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The Leadoff, Vol. 2: Tauntauns wouldn’t do well in Alaska

Go ahead, caller. I’m listening...

League Championship Series - Los Angeles Dodgers v Chicago Cubs - Game Four Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Hi, I’m Ethan Witte. You might remember me from some titles such as “The Phillies are bad at framing”, and hashtags like #PrayingForYu. I’m taking over mailbag duties this week from Paul as we cycle through the writers here. I’ll do my best to answer some questions here.

As always, to submit a question, you can either @ us on Twitter with the hashtag #TGPLeadoff, or you can email us at TheGoodphightTV at gmail dot com. Let’s light this candle...

Ciao, dalla fredda miserabile esistenza del New Jersey! (If this is in any way wrong, blame Google translate)

This question is probably referring to the Jeff Passan article the other day in which he references a player that is thinking about sitting out a while into the season in response to the offers he is getting on the open market, and how they do not represent fair market value (in his estimation).

First of all, I think we can all safely assume he (Passan) is talking about Jake Arrieta. This is a guy who has, on multiple occasions, talked openly about what he believes he is worth as a free agent. He’s also one of these free agents that new-school front offices like to avoid committing multiple years to: over 30 pitchers on the “downside” of their careers with draft pick compensation attached. Couple that with his agent being Scott Boras and his lack of fear in setting a trend like this and I absolutely believe he is the guy.

For the Phillies to discuss a deal midseason with someone like Arrieta, they would probably need to be, at least, in the lead for the division. It would actually be the perfect tonic for what the rotation was going through at that time, too. Think about it: for the Phillies to be in playoff positioning midsummer, their entire rotation would have had to have broken exactly the way they wanted to. Aaron Nola had to have developed into a legitimate ace, Jerad Eickhoff was back to being the “human metronome” or more, Vince Velasquez had to have harnessed his stuff to be that #2-3 starter he was projected to be, and some combination of Lively/Eflin/Eshelman/Pivetta had to have broken out. If this were also the case, you’d have at least 3-4 pitchers approaching innings thresholds they had not even thought about approaching at the start of the season. Adding a high quality arm like Arrieta or Cobb or Lynn at that point would be the almost perfect reinforcement to a staff that, at that point, had gotten by on 90th percentile outcomes.

The other side of it: would Arrieta or his ilk want to come here? Let’s assume it would be a prorated one year deal that was being demanded. Why wouldn’t a team like the Yankees or Cubs or Dodgers offer the same thing? And why wouldn’t the player sign with those teams, which would, in their eyes, have a far likelier chance of staying in the race until the end? Waiting to sign a pitcher like Arrieta at the midpoint of the season is taking too many chances when they can just get him now. They’d be risking another team swooping in with more money/better roster/etc. and snagging him for their playoff run. With the market collapsing the way it is at this point in the offseason, they’d be better off just trying to sign these guys now rather than wait for July.

Nicholas via posted [Thursday] the article ‘The Marlins are asking a lot for Christian Yelich. For now.’

I’m of the opinion that we don’t really need Yelich and I’m happy to go with our current outfield, see if anyone works their way out, and hopefully take a run at Harper next offseason. But if the price starts to come down, where should the Phillies get involved?”

This is an interesting question. I’ve been of the opinion that the team should absolutely be getting involved with Yelich this offseason because of his contract and ability to notch 4+ WAR like clockwork. We’ve seen that while players like Williams and Altherr are nice to have and all, they each have their warts (Williams’ patience, Altherr’s health). Yelich, on the other hand, seems to be fairly balanced player who excels at the plate and provides at least average defense. I was totally on board as long as the price was right.

Then I saw that Peter Gammons was reporting that the Braves inquired about Yelich and were told the deal “begins and ends with Ronald Acuna.” In other words, to even begin a conversation with the Marlins, Atlanta would have had to surrender arguably the top prospect in baseball ON TOP OF adding other players to the package. Not that the price shouldn’t be high, since the Stanton and Ozuna trades didn’t exactly replenish their farm system like they should have, but still. Yikes.

So, right now, we’d have to assume that any deal for Yelich would have to include some combination of two of Hoskins, Kingery and Sanchez since none of them are on the level of Acuna, and also include other lesser pieces, which would be absurd for a team to give up that isn’t ready to contend quite yet. If the price were to come down, now we would probably be talking about only one of those top prospects in addition to others. To me, that’s still too steep of a price. If we were to put those three prospects on the top tier of the Phillies’ assets, my answer would be that in order for the Phillies to get involved with Yelich, the asking price would have to come down to the next tier of players.

Who’s to say they haven’t?

With a team like Baltimore, the whole world knows they need pitching. In a division that includes a team that just added the National League MVP, another that looks like the favorite to sign JD Martinez and a third that still has Josh Donaldson to power a pretty good lineup, Baltimore knows they need some good young arms to be able to compete.

However, I’d ask two questions:

  1. Who would be an upgrade from the Phillies organization over what Baltimore can simply get on the open market without having to give up minor league talent?
  2. In the event of a trade, what does Baltimore have to offer the Phillies that would make Matt Klentak part with needed rotation depth?

Baltimore might target someone like Zach Eflin or Ben Lively or other of their ilk, especially once spring training battles have been decided, but would either of those two really be an upgrade? A quick peek at their depth chart shows that the favorites for the last two spot in the rotation are Miguel Castro and Alec Asher. Are they better than Lively or Eflin? If your answer is “probably not”, then that leads to my second question - what does Baltimore part with?

Their farm system isn’t good, which is why they’re considering trading Manny Machado. To ask a team like the Phillies to trade rotation options means they’d have to make it worth Philadelphia’s while. From the looks of it, they just don’t have what it takes.

It’s a great idea in theory, but the way teams value young, pre-arbitration players these days, particularly pitchers, getting a team to part with young pitching is probably incredibly expensive.

Paul covered this a bit in last week’s mailbag, stating:

As for breakouts, I think all of the following are possible, with varying likelihoods ranging from “plausible” to “probable:”

Maikel Franco posts a respectable slash line in the vicinity of .260/.320/.440

The main problem is that with that kind of slash line from Franco, do you believe it’s a breakout or a fluky year? He’s had two declining seasons in a row, but is still young and talented enough that a line like that is totally attainable not just next year, but in subsequent years. Even then, do you roll the dice and believe in it, forgoing the opportunity to bid on Manny Machado, or do you trade him and chase the Oriole? It’s a difficult spot to be in. Couple that with the problem that if Machado decides to come here, that virtually destroys any trade value Franco would have built with that line since every team in baseball knows the Phillies would have to get rid of Franco to make room for Manny.

On the other hand, if the team deals Franco AND Machado goes elsewhere, now there is a real problem, as they would be left with nothing with no one in the minors to help out.

Unless you think Kingery can man the position.

See, Franco’s struggles the past two season have really put the team in a difficult spot when it comes to future moves. In order for the team to forgo the chance of signing one of the 5-10 best players in the game, Franco would probably have to hit .280/.330/.520 with nary a hint of a slump throughout the season. He does that, I think the team buys into his future.

  1. I’m pretty sure it was -65 on Hoth, and as we all know, tauntauns can’t survive too long long in that kind of weather. Speaking of tauntauns, here’s a nugget I found:

The sound of the Tauntauns was produced by recording the sound of an Asian sea otter named Moda.

2. Listen, Vikings fans need to get over it. It’s been written about ad nauseum: come to Philly dressed in another team’s attire, especially during the playoffs, and you will be harassed. Get over it.

3. The Phillies are going to miss out on Darvish because of length of the contract, not the price. Pretty sure they have the money to beat anyone’s offer, but I’ll bet they won’t go passed 4 years, tops. Which is a shame.

Sounds like a sixth year would do it, too. I’d do it in a heartbeat, mostly because of this:


Thanks to Paul Boye for getting the questions all lined up. Until next time...