February 09, 2018
While you've been recovering from a wild week – it started Sunday night with the Eagles winning the Super Bowl and ended Friday with you still hungover from the championship parade a day before – you might have forgotten that there are other professional sports teams playing in this town.
The Sixers and Flyers have at least been playing games to remind you of that fact, but the Phillies have been quietly flying under the radar since signing Carlos Santana earlier this offseason.
Since you're probably not ready to dive headfirst into baseball, we'll try to ease the transition by starting today's edition of What They're Saying with a story comparing this Phillies team to the WORLD CHAMPION PHILADELPHIA EAGLES. (Sorry, it still feels really good to write that.)
Crazy right? Well, before the season started, so was the idea of the Eagles winning the Super Bowl – and the Phillies' win percentage in 2017 (.407) wasn't far off from what the Birds posted in 2016 (.438). Just sayin'...
However, John Stolnis isn't suggesting the Phillies are going to make a World Series run or anything, just pointing out some potential similarities. And there are some similarities.
Nelson Agholor was a disaster in 2016 for the Eagles. Dropped passes. Bad routes. Frustration. Bust written all over him. Most called for him to be released at midseason last year, and no one thought he was going to have the kind of turnaround season he did this year.
Sound any Phillie player you know?
Out of 144 qualified Major League players last year, Maikel Franco’s fWAR of -0.5 was 138th. Only six players were worse. He hit 24 home runs, but that’s about all he did. Many Phils fans just want to be rid of him, already tired of his inconsistency. But like Agholor, who was a first round pick by the Birds, Franco has a ton of talent and was one of the best-looking young sluggers in baseball as recently as 2015.
Can Franco have a bounce-back season like Agholor did? [thegoodphight.com]
The Phillies equipment truck left for Clearwater on Friday – that's right, spring training is almost here – so that means it's time to start looking ahead toward the Opening Day roster.
Phillies manager Gabe Kapler pretty much knows his Opening Day lineup. The players are nearly set, even if the exact order is undecided. The same could be said for the rotation and bullpen, even though Phillies pitchers and catchers do not hold their first workout until Wednesday in Clearwater, Fla.
Of course, there is gray area with every roster. Phillies general manager Matt Klentak has indicated in recent months that the team could employ an eight-man bullpen to make up for shortcomings in the rotation. Perhaps that thinking changes if Philadelphia signs a reliable veteran starter and the young starters perform better than expected in camp.
If the Phillies feel better about the rotation, they could use a traditional seven-man bullpen, giving Kapler an extra player on the bench. Klentak and Kapler talk a lot about versatility and flexibility. Having an extra player on the bench would give Kapler an extra weapon late in the game. [mlb.com]
Speaking of the roster, the Phillies announced on Friday the signings of two players who will get invites to spring training.
The Orioles had interest in bringing Flaherty, 31, back and had been in discussions with him in recent days, but they couldn’t put a comparable offer together before Flaherty decided to sign with the Phillies, according to a source....
Flaherty, acquired in the Rule 5 draft from the Chicago Cubs before the 2012 season, has spent his entire big league career with the Orioles. He hit just .215/.284/.355 over his six years with the Orioles, but offered tremendous value by being able to play around the diamond.
He spent his most time at second base, but also started at third base, shortstop, right field, left field and first base. [baltimoresun.com]
Cowgill signed a minor-league deal with Philadelphia on Thursday that includes an invitation to spring training, Bob Nightengale of USA Today Sports reports.
Cowgill will earn $800,000 if he makes the big-league roster. In 2017, the outfielder appeared in 58 games for Triple-A El Paso within the Padres' organization, slashing .235/.297/.390 with seven home runs and 24 RBI. He hasn't competed in the majors since playing in 55 games with the Angels in 2015, and is unlikely to make much of an impact at the highest level during this upcoming season. [cbssports.com]
Head on over to TBOH for a nice breakdown of the PECOTA projections for season, including which players they think will have the best seasons.
Baseball Prospectus uses their PECOTA system to project player and team performance for the future, and they released their projections Wednesday.
Phils fans will be happy to know their team is not projected to finish worst in the National League East for the second year in a row. Instead, Philadelphia is projected to finish third in the division with a near-.500 record of 78-84. They are projecting a 12-win improvement from the club after going 66-96 in 2017. This a four-win improvement from PECOTA’s projection last year, which had them going 74-88. [thatballsouttahere.com]
They're previewing the NL East over on the SB Nation Braves site, Talking Chop. Here's where they think the Phillies will finish this season:
The Phillies are still a few years away, although they should be younger and more fun to watch than the past couple teams. They’ve done a nice job setting themselves up for the future by rebuilding the farm and clearing some awful contracts. The lineup could be pretty decent with Hoskins and Santana providing some thud, but the rotation figures to struggle behind Nola. They seem likely to battle the Braves for 3rd in the division. [talkingchop.com]
Many outlets are posting their 2018 prospect rankings, and Jared Pallo over at The Good Phight not only has then all organized in an easy-to-read table, but also breaks down the which players are rising and which are falling.
11 different Phillies prospects appeared on top 100/101 lists from Baseball America, ESPN’s Keith Law, MLB Pipeline, Fangraphs and Baseball Prospectus. Of those 11, only three were constants across the board...
Two of the biggest risers from within the system in rankings were Gamboa and Ortiz, both of whom made their first Top 100 lists. Aside from Kingery and Sanchez, Gamboa and Ortiz will likely be two of the most talked about Phillies prospects in 2018. Gamboa seems to be a likely trade candidate with Crawford having cemented himself, for the time being, as the future at short for the Phils. With a successful first year in full season ball at age 19, Ortiz could shoot up prospect lists next offseason and even this midseason. [thegoodphight.com]
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