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The Good Phight mailbag: Vol. 1

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Let’s revive this old battleship!

Philadelphia Phillies’ Bryce Harper Workout Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

We’re all still basking in post-Bryce Harper signing glow, letting it wash over us like a spring rain. It’s a wonderful feeling and I personally don’t want it to end. We’ve added a bunch of new followers on the Twitter machine (hi, new followers!), seen our readership jump with the news and are generally enjoying all the attention we are getting now.

With that in mind, we’re gonna revive the ole’ mailbag option here at The Good Phight. Whether it’s weekly, bi-weekly, or whenever one of us remembers <gently tugs neck collar>, we’ll be glad to take some turns answering your pressing questions. This week, I’m up, so here we go. Answers to questions submitted by you, the reader.

Ah, a Trout question right off the bat. <rubs hand vociferously>

I’m on record as saying Mike Trout will never come to Philadelp-oh wait. We’re assuming this too with this question? Oh good, I’m just so used to combating that idea so often, it’s like a reflex at this point.

This question assumes that Trout will be be swimming away from Anaheim, so we’re free to proceed with our plans with that in mind. That means we’re going to look somewhere else for ways to improve the team via free agency. Let’s scan the MLB Trade Rumors list of free agents for the 2019-20 offseason.

FIve names jump right to me: Anthony Rendon, Madison Bumgarner, Gerrit Cole, Justin Verlander and Chris Sale.

Rendon and Sale, I think, are the least likely to become actual free agents. We’ve already heard that Sale is talking with Boston about staying, and with Harper coming to Philadelphia already, you can bet Washington will make every effort to extend Rendon. Plus, I think it’s fair to say, with regards to Rendon, Arenado’s contract will be the baseline in his negotiations and I just don’t value the two of them the same way. Boston has no reason to let Sale go since they have nothing else behind him to take his place in the rotation, so we can probably assume that that deal gets done relatively painlessly.

That leaves the three pitchers. Verlander, I think, might be a gamble simply due to age and mileage. Sure, he’s been great since moving to Houston, but at some point he’s gonna break down. You can’t really be so certain with that guy due to the fact that he did turn himself around, but I’d rather take a gamble on a pitcher that still has some upside.

Bumgarner has had some freak injuries, but he’s also seen a tiny bit of slippage as well with his stuff. This season will be a telling one with regards to how teams project him. He might be a guy the Phillies look to trade for in July rather than sign in December.

To me, that leaves Gerrit Cole. He’s found something that works in Houston to wear he is an ace now. He’s answered all the questions that faced him prior to 2018 and then some. If he has another season like he had last year, he’ll command more than what David Price got on the open market (7 years/$217 million), something well within the Phillies’ budget. Beyond that, it’s too hard to project without knowing who isn’t extended. So, I’ll go with that. Cole is the target.

If it’s the Marlins, certain people will not be employed.

Seriously though, I’m not sold on the Braves headed into the season. While Ronald Acuna is awesome and Freddie Freeman is as steady as they come, the rest of the team has a lot of question marks.

  • Which Ozzie Albies will show up - the one who hit .293/.341/.647 in April or the one who hit .254/.296/.409 the rest of the season?
  • Can they really count on Josh Donaldson to get back to his MVP form? Are they even expecting that?
  • Will their rotation survive the spring, with the rash of injuries already claiming two players that were supposed to be key cogs?

Another team, the Mets - do you really trust the Mets? I really like the rotation, but that lineup feel real “boom or bust”. Robinson Cano will be an upgrade, but the rest of the regulars don’t really put the fear of God into anyone.

That leaves one team, down in the capital. I feel like if the Phillies are close to any team in the division, it’s the Nationals. The Phillies finally have someone who can be in the same conversation as Max Scherzer, but the rest of the rotation that Mike Rizzo has assembled looks better (on paper, at least). The offense has every chance to be as good as what the Phillies have assembled. The one place where I think the Phillies have a real advantage is in the bullpen. Give me Dominguez/Robertson/Neris over any three the Nationals can put together.

So when it comes down to it, the team that the Phillies have the best chance of having the same record as is Washington. Which means they’ll end up tied with the Marlins.

I’m not, nor have I ever been, a Zach Eflin believer. He’s at best a #4 guy that is probably best suited as either just that, or trade bait as part of a package for something better. He had whispers that he could be juuuuuust a little bit more last year, but then he started getting hammered again.

Meanwhile, Nick Pivetta had peripherals last year that suggested he was pretty unlucky. He had StatCast data that says he should have been better as well. He’s been the apple of the analytical community’s eye this offseason when they look at potential breakout candidates. But in the end, he didn’t have the results on the field, so his final number line looked similar to Eflin.

However, this is a roundabout way of saying that it’s Pivetta, without a doubt. If he is able to harness that curveball a little more, put the fastball that can touch 99 in better locations, and develop even a hint of a changeup, he can jump ahead of Jake Arrieta as this team’s #2 starter. It might not happen this year, but I feel better about his chances of hitting that ceiling than I do about Eflin exceeding his.

I think if they were develop and promote a teenager, it’s not going to be anyone from the MLB draft. The closest thing they have to that would be Mickey Moniak and, well, that ain’t going well.

What’ll have to happen is a player that they scout in Latin America, sign during the July period and bring stateside rather early would have to be the guy we look at. Those guys would have to be super advanced in the first place, right, to even be considered. The team tends to bring along their Latin prospects slowly, so the best shot they have right now is Luis Garcia. He’s ranked highly on the team’s top prospects lists, but his scouting shortcomings all revolve around his bat, the very thing that helped players like Juan Soto and Ronald Acuna explode into the major leagues. So, unless Garcia suddenly his hit tool to like 65 grade levels to go along with adding to his power tool, it doesn’t look promising for the team to have a teenage phenom any time soon.

69.

I’m kidding.

Harper is a lock, now and forevermore. As long as it’s a popularity contest, he’ll be in. Aaron Nola, as long as he’s AARON NOLA, will be in. J.T. Realmuto too, since National League catchers are bad. I could see a pop up reliever making it, but I think that’s about it. Rhys Hoskins will suffer from having Paul Goldschmidt playing in St. Louis with those ballot stuffers and Anthony Rizzo in Chicago.

My official prediction: Bryce Harper, Aaron Nola, J.T. Realmuto with Hoskins making the Final Vote ballot.

There were days on Twitter that were dark when it came to whether or not the team would pony up to get Harper. You saw them all, the non-believers. The ones who doubted. They were everywhere. It was totally understandable, reasons for which have been rehashed over and over, so I won’t lay them all out here.

Jon and I? Never a doubt.

We get, minimum, three months to gloat about this. Stand ready.

I’m not ready to proclaim this team World Series bound as it is currently constructed.

I also do not believe that they will stay this way. This team is built to win right now and I just don’t see them stopping now with player acquistions. No, I don’t think a Keuchel or Kimbrel signing is in the future, but the trade deadline? Yeah, this team will be active.

However, as I stated earlier, I think they’re still a starter away from being proclaimed World Series favorites. Scroll back up and you’ll see who I think this team targets, but if they should get one of them, then yes, I’ll say that anything short of a World Series in 2020 or 2021 would be disappointing.

I mean, we’re all expecting this offense to be really good this season right? Guess what - they’re all under control for next season too.

The pitching staff? Same deal.

Bullpen? Samesies, except for the guys that are old anyway.

Add a really good, solid pitcher next season and watch out.