Thursday, January 28, 2016

Looking Ahead to Phillies 2016 Outfield Mix

On April 6th, 2015 for Opening Day against the Boston Red Sox at Citizens Bank Park, the Phillies starting outfield consisted of Ben Revere in left, Odubel Herrera in center, and Grady Sizemore in right field.
Six months later, on October 4th, the Phillies closed out the season hosting the Miami Marlins with a starting outfield of Darin Ruf in left, Aaron Altherr in center, and Jeff Francoeur in right field. During the game, Altherr slid over to left, and Herrera came on to play center field.
During the course of the 2015 season, Cody Asche started 61 games and played in 63 out in left field. 
With the trade of Revere to the Toronto Blue Jays at the July trade deadline, that made Asche, who began the year as the starting 3rd baseman, the player who had seen the most action at the left field position.
That 2015 outfield mix was a major change from the previous season. In 2014, the Phillies started Marlon Byrd in right field for 149 games, Revere in center for 141, and Domonic Brown in left field for 127 games.
Now as the club prepares to report for spring training in Clearwater in just three weeks, the outfield is again poised for significant changes. 
Gone are Byrd, Brown, Francoeur, Revere, and Sizemore. The outfield has been a disappointing mess for the Phillies at least since Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence were dealt away at the 2012 trade deadline. 

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Philography: Kevin Stocker

During this current off-season, the “Philography” series has covered 1970’s era shortstop and franchise icon Larry Bowa, and early 20th century outfielder Sherry Magee.
In this piece, we’ll take a look at an often overlooked, but extremely vital piece to the ‘Macho Row’ NL pennant winners of the 1993 season, shortstop Kevin Stocker.
Stocker was born on February 13th, 1970 in Spokane, Washington. He grew up in that Pacific Northwest town, attended high school there, and went on to play baseball in-state at the University of Washington.
In the 1991 MLB Amateur Draft, the Phillies made a pitcher out of Wichita State University, Tyler Green, their first round pick at 10th overall. In the second round with the 53rd overall pick, the Phils selected Stocker.
To say that Stocker didn’t hit well in his first professional season during that summer of 1991 at Spartanburg would be an understatement. He produced just a .220/.310/.272 slash line with a dozen extra-base hits in 290 plate appearances.
But Stocker did flash some speed, swiping 15 bases in 18 attempts. And he fielded the shortstop position extremely well. At just 21 years of age, he looked like the prototypical good glove, light-hitting shortstop with some speed whose ability to actually reach the Major League Baseball level was extremely questionable.
In 1992, Stocker got stronger and improved his offensive production. He split the season between High-A Clearwater and AA-Reading, producing a .267/.339/.349 slash line with 74 runs scored and 32 steals over a combined 550 plate appearances. He showed that improved strength and adjustment to pro pitching with 30 extra-base hits, including his first two professional home runs.
Meanwhile in Philadelphia, the Phillies were seriously struggling. The big league club finished 70-92 and in last place in the NL East in what was a 6th consecutive losing season for the franchise.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Pete Rose Should be Honored on Phillies Wall of Fame

In a special news conference called to make the event official, the Reds announced that they will enshrine Pete Rose, and will also retire his uniform number ’14’ and unveil a statue in his honor during a ceremony to take place on the weekend of June 24th-26th.
Per ESPN news services and the Associated Press, Reds CEO Bob Castellini stated: 
Inducting Pete into the Reds Hall of Fame will be a defining moment in the 147-year history of this storied franchise. He is one of the greatest players to ever wear a Reds uniform and it will be an unforgettable experience watching him being honored as such.
According to the same report, the famed “Charlie Hustle” was asked how he would like the statue to portray him, and poked fun at his gambling issues by responding: “Well, I sure as hell don’t want it to be me standing at the $2 window at Turfway.”
Rose will become the 86th member of the Reds Hall of Fame, which includes his fellow ‘Big Red Machine’ teammates Johnny BenchJoe MorganTony Perez,Dave ConcepcionGeorge FosterCesar Geronimo, and Ken Griffey Sr, as well as their manager, Sparky Anderson
The Reds’ HOF also includes newly elected Baseball Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr.
The announcement brings up an interesting question: should the Philadelphia Phillies also honor Rose, inducting him on to their Wall of Fame at Citizens Bank Park?

Philography: Sherry Magee

This time around we’re entering the Way Back Machine, back to the first decade of the 20th century, and giving fans a bit of a background on a Phillies Wall of Famer.
Sherwood Robert Magee, better known as Sherry Magee to baseball fans of his day, was born on August 6th, 1884 in Clarendon, Pennsylvania, a tiny borough in Warren County, just north of the Allegheny National Forest, about 140 miles northeast of Pittsburgh.
If you want a rough comparison to a contemporary baseball great, think Pete Rose. Magee was described by John J. Ward in ‘Baseball Magazine‘ as “a man for whom it is easy to conceive a great liking or a passionate hatred,” per Tom Simon at SABR‘s baseball bio project, who further sketched out my Rose comparison by writing: 
Though he stood only 5’11” and weighed 179 lbs., he was physically imposing-“husky” and “burly” were adjectives commonly used to describe him.
Simon reports that it was a Phillies scout by the name of Jim Randall who happened to be disembarking a train in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, just outside Harrisburg, in early summer 1904 when he overheard some locals raving about a local ballplayer.
Randall stopped to see the kid, and offered him a contract that same day. The next day, the 19-year old Magee was in Philly practicing with the team. Just two days after first being seen, Magee was starting in left field for manager Hugh Duffy‘s squad at Baker Bowl in an 8-6 loss to the Brooklyn Superbas.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Phillies Now Surprisingly Counting on Jerad Eickhoff

In that trade, the Phils sent ace homegrown lefty Cole Hamels to the Lone Star State in exchange for catcher Jorge Alfaro, outfielder Nick Williams, and pitchers Jake ThompsonAlec Asher, and Jerad Eickhoff.

Eickhoff is not listed last there by happenstance. The fact is that at the time of the deal, Eickhoff was the most anonymous of the pieces coming back to the Phillies, and the one least expected to impact the team, especially in the short-term.
As anyone who follows the team knows, that narrative was quickly changed by Eickhoff’s performances as soon as he arrived. 
Assigned to AAA Lehigh Valley after the deal, Eickhoff went 2-1 in 3 starts, allowing 17 hits in 21.2 innings, with a 19/3 K:BB ratio.
Not only those statistics, but his maturity and poise impressed the club enough to call Eickhoff up to the big leagues for his first start on August 21st at Marlins Park against the host Miami Marlins. 
There were no promises made to the 25-year old. He would have to keep impressing if he wanted to stay with the Phillies.
Impress he did. Eickhoff shut out Miami on five hits over six innings, striking out five and walking just one batter, earning the Win in his big league debut in a 7-1 Phillies victory.