The Phillies continued their winning ways yesterday with Aaron Nola picking up the victory and Cedric Hunter hitting his third home run of the Spring.
Former editor-in-chief of Phillies Nation Pat Gallen of CBS 3 returns to his Phillies Nation roots to discuss the (sometimes) painful transition from the 2008 championship team to the present and the emotional weight attached to players like Ryan Howard and Carlos Ruiz.
– Do you feel sorry for Ryan Howard? Will you cheer him? What could he have done differently?
– Is Howard blocking Brock Stassi? Is he blocking Andrew Knapp?
– Is catcher the deepest position for the Phillies? Can Cameron Rupp pry the starting catching job away from Carlos Ruiz?
He and Ian Riccaboni then discuss some quick subjects like Phillies win totals, J.P. Crawford, and more.
Today’s episode is brought to you by our sponsors!
– Out of the Park Baseball is Ian and Steve’s favorite baseball game and it should be yours, too! OOTP ’17 is just around the corner, arriving March 22 on OOTPDevelopments.com! Use the promo code PHILLIES17 to get 10% off OOTP Baseball ’17!
About Ian Riccaboni: Ian has been a Phillies Nation contributor full-time since 2011 and is the author of The 100 Greatest Phillies of All Time. Ian can be seen on Phillies Nation TV, is the voice of Women of Honor, and is a Sports Media professor at Holy Family University.
About Steve Corino: Steve is a life-long Phillies fan whose love for the Phillies dates back to the launch of PRISM! Steve is a former ECW World Champion who has 80 tours of Japan. His best friend Mr. Wrestling III can be seen every week calling Ring of Honor action in Philadelphia at 11:30 PM on Saturdays on WMCN 44 and Midnights every Wednesday on COMET.
Many of the questions submitted for the PN Mailbag focused primarily on the likelihood or the ability of the Phillies to sign Josh Hamilton. Often times, it’s easier just to explain something like that with pictures. Keep in mind, this is not a ringing endorsement or anything of the like, just a nice flowchart showing that yes, the Phillies do have $21.5 million in AAV available for 2013. Thanks to my colleague Corey Seidman for crunching these numbers in his fantastic article from Thursday, which has even further explanation as to how the Phillies are this far under the luxury tax threshold. Click on the flowchart to make it larger.
The Washington Nationals stirred up some publicity earlier this morning by beginning the sale of single-game tickets for one singular series, May 4-6 versus our beloved Fightin’ Phils. It wasn’t the odd practice of only releasing one series’ worth of tickets to the general public that caught headlines, it was the fact that these tickets were limited to folks with credit cards from the DC-metro area, intended to “Take Back the Park” to block out Phillies fans.
The Nationals are quietly stockpiling nice, primarly young and developing talent to help them ascend to the top of the NL East. And that ascension may come quicker than Phillies fans realize: just yesterday, Buster Olney tweeted that the Phillies would win the NL East and that the Nationals would win one of the two Wild Card spots. As teams like the Tampa Bay Rays and Oakland A’s have found, making the playoffs does not always fill up the stadium. But announcing a rivalry with the top dog and telling their fans they can’t come to the games? That will grab headlines and that will fill the seats.
This year, the Phillies are sending four All-Stars to Arizona with a possibility of a fifth if Shane Victorino can win the final vote. Cole Hamels, Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, and Placido Polanco will all wear the red pinstripes next Tuesday and all are veterans of the Midsummer Classic; Hamels and Halladay have represented the Phillies once each, while both Lee and Polanco represented different teams in the American League after being traded, but before being reacquired, by the Phils. Four Phils All-Stars would be the most since they sent five in 2009 and Victorino’s inclusion would match that mark. It is only the 2nd time in the last 10 seasons that the Phillies will send four players to the All-Star game. If Victorino is voted in, it will match the record for Phillies All-Stars in a single game, matching efforts of 2009, 1995, 1981, 1979, and 1976.
Here’s what the last 10 years of Phillies’ All-Stars looked like (click to enlarge):
Not too many surprising names on that list. I had forgotten that Vicente Padilla and Tom Gordon were All-Stars as Phillies and thought Jim Thome made more than one in a Phillies uniform. The Phils have been well represented in the last 11 seasons; they average 2.63 players per game and have had no less than 3 All-Stars per game since 2005. While it may not be surprising to hear that the Phillies have had 29 unique appearances in the All-Star game since 2001, what may be surprising is that they have signed or traded for 29 All-Stars, which includes Cliff Lee twice, since 2001 as well including four in each of the last three seasons (click to enlarge):
Of the 29 former All-Stars acquired, only 7 made the All-Star team with the Phillies after being acquired while both Dave Hollins and Ricky Botalico had previously made the All-Star team with the Phillies and were later reacquired. Of the players acquired, only a few were reasonably expected to be All-Stars. The Phillies got as-advertised players with Halladay, Lee, Jim Thome, Brad Lidge, and Billy Wagner, while Tom Gordon was a bit of a pleasant surprise. While Jose Mesa did not make the All-Star team with the Phillies after being acquired, he pitched very well as the Phillies’ closer. Jose Contreras has exceeded expectations and has been excellent out of the bullpen and Jamie Moyer was a pivotal part of the Phillies’ transformation into a World Series club. Some of the players acquired, including but not limited to Ronnie Belliard, Luis Castillo, Mike Sweeney, and Jeff Conine were no-harm, no-foul acquisitions while others cost the Phillies players who would mature into top talent.
For instance, the acquisition of Freddy Garcia cost the Phillies two pitchers who have pitched well in the past few seasons: Gavin Floyd and Gio Gonzalez. Gonzalez is headed to his first All-Star game this year after being incredibly effective for the Oakland Athletics. He is one of eight players that the Phillies have either traded or released from 2001-2011 that have made the All-Star game after departing the Phils (click to enlarge):
Of those players, the Phils have since reacquired Lee and only Michael Bourn and Gio Gonzalez appear to be long term assets that would help the Phillies in 2011 and beyond. Between 2001 and 2011, the Phillies have seen the departure of most of the All-Stars that they have acquired, but the positive take-away is that in recent years, they have been able to retain the All-Stars that have been the most productive from their own system. They haven’t traded away too many future All-Stars and the ones of value that they did, they either received an All-Star in return or the verdict is still out. Some trades have been better than others and their are two major clunkers that stick out that luckily did not sink the Phillies and were the right moves at that time: the 2006 trade of Bobby Abreu and the 2007 trade of Gio Gonzalez and Gavin Floyd for Freddy Gonzalez. The Thome for Rowand swap in 2006 filled a need and opened up a spot for Ryan Howard, while the Michael Bourn trade addressed the closer and utility roles that ultimately helped win them a championship.
It was June 2, 2009. The Black Eyed Peas were in the beginnings of a 26-week stranglehold of the number one American Billboard spot. Up was number one at the box office with the Hangover debuting the coming Friday. The Phillies entered the day a half game behind the Marlins, winners of four-in-a-row, and were preparing to play the middle game of a three game set in San Diego.
Bastardo has flourished in the first three months of the season, posting an MLB-relief leading .96 ERA in 28 innings over 31 games. He’s averaging 10.6 K/9 IP and has limited his H/9 IP to 3.5. His walks remain a concern at 4.2/9 IP, almost a half an inning as does his scary low (in a bad way) 28.3% GB rate. The low ground ball rate coupled with the ridiculously lucky .153 BABIP are scary in that if line-drives begin to drop or fly balls begin to go over fences, Bastardo, obviously becomes a far less valuable bullpen piece. But this article isn’t to discuss the possibility of the bottom falling out, which it may. It is to explore the realistic chances of Antonio Bastardo making the NL All-Star Game.
The Arguments For Antonio Bastardo Making His First NL All-Star Team:
He leads all MLB relievers in ERA.
This may be his strongest asset and perhaps his most vulnerable. He has pitched the equivalent of just over three full games, meaning, every 9 innings, he gives up a run. But that could quickly turn sour. An earned run in his next inning pitched would skyrocket his ERA to 1.24. 2 in the next three innings pitched and it would jump to 1.45. Both still very impressive, but because of the rarity of non-closer relievers making the All-Star game, the ERA would need to hover near 1.00 due to the low number of innings and appearances. Or would it?
Of the ten pitchers in the last ten seasons to be named to either All-Star team, NL pitchers finished the year with average ERAs of 1.91, giving Bastardo some leeway to earn an All-Star bid.
He has stranded 99.1% of the batters inherited or put on on base.
This one is rather impressive on the surface. He is fourth in the NL in WHIP (0.86) among relievers and the guys he does let on base simply do not score. But it also has a lot to do with the luck he has received in BABIP, of which he is the third largest beneficiary of MLB relievers.
He leads the MLB in BAA.
Can’t particularly argue with this one and it helps put the incredibly lucky BABIP into perspective. Perhaps it isn’t so lucky. His BAA is .117 and isn’t that far off from his .153 BABIP.
There are more pitchers on the All-Star teams today than there were in 2001.
Last season, the NL had 16 pitchers, the AL 18 compared to 11 on each side for 2001.
There are a number of teams who will only send 1 All-Star to the All-Star Game and most likely won’t be relievers.
It’s tough to project any more than a handful of teams receiving more than one All-Star. The Phillies will have 3, likely 4. The Braves may have two; Brian McCann is a lock and Craig Kimbrel will likely get in. A possibly of a third, either Eric O’Flaherty or his much-hyped pen mate Jonny Venters are also worthy candidates. The Marlins and the Mets will have to send someone. The Nats will send Mike Morse with Tyler Clippard possibly sneaking in or taking the Nats automatic bid. Milkwaukee, Cincinatti, and St. Louis will likely send 2-3 each, Pittsburgh is likely just Andrew McCutchen but may send Joel Hanrahan. After that, LA, SF, and AZ are the only other teams with reasonable chances to send two or more players. Liberally, that puts the NL All-Star roster at 31; conservatively 25. Last year’s NL All-Star team was 40 strong, after injuries and pitching rules were enforced. The big roster works in Bastardo’s favor.
The Case Against Antonio Bastardo
The Phillies will already be sending at least three, possibly four players to the All-Star game.
Gone are the days of one team taking over the All-Star game. It is doubtful that we will again see an All-Star team with 9 players from one team in the near future like the historic 2001 Mariners, or even 7 like the contemporary 2001 Yankees squad. It’s not an exact science, but teams in the last 10 years in the NL that have sent a middle reliever have sent, on average, 2.5 players including the reliever to the All-Star game. Placido Polanco will win the vote at Third Base, Roy Halladay and Cole Hamels are as close to locks as you can get, and Cliff Lee is doing everything and more to earn a deserved NL All-Star birth. This is among the least compelling, and probably the weakest, argument to keep Bastardo out of the game but with the mandate that each team needs an All-Star, the numbers crunch could be the last hurdle Bastardo needs to clear.
Jonny Venters is/was/is perceived to be unstoppable.
Until he looked mortal this past weekend, Jonny Venters was a one-man wrecking crew. While not a strikeout machine like some of the other attractive middle relief candidates (only 9.37/9 IP) and not as capable with control (3.31 BB/9 IP), the walk number is still better than Bastardo. His ERA, 1.29, is good for 5th in the NL, and only 2nd best on his own team behind Eric O’Flaherty, but the hype machine is hot and heavy for the exceptional Venters. Teammate Brian McCann should reach Arizona easily, which may hurt Venters’ chances of being an All-Star via the number crunch.
As the manager of the World Series champs, Boche has major influence as to who gets on to the All-Star squad. Sergio Romo has been fantastic once again this year and is averaging 3 more strikeouts/9 IP, gives up a third of the walks/9 IP, and leads the MLB relief world in xFIP by .55.
Tyler Clippard, Mike Adams and a big numbers game.
The Tyler Clippard/Mike Adams road block is tied closely to the “Each Team Needs One Representative” squeeze Bastardo faces. Clippard and Adams have been recognized as the best set-up men in the MLB this year and have the stats to prove it. Adams himself will probably be squeezed out by Heath Bell for the lone Padres representation.
Antonio Bastardo has unquestionably pitched like an All-Star this year but picked a year of excellent middle relief performances to attempt to make the All-Star game. Positively, the NL recognized relievers last year, sending 3 middle relievers to the Midsummer Classic. For Bastardo’s best chance to make the 2011 All-Star, it would help to pick up a few saves while he has the opportunity to as closer to display his versatility while Ryan Madson is out but more importantly, root for the following to happen:
Root for Andrew McCutchen and against Joel Hanharan
Root for Mike Morse and against Tyler Clippard
Root for the Braves relief corp to get rocked
Root for a Sergio Romo meltdown
That obviously would provide the best chance for Bastardo to make the 2011 NL All-Star team. But if the NL All-Star team was picked today, I think Bastardo would be included.