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Mailbag #27: The Next Great Phillies Team

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MLB: Spring Training-Philadelphia Phillies at Toronto Blue Jays Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

I regret to announce — this is the end. I am going now. I bid you all a very fond farewell.

Yes, we begin with an announcement that this will be my last post for The Good Phight for the foreseeable future. I will have more on Monday about what I am up to next, as there’s more news yet to become public. I just wanted to take the time here to thank Liz Roscher for convincing me to come write here, and to Paul Boyé for editing all of these mailbags. It has been a ton of fun writing here, and I think my fellow writers at TGP are some of the best out there.

So, let’s send this thing off with a LOT of your questions answered!

Mailbag

It was very clear this was going to be a bat, which means it came down to a handful of players: Kris Bryant, Bryce Harper, Mookie Betts, Manny Machado, Francisco Lindor, and Corey Seager. If we care about contract status, that probably chucks Machado and Harper aside. I love Seager, but he is not a shortstop going forward much further, and I think that means I take Bryant over him. That leaves Betts vs. Bryant, likely in RF, and I think I take Bryant because of the OBP edge.

That leaves Bryant vs. Lindor. The “problem” with Lindor is that he plays SS (same as Crawford) and that the gap from Bryant to him at the plate is huge. That said, I am going to take the inferior hitter and move Crawford to second base (where he would just be an absolute beast defensively) and just lock up my up-the-middle with Alfaro, Crawford, Lindor, and Herrera (or Quinn) and just get my big offense from my corners. Also, the 2 WAR difference between Lindor and Bryant is easily covered by the fact that Lindor might be the most enjoyable player to watch in baseball and would make the Phillies must-see TV.

I posed this question to the Good Phight mailing list and a few others and the top answers were Betts, Bryant and Machado, with the addition of Noah Syndergaard.

Yes, there will be minor riots. The reason there is Stassimania is because right now he looks like one of the 13 best hitters on the team. The problem is that it is spring training, and relying on numbers is a difficult task. Then, there is the fact that he is 27 and didn’t light up Triple-A. The real reason that Stassi might not make the Majors will almost definitely be because the Phillies’ 40-man roster is too full and they wanted Chris Coghlan instead. But people will get their pitchforks every time Howie Kendrick has a bad at bat, bank on it.

Lehigh Valley - Not actually sure how many surprises there are on a roster with a top prospect at each position. That said, I am going to go with Zach Eflin. He is not really under the radar or a surprise, but he is extremely young for his level of progress. If he is really fully healthy and able to command his pitches, especially his offspeed pitches, he could be really good.

Reading - If Malquin Canelo starts here, he is the guy. Canelo had a bad year in Clearwater last year, but he is only 22 and has a great glove at the most critical position on the field. He is also a right handed hitter with sneaky power at times and could join Carlos Tocci in taking advantage of the Reading ballpark. He probably is a utility infielder long term, but he is one year removed from hitting .311/.364/.466 in Lakewood, so there is talent here.

Clearwater - It won’t surprise me, but there is a good chance that Seranthony Dominguez emerges from Franklyn Kilome and Alberto Tirado’s shadow. He already is getting rated higher than Tirado this offseason, but lacks the name recognition. Dominguez is another small Dominican pitcher, but his fastball is up to 97 with sink and his breaking ball is a very good pitch. Last year across two levels, he put up a 2.34 ERA with 65 strikeouts in 65.1 innings. He also has feel for a changeup and a better chance to start than Tirado, and possibly a better clue at what he is doing on the mound than Kilome.

I think Crawford’s defensive ceiling is above current state Freddy Galvis, but it is below Freddy Galvis’s ceiling. Galvis has the stronger arm and the better glove. If Galvis was at his peak all the time he would be near Simmons, Lindor, and Brandon Crawford as the best defensive shortstop in baseball. Crawford is probably a tier below that with his instincts pushing up what are already great defensive tools.

I saw someone who was more relaxed and engaged at the plate. He still swung wildly at times, but this is a learning process. What he did do well is work some walks and lay off of some pitches. Nick is never going to walk a ton, but if he can take what is given and just let his natural gifts do the work he is going to be just fine.

This year! And it will Odubel Herrera and Vincent Velasquez. Herrera was deserving of his All-Star nod last year and I think he might even be better this season. I am just going to bet big on Velasquez. He has not been efficient this spring, but he has been effective. I thought by the end of last season his changeup was a devastating pitch and it sounds like he still has that feel. I could see him averaging about 6 innings a start with over 11 K/9 and a sub-3 ERA and that could get him to the grand parade of pitchers at the All-Star game.

I think Michael Saunders is going to be the big help for the lineup. He was over .800 in a tougher division and I think he repeats that this year. Herrera got to .781 last year, and I don’t see him going much higher without a power spike, but he could get close. I think Franco can bounce back and do something like .270/.330/.480 and that will get him over that line. I think Joseph’s power is high enough that he should repeat.

Yes. Quinn got some Jimmy Rollins comps when he signed because they were both small, African American shortstops. Rollins has more power than Quinn, but Quinn has that sneaky strength from his small frame. Almost all of his power is in his left-handed swing (his right-handed swing has better contact abilities), but he has the chance to put 10-12 out of the park a year given a full year of at bats.

His two star pupils Maikel Franco and Nick Williams both seem to be doing well this spring, so that is the positive. I will say that strikeouts in spring are not going to be how you judge Stairs’s impact. Working counts is going to lead to strikeouts, especially if players are working on their approach. We probably won’t be able to judge Stairs until after the season, when a more complete body of work has taken shape.

Martin hit .250/.324/.433 with 19 home runs last year in Clearwater. That is a lot of power for a power-empty league. The 2015 4th-round pick only hit .179/.245/.358 off of left-handed pitchers last year, however. I expect more of the same from Martin this year. He is going to mash righties and struggle against lefties, and the Reading park is going to help him put up big numbers. Long-term, he is a platoon first baseman on the correct side of the platoon.

I think Quinn is pretty much ready and I would have had him in the Majors to begin the year. I think he needs to be down until early-to-mid-May to gain a year of team control, although I am not sure if that is a factor because I think he is the first outfielder up if there is an injury to Kendrick, Saunders, or Herrera, or if one of them struggles so much the Phillies can’t play them everyday.

Major League regulars are trying to get their swing timing down more than working counts. But players like Freddy Galvis, Cameron Rupp, and Howie Kendrick are never going to be big-time walkers. So the real reason is personnel, exacerbated by natural Spring Training tendencies.

Spotted Cow. Hyped by people who think it is amazing because they have limited exposure to it. Though it is just beer, nothing special or out of the ordinary, in the right circumstances a cold can/bottle/pitcher of Spotted Cow can be the role player you need. But you’re likely never going to go out of your way to make it happen.

I put it at 75 percent, because the electorate should be smarter and his WAR-based numbers put him in elite company. The counting stats are the problem, and although he got to 250 HRs, 300 is well out of reach. Currently he is at 1,777 hits and he put up 129 last year. If he can scrounge out 2-3 more years and get that number to 2,000, I think he might be a lock. That also probably means he got over 400 doubles and 1,000 RBI which will help his case.

Information from Roster Resource (and, like them, I have excluded vets who couldn’t be optioned without permission anyway):

0 Options - Cesar Hernandez, Freddy Galvis
1 Option - Tommy Joseph, Hector Neris, Joely Rodriguez, Luis Garcia, Jorge Alfaro, Adam Morgan

Everyone else has 2 or more options. Adam Morgan and Luis Garcia are the only two who are not locks to make the team. As for Freddy and Cesar, if things go horrible and they shouldn’t be in the Majors anymore they likely get released anyway.

I think you have to see Nola put up a full healthy and effective season before you can talk contract with him. If he puts up 180 innings this year with an ERA sub-, say, 3.30, then I would start talking extension with both he and Jerad Eickhoff this offseason. As much as I think pitchers are risky, extensions could allow the Phillies to shift 2020-2022 payroll towards the 2018-2019 seasons, which might be as helpful as any savings.

Rapid fire here:

6. Jake Thompson
7. Zach Eflin
8. Alec Asher
9. Nick Pivetta
10. Ben Lively

They should sign more undrafted free agents. Duckworth is one of the best case outcomes of signing college seniors and juniors that go undrafted. But the cost is so low there is no reason not to sign enough players that some are something. Recent successes for the Phillies include LHP Josh Taylor, who was half of the deal that got the international slot to sign Jhailyn Ortiz, and LHP Jeff Singer, who looks like a decent relief pitcher right now.

Velasquez seems to know what he is doing the most, and his swing looks like it has the most power. Also he has the irrational confidence to just swing for the fences. Eickhoff and Thompson don’t look particularly great at the plate.

I lean DFA. The Phillies have been pumping up Luis Garcia a lot, which could mean nothing. But if the Phillies have no confidence in Morgan as a lefty reliever, he really has no place in the organization and I don’t think another org is going to claim him off waiver either.

Ed. note: My sincere thanks to Matt for letting me work on this project with him over the last few months. We all wish him the best as he moves onward and upward!