Scouting Reports, 2014 Projections for Phillies’ Pitchers and Catchers

January 31, 2014 by Alec Snyder  
Filed under Fan News

The Philadelphia Phillies' offseason is mercifully coming to a close. After a winter that saw a few too many bad contracts signed, fans would like to see what this supposedly-revamped team is capable of doing.

With pitchers and catchers set to report to spring training by February 12—just 13 days from now—some familiar and new faces will head down to Clearwater to show the team what they've got. Some of these players will make the team, while others will head to the minors for the start of the season or be cut from the organization altogether.

Keeping that in mind, here are scouting reports and 2014 projections for the Phillies' pitchers and catchers.

Begin Slideshow

Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Is the Phillies’ or Yankees’ Aging Roster the Bigger Risk in 2014?

January 28, 2014 by Joe Giglio  
Filed under Fan News

When the Phillies and Yankees arrive for full-squad workouts in Clearwater and Tampa, Fla., respectively, a fountain of youth will be as necessary as cleats, gloves and bats.

Heading into the 2014 season, both the Phillies and Yankees are really, really old. The 2009 World Series combatants are five years removed from a date in late October, but it feels like an eternity since the two heavy-spending franchises had prime-aged stars to deliver postseason success.

In reality, both teams should be concerned with age, injuries and ineffectiveness in 2014. Yet, of the two, the Phillies' issues and risks stands out.

According to MLB Depth Charts' projected rosters, Philadelphia is poised to field an everyday lineup with an average age of 31.1. In New York, that number is 33.5. Those numbers, taken on the surface, give an edge to Philadelphia and place an aura of youth around one of these two aging teams. Yet, as we'll get to below, the numbers can be deceiving. 

The respective starting rotations both skew over age 30 for an average number, but this time, Philadelphia projects as the more grizzled group. In fact, if the Yankees award their fifth-starter role to 25-year-old Michael Pineda, a former top rookie with the Seattle Mariners, the group would project to an average age of 29.6.

While that's far from young, it represents progress for an aging team.

Before spending the rest of this column underscoring why the Phillies are in so much trouble in 2014, let's acknowledge the issues in New York.

After spending over $500 million on talent this winter, the Yankees aren't a finished product, the best team in their own division or a lock for the postseason. If that isn't eye-opening enough, consider this: Despite losing both 44-year-old Mariano Rivera and 41-year-old Andy Pettitte to retirement, the Yankees head into 2014 as an older baseball team.

As Joel Sherman of the New York Post pointed out, not one member of New York's starting lineup will be under age 30 when the season begins.

In a division that includes the defending champion Red Sox, the young, smart, evolving Rays, talent-rich Orioles and bounce-back candidate in the Blue Jays, the recipe for disappointment is prevalent in the Bronx.

The Yankees have issues, but the Phillies are in crisis mode. 

Here's why: New York, despite its age, restocked the franchise with prime-age stars, hoping their star-level can elevate the rest of an over-the-hill roster. 

By acquiring Jacoby Ellsbury (30), Brian McCann (29) and Masahiro Tanaka (25), the Yankees committed roughly $60.1 million, per Cot's Baseball Contracts, to three potential All-Stars in 2014. Those players, unlike supplementary pieces added in Philadelphia, are expected to carry older Yankees through transition years.

If Derek Jeter stumbles in his age-40 season or Mark Teixeira can't rebound from wrist surgery in his mid-30s, the new Yankees are in tow to pick up the slack. 

Yes, the Phillies can boast three projected starters—Cody Asche, Domonic Brown and Ben Revere—under age 30, something the Yankees can only dream of with the roster construction. As Jerry Crasnick of ESPN put it, Asche, Brown and Revere are the only three Phillies starters born after the 1970s. 

Outside of Brown's All-Star appearance serving as the potential for bigger things in 2014, the Phillies are still relying on a core that has seen its time come and go.

The following chart illustrates the problem in Philadelphia. A franchise once built upon a relentless, bludgeoning offensive attack has been rendered meek. 

Instead of retooling with new, late-20s or early-30s stars to refuel the attack, Philadelphia has added age and banked on returns to health from aging former stars like Ryan Howard. 

Marlon Byrd, one of general manager Ruben Amaro's major moves this winter, will be a 36-year-old outfielder in 2014. For most teams, handing a player like that a multiyear deal would be foolhardy. For the Phillies, it was a priority. 

Showing how seamlessly he'll fit into the culture at Citizens Bank Park, Byrd spoke about the misconception around age with Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly.

"All of us do. You keep hearing old, old, old ... we're not an old team," Byrd said. "We can still play. Once you can't play, then you're old. We still have a lot in the tank, we just to have to show that and stay healthy."

Judging by the chart above, Byrd's assertion is wrong. While he had an excellent bounce-back season last year at age 35, the core of the Phillies still can't play. Or, at the very least, can't play at the level it once did. 

Of course, not all of Philadelphia's successful teams led the league in OPS. In 2011, the franchise won 102 games on the strength of pitching and a mediocre offensive attack. Led by Cliff Lee (35) and Cole Hamels (30), the front of the rotation is still outstanding, but the back—Kyle Kendrick, Miguel Gonzalez, Roberto Hernandez—leaves something to be desired.

According to Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News, the Phillies rotation pitched to a 5.31 ERA in 66 games after the All-Star break last summer.
 

In order for an above-average staff to emerge, Lee and Hamels will have to pitch like they are each in their 20s. During a primer on the Phillies' season for CSN, Jim Salisbury raised the following point, likely sending chills down the spine of Phillies fans: 

"Want to feel old? Hamels turned 30 last month. And though he’s still younger than many of his teammates, he knows his baseball clock is ticking."

If Hamels' clock is ticking, the franchise is running out of time to compete.
 

When Jesse Spector of Sporting News made his picks for 2014, he picked the Phillies to finish dead last in the NL East. That sentiment, while extreme, could be echoed by other voices that cover the sport on a national level.

In New York, despite the aforementioned issues, expect more postseason predictions than last-place proclamations from the media.

While it wouldn't be a shock to see both New York and Philadelphia on the outside of the postseason picture, the more dire situation is emerging within the Phillies organization. The team is old, added players with little left in the tank and could be worse than the 73-win outfit of last season.

It's too early to raise the white flag, but dark clouds are hanging over a Phillies team that still believes it can compete.

 

Agree? Disagree?

Comment, follow me on Twitter or "like" my Facebook page to talk all things baseball. 

Read more Philadelphia Phillies news on BleacherReport.com

Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

2014 Predictions for Philadelphia Phillies’ Offseason Acquisitions

January 26, 2014 by PHIL KEIDEL  
Filed under Fan News

As Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com aptly put it, the Phillies are "giving off a bit of an 'all good things must come to an end' vibe this winter."

Crasnick noted that a significant reason for the unsettling feeling is "the team's roster moves have been less compelling" than either the announcement of its new television contract or the dispatching of Chris Wheeler and Gary Matthews from the broadcast booth.

It is almost never a good thing when the off-the-field issues are more interestingexciting?than the team that will take the field. But look at these acquisitions and judge for yourself whether they were interesting or exciting.

Assuming there are no further acquisitions, Marlon Byrd was the big prize of the offseason.

Yeah, that Marlon Byrd.

The 36-year-old went from being nearly out of baseball entirely in 2012 to a comeback in 2013 and now a two-year, $16 million contract from the Phillies.

Byrd's slash line (home runs/runs batted in/batting average) in 2013 was 24/88/.291. The Phillies would take another season like that right now and never look back.

Unfortunately, Byrd's slash lines in 2011 and 2012 were 9/35/.276 and 1/9/.210.

Because Byrd is almost guaranteed a ton of at-bats this season, his counting numbers should be decent. There is no safe projection of his batting average, though. A line of 18/75/.267 in 140 games feels about right.

Roberto Hernandez (formerly Fausto Carmona) got a one-year deal worth $4.5 million after having an unspectacular 2013 for Tampa Bay. 

Hernandez is going to eat innings as the Phillies' fourth starter. If you disregard his disastrous 2012 season, Hernandez has taken the ball a lot since 2010. Unfortunately for the Phillies, he often ends up taking a new ball from the umpire after the one he just threw left the yard.

The right-hander surrendered 24 home runs in 151 innings, pitching half his games in pitcher-friendly Tampa last season. Hernandez will now throw in the not-so-friendly confinesfor pitchers, anywayof Citizens Bank Park for half of 2014.

Hernandez was 6-13 with an earned run average just under five and 113 strikeouts in 2013 for a good Rays team. In Philadelphia, to hope for much better than that record with a lower ERA and a few more strikeouts is probably asking too much.

There are other names on the Phillies' transaction listWil Nieves, Brad Lincoln, Sean O'Sullivan—but only Nieves seems likely to come north from Clearwater and will do so only as a backup to Carlos Ruiz.

The most interesting story in spring training is likely to be Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez. Since Marc Normandin of SBNation noted that Gonzalez's "physical cost him tens of millions of dollars," projecting the 27-year-old's performance would be rank guesswork.

Even more so than predicting what Byrd or Hernandez will do, of course.

Read more Philadelphia Phillies news on BleacherReport.com

Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Philadelphia Phillies: How Real Is the Interest in A.J. Burnett?

January 23, 2014 by Pete Dymeck  
Filed under Fan News

If Philadelphia Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. were to hop out of a DeLorean DMC-12 with a freshly minted contract for Doug Glanville, would anybody be surprised?

The apparent mantra for the Phillies this offseason is to dig in with older veterans who only have to prove they can still leg it out to first base without pulling their groin. Therefore, it should be no surprise that the Phillies are interested in pitcher A.J. Burnett should he play in 2014.

According to Jayson Stark of ESPN.com, the Phillies "would still have interest" in the 37-year-old righty should he decide not to hang up his cleats. If Stark is tweeting such, it is legitimate.

One only has to peek at what the Phillies have in store for their rotation to understand where the team is probably coming from.

After Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee, the Phillies are going to have to select from Kyle Kendrick, Jonathan Pettibone, Roberto Hernandez, Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez and possibly Chad Gaudin to round out the rotation. While Gaudin seems the unlikeliest of the latter due to signing a minor league deal with the Phillies, the competition for the back end of the Phillies is rotting with mediocrity.

And just think, Amaro wants you to believe the Phillies can compete for a pennant in 2014.

I'm not suggesting the acquisition of Burnett would put the Phillies over the top in a bulky National League East. After all, the Washington Nationals and Atlanta Braves are currently composed of players that would blow the doors off Amaro's DeLorean

What I am saying is an acquisition of Burnett would make the Phillies a much more formidable foe. They would need everyone to remain healthy and play at a caliber they haven't played at since 2011. Even then, mystical forces would have to be at work for the Nationals and Braves to falter below Philadelphia's demarcation.

Over the past two seasons, Burnett was one of the better arms in the National League. As ace of the Pittsburgh Pirates, the righty posted a 26-21 record with an ERA of 3.41. By helping the fans of the Steel City get re-accustomed to raising the Jolly Roger, Burnett will forever be memorialized among the legends of Pirates baseball, even if his tenure was only two seasons.

All things considered, no one should be surprised if the Phillies pursue Burnett. Amaro and the organization were quick to hitch their wagon to 36-year-old Marlon Byrd. In order to fortify their 2003 reunion, they landed Bobby Abreu via a minor league contract. Contrary to the aforementioned veterans, Burnett could be more of a difference-maker in Philadelphia's pinstripes.

With a crowded back end of the rotation, uncertainty is abound. Without any evident direction, Amaro could pull off a deal with Burnett so long as he intends to continue his career. But then again, it could be another demonstration in baseball transaction-making where the Phillies' GM whiffs harder than Pedro Cerrano.

Needless to say, the Phillies' interest in Burnett is real. If it weren't, longtime baseball writer, and author of Phillies' books, Jayson Stark wouldn't put his neck on the line saying so.

 

All statistics provided courtesy of FanGraphs.

Read more Philadelphia Phillies news on BleacherReport.com

Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Philadelphia Phillies: Breaking Down Bobby Abreu and Chad Gaudin

January 22, 2014 by Pete Dymeck  
Filed under Fan News

What do the Philadelphia Phillies, a medical gurney and a year absence from baseball have in common? They are all intertwined via two recent acquisitions for an organization on the fritz.

A pair of veteran big leaguers just recently came to terms with the Phillies. While the contracts are both minor league deals with invitations to spring training, the signings reek of what's to come for the Phillies organization in 2014.

Recently acquired right-handed pitcher Chad Gaudin, a veteran who has donned the uniform of 10 teams since 2003, will earn $750,000 if he makes the roster in 2014. As a ground-ball pitcher, Gaudin was overly effective in San Francisco last season after fluttering each season since 2006 with Oakland.

On the plus side, Gaudin's 2013 ERA of 3.06 was far from lucky as his Fielder Independent Pitching (FIP) indicates. In 2013, Gaudin lauded a 3.34 FIP, a career-best and improvement from his previous summum bonum a year earlier.

Being far from lucky in one aspect doesn't mean luck didn't strike for the righty elsewhere. He posted an abnormally high 77.7 percent strand rate. Among qualifying pitchers, this would have nestled Gaudin right in front of Matt Harvey (77.4) and behind Anibal Sanchez (78.2). Simply put, Gaudin is not that good.

As a versatile arm, the Phillies could potentially benefit from what the soon-to-be 31-year-old presents though. He appears to be a viable option from the bullpen, with the ability to swing to the rotation on an as-needed basis. Last season's 12 starts for the Giants were the first since 2009 though. However, the heavy-handed question marks within Philadelphia leave a lot to be desired and Gaudin's repertoire doesn't blow the doors off of any clubhouse.

Noted for being a ground-ball pitcher, Gaudin's 38.4 percent ground-ball rate in '13 isn't very impressive. Comparatively speaking, Justin Masterson led the majors with a 58 percent ground-ball rate.

What makes this deal bad for Philadelphia is Gaudin's recent run-in with the law a year ago. According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal:

According to police, Gaudin was drunk about 4:30 a.m. when he approached a 23-year-old woman on a gurney at Desert Springs Hospital, three miles east of the Las Vegas Strip.

The woman told police she was lying on a gurney in the emergency room lobby when Gaudin appeared, told her “she was gorgeous” and touched her face and breast, she said.

A witness heard Gaudin say, “I will take care of you, don’t worry about them,” to the woman and then saw him touch her face, leg and breast, according to a police report.

The other acquisition, outfielder Bobby Abreu, sat out the 2013 Major League Baseball season after a diminished attempt to prolong his career the year before. If the former Phillies star can "break camp with the club," he will earn $800,000 in 2014

Set to turn 40 in March, Abreu fits the mold of what the Phillies have been doing roster-wise. He is an aging player, hits left and last saw a morsel of success in 2010. For a team that has struggled with too much left-handed hitting, one has to wonder where Abreu fits within the Phillies lineup should he crack the roster after spring training.

The upside to Abreu is his patience at the plate. He typically posts respectable walk rates even though his strikeout rate has incrementally increased since 2009. Despite age catching up to the former Phillies hero, he could be an upgrade on the bench over John Mayberry Jr. 

Aside from that sad fact, Abreu did have some glorious days in Philadelphia. Despite Jayson Stark's claim that the Abreu-led Phillies were a leaderless clubhouse from 1997 through 2005, Abreu's Home Run Derby win in the 2005 MLB All-Star Game festivities will never be forgotten. However, after a record-breaking performance in that derby, Abreu would go homerless in the 19 games following the All-Star break.

Undeterred by the minor league contracts Gaudin and Abreu received, the signings themselves are reminiscent of the pre-Charlie Manuel skipper days. They are a step in the wrong direction. Sure, neither player is guaranteed a spot on the big league roster for Opening Day, but they are symbolic of the direction Philadelphia is going.

 

Advanced statistics courtesy of FanGraphs.

Read more Philadelphia Phillies news on BleacherReport.com

Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Biggest Winners and Losers from Philadelphia Phillies’ Offseason

January 22, 2014 by Alec Snyder  
Filed under Fan News

With 19 days left until MLB pitchers and catchers have to report to spring training, the 2013-14 offseason is drawing to a close. Although some high-profile names such as Matt Garza, Ubaldo Jimenez and Nelson Cruz remain on the board, they will likely fall into place on new teams once Japanese superstar pitcher Masahiro Tanaka signs with an American team within the next few days.

While some teams still have some shopping to do, for all intents and purposes, the Philadelphia Phillies' offseason has concluded. The only outstanding move remaining is an arbitration settlement or hearing with outfielder Ben Revere, and the only moves to expect aside from that would be of the minor league variety.

As the offseason ends, one of the biggest topics that emerges is who won and who lost. Today, we'll take a look at just who came out on top and who was left in the dust for the Phillies this winter. Without further ado, here are the biggest winners and losers of the Phillies' offseason.

Begin Slideshow

Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Predicting How Each Philadelphia Phillies Arbitration Situation Will Play out

January 19, 2014 by PHIL KEIDEL  
Filed under Fan News

The Philadelphia Phillies' arbitration list was underwhelming even before Kyle Kendrick and John Mayberry Jr. reached terms with the club on one-year deals.

Kendrick will get $7.675 million, per Joel Sherman of the New York Post, after going 10-13 with a 4.70 earned run average on a 73-win team. Mayberry Jr. signed for $1,587,500 after 353 at-bats where he hit .227, according to Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News.

Both of these cases remind of the quote attributed to legendary (for the wrong reasons) baseball general manager Branch Rickey, who told Hall of Fame slugger Ralph Kiner that "we finished in last place with you; we can finish in last place without you."

That the Phillies feel compelled to pay Kendrick and Mayberry Jr. these wages speaks audibly of the trouble the franchise is in.

Two arbitration candidates remain—center fielder Ben Revere and left-handed relief pitcher Antonio BastardoBoth are hoping to become as overpaid as Kendrick and Mayberry Jr.

Per Baseball Prospectus, Revere made $515,000.00 in 2013 and is seeking a raise to $2.425 million in 2014. The Phillies contend Revere should make $1.4 million this season.

Looking over the MLB Trade Rumors 2013 Arbitration Tracker, one-dimensional speed players like Emilio Bonifacio ($2.6 million) and Everth Cabrera ($1.275 million) are not darlings of the arbitration process. After missing half a season with a foot injury, Revere is unlikely to get to $2 million for a 2014 salary. $1.8 million would be a reasonable result for Revere.

Bastardo settled for $1.4 million before arbitration last season. His additional year of service time has upped the range on his potential earnings between the $1.675 million the Phillies want to pay him and the $2.5 million he is asking for.

That Bastardo is asking for such a significant raise after missing 50 games due to suspension redefines hubris. Bastardo is another guy for whom $2 million is just too much. This feels like a $1.9 million outcome.

Ideally the Phillies would avoid arbitration with Revere by extending his contract and let the cards fall where they will with Bastardo, who is probably not in the team's long-term plans.

Regardless, neither player will break Philadelphia's bank in 2014. Not like its aging core will.

Read more Philadelphia Phillies news on BleacherReport.com

Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Why Bronson Arroyo Would Be Bad Signing for Phillies’ 2014 Plans

January 17, 2014 by Alec Snyder  
Filed under Fan News

Despite a relatively quiet offseason, the Philadelphia Phillies have not necessarily filled all of their holes. Outfielder Marlon Byrd might be a bust, while starting pitcher Roberto Hernandez is an unknown in a shallow stadium like Citizens Bank Park.

Although the Phillies have not been connected to many rumors since early December, one rumor recently emerged that was rather interesting. According to the Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo, the Phillies were still potentially interested in signing starting pitcher Bronson Arroyo as of January 12.

The only appeal to Arroyo for the Phillies is that he doesn't have a draft pick attached to him and doesn't get hurt. But at what price will that cost the Phillies, both on the books and on the mound?

While it's indisputable that the Phillies need some sort of starting pitching help, it shouldn't come in the form of Arroyo by any means. Here's why.

 

All advanced statistics used courtesy of FanGraphs.

Begin Slideshow

Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

5 Things the Phillies Still Need to Do Before the Start of Spring Training

January 15, 2014 by PHIL KEIDEL  
Filed under Fan News

The Philadelphia Phillies have been busy this offseason—just not in the way that most fans might have wanted.

Shopping in a free-agent market featuring great hitters like Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran and Curtis Granderson, the Phillies came away with Marlon Byrd.

Top-tier starting pitchers Matt Garza, Ervin Santana and A.J. Burnett remain unsigned, but the Phillies appear unlikely to go back into the piggy bank after signing lesser-light Roberto Hernandez.

To be fair, the Phillies probably did not save enough money to land any of those big-name players by whacking Chris Wheeler and Gary Matthews.

So what is left for the Phillies to accomplish before the buses leave Citizens Bank Park for Clearwater, Fla., and spring training? Let's take a look.

Begin Slideshow

Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Odds of Top Philadelphia Phillies Prospects Making 2014 Opening Day Roster

January 10, 2014 by Alec Snyder  
Filed under Fan News

With spring training just around the corner as pitchers and catchers report by Feb. 13, baseball's offseason talk moves from transactions and the Hall of Fame to the new season ahead.

Along with that transition comes the discussion of who will make teams' rosters out of spring training, and while that sometimes can be almost set before a baseball is thrown, it's rarely the case.

For the Philadelphia Phillies, that possibility is probably more true than false, although there are still some openings to be determined. The bullpen is still shaky, the rotation's fourth member has yet to be officially named and third base remains a tossup.

While there are incumbents at each of those positions who could handle the starting duties, surprise runs of dominance in spring training could change each incumbent's status.

On Jan. 8, Matt Gelb of Philly.com reported that Phillies top prospects Maikel Franco and Jesse Biddle would be invited to big league camp, which is generally a sign that those players will surface in the majors at some point in 2014. The only question is when that will happen during the season. If they play their cards right, like some of the Phillies' other top prospects, they stand a better chance at defying the odds and cracking the Opening Day roster.

However, this slideshow only covers those prospects who have a legitimate shot at making the Phillies' roster to start the season. Prospects at levels such as Single-A will not be considered. In addition, in includes those prospects who have yet to make their major league debuts, meaning that players such as Ethan Martin and Cesar Hernandez will be excluded.

Here are the Phillies' top prospects' odds of doing just that.

 

*All prospect rankings courtesy of Baseball America's 2014 Top 10 Phillies Prospects list.

Begin Slideshow

Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Next Page »