Open Discussion: Week of December 28th

Here’s the last open discussion thread for 2015.  Slow week, no transactions.  Also, I didn’t have time to provide the updates or complete my review of the SP article I promised.  My visiting brother had chest pain and was taken and admitted to the hospital. He has stabilized and will undergo a cardiac cath Monday.  I’m optimistic. I’m familiar with the procedure and know many people who have undergone it.

So rather than put the SP discussion off any longer, I’ll start it here without completely vetting my data.  Got to get this out before the 2016 BA Prospect Handbook invalidates my research.

The Phillies do not have a #1 SP on their 40-man roster.  They probably don’t have a #2.

I know this could be viewed as a patently absurd statement.  I don’t know if I agree or disagree with it.  But I do know that the concepts of a starting pitcher hierarchy from an Ace or #1 pitcher down through a #5 pitcher are often used incorrectly here, on sports and baseball shows, in sports articles, and in sports blogs.

Since first encountering these terms, I have endeavored to understand them.   I often blanch when I see them used incorrectly (as I understand them).  And I have tried to share what I believe is the universal meaning of these terms as used by the scouting community.

Past attempts as a small paragraph within another post or within the comment thread of an article seem to have failed.  So I will try again.

I spent several days researching this topic online.  And then another couple days verifying that what I presented was a fair representation based on what various sources have stated. I visited Fangraphs, Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, a couple websites dedicated to an organization’s affiliates, a website for HS baseball, and a couple college websites.  Some were written 10 years ago, and some were written as recently as in the past 9 months.  They try several different ways to explain the 20-80.  Some are simple and direct, others are less simple but compelling.  I’ll include all my sources at the end of the article.

In the following paragraphs, I will present only the facts that support my beliefs.  Just kidding.  I have no horse in this “race” other than to see that the terms are understood and used correctly.  I am heartened that the BP article written in 2006 is remarkably similar in theory to the FanGraphs article written in September 2014.

First, as I implied above, the terms Ace and #1 are virtually  interchangeable in the documents I’ve read.  Broadcasters, beat writers, or the fan base of a team may refer to their team’s top pitcher as the ace of their staff, but that doesn’t mean he is a true #1 or ace as the terms are used in the baseball community.  For instance, as we’ll see shortly, as good as Cole Hamels was for the Phillies, he was probably never a #1, even when he was the best pitcher on the Phillies’ staff.

Second, and this is implied in the above paragraph, there are not 30 #1 pitchers in baseball.  The best pitcher on a team’s staff does not automatically mean that the pitcher will grade out as a #1 pitcher.  Broadcasters, beat writers, or the fan base of a team may rank their pitchers #1 through #5, sometimes based on the order in which they are assigned starts.  But, they would be mistaken to think that every team has a #1, a #2, a #3, etc; and they would be further mistaken to assume that there were by extension 30 #1 pitchers in the league, 30 #2s, 30 #3s, and so on.  In fact, scouts and other baseball people who grade players tend to agree that there are about 8-12 #1 pitchers in the majors, around 20 #2s, and about 75 #3s.  Since there only 150 starting pitcher slots available in the 30, five-man rotations, that would leave roughly 43-47 #4 and #5 pitchers in major league rotations.

In order to rank pitchers as #1, #2, etc. each rank has been assigned the attributes that define the rank as follows:

Rank          Attributes

  • #1              2 plus pitches, average 3rd pitch, plus-plus command, plus make-up
  • #2              2 plus pitches, average 3rd pitch, average command, average make-up
  • #3              1 plus pitch, 2 average pitches, average command, average make-up
  • #4/#5      command of 2 ML pitches, average velo, consistent breaking ball,                                  decent change-up

The attributes are clouded with terms like plus, plus-plus, and average.  Baseball America defines these and other attributes as follows:

Grade        Description

  • 20             As bad as it gets for a big leaguer.
  • 30             Poor, but not unplayable.
  • 40             Below Average.
  • 45             Major League average.
  • 50             Average.
  • 55             Above average.
  • 60             Plus.
  • 70             Plus-plus.
  • 80             Top of the scale.

Baseball players are measured on several definable skills assigned to their position.  For instance, starting pitchers are graded on their fastballs, secondary pitches, command, and make-up.  Velocity is important but not the only thing considered when grading a fastball. command and movement are important, too.  But, I’ll just focus on fastball velocity here:

Grade        Avg. RHP Starter     Avg. LHP Starter     Reliever

  • 80                         97+                                    96+                           98-99
  • 70                         96                                       95
  • 65                         95                                       94
  • 60                         94                                       93
  • 55                         93                                       92
  • 50                         91-92                                90-91
  • 45                         90                                       89
  • 40                         88-89                                87-88
  • 30                         86-87                                85-86
  • 20                         85 or less                       84 or less

The average velocity for a fastball is determined by the average within his range.  The pitcher’s range is determined by where the majority of his fastballs are recorded.  For example, in a very SSS, a pitcher throws 10 fastballs – 93, 92, 95, 94, 91, 98, 92, 92, 95, 93. This is where the terms “sit” and “touch” come into play.  A scout would say the pitcher in the SSS sits 92-95 (discarding the outliers) and touches 98 (recognizing the high outlier). The average of the pitches in his range (where he “sits”) is 93.25, which would grade out to a 55 (above average) on the above chart for a RHP, 60 (plus) for a LHP.

I can remember being taught about the “bell curve” in grade school and high school. Without going into too much detail, here’s some information I found on the 20-80 scale (RedsMinorLeagues.com):

The scouting scale is from 20-80. There is speculation that when first instituted it was decided that 50 would be average in a 0-100 scale.  There is further speculation that a scientific scale of three standard deviations above/below average would be employed. With 50 as average,  three grades in each direction would be the normal distribution – 20, 30, 40 below average and 60, 70, 80 above.

Major League level baseball skills are distributed in a bell curve.  Most players will be bunched near the center of the curve where average skills reside.  Players with a skill level that is greater or worse than the average will fill out the curve until the extremes at each end are reached where the fewest players reside.  A percentage representation would look as follows:

Grade     Term                                     Percentage of MLB Players with a Particular Skill

  • 20          Poor                                          0.2%
  • 30          Well Below Average          2.1%
  • 40          Below Average                  13.6%
  • 50          Average                                 68.2%
  • 60          Plus                                         13.6%
  • 70          Plus-Plus                                2.1%
  • 80          Top End                                   0.2%

Now, you can see that most players graded on any skill are going to bunch in the middle of the curve, hence the bell allegory.  Most teams use the half grades of 45 and 55 to spread the average players out.  Some scouts go a step further to describe players in the middle of the range by describing the skill as “solid average” (between 50-55) or “fringy average” (between 45-50)  This is just another tool to further differentiate among the large number of players in the middle of the curve.

A couple other concepts that come into play are control vs. command and make-up.  All but one of the seven articles I read agreed on the meanings of control and command.  The seventh, spent his time trying to dispute Curt Schilling who apparently agrees with the other six articles I read.  Dude must not like Curt.  Control is the ability to throw strikes, to throw the ball over the plate.  Command is the ability to throw “quality strikes”, to hit the target consistently.  When a pitcher with good control misses, a lot of balls are hit hard and put in play.  A pitcher with good command makes fewer mistakes.  His mistakes can be hit just as hard, but it doesn’t happen as often.  A pitcher with good command will tend to miss more bats over a larger sample size than the pitcher with good control.

Make-up is a more subjective concept.  A scout tries to gauge the type of person the player will become based on his opinion of the player’s surroundings grounding up.  There’s no formula, so sabermatricians haven’t tried to grade this as far as I know.

The 20-80 scale used by scouts to describe a pitcher’s weapons also helps determine a pitcher’s overall rating.  In 2015 Baseball America, for instance, described pitchers as follows:

Grade            Role                                                            Example

  • 75-80          #1 Starter                                                  Clayton Kershaw
  • 65-70          #2 Starter                                                  Coles Hamels
  • 55-60          #3 Starter, Elite Closer                        Chris Tillman, Aroldis Chapman
  • 50                 #4 Starter, Elite Set-Up Reliever    Mike Leake, Andrew Miller
  • 45                 #5 Starter, Set-Up Reliever              Scott Feldman, Craig Stammen
  • 40                 Relief Specialist                                     Randy Choate

Baseball America’s overall grade for prospects is slightly different from baseball’s OFP (Overall Future Potential) in that it attempts to numerically guage a prospect’s realistic ceiling while assigning the risk the organization assumes as the prospect progresses to the major leagues:

   Risk                    Description

  • Safe                    Has shown realistic ceiling, ready to contribute
  • Low                     Likely to reach realistic ceiling, certain MLB career barring injury
  • Medium            Some work to reach MLB caliber skills, but fairly polished player
  • High                    Most picks in 1st season, players w/projection left, injury history
  • Extreme            Teens in rookie ball, significant injury history, struggle w/key skill

And finally, a look at how all the above relates to the Phillies’ pitchers.  I think if we look at the pitchers on the 40-man roster, we can eliminate all as #1 starters and most if not all as #2 starters.

The Phillies have 24 pitchers on their 40-man roster, 12 starters and 12 relievers.  The relievers are Araujo, Cordero, Garcia, Gomez, Hernandez, Hinojosa, Hollands, Mariot, Murray, Neris, Ramos, and Stumpf.

Among the starting pitchers, only Velasquez throws an above league average fastball at 94.99 MPH.

The 12 SP on the roster are graded below.  2-S and 4-S are 2-seamer and 4-seamer. In 2015 the MLB average for a 4-S was 92.90 MPH, for a 2-S it was 92.30 MPH.  The Pre-season info is from BA’s 2015 Prospect Handbook.

  1. Asher                   RHP, 4-S, 91.90, Pre-season: low 90s FB touching 95, low 80s SL and                                       CH that flash AVG, BA Grade 50/Medium Risk, potential #4
  2. Biddle                 LHP, Pre-season: FB 91-93, SL in the low 80s, high 70s CH, mid 70s CB,                                   needs consistency, BA Grade 50/Extreme Risk
  3. Buchanan        RHP, 4-S, 89.81,
  4. Eickhoff             RHP, 4-S, 91.37,
  5. Gonzalez          RHP, 4-S, 89.54, Pre-season: 4 above average pitches, low 90s cutter,                                      mid 80s CH, low 80s SLl, BA Grade 45/High Risk, projects as back                                              end SP
  6. Harrison            LHP, 2-S, 86.85, SSS injured
  7. Hellickson        RHP, 4-S, 90.85,
  8. Morgan              LHP, 4-S, 89.37,
  9. Morton               RHP, 2-S, 92.34,
  10. Nola                     RHP, 4-S, 90.97, Pre-season: FB 93-95, SL that flattens, CH that used to                                 be a Plus pitch, BA Grade 60/Medium Risk
  11. Oberholtzer    LHP, 4-S, 88.85,
  12. Vasquez             RHP, 4-S, 94.99,  Pre-season: FB 92-95 T96, Plus CH, Below Average CB                                    that projects to Solid Average, BA Grade 55/High Risk

Eight prospects are graded below.  They were among the prospects listed in BA’s 2015 Prospect Handbook for the Phillies or their former teams.

  1. Appel                   RHP, Pre-season: FB 92-98 sits 94-95, mid 80s SL, CH, all 3 pitches                                             show as Plus, lacks command BA Grade 60/Medium Risk
  2. Arano                  RHP, Pre-season: FB 88-92 T94, 11-to-5 CB 74-80, sinking mid 80s CH,                                     BA Grade 45/High Risk, projects as back end SP
  3. M. Gonzalez     RHP, Pre-season: FB 94-97 T higher, BA grade 45/High Risk (note:                                             These FB numbers are deceiving.  GCL batters made hard contact                                            against him.)
  4. Imhof                  LHP, Pre-season: FB 86-92 T94, CB 75-80 w/strong break, CH low 80s,                                     none are plus, all are average or approaching average, BA Grade                                               50/High Risk, projects as back end SP
  5. Kilome                RHP, Pre-season: FB 89-92 T95, hard CB 78-80, low 80s CH, BA Grade                                     50/Extreme Risk, projects as mid rotation SP
  6. Pinto                    RHP, Pre-season: FB 93-95 T97, CH 80-82 projects as above average, a                                   SL that could be average in future, low 90s 2-seamer, BA Grade                                                   50/Extreme Risk
  7. Rodriguez         LHP, Pre-season: FB 89-92, CH, and CB that are average at best, BA                                           Grade 40/Mediumk Risk, may transition to RP
  8. Thompson       RHP, Pre-season: FB 2-seamer/4-seamer 89-95, Plus SL that flashes 70                                 on the 20/80, average CH, average CB, BA Grade 60/Medium Risk,                                             potential #2/3 SP

Among the starters, Velasquez appears to have the most promise.  The development of his CB will determine whether he reaches a ceiling of a #2.  Nola may have projected higher when his FB was 93-95, but after barely averaging 91 last season, his FB grades out as average for a RHP.  He looks like a solid #3.  The other 10 are threes or back end of the rotation guys.

Among the prospects, Appel looks like his command will determine where he slots in as a pitcher, although #3 is probably his floor and the most likely outcome.  Thompson looks like a pitcher who could reach his #2 ceiling.  Kilome and Pinto are both coming off good seasons.  This coming season both should be entering the conversation regarding prospective major league starting pitchers as they move up to Lakewood and Reading respectively.  Arano and Imhof will likely remain in the conversation for back end slots. Rodriguez continues a transition to the bullpen. And, Gonzalez probably just fades away when his contract is up.

So , were looking at a 2017 rotation that could include a couple blossoming #2s in Thompson and Vasquez, a couple of solid #3s in Nola and Appel, a lot of solid pitchers to fill out the rotation in the interim and in ’17, a couple of developing pitchers coming up in ’18 and/or ’19 in Pinto and Kilome, as well as some wild cards in the low minors I didn’t even mention here PLUS the 1/1 pick in the draft.  Future’s looking bright.

Bibliography

175 thoughts on “Open Discussion: Week of December 28th

  1. I don’t know where to start. A good place to start is: Sorry to hear about your brother. This is a very thoughtful and statistical post. A question comes to mind about the 1 – 5 designations. What team would be better? A team with five #3s or a team with a 1-2-3-4-5? Certainly, if matched up perfectly. a team with five #3s should lose to the other teams #1 and #2 starter. But 4 & 5 would be wins. The 3 versus 3 matchup is up for grabs. And of course, other than Steve Carlton’s 1972 season, a pitcher doesn’t always play to his potential every game. How many times have you seen pre-game matchups that pit a #1 against a #5 and the #5 comes out on top? It happens more often than it should in the truly statistical world.

    1. The first thing that came to mind was that pitchers don’t play against pitchers. They match up against the other team’s batters. So, a #1 facing a #3 in a game doesn’t mean that the #1 should automatically win, just that statistically his team should have an advantage at the plate. This is similar to the Brady beating Manning discussion. Brady never “beat” Manning, he beat the defense of the team that Manning quarterbacked for.

  2. JP……very good and thorough explanation of the rating and grading system of pitchers. Just a suggestion, eventually, perhaps place this article in the above tool-bar “Primer” section for future reference for new readers.
    And , hope the best for your brother with full recovery. If a stent is the order of the day, hope he does well, they seem to be a very common occurrence these days.

  3. Well wishes for your brother. I know this must be a very stressful day for you. It is a true testament to your love of this site that you took the time to write this amazing post. I think it was your best post ever. Really awesome stuff. Should be pinned to the top as a “must read”.

  4. I’m only saying this because this post is awesome and may find a permanent place on this site, but you wrote “Craig Kershaw.” You’ve really come into your own Jim and have kept this site going beautifully. Best of luck to your brother. Thanks!

  5. I am a fan but I try to be objective. Some here think that I am “a hater” on some prospects. I am not a hater. I want everyone to succeed. But I think the above shows why we all over-rate our prospects.

    That being said, as I read this, I thought that Nola is under rated. I actually think he has at least 1 but maybe 2 plus pitches and also has plus-plus command. I think he has by far the best command in our entire system. I think he has better command than Cole has. Reminds me of Cliff Lee’s command.

    Here is a good report on him from his major league pitching: http://www.fangraphs.com/fantasy/quick-looks-nola-davies-and-lamb/

    “As long as Nola stays healthy, he will be in the league for years to come as a middle of the rotation starter with his pin point fastball control and plus curve. If he wants to take a step forward, he needs to develop a third useful pitch. If he gets his change working as a swing-and-miss pitch, I could see him be a top 20 pitcher.”

    1. v1…agree with you on Nola’s assessment. And as Jeff Zimmerman’s article says his change-up was horrible and he apparently realized that. and as the year progressed used it less as Brooks illustrates.
      http://www.brooksbaseball.net/outcome.php?player=605400&b_hand=-1&gFilt=&pFilt=FA|SI|FC|CU|SL|CS|KN|CH|FS|SB&time=month&startDate=03/30/2007&endDate=12/28/2015&s_type=2
      I think he is confident and competent enough to work on that pitch and make the necessary improvements. Maybe not a plus offering but average at least.

  6. It’s very nice that you posted the criteria for #1-5 pitchers. As you said in your post, it is kind of irritating to see incorrect definitions continuously on the site.

    The one issue in your post where I disagree, is your assertion that Appel’s “floor” is probably a #3 (if he gains command). Just because Appel “flashes” 3 plus pitches, doesn’t mean he’s going to throw any of them plus in the majors. I’d say that Appel has the “ceiling” of a #2, if he gains command, but a floor as a reliever.

  7. Thanks Jim and we’ll pray for the best for your brother!

    I enjoy the many sides of baseball. Working in a very technical field I can appreciate the technical side that many of you enjoy; statistics, reports, etc. I also appreciate all that I have learned from being on this site and seeing yours, and most people’s passion for prospect development. Personally my favorite part of baseball is some of the intangibles. I love seeing the fire and drive in a player, there tenacity to compete, and love for the game.

    When I look at Nola, the guy is locked in. Yes its great he has skills, and plus this or that, but when I would watch him versus say Aumont….I would see a guy who was not as physically impressive but some one who just had “it”.

    On the 1-5 SP discussion, I get it. However, I am personally more interested in slotting for the Phils MLB order. So I will try to be more aware and define the differences between a #1/ Ace Starting pitcher vs. the pitcher on our staff who will face Aces. Thanks for the education!

    Also back in 2011 I guess someone would argue who was an Ace and who was not (personally I thought Oswalt had lost his ability to consistently bring it, from game to game) on the Phils staff but I was comfortable seeing Halladay, Lee, and Hamels going up against anyone elses #1 pithcers.

    Here’s to 2016 and seeing some of these young pitchers develop into their ceilings and maybe even beyond!

    Happy New Year!!!!!!

  8. Great stuff Jim, thanks. Good luck with your brother, I’m filled with stents myself.
    By the way, you forgot about Eflin, someone I think has a real shot to be a solid #4. I agree that Appel could be a #2, he could be a reliever, or he could be a minor leaguer. Its a good gamble but time will tell. The AAA rotation will be fun to monitor every night although I think they may need to go with 6 starters (Velasquez, Appel, Thompson, Eflin, Morgan, Buchannan) so Buchannan stays stretched out in the first half of the season as the #7 starter, with Morgan the #6, as depth. I think Asher could get moved to the pen as a long man in Philly since starters’ jobs have passed him by.
    The real problem with baseball is that you need at least one #1 to win and if you’re lucky enough to get more than one of them, like the Mets, you know your window is small because you won’t be able to afford them all in 5 years, at the most. The Phils need the 1/1 to be a legit #1 but he’s going to be at least 4 years behind the current group if he’s a high school guy (Groome) and 2 years if he’s a college guy (Puk). I think a team can win with multiple 2s and 3s but no #1, like the 2008 Phils did, but you need great defense and hitting. The Phillies are currently trying to build a great defensive core group. I could see Kingery, JP, and Franco providing top notch defense in the IF with Williams, Quinn, and Herrera doing the same in the OF (until Randolph gets there in late 2018). I’m still hoping for Hoskins but who knows, it could be a free agent at 1B. Alfaro has the arm at catcher and hopefully he can become the complete package.
    2016 and 2017 could be lots of fun if these do well and progress to the majors. There could be a ton of rookies to follow soon.

    1. Let me add my well wishes, Jim, for the health of your brother.

      The more discussion that takes place regarding the slotting of pitchers 1-5, the more arcane I find it; with hard to prove assessment of “plus” pitches and the like. I think it is more useful to look at the potential of prospect starting pitchers to log 200 IP om a major league roster. Last year you had 28 pitchers who accomplished this, some with more success than others. But to me a guy with 200 innings has the ability and the durability I look for in a top-of-the-rotation starter.

      When I look at Nola, Eickhoff, Thompson, Velasquez or Appel, I’m trying to get a fix on the likelihood that each before long will pitch deep into the game on a regular basis. If they can do it, I care less how they do it, Not ignoring the value this offers in conserving a bullpen, give me a rotation of innings eaters over a rotation of starters with “plus pitches” any day.

      On the Ryan Howard situation, I wonder if the Phils will consider the possibility that MLB will impose extremely regular blood testing of him with the result that we see even less performance from him this year. The thought that he may have been medically aided in his most recent performance is daunting. The ‘unassisted’ Ryan Howard playing in 2016 is a disturbing thought, for me at least.

      1. I’m may be misunderstanding what you are saying. How would a pitcher get to the majors and have the ability to get through 200 Innings without plus pitches?

        1. Well, in the extreme case, Jamie Moyer logged over 200 IP in 10 different seasons and separately was over 195 twice with the Phillies.

          Last year guys like Colby Lewis, Garrett Richards and Edinson Volquez were in the 200 IP club and Mark Buehrle was precariously close.

          The real point is not this but rather the lamentation expressed in the OP that the Phils did not project a pitcher with true ace stuff. I can’t dispute that but simply argued that there is a better measure of success at the top of the rotation and pointed to that group of fewer than 30 pitchers who measured up. To me it wouldn’t matter if Nola or others didn’t reach ‘ace’ status based on their arsenal if their body of work established their success by the criteria I suggested.

          1. Well, then I think you are incorrect in your initial statement. Jaime Moyer had a plu-plus change-up. He had plus-plus command and control. Even guys like Joe Blanton (who got the tag innings eater)were dominant, and had plus offerings in the minors. Either way, no pitcher logs 200 innings without being “plus” in something as a Minor Leaguer. It’s nothing but fantasy trying to project the 1/1000 minor league pitcher that doesn’t have plus offerings, to the majors, let alone 200 innings as a starter.

            1. Let me try it another way. Speed of foot is good in baseball and other sports. No one has anything bad to say about it. But baseball isn’t track and I don’t want my team constructed based on a single tool or with a focus on tools vs. production.

              You could find something good (as you have) to say about nearly everyone who makes it to the majors. It sounds to me that you would be happy with prospects developing a la Blanton and Moyer. I have no quarrel with that though some would as neither was an ace or showed ace potential.

            2. No. You are promoting two different incorrect notions. In your initial post, you are saying pitchers that have average pitches, have the ability to pitch 200 innings in the Major Leagues. In your explanation of that post, you then show that you believe the term “plus” means velocity. Both are incorrect.

              In your 3rd post on the subject, you explain something that certain guys seem to believe: Speed and power is somehow not important for projecting a professional athlete, and the proof is that “this one guy who was not fast or powerful was successful so…”

  9. First off, best wishes and prayers for your brother.
    Secondly, soooooo your saying Shane Rawley, Kevin Gross and Ben Rivera weren’t true number ones? Son of a gun 🙂

  10. Umm Cole Hamels “probably never a #1”??

    It seems to me that this post is confusing the typical attributes of on Ace, or #1, #2 or whatever, with the *definition* of an Ace.

    To my mind, here’s what defines an Ace: On a good day, (1/3 of the time) he’s unhittable and you’re lucky if you score 1 or 2 runs on him. On a down day (1/3 of the time, he’s hard to hit and if you’re lucky you can knock him out after 6 tough innings. Maybe he has a bad outing once or twice in the season. That describes Cole Hamels for at least some of his time with the Phils.

    A number 2-3: maybe once or twice a season, he’s unhittable. half the time he keeps his team in the game. a quarter of his outings, he’s lucky to get through 6.

    A junkballer is rarely an Ace in the majors. R.A. Dickey was an Ace for a while, but you wouldn’t say his control was good. A plus-plus pitch doesn’t make someone an ace, it’s getting people out and being unhittable that makes an Ace, though one helps with the other.

    For a prospective ace, I think what you have to look for is a flash of unhittability and the source of that flash. Making that unhittability consistent is what makes a major league ace. When Jessie Biddle first hit AA, we saw a few games where he was unhittable thanks to a plus(plus) curveball. That made his “upside” a #1 to me. Now, who knows? Same with R.J. Swindle, except for the plusplus curveball – and no one ever pegged him even as a major leaguer.

    I’d say Nola has the upside (meaning 5% chance) of being an Ace. But with just about any prospect You Never Know.

    Also, major leaguers are all on the upper edges of a bell curve in terms of ability. Normal distributions don’t work as imagined in this post.

    Happy Contending New Year everyone, and thanks Jim for stimulating writing!

    1. Was thinking along the same lines. For me a true #1 is near 200 IP and in the top 5 of Cy Young voting. They typically will have a Sub 1.20 WHIP probably closer to 1.00 or possibly a K/9 above 8.

      Try going to MLB.com and sorting the pitchers on IP. In the AL only 14 Pitchers were 200 or above and in the NL only 12 were 200 or above. Notice the names there. Then further notice the WHIP column.

      You probably don’t get to 200 IP unless you are going deep into games and being efficient with your pitch counts all the while keeping your team in the game.

        1. Ah the KWHIP Factor or KWHIP Index which is K/9 divided by WHIP so for example

          Arrieta won the Cy Young his KWHIP Index was 10.79 and Greinke’s was 9.62 Nola was 6.57, Velasquez (SSS) was 7.37

          Over in the AL Keuchel was 8.23 and Price was 8.51

          1. Cole Hamels for his Career (since he is the closest thing we’ve had to a #1) has a career KWHIP Index of 7.50 compared to Clayton Kershaw’s career 9.49

            1. I am too Romus. Consider Mike Leake never achieved better than a 5.54 and Adam Wainwright hovers at 6.56

              Floor/Ceiling

          2. Some other notables that received Cy Young Votes and their KWHIPS

            DeGrom 9.90
            Scherzer 11.87
            Gray 6.76
            Sale 10.85
            Archer 9.41
            Gerrit Cole 7.97

            1. Interestingly, as Sonny Grays whiff ratio has decreased over the last three years, his WHIP has improved, though his H/9 and BB/9 are relatively the same in that timeframe, but he still hovers less then 7 on your index scale.

            2. DMAR…….I like your formula, in that it incorporates a pitcher’s skill level as for stuff, the whiff ratio, amd also the comm and control aspect with BB/9 and H/9 (WHIP), perhaps you can incorporate, as a weighted measurement, the ‘total innings pitched’ for starters and something akin for relievers. Just a suggestion.

            3. Romus I am keeping a separate tab for relievers since they tend to have much higher K Rates pitching only an inning on most nights.

              For Instance Chapman was a ridiculous 15.16 Dellin Bettances’ Index is 14.50 Giles is at a 11.28 by comparison.

              Within the sheet itself I sprinkle in HOF players to see how they compare. Trevor Hoffman’s career Index was 8.88 while Mariano was 8.2. And then a long time player winding down his career like Papelbon is at 9.88.

              What does it all mean though is the problem I have with SABR. It basically tells us what we watch. Most of us don’t need the stat to know those guys are dominant.

              I guess you can look to see a guys numbers in the minors as he is coming up and compare it to the above to see potential but then you might not be so excited to know Cordero sits at 6.49 and Tirado is 6.03.

              OTOH you might get really excited to know Velasquez minor index is 9.52 which would place him higher than any other minor leaguer in our system.

            4. DMAR…yes I can see your point as we can see the obvious good from the mediocre.
              But projection from minor metrics stats , based on past stars minor metrics, can be a fun and useful tool to measure and forecast.
              But as v1 likes to tell me, the recent metrics as the players goes up the levels should be weighted more then the Rookie/low A level metrics….kind of like handicapping horses. The last races weigh more then the earlier ones.
              Maybe Cordero and Tirado will project better. I wonder how did Giles project from his minor metrics compared to Cordero/Tirado?
              And have to like ViVe’s metrics, they are encouraging if anything.

          3. I like it. I have never heard of this, but dovetails with my approach that focuses highly on K rate, BB rate.

            ERA in the minors (outside of the extremes) is a pointless stat. horrible defense and small sample size makes it largely worthless…again excluding the extremes.

    1. If MLB grants him his request prior to July 2nd, then the Phillies will need to break the bank and incur the penalty, highly unlikely I would think.
      If, however, after July 2nd…then the Phillies have a legitimate shot at him.

    2. Isn’t it crazy that this 16 yr old, who hasn’t played since he was 15, is going to be paid many millions (how many?) on a glimmer of potential? I agree that the Phillies will be in on it if its after July 2 but you have to wonder what the odds are of this kid being as great as the predictions and the money spent.

      1. Maybe one of many varied reasons why an international draft should be established. And maybe raise the age requirement a year or two higher than 16-years old.

        1. Another excellent point by romus. I Just realize your trip to Israel was to check on the howard rumor. How did you know to go to Middle east to get the story first romus?

          1. rocco……Israel eh? I thought the Guyer Institute was in Indy? Unless you are making a reference to Al Jeezera?

      2. not crazy at all. it is called capitalism. simple supply and demand. it is truly perfect. let the markets decide what a player is worth.

        what is crazy is weak revenue sharing in baseball creating “big markets” and small markets.

        and having the DH in only one league is also crazy.

  11. Whereas the Padres and Phillies seem to do well in return for their closers, the Reds at first glance took a rather pedestrian return for one of the best in Aroldis Chapman from the Yankees. The domestic abuse allegations could be a factor I assume.

    1. Chapman i a one year rental, won’t be cheap, and may be suspended for part of the year. All that being said I am surprised the Reds didn’t hold out for more.

    2. The weak return for Chapman is a function of supply and demand.

      1. Getting Chapman is a PR nightmare.
      2. He is a 1-year rental that will likely be suspended for a big chunk of that year.

      That combo is not worth a top prospect.

      1. If he is suspended for more than 62 games I believe or some where there abouts he will lose his FA rights and the Yankees would retain him for 2017.

        Word on the street however is that the suspension is not likely to be that long.

        1. MLBl is not yet to the NFL code of conduct threshold for punishment in regards to domestic abuse. Substance is another matter.
          I agree , Chapman may ot get a long , if any, suspension. Plus the Yankees, as being top three market team, if not the top, , have the money and fame to entice him for more then the year rental at some point.
          Reds Jocketty and Williams could have tried to negotiate a more worthy return.

  12. Here’s how I would breakdown the pitchers listed in the OP:

    1. Placeholders

    Harrison
    Hellickson
    Morton

    Best case scenario: July trade bait.

    2. Starters:
    Nola
    Vasquez
    Eickhoff —

    Eickhoff: I think there will be some regression to the mean after his great late season performances. Half his games were against FLA and ATL. I still like him long-term, but as a backend of the rotation arm.

    I’m excited to see what VV can do. And Nola’s development is probably the most interesting and important storyline for me this year.

    3. Long man / spot starter

    Oberholtzer

    I don’t mean this in a bad way. He may become a serviceable in that role. And there’s value in that.

    4. AAAA:

    Asher
    Buchanan
    Morgan
    Gonzalez

    If the over/under on this group was collectively 11 more career wins, I’d probably bet the under. Take potshots at Kyle Kendrick all you want–none of these four will have a career as good as he did.

    5. Legit prospects

    Thompson
    Imhof
    Pinto
    Kilome
    Appel

    My man-crash on Imhof has tapered a bit, but i still think he can pitch in the show. Thompson has me very excited. Really curious to see how Pinto follows-up his break-out act. I’m always weary of low-level guys who don’t truly dominate, so put me in the skeptic bracket with Kilome. Appel I haven’t a clue; haven’t really been impressed with anything much about him.

    6. Still a prospect somehow

    Biddle

    Lord knows what to expect from him. My prediction: in there years he’s the 7th inning guy on a decent team.

    7. Junkyard Dog:

    Arano
    Rodriguez
    M. Gonzalez

    I never drank the Kool-Aid on Arano. And now he’s been bypassed by a lot of arms in the org, I think. Rodriguez was never more than a long shot lottery ticket. And MAG will be remember more for his contract(s) than for anything he ever did on the mound.

    1. Pretty good breakdown.
      Though Arano is my breakout or sleeper for 2016. As a reliever it is an easy call but I really would like to see him stretched to start this spring. Give it one more go since he is still very age-appropriate for CLW
      As for Oberholtzer….I think he will shine in the NL And he has something to prove, especially after what happened last June.

            1. Ha, you voted my reply one-star, because you didn’t know what OP represented? Troll.

              Regarding the players you listed…and then some:

              1. Prospects–Upper

              Eflin
              Richy
              Eshelman
              Pivetta

              I’m probably the biggest Eflin supporter on this site. I like pitchers who understand the art of pitching, and he seems to embody this; overall good numbers while having a low K rate. I’m really high on Eflin.

              I’m much more excited about Richy at this stage than Eshelman or Pivetta. I know nothing really about Eshelman, though. And Pivetta hasn’t really stood-out to me.

              2. Prospects–Bullpen

              Cordero
              Tirado
              Windle

              Cordero looks like he could blossom into a solid 8th/9th inning guy. Same with Tirado and Windle. I like this trio a lot. Maybe more than I should.

              3. Make or Break Year

              Lively
              Leibrandt

              I was on the Lively bandwagon last off-season but those wheels fell off…and hard. He has a lot to prove this season.

              But I’m still captain of the Liebrandt bandwagon–possibly its only member. For the same reasons I like Eflin, I like him. I just hope he rebounds from injury okay. If he loses even 2 MPH on his pitches, he’s done.

              4. Too early to tell

              Medina
              Garcia

              Medina I classify like Kilome–way too early to make any serious projection. Until a pitcher reaches high-A, I don’t usually weigh-in.

              Garcia, I never really understood the hype. I don’t expect him to make it out of Clearwater.

            2. Medina is a really interesting case, and shows the importance of pedegree. I agree with MattW that if he was a first round draft pick or a big money signing, which he would be with how he has developed he be a consensus top 15 prospect on the Phillies. He would probably be the third or four HS arm taken in next year’s draft were he eligible.

              I know comparing pitchers to hitters is never an exact match but consider C Randolph is just as far away as Medina and has just as many questions, such as can he field and develop enough power to be a left fielder, but no one says he’s too far away to project as a prospect.

      1. Medina is a name to watch at the very least. Didn’t know much about him until I saw the Phillies site had him in their top 30.

    2. Zack Eflin is the Rodney Dangerfield of this website. I guess Ben Lively and Jimmy Cordero should factor into the discussion as well, despite modest expectations.

      I would be surprised to see Matt Harrison used as trade bait. He will return to health and earn his hefty salary or languish as a sunk cost. Trade targets at the deadline will be earning less than Harrison.

      1. Lol..it is Zach, not Zack. Truly poetic that you called him the Rodney Dangerfield and then spelled his first name (which is only 4 letters) wrong.

    3. Also out of your AAAA group I think Morgan has the best shot to do something. Heck he hung in there in his rookie year with not much run support. He tired at the end but other than that he looked pretty good at times.

      I always marveled at Jamie Moyer. I faced him in high school and he didn’t threaten anyone with his velocity but he always knew how to pitch. After watching him for 30 years it amazes me why more pitchers don’t try to emulate him. I think someone like Morgan or Asher could be effective starters if they just took some pages out of the Moyer book.

        1. I hear you. Actually both amaze me. I mean in the case of a Moyer who was all control with some movement at low velocities they are such enigma’s for success. On the flip side you see lots of guys with arms like Aumont who just can’t find the plate consistently. So its amazing when a Nolan Ryan comes along who can.

          1. I liked how Moyer completely changed the pace of the game based on the situation. He was quick when getting people out, but when someone got on base, the game got sloooooow.

    1. No blockages. Next step was to determine the cause of and then control v-tac. Looks like they are satisfied that they have it under control. Florida is a great state for health care with all the old people down here.

      1. Hope your brother and the docs can get his heart beat down. My son had fibrillation issues many years ago, normally occurring in the dead of summer , I believe low blood volume could have been a contributing factor….bottom line he needed to drink more water vs other fluids, if you know what I mean.
        And yes health care for the elderly is big down there…one particular area, the Villages have many excellent medical facilities.

  13. Nice to see Ben badler on BA saying that nick Williams to win projects favorably to Cargo. That’s something to be excited about.

  14. Speaking of Moyer…how would you rate him? Plus, plus, plus control?? He had a pretty good slider but it may not have played up as well since he had a very soft fastball. Most people had him as a AAAA pitcher coming up.

  15. Here’s my categorization of the top 31 pitchers in organization. Each player in each category is roughly ranked.

    1. Placeholders

    Harrison
    Morton
    Hellickson

    2. MLB Starters:

    Nola
    Vasquez
    Eickhoff

    3. Long man / spot starter

    Oberholtzer

    4. AAAA:

    Asher
    Morgan
    Buchanan
    Gonzalez

    5. Legit prospects

    Thompson
    Pinto
    Eflin
    Appel
    Imhof
    Richy
    Eshelman
    Pivetta

    6. Prospects–Bullpen

    Cordero
    Tirado
    Windle

    7. Make or Break Year

    Lively
    Leibrandt
    Arano
    Biddle

    8. Too early to tell

    Kilome
    Medina
    Garcia

    9. Scrap heap:

    Rodriguez
    M. Gonzalez

    Considering I really only follow pitchers, I wish every week we had a discussion like this =)

    Finally had time after the holidays to contribute.

    Cheers!

    1. A couple more thoughts on your posts Fitz.

      1) Harrison – Don’t know what to make of him but I would not have him as a place holder. Probably his own category of “taken on to eat his contract, injured on the slow road to return” Don’t think he is or maybe never to hold anyone’s place.

      2) Biddle – Will he be full go this spring? I mean its a shame but he might be break before he has a good chance to make in the Phils org.

      1. Biddle had TJ surgery, he’s out for many months. I’m assuming they’re hoping to get him back for the Instructs in September

    2. Not really a make or break year for Biddle I assume since I believe he is going to miss the whole or at least most of the year.

    3. Fritzer, I respect your view on low A guys who haven’t dominated. However, in defense of Kilome, he did pitch very will in his first 3 starts at WPT (16.2 IP, 2 R, 1 ER, 8 H, 1 HR, 6 BB, 14 K) before suffering a rib cage strain. He returned about 19 days later on a pitch/inning count for three games. Then he spent most of the rest of the season stretching back out to 5-6 innings. He fared well enough until a poor start in the playoffs. He spent the 6-8 weeks prior to Christmas working on strength and conditioning in Clearwater with 7-8 other guys – a program similar to the one Tocci was on last offseason. I have been told that Kilome looks to have added substantial bulk. I’ll be interested in seeing how this translates into velocity and command this spring.

  16. Just read the latest Zolecki post. Some interesting things.

    First in keeping with SP’s he has; Morton, Hellickson, Nola, Eichoff, and Velasquez as favorites for the Phils rotation.

    Second, he has the core to establish themselves as Nola, Eichoff, Franco, and Herrera. No mention of Asche, Hernandez, Altherr, Goeddel, etc as being part of that. I mean I get Goeddel is a long shot rule 5 guy and Altherr was only up for a couple months, but how much longer was Eichioff up then Altherr? Also what is he saying about guys like Hernandez and Asche?

    Also interesting on who he views as top prospects to take next step to the majors.

    http://m.phillies.mlb.com/news/article/160093180/young-phillies-outlook-for-2016-season

    1. Oberholtzer is a LH starting pitcher with a sub-4 career ERA and 3 years of control remaining. I believe he would have to perform pretty poorly in Spring Training to not get a spot in the rotation. If nothing else to showcase him for trade and also suppress Velasquez’s service time.

      1. Everything I’ve read about him says the Phils plan on using his as their long man. Not saying its set in stone, but that’s how the organization views him.

        I think it would be odd to have no Lefties in the rotation, also.

        1. I don’t think they care if the rotation is all RH at this point. They aren’t trying to win anything. They are building inventory.
          It serves no purpose to have Oberholtzer a long man. All of the young guys, have something they can work on in AAA, while they showcase Hellickson, Morton and Oberholtzer. Velasquez can work on his breaking ball for 2 months, while they showcase Oberholtzer and Hellickson.

    2. He did say when JP moves up Galvis may side over to take over Hernandez spot. That is if Hernandez is Healthy and still has the 2nd base job. Galvis is one that could be a trade chip down the line. He may become an elite defensive ss and there always a need for them.

          1. no way galvis is an elite shortstop. average range, arm, makes the slick play but botches routine ones. below average bat. if he has a strong first half would love to see him flipped for prospects.

            1. I’m not sure by what measure some would call Galvis ‘an elite defender’. But if Galvis was actually an elite defender, teams would be lining-up to trade for him. He’s not and they’re not, so that should tell us something.

          2. rocco…Freddy has a ways to go before he gets to the top of the fielding shortstops in the NL according to SABR-SDI:
            .Brandon Crawford-16.8
            Adeiny Hechavarria-11.6
            Andrelton Simmons-10.1
            Nick Ahmed-9.9
            Jean Segura-4.7
            Jordy Mercer-3.2
            Starlin Castro-1.1
            Alexi Amarista….-1.3
            Troy Tulowitzki….-2.7
            Jhonny Peralta….-3.9
            Ian Desmond….-4.2
            Jimmy Rollins….-5.4
            Wilmer Flores….-6.6
            Freddy Galvis….-7.7
            Ruben Tejada……-9.5

            1. I said Galvis may become an elite defender this was his glove will carry him in his Mlb career . Right now he’s the only ss we have that could everyday. Once the kid comes up he could move over to 2nd is Valentin or Kingery isn’t there yet or be traded.

    3. He is not that didactic, so his article makes more sense than this. He does not say Velasquez is a part of the rotation. He says that because we got Velasquez and Oberholtzer in the Giles trade, it is reasonable to expect one of them to be in the rotation. He didn’t list one over the other. I think Oberholtzer is likelier.

      He also doesn’t list Nola, Eickhoff, Franco, and Herrera as ‘the core’ which needs to establish itself, it lists them as 4 young guys who need to establish themselves as a part of the future core. Galvis/Hernandez have been with the Phillies longer, so he may see them as already part of a future Phillies team in reserve roles or even as possibilities for core. Altherr has a lot less time with the team than the 4 guys he mentions. I didn’t click on that link, but wouldn’t be surprised to see Altherr listed among prospects. Goeddel hasn’t played at all in majors, so in no way belongs in same list as the other 4 guys.

  17. If we are talking pitchers let’s not forget Stumpf and Zgardowski Bullpen arms or not they both have pretty good stuff.

  18. I still expect Oberholtzer to win the 5th spot with VV going to AAA, where he hasn’t pitched yet, to make a very strong LHV rotation. I think Morgan and Buchannan might be added to make a 6 man LHV rotation with Asher going to the pen and making the Phils as the long man. What happens to Seve? Long man at LHV? Not exactly a primo job…. Spots in the LHV pen will be hard fought for also depending on health.

    1. Buchanan is as good as gone. If he isn’t made a long reliever on the Major League club and nobody gets hurt, they will no doubt cut him. They’re not going to a 6 man rotation at AAA. Even if they did, it wouldn’t be done with Buchanan in mind.

      1. kram….do think Knapp will be in LHV, if not out of ST for sure by June. Which in itself can create a bit of a log jam between Lino, Logan Moore and him. And Moore has really been playing well in the winter league with Licey.

        1. Oh yeah eventually–they’ll not likely dump on Lino or LoMo right away and Arencibia may or may not stick around. I think they’ll start Knapp in Reading unless he really forces the issue during S/T. Not unusual for IronPigs to carry three catchers tho, either way.

          1. Problem is that unless they give up on Alfaro as a catcher and move him to left field both Alfaro and Knapp need to be everyday catchers for their development. You don’t let lesser prospects block better prospects. Lino and Moore are farther down the prospect ladder than Alfaro and Knapp.

            I would guess it is Knapp and Lino at LV and Alfaro in Reading. Moore could be either the third catcher in LV or the backup at Reading. Arencibia could also be the third catcher in LV. It is always nice to have a major league ready/ experienced veteran catcher in AAA in case of injury on the big club. Just like having a sixth and possibly seventh major league ready starting pitcher waiting in the wings.

            1. I don’t disagree with you, but Knapp has had 48 games at C in AA and 6 at DH. He hit .235 in AFL (SSS). As an IronPigs writer I just feel like he’ll really need to press the issue to come North with AAA.

              Catching is tough on the knees and if they can find ABs for both guys with DH /LF/1B then that’ll get them through the first 6-8 weeks if everyone’s healthy.

            2. While I agree that it wouldn’t hurt Knaop’s development to have more time in AA. It would hurt Alfaro’s unless the Phillies want to bring him back slowly from his injury. The splitting time in LF/DH/1B doesn’t work well in this situation because it isn’t ABs these guys needs so much as time behind the plate, with the pitching staff, and with the coaching staff. Furthermore, AA is likely to have a very crowded OF and Rhys Hoskin at 1B.

              I suppose if Knaoo starts in AA and Hoskins in A+we will know that the new front office has returned to the Phillies’ policy pre-Joe Jordan of bringing prospects along very slowly.

      2. In your blog post, you have Adam Morgan as a part of the Major League starting rotaion over Oberholtzer. What about Morgan would give him the edge over a sub-4 ERA, American league pitcher like Oberholtzer?

        1. I gave him the incumbent nod I guess. Battle for 5th spot there I think–both lefties with some MLB time. Don’t know if Morgan has ever done the long-relief thing but I guess we’ll see.

    1. Pivetta is fascinating – he has a rocket for an arm. He, along with Appel, has as big of a gap between his floor and ceiling as anyone in the organization. You

    2. A scouting report on Pivetta from mid-July as a Senator from a Washington analyst:
      “…… Pivetta featured a 92-94mph fastball, touching 95mph three times, with impressive sinking action from a high 3/4s arm slot. He struggled to command his fastball, …….. as many of the pitches sailed up out of the zone. Once Pivetta fell behind in the count, he left several fastballs up in the zone. In addition Pivetta flashed a 77-80mph curveball with more sweeping action than traditional 12-6 movement – he struggled most of the day to find a feel for the pitch, often overthrowing it and burying it low and away. Finally he showed a solid 84-86mph changeup, though while inconsistent, was impressive at times with arm-side and sinking movement. Despite the poor results I left with a relatively favorable impression of Mr. Pivetta. Although his outing was cut short, he still managed to show an above-average to plus fastball and the potential for two average future off-speed pitches. Furthermore he owns a durable, projectable body with room to add some additional muscle.”
      ———–posted in Nationals, Scouting by Ryan Sullivan..
      To your question…..yes he can.
      Most all relievers, were tried as starters at one time and he seems to have the necessary ‘stuff’ for an inning or two of explosive pitching

      1. I saw a start where he was regularly hitting between 95 and 98 on milb.tv after the trade to the Phillies. His pitches had good movement too, which may be a part of his struggle with command. In any event, he has a truly big arm and could move quickly as a back end reliever if he can’t develop a starter’s arsenal.

        Likewise I was at an Eflin start in Reading where he was sitting 94 and 95 and often touching 96 and 97. It wasn’t a great start but he has a lot of raw ability and already has good command. If Eflin can develop an out pitch he could surge forward quickly. And yes he is underrated around here regardless of how you spell his name.

        1. I like Eflin a lot but what I see from him is a guy who likes to pitch around 92-93 because his command is much better there than when he throws harder. He really seems like he knows how to pitch and he hits his spots very well. He’ll definitely be pitching in Philly at some point but there will be plenty of competition.
          Spring training starting soon???

        2. Eflin does seem to be the forgotten man in the plethora of right arms in the system. And agree with you on his developing that out pitch, however he has stated in the past he prefers the two-seamer vs the four-seamer, so his whiff ratio will only be average at best, but his GB% should be higher if the two-seamer is effective, and also his innings pitch will be higher then most since he will be able to stay in games longer.

          1. Eflin did a great job in the playoffs — really couldn’t have asked for better pitching. I think that, next to Thompson, he is the surest SP prospect in our minor league system — perhaps not as high a ceiling as a guy like Appel or Velasquez — if you count him as still a prospect, but the best shot to have a place in the Phillies 2017 rotation.

    1. v1…good write up…however, Jon Mayo seems to always forget one piece…in the Hamels deal, an immediate return was Jerad Eickhoff…and he fails to mention him. He must have mixed Alec Asher with Jerad E.

      1. I think it’s just that Eickhoff exhausted his rookie eligibility in 2015, and thus is no longer a “prospect,” and Mayo’s piece was about prospects.

        1. Yes that could be the reason and I can understand that….but Asher and Eickhoff both made their major league debuts in Aug/Sep and Asher was in 7 games (29 innings) and Eickhoff 8 games (51 innings). Eickhoff had more innings pitched basically because he pitched better and lasted longer in the games. Eickhoff is no longer in the MLB top 30 and it is probably since he went over MLB’s innings prospect requirement for pitchers.

          1. One inning over the 50 innings limit I see now:
            ‘To qualify for rookie status, a player must not have exceeded 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched in the Major Leagues, or accumulated more than 45 days on the active roster of a Major League club or clubs during the 25-player limit period, excluding time on the disabled list or in military service.’

  19. From what I read from the interviews of the GM and President there not done with the pitching on the major or minor league still trying for more depth. They don’t have the premier trading chips , like Hamels , Giles , Utley etc. The Hellickson , Morton teams know what there going to get . Where in hope that Hellickson or Morton can have career yrs and up there status . Also I caught twice, them saying that when the time comes they hope that they can get some top hitters to come here.I hope that we start seeing that Comcast and Middleton money.start too make runs at the big market Cuban, Japan, Korean players as well as the Latin market too. We haven’t seen that much yet but as you start winning the heat gets turned up.

    1. The attrition rate with pitchers is so high, that you need to keep adding to your stockpile. You can really never have too much pitching, although you can have pitchers take up too big a slice of your MLB budget. That’s why you need to keep adding youth. For not big bonus $, we’ve added Kilome, Medina, Pinto, Arano and other promising LA pitchers. I think our scouts can keep that pipeline flowing. Really good value/$ there — better than we’re doing with the LA position players, where most of the $ have gone.

      That said, I don’t think we should focus upon pitching going forward. We are not really as flush with position players as some claim. Not all the OFs are going to make it, we need a 1B, Franco may eventually move off 3B and a guy added to the farm this season could be 5 years away from Philly. I’d like to add very good prospects at 1B, corner OF, and 3B this season.

        1. Hoskins could well turn out to be our future 1B, but he isn’t yet, so I think we need to keep working through draft/international to find a 1B. Encarnacion or Ortiz might also fill the bill. Remember, players have their greatest plus impact during their 6 years of team control at the MLB level. Then, typically performance erodes, while cost rises. Even if Hoskins is our MLB starting 1B for 6 years, now is the time to be starting his replacement in the low minors. That might well be Encarnacion, but he has yet to show much or Ortiz, but he hasn’t played at all.

          I guess Cozens might be our 1B, but he has yet to show a good enough bat. He doesn’t need as good a bat if he can continue to be satisfactory defensively in a corner OF spot.

          Randolph is not a 1B. He lacks the requisite power for the position. He has very good contact/hitting skills, good speed and athleticism and by all accounts can be a plus defensive corner OF. It would be a huge waste of a primo draft pick if Randolph must be relegated to 1B.

          1. The really positive thing about Hoskins is that unlike the old-for-league guys, like Stassi, who bloomed at Reading, but weren’t at all impressive in their earlier minor league seasons, Hoskins has consistently hit well in the low minors. It will be very interesting to see what he can do in Reading and Allentown. This season, Hoskins put up a little better numbers than Ryan Howard did at the same age in low-A and beat Howard’s CLW numbers at a year younger age.

            1. Hoskins’ K/BB ratio rate are really above the average for a proto-typical big strong power guy. Makes him more appealing to me. I am very comfortable and confident with him as the first baseman sometime in 2017 moving forward.

      1. That’s what I mean 2 interviews said they hope some hitters would like to come here . Then added when the time comes the Phillies would put out the money. It seems like get the pitching now fill in what they need with the hitters later. All clubs have to hit the FA market for some things. That’s where I hope they go into the Cubwn, korean, and Japan markets. About 5 yrs ago I was in fantasy baseball before the draft I counted 18 1st baseman that hit 20 or more HR’s and 100 rbi’s.

  20. Franco looks like he is becoming more selective in working the count. His BB to SO ratio is impressive. It is good to see a player use winter ball to become a better hitter. Stassi keeps hitting the ball no matter where he plays. Odubel is bashing again this winter. Hoskins is stroking the ball down under, but down under does not feature the pitchers he will see in April.

  21. Puddinhead that’s why I love this kid . I have seen him a lot and he usually struggles, but after a while he gets it and improves. I Just don’t see him not being a really good player. I love this kid. hope I am right.

    1. roccom… I respect your opinion greatly, so I must ask you to clarify which kid you love? Puddinhead referenced Franco, Odubel ,Stassi, and Hoskins. Tnx

  22. A new Phillie in the front office.
    Ned Rice, 32-year old analytical aficionado joins Matt Klentak in forming a strrong formidable youthful front-office with their pulse on everything transcending traditional and SABR metric.
    He comes in as Asst to the GM and should provide a different outlook and set of eyes on ther Phillies future. Have to hope this will be a good move going forward.

    1. Phillies quietly plucking emerging front office staff from O’s. Here is what their fans are saying:

      “All these guys, especially Rice and Klentak, are the bright young minds and emerging front office stars of tomorrow in MLB. The O’s want nothing to do with them. Why would they when they have the market cornered on over-the-hill, behind the times retreads, like Duquette, et al. Klentak was MacPhail’s hand-picked and groomed protege with the Os. Watch him blossom…and I promise I’ll say, “I told you so”.

      “PA thinks he is a genius but is threatened by anyone who has an idea which was not approved by the BOSS. Allowing bright capable people to leave an organization is stupid and near sighted. He is right up there with Dan Snyder.”

  23. What’s everyone’s thoughts on the following players staying on the 40 man roster if they don’t make it on the Phillies 25 man shortly after the summer trade deadline (or sooner)?

    Alec Asher

    Jesse Biddle – will or can he go on the 60 day disabled list – ?

    David Buchanan

    Severino Gonzalez

    Matt Harrison – If he gets off the DL I assume he will get a stint in the minors to rehab and then????

    Colton Murray

    Was not going to add Neris or Hollands or some of the other bullpen pieces who are borderline to make the 7 since they usually keep a few arms for depth at Lehigh, but you can chime in on them or any others if you think they have a chance of being dropped from the 40 man (we know what happens to the rule 5’s so no need to discuss them)

    1. I think MAG will be released and I think Sev could be released or traded. Murray, Neris, and Hollands will be part of the LHV pen with Windle and Cordero. I think Buchannan will be retained as a depth starter but I think Asher could make the majors as the long man. Of course, if Asher goes to LHV as a depth starter instead, Buchannan could be gone. Harrison may stay on the DL

      1. There is no reason to release MAG. He made it through waivers and is not eligible for FA and we still owe him a pile of $$. He will be tried as a reliever this year or he will be on the DL, but what is the point is releasing him?

    2. They aren’t going to release Harrison who’s under major league contract. He’s either on the DL or in the rotation.

      Biddle will eventually transfer to the 60-day DL. Ironic that his injury is probably the only thing keeping him in the organization. When he’s finally healthy, he’ll pass through waivers without a problem but can he then elect ml free agency? I’m not sure. A few things are for certain, Biddle will spend the entire 2016 season on the DL and the Phillies won’t keep him on the 40-man once he’s fully healthy sometime in late 2016. I wonder then if Biddle has pitched his last pitch for the organization. I admittedly have not thought this threw entirely – if anyone has thoughts to the contrary please share

      As for Asher, Buchanan, Severino and Murray, I’d say Buchanan probably has the most to prove after a brutal 2015. Still, he did put together a decent string of starts to end 2015 and he was effective if unspectacular over 20 starts in 2014 (ERA3.75 / FIP4.34) – but he also turns 27 in May, making him the oldest of the group.

      I’m not sure any of these guys are truly at risk for leaving the organization entirely. Perhaps Buchanan if the Phillies try to slide him through waivers in the final weeks of spring training. Still, I’d find it most likely that all remain with the organization next year

      1. Ya I didn’t think they would release Harrison but can they designate him for assignment and off the 40 man? My guess is that he will have a long stint at AAA when he does come off to rehab.

        Ya we will see if Biddle stays in the Mayo Phils top 30. If he is valued by others and starts to look go rehabbing late this year maybe he gets traded? I stillthink since he was a #1 pick that someone will scoop him up if they tried to take him off the 40 man. It would be nice if we got something for him if the Phils have given up on him.

        My thought for doing the original post is that they will need room on the 40 man if any of the bull pen arms who are not on the 40 man make the club. Also room if they bring anyone else in…although most other positions would require someone going anyway. Like if Crawford gets hot and they bring him up before the trade deadline probably you trade (for prospects) either Blanco, Hernandez, or Galvis?

        1. Harrison is being carried to collect the insurance on his contract. With his severe back problems and surgically fused vertebrae, it is highly unlikely he pitches in MLB again. If not for the insurance payout possibility, he’d already be off the 40.

          1. I forgot about the insurance money and how that might be affected if he was taken off the 40 man, so does everyone does think that is the main reason why they have to keep him there?

            1. I agree for the most part. But I believe he’ll be held out at least 3/4th of the season, no matter how healthy he is, in order to collect the insurance for this season.

            2. I might be dead wrong. But a lot of players cant get insured. The premiums are crazy. Maybe you have some inside info if he is insured? He seems like a high risk guy to insure with his back issues.

          2. Harrison threw 6 innings of shutout baseball in his next to last start in Texas. I don’t understand your dire prediction. He had bounce back issues but I’ve gotten no indication he had a medical setback. I think there’s a better case to be made that he will get MLB innings in ’16 and the extent of use will depend upon efficiency and resiliency. Given that he could have walked away with his guaranteed money, I’m not betting against him. I look for him to be on minor league rehab starting at the beginning of the season.

    3. Biddle will go on the DL. He will need time to regain what he had. The Phils will probably keep him around off the 40 to see what he can do. He may be taken by another team just to see if he can regain his curve ball.
      Buchanan will be in the LHV rotation to fill in when needed. He has no upside, but he has pitched effectively in the majors. Why not keep him?
      Asher needs command to pitch effectively. He will be on the LHV rotation to see if he can improve the command.
      Gonzalez is young. He was rushed through the minors. He could start the season on the 40 man roster, but he will not stay there if he does not improve. Off the 40 man roster he may be snatched up on waivers by another team.
      Harrison will be on the DL. They will keep him on the 40 man roster if he comes off the DL just to see if he can still pitch. Rehab will be long.
      Murray will stay on the 40 man and be in the LHV or the Phils’ bullpen, as will Neris and Hollands.

      1. ML Rotation: Nola, Hellickson, Morton, Oberholtzer, Eickhoff
        LV Rotation: Velasquez, Thompson, Eflin, Morgan, Asher

        Buchanan doesn’t have a spot in either the Major league or AAA rotation. He’s not good enough to beat out any of the Projected Major league guys (or Morgan) and he is not good enough to impede the progress of real prospects. The only way I see him in the organization is due to injury or as a AAA long man.

        1. OMG shame at my age,, another 100 Loss season with that rotation. Well only hope is that the rebuild wont take 5 more years/ That rotation imo stinks.

          1. It is not going to be 100-loss season and certainly not ‘another’, because we didn’t actually quite lose 100 last season, although 99 is an awfully good facsimile. The team actually did better after some of the older players were traded. Utley was pretty much the worst player on the team last season.

        2. Agree with the ML rotation, though I still think Velasquez in Philly’s pen to start makes a lot of sense. His innings will need to be managed to perhaps no more than 150. He could then move into the rotation in July.

          I don’t see Appel, or Lively, in your LC rotation. And Severino may not be particularly interesting, but he’s going to be in the organization to start the season. Same for Buchanan.

          At LV, there are three absolute locks for me. Appel, JThompson, and Lively. Eflin, if only due to his age, can start at Reading without hurting his development, but I definitely think he starts at LV nonetheless. So that’s four. Morgan is five and Buchanan, who can give the Phillies innings in a pinch, will certainly have a spot in LV. So that’s six without accounting for Asher and Severino. At least one of these guys will start off in extended training or the DL, and if LV goes with 6 turns there will be plenty of spots available to accommodate these arms. Maybe Buchanan won’t be part of the 2017 plan, but he’s certainly viewed as a part of the contingency going into 2016. You don’t actually think they’ll release him?

          1. Based on his prospect status, Appel to the LV rotation is likely. But I think he could be held back early in the season, to work on his 2-seamer, because he wasn’t great in AA or AAA last year. It would be very hard to get good results in AAA, while working on a pitch he hasn’t thrown in two years. But if Appel is placed in the AAA rotation, obviously it won’t be a surprise.

            Lively and Pivetta didn’t pass AA last year. They’re not getting promoted to the AAA rotation. Lively will be in Reading’s rotation with Pinto, Richy and Liebrandt. Pivetta and/or Imhoff will either fill out the AA rotation or begin their inevitable transformation to the bull-pen relief.

            1. That’s an interesting thought on Appel. Never watched him pitch but after watching Biddle for the past 3 years. I think psych plays into this as much as the other factors and I wonder how the org could spin it to boost his ego if he was not in the AAA rotation?

            2. So matter of fact. You must have the inside scoop. I’ll disregard Pivetta since he hadn’t been previously mentioned anyway and was never a candidate for the LV rotation to begin with (Pivetta has only 43 IPs at the AA level with a ERA north of 7.00). But Lively has a full season (25 starts – 143 IP) at the AA level where he held his own to a 4.15 ERA. He’ll turn 24 the first week of March – I’m not sure there is anyone more certain to begin the year in the LV rotation than Lively, except perhaps Appel.

              As for Buchanan, he has a better chance of making the opening day rotation than he does of getting waived. No joke. This is not to say that Buchanan has any ‘realistic’ chance of making the opening day rotation – he doesn’t. And while his long-term hold on a roster spot is certainly in jeopardy, he’ll serve as a contingency at LV.

              Consider for a moment; you really don’t want to call up JThompson, Eflin or Appel as the first line should injuries require you to look to the pharm. Each of these guys need seasoning in AAA and it would stand contrary to a rebuild effort to call them up early. If Velasquez is in LV’s rotation to start, which I do not personally believe, he’d only be in there for development reasons himself.

              So if Nola, Hellickson, Morton, Oberholtzer, Eickhoff is your OD rotation, who’s number 6? 7? I’m going to say it’s Morgan at 6 and Buchanan at 7. We also need to consider that not all of these guys will be healthy out of spring training. In fact, I would be surprised if he sign another SP before we break camp. It’s not as if we owe Oberholtzer a starter’s role, and it’s not as if any of our current starters have a shot at reaching 200 IPs, save for Nola. Buchanan and his major league experience will keep him around at least for the first part of 2016

            3. Steve…as for Oberholtzer, agree, he has no options left from what I understand, so he more or less is on the 25…as a starter or reliever.

          2. Forgot to answer the last part. As I said before: Yes. I think Buchanan gets cut, unless hes made into an AAA long man or there are multiple injuries within the group of Nola, Hellickson, Oberholtzer, Morton, Eickhoff, Morgan and Velasquez. Buchanan isn’t one of the top 7 candidates for the ML Rotation, he has no trade value and he there are too many prospects that need spots in the AAA rotation. In a situation like that, guys get cut.

        3. Basically agree except that Appel will be in the Iron Pigs’ rotation and someone will be laid up to start the season.

  24. Good thoughts on all the above posts on the Phils and LHV rotations and some on how it effects the 40 man in reference to the others.

    It would seems from everyone’s posts I read and looking at the 40 man that there is a real log jam with keeping Buchanan, Sev, and Acher on the 40 man if one or more of them can’t crack the rotation or be effective bullpen piece…or God forbid a two or three injuries shutting down SP’s for Phils and Pigs.

    Spring Training should be very interesting. Hopefully I’ll catch some of you when I’m down there. in a couple months!

    1. Just thinking after I posted this that it is a real testimony to the org over the past year that three young starting pitchers; Buch (15), Asher (7), Sev (7), who accounted for enough starts as a fulltime SP are now in doubt to make the AAA rotation. Although it also says how depleted the org was at the start of last year.

      Either way from a half full perspective its good that the org has taken the step up and made some marginal guys…..marginal.

        1. What did he make in P’burg last year? I would think with options it might have been more??

          I was not surprised because he felt jilted by the Phils. He drank the cool aid that the Phils were going to be contenders when he signed the contract with them.

          I figured that if had a chance to go back to P’burg he would decline the option even if it meant loosing a few mil.

  25. On another half full perspective you had; Harang – 29 starts, Williams 21, Buch 15, Buch 15, Sev/Asher, 14, SOS Osullivan 13, DL Billings 7, Correia 5, Au/Mc 2.

    I mean with that crew keeping you under 100 losses, I got to believe we can do better than that this year!!!!!!!!

      1. Ya, to funny, if you look at it from that perspective its like Lehigh Valley and Reading are your “Meld”. You know your not going to win it with the 25 points (man roster) you can get from playing your hand at the start of 2016 🙂

        1. rocco….Nick Williams is coming to Philly next Sunday for the first time…..meet him at the airport and show him the sites around the city, okay.:)

            1. rocco…..I knew you come thru….cheerleaders though!
              He however, may have his gal with him, so better table that.
              BTW…….lefty Brett Oberholtzer may have been look upon by some, as just a ‘throw-in’ in the Giles trade/return package.
              However when you look carefully at his metrics in his first 254 innings pitched in the MLB, versus those of a true number one pitcher like his former teammate LHP Dallas Keuchel and his first two years of 239 innings pitched , there are similarities and in some cases Brett Oberholtzer has slightly better results:
              Oberholtzer:
              IP—–254
              H/9—9.9
              HR/9—.8
              BB/9—2.1
              SO/9—5.9
              WHIP—1.3
              W/L—–9-18
              FIP——-3.72
              ERA——3.94
              Keuchel:
              IP——239
              H/9—-10.4
              HR/9—1.3
              BB/9—3.2
              SO/9—6.1
              WHIP—1.5
              W/L—–9-18
              FIP——-4.71
              ERA——5.19
              ………..looks like Matt Klentak has found his future lefty ace in Oberholtzer.
              Ok, temper that a little …maybe a decent 4 or 5 from the portside anyway.

            1. rocco…dunno.
              JimPeyton may know who will be there later this month at the complex getting some early workouts in.

            2. The Phillies are conducting open tryouts at the Complex January 20-24. Okay, just kidding. That is when they have Phantasy Camp. Any players using the Complex would have to move over to Bright House for those 5 days. The campers have the run of the Complex, then take over Bright House on the 24th.

Comments are closed.