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Phillies: MacPhail’s Head Fake for 2020-21

 

By Tal Venada, Sports Talk Philly Contributor

Philadelphia Phillies president Andy MacPhail is an old-school exec; ergo, he always downplays his upcoming plans to prevent other franchises from having any advantage. Granted, other front offices know he’s posturing, but not what he will do. Yes, they can guess!     

 

Needs Determine Moves:

For many Phillies faithful, an April beginning with any weaknesses is the wrong direction. Unfortunately, no team has that financial luxury imagined by their fan base. But if their foe had four aces, some Philly fans would experience an unnecessary buzzkill.        

IN OTHER WORDS:

“Nothing is impossible, the word itself says 'I'm possible'!” - Audrey Hepburn

Expecting the fans’ heat, MacPhail de-emphasizes any expensive acquisitions. Ergo, this blanket denial will keep other organizations guessing which free agents will interest him, and it’ll relieve the pressure to sign or re-up stars from affecting the Fightins’ negotiating.                     

The 2020-21 extreme buyer’s market is ahead, and even top-tier players probably won’t receive the normal dollars and years prior to today’s pandemic-influenced finances. In fact, most clubs won’t exceed the $210 million CBT (competitive-balance threshold) until the trade deadline.             

JT Realmuto will have a limited market for his forecasted $125 million over five campaigns. So, managing partner John Middleton’s biggest competitor for the All-Star catcher will be the New York Mets. But expect negotiations to be inch by inch. 

As for Didi Gregorius, his projection is $13 million per 162 for three seasons. Yes, the Phils will need a left-handed bat with power to complement Bryce Harper, but management wants to see the other choices before committing. And they also will wait for the shortstop’s market to develop.                 

Based on current estimates, the red pinstripes have $62.8 million before reaching the $210 million CBT. And re-upping Realmuto and Gregorius could cost $38 million AAV (average annual value). Therefore, the good guys could have $24.8 million for one starter and two relievers.

 

Phillies Rotation Targets:

Amount

Yrs.

Annual

Pitcher

Pitcher

$128 million

4

$32 million

Bauer, 29.5

 

$39 million 

3

$13 million 

Odorizzi, 30.5

Tanaka, 32

$18 million 

2

$9 million 

Quintana, 31.5

 

$10 million 

1

$10 million 

Paxton, 32

 

$16 million 

2

$8 million 

Walker, 28

Richards, 32.5

$12 million 

1

$12 million 

Kluber, 34.5

 

$8 million 

1

$8 million 

Morton, 37

 

$6 million 

1

$6 million 

Minor, 33

Wainwright, 39

 

Eliminating an expensive possibility begins with Trevor Bauer. Firstly, the organization needs a four-slot arm, not a stud. And Bauer will command $32 million per summer and wants to pitch every fourth day, which is problematic for Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler.            

Since the front office probably prefers an inking of more than one campaign, aging veterans will only be a backup plan. Realistically, Adam Wainwright, Corey Kluber and Charlie Morton won’t be atop the shopping list this offseason.                      

Even though he made 10 starts in ‘20, Garrett Richards has an injury history going back to 2014’s knee problems. His extensive time on the injured list includes arm, shoulder, and elbow issues from 2016 through 2019. Too risky!    

The Top Candidates:

With encouraging spectators before COVID-19, regulars had an adrenaline rush when they took the field including the starter, who enjoyed a velocity boost. So, hurlers with a significant velocity drop from ‘19 to ‘20 could be problematic if attendance is low or nonexistent in some or all games.        

Southpaw James Paxton’s 95.7-mph heater in 2019 dropped to a 92.8-mph average last season. Normally, an injury would be a consideration, but he went from 53.7 percent four-seam fastballs to 22.5 percent and from 6.2 percent sinkers to 32.3 percent: No crowd equals no adrenaline rush.

Phillies Rotation Targets:

  • LH James Paxton, 32:
  • 2019: 29 Gms., 150 ⅔ Inn., 15-6, a 3.82 ERA, a 1.28 WHIP and a 3.5 fWAR. 
  • 2020: 5 Gms., 20 ⅓ Inn., 1-1, a 6.64 ERA, a 1.48 WHIP and a 0.3 fWAR. 
  • LH Mike Minor, almost 33:
  • 2019: 32 Gms., 208 ⅓ Inn., 14-10, a 3.59 ERA, a 1.24 WHIP and a 4.1 fWAR. 
  • 2020: 12 Gms. (1 in relief), 56 ⅔ Inn., 1-6, a 5.56 ERA, a 1.24 WHIP and a 0.9 fWAR.

Lefty Mike Minor had been an effective moundsman in the three summers before 2020, but he had Vince Velasquez-like stats last year. Perhaps, his numbers were down due to the coronavirus upheaval affecting his winter preparation like many hurlers.     

With only 13 ⅔ innings, Jake Odorizzi, 30, had an injury-plagued ‘20 of starts and stops leading to disappointing statistics: another victim of that truncated season. Ergo, he could be a solid target to bounce back from 2020 because his stats are explainable.   

Phillies Rotation Targets:

  • RH Jake Odorizzi, 30.5: 
  • 2019: 30 Gms., 159 Inn., 15-7, a 3.51 ERA, a 1.21 WHIP and a 4.3 fWAR. 
  • 2020: 4 Gms., 13 ⅔  Inn., 0-1, a 6.59 ERA, a 1.39 WHIP and a 0.0 fWAR. 
  • RH Taijuan Walker, 28: 
  • 2020: 11 Gms., 53 ⅓ Inn., 4-3, a 2.70 ERA, a 1.16 WHIP and a 0.6 fWAR.

Taijuan Walker, 28, is this group’s youngest pitcher and had the best 2020 numbers. However, he only made four starts total in 2018 and 2019. And his higher ERA estimators in ‘20 were roughly the same as his career stats. At worst, he would be a three or-four-slot arm and has proven he's healthy.     

 

2020 for Phillies Rotation Targets:

Starter

Pitch/PCT.

High/Avg.

PCT.

PCT.

Paxton

4-Sm FB/22.5% 

95.2/92.8 mph

Sinker/32.3%

Curve/15.2%

     

Cutter/14.4%

Ch-up/12.2%

Minor

4-Sm FB/50.2%

94.1/91.2 mph

Ch-up/21.9%

Slider/20.6%

     

Curve/6.4%

 

Odorizzi

4-Sm FB/29.6%

94.8/93.2 mph

Split/23.6%

Slider/18.2%

    Curve/5.4%

Sinker/12.1%

Cutter/11.1%

Walker

4-Sm FB/37.4%

96.2/93.5 mph

Slider/21.7%

Split/18.8%

     

Sinker/12.2%

Curve/9.9%

Quintana

4-Sm FB/36.1%

94.4/91.5 mph

Curve/31.2%

Sinker/24%

     

Ch-up/8.7%

 

Tanaka

4-Sm FB/24.1%

95.6/92.7 mph

Slider/37.5%

Split/24.6%

    Cutter/1%

Sinker/7.2%

Curve/5.9%

 

2019 for Phillies Rotation Targets:

Starter

Pitch/PCT.

High/Avg.

PCT.

PCT.

Paxton

4-Sm FB/53.7% 

100.2/95.7 mph

Curve/18.7%

Cutter/20.2%

     

Sinker/6.2%

Ch-up/1.3%

Minor

4-Sm FB/44.7%

96.2/92.7 mph

Ch-up/24.6%

Slider/19.3%

     

Curve/11.4%

 

Odorizzi

4-Sm FB/37.6%

95.4/93 mph

Sinker/20.2%

Split/17%

   

Curve/6.5%

Slider/10.3%

Cutter/8.5%

Quintana

4-Sm FB/39.3%

94.5/91.6 mph

Curve/29.4%

Sinker/27.4%

     

Ch-up/11.9%

 

Tanaka

4-Sm FB/28.1%

95.4/91.7 mph

Slider/37.6%

Split/29.5%

   

Cutter/1.7%

Sinker/3.6%

Curve/3.3%

 

Throwing from the portside, Jose Quintana, 31, only worked 10 frames due to a non-pitching-related injury affecting his readiness to handle starting. With his 2019 stats, though, he could slot fourth behind Zach Eflin, and $18 million total for two summers is realistic.                               

Phillies Rotation Targets:

  • Jose Quintana, 31.5:
  • 2019: 32 Gms. (1 in relief), 171 Inn., 13-9, a 4.68 ERA, a 1.39 WHIP and a 3.5 fWAR. 
  • 2020: 4 Gms. (1 start), 10 Inn., 0-0, a 4.50 ERA, a 1.30 WHIP and a 0.2 fWAR. 
  • Masahiro Tanaka, 32: 
  • 2019: 32 Gms. (1 in relief), 182 Inn., 11-9, a 3.56 ERA, a 1.17 WHIP and a 3.3 fWAR. 
  • 2020: 10 Gms., 48 Inn., 3-3, a 4.45 ERA, a 2.13 WHIP and a 0.8 fWAR.

Masahiro Tanaka, 32, pitched like a four-slot arm during the abbreviated campaign probably due to a broken offseason routine. But if he returns to his 2019 form, he would be a strong mid-rotation piece and might be worth a three-year deal.                              

With four decent starters to pick from, the Phillies could acquire a starter for $8-13 million AAV from the $24.8 million AAV available. Comparison-wise, Robbie Ray re-upped with the Toronto Blue Jays for $8 million --$2 million more than his prediction because of an early offer.          

Barring higher initial proposals, a healthy Walker in Philly could reproduce the 9-9 mark and 3.49 ERA he had in 2017 before two injury-plagued seasons. Well, he’s the youngest, had the best 2020 stats of these six, and isn’t expensive; ergo, what should MacPhail do? Sign him!  

 

NEXT:

Vulture’s Market for 2020-21

Rsz_schmidt

 

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