It’s Over- Grading the Phillies


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Phinally! This afternoon, the Phillies will play their final games of 2015, and put to bed a terrible season with relative quiet- because people stopped going. The Phillies have already lost 99 games, something I had never seen before, and clinched baseball’s worst record and top pick in the upcoming drafts. It was often tough to watch this season, and very tough to accept from a franchise that was good until a few years ago.

Things did begin to change though. After trading Jimmy Rollins, Antonio Bastardo, and Marlon Byrd last Winter, the Phillies did not stop this year. Cole Hamels, Jonathan Papelbon, Chase Utley, and Ben Revere were all moved this season to contenders. In their place, young players rose, and took spots and opportunities to play here. Some were successful. Some were not. The roster certainly is a lot different than it was twelve months ago.

For the sake of argument, here is my grades for the players here as the season ends. It also should give some guidance as to what I think the 2016 team will look like.

A

The players I give an A not only had good seasons in Philadelphia, but also should be considered core pieces to build the 2016 team around, and could prove next year that they are core pieces for the future. I give this grade to just five players finishing out the season here- Maikel Franco, Odubel Herrera, Aaron Nola, Jerad Eickhoff, Ken Giles. These five played well enough in 2015 that they should be considered locks for the 2016 team, and with a repeat performance, should be a part of the long-term plan to build another winner here. While I do think that Franco, Nola, and Giles are a little more fixtures for the future at this point, Herrera and Eickhoff were so good that I absolutely want to see what they can do in 2016 on this team.

B

The guys I give a B are players who had very good runs in Philadelphia, but either still have questions about their long-term projection here, or maybe face in-house organizational competition for their jobs. I would basically like to see all of these players come back in 2016, but the guarantee level is slightly lower. I give B’s to the following- Adam Morgan, Aaron Altherr, Freddy Galvis, Cesar Hernandez, Cameron Rupp, Andres Blanco, Jeff Francoeur, Jeanmar Gomez, Elvis Araujo, Luis Garcia, Hector Neris. I would like to see these guys back next season if circumstances permit it, and if they have good seasons perhaps they are here to stay. Morgan was not as good as Nola and Eickhoff, but he was durable and is left-handed, so if he performs at his current level, he actually could stick as a back-end starter somewhere. Gomez, Araujo, and Garcia all should get another shot in the bullpen in 2016, and all showed enough progress to hope for an even better season next year. Neris isn’t really a staple to me like those guys for next year, but he pitched well enough to get another shot. Altherr wasn’t up long enough to make any long-term presumptions yet, but he’s a plus defender, who can play all three outfield slots, and has some power in his bat. If he cuts down his strikeouts, he can probably play. Galvis had his best offensive season yet, but did make a few more errors than we all expected. Even still, he could be an every day player, though probably at second instead of shortstop, given the existence of J.P. Crawford. Hernandez would appear to be in direct competition for that second base job with him, and did hit a little better, but is not as good of a defender and actually has less power. Hernandez did surprise me this Summer with his play, but he’ll have to show his walk rate is real, his defense improves, and that his impressive batting average and stolen base numbers are replicable. Rupp didn’t tear the cover off the ball, but did show some power to go with an outstanding arm behind the plate. Blanco actually more fits in with the next group, in that he’s not a long-term player in the plans, but he had such a good season that I want to see him back in 2016 for another run with the team. Francoeur is basically in the same boat as Blanco, but had a nice season. Both guys also are praised for their clubhouse roles. In terms of their longer term roles though, I see them in the next group.

C

The players I give a C to wouldn’t bother me if they were back, but they don’t currently hold a place in the future plans. They could be young guys who didn’t perform, or veterans who play roles. Either way, they are guys who’s seasons don’t leave them on par with the first group. I give C’s to the following- Cody Asche, Darin Ruf, Ryan Howard. Basically, I could take it or leave it with these three. Asche has not developed into an every day player yet, and Ruf probably never will. Howard was actually a little better than 2014, but is basically playing out the string in Philadelphia on his big extension. I’ll miss him when he’s gone, but not for the player he is now. If these guys are back, so be it. If not, I won’t cry.

D

For the most part, these guys don’t have a future in Philadelphia. Their performance was poor to bad this year, and doesn’t project much better next. In fact, much of this group is worse off than the next group, if for no other reason than lacking upside. I gave D’s to- Carlos Ruiz, Aaron Harang, Jerome Williams, Justin de Fratus. Chooch is probably back as the back-up because of his contract, but it would make some sense to trade him. Harang is gone. Williams is gone, even though he was mostly effective in the bullpen. I think De Fratus gets tendered a contract for 2016, but wouldn’t bet my life on it. They don’t need him badly as a long man.

F

F is for failure. I don’t have to define that, right? Some of these players on this list are failures. Some of them were up here too early, and shouldn’t be judged this harshly. Some are young, and this shouldn’t be the last word. Some should just be gone. I gave F’s to- Dom Brown, David Buchanan, Severino Gonzalez, Alec Asher, Chad Billingsley, Darnell Sweeney, Adam Loewen, Jordan Danks. Brown should simply be non-tendered and forgotten as fast as possible, as bringing him back in 2015 was a mistake, and he is now officially a bust. Danks and Loewen should just be cut. Billingsley should simply be gone. Buchanan, Gonzalez, Asher, and Sweeney all may still be fine. Buchanan should be considered a “sophomore slump” for now, and probably will get to start in AAA next year. Asher should definitely join him there to open. Gonzalez may just not have the stuff to stick. Sweeney should be fine, but would benefit from some more time playing in AAA next season.

Incompletes

Frankly, most of these guys didn’t play enough for me to project what to give them, if at all. I give this grade to- Erik Kratz, Jorge Alfaro, Kelly Dugan, Brian Bogusevic, Tommy Joseph, Chase d’Arnaud, Ken Roberts, Nefi Ogando, Colton Murray, Mario Hollands, Dalier Hinojosa, Joely Rodriguez, Jonathan Pettibone, Cliff Lee, Matt Harrison, Jesse Biddle. Not all of these grades are equal though. Kratz, Bogusevic, d’Arnaud, Pettibone, and Lee should almost all certainly lose their 40 man spots. Alfaro literally hasn’t played here much. Dugan had an overall nice season, but was in the minors. Joseph had a rough go of it in the health department, Roberts wasn’t used, neither was Ogando or Murray much, but they have more upside right now. Hinojosa looked good, but needs to be seen more. Rodriguez and Biddle had their struggles in the minors. Harrison didn’t pitch at all, while Hollands didn’t either.

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