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Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Are the Phillies really good enough to go for broke at the trade deadline? | David Murphy

No.

Jim Furtado Posted: July 10, 2019 at 08:43 AM | 18 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: phillies

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   1. bfan Posted: July 10, 2019 at 10:13 AM (#5860662)
This is a very well-written and thoughtful piece; it is worth a read.

It does bring up the bad luck (skill?) of recent Philly drafts. They had a very bad spell, which would have put them at the top of the drafts for several years. Aaron Nola is and will continue to be very good, but they had 5 straight years of having a top 10 pick, and at least 2 are Cornelius Randolph and Micky Moniak (at 1/1, no less). For Hasely and Bohm, it is too soon to tell, although at least Bohm is making top 100 lists and hitting well in MiLB.

Contrast that with the National's most recent 5 year run of top 10 picks of Aaron Crow; Strasberg: Drew Storen; Harper; and Rendon. Yes, the Nationals have 2 picks at #1 in that group, but still-that is arguably 3 super-stars backbone of your team guys, and the other 2 scratched into the majors.
   2. Zonk Is Not Part of Any Drug Deal Cooked Up Posted: July 10, 2019 at 11:01 AM (#5860682)
Coincidentally - in the Gonfalon Cubs - I was bemoaning Cub drafting over the same period and the Phillies tended to be my go-to comparison for drafting ineptitude.

It pays to look beyond just the 1st round for the comparison - i.e., Rhys Hoskins in the 5th.... Scott Kingery in the 2nd....

Don't get me wrong - the Phillies have been crappy.... I'm just saying that the CW is that the Phillies have drafted poorly and the Cubs have drafted wonderfully over the last 5-6 years. But the reality - looking not just at MLB WAR, but I think you also have to look at "OK, well - that guy is still in the minors but is considered a decent prospect" - is that they seem a lot closer.

   3. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: July 10, 2019 at 12:02 PM (#5860696)
I was hoping this was written by the former Red Sox outfielder.
   4. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: July 10, 2019 at 12:06 PM (#5860700)
Very, very few teams should ever "go for broke", but the Phillies have obvious holes they should attempt to fill.

Maybe they go after Bauer, or some other SP that's controlled beyond 2019. Or maybe they get some cheap rentals.

Not being ready to "go for broke" is a really bad reason no to improve when you have a real shot at the playoffs.
   5. bunyon Posted: July 10, 2019 at 12:10 PM (#5860703)
Is it the draft or development?

I mean, how much debate is there over talent levels in amateur levels, especially college? If you bring in lots of guys everyone thinks are talented and none become major leaguers, the problem probably isn't the draft.
   6. bfan Posted: July 10, 2019 at 12:16 PM (#5860707)
Is it the draft or development?

I mean, how much debate is there over talent levels in amateur levels, especially college? If you bring in lots of guys everyone thinks are talented and none become major leaguers, the problem probably isn't the draft.


That is a fair comment and a good question, and I have no idea which it is. I use "draft" as a short-hand for "the journey from amateur status to MLB".

BTW-I assume every draft pick past about round 3 that makes it to the majors and becomes great (Goldschmidt; Hoskins) as basically luck plus some great trait that exists inside the player that no one can measure or assess. Heck, the diamondbacks passed on Goldschmidt at least 8 times (i.e., I think he was a 9th rounder); it isn't as if they knew he was a future MLB star.
   7. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: July 10, 2019 at 12:21 PM (#5860711)
Is it the draft or development?

I think it'a always both. You have to be able to develop, i.e. teach players, and you have to draft players with the skills and other attributes that make them teachable.

I wouldn't be surprised if there are non-physical skills for prospects (e.g. willingness to learn and change, intelligence to assimilate the teaching, etc.) that are every bit as important as the physical tools that are obsessively graded. I wonder if baseball has its own Wonderlick test equivalent?
   8. Zonk Is Not Part of Any Drug Deal Cooked Up Posted: July 10, 2019 at 12:22 PM (#5860712)
Is it the draft or development?


Probably both.

One interesting thing I'd love to see done by someone who isn't me is comparison of draftees who remain in an org until they hit it big or peter out vs. the churn (minor leaguers traded, picked up off waivers, etc).

If I were an MLB team FO and my team looks like it has done a really shitty job "drafting" - because I'm just not getting much from my drafts - and I wanted to figure out whether to replace my amateur scouting staff or my minor league instruction staff? That's where I'd start... look at the players I didn't draft, but acquired at a young age, players I drafted but got shipped out or left at young age.... compare that to players I drafted and hung onto.... etc.

Blah blah sample size, sure... But - if it's a problem? My drafts aren't producing much compared to everyone else? I'd start there to figure out who needs to be called into the office for a difficult talk and maybe a pink slip.
   9. Don August(us) Cesar Geronimo Berroa Posted: July 10, 2019 at 12:22 PM (#5860713)
Maybe they go after Bauer, or some other SP that's controlled beyond 2019. Or maybe they get some cheap rentals.

"
The Indians are in the same boat though. And are actually better than the Phils. But, their rotation right now is "Bieber and Bauer, and then pray for rain showers"
   10. bunyon Posted: July 10, 2019 at 12:28 PM (#5860721)
I wrote my post badly because I was trying to ask a question I don't know:

Do teams really differ that much in their evaluation of amateur talent? Would the order of players taken differ if the order of the teams changed?

(My question is above. This is idle speculation: I assume it would change some but, basically, in every sport, it seems to me everyone more or less agrees who has the talent. Using Goldschmidt as an example, not only did the Dbacks pass 8 times, everyone did. Some must have passed 9 times. Therefore, it seems to me, development is more important. And, I'll grant, some innate, possibly unmeasurable, trait in the player. Or what is needed is the best match of player and coaches. Perhaps Goldschmidt doesn't become Goldschmidt if the Rangers take him. But another Dback flameout may do better with Ranger coaches.)
   11. Zonk Is Not Part of Any Drug Deal Cooked Up Posted: July 10, 2019 at 12:32 PM (#5860723)
BTW-I assume every draft pick past about round 3 that makes it to the majors and becomes great (Goldschmidt; Hoskins) as basically luck plus some great trait that exists inside the player that no one can measure or assess. Heck, the diamondbacks passed on Goldschmidt at least 8 times (i.e., I think he was a 9th rounder); it isn't as if they knew he was a future MLB star.


True to some extent.... but still - I follow the June draft pretty closely and while I certainly don't know every name in the first ~10 rounds by any stretch, even a fan who just happens to read BA regularly, follow college baseball a bit, and read every draft preview he can get his hands on knows more than you'd think.... and I don't actually draw a paycheck for such attention.

IOW - it's less about the truly lucky picks... the 20th rounder who becomes a star - it's more about getting some modicum of value.

Pains me to say it as a Cubs fan - but I look at the Cardinals. Matt Carpenter was a 13th rounder. Paul Dejong a 4th rounder. Tommy Pham a 16th rounder. Harrison Bader a 3rd rounder... Andrew Knizer a 7th rounder...

None of those guys are stars - save maybe Carpenter (and DeJong, I guess) - but you've got a lot of useful spare parts, a trade chit, a few guys that are that have MLB-level skills and/or went onto become decent prospects, etc -- all from just quickly browsing the 2018 and 2019 cards lineups.
   12. Zonk Is Not Part of Any Drug Deal Cooked Up Posted: July 10, 2019 at 12:36 PM (#5860725)
IOW - no team plans to grab an all-star in the 9th round.... but the teams that seem to draft really well, consistently, year after year even if they occasionally lay a 1st round egg?

They're able to look at that draft board beyond the top 50 or top 100 -- and come on, they're not drawing names out of a hat beyond that -- and figure out that this guy or that guy looks like someone who might give us a few 100 games of value.

Focusing on the guys who stand out as the "how in the world did 500 players get picked before him?" is the wrong way to go about judging a team's scouting/drafting success in my mind.
   13. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: July 10, 2019 at 12:46 PM (#5860732)
The Indians are in the same boat though. And are actually better than the Phils. But, their rotation right now is "Bieber and Bauer, and then pray for rain showers"

Yeah, but the Indians don't seem to care that much about winning.
   14. my email address is hashtag 57i66135 Posted: July 10, 2019 at 12:47 PM (#5860733)
No.

this is the correct answer.

they got jay bruce for nearly nothing, so if they can do more things like that, by all means, go for it.
It does bring up the bad luck (skill?) of recent Philly drafts. They had a very bad spell, which would have put them at the top of the drafts for several years. Aaron Nola is and will continue to be very good, but they had 5 straight years of having a top 10 pick, and at least 2 are Cornelius Randolph and Micky Moniak (at 1/1, no less). For Hasely and Bohm, it is too soon to tell, although at least Bohm is making top 100 lists and hitting well in MiLB.
their drafting is fine; development is where they fall short. something they're doing is significantly depressing batting averages across the entire organization.

amaro's final here (2015), the phillies had 16 players with a .280 AVG or better, out of 39 with 300+ PAs
last season (2018), the phillies only had 6 (out of 37).
in 2017 it was 10 out of 38.
in 2016 it was 15 out of 39.
this year, it looks like the phillies are on pace to have 9 hitters over .280...however, 4 of those 9 are 30ish year old career minor leaguers in AAA (which as we know, just switched to using MLB's juiced balls this year).
   15. Walt Davis Posted: July 10, 2019 at 06:30 PM (#5860830)
the Cubs have drafted wonderfully over the last 5-6 years

That seems a bit of an overstatement. The Cubs, rightly, got a lot of positive press for the Baez through Happ run of first-rounders but Happ was drafted back in 2015. I don't think anybody has had particularly high praise for the last 4 Cub drafts if for no other reason than having a lousy draft position.

Related to the Cubs or not, these discussions are always a bit off because we rarely discuss the international signings and focus just on the draft (I'm guilty too). Certainly who your top international signings were/weren't is a lot more important than who you drafted in the 5th round and it's also became a major source (though probably still not the primary source) of the depth and occasional surprise star that later draft rounds have as well. It's a case where the easy availability of data (thanks b-r and others!) shapes the question we ask.

As to Cubs/Theo, the later rounds have been un-fruitful and there's been a massive blind spot on developing pitching (beyond whatever credit the Cubs deserve for developing Hendricks). But Theo had great success in the later rounds in Boston. His first draft was 2003 and that netted Papelbon in the 4th round. Pedroia was a 2nd rounder in 2004 and that draft also netted Cla Meredith 6th and Steve Pearce 10th. Technically 1st rounders but the 2006 draft had Buchholz at #42, Lowrie at #45 and Bowden #47. Masterson was a 2nd rounder in 2006 and Brandon Belt didn't sign in the 11th round. 2007 brought Middlebrooks (5th), Rizzo (6th), Pressly 11th, Hunter Strickland 18th and unsigned Grandal 27th. In 2008, Vazquez was a 9th rounder (one of 4 guys they drafted that year that made it to the majors as Cs) plus unsigned Desclafini, Travis Shaw and Yan Gomes. 2009 had 2nd rounder Alex Wilson who I've never heard of but he's got 5 WAR. Workman was 2nd round 2010 (and an unsigned Renfroe in 31st). Finally, his 2011 draft -- just JBj (#40), Betts (5th), Shaw (9th).

Where all that magic went I don't know but that's an insanely good track record, netting at least one pretty solid MLer per year, including the excellent Papelbon, Pedroia, Rizzo and Betts.
   16. Zonk Is Not Part of Any Drug Deal Cooked Up Posted: July 10, 2019 at 07:22 PM (#5860844)
I don’t think it’s an overstatement on the CW, Walt...

Anyway, while I’m sure the GM (or current title Theo) has veto power and input, my point is less the guy in the big chair (or gal, if Kim Ng ever gets a top team job) - but evaluating the scouting dept.
   17. Walt Davis Posted: July 11, 2019 at 02:51 AM (#5860903)
evaluating the scouting dept

Sure but the person in the big chair is ultimately responsible for the scouting and development teams.

On the CW, here are some things from BleedCubbieBlue shortly after the drafts

2016: It was a low-key draft compared to the past years (Note the Cubs didn't even pick until round 3) It was a very pitching-heavy selection and he mentions the Cubs focused heavily on signability.

2017: I think the Cubs took a lot of players who fit in their system. They probably didn’t get an impact player because they didn’t have a draft pick in the top 15. But it only takes one of these pitchers to reach their ceiling for this to be a successful draft for the team. By "fit in the system", the writer seems to mean "a further attempt to address our weoful lack of pitching" since it was another pitcher-heavy draft for the Cubs. He again mentions signability and adds character as key criteria. "Only takes one player to reach their ceiling ..." could be said about any draft.

2018: For too many years, too many spots on the field at too many levels seemed a bit uncultivated. With the conclusion of the draft in 2018, every spot on the diamond in the pipeline appears upgraded. Not sure if that's damning with faint praise or whether he thinks they've been sufficiently upgraded to actually be good. Given the pitcher-heaviness of 2016-17, I think he's mainly saying "they finally drafted a few hitters again." He also mentions a focus on OFs who can catch the ball -- oh great! But "too many spots at too many levels" doesn't sound like he was overly pleased in the past.

2019: He doesn't really give a summary statement. He clearly likes the first two picks (given draft position), he again notes the college-heaviness and again seems to praise character.

As a check, here's some from 2015: the Cubs stuck to the formula that has been working for them over the past few drafts. ... Keep in mind that this was generally considered to be a very weak draft, especially after the top dozen players or so. A lot of these guys are uninspiring at this point, but every year someone comes out of nowhere and surprises everyone. He also did a review of Theo's first 5 drafts:

2012: The other picks weren’t as successful. ... None of them are top prospects at this point, but Underwood keeps teasing us. ... But Almora is the only pick from this draft currently in the major leagues. That’s not unusual, but it’s also not a sign of a great draft. Just a good one.

2013: Zastryzny has a good chance to have a long career as a left-hander out of the bullpen. ... Zack Godley, whom the Cubs sent to Arizona as part of the Miguel Montero deal. Godley just got sent back to Triple-A in a numbers move, but he made six starts for the Diamondbacks this season and posted a 2.39 ERA. He’s in Arizona’s long-term plans. ... Trevor Clifton ... could be in a major league rotation next season.

2014: He overrates Zagunis and somebody named Chesny Young ("solid future utility player"), gets it right on Cease.

2015: Catcher/first baseman Ian Rice was taken in the 29th round and can really hit. Thirty-first round pick Daniel Spingola is having a breakout season in High-A Myrtle Beach.

2016: But without a pick in the first two rounds, this draft class will probably fall short of the other four under Epstein. But they seem to have done well with what they had available to them.

So a fair bit of "over-rating" the late round picks from those early drafts but, other than the 1st rounders, he wasn't pointing at too many as great prospects.

FWIW (Zonk knows better than I but I'm bored at work):

Godley has had his moments but it's really just one very good season in 2017. Clifton is still bouncing around -- K-rate is back up but the HR rate is way up as it is across AAA so ... who knows, maybe a 5th starter at some point. Chesny Young is in indy ball now -- not sure what this guy ever saw in him, nice BA but a career 65 ISO in the minors. Ian Rice can't hit but did have a nice half-season in 2016. Spingola's breakout must have come to a crashing halt as he hit just 231/322/327 at Myrtle Beach and was in indy ball last year and apparently nowhere this year.

Given how overly enthusiastic he seems to have been about some of those guys, that he's not particularly enthusiastic about the most recent drafts might tell us something.



   18. Don August(us) Cesar Geronimo Berroa Posted: July 11, 2019 at 12:20 PM (#5860982)
Yeah, but the Indians don't seem to care that much about winning.


And yet, here they are, 50-38 at the All-Star break, averaging about 5.4 r/g since June 1. they could use a decent starter and another real outfielder, but, they seem to be in decent shape.

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