Tag Archives: Freddy Galvis

Cesar Hernandez is holding off critics with a hot start to the 2019 season

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Cesar Hernandez has been hitting well for over a month

This piece has to begin with a disclaimer. Few writers who cover the Philadelphia Phillies on a regular basis have been more critical of second baseman Cesar Hernandez over the last couple of years than yours truly.

If I’ve called for the Phillies to jettison Hernandez and install Scott Kingery as the starting second baseman once, I’ve done it a hundred times since the winter prior to the 2018 campaign.
Hernandez registered career highs of 15 homers, 60 RBIs, and 91 runs scored. He led the Phillies with 19 stolen bases, tying his career high mark.
However, Hernandez slashed just .220/.321/.332 over the 2018 season’s final two full months. The Phillies were in first place and 11 games over the .500 mark when his poor hitting began in earnest on July 29. By the time it all officially came to an end on September 29, the club had finished in third place. They were 10 games out, and produced a sixth consecutive losing season.
Hernandez wasn’t the only reason for that 2018 collapse. Not by a long shot. But he was consistently unproductive. Many of the other players who made up the bulk of the losing during the previous few seasons were gone already. Freddy Galvis, Dom Brown, Cody AscheJohn Mayberry Jr, Cameron RuppTommy Joseph. All either released or traded away.
The 24-year-old Kingery had struggled in his first taste of the big-leagues last season, but also had been forced out of position to shortstop for most of the year, a position he had never previously played. Kingery had been a star in the minor leagues during the 2017 season, after which he was signed to a club-friendly long-term contract.
The Phillies looked to make wholesale changes to their lineup entering the 2019 campaign. Trades brought in a new shortstop in Jean Segura and a new catcher in J.T. Realmuto. Both Andrew McCutchen and Bryce Harper were signed to take over the corner outfield spots. Rhys Hoskins was moved back to his more natural first base position.
The idea that the Phillies could upgrade the second base position as well was a natural for those of us in the anti-Cesar camp. Find a taker for a player who would turn 29-years-old this year. Turn the Keystone over to Kingery at his own natural position, where he had won a 2017 minor league Gold Glove.
The calls got even louder as the first few weeks of 2019 unfolded. Kingery came out blazing hot, slashing .406/.457/.719 over his first 14 games. Meanwhile, Hernandez was slashing just .246/.329/.391 with just five extra-base hits over his own first 18 games.
All of the talk came to an end on April 20. The previous day, Hernandez had gone 0-6 in a 4-3, 12-inning loss at Colorado. But Kingery had gotten hurt, straining his right hamstring in the same game. He would be placed on the Injured List and miss a full month.
Whether a coincidence or not, Hernandez seemed to thrive with no one breathing down his neck. He went 2-5 and drove in a run with a double as the Phillies downed the Rockies by 8-5 and has not stopped hitting ever since.
From that April 20 game at Coors Field through last night’s three-hit game at Wrigley Field, Hernandez has been on fire. He has slashed .353/.407/.529 during a stretch of 28 games. In a lineup known for striking out, Hernandez has whiffed just 15 times during this hot streak.
Hernandez is now on pace to deliver a season of 14 homers, 70 RBIs, 77 runs scored, and 10 steals while hitting mostly from the bottom third of manager Gabe Kapler‘s batting order. He is hitting .310 with a .375 on-base percentage, trailing just Segura in the former category, tied with McCutchen for second on the team in the latter.
Defensively, this has not been a stellar season for Hernandez. He has already committed five errors, and anyone watching on a regular basis has seen him involved in at least a handful more misplays. He currently ranks just 13th in the big-leagues by Fangraphs at the second base position.
Hernandez is not a star, and he is not irreplaceable. His 2.5 WAR total among all those who have played at least 50% of the time as a big-league second baseman since last year’s All-Star Game ranks him just 19th in the game in that time. Over more than 2,800 career plate appearances he has just 36 homers and a .739 OPS.
Also, for someone who appears to possess the flat-out speed to do much more, he simply doesn’t steal enough. On top of that, Hernandez has committed a number of blunders as a baserunner to leave fans frequently cratching their heads or screaming out in all-caps on social media. He isn’t horrible, but man can he be frustrating with the glove and on the bases. A switch to the more talented Kingery at some point is going to be inevitable.
But that time is not now. Phillies fans, myself included, need to back off Hernandez. He is scratching out base hits, and in the process is helping the club to win ball games while also elevating his potential trade value. Whether such a deal happens this season or in the next off-season is irrelevant. For now, the only call from fans should be to ring out: “Hail, Cesar!”

Phillies scout Sal Agostinelli honored as a Scout of the Year

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Scouts are they silent key to an organization’s success, and Phillies have one of the best

For the everyday fan, baseball scouts are the forgotten people in their favorite organization. But it is the work performed by these individuals that can often spell the difference between winning and losing specific games or series, and success or failure over the longer term.

As the 2018 Winter Meetings opened today in Las Vegas, Nevada, an awards luncheon was held to honor various individuals for their work behind the scenes of the game. Four men were honored as Scouts of the Year, with one of those from the Philadelphia Phillies organization.
Sal Agostinelli was born and raised in the Bronx, New York on September 4, 1961. A baseball fan and player from his earliest days, Agostinelli played both high school ball and in college at Slippery Rock University.
A solid hitting catcher, Agostinelli was selected by the Saint Louis Cardinals in the 22nd round of the 1983 MLB Amateur Draft. Over the next four years he would rise through the Cardinals organization, reaching Triple-A Louisville by 1987. He then received an invite to spring training for 1988 with the big club.
After a struggling season in 1988 during which he hit just .206 at two levels, Agostinelli was released by Saint Louis. He wouldn’t stay unemployed for long. The Phillies signed him and sent him to AA-Reading where he spent the entirety of the 1989 season.
Over the next three years, Agostinelli drifted up and down the Phillies organizational ladder, taking various turns at Reading, High-A Clearwater, and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Though he received an invitation to spring training with the Phillies in 1991, he was never able to impress enough to receive a call to the big-leagues.
After one final appearance in a game with Reading in 1992, Agostinelli retired as a player at age 30. Over 10 minor league seasons he had accumulated a .245/.333/.290 slash line.
The Phillies didn’t think that Agostinelli would be able to help them as a player. But he had impressed with his knowledge of the game and his ability to get along with people. The Phillies asked him to take a coaching job and he accepted, spending time with both the short-season affiliate at Martinsville, Virginia and at Reading.
The next year, Agostinelli became a scout. From 1993 through the 1996 season he worked in the Phillies organization as an area scout, evaluating high school and college players in preparation for the June amateur draft.

Impressed with his work, the Phillies offered Agostinelli the position as their International Scouting Director in 1997. In this role he would oversee a staff covering places outside of the United States and its territories such as the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Japan, and Korea.

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The Scout of the Year Award is open to all levels of the scouting profession with 25 years of scouting experience. It honors a lifetime of scouting excellence at all levels. There can be up to four honorees in a given year, and Agostinelli was one of four recognized today.
Agostinelli has been the recipient of honors previously for his work in the game. In 1995 he was elected to the Slippery Rock University Hall of Fame.
In 2012, John Jay University’s baseball team honored him as the 10th recipient of their Lou DeMartino Lifetime Achievement Award. This award is named for their 1974-99 head coach and is given annually to a person in the baseball community who has dedicated years of his life to baseball.
In 2015, the Phillies honored Agostinelli as the recipient of their Dallas Green Award. First handed out in 2011, the award recognizes an amateur or pro scout who best exemplifies the Phillies standard for scouting while demonstrating the same loyalty, work ethic, dedication and passion as the award’s namesake.
Green, who passed away in March 2017, stated the following at the time of Agostinelli receiving his namesake award, per Stephen Gross of The Morning Call:

“Sal really jump-started the international scouting program that we have today. He’s been instrumental in our two schools in the Dominican and Venezuela, setting them up, getting them running and going down there and bringing the kids along.” ~ Dallas Green

Agostinelli is also involved with the development of amateur players, running a youth baseball training operation out of Long Island, New York. The organization includes an indoor baseball academy and a summer camp, as well as tours and tournaments
Agostinelli has signed a number of players who went on to play in Major League Baseball including Carlos CarrascoFreddy GalvisCesar Hernandez, and Carlos Silva. He is also credited with helping discover popular Phillies all-star catcher Carlos Ruiz.
Now comes the latest honor for this 57-year-old baseball lifer who has been a key member of the Phillies organization, one that most fans have never heard of, for more than a quarter-century.

What if the Phillies are unable to land any impact talent this off-season?

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Phillies GM Matt Klentak is squarely on the hot seat this Hot Stove season

One of the most highly anticipated and important ‘Hot Stove’ seasons in Philadelphia Phillies history is about to get underway. Dozens of players across baseball are now free agents, and by this weekend they will be able to negotiate with the Phillies and other ball clubs.

The Phillies have a ton of money to spend. It is possible that controlling owner John Middleton and his partners could make upwards of $100 million available to GM Matt Klentak in order to add new players via free agent signings and/or trade acquisitions.
There has been a great deal of speculation among the fan base on which players the Phillies might target. Bryce HarperManny MachadoCraig Kimbrel or another elite reliever? Patrick Corbin or some other proven starting pitcher?
For a variety of reasons, both the team itself and those of us who cover the Phillies like to talk and write about the possibilities. Adding the right couple of players, after all, could vault the club to contending status entering the 2019 season.
That kind of talk is exciting. It gets us excited. It gets fans excited. When fans are excited, they like to read about the team. Obvious then why we writers like to drum up scenarios in which the Phillies sign talented ball players.
But just once, and only once because I too like to remain positive, let’s whisper softly the words that no one really wants to consider: what if the Phillies are unable to sign anyone this off-season? By that, I mean anyone of consequence. No Harper. No Machado. No Kimbrel or Corbin or Josh Donaldson or J.A. Happ?
This is, after all, a very real possibility. While the Phillies indeed have tremendous financial resources available, they are not the only team with such resources. They are not the only team that wants to get better on the field. They are not the only team that would like to add a drawing card to their roster.
Let’s say that Clayton Kershaw stays with the Los Angeles Dodgers. The two sides have already agreed to extend their negotiating window by a couple of extra days in hopes of working out an extension. That is a very strong possibility.
And let’s say that Corbin ends up going home to the New York Yankees, which seems a foregone conclusion in the minds of many evaluators. That would be two prime arms off the market.

Imagine a scenario in which the Braves get Harper and the Brewers get Machado. Two NL contenders improve. (Arturo Pardavila III and Ian D’Andrea)
Who else might be a serious suitor for Harper and Machado? There are a number of possibilities. Among contending teams, the Milwaukee Brewers and Atlanta Braves appear to be in just as good a financial position as the Phillies.
The Braves are already ahead of the Phillies as the two teams build back from a half-decade of losing. Atlanta won the division going away this year and have some fascinating young talent. Let’s say they add a big basher like Harper to their lineup.
Let’s say the Brew Crew decides to dangle a boatload of cash at Machado in order to get him to give up his shortstop ambitions and play third base for them. And that’s just two competitors. There will be more suitors for both players.
Happ, Kimbrel, Donaldson, Andrew McCutchenDallas KeuchelNathan Eovaldi all decide they would rather play elsewhere.
You see, it takes more than having a lot of money to throw around. It takes someone on the other side willing to accept your money. There’s an old saying: it takes two to tango. Maybe the players take a look at what the Phillies have and simply don’t see enough opportunity to win.
Players love money. We all do. But the vast majority of competitive ball players also want a legitimate opportunity to play in October. To experience the joy of winning a World Series. To earn a ring. To ride on a parade float.

Phillies fans will rake Matt Klentak over the Hot Stove coals if he can’t get big things done this off-season.
What if Middleton and Klentak cannot convince any of the better free agents to sign on with the 2019 Phillies? So maybe you come to spring training with the same young players who spent much of 2018 playing down at Citizens Bank Park.
Maybe you add a second-tier free agent to the mix, someone like lefty pitcher Gio Gonzalez or a 33-year-old Carlos Gonzalez. Or, gulp, Freddy Galvis to improve your defense at shortstop.
How would Phillies fans feel – how would you feel – if Gabe Kapler‘s 2019 lineup on Opening Day was made up of Carlos SantanaScott KingeryJ.P. CrawfordMaikel FrancoJorge Alfaro, and some outfield mix of Odubel HerreraAaron AltherrRoman QuinnNick Williams, and Rhys Hoskins?
Do you think that the Phillies could expect to overtake the Braves and Nationals and hold off a re-tooling Mets squad simply with individual improvements from their own young players? Because I can guarantee you, that is how it would be sold to you.
The Phillies finished in third place on merit this past season, and barely at that. Had the Mets been healthy all year, the Phillies would likely have finished in fourth place. Those are the facts.
The Phillies had one of the worst defensive teams in baseball, and Klentak today alluded to Hoskins returning to left field and another year of a further aging Santana as his first baseman. The Phillies had one of the worst run-producing lineups in the game. How much does that improve if no impact players are added to the mix?
And so, you see what I am getting at here. You see how important the Phillies signing a couple of impact players is for this off-season. Not one. At least two. Because if the Phillies brass should crap out, well, that worst-case scenario would indeed be bleak.

Originally published at Phillies Nation as Phillies 2019: the worst-case scenario could be bleak

Phillies to send rookie Enyel De Los Santos to mound on Tuesday night

Rookie Enyel De Los Santos take mound Tuesday night
Thanks to a congested schedule leading up to the MLB All-Star break, the Phillies had some tough organizational decisions to make and questions to answer regarding their starting pitching rotation.
The club chose to answer those questions by giving yesterday’s start to Drew Anderson and tomorrow’s start to Enyel De Los Santos, both promoted from the AAA Lehigh Valley IronPigs.
The two youngsters were sandwiched in between Aaron Nola and Zach Eflin, each of whom will go this evening at the start of a four-game series with the host New York Mets. Those two will get the nod for an increasingly rare throwback, a good old-fashioned twi-night doubleheader.
Anderson was immediately sent back to AAA after the 24-year old’s first big league start resulted in a 4-1 loss to the host Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park. He allowed four earned runs on eight hitters over five innings during which the right-hander threw 94 pitches, 64 of those for strikes. Anderson struck out four and walked one, getting no help from a Phillies offense that generated just four hits.
Drew came up and did a great job for us,” manager Gabe Kapler said per Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports. “He gave us five strong innings. He gave us a chance to win it. We didn’t score a lot of runs, so that matters. Obviously, the spotlight will be on the start, but it’s not the only thing that happened today.
Now on Tuesday night at Citi Field against the struggling Mets, it will be a chance for De Los Santos to show what he’s got in what will be the 22-year old pitcher’s big league debut. So exactly who is De Los Santos, you might ask?
Born and raised in the baseball hotbed of San Pedro de Macoris in the Dominican Republic, De Los Santos was originally signed by the Seattle Mariners as a 19-year old international free agent. He made his pro debut in 2015 with the Mariners organization. Following that season he was traded to the San Diego Padres as part of a deal for Joaquin Benoit.
Over the 2016 and 2017 seasons, the right-hander rose through three levels of the San Diego minor league system. Last off-season, the Phillies acquired him in a straight-up trade for shortstop Freddy Galvis.
Assigned by the Phillies to the AAA IronPigs, De Los Santos has been nothing short of fantastic. He went 9-3 over 16 starts, allowing just 72 hits over 95.1 innings with a 1.98 ERA and 1.080 WHIP.
Phillies farm director Joe Jordan described him as follows in a piece last week by Jim Salisbury for Baseball America:

“He’s big, physical and mean on the mound. It’s a pretty good package . . . He really seems to know who he is on the mound and he gets after it.”



For this strong first half performance, De Los Santos was selected to a pair of all-star teams. This coming Wednesday he was due to start in the Triple A All-Star Game. He was also named as a pitcher with Team World for the upcoming MLB All-Star Futures Game.

Last week, Tom Housenick at The Morning Call expounded on the youngster’s excellent season:

“The 22-year-old has worked at least six innings in 11 of his last 12 starts and allowed more than two earned runs in only two of his 16 outings.”


While he will now miss out on that first all-star honor, the young pitcher will obviously be happier with the “consolation” prize of this big league opportunity.
The Phillies had to make a roster move in order to get De Los Santos on to their 40-man. The decision has reportedly been made to move utility man Pedro Florimon, out since late May with a broken foot, to the 60-day DL in order to make room.
The Phillies might face an interesting decision after Tuesday’s game, especially if De Los Santos fares well. Do they return him to the IronPigs as they did with Anderson? That would be the easiest and most obvious move. However, they could also give him another shot, with Nick Pivetta struggling mightily over the last month and a half.

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Carlos Santana: bad signing by the Philadelphia Phillies

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The Philadelphia Phillies agreed to terms with veteran free agent first baseman Carlos Santana this past week.

Per a report from Phillies insider Jim Salisbury on December 15, the formal signing will take place pending the results of a physical exam.

This was a wholly unnecessary signing, and I believe that in the end it will prove to have been a waste of $60 million dollars.

The Phillies are mostly a young team. They are finishing up a rebuilding program that has seen major changes within the organization over the last few years. Now the club is trying to find a few more talented veteran pieces that will help their young nucleus move forward in the standings.

Santana (Twitter: @TheRealSlamtana) would appear to fit the bill in a handful of ways. He will turn 32 years old by the first week of April. He has seven full years of big league experience. Santana certainly fits the “veteran” bill.

He also fits in a couple of other ways. The Phillies could use a bit more power and patience in their batting order. Santana has averaged 24 home runs over those seven full seasons, which were all spent with the Cleveland Indians in the American League. His career .365 on-base percentage demonstrates plate discipline that is generally lacking with the Phillies lineup.

Defensively, while Santana will never be an NL Gold Glove Award winner, he does field the position well. His 6.7 rating on the SABR Defensive Index led the American League, and ranked fifth among all MLB first basemen.

Bleacher Report ranked Santana at #12 in their Top 25 First Basemen of 2017 list. Their Zachary Rymer stated the following:

 “Swing-wise, Santana was once again one of the most extreme pull hitters in MLB. This made him vulnerable against shifts, but his pickiness allowed for consistent contact and his strength and solid loft allowed for relatively easy power.”

Santana is a veteran who hits home runs, gets on base, and fields his position well. So what’s not to like?

First would be his age, and the contract. As previously stated, Santana turns 32 years old at the start of the season. The Phillies have reportedly offered him a three-year, $60 million deal with a team option for a fourth year. The contract commits the team to him at least through his age 34 season, and makes him one of the top 50 highest paid players in baseball history based on average annual value.

That 24 homers per year? It’s just an average, one that is propped up by a 34 homer campaign in 2016. He has never otherwise approached that number. He also has a pair of 27 homer seasons upping that average. Those two seasons came four and seven years ago, respectively.

Santana is not an elite middle-of-the-order offensive performer, but he will be paid like one. He has just a career .249 batting average, and has failed to reach the .260 mark in six of those seven full seasons. He has averaged just 80 RBI per full season. That’s not bad at all, but nothing special for a 3-4-5 hitter in your lineup.

From what I have seen in my 47 years following Phillies baseball, Carlos Santana does not appear to be the kind of player who is going to sell tickets and merchandise. There will not be a boatload of Santana shirseys and jerseys flying off the Majestic Clubhouse store shelves. This is not another Jim Thome signing. Not even close.

The Phillies are paying $20 million per year for the next three years (at least) for a guy who has received MVP votes just once. A realistic best-case season for Santana would be a .250 batting average with 20-25 homers and 80 RBI.

Finally, the Phillies already had a strong first baseman who appeared set there for years to come. Rhys Hoskins banged 18 homers, drove in 48 runs, scored 47 times, and had a .396 on-base percentage in less than half the number of plate appearances as Santana was given.

Hoskins only turns 25 years old during spring training in March. He is not arbitration eligible for another three years, and cannot become a free agent until after the 2024 season. He is clearly a big part of the Phillies future.

Also, Hoskins is a first baseman, not a left fielder. He can passably play left field, sure. If the Phillies could stick Greg Luzinski, Pete Incaviglia, and Pat Burrell out there and win pennants, then they can probably do the same with Hoskins.

But Hoskins best position is first base, he was already there, and the team has not upgraded that position with the Santana signing. For me, and many others, defense is a key component in winning championships. Hoskins in left field weakens the overall defense.

The Phillies should have entered 2018 with Hoskins as their first baseman. If they wanted to spend big money, they should have done it on the mound or elsewhere. If there was nothing available elsewhere, then should have saved their money for another opportunity, either at the trade deadline or next off-season.

There is an argument being made in some circles that this will free up the Phillies to deal one of their other corner outfielders for that much-needed starting pitching. Really? Who would that be? Who is going to give you a valuable starting pitcher in exchange for Aaron Altherr or Nick Williams? Really.

I am not saying that Altherr and Williams are not good players. Both are good outfielders and solid hitters. But neither is a difference maker for another lineup. Neither seems the type to get another club to come up off a legitimate starting pitcher.

To me, the Phillies would have been better off keeping what they had and letting them play in the 2018 season. Keep Hoskins at first base, let Altherr and Williams play full-time on the outfield corners. Largely with that configuration, the Phillies went 23-19 after mid-August in 2017.

Pocket that $20 million until a chance came to add a Manny Machado or a Bryce Harper, or a big pitcher. Maybe a couple of those. Sure, it will take more than $20 million for those guys. So apply the $20 million towards that cost.

The Phillies MLB insider, Todd Zolecki, speculated that the Phillies may be hoping for a run at .500 with the Santana signing. That would make them more attractive next off-season for big free agents like Harper or Machado.

For me, the Phillies lineup without Santana was ready to make such a run. Standing pat would have kept $20 million in the bank that would have been better spent elsewhere.

I get the sense that the Phillies spent money here simply because they had it to spend, and didn’t want to be accused of once again doing little or nothing to improve the club. They saw a move that they could justify, and made the best deal that they could.

The Phillies picked up a couple of nice right-handed bullpen pieces in Pat Neshek and Tommy Hunter. They also made a move that I have been hoping for, trading away the over-rated Freddy Galvis to open up shortstop for J.P. Crawford. Those moves, I can get behind.

But the Phillies did not sign a 27-year old Carlos Santana, one who was going to be with them for the next half-dozen years as they became a consistent contender while he played in his prime. They are paying a lot of money for a good, not great, player who will be on the back end of his career.

Had they signed Santana for one year, I could have accepted it. Maybe even one with a mutual option, with less guaranteed per year. But three years and $60 million for a 32-year old player at a position that was already covered? If finalized, this will prove to be a bad signing by the Philadelphia Phillies.