Tag Archives: Tommy Joseph

Boston Red Sox add former Phillies first baseman Tommy Joseph

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Back from Korea, Tommy Joseph signs with Bosox

The Boston Red Sox have announced the signing of Tommy Joseph, the Phillies former first baseman. Joseph had played in Korea earlier this season with little success before receiving his release.

Joseph, who turned 28-years-old just three weeks ago, was a second round draft pick of the San Francisco Giants back in 2009 out of high school in his native Arizona.
At the July 2012 trade deadline, Joseph was sent to the Phillies along with pitching prospect Seth Rosin and outfielder Nate Schierholtz in exchange for outfielder Hunter Pence.
From a Phillies perspective, Joseph was the centerpiece of that deal. A catcher at the time of the trade, he never developed in the way they hoped.
Joseph finally reached Philadelphia in May 2016 as a first baseman. For most of that season as well as the 2017 campaign, he was the Phillies starter at the position. He appeared in 227 games at first base and another pair as a Designated Hitter.
After slashing just .247/.297/.460 with 43 home runs, 86 extra-base hits, and 116 RBIs, Joseph lost his playing time in September 2017 to Rhys Hoskins. When the Phillies signed Carlos Santana as a free agent that December, the writing was on the wall. Joseph was released during spring training of 2018.
The Texas Rangers picked him up off waivers, and Joseph spent last season split between the Double-A and Triple-A levels in the Texas farm system.

For this 2019 season, Joseph signed a $1 million deal with LG Twins of the KBO in Korea. However, he produced with just an OPS of .758 over 217 plate appearances, far below the league average of .866 for foreign players. The Twins replaced Joseph by signing Carlos Peguero, who had experience playing in both Major League Baseball and in Japan.

Joseph was released from his deal, and returned to the United States. The Red Sox have assigned him to Triple-A Pawtucket, and barring injuries he will likely remain there, possibly hoping for a September promotion when rosters are expanded.

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!”

Future at first, outfield should be competitive for Phillies

Cozens (L) and Hoskins (R) pushing for a shot with Phillies
The Philadelphia Phillies moved yesterday to DFA both reliever Jeanmar Gomez and outfielder Michael Saunders. This should prove to be the beginning of a changeover in the roster and lineup.
The baseball industry has recognized for more than a year now that the Phillies minor league system has greatly improved. Talent is going to begin flowing to the big league team soon, likely at some point this summer.
Once that talent really starts pushing to Philadelphia, there are going to be some interesting decisions for the club to make. That is going to be especially true in the outfield and at first base. Three of those four spots appear taken, at least in the short term.
Center field is currently manned by 25-year old Odubel Herrera. A 2016 NL All-Star, ‘El Torito’ was signed to a contract his past winter that is guaranteed through the 2021 season.
With the Saunders trade, 26-year old Aaron Altherr should begin to see even more regular playing time. He has been perhaps the Phillies best all around player this season. Altherr is hitting for a .278/.352/.531 slash line. He leads the team with a dozen homers and 37 RBI, and his 32 runs scored is second on the club.
At first base, Tommy Joseph is second on the club with 10 home runs. After a slow first month, Joseph has gotten his hitting game together. Since May 1, the 25-year old is hitting .290/.348/.519 with 19 exta-base hits and 25 RBI.
The Phillies are giving time right now to veterans Howie Kendrick and Daniel Nava. They also have a pair of players recently up from the minor leagues. Those two, first baseman Brock Stassi and outfielder Cameron Perkins, are seen more as reserve/role player types.


The Phillies AAA Lehigh Valley IronPigs squad is 47-24, and is one of the most talented teams in all Minor League Baseball. The Pigs have players pushing right now for a big league opportunity at both first base and in the outfield.
At first base, 24-year old Rhys Hoskins is having a sensational year. He is hitting for a .290/.382/.592 slash line and leads the IronPigs with 17 homers, 55 RBI, 37 extra-base hits, and 49 runs scored.
In the outfield, 23-year old Nick Williams seems to finally be putting it all together. He is hitting .279 with 14 home runs, 41 RBI, and 39 runs.
Also pushing for a shot is 23-year old Dylan Cozens. He and Hoskins have come up together through the system over the last couple of seasons. Their longball exploits have earned them a “Bash Brothers” nickname.
Cozens has 16 homers, 49 RBI, and 40 runs scored. A big knock on both he and Williams is that both strikeout a lot. Williams has been punched out 80 times already, Cozens 82 times. Those are far and away the highest totals in the Lehigh Valley lineup.


Another outfielder at Lehigh Valley is probably the most ready, and would likely already have received a promotion. The problem is, as it always seems to be, an injury issue for speedy Roman Quinn.
The 24-year old Quinn has a UCL injury to his non-throwing (left) elbow. He received an injection, and is already rehabbing. Quinn is expected back in game action in mid-late July.
The injury to Quinn and the strikeout issues plaguing Cozens and Williams could keep them at Lehigh Valley into September. That is, barring some disastrous injury situation in Philadelphia.
But as early as that final month of the 2017 MLB season, and certainly no later than next spring, the positional battles will be played out.
There is nothing to say that the Phillies future at first base will go to either Joseph or Hoskins. The club could very well give someone like Altherr or Cozens a shot there as well. That would depend on trades, their own development, and the development of the other players.
There has also been talk of moving Maikel Franco across the diamond at some point. If it is determined at any point that Franco is not the long-term answer at third base, it has to be considered a true setback for the organization. That is, unless they can fill the void with a big free agent signing. Manny Machado anyone?
An outfield battle royale is shaping up involving Herrera, Altherr, Williams, Quinn, and Cozens. A couple of those guys could eventually join a first base battle that already will include Joseph and Hoskins.


None of this takes into account younger prospects. Mickey Moniak is arguably the top prospect in the Phillies minor league system already. Though just 19 years old, Moniak could move fast, and might push for a big league role as early as the summer of 2019.
Cornelius Randolph just turned 20 years old earlier this month. The 2015 first round draftee has struggled often at times thus far, but remains very young. He probably doesn’t challenge for a role much before the 2020-21 seasons.
And just last week the Phillies made 21-year old Adam Haseley their first round pick at eighth overall in the 2017 MLB Amateur Draft. It is believed that the lefty swinger can reach the big leagues quickly, possibly pushing for a spot by 2019 at the latest.
And even further, the evaluation of these young players doesn’t consider outside help. The Phillies are in an enviable financial position. They should absolutely be in the hunt for big name talent such as Bryce Harper and Mike Trout over the next few years.
There will be a lot of young talent fighting for playing time in Philadelphia in the coming months and years. The decisions made by the Phillies front office on these players will go a long way towards determining whether and how quickly the Phillies can return to contending status.

Philadelphia Phillies 2017 Preview and Prediction

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Maikel Franco debuted in 2015 and hopes to push the Phillies forward

The Phillies will pack up their gear following their final Grapefruit League game on Friday against the Tampa Bay Rays. It will then be time to say goodbye to Clearwater until next February.

Equipment and personnel will then begin heading north for next Tuesday’s 2017 season opener at Cincinnati against the host Reds.
The lineup taking the field next week at Great American Ballpark should look very different from the one that will come to Florida next winter.
The Phillies rebuilding program is largely winding to a close. In the 2015 season, a Rule 5 draft pick named Odubel Herrera became a spring sensation. He would become the first piece of the longterm lineup rebuild.
In 2016, Maikel Franco took part in his first full season in the big leagues. Tommy Joseph was promoted in May, and platooned at first base with the now departed Ryan Howard. He will get his own first full-time shot this year.
Those three are the only players likely to be in the 2017 Opening Day lineup who have any shot at being a part of the next winning Phillies team. Instead, for a fifth consecutive season, fans of the Fightin’ Phils will be watching a ‘placeholder’ lineup. At least to begin the season.

At the corner outfield spots surrounding Herrera will be Howie Kendrick in left field and Michael Saunders in right. The middle infield will again find Cesar Hernandez at second base and Freddy Galvis at short. Cameron Rupp will once again be behind the plate as the catcher.


Phillies fans will be watching these players when they head out to Citizens Bank Park or turn on their TV sets. However, it may be just a matter of months before at least a few of those players are being pushed for their starting jobs.
Fans should be paying close attention to the happenings at AAA Lehigh Valley, where the IronPigs will feature a number of players doing their minor league finishing work.
J.P. Crawford has been the club’s top prospect for the last three years. It would be a setback for the organization if he isn’t pushing Galvis for the starting job by at least the MLB All-Star break.
Outfielders Nick Williams and Roman Quinn should likewise be showing that they can improve on their maturity (Williams) and health (Quinn), and push for a role in Philly.
Finally, catcher Jorge Alfaro, who may be the most talented hitter of the bunch, will be trying to show that he is ready as well. Alfaro might take longer, but he should see the big leagues again at some point this year following a 2016 cup of coffee.


On the mound, the Phillies starting rotation will feature three building blocks and a pair of short-timers. The building blocks are right-handers Jerad EickhoffAaron Nola, and Vince Velasquez. Nola has to prove himself healthy in order to retain his place.
The rotation placeholders are Jeremy Hellickson and Clay Buchholz. Those two veterans, if healthy and reasonably effective, will be trade bait by July at the latest.
Waiting at Lehigh Valley for their shots at the Phillies rotation will be a handful of talented arms. In order, getting a shot in Philly would likely be Jake ThompsonZach EflinBen LivelyNick Pivetta, and Mark Appel.
By the end of the 2017 season, the Phillies hope to have at least five arms from that group ready to come to camp a year from now as their 2018 rotation.


Bullpens are far trickier to speak of in terms of the long run. Jeanmar Gomez probably starts the season in the closer role again. How long that lasts is anyone’s guess.
Righties Hector Neris and Edubray Ramos would appear to have roles for the longer term. Left-hander Joely Rodriguez will try this season to show that he can be counted on.
The rest of the pen is likely to be pieced together on a year-to-year basis for the next couple of seasons. Lefty Elniery Garcia and right-handers Ricardo Pinto and Alberto Tirado could push their way to Philly soon. Anyone from among the current starters who don’t secure a rotation spot could also factor in with the big league pen.


I don’t see the Phillies as contenders, and thus as potential buyers at the trade deadline. To me, they are more likely to be sellers. The big pieces would be Hellickson, Buchholz, Kendrick, Saunders, and Galvis.
Depending on the development of the top minor league prospects, and their own production, you could also see someone like Rupp or Gomez on the block. Rupp will be backed this year by Andrew Knapp, who will be trying to prove that he can at least fill that longterm backup catcher role.


The Phillies finished at 71-91 a year ago, good for fourth place in the National League East Division. It was an eight-win improvement over their 2015 last place finish, but two games worse than their 2014 cellar season.
While fighting out of the NL East basement may have seemed like an accomplishment last year, it wasn’t much of one.
The last place Atlanta Braves finished just 2.5 games behind the Phils in 2016, and were hot at the end. The Braves have also improved their team for the coming season as they enter a new ballpark.
Meanwhile, the Phillies staggered to the finish. They lost six straight and eight of nine at the end of the year before winning the season finale.
If the Phillies are to improve on last season, it won’t be because of any of the outsiders that they added. Improvement for this team will only come with individual improvement from the insiders.
Franco especially has to step up and become a more complete player. In 630 plate appearances at age 23, he hit for a .255/.306/.427 slash line.
That is unacceptable. He needs to show a little more discipline, not giving away so many at-bats. If he does, he can become a 35+ homer, 100+ RBI producer in the middle of the lineup. The Phillies really need him to do just that.


If completely healthy across their roster for the bulk of the season, the Phillies could conceivably battle the Braves and Marlins. They could make a run at a .500 record and a third place finish in the division.
But teams rarely go without roster challenges. The more likely scenario is that the Phillies are once again a below .500 squad – but one with even more hope coming from the minors.
If the lineup is turned over in the second half, inserting two or three more exciting youngsters. If the pitching staff finds two or three more talented young arms forcing their way into the picture. Those things happen, then Phillies fans will really have hope for a better outcome in the 2018 season.
For the 2017 season, I am calling it a 72-90 finish for Pete Mackanin‘s squad, and a last place finish in the National League East standings.
But if the kids do bring excitement to the ballpark in September rather than last year’s deflating finish, it will be worth one more bottom-dwelling campaign.

Brock Stassi Making a Spring Bid for Phillies Roster Spot

The Philadelphia Phillies have been giving young prospects an opportunity to play over the last couple of seasons as their rebuilding program got underway.
Those opportunities have continued this spring as some of the club’s top prospects begin to make a real push for regular big league roles. This includes highly rated shortstop J.P. Crawford, outfielders Nick Williams and Roman Quinn, and catcher Jorge Alfaro.
But it has been a far less heralded prospect who has emerged to steal the spotlight during the 2017 Grapefruit League season down in Florida.
Brock Stassi is a 27-year old first baseman. He was the club’s 33rd round selection in the 2011 MLB Amateur Draft out of the University of Nevada-Reno.
Stassi has spent the ensuing six seasons battling his way incrementally up through the Phillies farm system.
In those six minor league seasons, Stassi has hit for a cumulative .263/.347/.390 slash line. He has produced just 42 home runs in more than 2,200 minor league plate appearances.
The left-handed hitter is limited to first base, so his only path to a regular big league role is with his bat. To this point, he simply has not hit enough to be considered a true prospect. As a result, MLB does not rank him among the Phillies current Top 30 Prospects.


But this spring, Stassi has broken out. In 31 at-bats over 13 games, Stassi is hitting for a .419/.486/1.000 slash line. He has banged five homers to lead the club. His 15 RBI are far and away the top figure on the team. He has struck out just twice.
Following another strong performance on Tuesday in which Stassi crushed his 5th home run, Phillies manager Pete Mackanin was quoted on his spring phenom by CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury.
“I think everybody likes him. You have to like him. Not only has he had a good spring offensively, but the at-bats he gives us are quality at-bats versus righties and lefties. And he’s a well-above-average defender. He’s fun to watch play.” ~ Mackanin
Complicating Stassi’s chances of actually making the Opening Day roster is the fact that he is not being carried on the Phillies 40-man roster at the current time.
John Stolnis at ‘The Good Phight’ did a nice job of breaking down Stassi’s chances of cracking the roster in a piece just yesterday.
“Stassi, at the very least, may be forcing the Phils to drop someone before the team heads to Cincinnati for the start of the regular season.” ~ Stolnis
An opportunity nearly emerged yesterday. Starting first baseman Tommy Joseph was hit on the hand by a pitch and had to leave the game.
It appears as if a bullet was dodged. There were no broken bones. Consequently, Joseph is likely to miss just a few games. But the incident showed just how suddenly an opportunity could open up.


Updating his own predictions for the Phillies opening roster today, Matt Gelb at Philly.com still doesn’t think that Stassi will make the cut. As a result, he will provide organizational depth.
“Stassi has done everything he could possibly do to make the Phillies…It could come down to a scenario like this: Are the Phillies willing to waive, say, Tyler Goeddel, who could be a fourth outfielder for the major-league minimum for the next three seasons to put a 27-year-old minor-leaguer who plays a non-premium position on the roster?” ~ Gelb
Stassi is remaining mostly quiet, as players in his position are generally wont to do. He is simply letting his bat and his glove do the talking for him.
Thus far this spring, that bat and glove are screaming loudly. What they are yelling is that they want to be noticed. If they keep their voices up, you just might see Stassi at Citizens Bank Park at some point this season.