As of this writing, my Phillies are 4 games over .500 and are 2nd in the NL East behind Atlanta – 7.5 games back. Just a month or so ago, the Phils were looking at a playoff spot and possible run to something special. Sadly, the team has come back to the reality of what it is.
Low offense. Very good pitching at times. Terrible defense. Different lineup every night. No one knows what position they are playing.
The sabre-metrics folks a month ago went out and got a few players that, on paper, looked like they might be able to give some hits to a lineup that desperately needed it. They went out and got Asdrubel Cabrera, Wilson Ramos, Justin Bour, and Jose Bautista. Again – on paper, these were all technical upgrades over what we had.
Since the day we got Cabrera, we have not won a series in 5 weeks. Yeah. What that is telling me is they tinkered just a bit too much, and the end result has been a lack of jelling with the team. While it’s not a technical term, it’s hard to see my Phils who were at one point about 14 games over .500 drop into the abyss.
They are better than that. Or are they?
I’m not going to lie, I can’t watch bad baseball. I started watching my Phillies again when I ditched the dish and got Comcast again. It just so coincided with the coming up of Rhys Hoskins. This guy just has a different look, feel, and attitude it seems. He reminds me a bit of Scott Rolen, with a little more pop.
Rhys is a first basemen, who was sent to left field last year.
Scott Kingery is a second baseman, who was playing short.
JP Crawford is a shortstop who was playing 3rd.
All of these guys played thousands of hours at their positions from little league up – threw thousands of baseballs from a certain position on the field. And then you just move them around for the fuck sake of it. Errors happen. What a surprise.
As a casual observer, it’s killing me that there’s a different lineup every night and there’s no real direction, it seems, they are going in. It’s like every night they need to tinker to try and find the perfect elixir to victory, only to have that victory snatched from the jaws of winning with a dumb move in the 5th or 6th.
So let’s look at the ok….
- 2B – Cesar Hernandez. He’s a very solid second baseman, and has had a lot of defensive success. He’s a .265-.270 hitter with 10-20 HR potential with some base stealing prowess. Problem is, when he was leadoff – he didn’t get enough walks, didn’t steal enough. When he’s been lower in the lineup, he strikes out too much. Solid guy, but I feel the “upside” of Kingery is at least marginally better than what we have with Cesar.
- CF – Herrera. At times, he’s electric. 20+ HR this year. But he’s also very streaky, sometimes going a month in either direction. His speed is just above average, but nothing special. He has demonstrated some pop with the bat, but he’s not a usual thumper. People pitched wayyyy to much down and in on him and he murdered it. Those days are over. I feel Roman Quinn has a much better upside than Herrera at this point. However, Quinn is injury-prone.
- 3B – Franco – once again, we have a streaky guy. At 3B, he’s amazing defensively. But with hitting, he had his struggles – with about halfway through the season finally understanding to try and drive the ball the other way when outside. Possibly they keep him around if they can’t land Machado. I know Machado is a SS, but due to his size, and the money, I see Phillies going after him at 3rd. Machado is a clear upgrade to Franco. If they can’t land Franco, perhaps they give one last look at Franco.
Let’s look at the bad…
- OF – Aaron Altherr – he had a great night last night, but has underwhelmed tremendously this year. I wish the best for him on wherever he lands next year, but it won’t be Philly. You can’t bat .180 and expect to come back.
- 3B – JP Crawford. He is a SS that mostly played 3rd and some short. Injured. Former first round pick. He gets another year just due to the upside he has. However, if he’s not producing by midway through 2019, I see them pulling the rip cord. He needs to hit the weight room and get a little more power. Great speed, defense, arm – but had some errors.
- 1B – Santana. I wondered why, when you have Hoskins, that you went out and paid for Santana. For most of the season, he’s hit .210. That’s just not going to cut it for a first baseman in this league. His “upside” is his ability to draw a ton of walks, putting his OBP between .350-.370 most of the year. He has pop, but he’s also not been very clutch with hits and struck out way too many times that I saw. Maybe those numbers don’t flush out, but he just underwhelmed the casual TV viewer. Hoskins is a clear upgrade to this position.
Who am I cool with?
- 1B – Hoskins. They had him in LF all year, with some days at 1B. He is a core piece to build around, with clear 30-40 HR potential year in and year out for the next decade.
- 2B – Kingery. He’s had his struggles, hitting .220-.240 this year, but it’s his rookie year. He showed power at Triple A and could use the off season to add some weight. Defensively, he’s been a stud. Extremely fast. When they got Cabrera, they essentially benched Kingery. And that is when the team started tanking. Kingery has played short and 3rd most of the year. I want him at 2B in the 7 or 8 hole and let him develop.
- RF – Nick Williams. He had a rough stretch, but it was his rookie year and he’s been developing. At last glance, he’s hitting around .260 and close to 20 HR where he was in a platoon role most of the early part of the year.
- C – Alfaro. If you watched the Phils enough, you see problems with him blocking/catching the ball at times. He strikes out too much. But you also saw the strongest catching arm in baseball rifle out one soul after another. You see the tremendous power in his swing. As a rookie, he’s hitting a respectable .260, threw out tons of runners, and has blazing speed for a catcher. When they got Ramos, it was to add 50 points and some professionalism at catching. Interestingly enough, the pitching started sliding. Not sure if Alfaro’s framing or how he was calling a game is better than Ramos, but Ramos’ 50 point increase with the batting average didn’t seem to help the rock solid pitching stay the course. I see Alfaro getting a full year next year. Try to get him to .280, shorten his powerful swing to hit 20 HRs, and work on the defense.
- CF Roman Quinn – dude is lightning, and every game he was in, he was moving 1,000 mph and giving it his all. Seems hungry to play at this level. He’s also lighting it up with like a .345 average. Fastest guy I’ve seen in a long time in Phil’s stripes. Has injury issues.
- Ace – Aaron Nola – up until 2 weeks ago, was one of 3 Cy Young candidates for the NL. They are pitching him a little too much at the moment, trying to ride him to the playoffs and I think it’s showed.
- 2 Pitcher – Jake Arietta – while he isn’t his old Cy Young self, he’s still a very strong 2 or 3 starter. We have our ace in Nola.
- 3-5 Pitchers – Eflin/Velasquez/Pivetta. Each of these guys had an ERA in the mid 4s. If the Phils want to look for upgrades here, so be it. However, the 3-5 starter last year were all in the 5s and 6s for ERAs. I could see getting a more reliable 2/3 pitcher and one of these getting bumped. Each of them had ace stuff some days, then come out the next day and give up 5 runs. It was frustrating to watch some of these guys at times. At other times, you felt they finally put it together. Eflin, to me, has the best upside and stuff from what I’ve seen. Velasquez also had nights of being utterly dominant. Pivetta might be the odd man out here if they upgrade.
- Some of the bullpen. They had issues with no closer, and honestly, I’m usually asleep at the time the bullpen is coming in. I just know they had done an amazing job most of the year.
So – my 2019 Phils lineups…
- Roman Quinn – CF. Speed, high average, can swipe bases.
- Bryce Harper – OF. Got his avg up to .247 and hit 33HR. Phils have TONS of cash.
- Rhys Hoskins – 1B. I like him in the 3 hole for driving in the runs above. Why wait until the 4 hole? What, just in case you have the 3 people in front of him on base? Dude may project to be a .280-.290 hitter with 35-40HR yearly.
- Manny Machado – 3B. I’m emptying the coffers. Philly is the 4th or 5th largest market, so it’s not like KC. I believe Yanks corner the market on these guys, but Phils just might explode the piggy banks. This guy could be the face of the franchise for a decade. Hits .300-.315 with 30-40HR.
- Nick Williams – RF. Plenty of pop with the bat. Earned his position this year.
- Jorge Alfaro – C. Dude has scary strength. Need to put it together next year. This is a good spot in the order for his speed, power, and hitting.
- Scott Kingery – 2B. Kingery was hitting .230 last I checked, but I believe he can hit .260-.270 next year with 15-20 HRs in an every day position. Has great speed for possible bunt or IF hit.
- JP Crawford – SS. Has shown that he is not lighting the world on fire with average or power. My guess is he gets the first half of next year at this position, then they will either cut or upgrade at the half. This could mean they shop for either a 3B or SS and move Machado to either position.
Nola, Arietta, Eflin, Velasquez….and I’m shopping for a new 3. Possibly bring Sanchez up at the half.
Next year – IF they get Harper and Machado, I think they can go deep into the playoffs. They need to address their weaknesses while building around the core 5 that all came up together from Triple A.
Who do you think I’m off on? What other free agents would you think Phils can get if they can’t get Harper or Machado?