Phillies, NL East: 2021’s Missing Pieces

 

By Tal Venada, Sports Talk Philly Contributor

For the Philadelphia Phillies and two divisional foes, ‘21 is more about competing with crippled rosters through Oct. 3 than the talent on paper. All three organizations are battling with top stars out for the season, and fans can only imagine the difference a starter or a regular would make. Same boat, different crew!      

 

Victory by Attrition:

While manager Joe Girardi must plug a rotation hole, the Phillies skipper must also meet the challenge of assembling a lineup to score enough to win more than those divisional rivals. Meanwhile, the natives are growing weary of the team’s chances despite their foes’ shortcomings due to out-for-the-year players. 

IN OTHER WORDS:

“Success is just a war of attrition. Sure, there's an element of talent you should probably possess, but if you stick around long enough, eventually something is going to happen.” - Dax Shepard

Determining the outcome with less than 20 ballgames is more difficult in 2021 because it’s an injury-plagued 162, and COVID-19 protocols can remove any player for 10 days or more. This summer, the Fightins, Atlanta Braves, New York Mets and Washington Nationals have lost stars until 2022.                          

For the Phils, they have an open rotation slot because Zach Eflin had knee surgery, and every fifth day is a bullpen game. So far, they’ve produced one victory and one defeat. And Rhys Hoskins also had medical procedures. But while Hoskins played five August contests, Eflin had started just one game in the second half.  

In April and May, Archie Bradley spent five weeks on the IL (injured list) and wasn’t effective in his appearances. Plus Bryce Harper, JT Realmuto, Didi Gregorius and Sam Coonrod missed time and/or played with minor injuries.

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Phillies, MLB: Pitching Roles' Breakdown

 

By Tal Venada, Sports Talk Philly Contributor

For the Philadelphia Phillies faithful and major league supporters, knowing the value of hurlers can ease the roller-coaster stress of meaningful September baseball. Realistically, many disappointments come from sky-high expectations unfulfilled. But some emotional investment is controllable. Don’t overreact!                                           

 

The Factors:

Emphasizing a rough patch for a pitcher, a bad outing or even an exemplary performance clouds the overall evaluation any team has made. For many Phillies fans, though, this is their first pennant race since 2011, and many will magnify everything: each game, play and pitch.               

IN OTHER WORDS:

“The rankings are quite volatile: Today you're 'great,' tomorrow you're 'not,' but then you're 'great' again. Now, I always look at the long term and by doing that, obviously, I can stay calm through the storm.” - Roger Federer

Management’s view of their on-field personnel is quite different from their fans. For one, they realize most hurlers aren’t going to succeed in every appearance, and their expectation is 75-80 percent. And they also know an ace can struggle, but a marginal starter can twirl a gem at any time. 

While many supporters determine a pitcher’s worth by his ERA, it isn’t the only assessment tool. Basically, a “fourth or fifth slot” arm rarely works more than five innings and sometimes doesn’t record 15 outs. And iffy control is the main reason they quickly use 100 bullets (20 per frame) except for a tight strike zone or many foul balls.              

In fact, moundsmen who can command four pitches or more have a better chance of going at least six innings even if one arrow from their quiver is off target. However, missing with a fastball is a troubling tell: It can lead to a short appearance, mop-up relievers, and possibly a position player on the mound.                 

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Phillies: Not So Fast, 2022

 

By Tal Venada, Sports Talk Philly Contributor

For some Philadelphia Phillies fans, it’s time to add another summer to the “non-playoff appearance” list. Granted, most haven’t mentioned those specific sentiments, but some have remarked even after reading the schedule of the Fightins and the Atlanta Braves through Sept. 5.                     

 

Defining Games:

While the Phillies have their doubting Thomases, other major league organizations also have supporters recently giving up after devastating losses or bullpen disappointments. Yes, New York and Boston locals like Philadelphians express similar views.                                       

IN OTHER WORDS:

“If the quickness of the mind and the fluency of the tongue are too punctilious and sharp, moderate them in your activity and rest.” - Xunzi

Prior to Opening Day, some fans believed the Phils would be a .500 team and finish in third place at best. Basically, they preferred the safe middle-of-the-road prediction. But when the Phillies are above .500 and in second place, they have many players and management to blame. Hello, is anybody home?   

To illustrate, the season is over without Rhys Hoskins, but a .500 record with a third-place finish will also end on Oct. 3, no? For now, Joe Girardi’s strategy is to play JT Realmuto daily behind the plate or at first base depending on the opposing starter. Ergo, switch-hitter Rafael Marchan will mostly face right-handers.           

Expect a matched-up batting order to get the most out of Andrew McCutchen, Didi Gregorius, Jean Segura, and the hot hand. Due to the schedule, though, it’s workable with the incentive of hitting one’s way into more playing time. And if Alec Bohm impresses at Triple-A, he could return in a part-time role and pinch-hit.

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The Bootch and Pat Show - Tailgate Classic coming at ya

The award winning show is back with episode 2. Recapping all the hot topic moments that we missed from the last 2 weeks. Bootch returns from vacation from OBX, and naturally we got #Eagles #Phillies #Sixers and #Flyers talk. Breaking down the Phillies woes and the Eagles preseason round up. We have fantasy football talk, and of course all the Tailgate Classic info everyone’s been waiting to hear. Don’t miss the need to know info for the Tailgate Classic.

Kick back and let us help jump start the end of your weekend with our shenanigans, colorful vocabulary and of course a few beers!

#mustwatchradio

 

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Phillies Activate Eflin, Alvarado, as Hoskins Returns to the IL

IMG_4980

When the Phillies activated Rhys Hoskins from the injured list on Sunday they got an offensive boost.  In his two games back with the Phillies, Hoskins hit three home runs.  But defense was a challenge for Hoskins, and it was clear he could not play every day.

So on Thursday the Phillies announced they were placing Hoskins back on the 10-day injured list.

The Phillies added back to the active roster starter Zach Eflin, who will take the mound for the Phillies against the Diamondbacks Thursday evening, and lefty reliever Jose Alvarado.

The Phillies also designated for assignment the contract of pitcher Chase Anderson.  The Phillies signed Anderson to a one-year, $3 million deal this past offseason to add starting pitcher depth.  The Phillies did not get much for their investment; Anderson went 2-4 with a 6.75 earned run average.

Whether the Phillies are able to play Hoskins the rest of the stretch remains unclear.  But the Phillies will surely miss their first baseman.

UPDATE: Hoskins is done for the season, reports Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia.


Freddy Galvis, Sam Coonrod Return to Phillies

Galvis

The Phillies traded for their former infielder Freddy Galvis way back on July 30.  More than three weeks later, the Phillies will finally see the benefit on their active roster.  Tuesday afternoon, the Phillies announced that they have activated both Galvis and reliever Sam Coonrod from the 10-day injured list.

To make room on the active roster, the Phillies made two corresponding moves.  Enyel De Los Santos was optioned to Triple-A Lehigh Valley.  Jorge Bonifacio, who made one start in center field for the Phillies, was designated for assignment.  The move gives the Phillies a spot on the 40-man roster, for now; Adam Haseley will soon need to be activated from the COVID-19 injurd list.

Galvis was not in the lineup for the Phillies on Tuesday evening.  Galvis suffered a right quad strain in June as a member of the Balimore Orioles.  Galvis was batting .249 for the Orioles, with nine home runs and 26 runs batted in.

Coonrod was placed on the injured list in June after experimenting with a new slider pitch.  He began a rehab assignment with Triple-A Lehigh Valley in July, but suffered a setback.  Coonrod is 1-2 with a 4.18 earned run average in 27 games with the Phillies in 2021.


Phillies Shake Up Front Office in Player Development Areas

CBP

When Dave Dombrowski took the helm of the Phillies on December 11, 2020, one might have expected some changes.  However, Dombrowski largely left the organization untouched.  That is, until today.

The Phillies announced a series of major changes to the front office staff.  A summary is as follows:

  • Scott Proefrock is out as assistant general manager
  • Brian Minniti is out as assistant general manager
  • Josh Bonifay is out as director of player development

Jorge Velandia, who has served the Phillies in many roles and carries an assistant general manager title, has been tabbed to lead player development, with assistance from Dana Parks, currently assistant director of player development.

Brian Barber remains in his role as director of scouting but will now report directly to Dombrowski.  Sal Agostinelli remains in his role as director of international scouting, but will report to Velandia.

Bonifay had joined the Phillies just in 2019.  So there was a small sample size of his work to this point.  It could be that Dombrowski wishes to put someone in that position he is more familiar with.

Minitti's role as assistant general manager included overseeing player development, a role he had held since 2016.

Proefrock was one of the longer-tenured Phillies executives, joining the Phillies in November 2008 as Ruben Amaro, Jr. was taking over the general manager role from Pat Gillick.


Phillies, NL East: 2021’s New National Predictions

 

By Tal Venada, Sports Talk Philly Contributor

Many Philadelphia Phillies fans view September depending on recent games. And if the team wins or loses multiple contests, they will either anticipate October baseball, hope for more victories, or express defeatist sentiments; but ups and downs are the stretch-drive norm. Reality can be illusive!                     

 

The Ride Continues:

Despite eight consecutive triumphs, the Phillies aren’t a 90-win franchise. And their recent 4-8 mark doesn’t make them an also-ran either. No, 12-8 is .600 ball, and they played 14-10 (15-10 is .600) through July 30 to force the execs to add at the trading deadline with .583 ball.    

IN OTHER WORDS:

“Losing streaks are funny. If you lose at the beginning, you got off to a bad start. If you lose in the middle of the season, you're in a slump. If you lose at the end, you're choking” - Gene Mauch

In fact, hot or cold streaks have some predictability because good or bad does come to an end. And the other ballgames are .500: win two, lose two. Moreover, everybody has one thing only a few can control: confidence in themselves (players) or their club (fans).      

When regulars have it, they can produce above their talent level during a “time bubble” leading to a string of victories for the active 26. But a couple bad games are the opening for doubts to grow into prolonged slumps or losing streaks for the franchise. Ergo, sunshine or rain.               

For MLB supporters, most “believe” the triumphant times won’t end, and --when they do-- they can have a range of emotions from disappointment to extreme anger. And then they question the organization and the players, who can’t control their own self-doubt. Translation: Only success can eliminate negative thoughts.    

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Phillies Activate Hoskins; Send Bohm to Minors

Hoskins

The Phillies lineup sorely missed their first baseman.   Rhys Hoskins  was hot, batting .435 over his last seven games with three home runs, nine runs batted in, and an OPS of .957.  Since hit the injured list on August 10, the Phillies have been just 3-8, going from first place in the National League East to five full games behind the Atlanta Braves.  The Phillies have their first baseman back.

The Phillies announced on Sunday that Hoskins was activated from the 10-day injured list.  He is in Sunday's lineup, batting fifth.

To make room for Hoskins, the Phillies optioned infielder Alec Bohm to Triple-A Lehigh Valley.  The Phillies never got any power from their third baseman, who showed flashes in 2020.  Further, Bohm struggled mightily with defense both at third base and first base.  In his last seven games, Bohm was batting just .077 with one run batted in.

Ronald Torreyes has been starting at third base of late, and will likely continue to do so until Freddy Galvis is activated from the 10-day injured list.  Galvis is rehabbing with Triple-A Lehigh Valley and could be close to joining the Phillies.


Phillies: September’s Pluses for 2021-22

 

By Tal Venada, Sports Talk Philly Contributor

For the Philadelphia Phillies faithful, this is the race for the National League East crown, and you’ve probably experienced the euphoric highs and doubting lows. Plus the final month will only grow more intense as the days fall from the calendar like leaves from an autumnal tree. Welcome to the Show!                        

 

First Pennant Race:

While generals and the president discuss the country’s fate, the Phillies will negotiate the schedule to outmaneuver the Atlanta Braves and New York Mets. For skipper Joe Girardi, September’s squad can score and has starters who can put zeros on the board with a reliable --albeit not perfect-- relief corps.            

IN OTHER WORDS:

“The more baseball the better. It is a healthful sport and develops team play and initiative, plus an independent attitude.” - Dwight D. Eisenhower

The batting order has left-side power from Bryce Harper balanced by the right-handed Rhys Hoskins plus secondary pop from Andrew McCutchen (right) and Didi Gregorius (left). Atop the everyday eight, Jean Segura is a hitting machine, but Odubel Herrera leads off to lengthen the lineup if he’s on a hot streak.                   

While the Fightins have solid defense from JT Realmuto, Harper, Segura and Herrera, Hoskins and McCutchen are adequate. But Gregorius is a “Jekyll and Hyde” with the glove and bat. However, he can make a dazzling play on the dirt or launch a ball into the upper deck.   

With the leather, Ronald Torreyes and Freddy Galvis can plug defensive holes if they arise. And though neither are automatic outs, both provide decent bottom-of-the-order hitting, while sometimes their bats shine brighter than their golden gloves. 

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