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Pax Simulacrum!: Shadow Phillies GM Rebuilds Team

Tyler Drenon of Royals Review gives us all something to care about.

Well, Bye.
Well, Bye.
Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The annual SBNation simulated offseason just ended, and, sadly, your courageous few blog lords and ladies were too busy to participate. Lucky for us, Royals Review has enough good writers that they could spot us sharp as hell and personal friend to me Tyler Drenon. Below is his account of the offseason as it happened in the simulacrum. Any questions here, I'll get over to him, and in the meantime, give him a dang follow on twitter: @TylerDrenon. Get hype!


Hey The Good Phight,

I'm Tyler Drenon. I write at Royals Review and occasionally a few other places. I took over the Phillies in SB Nation's Offseason Simulation Project. Our editor at RR -- Max Rieper -- has been doing this for a few years and I've always wanted to stomp around in that puddle of fan trade fantasies. When the spot for Philly opened up, I looked at the payroll, vomited into my front-shirt pocket, patted it cathartically, and jumped at the chance to pretend to be Ruben Amaro ... just kidding. The concept is actually an effort to pretend as though each participant has taken over as the team's new GM. I can't imagine many of you are big RAJ fans and it can't get much worse, can it?
In order to beat you to the punchline, yes, I am a giant nerd. I'll be going over all the moves I made and updating the progress throughout the season with WAR charts for comparison with the actual team -- one at the beginning of August and one after the season if I'm still alive then -- and I'll be providing prospect lists based on amalgamations of lists by Baseball Prospectus, Baseball America, and other sites. It will be very nerdy and probably very detailed.

This team will be referred to from now on as The Shadow Phillies -- borrowing from Royals' shadow GM Josh Duggan.

Anyway, I decided to see what a rebuild would look like. I was much more aggressive than I would've been if this was a multi-year sim, so I made several major moves. In doing so, I consulted a Twitter friend of mine -- your very own Trev223 or @Hegelbon. He ran things across a few of your other writers as well. It was difficult to stay in touch on every move since the pace of this thing is pretty brisk, but I tried not to go it alone.

This breakdown is extremely long. I wrote the deals up as I went, but it got out of hand because, alas, I am a geek. I took it as a chance to learn about a bunch of minor leaguers and free agents I didn't know as much about before, and of course, to cosplay as a MLB general manager. Most of the other GMs updated as they went along, but since I don't write for TGP, I am going to dump this 5,000 word monolith on you all at once. >
I'm just gonna list the trades and signings I made and add a little of my reasoning beneath followed by a depth chart and a list of prospects at each position.

Here we go:


Cole Hamels, Jimmy Rollins, and cash to NYY for Luis Severino, Gary Sanchez, Greg Bird, Ian Clarkin and Caleb Smith

Looks like a lot to me. The cash in the deal was $12.5M in 2015 and $7M annually through 2018. It's a lot, I know, but the return would've suffered considerably with less cash included -- like the Yankees need it!
I know you all probably love Hamels and seeing him traded to New York makes you want to weep into a five-gallon bucket for weeks and then drown me in it. Sorry. Just remember this isn't real. Anyway, this was a big haul in my opinion. Perhaps a breakdown in is order.

Severino (BBRef/FG) is on the fast track to the majors. He could end up in New York in 2015 -- if he isn't involved in a painfully beautiful trade that sends him elsewhere. Severino, a right-hander, throws 95-97 mph and has touched 99. His secondary stuff is middling, but his changeup has "plenty of late fade" and was given 70-grade from Baseball America. He also throws a mid-80s power slider they graded out at a 50 (once he's done developing -- these are future grades on his stuff). They seem to like his control as well, saying he can pitch to "all four quadrants of the strike zone, helping him keep the ball in the ballpark." As an added bonus, he has often recorded times to the plate at 1.1 seconds, making him "nearly impossible to run on." In 24 starts this season -- 113.1 IP -- Severino put up a 2.46 ERA, a 1.06 WHIP, struck out 127, walked just 27, and surrendered only three homers.

Sanchez (BBRef/FG) has been around a while. It has seemed inevitable he'd be traded in a deal like this for a while now. He was ranked as the 35th overall prospect by Baseball America coming into the season. Baseball Prospectus had him at 85th, so there's a little variance on his potential, but most evaluators have been high on him for some time. After receiving those rankings, Sanchez hit .270/.338/.406 with 13 home runs, a 91 to 43 K/BB, 19 doubles, and he threw out a stellar 39% of base stealers. His throwing arm has never been the problem as far as his defensive ability goes. Receiving, blocking and rapport with his staff were the issues listed by BA. He also has had some off-field stuff cost him playing time in the past. On the other hand, BA still says "If everything clicks, he’s a frontline catcher with the potential for a .280 average and 20-25 home runs annually."

Bird (BBRef/FG) was actually ranked ahead of Sanchez on BA's post-2014 top ten list. He hit .253/.379/.558 with seven homers in 116 plate appearances with Double-A Trenton. He's locked in at first. Not much athleticism to speak of, but you can see from his numbers that his bat is special. He has great discipline and some considerable power. John Sickels called him "one of the top first base prospects in baseball," comparing him to Nick Swisher -- we can only hope that comparison is on-field only.

Clarkin (BBRef/FG) was one of the Yankees' sandwich first-rounders in the 2013 draft -- the other one, Aaron Judge, had already been traded when this deal was made. BA compares his delivery to Clayton Kershaw's, saying it is "clean" and has "some deception." It's probably safe to say the Kershaw comps end there, but Clarkin has some good qualities of his own. The lefty added a cutter this season and began inducing more groundballs, which is great paired with his 9-ish K/9. He climbed to High-A ball at the end of 2014. His fastball sits between 90-92 mph, he has a plus changeup, and a big, slow-bending curve at 70-72 mph. Mid-rotation potential.

Smith (BBRef/FG) was a tack-on that has some potential as well. He threw 117.2 IP and struck out 116 and walked 46 between Single-A Charleston and High-A Tampa. He touches 95 mph with his fastball. It has some late action and pairs well with his circle-change. He could be a decent reliever or a back-end starter.

Chase Utley and cash to WAS for Michael Taylor, Taylor Jordan, and Austin Voth

I'm sorry. Chase Utley is awesome. He was worth four wins last year -- even though he's 35 and his knees are mostly dust. However, his contract could keep him around for a while even if his production begins to decline rapidly and I felt like Taylor and Jordan were a pretty good haul given the rebuilding effort. I had to include $10M for the Nats' GM to make his payroll work, and since the Shadow Phillies aren't going to win in 2015 and Utley might not be worth the long-term risk his contract presents, I just threw money at the problem.

I'm also sorry about pretending to trade him within the division. I'm not sure if you all hate the Nationals vehemently yet or not since they haven't been around that long, but I just assume you do.

Surprisingly, there weren't many takers on Utley. Several of the GMs in this sim couldn't seem to reconcile with the fact that Utley's contract is not the typical RAJ burden. Many of them were going on WAR/$-FanGraphs stuff. One guy actually told me Cole Hamels wasn't valuable because his contract is at market value. Sometimes, it seems like people get carried away with the SABR approach to team-building. Yes, surplus value is a very good thing. Contracts like Salvador Perez's are great for owners and GMs -- and they really suck for players and the general idea of giving a human being a fair shake -- but a contract that pays a guy fairly isn't evil. And Utley was worth four wins last year heading into a deal that might pay him as little as $10M!

In any event, here's what I got:

Taylor (BBRef/FG) is 23 years old, 6'3 210, and he could be an all-star. Soon. He's already reached the majors and he has raked consistently throughout the minors. Last season, he hit .309/.396/.539 and finally put his projectable power on the stat sheet with 23 homers. He also stole 37 bases. The Eastern League has the highest general ISO of the Double-A leagues, but it's pretty clear Taylor put together the power end of his game last year even if he got a little help from park factors. He strikes out a little too often, but even if he continues to do so he could be a Starling Marte-ish player with a solid glove in center field. However, there are some concerns about his hit tool. He's no guarantee to become an all-star, of course, but he has a lot to work with. In 2013, he earned comparisons to Adam Jones, Mike Cameron, and even Jim Edmonds for his ability to go back on balls in center. BA said, "If he can mature into a fringy or average hitter, he can be an all-star." Looks like he has a good chance to do that. BP just released their Nats top ten list on Wednesday. Taylor received a glowing profile. The profile is so good, in fact, that I don't know if acquiring Taylor for Utley is very realistic at this point.

Taylor Jordan (BBRef/FG) should be able to contribute in the rotation immediately. He's only made 14 MLB starts, and he had surgery in September to remove bone chips from his elbow, but he should be ready for spiring training. He dominated the low minors in 2013 and reached the majors in June. In nine starts he put up a 3.66 ERA. 2014 was sort of a lost year, but if he's given the chance, he could be a nice mid-rotation starter from here on.

Voth (BBRef/FG) struggled a bit upon reaching Double-A, but over the course of the season he struck out 133 and walked just 38 in 126.2 IP with a 2.77 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP across three levels. He reaches the mid-90s with his fastball, typically sitting in the low-90s. He uses his command to strike batters out rather than employing scout-gushy stuff. Some evaluators think he'll end up in the bullpen.

Cliff Lee, Antonio Bastardo, and cash to SEA for Luiz Gohara, Dominic Leone, and Mayckol Guaipe
I sent more money than I would've liked to, but there weren't many takers on Lee and I wanted to shed as much age and expense as possible. I included $10M in 2015 and $5M in 2016 in the deal. Antonio Bastardo -- who is a free agent after 2015 -- was a throw-in to get the deal done. It seems shameful for a pitcher like Lee to get traded for a marginal package again, but this time it made sense -- well,pretend sense. His arm might actually fall off of his body soon and since Hamels was traded, keeping him around made little sense.

Gohara (BBRef/FG) was signed out of Brazil back in 2012. After a short sophomore campaign in rookie ball at age 17 -- his K/BB was insane there (11.37-1) -- he had a tough time in low-A ball. He only logged 37.1 IP there, so the sample size was small, but he did finish with an 8.20 ERA, so his time there was semi-concerning. However, he's 6'3 215, he throws 96 mph from the left side, and Baseball America ranked him as the M's No. 4 prospect in January. They said he has a chance to be "at least a mid-rotation starter, maybe more."  He has a changeup with enough late fade to (eventually) be a plus pitch. He also gets a lot of swings and misses and his delivery is "sound and advanced for his age." Basically, he's a giant, big-bellied lefty that strikes a lot guys out. It's hard not to see a Brazilian CC Sabathia when you look at him. That's a giddy evaluation, of course. He's only 18, so he could easily fail, but he has some serious potential.

Leone (BBRef/FG) was with the M's last season. He put up a 2.17 ERA in 66.1 IP and K'd nine-and-a-half guys per nine. And with all those strikeouts, he still induced 54.7% groundballs. His fastball touched 98 mph this year and sat at 94.4 mph. He used his slider -- the one he can ramp up to 90 mph -- to pick up 24 of his 70 strikeouts, so he's got more than just steamy, sweet-hot fire. Not bad. Throughout this sim I added several relievers/future relievers because a lot of the guys I was trading away were cumbersome and the GMs I dealt with were more willing to part with relievers.

Guaipe (BBRef/FG) is another reliever. He reached Double-A last year at age 23, striking out nine per nine and walking just nine in 56 innings with a 2.89 ERA. It's probably not a set-up/closer profile, but Guaipe could be a sturdy ROOGY at some point. He held right handed hitters to a .197 batting average and logged a 0.81 WHIP against them last season. Ultimately, he was just a toss-in I was able to tack onto the end of this deal, but maybe a little something could come of it. 

Jonathan Papelbon and cash to CHW for Danny Webb and Rangel Ravelo

I agreed to pay $3M of Papelbon's 2015 salary in order to move him. Now there's no chance of his option vesting in Philly, and Ken Giles can close as he should. Papelbon only needs to finish 48 games to lock in another year at $13M and that was likely to happen if he stayed since paying him that kind of money to pitch the eighth would be odd and probably frowned upon by the MLBSPA (Major League Baseball Shadow Players Association).

Webb (BBRef/FG) was in Chicago last year. He had a chance to become the team's closer according to some sources, but he struggled with walks and ended up with a 4.52 FIP on the year (3.99 ERA). However, he throws 95-100 mph with a smooth delivery and has a pretty bendy slider for a power pitcher, according to Nathaniel Stoltz. Look at his minor league numbers from 2013. After he transitioned to the bullpen, he came into his own. He could be another useful arm in a fictional bullpen that already includes Giles, Jake Diekman (who received a ton of trade interest but was not moved), Justin De Fratus, Hector Neris, Ethan Martin, Wilmer Font, Keone Kela, and Dominic Leone.

Stoltz also did an awesome write-up on Ravelo (BBRef/FG) in March. The tl;dr on it is: That guy can HIT. He might be able to play third, but even if he sticks at first, he should be able to hit enough to make something of himself. Stoltz knows prospects about as well as anyone and he actually broke out a Dustin Pedroia comparison for Ravelo's approach at the plate. Rather encouraging. And that wasbefore he hit .309/.386/.473 with 11 homers, 10 steals, 66 RBI, and a 56-77 SO-BB ratio. Ravel won't be an MVP candidate like Pedey, but he has a great approach and he might be able to parlay it into a starting job in the majors someday. When the sycophantic dust of this paragraph settles, Ravelo is still just a prospect. He's far from a sure thing, but he has a potentially dangerous bat.

Ryan Howard and cash to HOU for Telvin Nash

This one is obvious. I'm actually pleased to have gotten something decent in return. Basically, I got the Phillies off the hook for Howard's $10M buyout in 2017 and added a decent bat at first for the minors. >
Nash (BBRef/FG) saved me from having to cut Howard outright. Last season, the 23-year-old hit .227/.330/484 with 22 homers (just four doubles) in 320 plate appearances for Double-A Corpus Christi. He's so TTO it hurts. Maybe he'll never do anything at the MLB level, but if he's worth $10M and he opens up first base for Maikel Franco or just about anyone other than Howard, I'll take him.

Marlon Byrd to TEX for Wilmer Font and Keone Kela

More relievers. I didn't see any point in keeping Byrd around for what might be two more seasons if the goal was to get younger and put title contention on the shelf for a year or three. Besides, Font is probably ready to be serviceable at the MLB level and Kela might be something really special. Not to mention the fact that, because of this fictional trade, Byrd's contract is now a thing of the (fictional) past.

Font (BBRef/FG) is a massive person -- 6'4, 265. He's had great strikeout numbers in the minors and he appears to be ready to pitch in the majors. He throws a horizontal column of steam. His secondary stuff is spotty, but with a 100 mph fastball, he might not need much else to settle into a role in the middle innings. I'm taking the chance that he is able to develop some semblance of a secondary offering, but even if he doesn't he could still be a decent middle reliever that just snorts fire all over the batter's box and occasionally gets guys out.

Kela (BBRef/FG) is a reliever too. Yeah! RELIEVERS! The difference here is the fact that this guy might be a difference maker. His fastball has reportedly reached 100 mph -- according to the guy who traded him to me. Adam Morris, the Shadow Rangers' GM and the Grand Blogduke of SB Nation's Rangers spot Lone Star Ball, was able to pry Byrd away from me for these two fireballers because I wanted to get rid of his $8M salary and the potential for another year of him at that price in 2016. If we're rebuilding, no need to keep a 36-year-old Byrd in the cage I have made of this organization. Let him fly free in Arlington before he inevitably flies into a window somewhere and everything goes so very dark forever.

John Pettibone to CLE for Joe Wendle and Carlos Moncrief

I'm not sure the real Cleveland Baseball Team would make this deal, but their Sim GM wanted a back-of-the-rotation arm, so I sharked away two solid prospects to oblige him -- and I didn't mention Pettibone's torn labrum. This one might've been a little sneaky on my part.

Wendle (BBRef/FG) is a second baseman who played most of last year in Double-A Akron. He broke a hamate bone in his wrist in June and was sent to rookie ball to recover before returning to Akron in August. ranked him ninth in Cleveland's system this year and Sickels ranked him tenth before the season, comparing him to Braves' second baseman Tommy La Stella with "less batting average but more power." If he fully recovers from the wrist injury, he could push through to Triple-A in 2015. I have no idea how likely that is, but having a Tommy La Stella type guy in Triple-A would be pretty nice, even though the position is spoken for in this alternate universe thanks to a big-time free agent signing (more on that later).

Moncrief (BBRef/FG) is the reason I felt really good about this deal. Sickels ranked him 15th in Cleveland's system coming into the year, saying: "May not look like much on paper, a 25 year old just reaching Triple-A, but look deeper. He’s a good athlete despite stocky 6-0, 220 frame, has a good throwing arm, runs well for his size, hit a steady .284/.354/.470 with 17 homers, 15 steals and a greatly reduced strikeout rate last year in Double-A. Could wind being a very useful role player." Moncrief rewarded John's faith by hitting .271/.328/.431 with 33 doubles, 12 homers and eight stolen bases in 530 plate appearances with Triple-A Columbus. The International League isn't quite as hitter-friendly as the Pacific Coast League, as I'm sure you know. If he had played the 2014 season in the PCL, he might be getting more attention -- assuming more home runs, of course.

Pettibone doesn't strike me as an incredibly important piece for the future. He might be a fifth starter. I thought padding the minors with a few more guys that could be at least that valuable was worth giving up on Pettibone -- but if his name was John Ficklemarrow you can be sure he'd still be with this pretend organization.

Colton Murray for Tim Lincecum and cash

The Giants added $5M. At $13M for one season, Lincecum seemed like a gamble worth taking if only for the fact that I traded away all of the Phillies' starters. He's coming off of a -0.2 fWAR/-0.7 rWAR season. You're right. That is very bad. I agree. This deal seems likely to go down in Amaroian flames, but you guys are used to that anyway, and I figured if the 2015 season is going to be somewhat bleak, giving Lincecum a chance to "change scenery" and potentially resurrect some value was worth a negligible minor league reliever.

Even though it's four years later than you might've liked, Tim Lincecum is in Philly! And he'll eat some innings while The Shadow Phillies bridge their way back to the top of the NL East.

Tyler Buckley to PIT for Jose Tabata

He'll probably fail, but Tabata seemed like a good flier for a team that needed warm MLB bodies. The "MLB" part of that statement is disputable with Tabata, but he's just one year removed from hitting .282/.342/.429 with the Pirates in 2013 so he might have something more to offer before his second chances are all used up. Buckley is as close as it gets to being given Tabata for nothing. I honestly forgot that Tabata had signed an extension in 2011. He'll earn $4M in 2015 and $4.5M in 2016. Whoops!



Jose Fernandez: 6 years, $80M

Why not Yasmany Tomas?!?

Because I didn't think he was worth $128M like the Padres did. He's an exciting player and his agent thinks he has "way more" power than Jose Abreu, so maybe he will be worth $128M over eight years, but I didn't want to buy into the hype. I still broke the bank on Fernandez, but getting him at nearly $50M less than Tomas makes me feel pretty good about my decision.
Fernandez is 26 years old. He is expected to be MLB-ready immediately -- if he's able to secure his residence outside the US and do the inevitable OFAC hoop-jumping. Ben Badler of Baseball America ranked Fernandez as the third-best prospect in Cuba recently, right behind behind Alfredo Despaigne and Youlieski Gourriel.

From BA: "During the 2013-14 season playing for Matanzas in Serie Nacional, the 5-foot-10, 185-pound Fernandez hit .326/.482/.456 with 65 walks and 10 strikeouts in 314 plate appearances, ranking second in the league in OBP. This season, which started in September, Fernandez was off to a .315/.415/.426 start with only one strikeout in 65 plate appearances."

He's a tough out from the left side of the batter's box. He takes a ton of walks and rarely strikes out. He also has a weird toe tap where he turns his foot toward the pitcher that he uses as a timing mechanism, so that should be fun for little Shadow Phillies fans to emulate in their shadow little league games. Fernandez is not a great runner and he might top out at 10-15 homers according to BA, but the average and OBP are legit and he's a decent second baseman from what I can tell. Some think he can be an all-star in the majors. In 2013, Team USA coach Jim Schlossnagle said Fernandez was "far and away the best hitter" on a Cuban National team that included Gourriel, Tomas, and Erisbel Arruebarruena

Jung-ho Kang (AKA Jeong-ho Kang): 4 years, $20M


Steve Sypa at Amazin' Avenue did a great write-up on Kang here. I especially liked this bit on Kang's batting stance:

"He stands very upright at the plate, and employs a very pronounced leg kick. He's obviously made it work for him thus far in his professional career, but Kang holds the pose, so to speak, longer than most players who use leg kicks, leaving him literally standing on one leg as the pitcher delivers the ball."

Now the only question is which one of these two international signings' stances are you going to mime with an empty beer bottle on your next booze-foggy Saturday night.

Kang might have trouble adjusting to advanced velocity in the majors, but he has crushed 39 homers this year with the Nexen Heroes in the KBO (I believe their season is still in progress). His batting line right now is .354/.457/.733 and he owns a career line of .298/.382/.502. Korean position players have a hard time with big league pitching, but those stats are obviously encouraging. His bat should be good enough to warrant a utility role at the very least.

He has quick reactions and a decent arm at short, but there is some concern that his KBO Gold Glove won't be of the same value in the majors. He could transition to the outfield or second base.

Some predict him to get "serious money" because of his strong numbers at the plate. He's 27, so the four years might not be ideal, but with an AAV of $6M per year, I might've snagged him at a price much lower than the one he actually commands. 

Chris Capuano: one year, $3M

Filler. I traded away or waived goodbye most of the rotation. Capuano -- who is incessantly autocorrected to "Caption" on my computer -- is probably a good bet to end up being worth $3M. He doesn't have to do much to get there and he's put up a 3.90 FIP in almost 600 innings since 2011. The hope is that he doesn't get hurt, but even if he does, the risk is probably worth $3M -- especially after nearly halving the payroll via the trade market. Some of the MiLB signings could step in for him if he does go down again.

Brandon Beachy: one year, $3M plus IP-based incentives

The other Braves Tommy John castoff -- Kris Medlen -- went for two years, $12M, so this seems like a pretty good deal in comparison. I'd love for the Royals -- or the Phillies, I guess -- to sign Beachy to a deal like this in the real world. Too bad it looks like the Braves are retaining both of them. Beachy has only thrown 111 innings since 2011, but if he can bounce back to anything close to what he was doing on the mound in those 111 innings, he'll be doing it in shadow Philly for a very small amount of money.

Jerome Williams: one year, $2.5M

I took the real-world deal Williams signed with the Phillies after the World Series. He's not very good, but he can provide mildly useful innings while the young guys incubate in the minors.

Everth Cabrera: one year, $2M plus incentives

Since the incentives weren't specified, let's just say they are based on plate and court appearances. This is another guy who can attempt to rebuild value while the organization does the same. He was awful last year on and off the field.

Roberto Hernandez: MiLB deal

Filler. Same as last year.

Clint Barmes: MiLB deal

Organizational filler.

Kevin Correia: MiLB deal

Organizational filler.

Gaby Sanchez: MiLB deal

Same. Potential MLB fill-in.

Randy Wolf: MiLB deal


DEPTH CHART for 2015

C: Ruiz/Rupp
1B: Franco/Ruf/Asche
2B: Fernandez/Hernandez/Galvis
SS: Galvis/Kang/E. Cabrera
3B: Asche/Franco
LF: Revere/Tabata/Ruf/Asche
CF: Taylor/Revere
RF: Brown/Ruf/Perkins/Altherr
*Additions in bold.

Nobody wanted Chooch. Oh well. Someone has to hold down the position until Sanchez, Joseph, or Grullon stake claim to it, and Ruiz still has some value.

Fernandez should step in at second immediately. Kang might be able to play short, but if he can't -- or if he doesn't get real-world playing time -- Galvis can fill in. That's far from ideal, but we might as well see give him another chance to succeed. Asche will hold down third for the time being, but he'll eventually be moved so Franco can settle in there. You could even swap the two defensively if you wanted -- the way the stats will look in the updates will depend on where Asche and Franco play for the Real Phillies. Cabrera was a late add for depth. Inon-tendered Andres Blanco and went with Cabrera to see if he could stay out of legal trouble and resist arrest on the field in 2015 rather than off it as he did in 2014.

Taylor could start in center immediately. He has plus range and he could do some damage with his arm as well. If he doesn't get real-world playing time, I'll be forced to keep him in the shadow minors because he won't be accumulating stats for comparison. However, if this scenario was real, he'd be in CF on Opening Day. Brown and Ruf could platoon in RF or one of Perkins/Altherr could step in with solid play. I think Revere would be of more value in a corner outfield spot based on his advanced defensive metrics.

Rotation: Buchanan, Lincecum, Jordan, Capuano, Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, a pinch of Jerome Williams, ugh Roberto Hernandez, please god not Kevin Correia, and maybe a little Brandon Beachy

Yikes. You all probably won't be used to this sort of thing, but I'm a Royals fan, so this rotation actually looks pretty normal to me. Lincecum, Capuano, and Williams can eat innings while we wait for Severino, Nola, Biddle, and others to make their way to Philadelphia. I wanted to secure some innings-eater types to make sure I'd have something to compare to the real team.

If it was possible, I'd be aggressive and aim to start Severino or Nola or both in the majors -- or at least push them up to Philly early in the season, depending on service time cutoffs. However, that won't really work for the sake of WAR comparison updates, and I think it'd be smart for a team rebuilding as aggressively as this shadow team is to grab a few veterans to take the inevitable beatings rather than rushing prospects. Again, Beachy is a wild card. He might not do anything at all, but for $3M I decided to take the chance.

Bullpen: LH -- Diekman, Hollands, Horst, Hoffman, A. Wright
RH -- Webb, Martin, De Fratus, Neris, Ogando, Leone, Font, Kela
Closer: Giles

That's a nasty bullpen. I don't know which ones would end up seeing the most innings, but with Giles, Leone, Diekman, De Fratus, Font, Hollands, Neris and Martin, a strong bullpen would surely emerge from that. Not to mention Kela, who could be a quick-riser and a very disgusting person to look at from the batter's box.


C: Sanchez/Grullon/Joseph/Knapp/Rupp/Lino
1B: Franco/Bird/Ravelo/Nash/Asche
2B: Fernandez/Galvis/C. Hernandez/Galvis/Wendle/Kang
SS: JP Crawford/Kang/Galvis
3B: Asche/Franco/Ravelo
LF: Revere/Moncrief/Sandberg/A. Brown/Kang/Asche
CF: Taylor/Revere/Tocci
RF: Brown/Quinn/Cozens/Perkins/Dugan/Altherr/Kang/Asche
*Adds in bold.

Brown isn't the long-term answer in RF. I kept him because the offers I was receiving were next to nothing and it seemed pertinent to allow him to succeed or fail in Shadow Philly on a rebuilding team -- just like Ruben plans to. I like Roman Quinn, Moncrief, Kelly Dugan, and Dylan Cozens to some extent, but shedding all that salary would potentially open up a spot for Jason Hayward, Giancarlo Stanton, or perhaps another Cuban player like Alfredo Despaigne, Victor Mesa, or Frederich Cepeda -- if any of them became available after 2015 or 2016. Taylor should lock down center and I think Revere and Tocci could battle it out for a corner spot. Kang could also shift to the OF. Future free agency and/or trades based on a revamped farm system are a foggy possibility -- but they won't happen here because the sim is over.

Franco is probably the long-term answer at third, but there are some good options down the line at first, so stashing him at the cold corner until then and allowing Asche to reveal himself doesn't seem like a bad option. 

The infield looks like Sanchez at catcher, Bird/Ravelo/Nash at first, Fernandez at second, Crawford at short, and Franco at third. That seems like a pretty solid group to me. Especially considering the Shadow Phillies would have Jung-ho Kang, Cody Ashe, Rangel Ravelo, Freddy Galvis, Cesar Hernandez, and Joe Wendle as potential fill-ins in the infield.

If Sanchez can't hack it at catcher, Tommy Joseph and Deivi Grullon could step in, but the bet is on Sanchez to figure things out in this scenario.

Starters: Buchanan/Jordan/Biddle/Nola/Severino/Clarkin/Gohara/S. Gonzalez/Y. Mecias/E. Garcia/V. Arano/C. Smith/Imhof/Voth

Buchanan, Nola, Severino, and Jordan should be in the mix in 2016. Two of them have already reached the majors and the other two might get there in 2015. That list is decidedly not Halladay, Hamels, Lee, and Oswalt, but there's some youth there that could turn into something special. There will be some interesting free agents in 2016 like Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija, Jordan Zimmermann, Mat Latos, and David Price and in 2017 like Stephen Strasburg and Andrew Cashner. Haha, how sweet would it be to steal Strasburg away from Washington?

Bullpen: LH -- Diekman, Hollands, Horst, Hoffman, A. Wright
RH -- Webb, Martin, De Fratus, Neris, Ogando, Leone, Font, Kela
Closer: Giles

A few guys could come up as relievers that aren't listed there. With this many arms, though, probably a good bet that a solid bullpen could be built from the guys available.


1. Jose Fernandez
2. JP Crawford
3. Maikel Franco
4. Luis Severino
5. Michael Taylor
6. Jung-ho Kang
7. Aaron Nola
8. Greg Bird
9. Gary Sanchez
10. Luiz Gohara
11. Yoel Mecias
12. Ian Clarkin
13. Joe Wendle
14. Jesse Biddle
15. Deivi Grullon
16. Kelly Dugan
17. Elniery Garcia
18. Rangel Ravelo
19. Carlos Moncrief
20. Dylan Cozens
21. Austin Voth
22. Cord Sandberg
23. Keone Kela
24. Telvin Nash
25. Mayckol Guaipe

Don't get too concerned with the order. I didn't put much thought into ranking them. Just wanted to give a visual of what the top guys on the farm looked like. I might be leaving some guys out as well. There's at least one recent first-round draft pick outside the top ten now, so to say this exercise has resulted in an improvement of the system is a massive understatement. It looks absolutely stacked to me.


We were given a suggested budget of $178,000,000. Didn't have to worry about that. Here's what I was given at the beginning of the sim:

Attachment 1

Sim Budget 2

At $164,000,000, I wouldn't have had much room to add pieces without moving some money around. A rebuild really seemed like the only option and, since it isn't real, it seemed like the most fun.

After all was said and done, here's what the money looked like:
Sim Budget 3
Sim Budget 4

It's still a lot of money because I had to eat a lot cash. However, I'm not too worried about Mr. Montgomery's finances. He can afford a somewhat expensive team every year -- even if that team is rebuilding. The prospect of adding international free agents like Jung-ho Kang and Jose Fernandez was interesting because it allowed me to address long-term needs while also maintaining a somewhat competitive -- and entertaining -- team to actually play the game in Shadow 2015.

In 2016, the payroll guarantees drop down to $70M. In 2017, almost nothing. I had to add a lot of money to some of the trades to get better players in return. It was pretty tough to find a balance between simply shedding payroll and restocking the minors. I could've added more money and gotten slightly better returns, but I felt pretty good about the balance I found. I added enough talent to make the farm system something interesting, and I shed enough salary to open things up for the future. The Phillies have money to throw around, so the continuation of the fictional rebuild might not take too long with a ton of room in the budget and a loaded farm.

2015 will be shadow-ugly, but once some of the prospects begin to crest the majors, there might be a good base to start supplementing with stars via trade and free agency.


I created this monstrosity as I went along so sorry if there are any minor inconsistencies.

I don't know much about the intricacies of GMing compared to most baseball writers, but I tried to get after this thing aggressively -- since it's only a one-year sim -- but I also tried to keep it somewhat realistic for your benefit. For example, I could've jumped in and signed Tomas and Kenta Maeda with the budget room I had. I could've also signed Scherzer and Lester and Sandoval and really anyone else I wanted to, but I didn't because it seemed like more fun to keep it somewhat close to what might happen in reality. I had to avoid some GMs because they had different ideas about the value of minor leaguers. I'm not going to name names. I'm sure you can see some of the head-scratchers yourself. Again, I'd be much more patient if we stretched this out over a longer period of time, but imagine how long this article would've been! Also, I leaned on BP, BBRef, and BA really hard for the analysis.

This sim got completely insane after the first day-and-a-half. Max Scherzer signed for six years, $200M with the Oakland A's. Lester got a huge deal from the Brewers. The Diamondbacks traded Paul Goldschmidt. The Red Sox found a ton of GMs that didn't seem to care about their prospects or even receiving a fair deal really. It was nuts, but it was also really fun. Thanks for letting me GM your pretend baseball team. I had a great time doing it -- as evidenced by this novel of a breakdown I've written on it. Hopefully you didn't hate every single one of my moves. Please let me know what you thought in the comments.

The 2015 Shadow Phillies will shadow-lose often. I'm sorry I ruined your team, but hopefully the shadow future will be much brighter.