he really can imo improved.

          1. Roccom, I’m not saying he can’t do it, I’m just saying I’m reserving judgment. I know he’s improved at other stops and has done so throughout the minors, but I also know that I’m very concerned about what I’ve seen in terms of the abilty to handle breaking pitches. There’s nothing like major league pitchers for taking a single weakness in a hitter and turning it into a career stopper. Again, I like Franco, but I’m in wait and see mode with him and, by the way, the team’s really poor track record with developing hitters doesn’t help very much. But I hope he can do it because he has some undeniable skills.

  10. Franco always starts slow he needs to get one good series of well hit balls His wrists and hands are are so strong and quick but his load is horrible. So players are slow starts and hot in july, aug, step.look at his splits in the minors month per month.

  11. Cliff Lee sent home from Spring Training and put on 60Day DL. Seems to be the 1st step to the end for him. I, for one am sad about that. I was a huge Cliff Lee fan, and I believe, despite the run in 2011 during the regular season, the Lee trade cost 1, maybe 2 more WS wins. It was an awful decision and an awful trade. I will never forget that Lee and Chase Utley almost beat the Yankees by themselves.

      1. Who cares? This team isn’t 9 players deep let alone 40 (not a knock at you or your comment, but rather the Phillies). One of the things I’m really struggling with this year is that there isn’t an exciting young player on the team.

        I would have been excited about Franco except I’m so nervous about his pitch recognition skills that I can’t enjoy his play.

    1. You are correct. I don’t think he ever starts another game for the Phillies. It’s another big pile of dead $$ to stack next to Howard’s $$$. RAJ spent like a drunken sailor on old players, although as a previous commenter said, when the owners had a chance to pony up not that many more $millions for just one season of budget out of whack and not trade Lee — they blew it. They wasted more $ on Burnett.

      1. It is interesting how people forget that at the time the Lee contract was considered a coup, especially since the Yankees had offer two additional years.

  12. He does not get the option to vest, but he automatically has a $12.5 Million buy out. So, I think that brings it to $37.5 Million that he is owed. Insurance covers some of it. It does open a spot on the 40 Man and it would seem, Murray, that you are correct and that goes to Slowey. I think Rodriguez and MAG start in the Rotation at LHV.

  13. Dang…Bovada Vegas Line now has Phillies at 67.5.
    Lee’s injury dropped them.
    Trade Hamels and the over/under could decline even lower.
    The number one pick in 2016 seems like very likely possibility.

      1. You need to consider that Hamels will be traded at some point, Howard will be traded too if he keeps playing like he is, and lee is done.

  14. David I totally disagree with your statement , We aren’t too negative. We have a team with no speed, little power, bad outfielders, a lot of veteran pitchers starting. Rather see the kids get push a little over watching older guys pitch on a bad team. This team, this ownership, has no idea what to do. Only thing this team has is a bullpen. no starters , bad infielders, bad outfielders, a declining catcher. maybe you see something no one else does?

      1. I don’t like the moaning and groaning much either, I find it annoying and it makes life as a fan a real drag, which is why I mostly stay away from the Open Discussion thread these days. But all that said: I’m not sure that any level of negativity can exceed the objective crappiness of this team. If they trade Hamels we will finally get to see what a 5-man rotation of replacement level pitchers would do on the major league level. And after spending a couple days in Clearwater, I’m not so optimistic about the lineup either–most of the offensive spark seems to be coming from the nonroster guys. It’s a long season, and it’s true that even the worst teams are going to win 60 games. I just struggle to see where those 60 wins are going to come from. I really do. Ok, heading back to the minor league discussions now, where at least there’s some hope, however unrealistic.

        1. Andrew so far this team looks like a 120 loss team. Cliff lee was to me a big blow. I was hoping he would do well and we could move him for something, Now its like the year we had a really bad team and only Steve carlton. This team to me is just as bad.

          1. Well, a 120-loss team would equal the major league record … but I’m not ruling it out. At least the ’62 Mets had the excuse of being an expansion team.

            1. I have us slightly better than last year.

              Clubhouse issues were removed and guys are playing for trades, contracts, etc. If Howard play better than last year I like the lineup for the most part.

              People are way too negative on the team. Will they hit .500? No. Will they be the worst team in MLB history? Not even close.

              The hyperbole is huge with the media.

        2. I’m not an optimist, but 120 losses is silly. And yes, I’ve thrown that number around myself from time to time, but only in the “if they REALLY trade all the veterans” scenario. And even then, I’ll admit 120 losses is a stretch (though 110 losses would be in the realm of the possible)

          120 losses basically means the entire roster is below replacement level. The Phillies have:

          several bullpen pieces better than replacement level
          two regulars who are still above average (Ruiz, Utley)
          at least a couple of regulars below average but above replacement (Asche, Revere)
          possibly a starting pitcher or two above replacement
          one star level starting pitcher for at least part of the season

          I agree that the rest of the team is basically replacement level (though one could make a case for a couple more guys being maybe a tad above that, e.g., Galvis).

          Fangraphs sees them as winning 69 games. That assumes a full season of Hamels, but trading him mid season shaves just a couple games off of that total.

          they are going to be awful, but the fact that they (wisely) choose not to shed ALL of the veterans will prevent them from being HISTORICALLY awful.

  15. I heard this around the Complex this morning, but the guy couldn’t remember the prospect names or where he read it. I was wondering what you all thought.

    Phillies and Sox agree on a trade of Hamels for three prospects, but the Sox want $$$ included. Phillies say “No” and Sox counter with the same three prospects and Victorino, essentially three prospects and $13M in the form of a player. Has anybody else heard anything like this?

    I know the prospects matter, but if the prospects were good enough to get the deal done and the $$$ was the hold up, would substituting Victorino for the $$$ be “Deal” or “No Deal”?

    1. If you like the prospects, you take that deal every day of the week. It’s $13 million for one year and Victorino becomes a trade chip at the deadline if he’s playing well.

      1. Agree Timber…..getting Vic back , at least until July, could be a fan warm and fuzzy, at least for the femme portion of the fan base. Then he can be moved again for prospects…of course Ethan Martin still needs to pan out and Josh Lindblom is moved on and the PTBNL has retired.
        But I think Ruben now has the re-learned the knack for getting quality prospects back.

        1. Ethan Martin was a good prospect, certainly a decent return for Victorino, who was a complimentary piece for the Dodgers and headed into free agency. The fact that he was inconsistent and then got injured doesn’t make the trade a bust. It just makes it a typical rebuilding move–most prospects don’t pan out, and the rate of attrition seems to be higher with starting pitchers than any other type of player.

    2. I would take Victorino back to get a good return for Hamels. He is a better option than Sizemore and Brown if healthy. He could just platoon with Brown in RF as well. He always came off as a good guy in the clubhouse and could help out with some of the young guys. If he is gets hurt or isn’t productive we are eating 13mil to get the guys you want for Hamels. Its not like we aren’t blowing millions on veterans anyway…whats one more on a one year deal?

      If Victorino can bounce back a bit and get traded like some others have mentioned, we could get 3 prospects for Hamels and another 1 or 2 for Shane. While a lot would have to go right, this could be a way for Ruben to actually win this trade.

    3. I put everything through a filter: “What would Hinkie do?”. (I always suspected that RAJ was letting money get in the way of a good deal.)

      Hinkie would absolutely take Victorino back to make the big deal and then trade him off to someone else, eating much of his salary to make that deal. Victorino still thinks he’s good enough to start and probably is but the Phils are not the team for him to play on. Hinkie would find a way to make the deal happen. RAJ???

      1. While I agree with the sentiment that the Phillies should kick in money to improve prospect return the analogy to Hinke is a false one. Hinke is working with a roster well below the salary minimum which he will have to pay up to regardless. Amaro has a roster making over $135 millionmillion.

      2. After the MCW trade it is not exactly clear that Hinke has a solid grasp that time is the enemy of his plan. I am not sure Brown will reup after his contract is up and if he goes for Okafor he will have 4 guys over 6’10”. While his concept is good at the trade deadline he showed that his grasp on player development, time, and logic is somewhat faulty.

        Getting the Lakers pick, while a nice concept, is faulted by the assumption that the Lakers will not spend the $30 million in cap space ($66 mill. cap assumption which could be as high as $90 million giving the Lakers $54 mill. to spend) this offseason.

        The Phillies can afford to wait for the right deal which will be for position players. The pitching rosters at Reading and LV are pretty much set.

        1. I won’t debate you on Hinkie’s brilliance here other than to say that the Sixers will obviously draft one of the two point guards and MCW is not good enough to win a championship and maybe the next guy will be. The Sixers have been looking 2 years down the road the whole time for when Saric is here and they get two more first rd picks next year (Lakers and Sixers) after 3 picks this year plus Embiid for next year. Brown will likely stay, he seems to have done a very good job.

          As for the Phillies, RAJ needs to make a good deal happen prospect wise and if it costs a little extra money, you have to pay it. Remember, trading Hamels will lower the Phillies’ total spend even if they absorb a little of it. The same holds true with moving Howard. They’re not adding costs, they’re just not lowering them all the way. Ruben, make the deal!

          1. You cannot make the case for MCW after less than 2 years. No draft can be adequately reviewed until 3 years at least. Wall did not look like a franchise PG until the 4th year.

            I think Brown leaves for greener pastures. Why stay and continue losing when you can move to a veteran team and win? Chances at least one of Noel, Saric, and Embiid will be traded.

            Part of building a team is talent development. You can’t keep flipping guys and saying ‘three years out’ because the fans and management will tire of the team flipping guys for future picks. At some point the narrative wears thin, you cannot continue ad infinitum until you get that franchise player.

            As for Hamels, RAJ should ask for Swihart as an opener and if they want us to take Victorino give me Betts. I am doing you the favor of reducing your luxury tax bill so give me a top prospect for the eight figures I am saving you.

            I am not taking Barnes (more of a RP), Coyle (5’8″ 2B) or a AA/AAA pitching prospect since we have enough. We need position players.

        2. You’re not giving the Sixers’ FO enough credit if you think they didn’t consider the possibility that the Lakers will be better next year. More likely, they looked at who would be available in free agency and the draft and decided that the Lakers have very little chance of being significantly better next season. Plus, the Sixers’ evaluation of MCW clearly leans towards him never be a star PG. The Bucks have the league’s worst offense since the trade deadline, and at least some of that is due to his shortcomings.

          1. Excluding a couple of games (GS, Orlando, and Denver) his FG percentage inside the arc has significantly improved and he is shooting .439 vs. .380. His 3pt shooting percentage has taken a huge hit (taking less shots behind the line) but his free throw percentage went from .640 to .830. Assists are down 1.5 per game but turnovers are down by 1 per game.

            I highly doubt it is him despite the small sample size.

            It is too early to tell but after 9 games there is improvement despite the teams record.

            http://www.basketball-reference.com/players/c/cartemi01.html

          2. handzus I Thought the same thing until the nba upped the cap. The lakers will have a lot of money and kobe to get fa and become better. MCW I believe will be a nice player. but he isn’t a point guard. too many turnovers and poor shooting, and isn’t a two. maybe with a better cast of players he will improve. but doubt it. his great asset is he is a good defender. Today I am reading about Bryant of cubs. Wow this kid really looks like a superstar.

            1. rocco…remember what you always say about prospects!
              Don’t anoint them to early, most of the time they fall below expectations..

            2. Until he has more pieces around him it is hard to ascertain just how good he can be.

              You could put LeBron on the Sixers and they might just make the playoffs, the talent level on the Sixers is that bad. Right now, the only guy that you can project to be a future starter is Noel.

              The whole point about drafting franchise players is talent development. Lots of guys come out every year and get talked to the moon but until they actually work and achieve their potential they are just prospects.

              Anyway, there is only one more season until the NBA has another lockout. The next CBA negotiation will be a complete mess and may shut the league down for a year.

        3. Cap is expected to go up significantly in the next offseason so Lakers and other big money teams may wait it out.

            1. David I totally agree. Bradley cant hit. why would we want him??? Cant understand how someone would want a good defensive outfield who cant hit for cole. In my world makes no sense.

          1. Red Sox fans are welcome. Just make an account for the sake of our perspective.

            Your giveaway is that package of expendables, who virtually represent a Red Sox fan’s ideal offering. You wouldn’t mind losing those players and expect, in return, to receive a healthy #1 starter in his prime.

            I’ve used the anonymous tag many times, but its unfortunate how much it facilitates trolling.

    4. Why do the Phillies give 2 sh1ts about 13m? Please tell me so I can recover from my temporary state of insanity.

        1. Because they were going to use that 13 million to do what that they couldn’t have done otherwise? If you like the prospects, the money is immaterial and a way for a large market team to maximize their return.

  16. If you get the Prospects that you want, and no, it does not have to be Betts or Swihart, then you do the deal without question. You tale a $13Million flyer on Victorino, and if it doesn’t work out so what. Boston gets $ relief, and Phils write a check, but get good prospects. Sounds like a plan, but has this even been a rumor?

    1. Not that I can find. The guy is originally from Boston and still a big fan of the Sox. He likes to keep us posted on their radio talk show topics, their version of Philly’s WIP programs. He’s has generally been accurate on stories that don’t involve the Hamels trade.

      1. Boston doesn’t really need financial relief, but it is always nice to move guys who make a lot and can be replaced with in house guys. I would guess by financial relief that anon is referring to the fact that Boston doesn’t want to pay Hamels entire contract and give up prospects for him. The reason for giving them the “relief” would be to get the prospects you want and not have to pay part of Hamels contract. Bringing in Victorino would be a lot better than just paying a portion of the deal.

        1. I think taking hammels contract would put Boston over the payroll threshold, so the Phillies taking back Vic. keeps them from paying dead money, its not that they can’t afford it, don’t want to do it.

          1. i don’t think hammel would cost them but 20m total for two more years, but why would As want to trade him they just got him last year

    2. I’d take the flyer on Victorino. I would not take the much bigger flyer that has been proposed elsewhere for the injured/faded Craig and a not very impressive list of prospects, which excludes Swihart.

  17. In case you haven’t noticed, Cord Phelps has pushed himself into contention for that last spot. the 25th spot had been between Cesar Hernandez and one of the OFs (Franceur, Bogusevic, Danks) but Cord Phelps with his solid play has inserted himself into the discussion. Good for him. I previously thought that Cesar was a lock for that spot but his play has seriously put that decision up for grabs.

    1. Also makes Ruben happy…..another Cardinal guy on the roster. Every year he has been a GM he has had at least one on the team.

  18. Not to beat a tired horse, but I saw the Nick Cafardo column recently. For the 1st time, it seems that the tone has changed to one that advocates loosening up the prospect offer for Hamels. Before, all the quotes were about the value of prospects and RAJ was out of his mind to ask for so much, etc. Now, there are quotes that seem to come from those of us here that think Hamels is worthy of at least 1 big time guy. RedSox Nation is underwhelmed with their starting rotation and now there are quotes that suggest that Swihart should be offered to make the Hamels deal. It is just interesting that the tone of the column has changed, Cafardo has always been good at knowing what is going on with the RedSox.

  19. Kyke Kendrick gets tabbed as the Rocks opening day starter. Good for KK he was a good soldier here in Philly!

    As for the rest of the league arms are going down at a fast pace and if Joe Kelly’s injury is amplified from something more than just biceps tendonitis we may see a move.

    1. Sox cannot afford to lose any of their frontline starters. Bucholz, Kelly and Masterson all have had health issues in the past. If Ruben would just let it be known ‘tactfully public’ that he is in talks with the Yankees about Hamels, the Sox could give in on his demands.

        1. Certainly the odds are in your favor.
          I have to think, the Sox think each will have an IR, maybe two, at some point during the season…the extended IR is the one that they may be hoping to avoid and keeping their fingers crossed on.

  20. Just want to comment on the starting pitching candidates for the MLB rotation. While I realize that the Phillies have to put together a major league rotation, I really hope that the AAA rotation consists of prospects and not just quad A retreads as it has in recent years. When the team was competing for the postseason, I understood the need to use AAA as a taxi squad for the big team’s needs. However, in our current circumstance, I would much rather minimize the number of “veterans” at LHV and if injuries do strike, give the kids a chance. It may not help our W/L this year, but it may improve our chances in the future. And if the pressure of struggling in the big leagues is too much for a pitcher who was thought advanced enough to pitch in AAA, then we need to find this out now rather than later.

  21. I’m not sure many people are paying attention, but Andy Oliver has been lights out this spring, in fact, he’s probably been their best pitcher. He has a good fastball (touching 96) and a lights out slider that nobody is even touching. He and Herrera should both make the club and each could be serious contributors this year, which is pretty amazing.

    1. I saw it catch I saw him dispose of AROD on 3 pitches and to Romus point about trading diekman I think at some point this season you do.

      I think you wait though for a contending team to start having BP issues and then maximize their value that way.

      1. On Diekman…I was messing with rocco…pulling his chain…but I guess your correct in that 2015 and 2016 are season for rebuilding and when 2017 or 2018 come around Jake D. will probably have moved on or declined.

    2. Hitting on two Rule 5 guys would certainly help us move forward. I like what I have seen from Oliver and Herrera.

      Araujo has been really good as well. If Hollands comes back we could have 4 good LHP coming out of the pen (Diekman, Hollands, Araujo, and Oliver). Bullpen arms are always in high demand in July, especially lefties. It would be wise to trade one of these guys in July if we can get a SP or position player in return.

      1. There’s no way I trade Diekman unless I get something really valuable in exchange. Diekman is years away from free agency and by the time he gets more expensive the team might be better and the existing big contracts they now have will be gone. In other words, you don’t need to flip Diekman for economic reasons, so the only reason you do it is if you get a serious upgrade in talent (prospects or young hitters).

        This team is now loaded with bullpen arms and in AA and AAA, really good arms for the rotation. They need to find some way to get some hitters in here, but they’ve done a great job of bringing in young arms in the last two years. Not a good job, a great job. Now they need to develop those arms and use them creatively to build the team of the future. They have to be nimble and creative to do so.

        1. Diekman will not be a part of the equation in 2017 or 2018, plus relif pitchers shelf-life is not that dissimilar to RBs in the NFL…get the best return in July. Oliver , same age can hold the fort and Hollands a year or two younger and Araujo, three/four years younger will be coming along, I would hope.
          Put your trust in Ruben to have a long-term strategic plan in place to bring the dynasty back to Philly.

  22. Dom Brown with sore Achilles. Dooby may be a starter on merit anyway, but Dom looks like a Disabled List candidate. Franco already sent down, Sandberg looking for a better approach at plate.

  23. Diekman could be a nice pickup for teams that missed out on Miller this offseason. Miller is obviously a better pitcher, but comes at a steeper price and is older. Diekman can’t become a fee agent until 2019 so for a team to acquire him they would need to give us a valuable return,

    Maybe the red sox would have interest after losing Miller. Their GM has been targeting younger pitchers.

    The yankees could also be a fit. Miller, Betances, and Diekman would be a pretty sick bullpen.

    The mets are in the market for a LHP, but I’m not sure both sides would want to deal within the division.

    I think they should sell Diekman at the deadline if he is having a good year. That is when teams are desperate to bolster their pens.

    1. I’m not giving Diekman away. How many left side armers throw as hard as Diekman? Maybe Chris Sale, but I’m unware of any others. I also think that his throwing style (slinging, almost no shoulder wear and tear) bodes well for a long career and I expect him to continue to improve for a while. They need to get a good return for Diekman or they are going to regret it.

      1. I completely agree, I guess sell wasn’t the right word. If we have three other LHP who are capable of succeeding in the pen then we should trade from that area of strength and get a bat or two for diekman

    2. I heard from someone they did offer us a deal for diekman. its was victorino and hanigan. and a million in cash

      1. I love how every one complains about how high our asking price is for our players, but Boston can allegedly make this proposal for Diekman and Hamels for JBJ, Craig and other players with little value.

  24. No thanks Boston. I hope we make a deal with Toronto or the Yanks or some team that beats Boston. The same thing with Hamels. There offers are less than mediocre. I know they can try and steal whoever they can, and I can root against them.

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