2017 Spring Training, Full Squad, 2/17

The first full squad practice finally arrived and attendance picked up.  Now, I can stop focusing on that each day.  It’s still not as high as in 2014, but it’s better than it has been. New signage is nearing completion.  Spectrum Field sign finally on the stadium.  New additions added to the scoreboards on Roberts and Ashburn.

New panels added above the scoreboards on Roberts and Ashburn Fields

I ran a little late this morning so of course the players were on Schmidt Field early as I passed the Complex on route 19.  Fortunately their stretching and calisthenics take about 15 minutes before baseball drill begin.  They started with PFPs and reverted back to splitting the pitchers into two groups on just two fields.  Pitchers stand around a lot waiting for their turn on the mound.  However, that was the only wasted time this morning. The coaches kept the players working until after 12:30.  Seemed like a long day.  I loved it.

The PFPs were similar to the drills they ran earlier in the week except that now they had fielders at the bases instead of pitchers and coaches.  To some extent, the pitchers were window dressing while the infielders got up to speed on the defensive drills.

Tirado, Elniery Garcia, Viza, Miguel Nunez, Leiter, Arano, “third base”, and Hinojosa waiting their turn as Thompson takes the mound. There’s a longer line on the third base line of pitchers who are waiting after their turns

Eventually, the pitchers (Burnett, Neshek, Buchholz, and Hellickson) went to the Seven Mounds to get their mound work in while infielders and outfielders got in their fielding work.  Knapp took some balls at first base.  It soon became evident that the pitchers were doing more than getting their work in, they were warming up to pitch live batting practice. Woohoo!

I was at Roberts Field when live BP started and decided to watch Goeddel, Williams, Knapp, and Cozens bat off Sean Burnett.  Drew Anderson followed Burnett.  Normally, during live BP, the batters just provide a token strike zone for the pitcher.  Apparently, these guys didn’t get the memo.  Or maybe the live BP philosophy has changed.  In any event, Cozens then Williams took some aggressive swings followed by Knapp.  Goeddel then fell into step with them.

This is not to imply that the foursome pummeled Burnett’s offerings, but some solid contact was established.  Of particular note, Cozens lashed a tough drive down the first base line (that would likely have been a hard play for a first baseman), ripped a line drive to left (that would have been a certain base hit, maybe a double), and drove a ball down the right field line (that had double written all over it, I yelled out “triple”).  These were notable because they came off a major league caliber left-handed pitcher.  Even more interesting was that he didn’t offer at a curve ball off the plate, the kind that Howard used to miss late in his career.

Anderson looked good.  He smiled smugly when he got his second pitch past Cozens.  I would have loved to hear the banter between them.

Alberto Tirado was the third and final pitcher to throw “live” on Roberts.  He faced Featherston, Alfaro, Quinn, and Kingery.

Regular BP followed and I slipped over to Carlton Field to watch Herrera, Blanco, Hernandez, and one pf the FA catchers.  Hernandez ended his session with two balls over the LF fence.  After the first one, I muttered “hey, watch my car”.  After the second one, which was closer to the fair pole, I got a little louder (I’m not kidding, watch my car!”.   I was mostly trying to get my friends to laugh, but the players heard and Blanco, Herrera, and Hernandez turned and laughed.

Back on Roberts, the guys were all driving balls over the fence.  Cozens hits high towering balls.  One hit the new scoreboard in left.  Another caromed off the top panel of the batter’s eye in dead center field.  Williams showed decent power from left center to right under the watchful gazes of Matt Stairs and Matt Klentak.  Knapp countered with blasts from both sides of the plate.  And even Goeddel bounced one off the scoreboard.

Alfaro followed in group two with several line drives that cleared the fence from left to left center.  Even Kingery who I have described as a slap hitter in recent conversations showed power to his pull field.

I noticed that some of the minor league pitchers who are in camp but hadn’t been invited to major league spring training were suited up today –  Miguel Nunez, Mark Leiter, and Tyler Viza.

Viza, Nunez, and Leiter suited up today and took part in drills with those invited to ST. They later threw live BP.

That’s 2008 world series closer Brad Lidge behind the screen.  He signed a couple dozen autographs afterwards.  I waited ’til he was done and shook his hand (I don’t do the autograph thing) and thanked him for 2008.  He was appreciative.  Notice that Viza is pitching live BP without a protective screen in front.

Earlier Klentak passed close enough in a light blue polo shirt.  I asked him if he was aware that our primary color was red.  He stopped long enough to explain that he had the option of only red for 5 years and liked that the Phillies had so many other options.  I’ve successfully laid the groundwork to ask him who they are targeting in the 2017 Rule 4 Draft, dontcha think?

Just before that, I had pointed out to our group that Klentak never seems to wear red.  I stopped when I felt a presence to my left on the other side of the fence.  Don’t want to get caught talking about the GM if one of his underlings is too close, no matter how silly the comment.  Turned out to be Matt Gelb.

I said “hi” and told him I read him to stay up on the Phillies and thanked him for his article a few years ago on the luxury tax limit.  His article provided me with the background and confidence to begin commenting on Phuture Phillies.  When I introduced myself he recognized my name and said he reads Phuture Phillies.  Pretty cool, huh.

I commented on the unavailability of the CBA and Matt said the teams don’t even have the final copy yet. There is one change that he was able to verify.  The Rangers added Prince Fielder and Jake Diekman to the 60-day DL on Tuesday.  Matt verified that one new change was that teams could add players to the “60” on the first day of spring workouts. Previously, players couldn’t be added until the end of spring training.

Oh, Darin Ruf’s contract was sold to a team in the Korean Baseball League.  I had reported a while back that they had expressed a 7-figure interest in Ruf back before he was traded to the Dodgers.  Today the Dodgers tendered the contractual rights and Ruf will receive $1.1M in salary, a considerable increase over the major league minimum or the more likely AAA salary he would have received in 2017.


34 thoughts on “2017 Spring Training, Full Squad, 2/17

  1. Jim, you sound like a young boy in a candy store and why not? Just livin’ the dream. I’ll be in Florida in a couple of weeks but I’ll be in Fort Myers visiting the out-laws. They’re from Chicago so there will be no Phillies games for me. So close… and yet so far. Reading your articles makes me feel like I’m sitting right next to you. Keep up the great work.

    1. bellman,

      Phillies have a split-squad game with the Twins on the 9th. Maybe you can slip away from the outlaws for a few hours.

      I normally would go to that game but am on a business trip that week. However, I’ll be at the full-squad game against the Twins on the 22d. Also will get to nearby games like when they visit the Rays and O’s.

    2. Jim,

      Of course Matt Gelb reads Phuture Phillies. Who wouldn’t?

      My guess is that Klentak takes a peek now and then, too. Probably more often.

      BTW, there’s been some funny fan comments about Klentak’s powder blue on Philly.com. One of my favorites referred to his Cooperstown Collection Warm Up Jacket.

      Great job, as always!

  2. I’m interested in any Brock Stassi updates. Heard he was play some OF. If he can handle that I guess he could be in bench mix, however he is not on the 40 man which could become an obstacle.

  3. Now that was fun to read, Jim! Especially the parts where balls are flying over fences. Thanks.

    One question – any no shows?

  4. Good report Jim,
    And interesting the new CBA now allows early 60-day DL additions.
    Gives GMs more flexibility with the 40, especially when the injuries start to come in ST.

  5. Wow just read an article that Hernandez has added 15 pounds of muscle over the winter and now he’s smashing homeruns. Great stuff’ thanks Jim.

    1. We need less home runs from our DP duo and more line drives. If Cesar could hit 300 with 30 steals he’d score 100 runs. We wouldn’t be looking to replace him then either.

      1. With Cesar, it’s about driving the ball and racking up more extra base hits. There may be a few more homers, but they will be incidental. His second half of the season, he was a very good player – borderline excellent. You can look at the bone-headed things he sometimes does as proof that he is not good. I would prefer to think of them as areas where he can improve so he can go from being just a good player to a top notch player. We keep giving away Cesar’s position – but there’s no reason to do that. He’s a very good player and, at the very least, he can improve his trade value to us.

  6. Catch, I enjoyed the article the other day where Mickey Morandini, I always think of Harry K. when I say his name, talked about Cesar. Fully acknowledged the bone headed base running, but he thinks that Cesar can steal 30 bases, says he is very coachable, and studying tape will give him a better feel for the jump to take and pitchers’ moves, especially the slide step. I don’t know what went on before, but some guys just need time to learn things, and I am very hopeful that Cesar is even a better player this year. I have said before, if someone then beats him out in the future, that means we have one helluva player, if he is better than Cesar.

    1. I too am encouraged to see Cesar adding strength, mainly for durability. The jury is out on whether he’s been taking his fish oil supplements. In any case, we have considerable depth (VALUE) at 2b. Let’s see how it plays out. We’ll know by September 1, if not a month earlier.

    2. matt13…….Cesar should easily steal 30 bases.
      He had 17 last year, and he was CS 13 times, I am wiling to bet half, maybe 5, of those CS were either over-running the bag and 2 or 3 just plain lack-of-focus getting picked off first or second base.
      The lessons he learned manifested themselves in his excellent July-September production.

      1. Romus, the article about Cesar pointed out that he had 14 of those stolen bases in the last three months. I think it also said just one of the caught stealing, too, though I don’t have the article in front of me. At any rate, maintaining that base would get him there.

          1. Frank….he was SB14-CS8 in the last three months, and his first two months he was 3-5. In July alone , however he was only caught once and swiped seven.
            You are correct, he should reach 30 if he gets on base like he did his second half of the season.

            1. Its the base running instincts with Cesar. He is faster than Utley but Utley has the instincts of a base runner that is why he has such an incredible SB%. If Cesar is coached to the point he understands and sees where he is tipping his hand than he can easily cut the base running mistakes in half. Cesar is a very likely candidate to lead team in BA and OBP if he can put it all together.

            2. Bob D….agree. He has the raw skills and knows what he has to do to make the adjustments. Just a matter of confidence and execution.

  7. Early spring prediction for division:
    1 Nats, they won’t win 90 games but take division by default.
    2 Phillies – 82 wins!!
    3 Mets – it’ll be between us and them for 2nd
    4 Braves – improve to low-70s in wins
    5 Fish – that organization is a disaster led by arguably the worst owner in pro sports

  8. Jim was nice to meet you today. Williams seems to be hitting ball well, he was batting in rotation with Cozens heard some nice cracks of the bat thought it was Cozens and it was Williams.

  9. To think that 5 of the 8 starting positions could conceivably turn over this season between opening day and Aug 1 makes it an especially interesting one to follow.

    Joseph will likely get a full season to establish himself. Even if he doesn’t hit for avg I see serious power numbers for him.

    This is a big year for Franco to show that he’s coachable.

    Herrera will be moved ONLY for a haul comparable to Giles or Hamels if he picks up where he left off, and depending on where the club is standings wise.

    Saunders and Kendrick are likely gone by Aug 1 one way or another.

    Rupp could either be traded if he continues as he’s been or transition to Alfaro’s backup if not. His game calling is his X factor.

    Cesar H will get the most scrutiny, not because he won’t be productive, but whether who’s on the way projects to be better instinctively.

    1. Every spot on the roster except 3B will be competitively decided this year, including the rotation and even the bullpen and the bench. Every prospect at AA and AAA will know there’s a competition and a chance. It’s really a very unique situation.

  10. I am getting very excited for Cesar Hernandez. Having a 5 WAR 2b potentially with high OBP could really change the offensive dynamic.

    1. Understand Cesar gained up to 17 lbs of muscle working out hard with the weights in Miami in the off-season with some Yankee players. Hopefully that translates into more production for him.

        1. Two things that will be the biggest signs of a true rebuild are the kids’ added strength/conditioning and how they respond to Stairs by improving their approach at the plate. JPC has that pretty much down. If he’s healthy (which I don’t think he was last season = nagging injuries + lacking strength). Good thing for competitive “keep up with the Joneses” among the young and hungry.

    2. Exactly! There are a lot of things about this team that are a bit tough to piece together. Like who are going to end up being the elite starters and the power production going forward. What is more clear, however, is how this team could create an extremely strong top of the line-up core with Hernandez, Crawford and Herrera getting on base a ton and setting the table for the rest of the team. Once that top of the line-up is set and each getting on base at a .360-.400 OBP clip, the addition of slugger or two is going to be huge (and it’s even possible the sluggers will emerge internally). Speaking of sluggers that contract to Saunders was a thing of beauty. If it doesn’t work out, it’s no big deal, but if it does they can flip him or keep him for two years. I’m not sure why he failed so badly in the second half of last year, but if he can figure it out, he could be a beast. He was a force at the plate in the first half of last year.

  11. I was looking at Chase Utley numbers he’s real close to hof numbers. Funny on the active hit list if someone can give me # 8 wilhout looking he’s the man.

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