Previous month:
August 2015
Next month:
October 2015

Sproles wins NFC Special Teams Player of the Week

Darren Sproles added another Player of the Week honor to his resume Wednesday as he was chosen as the NFC's Special Teams Player of the Week for his 89-yard punt return touchdown against the Jets. 

Continue reading "Sproles wins NFC Special Teams Player of the Week" »


Looking Ahead at the 2016 Phillies Potential Line-Up

Celebrate

The Phillies 2015 line-up was in a constant state of flux, with trades, injuries, demotions and promotions, and all other sorts of issues constantly changing it. The good news is that by the end, the Phillies actually found some pieces that are worth giving another shot in 2016. They moved on from Chase Utley and Ben Revere, and could move on from more in 2016. Next year's team could look even more different.

The constants going into 2016 aren't all really constant yet. Maikel Franco appears to be in as the third baseman of the future, and he looks like a really good one. Odubel Herrera's first season as a Rule 5 player in Philadelphia was a resounding success, with him hitting in the .290s right now and hitting at the top of the order. Cesar Hernandez played well enough to warrant another shot in 2016 at second base, and if he continues to walk at a high rate and hit for a good average, he will stick around for a while there. Freddy Galvis probably earned the opportunity to start next season, though the impending arrival of J.P. Crawford could change things. After that though, nothing is certain right now.

The first question appears to be behind the plate, where Cameron Rupp appears to have taken the primary starting job from Carlos Ruiz with one year left on Chooch's deal. I would assume they will share the duties in 2016 and both will return. Beyond that, the future starting is likely to be either Alfaro or Knapp, both of whom were in AA this season, and could arrive by the end of 2016.

The next question is at first base. Ryan Howard will end up leading the team in homers, and has just one year left on his deal. With $35 million yet to come, one would assume the Phillies won't just cut him, but they definitely could (the money will be spent anyway). If they have the roster space, they could platoon him and Darin Ruf at first. If they cut Ruf, Howard might have the job himself. If they cut Howard, Ruf could be the main starter. This position is solidly in flux. Tommy Joseph is in AAA and on the 40 man roster at first base and Brock Stassi in Reading might get onto the 40 man this Winter and be a consideration. The future at this position appears to be Rhys Hoskins though, who was in Clearwater this year. I doubt we see him in 2016.

The corner outfields are bound for some change. The primary 2015 left-fielder was Ben Revere, and he is gone. The primary right-fielder was Domonic Brown, who I have to believe the Phillies will non-tender after the season and let go. Jeff Francoeur and Cody Asche both got a lot of starts this season, and it's plausible that they could be a platoon partnership in left-field next season, though one would think the Phillies prefer both as bench players. Aaron Altherr has played reasonably decent since his August call-up, and could be worth a shot on one of the corner outfield spots as well. Darnell Sweeney has been playing some left, but he's also struggled a bit. If the Phillies were going to bring in a free agent this off-season, you would think that free agent would be a corner outfielder type. I personally prefer they go with a short-term option, rather than a big contract type. Next season could also mark the arrival of several prospects in the outfield. Nick Williams and Roman Quinn both must be added to the 40 man roster this off-season to remain Phillies' property, and both will be. The only question is if either makes it up, and when. Kelly Dugan is on the 40 man roster now, and is in AAA.

I would suspect that the Phillies 2016 line-up will be less of a stagnant group of eight and more of a revolving door with the bench. I would suspect we'll see Franco, Herrera, Hernandez, Galvis, Altherr, and the Rupp/Ruiz tandem all back for certain. I think the Howard situation will be interesting to watch, and the Phillies would prefer to not have him play 140 games next season. I'd think that they will either platoon Francoeur and Asche until Williams arrives, or they will sign a veteran bat on a one year deal to fill the void. All of this will represent a significant change from the 2015 team.

But are they better? I'm not sure there. I think Franco is a fairly safe bet at the plate, but Herrera, Hernandez, Galvis, Altherr, and the catcher all have significant risk of not performing as well next season. Even if only a few of them underperform, it would hurt. Altherr might be a long term upgrade on Dom, but in the short term the difference shouldn't be much. Hernandez may prove that this year, and his minor league career, are real as far as his offense, but his walk rate may fall sharply and make him less valuable at the plate. Galvis has over-performed this season, and could fall fast. Herrera seems like a safe bet to hit based on his minor league and winter league numbers as well, but one season does not make a track record.

The good news is that the 2015 Phillies line-up was less the issue than a terrible pitching staff. The bad news is that the 2015 line-up was still a last place level group. Next season may look fairly similar to what is finishing out 2015, and that will leave a lot of question marks in place going into the off-season.


Inside the Huddle: Bradford Was Bad But Deserves More Time, Part 1

 

Patrick Causey, on Twitter @InsdeTheHuddle

(Note: this is a two-part series on Bradford. Part Two can be read here)
 

When Chip Kelly initially traded for Sam Bradford, he compared the oft-injured quarterback to a pair of future first ballot Hall of Famers: Peyton Manning and Drew Brees. Kelly's point was that the Eagles obtained a potential high ceiling quarterback only because he was coming off a major injury, much like the Denver Broncos and New Orleans Saints were able to obtain the aforementioned Manning and Brees.

Over time, fans and media members started to buy into this comparison. That buy-in reached an all-time high when Bradford looked unstoppable in the third preseason game against the Green Bay Packers

But Bradford, despite his quick release and accuracy, simply is not on the level of these quarterbacks, as the majority of Eagles fans have come to realize over the last three weeks.

Continue reading "Inside the Huddle: Bradford Was Bad But Deserves More Time, Part 1" »


Are the Flyers regular-season ready?

16057827323_f0091d715d_z

The Flyers hit the ice on Wednesday night for the first of the final two preseason games that will take place this season. In the five games so far, they have a 3-1-1 record.

But Monday's game, to this point, has been the most telling, with the majority of the Flyers final roster taking on the majority of the Rangers final roster. It was a chance to see how the Flyers could stack up against one of the league's best.

An admirable effort by several players fell short. The Flyers will get two more chances to show how ready they are for the regular season, and if Monday was any indication, there is plenty left to prove.

Continue reading "Are the Flyers regular-season ready?" »


Could Scott Proefrock be next in the Phillies organization to shed "interim" tag?

Scott
Scott Proefrock on a college media day. Photo: Philliedelphia/Matt Rappa

Scott Proefrock has many years as an assistant general manager.  Proefrock served in the role for the Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays from 1997 through 2005 and held the role with the Phillies from 2008 until September 10, when Ruben Amaro Jr. was let go.  Since then, Proefrock has held the "interim general manager" tag.  

When new Phillies president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail was hired, he was brought in to fill a much different role than team presidents past.  After the hiring of money man Michael Stiles to serve as chief executive officer and executive vice-president, and John Middleton taking the role of the face of ownership for the organization, the president has one role: the product on the field.  Thus, MacPhail will drive any baseball decisions.

With MacPhail saying at his hire, "let's face it, I'm not here for my marketing acumen", whoever comes in as "general manager" will tend to serve more as MacPhail's assistant.  That said, MacPhail may have his eyes on one outsider.  If that outsider falls through, the next general manager very well may be Profrock.

That outsider is Assistant General manager of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Matt Klentak.  Klentak was first named by MLB.com's Todd Zolecki as someone to watch.  Yesterday, Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News called him the "favorite":

Klentak, 35, is arguably considered the favorite for the job, if for no other reason than his previous work with the man making the hire. In 2008, six years after earning a degree in economics at Dartmouth, Klentak was hired by MacPhail to be the Baltimore Orioles' director of baseball operations.

Klentak left the Orioles shortly after MacPhail resigned from the team and has worked for the last four years as an assistant GM with the Los Angeles Angels. He is among at least a half-dozen candidates for the Angels' GM opening. 

What could be the hold up?  Well, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, for whom Klentak already works, is looking for a general manager.  Klentak could be it.

That might explain the holdup.  MacPhail indicated that he already interviewed someone, and that might be Proefrock, whom he has plenty of access.  The Angels may not wish to grant the Phillies access to Klentak until they make their own decision.  Bill Stoneman came out of retirement to serve as the Angels interim general manager, with much assistance from Klentak.  

If the season ended today, the Angels would have a wild card berth, so there may be a delay.  Billy Eppler, named by Lawrence as a candidate for the Phillies, could be one of the top few to work for the Angels.  If Klentak is hired by the Angels, the Phillies may simply stick with the known entity: Scott Proefrock.

Proefrock and MacPhail worked together in Baltimore.  MacPhail served as president of baseball operations and Proefrock was the director of baseball operations.  When MacPhail left the Orioles, Proefrock soon after joined the Phillies.   If MacPhail could add Klentak and keep Proefrock, he might be happy to do so.  If Klentak is unavailable, Proefrock could be the guy.

Some Phillies fans may be tempted to link Proefrock with Amaro.  But MacPhail already stated that he planned to keep most of the staff.  It is not as if Proefrock is without merit, either.  Will Carroll of Baseball Prospectus has listed Proefrock at least twice as an "up and coming" general manager.

However, Phillies fans should get used to the new model.  The general manager will not have the final say on baseball decisions.  That would be Andy MacPhail.  Middleton takes the ownership representation role that Montgomery had, Stiles will take the financial role that Montgomery had, and MacPhail will be all about the product on the field.


Ruf's three-run blast secures Phillies' 60th victory of season

Final: Phillies 4, Mets 3

WP: Adam Loewen (1-0, 7.79 ERA) LP: Bartolo Colon (14-13, 4.18 ERA) SV: Ken Giles (14)

PHILADELPHIA - Under widespread, light rain in the series opener against 18-year veteran RHP Bartolo Colon and the 2015 National League East division champion New York Mets (89-68), the Philadelphia Phillies (60-97) began their final homestand of the 2015 season with a 4-3 victory.

Phillies' LHP Adam Loewen was credited with his first big-league victory since 2007, as a member of the Baltimore Orioles.

Wednesday evening, the Phillies will look to snap a franchise-record, nine-series losing streak against the Mets, which dates back to May 29 of last season.

Continue reading "Ruf's three-run blast secures Phillies' 60th victory of season" »


Hakstol's Happenings: Strong showings in preseason

Over the past few years, the Flyers haven't been the strongest preseason team -- after all, the preseason's a time to work out the offseason kinks and let younger players shine on a pro stage.

But under Dave Hakstol, the Flyers (yes, despite Monday's 3-2 overtime loss to the New York Rangers, in which the Flyers blew a 2-0 third-period lead) have looked like a strong team. Just two years ago, the Flyers went through "one of the worst training camps" that Ed Snider had ever seen, but now, there's optimism prior to the start of the season.

Continue reading "Hakstol's Happenings: Strong showings in preseason" »


Maikel Franco eyes return for Phillies this weekend; Ryan Howard could pinch hit tonight

2015 has been a year of prospects for the Phillies. The major storylines surrounding the club have been revolved around acquiring and developing young talent to create a new core of players to compete for a championship in the coming years. One of the biggest players that looks to be a part of that is Maikel Franco. The Phillies rookie third baseman hasn't played since August 11th due to a left wrist injury suffered against the Diamondbacks. Phillies manager Pete Mackanin met with the media prior to Tuesday nights series opener against the Mets and said that signs are pointing to Franco returning this weekend when the Phillies host the Marlins.

Franco has had an impressive rookie campaign, slashing .277/.340/.490 with 22 doubles, a triple, 13 homers, 48 RBIs, 43 runs scored, 50 strikeouts and 25 walks.

Meanwhile, Ryan Howard has been sidelined with a knee injury since September 15th. It was the same knee he had a surgery on before. Pete Mackanin said that Howard has been doing well and could be available to pinch hit as early as tonight against the Mets.

Howard, 35, is hitting .229 this season with 23 home runs, 77 RBIs, 138 strikeouts and 27 walks.

Brandon Apter, Managing Editor for Philliedelphia.com