Vinny Velasquez Belongs in the Bullpen

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Vince Velasquez’ most recent start against the Washington Nationals was his first outing of the season to last seven innings and only the fourth time he’s gone seven or more innings in 30 career starts with the Phillies.

When the Phillies decided to move Ken Giles, they were attempting to sell high on a dime-a-dozen commodity. Since the trade however, the Phillies have struggled to find any sense of consistency in their bullpen. While Jeanmar Gomez wore the closer job well for the better part of last season, his previous struggles have carried into this year causing the team to search internally for a new closer. Five different Phillies have thrown in 12 save opportunities, with Hector Neris being the lone pitcher to record more than one save.

While the Giles trade brought on these bullpen issues, it may have also solved them.

Since the nine-inning, 16 strike out gem he threw in his second outing with the Phillies, Velasquez has not lived up to the lofty expectations he set for himself. His struggles haven’t been due to a lack of talent as his arm is still as electric as ever. Velasquez leads the team with 34 strikeouts, he’s throwing 9.18 K’s/9, and his fastball is still sitting around 94 mph, while occasionally hitting triple digits.

Over aggressiveness has been the leading cause of Velasquez’ problems with the Phillies. He is the type of pitcher who’ll try to overpower hitters with his fastball and put a whole bottle of mustard on every pitch. This helps his big strikeout numbers, but causes him to pick up a high pitch count early in games.

Velasquez is averaging about 17.2 pitches per inning, 7th most in the National League, while his K’s/9 rank 12th among NL starting pitchers.

Velasquez seems to be trying to rely on strikeouts less this year, with his groundball rate increasing to 44.6%; a 10% increase from the previous season. However, his homerun/fly ball rate has shot up to 24.2% due to the eight homeruns he’s already allowed this season, tied for fifth most in the NL.

This more reserved pitching style may be an attempt to stretch his starts longer, but the results have been less than ideal. In addition to his increased homerun rate, his 5.94 ERA is a near two run increase from the previous season, his BB/9 has risen to 4.05, and his K’s/9 have actually decreased from the 10.44 he threw last season.

The way I see it, the whole Vinny Velasquez-starting pitcher thing has been a failure. All efforts to make this work so far seem like an attempt at forcing a certain talent to fit a certain role rather than finding the most ideal role to fit a certain talent. Instead of having Velasquez wallow away in the starting rotation and takeaway innings from other young arms like Jake Thompson, Nick Pivetta, and Ben Lively, move him to the bullpen where pitchers with his skillset and mentality thrive.

Trying to find a way for Velasquez to fit as a starting pitcher has only resulted in fewer strikeouts and more home runs. Rather than finding out how he can best take on the workload of a starting pitcher, it would be much more beneficial if he simply took on an easier workload in the bullpen.

If Velasquez were moved to the bullpen, he would instantly become the most talented pitcher at the Phillies’ disposal late in games.

Trying to get Velasquez to take on a role in the starting rotation stretches him out too thin and doesn’t allow him to flash his arm at its utmost ability. Taking off the leash and allowing him to pitch his hardest for just one inning a night could lead to some pretty exciting results.

His pitch repertoire could use some work, but he already has the makings of a quality closer. His four-seam fastball is a great strikeout pitch, he’s throwing his two-seamer harder than ever, and his curveball is steadily improving as opposing batters are hitting just .182 against the pitch this season. Working on his changeup would go a long way, giving him another secondary pitch and something that would offset his fastball well keeping batters guessing.

If he can just learn to mix his pitches better and use his four-seamer as less of a crutch, Vinny Velasquez could be the Phillies’ solution at closer for the immediate and long-term future.

 

Nothing Is Guaranteed: What it means to have the number one pick in the MLB Draft

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Mark Appel is the perfect example of why “safe picks” aren’t always the safest.

So your Philadelphia Phillies are the lucky recipients of the number one pick in this Thursday’s MLB Draft? Congratulations, that’s like getting the first crack at a fresh box of cereal. Unless there’s a prize inside, you’re probably just getting a bowl of cereal.

Now that’s not to say there’s anything wrong with a bowl of cereal – cereal for dinner RULEZ – and the first bowl is always the best, but that prize would of been so much cooler.

I think the first pick in the MLB draft is a lot like this because unless there’s a prize at the top of the draft, you might just be getting a bowl of cereal. And sometimes cereal is great, but other times what looks good can turn soggy awful fast. You can still get a great player first overall, but teams miss nearly as often as they hit picking first overall.

Having to settle for what’s best available when a draft lacks a true transcendent prospect isn’t exclusive to baseball; in fact it happens in all professional sports. but the difference between baseball and all other professional sports is how often that transcendent talent comes around.

In most sports, I’d say there’s a clear cut number 1 pick nine out of every ten drafts; sometimes there’s some confusion at the top or it’s just a bad draft but for the most part you usually have a good idea of who the draft’s best player is. For the MLB, I’d say it happens one in ten times. Unless you know you’re getting a Bryce Harper or Ken Griffey Jr. type, there’s no guarantee you’re taking the best player in the draft; that’s just what happens in a FOURTY ROUND(!!!) draft.

Even when a team takes the supposed “can’t miss” prospect, there’s still no guarantee you’re getting the draft’s best player. Take the 2009 draft for example. Stephen Strasburg went first overall and was widely considered the best his draft class had to offer, except The draft’s real gem was taken 24 picks later in Mike Trout. Strasburg’s been great for the Nats, but I think they might rather have the best player in baseball.

Another great example would be the 2006 draft. Pitcher Luke Hochevar went first overall to the Royals and was considered arguably the best arm in his class two years running. After him went four more pitchers before Clayton Kershaw, a future hall of Famer, was taken seventh overall. Almost all five of those pitchers have been moved to the bullpen while Kershaw is on course to win his fourth Cy Young.

Hell, just look at what the Phils did the last time they had the first overall pick. Pat Burrell is a Phillies’ great and helped them win a World Series, but he was expected to be so much more as a hitter. He was suppose to be a great all around hitter, but instead he was just power.

Now there’s also the matter of the bigger game to be played with the MLB draft because it’s not as simple as “He’s good, take him”. Outside of ridiculous length, one thing that makes the MLB draft so much different than all others is the signing bonus pool.

The signing bonus pool is every team’s limit on how much money they are allowed to give out in signing bonuses to newly drafted players. Only players selected in the first ten rounds are effected by this pool and the higher a player’s drafted, the more money they’re entitled.

Another thing that makes the MLB draft unique is that players can refuse to sign with the team they’re drafted by and if they still have some eligibility remaining, can simply return to college ball and get drafted next season. This goes hand in hand with the bonus pool because if a player does not like the bonus they’re offered they can simply return to college, declare for the draft the following season, and hope for something better.

JD Drew famously spurned the Phillies for this reason and has been universally labeled a douche in the city of Brotherly Love for the rest of time. He also helped inspire the name of this blog!

This then requires teams to pick responsibly so as to not exceed the bonus pool by drafting too many expensive prospects because if they exceed the pool they then must forfeit future early round draft picks. That’s why teams will purposefully pass on a better prospect early with hopes of getting good value in the later rounds.

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Brady Aiken proves why taking the best player can sometimes hurt your team in the long run.

So if a draft lacks a transcendent talent at the top, much like this year’s does, the team picking first has a much bigger game they must play carefully picking someone first overall that might set them up for later round success. It is a very dangerous game that can blow up in a team’s face very easily.

The Houston Astros are the perfect cautionary tale when it comes to having the first overall pick. The team held the first overall pick in consecutive drafts (2013,2014) and neither prospect selected is still with the franchise.

The Astros selected Mark Appel first overall in 2013. Many believed Appel to be arguably the best player in his draft with Jon Gray and Kris Bryant as his main competition for the draft’s top spot. The Astros took Appel because he was seen as the safest pitching option and expected to breeze through the minors, but the pick couldn’t of blown up in the Astros’ face any more perfectly. After just two seasons with the Astros, Appel was shipped off to the Phillies in this offseason’s Ken Giles trade as a last minute throw in piece. He carries a career 5.12 ERA and has yet to see the majors, while Gray is already pitching for the Rockies and Kris Bryant is seen as one of the sport’s best young sluggers.

Things went even worse for the Astros the following season when they selected Brady Aiken first overall. Aiken was an electric high school pitcher with as much upside as they come. Aiken and the Astros originally agreed to a $6.5 mil signing bonus, but after a post-draft physical raised red flags about his left elbow the Astros cut their deal to $5 mil. The two sides were never able to come to terms on the new deal by the MLB’s signing deadline and thus the Astros wasted their first overall pick for the second consecutive year. Meanwhile six picks later, the Phillies took the player many thought to be one of the safest pitching options in that draft with Aaron Nola. After two seasons, Nola is already the top pitcher in the Phillies’ rotation while Brady Aiken is a Cleveland Indian.

So the Phillies have a very difficult decision ahead of themselves on Thursday. Will they take the projected safe option in AJ Puk, who many believe to be the draft’s best player much like Appel, or will they take someone like Jason Groome, a risky high school player with the most upside in this draft much like Brady Aiken. Maybe it’ll be the promising bat of Mickey Moniak or maybe it’ll be the safer bat of Mercer outfielder Kyle Lewis. It’s seriously anyone’s guess.

Or maybe they’ll just draft someone another team has their eye on and look to make a deal later on down the line for an actual major league player, similar to what the Diamondbacks did this offseason.

The Phillies have had some great success with their recent first round picks, but as far as Im concerned with whoever they take, nothing is guaranteed.

 

 

Remembering R2C2: The greatest rotation in Phillies history

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Now that the MLB free agent market is just about dried up, this is the time of year teams start kicking the tires on veterans well passed their prime. One name that resurfaced this week for the first time in months was Cliff Lee. Rumors began to swirl about teams keeping tabs on the injured former ace, but clubs seem to already be shying away thanks in large part to a steep asking price.

Whether Cliff Lee throws another pitch for an MLB team is yet to be decided, but one thing is for sure, he’ll never don red pinstripes again. With this sad fact comes an even sadder realization, this is the official death of R2C2 (AKA The Legion Of Arms, AKA the Four Aces, AKA the Phour Horseman, AKA a lot of different things).

Lee’s departure from the team signaled the end of an era, he was the last member of the Phillies’ greatest rotation to officially leave.

The first to go was Roy Oswalt, who left the team the very next season. Injuries kind of sapped the last Oswalt’s talent forcing him to leave the Phils’ rotation earlier than all the others. Next went Roy Halladay. When he came to the Phillies, fans knew that it would be short lived, but after four seasons with the club Halladay was forced to hang up the cleats, again due to injury. Cole was next to officially go, rather than being forced to wither any further on subpar Phillies teams, the organization was merciful and traded him to the Rangers this past trade deadline. Its kind of funny that the homegrown ace was the one who fixed the mess caused by going after the other three aces. Cliff Lee, for all intents and purposes, basically left the club last season. After pitching in nine games, Cliff was placed on the DL for the remainder of the season and his Phillies’ career.

Oh and how could we forget the staff’s unsung hero, Vance Worley! Who was traded in 2013 for the Philadelphia sports icon, Ben Revere.

Though the successes of this rotation were short lived and they’re marked with the failure of being unable to win the club its second World Series and officially bestow dynasty status onto the team, when things were good they were GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOD. This was the rotation that led the Phillies to a franchise record 102 win season, they could have easily had more if they didn’t rest their starters for a good chunk of September.

As a whole this rotation had three Cy Young Awards, six 20 win seasons, 19 All Star appearances (3 of which came in 2011), a Comeback Player of the Year award, an NLCS and World Series MVP, a perfect game, and the second no hitter in playoff history. That’s a pretty decent resume.

In 2011, no one could compete with this rotation. As a whole, the Phillies’ rotation finished with an MLB-best 3.02 ERA, that was .18 lower than the second place staff and a full .40 lower than the third. This pitching staff threw 12 shutouts in the first 80 games of the season, which is tied for ninth all time in that span, and then threw another nine over the last 80 games of the season; those 21 shutouts lead the majors. This group was first in complete games (18), second in innings pitched (1477), first in quality starts (108), third in strike outs (1332) and third in batting average allowed (.240). That is what you call domination folks, something Phillies fans sadly don’t know much about anymore.

From an individual standpoint, Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee finished second and third in the MLB with ERAs of 2.35 and 2.40. Cole Hamels was eighth in the MLB with a 2.79. Roy Oswalt was last in rotation in ERA with a respectable 3.69, Vance Worley even finished with a better ERA at 3.01. In terms of strikeouts, Cliff was third in the bigs with 238, Halladay was tied for seventh with 220, Cole was 19th with 194, Oswalt was well behind the rest of his rotation with 93, again finishing behind Vance Worley who had 119. Halladay led the group in wins finishing tied for fourth in the bigs at 19. Cliff Lee finished the year tied for seventh with 17. Kid Cole was tied for 21st in the league with 14. And Oswalt rounded out the bunch with 9 wins, once again falling behind Vance Worley who had 11. Cliff Lee also led the team in complete game shutouts with 6, Halladay was the only other pitcher to throw a complete game shutout and he only did it once.

If it weren’t for Clayton Kershaw introducing himself to the rest of the baseball world, one of these Phillies probably would of went home with some gold. The Phillies had three pitcher finish in the top five of Cy Young voting, Halladay finished second, Cliff third, and Cole fifth. Halladay was the only one of the three to receive first place votes. The thing that surprised me the most was the fact that Roy Halladay finished ninth in MVP votes, that’s the most votes any pitcher received and three spots ahead of Kershaw. This was the year Justin Verlander won MVP so it wasn’t quite trendy yet to give the award to pitchers, so Halladay finishing highest among national league pitchers is really something. Meanwhile, Cliff Lee finished 15th in MVP voting.

Even Vance Worley got in on the award season fun finishing third in the NL Rookie of the Year vote.

This group is by far the best rotation the Phillies have eve known, but where they stack historically is up for debate. When you compare the 2011 Phillies rotation with the likes of the ’71 Orioles and the ’93 Braves, you start to get an idea of just how good this rotation really was. They may not have four 20 game winners like the Orioles or all the awards of the Braves, but when you compare these staffs as four man rotations, they stack up surprisingly well. Halladay, Lee, Hamels, and Oswalt finished as a group with an era of 2.80, that’s .08 better than the Orioles (2.88) and .23 better than the Braves (3.03).

The biggest thing that separates these three pitching staffs is innings pitched. Three of the Orioles top four arms almost threw 300 innings, averaging 270 innings per pitcher. The Braves averaged 243 innings per pitcher. While the Phillies threw just 205 innings per pitcher. So although the Phillies had the lowest ERA, they also threw by far the fewest innings.

R2C2 blows these two clubs out of the water in terms of strikeouts. The Phillies struck out 745 batters in 2011 for an average of 186 per pitcher (THEY NEARLY AVERAGED 200 STRIKEOUTS). The ’71 Orioles struck out 586 batters for an average of 146 per pitcher, while the ’93 Braves struck out 650 for an average of 162. While the Phillies may not have been able to go the distance of the ’71 Orioles, they forced a lot more swings and misses than either rotation.

The thing that impresses me the most when comparing these rotations is their ages. Despite the Phillies having better number than either of these two rotations, their average age was 31 years old, Cole Hamels was the only pitcher younger than 32. The average age of the Braves was 25 years old while the Orioles were on average 29 years old, thats six years older than the Braves and two years older than the Orioles. These rotations were smack dap in their prime, while the Phillies were losing a fight with father time.

Age was the Achilles heel of this rotation, it lead to injuries and ultimately split the rotation up. The saddest part of all this is just how short lived the dominance was as R2C2 broke up after only one season. It may feel a little bittersweet, especially when you think of all the hypotheticals and could of beens, but this is the best rotation in Phillies history, it’s only fitting they didn’t win anything.

Remember to follow @SBAndBatteries on Twitter.

Ladies and Gentleman, Your 2018 Philadelphia Phillies Starting Lineup

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Baseball Prospectus released their new top ten list for the Philadelphia Phillies something close to a week ago and I honestly can’t stop staring at it. The list just has so many exciting names on it, I can’t help myself. One glimpse and I can feel my pants get tighter.

This must be what it feels like to have a good farm system.

The thing that excites me the most is the fact most of these players are due up in the majors by 2017. We’re only two or three seasons away from seeing a major return on all of the team’s recent trades. If everything goes as planned, this team could look completely different within a year.

It’s easy to get swept up in all the excitement and forget about the lineup thats actually going to be trotting out there everyday. But rather than think about them and cause ourselves anymore necessary pain, lets continue to look on into the future and take a peak at what the starting line up and starting rotation may look like in a few years:

  1. Roman Quinn CF
  2. J.P. Crawford SS
  3. Nick Williams RF
  4. Maikel Franco 3B
  5. Jorge Alfaro 1B
  6. Odubel Herrera LF
  7. Andrew Knapp C
  8. Cesar Hernandez 2B

1. Aaron Nola RHP 2. Vincent Velasquez RHP 3. Jerad Eickhoff RHP 4. Jake Thompson RHP 5. Mark Appel RHP

Boy oh boy, that’s a lot of new names. Of the eight names listed in the Phillies’ projected lineup, five currently sit in their top ten prospects (Quinn, Crawford, Williams, Alfaro, Knapp). Two of the arms from the projected five man rotation are also current top ten prospects (Thompson, Appel).

Some interesting things to note note from the line up: I figured Roman would push Odubel to one of the corner outfield spots, his speed is better suited for centerfield. I was tempted to not even include Odubel in the lineup due to Cornelius Rudolph, but I think 2018 may be a little too early for him. I moved Jorge Alfaro out from behind home plate, my thinking is injuries will eventually move him to first base, it all depends if his bat will keep him there. I penciled in Cesar at 2B mostly because there isn’t much alternative to him. The free agent pool is pretty shallow at 2B in the coming seasons and Scott Kingery hasn’t shown enough for me to think he’ll be ready to replace Chase Utley by 2018.

As for the pitching, Aaron Nola is the unquestioned number one going forward, but as for everything that follows, that’s kind of up in the air. I threw Velasquez in the two slot because he has more upside than everyone else who’s seen MLB. Eickhoff in the three hole may be expecting a lot, but the kid ended the year strong so im optimistic. Jake Thompson is a projected number 2 and is in the four slot, that says a lot about what the Phillies’ pitching could be. Mark Appel is the most interesting name, he’s got the stuff of an ace, but has shown absolutely no production. He he’s a former number one pick and has a lot of upside, but his velocity is already starting to drop. Appel is the only person who could actually supplant Nola, but that’s a big if. You could argue that Appel could be penciled in any rotation slot, including the bull pen. Velasquez is another player who may ultimately wind up in the bull pen.

One of the biggest issues with this projected lineup is that the rotation is a little bit righty heavy, but there is a very simple solution to this. The year 2018 is interesting not only for prospects sake, but it is also a gold mine of MVP and Cy Young free agents. Players like Clayton Kershaw, Jose Fernandez, Dallas Kuechel, Matt Harvey, David Price, Bryce Harper, Manny Mochado, and the list goes on, you can read more about the free agency class here. The Phillies have a good deal of cap room now and that cap should only get roomier as time goes on. They just need to focus on grooming their young guys, while players like Ryan Howard wither their way through their bad contract. It won’t be long until the Phillies are big players in free agency again.

The Phillies are young, rich, and have ALOT of upside. It may not be the best time to be a Phillies fan, but at least you’ll have something nice to think about during all of those long Summer loses.

Return of The Mack: Pete MacKanin is back and the Phillies may be looking to add a woman’s touch

The Mack Attack is back!

It was officially announced on Tuesday that interim manager Pete MacKanin would be sticking around a little bit longer. The Phillies named MacKanin the manager for the 2016 season with an option for the 2017 season. Somewhere in the world, Ryne Samburg weeps.

This isn’t the most Earth shattering move, considering I don’t expect MacKanin to be around after the next two seasons, maybe he’ll stay a third but thats at the most. Pete is only sticking around so that he can help some of the Phil’s younger talent develop, as soon as they find someone more experienced to lead the team of what should be established talent, they’ll give MacKanin the boot. So pretty much Pete’s only been brought on to wade out a couple years of crap before something better comes along, the job Ryne Sandberg didn’t want.

I have no problem with the team bring MacKanin back on, in fact I was hoping they would. The players have already shown that they’re behind him and like playing for him, something that wasn’t really there under Samberg. MacKanin was able to turn the complete dumpster fire of a team into just a pile of hot garbage, he salvaged this team from being historically bad to just the second worst team in baseball, talk about improvement!! But seriously, I don’t think MacKanin getting this team to go 21-12 after the all-star break is anything to scoff at, he got actual results with the Phillies turd of a roster.

The Phillies deciding their manager is big, but I think the bigger news of the week was about the general manager position.

When talking with Greg Murphy during Tuesday’s CSN Phillies broadcast, Andy McPhail talked about the importance of deciding the manager position, he’s quoted as saying:

“Well, I think my concern was that if we go on a general manager search, that’s going to probably be a few-to-several week process.

If he or she should want to come in and make a managerial change, that’s a three or four week process

Then you’re going to spend two weeks trying to create a coaching staff. You’re going to end up losing half your offseason, just to sort of be at a place where everybody is starting from zero.”

All that talk about time and coaching staffs is cool and all, but WHAT DID HE JUST SAY ABOUT A SHE?!

If this is true, that the Phillies are looking at all possible options to fill the soon-to-be vacant general manager position, even those of the female variety, than this is a very awesome forward thinking move on the Phillies part and one that I support 100%. I would love to see a woman as the Phillies GM, I am for ladies in charge. I think this is huge new for all of baseball, it could potentially change the entire landscape of the major leagues.

Andy McPhail is going to explore every possible candidate and if he decides the best person for the job just so happens to be a woman, than so be it, she’s the girl for the job. No news or speculation has yet to be made as to who the mysterious madame the Phillies had in mind might be.

So until potential candidates emerge, we wait and hope the Phillies can suck their way to the number one pick in the draft. The more ammunition they have, the better the GM they can attract, be it male or female. Things may be bad, but we may be in store for an interesting offseason with Andy McPhail at the helm.

~Also if you haven’t done so already, you should go listen to Return of the Mack by Mark Morrison, 90’s R&B at its peak~

There’s Always a Silver Lining: Dom Brown may have seen his last days in a Phillie’s uniform

It may actually, finally be over. After suffering a head injury in wednesday night’s game, Domonic Brown’s days may be number.

You can’t tell, but after writing that last sentence I am smiling from ear to ear.

Brown suffered the head injury in the team’s 9-4 loss to the Mets. The injury happened when Brown was tracking a Ruben Tajada fly ball and inadvertently wound up diving into the stands, or as Jim Salisbury so eloquently put it, “He humpty-dumptied the wall”.

If anyone is unfamiliar with the play, don’t worry, it will probably not top 10 fodder for the next few weeks.

The news broke today that Brown’s leap into the crowd did result in a concussion, this will be his second in the past three years so league concussion protocol might make this situation a lil’ bit sticky. Since this is Brown’s second concussion he may be forced to sit out the rest of the season and with an outfield that’s looking pretty crowded these days, you have to wonder if theres even any point to keeping Brown around.

Domonic Brown is a major representation of an era that the Phillies are desperately trying to renew. Brown has been with the team dating back to 2009, just before Amaro got all trade happy. Brown was the one player to survive all the trades, he was the guy that was suppose to be better than all the other prospects, he was suppose to usher in a new generation of youth that would slowly replace its world champion predecessor. Reuben Amaro put all of his chips on this dude and he did JACK SHIT.

Brown turned out about as well as most of the players the Phillies did decided to deal at past trade deadlines. To me, Dom Brown really just represents a really bad time for Phillies scouting, they filled up top 100 prospects lists, but almost none of those prospects have panned out, with the exception to Carlos Carrasco and maybe Travis d’Arnuad.

Outside of two months in early 2013, which I will say were pretty freakin sweet, Brown  hasn’t produced or lived up to the hype at all. There’s no point in keeping such a busted player, I think we all know Domonic Brown’s limits now, he can’t do much. I would much rather see Aaron Alther gets the ABs, he’s young and he’s been swinging a pretty sweet stick lately, plus he’s showing more pop in his bat than Brown has since September of 2013.

I will always fondly remember hearing trade rumors of players the Phillies could of had but chose to keep Brown instead, plays like Justin Upton, Jose Bautista, Gio Gonzalez, and hell, I’ve even heard rumors that the Marlins were willing to trade Giancarlo Stanton. Whether any of these trade rumors actually carry any weight is neither here nor there, the point is the Phillies probably could of brought in some serious talent, but instead chose to ride with Domonic Brown.

The Phillies have yet to divulge any news on how they plan handle Brown’s current situation, but if it is really over, I think its safe to say that Domonic Brown has left a huge brown stain on Phillies history.

I’m Sorry, I Was Wrong and I Want You Back!

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Ew just look at that picture!

It was a mistake, a horrible, horrible mistake! What have we done?!

This is a nightmare! a terrible nightmare!

I take back everything bad I’ve ever said about you! Your knees are fine! We can work around your contract! just please don’t say its over!

Darnell Sweeney? John Richy? fuck ’em THEY’RE NOT CHASE UTLEY!

The Dodgers are just gonna put him on the bench! You can’t put Chase Utley on the bench! You have to let a majestic eagle spread its wings!

This is gonna take awhile to get over…

Until the time comes when you sign that one day contract to retire a Phillie, so long, no one has ever embodied Philadelphia more than you.

We’ll always have 2008. I miss 2008.

Rumors Actually Lead to Trades: Phillies active at the deadline.

Wow, Ruben, I’ve never seen this side of you before. I like it.

After months of rumors and speculation, the greatest will they/won’t they story since Ross and Rachel has come to an end, the Phillies finally realized what they were and sold off any player worth a damn.

So while the Hot Stove cools a bit, let’s take a look at all of the week’s much overdue trades. First up, Ben Revere is now running through the 6. The Phils nabbed two future bull pen arms in Albert Tirado and Jimmy Cordero and you can never really have too much bull pen depth. Tirado is the higher profile of the two players, signed out of the Dominican Republic, he posses some electric stuff and can really light up a radar gun, but his control leaves a lot to be desired. Tirado is currently ranked as the Phillies’ 15th best prospect according to mlb.com.

all in all, not a bad haul for a player of Revere’s stature, I’m really just glad to see him play on a contender for the first time in his career. Had he played in this city a few years sooner, he would of been adored rather than seen as a player with far too many holes in his game.

Next up, the Philadelphia fan favorite, Johnny Pap. This trade was all about addition through subtraction. The Phils didn’t bring back much in the way of prospects, Nick Pivetta was a top ten prospect for the Nats, he has some solid upside and a really good chance of hanging around in a professional rotation. The real prize for the Phils in this trade is getting Papelbon’s contract off the books, they did well to only get stuck with paying him for the remainder of this season. The trade also opens up the 9th inning for Ken Giles, which is something I am more than excited to see.

Like Revere, I look at Papelbon and can’t help but wonder what might of been. Had this team been what he thought it was when he signed his record contract, he could of been bigger than Brad Lidge. I don’t care what anyone says, Jonathan Papelbon is the greatest closer in Phillies franchise history.

And now for the biggey, kid Cole brings home a king’s ransom. This was the trade Ruben couldn’t get wrong. This was the trade that would restock the farm system and usher in a new age for the Phils. This was the trade that need to be a home run. And as of right now, the trade looks like it made good on all three of those things. Along with Cole, the Phillies shipped a once promising Jake Diekman and a couple million in cash for C Jorge Alfaro, OF Nick Williams, and P Jake Thompson, Alec Asher, Jared Eickhoff, and Matt Harrison. In this deal the Phillies brought back three of the Rangers’ top five prospects. The real gem of the deal is kind of open to interpretation as Alfaro, Williams, and Thompson have each been viewed as the top prize of this trade.

As far as I see it, Jorge Alfaro has the highest ceiling of all three. In the realm of minor league baseball, Alfaro is the best catching prospect not named Kyle Schwarber. he’s got plus power potential and power hitting catchers don’t come around every day. His play behind the plate leaves a lot to be desired, but dude’s got a rifle for an arm so he’s not completely lost behind home plate. Unfortunately Alfaro has an extensive history of injuries which, for someone who is only 22, does not fill me with much confidence. I can’t help but see shades of Tommy Joseph, but with that said Alfaro has a much higher upside than Joseph ever did. Unlike Joseph, a move to first base isn’t expected for Alfaro as he’s got allstar potential behind the dish.

I think Nick Williams has the highest floor of the trade’s big three. He’s got hand speed that would make the flash jealous and and enough strength to pull most pitches. He has decent speed and is capable of playing all three outfield position thanks to his arm strength. Williams is currently batting .300 in the minors and is showing an impressive all around game. Williams is projected to be an everyday outfielder for a big league club.

The Phillies also did well in acquiring Jake Thompson, the Rangers’ top pitching prospect. While his fastball isn’t all that, it currently sits in the low 90’s, his sinkers is so disgusting it’ll make you gag, its seen as his best strikeout pitch. He is projected to be a number 3 starter, with number 2 upside.

All five of the prospects acquired by the Phillies currently rank in the top 30 of their system according to mlb.com. Matt Harrison was also a solid get, if he can rebound from injury the Phils may be able to flip him for a few prospects. With a farm system that was more barren than the Sahara, this trade looks to provide some life.

After several deadlines and winter meetings of stupidity and ineptitude, its nice to see Ruben make some savvy moves for the future, but it all looks as though its just a little too late with Andy McPhail ushering in a new regime and mind set it seems as if Ruben’s job is all but gone.

With prospects now in the pipeline and young talent starting to produce in the big leagues, hopefully the Phils will be fightin again sooner rather than later.