Yes, we’re bringing back the mailbag. Will it be a regular feature? Maybe! But for now, let’s sit back, get to know each other, and fight over which WAR is best: Fangraphs, Baseball Reference or Baseball Prospectus.
Are the Braves actually ahead of the Phillies? If so, why didn’t they win when the teams played in 2019?— shred (@shred__bro) December 28, 2019
Um, yes, the Braves are ahead of the Phillies and it really isn’t that close. I think the gap between the Braves and the Phillies isn’t as deep as many think it is, but a trio of Acuna-Freeman-Albies is better than Realmuto-Harper-Kingery.
But I don’t think the gap in talent can explain why the Phillies beat the Braves in head to head matchups last year. That just comes down to the way the ball bounces on any given night. If we’re being honest with why the Braves and Phillies were separated by so much, the first glaring reason is the talent. The Braves have more of it. Second, the injuries the Phillies sustained, while not all of the reason, was a major part of why the team failed. A bullpen can only overcome so much before they begin to falter. Lastly, there was the case of simple regression from players that the Phillies simply couldn’t afford to get it from. Around the diamond, you can point to at least 4 positions where the team got worse (1B, 2B, SS, CF), five if you wanted to count Aaron Nola going from Cy Young-esque to merely good. Even Scott Kingery’s improvement last year only meant he went from really bad to average. That’s not a lot of help from positions where they really needed it. It’s mostly why I’m so bullish on the team this year.
If you could pick 3 realistic moves for the Phillies to make, (pretend Klentak isn’t GM and our owner is okay going over tax), what would they be?— Matt Koch (@bossman277) December 28, 2019
As of right now? I’m assuming you mean right now, with all of the moves made before this counting. Ok.
- Sign Josh Donaldson for 3 years/$90 million. It’s only money and if we’re blowing past the tax, might as well just spend the money and save the prospect capital for a later, bigger deal.
- Sign Alex Wood to a one year deal with a relatively easily reached innings based incentive for a second. The team isn’t finding an impact starter at this point, so the best approach is “see what sticks” might be the best route to take.
- Probably the biggest one - trade Alec Bohm, Francisco Morales and Mickey Moniak for Mookie Betts. If the Red Sox are truly serious about trading Betts in order to reduce salary and (in this dream scenario) the team has locked up Donaldson, they should do everything they can to get the former AL MVP. In this case, they aren’t trying to take on extra salary. We just want the player. Giving the Red Sox the team’s #2, 3 and 7 prospects (according to BP) is a steep price to pay, but then the lineup looks like this:
That’s a fearsome lineup, one that is easily the best in the National League. Make it so, Middleton. Make it so.
Simple Q: Winning season 2020?— David Palardy (@SomaDaydream) December 28, 2019
As I mentioned earlier, this team saw a lot of regression from key players. Hoskins, Hernandez, Segura and center field as a whole was worse than in 2018. That is a lot of deadwood that other players like Harper and Realmuto had to make up for. If even two of those positions get better, this team, the offense in particular, looks a lot better.
Think about it like this. What if each of those players goes back to having the years they were used to having? Hoskins goes from a 113 wRC+ to a 128, like in 2018. Segura goes from a 92 wRC+ to a 110. Didi Gregorius, who had a 122 wRC+ in 2018 when he was fully healthy, substitutes for Cesar Hernandez, who contributed a 92 wRC+ in 2019. These are 15-20 point swings, massive improvement on an offense that struggled to score runs. It’s probably wishful thinking, but it is within the realm of possibility. So yes, a winning season is on the horizon.
Playoffs? You’ll have to wait on our preseason predictions for that.
Why do we have zero international prospects and only 2 top 100 and arguably top 200 prospects after so many rebuilding seasons? How clueless is Klentak?— John Stewart (@jonance) December 28, 2019
Um, I don’t know?
I don’t claim to be a prospect maven. I know the names and can do a fair share of box score scouting, but I don’t know much beyond that. Answering that question, then, is really hard and the best I can give you is that - the development system in Philadelphia is broken and something needs to be done. They’ve taken steps by hiring guys like Jason Ochart to overhaul the minor league hitting philosophy, but I’m not sure how much of it falls on Klentak.
I want Kris Bryant in red pinstripes more than I want oxygen, how about you?— Dyl (@Girardistan) December 28, 2019
I think it would be silly and dishonest to say I didn’t, but as we sit here now, why not just spend the money on Donaldson AND keep the prospects it would take to get Bryant?
We had a discussion amongst ourselves about the scenario in which Donaldson ends up in the National League East. Is it necessary for the team to respond by trading for Bryant or Arenado? My gut feeling is that yes - they’ll need to do something, particularly if it is Atlanta that gets him. But my brain says to hold on to what they have now and wait until the trading deadline before moving chips into the middle of the table. By that point, they will be aware of what kind of team they have and whether it needs added pieces to get to the playoffs or if it is necessary to wait until 2021. Yes I know that will make this season a failure, but there needs to be some clear eyed thinking when it comes to assembling the roster for the season and the future. If this passive approach means the end of Klentak’s tenure, so be it.
How do we solidify the rotation— Danny Kamen (@Chevrolet_Z28) January 3, 2020
Well, now that Hyun-Jin Ryu has signed, pretty much all of the impact starting pitchers are accounted for. So any improvement will have to come from the internal ranks.
As of today, the team will run out Nola/Wheeler/Arrieta/Eflin as the first four pitchers. There will be a battle in spring training between Pivetta and Velasquez for the fifth spot, with maybe a spring invite getting some run in the competition. But unless there is a surprise signing and/or trade coming, this is what the team is running with.
However, there stands the possibility that the best acquisition will be in the form of Bryan Price. Taking nothing away from Wheeler, but if the pitching coach can positively affect two or more pitchers, that’s just as good as signing a free agent pitcher outside of one of the big ones this offseason.