Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Ben Lively Pickup For Phillies

The Phillies continued their rebuilding program today, as a New Year’s Eve trade sent veteran outfielder Marlon Byrd to the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for young righthanded pitching prospect Ben Lively.
A deal involving Byrd heading to Cincy has been rumored for at least a week, but it was believed that talks between the two clubs had collapsed. This completed trade shows that was not exactly correct.
Byrd was the Phils 10th Round selection in the 1999 MLB Draft. He broke into the big leagues in 2002, and played in parts of four seasons for the club into 2005. In May of that year, Byrd was dealt to the Washington Nationals for Endy Chavez
Including the Nats, Byrd would play for six teams over the next nine seasons. Then last November the Phillies signed Byrd as a free agent, bringing the 36-year old back in hopes that he could help squeeze one last-gasp postseason appearance out of an aging core.
The 22-year old Lively was the Reds 4th Round selection in the 2013 MLB Draft out of the University of Central Florida. 

Phillies Person of the Year 2014

Jimmy Rollins is the Phillies 2014 Person of the Year
After years covering politics, faith, and society in general here at my website, I switched to strictly baseball, the Phillies this year in particular. In that previous incarnation, I annually honored an American of the Year at the end of each calendar year.
With the changed emphasis, this year I will begin honoring a Philadelphia Phillies organizational Person of the Year with this most recently completed 2014 season. The Person of the Year honor can go to anyone in the organization, major or minor leagues, for an outstanding performance, act, or work, or for career achievements.
The recipient of the first-ever Phillies Person of the Year honor is shortstop Jimmy Rollins. In being so named, JRoll was selected ahead of worthy nominees in Major League 2nd baseman Chase Utley and starting pitcher Cole Hamels, and minor league shortstop J.P. Crawford.

Brett Myers: Backwoods Rebel

Brett Myers has released a 5-song country music EP
Fans of the Philadelphia Phillies remember Brett Myers as a key starting pitcher during the 2000’s, especially with the 2008 World Series champions, or as the closer for the 2007 NL East champions.
But most fans of the team have likely lost contact with the sometimes controversial righthander since he signed as a free agent with the Houston Astros following the 2009 season. 
Well, Brett Myers has resurfaced in recent days in a somewhat surprising role: country singer. Myers has released his debut EP “Backwoods Rebel“, a nickname which also happens to be a part of his Twitter handle @BackWoodRebel39.
In the 5-song set, Myers sings mostly about a pair of country classic topics: drinking and women. 
I Need a Drink“, “Black Creek“, “Chasing Tail“, “Beer Hand Strong“, and his first single “Kegerator” pretty much sum up the selections in their titles alone.
While the topics are simplistic and foster the good ol’ boy stereotype, fact is that this is not a bad initial effort. If a recording career in the country genre is something that the now 34-year old ex-hurler is hoping to pursue, he may have something.
A native of Jacksonville, Florida, Myers has long fostered a countrified image. During the 2008 season, he and fellow rotation mate Joe Blanton were frequently spotted in the clubhouse wearing red “Redneck Wrecking Crew” t-shirts.
Brett Myers
For folks who already are fond of making fun of country music and it’s lifestyle, you’ll probably hear terms like “hillbilly“, “yokel“, and that same “redneck” tossed around in disparaging tones.
There may even be “wife beater” references to the ugly incident back in August of 2006 when Myers, a former boxer, allegedly beat his wife Kim on the streets of Boston while the Phils were there on a road trip.
Myers and his wife, who bailed him out and stood by him following that Boston incident, appear to have put the ugly past behind them, and continue to raise two young children together.
Brett and Kim Myers celebrated winning a World Series together. They have enjoyed a pro baseball lifestyle that earned him almost $60 million in total salary over 11 seasons. Whether they can survive his attempts at a music career remains to be seen.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Face of the Phillies 2015

Chase has been Phils 'Face of the Franchise' last two years
The MLB Network is beginning the process of selecting its 3rd annual “Face of MLB” with the selection of each club’s “Face of the Franchise” nominee.
By following certain hashtags on Twitter, fans do the selecting of which of their team’s stars will represent them in the overall competition.
So far, the network has completed the process for 10 teams. Already selected for their clubs are the following:
Blue Jays – Jose Bautista, Braves – Freddie Freeman, Padres – Seth Smith, Pirates – Andrew McCutchen, Reds – Todd Frazier, Dodgers – Clayton Kershaw, Twins – Joe Mauer, Tigers – Miguel Cabrera, Angels – Mike Trout, White Sox – Chris Sale. 
The Phillies will be one of the final teams for fans to vote on, likely due to the anticipated transitions in the roster this off-season. Fans of the club should be following @FS_TBOH.
As with all developments related to the team we will be keeping you updated. We’ll announce when the voting starts, and give updates during the process, finishing with the announcement of the nominee. 
Once all nominees are selected from each of the 30 clubs, they are positioned in a ‘March Madness’ style bracket. In each pairing, baseball fans will then be asked to vote for their favorites, and voting will continue until a final overall ‘Face of MLB 2015′ is selected.
In both 2013 and 2014, the Phillies nominee was 2nd baseman Chase Utley. In 2013, Utley was upset in the first round by DBacks catcher Miguel Montero. Last year, Utley defeated Rays 3rd baseman Evan Longoria in the first round, but then was dumped by Mariners pitcher Felix Hernandez in the 2nd round. 
The 2013 winner was Cincinnati Reds 1st baseman Joey Votto, who had upset Derek Jeter in the semi-finals and then defeated Matt Kemp in the final vote. The 2014 winner was New York Mets 3rd baseman David Wright, who edged out underdog Eric Sogard of the Oakland A’s.
Wright receives a first-round bye as the defending ‘Face of MLB’, as does the nominee of the World Series-winning San Francisco Giants. That San Francisco nominee has not yet been determined.
Face of MLB
The Phillies eventual 2015 nominee will be pitted in a first-round matchup with the nominee from the Washington Nationals. This could be a tough matchup, with the Nats popularity high. Their fans will be active on social media, so it will be up to Phillies fans to really get behind our candidate.
So who should be the 2015 “Face of the Phillies” in the upcoming vote? By any reasonable measure, if voting is taken seriously, there are two clear candidates: the 2-time defending nominee Chase Utley, and starting pitcher Cole Hamels.
TBOH will be getting behind one of these two players. We’re looking for YOUR input. Let us know who you feel should be the competition nominee, Utley or Hamels. Whomever gets the most support in the coming days will get our backing.
So what do you think? Who do you feel should be the 2015 “Face of the Phillies”, representing the team in this fun MLB Network voting process? Stop by the@FS_TBOH site at Twitter and add your voice.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Chooch on the Block

Carlos Ruiz is another veteran on the trade blocks
A month from now, Carlos Ruiz, the beloved fan favorite Phillies catcher known as “Chooch”, will turn 36 years old. He is the least discussed member of the club’s ‘Glory Era’ aging stars in public trade talks. So, is Chooch on the trade block?
Let’s first look at what he has to offer. What would any team that might need a catcher find attractive about the Phillies veteran?
Despite playing the most difficult, physically demanding position on the field, Ruiz has been healthy and reliable. Since his first full season in 2007, Ruiz reached at least 370 plate appearances in 7 of 8 years.
He has, in fact, gone over 400 plate appearances 5 times, including in 4 of the last 5 seasons. Yes, Chooch is turning 36. But he is healthy, strong, and remains one of the best defensive catchers in baseball. 
Based on FanGraphs values which were looked at this past season, based themselves on fWAR value, Ruiz was the 6th-most valuable catcher in the game behind elite names like Brian McCann, Yadier Molina, Buster Posey, Russell Martin, and Miguel Montero.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Cole Hamels Turns 31 Years Old

Hamels remains in the prime years of his career
Phillies lefty ace Cole Hamels turns 31 years old today. He has pitched in the better part of 9 big league seasons now. He has never suffered any serious injury. In short, Cole Hamels is in his prime.
Taken by the Phils with the 17th overall pick in the 2002 MLB Draft, Hamels reached the Majors 4 years later at age 22.
In those ensuing 9 seasons, Hamels has put together a remarkable record. He is 108-83 with a 3.27 ERA and 1.142 WHIP for his career.
Perhaps just as importantly as his excellence, he has been healthy and dominant. He has pitched 1,801.1 innings with a 1,707-453 K/BB ratio.
Hamels has exceeded the 180 innings pitched mark in every one of his 8 full seasons, and has gone over the 200 inning mark in 7 of the 8 years. In the year he missed, he threw 193.2 innings.
The lefty is currently working with a 7-year, $159 million contract that began running in 2012. It takes him through the 2018 season at $23.5 million per year, with a 2019 option for $20 million more. 
In today’s MLB world, in what has become an $8+ billion industry, and where cost certainty is cherished by all organizations, Hamels contract is absolutely in line with his age, experience, record, talent, and health.
After almost 13 years, will this be Cole Hamels final birthday celebrated as a member of the Philadelphia Phillies organization?
Only time will tell on that count. But one thing is certain: Hamels clearly is still in his prime. Signed for 4-5 more years, years which his history suggests he should remain elite, he should be dealt only if the return is also prime.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Cameron Rupp Ready for Full Season With Phils

Cameron Rupp should be Phillies 2015 backup catcher
The Phillies made Cameron Rupp their 3rd Round pick in the 2010 MLB Draft. A catcher out of the University of Texas, Rupp advanced through the minor league system a level at a time over the next few years.
In 2012 at High-A Clearwater, Rupp’s bat began to display some pop. He cracked 22 doubles and had 10 homers with the Threshers.
Rupp then split 2013 between AA-Reading and AAA-Lehigh Valley, and against the more advanced pitching he increased his homer total to 14.
In September of that 2013 season, Rupp received his first callup to the Big Leagues. It was the classic ‘cup of coffee’, as he appeared in just 4 games, making 3 starts, going 4-13 with a double and 2 RBI. 
Rupp was back at Lehigh Valley to start the 2014 season. But a June injury to starter Carlos Ruiz resulted in his 2nd callup.
For a month from late June through late July, Rupp was the regular starter. In 16 games he hit just .183 with 4 doubles and 6 RBI.
Now entering the 2015 season, assuming the club makes no significant moves at the position, Rupp should be the backup to fan favorite Chooch all year long. 
This means that the 26-year old will be an injury to the 36-year old Ruiz away from the starting catcher role.
GM Ruben Amaro addressed the situation at the Winter Meetings in early December: “our catching situation is not etched in stone other than Carlos naturally.”
Rupp is more suited to a backup role than an everyday starter behind the plate. That’s what the team will be getting if he is forced into a heavier workload.
He is a decent receiver with a strong arm defensively. Offensively he has some pop, but is a weak overall hitter with no speed and with holes in his swing.
Cameron Rupp has been a high draft pick, has worked his way through the Phils system, and has gotten a taste of the Majors. As long as it’s in the backup catcher role, he should be ready for an increased opportunity with the Phillies in 2015.

Jayson Werth: Another Amaro Mistake

Letting Werth leave after 2010 was another Amaro mistake
Ruben Amaro’s record as the General Manager of the Philadelphia Phillies is clearly weighted to the losing side of the ledger by every objective measure. Allowing Jayson Werth to leave via free agency has proven to be yet another Amaro mistake.
Jayson Werth was born to be a professional athlete. His father was a football and baseball-player who reached the Saint Louis Cardinals minor league system. His mother was a track star who competed in the U.S. Olympic trials in two events. His grandfather and uncle both played in the Big Leagues.
Werth came to the Phillies when he was signed as a 27-year old free agent in December of 2006 by GM Pat Gillick. He had been drafted by the Orioles, and bounced around between them, the Blue Jays, and the Dodgers systems, never getting a full chance despite his obvious talents.
The Phillies quickly benefited from the prime years of Werth’s career. During his four seasons in Philly, Werth hit .282 with 95 homers, 99 doubles, 300 rbi, 320 runs scored, and 60 steals. He played an aggressive outfield, mostly in rightfield where he displayed a strong arm, but also as a backup when needed in centerfield where he had the necessary speed and range.
Werth was also a character who fit in perfectly with a core group of players in their 20’s, including Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Pat Burrell, Shane Victorino, Carlos Ruiz, Greg Dobbs, Cole Hamels, Brett Myers, and Ryan Madson. They were young, they were talented, they were having fun, and they were winning. 
Together in 2008, this core of players won the World Series, just the second MLB championship in the 126-year history of the franchise to that point. Werth had a 3-homer game during the season in which he tied the club mark with 8 runs batted in. He led the league in homers vs lefties that year.
Werth was eligible for arbitration that off-season, but loved the team and his situation. He quickly signed a 2-year, $10 million contract in January of 2009. That year, the core group returned largely intact and had another strong, fun season together as defending champs.
Bolstered by big trades for ace lefty Cliff Lee and righty Pedro Martinez, the Phillies returned to the World Series in 2009. There they battled the mighty New York Yankees before falling in 6 hard-fought games. To this point, Amaro’s first year could be seen as a success, despite losing in the Fall Classic.
But then came the GM’s first big miscue. He raised the fans hopes with a thrilling trade for Blue Jays ace righty Roy Halladay. However, on the very same day he pulled the rug out from under them, dealing away Lee.
Amaro’s excuse was that the minor league system needed to be replenished. But the end result was a big nothing to that minors system, and a lost opportunity to have Halladay and Lee together for the entire season.
Realizing his wrong, Amaro tried to right it with the late-season acquisition of righty Roy Oswalt. It worked, and the Phillies won the N.L. East Division crown for a 4th consecutive season.
This was, perhaps not coincidentally, every season since Werth had arrived. He hit .296 with a .388 on-base percentage, had 27 homers, knocked in 85 runs, scored 106, and finished 8th in NL MVP voting that year.
The team would not return for a 3rd straight World Series shot, however. The Giants upended them in 6 hard-fought games in the 2010 NLCS. The Phillies appeared poised for a long run as contenders. In fact they would remain legitimate contenders for just one more season.
With homegrown young lefty Cole Hamels, and traded-for righty aces Halladay and Oswalt already on-board, Amaro again tried to make amends for his mistake of the previous off-season. He signed Lee as a free agent, putting together a dream rotation that became known as the ‘Four Aces’.
That 2011 Phillies team set a franchise record with 102 victories in the regular season, and won the club’s 5th consecutive NL East Division crown. But this time they were bounced out in the decisive 5th game of the NLDS when Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter outdueled Halladay.
Jayson Werth was not around for that record-setting 2011. He had become a free agent. The Washington Nationals, trying to erase their image as losers and begin building a winning tradition of their own, came along and swept Werth off his feet with a 7-year, $126 million contract. 
In 2011, as the Phillies were setting their record, the Nats finished below .500 at 80-81, 21 1/2 games behind the front-running Phils. Werth hit just .232 with 20 homers and 69 runs scored.
However, neither John Mayberry Jr nor Domonic Brown was productive for the Phils. Amaro was forced to trade for Hunter Pence late in the year, trying to get some steady production out of the rightfield position. It worked, production-wise, but ultimately did nothing for the playoffs.
In 2012, in a May game against the Phillies, Werth broke his wrist while trying to make a diving catch. He would miss three months. But he returned late in the year to finally begin giving the club the hustle and leadership that it signed him for, hitting .309 as he took over the leadoff role in the Nats order.
This time around it was Washington with 98 wins and baseball’s best record, while the Phils fell to the .500 mark, 17 games behind. The two franchise’ have gone in opposite directions ever since, with the Nationals rising to become the perennial NL East favorites, and the Phillies a last-place team with no direction.
Would things have been any different in Philly, in any of the playoff series, and in the overall franchise direction, had Amaro simply made a few different decisions? Keep Lee in that 2009 off-season? Keep Werth after 2010, and Shane Victorino through and after 2012?
A lot has been made about turning over an aging and high-salaried nucleus. But what about opportunity to win? When you have the kind of clear clubhouse chemistry that the Phillies group had, how much is too much to pay to keep it together?
In his recent interview series with CSN Philly, departing Phillies shortstop and icon Jimmy Rollins commented on Werth in particular. “He was a big piece…Hitting behind Ryan, he could hit the ball from foul pole to foul pole…What he did defensively. Taking great routes. He could throw. He fit right in with the personalities we had in that club house. When he left, he left a big hole…not only on the field, but just the chemistry of that team.
Jayson Werth
We’ll never be able to prove me wrong, or right for that matter. But would the 2012-2014 Phillies have been better teams with Victorino in centerfield and Werth in right? Would those 2010 Phillies have been better against the Giants with Halladay, Lee and Hamels all in the rotation?
These are the decisions that Amaro has to answer for. These are the decisions that led from a 2008 World Series win to his own deteriorating record: 2009 World Series loss, 2010 NLCS loss, 2011 NLDS loss, 2012 .500 team, 2013 losers, 2014 last place. A team that now has little identity or character.
Meanwhile, Jayson Werth has hit .318 and .292 the last two seasons. He has banged 25 and 16 homers. He has knocked in 82 runs both years, scoring 84 and 85 times.
His on-base percentage has been .398 and .394 those years, while Phils hitters strike out at a horrendous pace and show no discipline. He continues to play a strong rightfield, while the Phillies outfielders are a defensive adventure, at best.
In the 2015 season, the Phillies are again being picked unanimously to finish in the NL East cellar, while the Nationals are again predicted to win the division. So much could have been different with just a couple of moves, including keeping Jayson Werth for $18 million and Shane Victorino for $13 million per year.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Phillies Christmas Stockings: Gifts or Coal?

Phillies Christmas stockings: coal or gifts?
It’s Christmas morning, and all across the Delaware Valley folks are waking to find presents under the Christmas tree and stockings stuffed with gifts. But what about the Phillies? For their 2014 performance, what did we leave in their TBOH Phillies Christmas stockings: gifts or coal?
For the good boys, the good performers who busted it hard all year and held up their end in trying to bring a winner to the fans, there will be gifts. For the bad boys, the poor performers whose play constantly let us down and led most directly to the losing season, there will be only coal. Here’s what every player who appeared in 2014 received:
Domonic Brown: the worst player on the roster in 2014, especially given his playing time. Also, easily the biggest disappointment, coming off what was hoped to have been a breakout 2013 All-Star campaign. His season was a disaster: a .235 batting average, .285 on-base percentage in 512 plate appearances. Hit just 10 homers, scored just 43 runs, and was the worst player on the roster in WAR.
Ryan Howard: a real shame to watch his deterioration. This man was a true force for a long time, 7 dominating seasons from 2005-2011. He needs to be remembered by fans for the peak performance over the long haul. But he is a shadow of his former self now. In 2014 only Brown was a worse WAR player among the regulars. He hit just .223 with a .310 on-base percentage. He was 2nd on the club with 23 homers, and was 4th in the NL with 95 rbi. But in 648 plate appearances, even these are disappointing figures.
Cody Asche: the 25-year old 3rd baseman played his first full season in 2014. He generally fielded his position well, but he basically brought nothing to the batting order of any consequence. Hit just .252 with a .309 on-base percentage. In 434 plate appearances he produced just 10 homers, 46 rbi, 43 runs scored, and stole 0 bases. He only even attempted one steal. That’s zero bases stolen for a 25-year old man. I know that’s not his game, but even 35-year old catcher Carlos Ruiz stole 4 bags.
Mario Hollands: the 25-year old rookie lefty reliever appeared in 50 games. Though he allowed fewer hits (45) than innings (47), he also walked 21, resulting in a 1.404 WHIP and the worst pitching WAR among those given any significant time on the mound.
Kyle Kendrick: I’ve never been one to beat up on KK, as many other Phillies fans have over the years. He is what he is, a #4 starter at best, a #5 on a contender. But in 2014 he was given significant innings, and he lived down to his potential. In 199 innings pitched over 32 starts, 3rd and 2nd most on the staff in those categories, he had a 4.61 ERA. Kendrick allowed 214 hits, and struck out just 121 batters.
It's coal in the stocking for AJ, gifts for Chooch (Photo Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports)
A.J. Burnett: brought in to be a veteran innings-eating #3 behind Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee, he had to step into the #2 role with Lee’s injury, and he just wasn’t up to it most games. He did eat innings, leading the staff with 213.2, and he struck out 190 batters. But his ERA was 4.59 and he walked 96, resulting in a 1.409 WHIP.
Management: manager Ryne Sandbergwas dealt a bad hand of mismatched, injured, and aging players. But he didn’t do much to bring it together either. If these were grades, I’d give him an incomplete. He needs a more clean slate. But for now, can’t “gift” him. Pat Gillick and Ruben Amaro Jr? Please. There isn’t enough of a coal supply available to appropriately fill those stockings.
More coal: John Mayberry Jr, Tony Gwynn Jr, Darin Ruf, Cesar Hernandez, Reid Brignac, Freddy Galvis, Jayson Nix, Maikel Franco, Ronny Cedeno, Aaron Altherr, Koyie Hill, Cameron Rupp, Grady Sizemore, Cesar Jimenez, Wil Nieves, Andres Blanco, B.J. Rosenberg, Phillippe Aumont, Luis Garcia, Sean O’Sullivan, Jonathan Pettibone, Ethan Martin, Brad Lincoln, Shawn Camp, Miguel A. Gonzalez, Jeff Manship, Hector Neris, Mike Adams
Cole Hamels: just 9 wins for the 30-year old lefty, but hardly his fault. He made 30 starts, allowing just 176 hits in 204.2 IP, striking out 198 and allowing just 59 walks. It added up to a 2.46 ERA and a 1.148 WHIP, and a pitching WAR value that was more than twice any other arm on the staff.
Jonathan Papelbon: the closer was outstanding with 39 Saves, a 2.04 ERA, a 0.905 WHIP, and a 63/15 K/BB rate over 66.1 innings. Some negative commentary and off-color antics aside, he has done everything asked of him in the closer role since being signed as a free agent.
Cliff Lee: I’m not holding the injury against him, hardly his fault. When on the mound, he was mostly himself. In 81.1 innings over 13 starts, the 35-year old lefty had a 72/12 K/BB ratio. He was hit more than usual, but the excellent control kept his ERA down to a 3.65 mid-level result.
Jerome Williams, Roberto Hernandez & David Buchanan: it’s all about expectation and production for these three. I didn’t expect anything, and I got something, although modest. Both Hernandez & Buchanan received 20 starts, kept their ERA’s below the 4.00 mark, and allowed about a hit per inning. Buchanan had a tidy 71/32 K/BB ratio for a 25-year old rookie, which was especially nice. Hernandez, a free agent who would have left after the season, ultimately yielded a 19-year old pitcher and 20-year old infielder in trade. Not a bad result all around. The 32-year old Williams was a very nice find, with a 4-2 record in 9 starts. He had a 38/17 K/BB ratio, and allowed just 48 hits in 57.1 innings. It all added up to a 2.83 ERA and 1.134 WHIP.
Chase Utley: the 35-year old 2nd baseman returned to the All-Star Game as the NL’s starter at 2nd, and led the team in WAR. A .278 average and 78 rbi were more than anyone expected from a player who appeared physically shot just a year ago at this time. His defense was also strong, as he was 2nd on the club in defensive WAR. A very nice bounce-back season for the fan favorite.
Jimmy Rollins: the 35-year old shortstop said goodbye at the top of the franchise all-time Hits list, and went out much as his longtime doubleplay partner produced. He was 2nd on the club in offensive WAR to Utley, producing a 17 homer, 68 rbi, 78 runs, 28 steal year. Then he yielded a pair of Top 5 club pitching prospects in trade. Goodbye Jimmy, we love ya. 
Carlos Ruiz: at 35-years old, Chooch has caught over 900 games, and he’s starting to show the wear and tear, at least in his offensive game where he hit just .252 with 6 homers in 445 plate appearances. But the respected team leader and fan favorite remains elite in the defensive game, leading the club in defensive WAR. He retains strong catch and throw skills, and his handling of the pitching staff is outstanding.
Ben Revere: the 26-year old centerfielder hit .306 and contended for the NL Batting crown for much of the late season. He also stole 49 bases and hit 7 triples. He clearly uses his speed well. But he has no pop whatsoever, hitting just 2 homers and 13 doubles in 626 plate appearances. His defensive game was disappointing, and will have to improve for him to retain value going forward.
Marlon Byrd: the 36-year old rightfielder led the club with 25 homers and was 2nd with 85 rbi. But his defense was below par, and his offensive production seriously declined post-All Star break as he had just 7 homers and 31 rbi in 247 plate appearances after mid-July. He is borderline “gift” over “coal”, and hopefully yields something of value in trade this off-season that makes us happier to have him on this side of the ledger.
The Bullpen: Antonio Bastardo (28), Jake Diekman (27), Justin DeFratus (26) and most especially Ken Giles (23) had teamed with Papelbon to make this one area of true strength for the team by season’s end. They combined for 233.1 innings in which they allowed just 179 hits. They struck out 294 batters while walking just 92.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

What is the Best-Case Scenario for Phils 2015 Outfield?

Ruf, Revere, Brown: upside on projected Phils 2015 outfield?
What if the Phillies outfield actually came through in 2015? What if that projected outfield of Darin Ruf, Ben Revere, and Domonic Brown all reached their full potential at once? What is the best-case scenario for the Phillies outfield?
The professional oddsmakers in Las Vegas have made the Phillies the longest of longshots to actually win the 2015 World Series. At 250-1, the Phils are tied with the Minnesota Twins for that dubious honor.
Is there any chance at all of them beating those odds? And if not, is there any chance of the team at least outperforming the low expectations?
Let’s forget the longest of long shots, a World Series win, and concentrate on simply reaching .500 again, maybe even having an unexpected winning season. One of the keys to making that happen would certainly be increased offensive production from the outfielders.
A lot can happen between now and the start of the 2015 season, including the club deciding to use Cody Asche in left field, moving Ruf in to 1st base, and playing Maikel Franco at 3rd base.
But for now at least, the plan is for Asche to stay at 3rd base. If Franco makes the club out of spring training it is likely to be at 1st base, either in place of Ryan Howard or in a right-left platoon at the beginning. 
In that most likely scenario, it would be Darin Ruf in leftfield, Ben Revere in centerfield, and Domonic Brown in rightfield. The expectations for such an outfield are one thing, completely based on their performances to this point in their careers. But all have been considered to have greater potential. What if they all reach that potential together at one time this season?
Darin Ruf is 28 years old now, and will play the bulk of the 2015 season at that age. He spent years progressing methodically through the Phillies minor league system after being selected in the 20th Round of the 2009 MLB Draft. At Reading in 2012, Ruf had his best season, clubbing 38 homers, driving in 104 runs, and hitting for a .317 average.
Ruf has spent parts of the last 3 seasons with the Phils. Derailed by an assortment of injuries, Ruf has managed just 442 MLB plate appearances in that time, close to one full season worth. He has 20 homers, 48 rbi, and has hit .251 in the big leagues.
Darin Ruf certainly has power, and if he could just stay healthy and remain in the lineup for a 500+ plate appearance season, a year of 25+ homers and 80+ rbi is certainly plausible. The entire key for Ruf is remaining healthy.
Ben Revere is 26 years old, and will turn 27 at the beginning of May. He was the Minnesota Twins 1st Round pick in the 2007 MLB Draft out of high school, and then spent a half-dozen years progressing steadily through their minor league system. The Phils obtained him in a December 2012 trade for pitchers Vance Worley and Trevor May.
Revere got a cup of big league coffee with the Twins in 2010. He then became their starting centerfielder in both 2011 and 2012 before the trade, and the Phillies centerfielder following in 2013 and 2014. In just over 4 seasons, Revere has more than 2,000 MLB plate appearances, hitting for a .291 average and stealing 145 bases.
A full season out of Ben Revere in his prime, reaching his full potential, would look something like a .300 batting average with 50 steals and 80-90 runs scored. If he had consistently productive rbi bats behind him, he could go over the 100-runs mark.
Domonic Brown is 27 years old, and will play almost the entirety of 2015 at that age, so it should be considered that he is just now entering his prime. The Phils 20th Round pick in the 2006 MLB Draft out of high school, Brown has received more than 2,000 minor league plate appearances in advancing methodically through the system.
Domonic Brown
From 2010-14, Brown spent at least parts of the season in Philadelphia, including the bulk of the last 3 seasons. He appeared to have a breakout in 2013 when he was named to the NL All-Star team. He hit 27 homers, knocked in 82 runs, and hit for a .272 average.
But in 2014, Brown seriously regressed. In virtually the same number of plate appearances, he hit just 10 homers, drove in just 63 runs, and hit for just a .235 average. In the field he often looked lost, with numerous misplays. He quite simply looked like he did not belong in the big leagues.
Brown was hyped by many national sources as a top prospect for a handful of years prior to his big 2013 campaign. So which is he, the breakout 2013 player, or the bust 2014 player? Suppose it’s more the former, and in his prime Brown puts it all together to the tune of 25-30 homers and 90-100 rbi with a .270+ batting average?
How would it affect an overall Phillies 2015 finish if Ruf hit .285 with 25 homers and 80 rbi, Revere hit .300 with 50 steals and 100 runs, and Brown hit .275 with 30 homers and 100 rbi?
Of course, there is probably a better chance that we won’t see anything close to those marks, at least from the corner outfielders. But with little more to dream on with the 2015 Phillies than the next trade of Glory Era veterans for prospects, feel free to dream.