Top Prospect Discussion: October 22nd

Well, the Mets have defeated the Cubs, and “Back to the Future” was 100% wrong about the 2015 World Series participants.  Instead of discussing individual top prospects, I would like to pose a question.  “Does the overall defensive play of catcher Kyle Schwarber in left field, give anyone pause when we talk about playing Jorge Alfaro in the outfield, or any defensive switch to accommodate getting bats into the line up?”

The above is just a suggestion for this week’s discussion.  This post is reserved for the discussion of the top prospects in the Phillies’ organization. You can tout the merits of your favorite prospects, instruct us on why your ranking is superior, talk about a prospect who intrigues/worries you, ask about prospects you haven’t seen and don’t know much about, or anything at all as long as it is about the top prospects.

The Phillies are conducting another strength and conditioning program at the Carpenter Complex in Clearwater.  They ran one last year that included Carlos Tocci, Jose Pujols, and Malquin Canelo.  Larry Shenk’s Phillies Insider Blog confirmed what I had learned last week.   This year, eight young Phillies will take part – Pujols, Canelo, Franklyn Kilome, Ricardo Pinto, Luis Encarnacion, Deivy Grullon,  Arquismedez Gamboa and Carlos Duran. The program starts on October 29th and runs through December 19th.

Mr. Shenk also reports that Cesar Hernandez (thumb), Jorge Alfaro (hamstring), and Mario Hollands (TJS) are all rehabbing in Clearwater.

And, 2015 high school draft selections Cornelius Randolph, Greg Pickett, and Lucas Williams will join take part in the Phillies’ Dominican Instructional League for three weeks beginning on November 1st.


128 thoughts on “Top Prospect Discussion: October 22nd

  1. Alfaro would have to rake to account for his negative DWAR in the field. I would rather put him at 1B to keep his bat in the lineup. Look at Pete Incaviglia’s DWAR. Not great.

    The Cubs can’t do this because they have Rizzo at 1B.

    1. Is there any actual evidence of Alfaro having a negative DWAR? Comparing him to someone like Pete Incaviglia is just a joke I assume.

      From all reports Alfaro has the tools to be above average behind the plate or in right field perhaps if catching does not work out. Still rough obviously, but the guy is a legit 45-50 runner and has a great arm that would play anywhere. He probably is somewhat similar to an Aaron Brown in the outfield.

      1. You either believe the guy can stay behind the plate or you trade him while his value is high. An average fielding, RH bat with contact issues is not something that you need in the Outfield. A 4% BB% and 29% K% is acceptable if the guy is a decent catcher and is capable of 20 HRs. For an OF, its… ehhh.

      2. Kyle Schwarber is already negative DWAR in LF. If you look at the height/weight information of both Alfaro and Incaviglia on baseball reference, they are really close.

        1. I know nothing about war but I will take that kid any day of the week. What a hitter he is and will be even better next year.

          1. rocco……he really should find a position, whether its LF or catcher, where he can be at least a pos.WAR. He may end up as a catcher since the Cubbies have lots of OF prospects…and add Cuban Eddy Julio Martinez to the mix now.

        2. But Alfaro is a much, much better athlete. Legit 45-50 runner so the comparisons are not really that relevant.

          1. With regards to Alfaro having the ability to move to another position, nobody is saying he can’t handle the switch athletically. People are saying he can’t be switched because his bat isn’t good enough to switch positions. He’s not remotely in Schwarber’s category. Schwarber’s has a 70 hit tool, Alfaro has a 45 hit tool. That’s fine for catching, not for corner OF.

      3. I have concerns with Alfaro too and I think Knapp (with Lino as suitable back up) will be a “safer” choice to be the C for the next coming years. I agree also to the idea of trading Alfaro and package some of the young RHP (SP and RP) (not named Nola, Thompson and Eikhoff) for a higher end prospect. i brought up Rodon in the past (which I know is a stretch) maybe the Phils can try to lure LHP Newcomb from LAA or Kaminski from CLE for a package of Alfaro and some prospects (not including JPC, Williams, Thompson, CRand and Kilome).

        1. Rodon isn’t a stretch. It’s isn’t the least bit realistic. Kaminsky is realistic, but I don’t want anything to do with a Starting pitcher that small in size.

          1. Realistically if they did consider moving Alfaro it’s not going to be for another propect, but someone who is in the majors. Someone looking for a catcher who doesn’t have any decent ones in the high minors, but would consider moving a starter for him who they could replace in the trade with the Phillies or with their own system.

            1. Indians fit your description,as their system is bereft of premier catching prospects. But not sure what they have to offer…. I would be interested in OFer Clint Frazier but they probably would want more for him.

  2. It could happen, but it seems pretty unlikely Alfaro is anything more than a marginal major leaguer if he is moved to a different position. As a corner OF/1B, both the bat and glove would be major question marks.

    1. I agree. If Alfaro is anything other than a decent defensive catcher with a great arm and at least good power the Hamels deal is a failure in my book.
      The scouts can’t whiff on this like they did with Tommy Joseph.

      1. You know that of the 5 prospects that the Phillies got for Hamels, it’s likely at least 2 of them are going to whiff.

      2. So if Jared continues to pitch the way he is for the rest of his career in philly (imo a good #2), Jake becomes a legitimate number 2 pitcher with Jared and Aaron, and nick becomes an all star corner ofer you are gonna call the trade a failure? I understand that is an unlikely scenario but you can’t judge the trade on only 1 player. Alafaro was the center piece of the trade but that doesn’t mean he has to make it big. Nick and Jake were highly rated prospects when they were shipped over.

        1. No,I am not saying make it big in the case of Alfaro.I’m just saying an everyday solid catcher.
          Look in my opinion people completely over look the fact that we also gave Diekman,who looks like a solid fixture in the Rangers bullpen,probably for years,now that their pitching coach squared him away.Also we gave cash to supplement Cole’s salary.Also we took on an expensive garbage contract in Harrison for the next 3 or 4 years.People seem to ignore these things as potato’s,but it worked out real well for the Rangers last year.
          I look at the trade this way,Hamels ace,Diekman solid, Williams solid major league outfielder,Eickhoff solid,Thompson ?,Harrison garbage,Asher nothing,Alfaro??

          1. All fair points. What I would say is that it is not possible to evaluate this trade right now. If Eickhoff alone ends up as a division leading no. 3 type, the payout on the others could be less. Williams looks intriguing. Thompson is expected to be better than Eickhoff. Alfaro? He’s the wild card for me.

            Sad they sold low on Diek. He could still develop into a dominant reliever. I suspect Texas undersold just how interested they were in acquiring Diek in the Hamels deal

          2. That’s not how these kind of trades work. Outside of Bartolo Colon to Montreal, the team that trades the ‘Star’ usually doesn’t get equal talent back. It’s about trading Age and Salary for Youth and flexibility. If the Phillies get 3 solid, cheap, young regulars (Eickhoff, Williams and Thompson) mission accomplished. It doesn’t matter what Alfaro becomes.

            As far as Diekman is concerned, unless he becomes Billy Wagner, he is insignificant. If the Phillies can’t replace him internally with Windle, Imhoff or Morgan, something is wrong.

            1. Imo i feel that the mlb is so prospect crazy that they over value them in trades. If someone is offering me a top 10 pitcher or top 10 player who is on a reasonably team friendly deal and is 29-31 I’m willing to give up a top 10 prospect with a couple of my lower top 20 prospects on my team in a heartbeat if my team is working for the post season. Hell if Arizona called tomorrow and wanted jp and one of (Jake, Nick, or Jorge) for goldschmidt I’m doing it.

          3. You’re also discounting the $$$ the Phillies removed from their books for the remainder of Hamel’s salary. It’s too early to tell how the trade will work out for either team. As is almost always the case, the team that gets the All-star player will be the immediate winners.

          4. Assuming Harrison’s contract and the cash supplement for Hamels’ salary aren’t significant factors when evaluating this trade. The Phillies can afford these concessions with little impact, so they aren’t particularly relevant from that end. The financial concessions were more important to Texas.

            The smartest thing the Phillies did in that trade was to use some financial muscle to acquire a better package of prospects.

          5. I think Asher can become a decent bullpen guy but who knows. What if knapp has a big year and makes it to the majors would you feel the same way about Alafaro? If Alafaro plays well too they could platoon catch with the one who isn’t catching playing outfield until they decide who they like better as an everyday catcher. I know it’s unlikely they both make it and play well in the majors but who knows crazier things have happened.

  3. Noah: If you were the Phillies, who would you pick first overall in the 2016 draft?

    Klaw: I don’t believe there’s a clear 1-1 candidate in this draft yet. I think if the draft were today it’d be Alec Hanson of Oklahoma, but this isn’t a Harper or Strasburg situation, and even Gerrit Cole, who I thought was the clear 1-1 in his class, didn’t emerge as that until March or so of his junior year.

    1. Alec Hansen now has health concerns….did not pitch in the summer due to soreness- for precautionary reasons…..and now not in the fall. May not be anything of seriousness, but scouts are aware. Sooners coach says he will be fine for the season.

      1. Yeah, i was surprised to read that for the same reason. IMO, Puk seems the clear front runner, but agree that anything can (and likely will) change.

            1. I’d probably agree with you on that point. It depends on how polished and consistent Puk looks this spring because he clearly has the stuff for a 1.1 pitcher. He does represent lower risk and closer proximity to the majors. With Groome I’d say much hangs on how refined his pitches look compared to last year. He’s so young and already so good that if his upside looks to be higher than Puk I’d have a hard time not taking him.

        1. I’m still on Hansen, barely in front of Puk. Puk struggled in the spring last year, granted he was dominant by summer. Hansen looks the part of a solid no. 2 with possible 1 upside. He’s my guy until he takes a step back.

          Groome is so intriguing, but the Phillies cannot miss on this pick – if the collegians have only slightly less upside than the high school kids, which is likely to be the case in 2016, then you go with the less risky collegian

          1. For me , if the draft was today, it is Puk at 1.1 and 2nd round, hopefully at somewhere near 40, LHP HSer Jesus Luzardo.
            Kent State’s LHP Eric Lauer also is an interesting guy for the number two if he is still there.
            I think MacPhail will lean left when it come to pitching.

            1. What would make it interesting is if the two collge outfielders projected top 6 have really good year or the lone high schooler mentioned in that group starts to look like top hitter than they may be able to get one of the six players under slot and sabe some money to take another big swing in round 2 or 3.

          2. I don’t know that Grooms is that much higher a risk. From everything I’ve read, his stuff is electric and his actions are incredibly smooth and repeatable. It’s not as if he’s some colt that needs to be broken.

            Take the best talent at 1:1. If it’s a high school pitcher, so be it.

  4. Bob: IS the philly Cornelius Randolph love justified? he doesn’t seem to have one loud tool

    Klaw: That boy can hit. I don’t know where he plays but the hit tool is “loud.”

      1. I don’t think the two are similar at all. Randolph was a short stop in high school, so a great athlete. Schwarber has a big belly and doesn’t appear to be a great athlete. More of a John Kruk body.

        1. Let me clarify…both are plus LHB hitters and both are getting acclimated to new positions.
          Schwarber I believe was catching at Indiana before drafted..

        2. the definition of an “athlete” sometimes is subjective. most people i know relate “athlete” to speed, agility or power — i have an argument before if Michael Phelps is the best olympian athele of his time and people shoot it down because they can’t see athletic ability with swimmers because they can’t see speed and agility, etc.

          anyway, with Schwarber vs Randolph case, my eyes says Randolph. But it’s better to rely to statistics to really conclude which is more athletic between the 2.

        3. This has nothing to do with anything but I seen a video of John kruk in San Diego being used as a pinch runner. I guess there was a hit and run on and Kruk went the batter just looked and he was out by a mile. It made me laugh and reminded me of Schwarber for some reason.

      2. Nothing similar about their situations at all. Half the good position players in the Majors were HS shortstops that moved to other positions.

        1. Yeah, playing SS in high school means you are the best athlete on the team. Which doesn’t mean much with regard to how you project as a major league player.

          A college catcher on the other hand typically means you have range issues in the field.

          1. Yes, you are right, usually it means that. But on really, really good HS teams, very often the SS doesn’t pitch. So the best athlete, if a pitcher, plays elsewhere in the field when not pitching. Example: Jack Flaherty, the Cardinals first-round pick in 2014 draft, and a kid who ran a 6.37 60-yard dash (per his Perfect Game profile), which is 75-grade speed, played 3B on his high school team when he didn’t pitch (and he was considered a 3rd or 4th round prospect as a hitter).

            Randolph’s 60-time of 6.94 is decent (again, per PG profile), and should be fine for LF. It’s 50-grade. But it doesn’t scream “great athlete.” Though a good bit better than Schwarber’s 7.27 time in high school (again, per PG profile), which is 35-grade.

            1. Just to explain a little further: on good teams the coaches want a full-time shortstop who solidifies the defense at all times. Same with catcher. So I have seen the “best athlete” – if also a pitcher — moved off shortstop.

  5. I am very interested to see how we rank Corny here doing the Top20. I am sure there will be disagreements, but that “loud” hit tool is great to see.

    1. I think he’ll be Top 5 in most ballots, with JPC and some combo of the Cole Hamels three going 2,3,4. The prospect who will be truly interesting is Kilome, who seems to be generating some polarity here.

      1. I don’t think there will much intrigue with the vote on the top 5. Number 6, with Kilome, Quinn, Knapp, Eflin and the underground favorite Hoskins, should cause some bitter disputes.

      2. Let’s see

        1. JP Crawford – the class of the system – if he hits with power he’ll be superstar; if not, he’ll just be one of the best shortstops in baseball; I’ll take that
        2. Thompson – he pitched that wall without being in great shape – if he hits his ceiling and can vault the organization forward quickly
        3. Williams – let’s hope he can make adjustments at upper levels; tools are fabulous
        4. Alfaro – may or may not break through, if he does, the Phillies are set behind the plate for 10 years
        5. Randolph – best overall hitting talent to enter the organization since Chase Utley
        6. Kilome – we are told he’s great – this year we should start finding out if that’s true
        7. Eflin – if he develops a better out pitch, he could be lethal, way underrated in my view (and, yeah, I think the strikeouts will come)
        8. Quinn – electric talent – the injury concerns are real, but this guy has it all, including, by the way, more than mild power, great fielding talent and a rocket arm – his ceiling is as an all-star
        9. Knapp – defense needs to develop, but how many switch-hitting catchers do you know with a 60-65 hit tool and some power?
        10.Tocci – he had a pretty darned good year last year; I’m starting to believe a little, but he’s got to get stronger or he’s a poor man’s Doug Glanville (which is to say, quite poor indeed)
        11. Sweeney (yeah, he can look bad at times – but the tools are tantalizing)
        12. Kingery – all based on reports; the numbers in his first try where mediocre
        13. Cozens – had a pretty solid year, but now the power has to come out or he’s no more than an extra guy
        14. Hoskins (there’s no way I’m ranking him below 15) – I don’t even like putting him this low, but the scouting reports were kind of mediocre – as I’ve said, I don’t think we’ll really know what we’ve got here until we see him in AAA (not AA, AAA)
        15. Pinto (nice year – could be a decent middle-back rotation piece)
        16. Arauz – I love this prospect – he’s the one guy who I think could end up being a star – let’s see how he does in a few years
        17. Canelo – normally we’d be kind of raving about him but he’s behind one of the best prospects in baseball
        18. Mora – don’t count him out – has really started to hit, could end up being quite a good player
        19. Lively – will do better once he’s not getting lit up in the small AA parks – has some upside – this is the year he needs to step forward
        20. Grullon – the tools are supposed to be really good; I guess we’ll see


        1. I think if I had to do this again, I’d have Pivetta at 20 – if he harnesses his control and develops a consistent breaking pitch, his ceiling is as high as any of our pitching prospects – he has the best pure arm of our starting pitching prospects, which is saying something. A real rifle.

          1. Pivetta is a puzzler.
            In ’14 and ’15, approx. same IPed, his peripherals went in opposite directions….K/9, BB/9 and H/9, but his WHIP remained approx. the same @1.3.
            Have to assume, like some young minor league pitchers, he could have been working on different pitches and approaches.
            He does have the velo on the FB to warrant dreaming on.
            Since, 2016 is his 23age season, he is age appropriate, and hopefully he is dominant at Reading to warrant a LHV promo in June/July.

          2. @catch: As you said, in your original top 20, I’d sub in Pivetta, but I’d leave in Grullon. I’d remove both Mora and Lively. If we’re not ranking J Ortiz, then I’d sub in Tirado. I think Tirado has a better chance at becoming a dominant reliever, than Lively has at becoming a back-end starter.

        2. That’s not a bad list catch. Personally I would take your 9 (Knapp), 10 (Tocci) and 11 (Sweeney) and drop them behind Pinto at no. 15. This would drop Kingery to no. 9, followed by Cozens, Hoskins and then Knapp. Cozens was actually a top 10 guy for me last off season. He may just break out in a big way next year at Reading.

          As far Arauz, prior to the big trade I was clamoring for him as a top 15 org guy, so we certainly share an enthusiasm. Still, I want to get a better look next year, and I also want to avoid being early as I was with Tocci. But Arauz looks special. No doubt

          1. Is Kingery STILL living off his college stats? Showed nothing in his first season but keeps up all the hype. Meanwhile Tobias hit 330 with higher OPS, higher BB rate , lower K rate, and yes he is 23… And all accounts says defense is much improved and range improved

            1. Kingery actually had a lower K rate and higher BB rate than Tobias, and played at a higher level. Tobias had a .100 point edge in BABIP.

              Either way it’s 60 games for both guys, which isn’t a huge sample. The Phillies don’t really make changes to guys until the offseason anyway, so we’ll get a much better read on both guys next year. For now there’s really no reason to give Tobias the edge.

            2. Kingery is a year and a half younger than Tobias and played the entire season at a low-A while Tobias played at Short Season A. It was Kingery who had the lower K rate, not Tobias as you posted. It was Kingery who had the higher BB rate, not Tobias as you posted.

              I have heard good things about Tobias. I have heard good things about Kingery. Rank them as you may – after all, we won’t always agree. But if I could make a recommendation – age, which respect to the current age of competition, must be factored when ranking prospects. It need not be the lone driving force, but it must be a factor.

        3. Oh, and I like your comment on Hoskins. Funny I was just looking at his profile this morning. I think the key there is to maintain a K rate south of 20% as he has his first two seasons. If reports of him being blown away by low 90’s fastballs are not overstated, then we should see a K rate north of 20% next season as he faces a higher % of pitchers throwing mid 90s. If anyone has the time, I would highly recommend revisiting his 2015 profile. The guy had a monster season with nearly identical slashes and equal number of PAs at two different levels. So far, I’m a believer, and expect him to enter top 100 territory when he puts up a monster season in Reading 2016

          1. Hoskins has recd somewhat mixed reviews even from BA guys.
            John Manuel had a something like this on him statistically, he was the league’s best hitter in his time in the FSL. …didn’t jump out to any of my sources, and he’s fighting the Right-Right 1B profile. … athleticism questioned as well as his bat speed. I also recall people being unimpressed with him as an amateur at Sac State, where more was expected coming off his big 2013 Cape, but I think he’s a good sleeper….also Lara had him as slow bat speed with swinging thru average FBs.
            So if he does plus- well in Reading many evals could be modified

          1. Could be – this is the time of year where we dream. These a just quips – not full blown evaluations

            1. Well if that’s the case, you could say the same thing about Carlos Tocci and all the other young players we’re critical of, in the low minors.

        4. I’m not really sure what to make of Mora but I’m not buying in yet that much. His power exploded at Reading and he K’d and walked a lot more than he did this year in Hi-A. I think I would need to see him have another good year in 2016 to rank him in the top 30. I would also drop Sweeney down- I like his tools but too many K’s.

          I agree about having Pivetta in there, but I think Kilome probably beats him in terms of having a “pure arm”. I think Adonis Medina would be in my top 20 as well.

    2. I don’t expect any surprises with Corny’s ranking – he will hoover around Top 4 to 6 depending on what tool (or combination) you value the most. JPC will be a unanimous #1 across the board and Thompson and Williams will swap between #2 and #3. Then it will be Corny, Kilome and Alfaro trio then a combination of Eflin, Quinn, Knapp, Pinto, Kingery and Cozens to wrap the the Top 10/12.

      The interest part of the Ranking will be the placing of the Top 11 and 20 and who (in GCL, SS, A) will be included in the tail end of the Top 20.

    3. the biggest outlier i see in the rankings is between – PROXIMITY (i.e. A+ and AA prospects like Pivetta, Asher, Lively, Windle, etc) vs PROJECTION (i.e. GCL, SS and A prospects like Grullon, Medina, Arauz, Pujols).

    1. What was he, like a 9th or 10th round pick? That’s EXACTLY where you want to be picking pure athletes and raw but powerful arms. Altherr was a 9th round pick, so was de Grom.

        1. That is good news. Saw that on BA the other day. I didn’t realize he was a great athlete. I saw him some clips and he looked skinny like Tocci.

    2. I can’t wait for ST and for those of you who come down to see what I’ve seen this summer. There is a lot to like when you see Randolph, Williams, Arauz, Paulino, Medina, Fanti, Falter, McWilliams, Cabral, Luis, Pickett. I know they aren’t all going to make it, but they are still at the age when you look at them and see hope for the future.

    3. @romus – are u the one who predicted that Lucas Williams will be the next Mike Trout? I’m intruiged by him and I think he is in the last 10 of the Top 50.

  6. Looking at Winter League hitting stats and looking only at guys with 20 ABs or more and prospects only, there are some interesting things going on. Tocci is hitting .333/.447/.400/.847 which is very nice. I think I’d rather see him in the Strength and Conditioning session but he’s hitting pretty well in 30 ABs and 37 PAs. Crawford, not so much. He’s at .150/.227/.150/.377. He’ll start turning things around but he has 6 Ks in 20 ABs. That’s pretty lousy for a guy with great plate control. Lino is holding his own and Astudillo is not. It’s all short season stuff with Tocci enjoying the home cooking and Crawford feeling like a stranger in a strange land.

    1. It’s only been like 15-20 ABs. Crawford isn’t the only prospect that has gotten off to a slow start. AJ Reed and Austin Meadows are both batting under .100 and only have one (1) hit so far.

      1. Do think they have some of these young kids playing too much baseball these days?

        I think if I were running a team I would want these higher tier prospects having a few months off and maybe reporting for strength and conditioning in early december.

        1. DMAR…….a lot of these kids have been playing all year long since they were 11/12-years old. In Oklahoma and Texas we started in February for spring practice ,leagues started in March …games thru the week….then weekend double-elimination tournaments. And that went until July. Then a few year older kids did AAU ball and then it started again with a brief fall ball league, if the kid wasn’t playing Middle School or HS football.
          They are more or less use to playing practically all year the warmer climate areas.

          1. But does that make it a good thing? it’s not like we’re producing hitters that today routinely hit 400.

            I don’t think the fundamentals of today’s players are that much better than the ball I used to watch as a kid in the late 70’s and 80’s do you?

            1. It’s funny, now that the steroid era is behind us, I don’t think the hitting has changed all that much (I can think of as many great hitters that existed in the 70s and 80s as are out there right now -it’s fairly even as far as I can tell). As for fielding and base running, I don’t think it’s materially better either, although I think, for SABRmetric reasons, the emphasis on hit tool is down with more emphasis on power and OBP – you don’t see a ton of players like Ken Reitz, Greg Gross or Dave Magadan anymore – marginal athletes with little going for them but a hit tool now that the true value of batting average has been exposed. The absence of that type of player is also the result of the emphasis in baseball shifting more and more to pitching, so extra players are now situational relievers, not pinch hitters (although, frankly, I think there’s a lot to be said of the notion that a GREAT pinch hitter who players almost every night could have at least the value of a LOOGY type pitcher; but that’s not the model right now).

              The one thing that I can think of that I think is better is the pitching, especially the relief pitching. The pitching staffs are larger (12 versus 10) and there are more pitchers than ever that throw 95 or above. The hitting environment these days is very challenging.

            2. Depends on the prospect. For someone like Tocci, he needs to lift weights and eat! While it’s nice to see 4 BB vs. 3 K, he’s still not hitting for power (1 3B) and he needs to get stronger.

              For someone like Crawford, who has no obvious physical deficiencies, the more reps the better.

            3. They are very good athletes for sure these days.
              They are strong, run great and have great arms.
              The fundamentals….. it really is hard to judge.
              The only aspect of the game that seems to have devolved, if that is a word, is bunting. The bigger kids prefered to swing and bunting was difficult for them..the smaller kids can do it more easily….but they also rather swing away.
              Base running? Not sure.
              Someone like Dom brown and even Shane Vic at times comes to mind….but then Chase Utley and JRoll were plus.
              Not sure what other fundamentals, physical that is, of the game were better 30 years ago vs now.

            4. Catch, I would say that hitting has changed quite a bit since power numbers are down significantly across both leagues. I agree that the pitching, especially middle relievers have improved greatly but how much of the improvement in pitching numbers is a result of better PED testing?

        2. The biggest difference in baseball between now an 35 years ago is strikeouts and power. It used to be a disgrace for a player to strike out 125 time in a season. Now everybody in the lineup does that. Lineups used to have two or three players in every lineup that were incapable of hitting a HR.

          The 2nd biggest difference is the use of the Bull-pen. The use of one Closer for one inning. The heavy use of the whole bullpen starting in the 6th inning even when there is no trouble from the opposing team.

          The 3rd biggest difference is fans interpretation of stats. Batting average, HRs, RBIs, ERA and strikeouts were the only things that anybody paid any attention, back then. Pete Rose was Joe Morgan’s equal back then, but fans would look at them as players on different levels today.

  7. Bloom, Klentak and Kantrowitz, all Ivy League analytics guys, are final 3 for the Phils GM job. What do those of you who know analytics much better than I do think of those 3? I automatically lean Bloom because of the success of the Rays system and his working under Andrew Friedman. I know Klentak worked with MacPhail before, but I am unimpressed with the Angels, and I know Kantrowitz worked under Billy Beane, but that does not really wow me, either.

    1. matt…just a guess, but IMO look forward it to be Klentak. Like you said, they worked together in the past, I believe Baltimore.
      Though have to like Bloom, who has worked under tight budgets in Tampa, so he could very well succeed with a little more $$$ to work with..

  8. I’m sure someone has taken a crack at predicting the 2016 rotation for LV, but there seems to be a good number of top level arms right now. Assuming Nola and Eickhoff in Philly to start the season, a few names appear as absolutes for the LV rotation, at least to start the season:

    Zach Eflin
    Severino Gonzalez
    Ben Lively

    Buchanan, Morgan, and Asher will battle for the 5th spot on the OD rotation with Morgan most likely and Asher least likely to emerge. The big club must absolutely sign at least two vet types who could get us 180+ innings similar to how the valued Harang this past of season. Assume at least two major league free agent pitchers are signed, Asher and Buchanan are likely headed to AAA. For the first time in a long time I do not see room on the AAA roster for the a minor league free agent pitcher signing, let alone the 2-3 the team is typically forced to employ.

  9. I think Asher slots ahead of Seve and behind Lively. I agree Morgan makes the Rotation and they try to sign 2 Veterans. Watching Lorenzo Cain score from 1st last night on a single is exactly why I hope that Roman Quinn stays healthy. He has that kind of speed, and I dream of him scoring the same way. In addition, he also gives you Plus D. He is probably the player I will watch the most next year. Not that I don’t love the top guys, but to me, erasing doubt about him really takes the system up a notch.

        1. Romus, this seems like the safe choice but I would have preferred Dan Kranovitz from the A’s if McPhail wanted analytical specialization. I hope he does well but this proves McPhail is really in charge-just like the situation we just had with Amaro and Gillick.

          1. philabalt.. .agree, also MacPhail, I am sure, is comfortable and trust Klentak. Klentak has a good situation to walk into with a decent farm now and 1.1 pick and ,money coming from Comcast with the first check of $60M or something in 2016…

  10. Look, I hope he becomes the next Theo Epstein, but I am not thrilled with Klentak. Exactly what have the Angels done to want to emulate? And, why was he passed over for the Angels job? Instead of having faith in this decision, it is another one of those “I hope they didn’t screw this up!” Who, exactly, is going to look at players and decide what to do? MacPhail has been out for a while. This guy did contracts, if Theo comes to me and says I want to trade Cashner for Rizzo, I can have faith. Who, in this group, does anyone have that faith in?

    1. When I looked at the Angels situation since 2014, I saw a lot of entanglement and cold and silent discord. From early reports last year and earlier this year, Jerry Dipoto and Mike Scioscia seem to decide it was time to just tolerate each other and owner Arte Moreno probably ‘tactfully suggested to them’ to make things work. Matt Klentak, as AGM, probably was working in an powder-keg environ , well at least until Dipoto decided to resign this summer.
      So not sure how much influence he had in any decision making actions that went on. More then likely made suggestions to Jerry Dipoto, and handle a lot of the less visible aspects of the baseball operations.

    2. Oh,
      ‘And, why was he passed over for the Angels job?’….Mike S. probably felt it was better not to have any of Jerry D’s hiring’s still around…..and maybe Klentak felt the same about staying. He trusts MacPhail plus a new manager probably comes in after next season and he does the hiring.

  11. So, Romus, you are in favor of Klentak? You might be right about why he didn’t get the job. Sciosia seems to be the one in control there. I have just not been impressed with the Angels at all. But, hoping for the best.

  12. Nice “process” – classic Phillies move – look like you are running a neutral process and just hire the guy you know. My guess is that, in MacPhail’s mind, Klentak was always the presumptive GM. Again, he could be great – but this supports my suspicion that MacPhail is going to be running the club through his GM – much the way Gillick did with Amaro this past year. It could turn out fine – but the set up and this hiring process leave something to be desired. At least there’s a real analytics bent GM around – I suppose it could be worse.

    1. This guy looks very qualified and more experienced than the other two finalists. Not the time to be negative.

    2. Quote today about MacPhail’s continued heavy hand, from CSN Philly. “MacPhail, who will maintain a heavy influence and have final say in all baseball matters, is on record as saying that existing members of the baseball operations department will remain on board through 2016.”

      This is not going to be a standard GM arrangement – it’s a watered down version of what MacPhail did in Baltimore where he effectively ran the team as the team’s President. And it makes me more convinced than ever that if he was going to be forced to take an analytics person as GM then, dammit, he was going to take his guy, not someone else.

      Again, this could all work out and Klentak’s power may grow, but don’t fool yourself, at least to start, Andy MacPhail is effectively running the team and will be making all final baseball decisions.

      1. I gave no problem with that since Klentak has no experience as a GM. The pair has worked together before successfully. I don’t see that as a bad thing. As Klentak gains experience I suspect he’ll gain the reins more and more. Honestly, the big decisions are all group decisions anyway.

        1. Not sure that you can call McPhail’s tenure in Baltimore a sucess but Peter Angelo might have had a negative effect.

      2. This is not just a Philly thing. Title inflation is happening around the league. The GM is not the HNIC in Chicago, LA, or Bos, among other places.

  13. Interesting day for RAJ…….

    First, story breaks that Phils hire a new GM to replace him. Second, story breaks that RAJ will be named Red Sox first base coach. And if that’s not bad enough, story breaks that he hasn’t been named yet, that he is just one of several candidates. Hahahaha

    1. I saw the same story on, and managed to read through most of the comments on that site (is there anything worse than commentators on the Phillies?)

      Naturally, a lot of people are ripping on Amaro for this move, but I view it differently. I’m not sure how many of you guys are in management roles, but if you are, don’t you ever long for the days where you can just get back to what put you in your profession in the first place?

      I personally commend the guy – it’s not an easy move for sure. He could have probably worked in a front office role for a number of organizations.

      1. I commend the guy. No matter what some fans think of him as a GM, he could have been lazy and kept a spot in the Phillies front office or got a low profile Scouting job in another organization. The guy wants to do something else (Field Manger) and is not afraid of starting at the bottom to achieve it. Good for him.

    2. To Buddy and CJ, classless remarks by both of you! When you were let go of a job did you not have to get rehired? Romus had it right when he wrote that Ruben Amaro was probably tired of being GM in Philadelphia with their wonderful fan base(sarcasm) and taking all the shots for following Gillick’s and ownership’s mandates.

  14. This just in. Phillies name new GM. And his name is GOD! I run to the comments section and find 70% pan the choice. Comments like he’s never played the game but he’s influenced the outcome… many times. He’s not an analytics guy. He looks into his crystal ball and comes up with some guy who looks like a good player for the long-term. What does he know?

    This is Philly you know. They throw snowballs at Santa so why should they cheer any new GM?

  15. We are entering a new Phillies’ era with Middleton, MacPhail, and Klentak in charge.

    I won’t speculate about the job they will do. There are some good signs, but there are also questions. I will just watch the results.

    I consider 2016 another lost season for the major league team. So, I will judge the front-office performance based on the increase in the number and quality of prospects added over the next year. Just as important is how well the organization does in player development. What changes will the organization make in its minor-league coaching staff and its philosophy?

    If MacPhail and Klentak don’t do the job, they can be fired and replaced. The one man that can’t be fired nor replaced is Middleton. We, the fans, will be stuck with Middleton a long time, for good or for bad. We are dependent on Middleton and hope he makes the right moves.

  16. Okay, now that I’m almost over my annoyance at the Phillies having conducted this extensive process only to have Andy MacPhail hire the young analytics guy he previously worked with, there are definitely some things to be happy about including:

    1. John Middleton really wants to win.

    2. John Middleton really wants to move the team in a progressive direction.

    3. John Middleton is prepared to spend money – he’s just trying not to be foolish with his money until it can be determined how it is best used; no argument there.

    4. John Middleton is pushing out of power (if not entirely out of view) the main “old school” obstacles to his team moving forward – foremost among them, Dave Montgomery and Ruben Amaro. Those two individuals being removed from decision-making authority is, by itself, a pretty significant step forward.

    5. Middleton has finally brought in a baseball person, not a business person, to serve as team president. That’s a HUGE structural step forward in the organization – for years, well-intentioned Dave Montgomery really did the types of things that cause great organizations to bottom out – it’s not entirely coincidence that the 1993 and 2008 teams ultimately met the same fate – ill-conceived contracts, farm system gutting and delusional planning were central to those collapses and while I don’t absolve Amaro from at least partial responsibility for the latest disaster, clearly, Montgomery was behind those failures to a large degree.

    6. Andy MacPhail has a pretty long track record of success – I like having a team president who has been successful, has a lot of experience and genuinely appears open to embracing new methodologies, which Gillick, for all of his strengths, almost actively appeared to oppose with regard to analytics (which is odd, as I’ve always viewed Gillick to be pretty open-minded).

    7. They finally have an analytic-oriented, young, and apparently extremely smart and fairly experienced (as these things go) young GM. How good will he ultimately be? We don’t know, but, as annoyed as I am that the GM search process may not have been as neutral as it should have been, Klentak appears to check a lot of the “boxes” we were looking for when we all wanted the organization to take a large step forward when it chose the new GM.

    8. The team is about to start a really big TV contract (although, thanks to Dave M. I think they left some money on the table – but that being said, it’s probably at the very least a good deal).

    9. People will return to the stadium in droves if they start winning.

    10. Money is about to come off the books – the GM is walking into the perfect economic situation.

    11. The farm system is starting to hum, with talent up and down, some recent graduates with upside and the number pick coming up and International money to spend.

    12. If the goal of the organization is to be as analytic savvy as any other team and blend the best of analytics with the best of scouting and instruction, that’s a concept I can get behind. I get this sneaking suspicion that, last year, the decisions made by the Red Sox were just too narrowly based on analytics. To be sure, analytics is huge and being on the cutting edge of those methodologies is critical, but it’s just one piece of the puzzle and I think, as teams begin to even out a bit in the traditional analytics department, it’s quite possible that scouting will play more and more of a large role in team obtaining a strategic advantage – in fact, my guess is St. Louis is doing this now and succeeding.

    Good luck Matt Klentak. Now that you’re here, we very much want you to succeed. If you succeed wildly and build a dynasty, you’ll be a legend around here – that’s a promise.

    1. Catch, on #4 why are you giving a free pass to Pat Gillick? This new McPhail-Klentak arrangement is just like Gillick-Amaro who actually did a very good job in being allowed to finally rebuild. The major obstacles were David Montgomery and Bill Giles who became emotionally attached to the 2008 WS winning team. Gillick and Amaro paid the price for the owners decisions as GIllick would have been fired too but he owns a part of the team. Lastly, Gillick left the Seattle Mariners and Baltimore Orioles farm systems in very bad shape when he left them. Fortunately, the Phillies have a good farm system now.

      1. Should have added Charlie Manuel to Pat Gillick a free pass and no criticism of the Phillies decline on #4.

        1. You may not have liked Charlie Manuel as a manager and his odd game-day decisions may have been responsible for the team not quite achieving its potential, but Charlie Manuel has very little to do with the overall trajectory of the organization.

          And by the way, I’m not giving ANYBODY a free pass nor did my post suggest as much. My post mentioned in passing SOME of the people responsible for the mess; not all of them. Gillick is not primarily responsible for that disaster – he left Ruben Amaro with a young championship team at its peak and, by the way, he was not the one who gutted the farm system. Amaro and Montgomery did. Now, Gillick shares some of the blame because, as an advisor, I don’t think he was advocating the type of analytics advances the team so desperately needed, so he indirectly held them back in that way. But on the whole, the disasters really didn’t happen on his watch.

          1. Catch, who would not play the younger players(young Dom Brown) when he was manager and publicly pleaded for Hunter Pence? Also, Charlie walked away from the Cleveland Indian Managerial job when they started to rebuild in the early 2000’s. Gillick was always the last line of decision making so he is as responsible as anyone for the decline. Lastly, Ruben was in a lose-lose situation as how could he top the WS? The main problem was that the Phillies did not develop their own talent and were forced to trade their top players for other teams prospects.

            1. We agree that the downfall of the organization was not developing its own talent, and also trading its own talent and overpaying players. There are a lot of reasons, actually.

              On Charlie – again, he’s the manager, not the GM, not the head of scouting, not the head of player development and not the President. You can fault him for not being a good manager, but he’s very marginal in the overall trajectory of the franchise and, by the way, I cannot think of any young player that Charlie should have played a lot more and who didn’t play. The only guy that got jerked around that I can recall was Dom Brown and as it turns out, Brown just was not very good. A bad coach can sure affect the development of a franchise in other sports, such as football (especially football) and basketball, but not really very much in baseball.

              On Gillick. He was just an advisor until he became interim President. He was a sounding board, but he wasn’t making the decisions. Not only that, but he was a good soldier and let Ruben do Ruben’s thing even though his comments made it clear that he thought Ruben’s decisions were often impulsive and involved overpays (during one of Ruben’s great spending orgies, Gillick said something to the effect that Ruben shopped retail and Gillick was always looking for bargains).

              On Ruben. How on earth was he in a lose-lose situation? He inherited a young championship team with a growing farm system (which he systematically gutted) and a pretty reasonable payroll. He had tremendous fan support and a stadium that sold out every night. He had reasonable and kind bosses that supported him and rarely second-guessed him. It’s as win-win as it gets.

    2. I don’t think I gave Gillick a free pass – I actually think I was kind of critical of Gillick. In any event, my commentary was forward looking, it was not about assessing blame for past administrations, although there is plenty of blame to go around.

  17. Well done, Ctch22!! Looking behind the stage, the internal decisions over the last several years resulted in the collapse of the franchise because of dependence on continuing success at the box office which could have been a wonder to them…and kinda sat back and became non-aggressive and self-satisfied. Even though they grabbed significant help in Lee and Halladay, it looks like that the money and talent to renew the team from the bottom-up went AWOL for the same reasons.

    The Cardinals have been mentioned for comparison. They are very sparing when it comes to re-signing their superior players for big bucks…instead trading or allowing a guy like Pujols to walk. Their bottom-up style has kept them in the upper reaches of the league and at less cost.

    If imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, then the Phils should do a good imitation as THEIR style in the future and thank the Cards, etc. for showing the best path to sustained success.

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