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Carlos Santana Doesn’t Suck

BWanksCB - April 18, 2018

When the Phillies inked Carlos Santana to a three-year contract worth $60 million last December, one popular line of thinking went like this: Santana is a veteran hitter noted for his plate-discipline and savvy approach. He takes the pitches that he should take and swings at the ones he should swing at. By proxy, his presence will help a talented, but struggling player like Maikel Franco help realize his potential that to this point has been unfulfilled, in part, by failing to do what Santana succeeds at. In essence, an ancillary benefit of Santana’s own production would be that a player like Franco would look more like Santana this season.

To be fair, that is pretty much what has happened through 16 games. Unfortunately for the Phillies, this has not been a positive development. Santana, a hitter with a proven track record of success, is a hot mess right now. He enters tonight’s game hitting a paltry .136 over 59 at-bats this season, which is .111 points below his career average. His .548 OPS is 258 points (holy shit!) below his .806 career average. He’s hitless in his last 14 at bats and is 2-for-26 over his past seven games. He’s been brutal.

Most fans don’t want to hear this, and I get it, but he has run into some bad luck. Hitting the ball hard is, you know, normally a good thing, but it hasn’t worked out for Santana thus far. His 40% hard-hit percentage is actually up from his 33.1% career mark. What’s more, according to Statcast, his 90.67 mph average exit velocity is above the MLB average of 88.89 mph, yet his .125 BABIP is the lowest among any qualified hitter in baseball. I know what you’re thinking. Cool numbers, dude—so what does this mean? Well, here’s what his current season BABIP looks like in relationship to his career and league averages: Continue Reading

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Odubel Herrera’s Value Far Outweighs His Occasional Mistakes

BWanksCB - April 17, 2018

Odubel Herrera has registered an .887 OPS over his first 53 at-bats this season. His .340 batting average currently leads all major league center fielders. He is a career .290 hitter who possesses the ability to hit for average, reach base at an impressive clip, and rack up extra-base hits with ease. In fact, he tallied 59 XHB’s during what many believed to be an underwhelming campaign last season. His offensive production is irrefutably impressive.

Defensively, he possesses natural tools that allow for flashes of brilliance in center field:

Herrera also happens to occasionally pimp his home runs:

He will do this (gasp!) when he doesn’t hit home runs: Continue Reading

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Top Phillies Prospect Sixto Sanchez Shows what the Hype is All About in Season Debut

BWanksCB - April 15, 2018

Ardent Phillies fans have spent the past several summers desperately checking minor league box scores in search of hope that players like Rhys Hoskins, Scott Kingery, Nick Williams, and J.P. Crawford were fulfilling their collective promise, a promise that would one day in the not too distant future make the big league club relevant again. While it appears that day has finally arrived, there are still plenty of good reasons to keep an eye on the organization’s minor league clubs. The best of those reasons, right-handed pitching prospect Sixto Sanchez, is almost unanimously considered the Phillies’ top prospect and one of the best arms in all of minor league baseball. He made his season debut with the Class-A Clearwater Threshers this afternoon, flashing his electric arsenal of plus-pitches while showing what the hype is all about:

101? 100? Backbreaking power slider?

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So is Gabe Kapler Good at his Job Now?

BWanksCB - April 15, 2018

Let us rewind to April 5, the day of the Phillies’ home opener. The team impotently limped back to Philadelphia to open its home slate after a miserable 1-4 start to the season. By that time, Gabe Kapler:

  • Agitated his centerfielder by leaving him out of the Opening Day lineup.
  • Agitated his best starting pitcher by prematurely removing him on Opening Day. It was a disaster of a game that the Phillies went on to lose in mystifying, yet predictable, fashion.
  • Fried his bullpen after utilizing his relievers at a historic rate, forcing him to use utility man Pedro Florimon as a mop-up reliever in only the third game of the season.
  • Failed to properly execute a routine pitching change because he didn’t allow ample time for his reliever to warm up, which, in turn, led to Major League Baseball issuing an embarrassing warning to the Phillies.
  • Watched as a report emerged just prior to that day’s game that an anonymous Phillies player believed the team would be fine if Kapler would “get out of the way.”

For those reasons, the soundtrack of Kapler’s first weekend in Philadelphia featured a merciless stream of boos from agitated fans assembled at Citizens Bank Park that began with the team introductions:

 

 

Those boos carried over into the game, even when his moves were sound in judgment:

And they didn’t subside over the duration of the weekend:

Fast-forward to today. The Phillies have won eight of their last nine games, including six-straight after sweeps of the Reds and Rays, to move into second-place in the NL East. With a 9-5 record, they are off to their best start since the 2011 season, and with a win on Monday night, can officially rip off their longest winning streak in almost six years.

How do you like Gabe Kapler now? Continue Reading

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Eagles’ CB Worley Arrested, Team Reportedly Considering His Release

BWanksCB - April 15, 2018

The Eagles’ title defense begins tomorrow when the team assembles at the NovaCare Complex for OTAs, but it is unclear if one of their offseason acquisitions will be in attendance after this troubling report from NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport emerged earlier this morning:

That…doesn’t sound ideal. To be fair, the circumstances around Worley’s arrest are still unclear, but the initial information is concerning.

Passed out in a vehicle that was blocking traffic + tased + combative with police + arrested + gun = ?

Les Bowen reports that the team is considering parting ways with Worley:

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Aaron Nola Was Magic Last Night

BWanksCB - April 11, 2018

Until last night, no Phillies starter had yet to navigate himself beyond the sixth inning of a game this season. Aaron Nola, in his third start of the year, accomplished against the Reds what he likely should have back on Opening Day in Atlanta by earning his first win. He was brilliant over eight dominant innings of one-run baseball on a night when Gabe Kapler needed to give a bullpen that has logged 8.1 innings since Sunday some well-earned rest.

Nola was so good that he made it impossible for the manager to saunter from the dugout six times to usher in his nightly parade of relievers. That’s progress! As Kapler remained parked in the dugout, he watched his best pitcher become only the fifth National League starter to last at least eight innings in a start this season.

It appeared early on that Nola’s gem would be wasted as the Phillies were held hitless through five innings, somehow, by Homer Bailey. But an inning after an Odubel Herrera RBI double tied the game at 1-1 in the sixth, J.P. Crawford’s well-timed second hit of the season plated the go-ahead run. Scott Kingery provided the insurance in the eighth-inning with a 374-foot middle finger of a grand slam to ice the game after Reds manager Bryan Price elected to intentionally walk Nick Williams. Kingery would have none of it.

The night, however, belonged to Nola. His 103rd and final pitch of the evening resulted in a weak fly ball that retired Jose Peraza to finish the eighth. He set down the final 10 Reds hitters he faced on a night when he allowed only three hits while striking out six.

If his first three starts are any indication, Nola appears poised to elevate his game and force recognition as one of the National League’s premiere pitchers from those who have been foolishly slow to give it to him. Opponents are batting a paltry .161 against the 24-year-old right-hander, and his 0.98 WHIP is among the best in baseball.

What you are about to see is the stuff of an ace. No hyperbole, no equivocation, no hesitancy–Aaron Nola is an ace.

Here’s a 93.4 mph two-seam fastball just off the plate that’s effectively framed by Jorge Alfaro for a called third strike: Continue Reading

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Scott Kingery Makes a Grand Statement Against the Reds

BWanksCB - April 10, 2018

Phillies second baseman/shortstop/third baseman/outfielder Scott Kingery has gotten off to a solid start this season after the surprising deal he inked near the close of spring training launched his Major League career a few weeks sooner than we initially expected. His expedited debut has proved to a be wise move for the Phillies, as Kingery’s versatility and offensive skillset have instantly made him a fan favorite. Something tells me that what he did in the eighth inning of tonight’s game against the Reds is only going to help his budding popularity.

With the Phillies clinging to a 2-1 lead, the Reds intentionally walked last night’s hero, Nick Williams, to load the bases for Kingery. That decision proved to be ill-advised:

BOOM! He will have none of your disrespect.

You know what I love about this, besides everything? I love that Kingery was 0 for 3 with two strikeouts prior to this at-bat. The Reds probably figured, “This kid looks overmatched. Let’s get him.” So much for that. He shook off a few poor plate appearances, dusted off his cleats, and proceeded to lift a middle finger to the Cincinnati dugout in the form of a 374-foot bomb into the left field seats. That’s good shit.

Kingery’s grand slam sort of reminds me of Chase Utley’s first Major League hit:

Sure, Kingery’s slam wasn’t his first hit, or even his first home run, but something tells me that we might be seeing replays of this one years from now as our love affair with him hits full bloom.

Some Thoughts on what’s Ailing J.P. Crawford

BWanksCB - April 9, 2018

To say that J.P. Crawford has gotten off to a slow start this season would be an understatement.

Crawford, in his first full season manning shortstop for the Phillies, has collected only one hit over his first 23 at-bats. He’s slashing .043/.083/.043, and, of greater concern, the advanced approach and plate discipline that made the 23-year-old one of the game’s elite prospects not so long ago has been noticeably absent. He has drawn only a single walk to go along with eight strikeouts.

Crawford’s sudden lack of approach was noticeable in his at-bat during the sixth-inning of yesterday’s game, and it perfectly illustrates this troubling development:

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