Tag Archives: Tyler Goeddel

Can the Phillies expect much from Andrew McCutchen in 2020?

There is an old saying that goes something like “Father Time is undefeated.” It’s not actually true, as athletes such as Gordie Howe, Tom Brady, Roger Federer, Brett Favre, and Jack Nicklaus have proven. Baseball has seen the old man taken down by the likes of Randy Johnson, Bartolo Colon, and Jamie Moyer.

But in the overwhelming majority of his battles with professional athletes, Father Time will indeed come out victorious. Professional athletics is a young man’s game. As players push into and through their 30’s, without the aid of performance-enhancing drugs (PED’s) it is usually impossible for most to keep up for very long with newly arriving, talented youngsters.

In his 20’s, Andrew McCutchen was one of the best baseball players on the planet. He was the first round pick of the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 2005 MLB Draft at 11th overall out of a Florida high school. Four years later he broke into the big-leagues in 2009 at age 22, finishing fourth in the NL Rookie of the Year voting.

For five straight years from 2011-15, McCutchen was an NL All-Star. In 2012 he won the NL Gold Glove Award for center fielders and took home the first of what would become four consecutive NL Silver Slugger Awards. For that performance he finished third in the NL MVP voting.

In 2013, McCutchen was the National League Most Valuable Player, leading the Pirates to the postseason for the first time in more than two decades. He would finish third in that MVP voting once again in 2014 and fifth in 2015.

McCutchen wrapped up his Pittsburgh run with a pair of seasons in 2016-17 that were still solid, but a notch below his MVP-caliber campaigns, and the Pirates dropped out of contender status.

In January 2018 the Pirates traded away their former superstar to the San Francisco Giants. He would move across the country to play with a new team at age 31.

McCutchen was clearly slowed down in the City by the Bay, and was forced to slide over from center to right field. His time in San Francisco wouldn’t last long. With the Giants out of contention he was dealt at the August 31 waiver deadline to the New York Yankees.

In the off-season, McCutchen became a free agent for the first time in his career. The Phillies inked him to a three-year deal on December 12, 2018 and penned him into the starting lineup as their new left fielder, allowing Rhys Hoskins to return to his natural position at first base.

Left field had become a revolving door position over the prior half-decade for the Phillies with Aaron Altherr, Cody Asche, Tyler Goeddel, and Domonic Brown all taking a turn as the starter at various times. While they knew McCutchen was no longer an MVP-caliber player, it was expected that he would provide veteran leadership and hold down the position for a few seasons.

The Phillies went to San Diego in early June in the midst of a west coast road trip with the club in first place in the National League East Division at 33-27. McCutchen was providing not only that leadership but also producing solid offensive numbers with 10 homers, 12 doubles, 29 RBIs, and 45 runs scored.

At that point, McCutchen had filled the role as Gabe Kapler‘s leadoff man perfectly. In fact, he was tops among all leadoff men in Major League Baseball in runs and walks, ranking fifth in on-base percentage and extra-base hits.

Then it all came to an end on what seemed like such an innocent play. McCutchen led off the June 2 opening game in San Diego with a walk. He was on first base when new shortstop Jean Segura popped up to second base. Segura slipped coming out of the batter’s box, and when he regained his footing did not run hard to first base.

The Padres second baseman was veteran Ian Kinsler, who noticed that Segura was not running hard. He decided to let the ball fall to the ground and try for a double play. McCutchen had stayed close to first base, assuming the pop-up would be caught. He suddenly had to run hard for second base, and was caught in a rundown. During the course of that rundown he twisted his knee and crumpled to the ground.

It would turn out that McCutchen had suffered a torn ACL in his left knee. He would miss the remainder of the season.

As the Phillies slumped out of the division lead over the next few weeks, Hoskins was quoted by Bob Brookover of The Philadelphia Inquirer on the loss of McCutchen: “This guy does more for this clubhouse than maybe he even knows. He’s a presence in this lineup, a presence on the team and the field.

In mid-June, McCutchen underwent surgery to repair a medial meniscus and reconstruct the ACL in his left knee.

It has been a long, arduous process, but McCutchen’s rehab seems to be going well. He was quoted by John Perrotto of Forbes in early December:

There were so many times I tried to sit back and cry about it, but I just couldn’t get myself to do it. I knew I had to stay positive, concentrate on my rehab and come back strong. I feel great. I’m already looking forward to spring training.

From 2017-19 in his ages 30-32 seasons, McCutchen slashed a cumulative .265/.368/.455 and his production over a full season of 162 games would have averaged out to 26 home runs, 32 doubles, 80 RBIs, 98 runs, and 12 stolen bases.

However, the Phillies cannot expect to get 162 games out of McCutchen at age 33, especially coming off major reconstructive knee surgery. In fact, a best-case scenario for the club might involve a left field platoon with the right-handed bat of McCutchen and the lefty-hitting Jay Bruce.

McCutchen is a better defensive player at this point in their careers than Bruce, who will also turn 33 years of age at the start of April. So, while we wouldn’t be talking about a full platoon, Bruce could get 1-2 starts per week on average. Such an arrangement could keep both veterans healthy while maximizing their production.

On Christmas Eve, he and wife Maria welcomed their second child to the world with the birth of Armani X McCutchen. With a new addition to the family and an improving  physical condition, McCutchen is enthusiastic at this point and looking forward to helping the Phillies take a step forward in 2020.

The Phillies are hoping to actually contend over the entire season this time around, pushing for their first playoff berth in nine years. Getting a healthy, productive season from McCutchen would be just one of a number of things that need to go right with the club in order for that to happen.



Predicting the Phillies Opening Day Roster

Club management with the Philadelphia Phillies, itself the object of much change, has spent the past couple of years shaping the organizational talent for the future.
Some of that young talent has already reached the big leagues. This is most especially true on the pitching staff.
In the everyday lineup, the very best prospects in the Phillies system are nearly ready for their first full-time shot. The 25-man roster that opens the 2017 regular season in just over two weeks is going to look very different by the end of the season.
But let’s not get that far ahead of ourselves. This will be a look not at the Phillies of July or September, but the club that will travel to Cincinnati for that 2017 Opening Day.
The players who begin the season in a Phillies uniform include a number who are on borrowed time. That is because the club has intentionally signed a few players specifically with the knowledge that they will likely (hopefully?) step aside later in the year as the prospects become fully ready.
One major caveat here is that the players listed remain healthy. A minor injury at the start could delay a player who would normally make it. This would provide an opportunity, even if temporary, to someone else. But injuries aside, this is how I see things breaking with Pete Mackanin‘s club at this point.


On the right side of the Phillies infield the starters will be Tommy Joseph and Cesar Hernandez. On the left side it will be Freddy Galvis and Maikel Franco.
The infield should again include Andres Blanco as backup. Another spot should go to Brock Stassi, who really is just a first baseman. However, the Phillies will probably try to get Stassi some corner outfield and pinch-hitting work as well, ala Cody Asche in the past.
Cameron Rupp will be the Phillies starting catcher once again. While 25-year old Andrew Knapp has not hit well enough to win the backup job, I have to believe that he is ready for the opportunity. His age, minor league experience, and 40-man roster spot give him the nod over veterans Ryan Hanigan and Bryan Holaday.


Across that outfield the starters are slated to be Howie KendrickOdubel Herrera, and Michael Saunders. Expect Aaron Altherr to see plenty of action as the fourth outfielder.
I can also see Tyler Goeddel returning to the big league club this season. He handled himself well last year. The club is going to choose between Goeddel or Jesmuel Valentin playing everyday at AAA Lehigh Valley is my thinking.
If we assume that Stassi makes it and is slated for some corner outfield work, the club really has no need for another outfielder. But it’s the Phillies, and they seem to like the idea of a veteran backup outfielder. So I’m going to call it Chris Coghlan over Daniel Nava here.
Keeping Coghlan and Stassi means that the Phillies are going to need to drop two players from the 40-man roster, but they have a few reasonable options there.
That makes for a dozen position players, leaving room for 13 pitchers to begin the year. Five of those make up the rotation, with an eight-man bullpen.


The Phillies starting pitching rotation is likely to be made up Jeremy HellicksonJerad EickhoffClay BuchholzVince Velasquez, and Aaron Nola.
As long as Nola is healthy, and so far it appears that is the case, then he has a spot. But the Phillies may want to ease him along in the fifth starter role. This would enable them to wait until April 9th, a Sunday afternoon at home.
In such a scenario, Nola would start his season with a game against the Washington Nationals. Starting everyone on normal four days rest, he would have to make no more than three April starts.
Right-handers out of the pen should include Jeanmar GomezHector NerisPat NeshekEdubray Ramos, and Colton Murray.
For me, the lefties would be Adam Morgan and Sean Burnett. A long man role could be filled by Alec Asher, who could also serve as an emergency starter along with Morgan. The inclusion of Burnett would mean another drop from the 40-man roster.


So there is my current prediction for the Philadelphia Phillies 2017 Opening Day 25-man roster. I’m sure to be wrong on at least a couple of these picks in the backup and bullpen roles. And injuries can always crop up to put a dent in the best laid plans.
As the season moves along, look for Jake ThompsonRoman QuinnJ.P. Crawford, and Nick Williams to push for the big leagues.
Pitcher Zach EflinNick PivettaElniery Garcia, and Joely Rodriguez could earn promotions. And catcher Jorge Alfaro could also play his way to Philly.
Hellickson, Buchholz, Saunders, and Kendrick all have to be considered as being on borrowed time. Each can hopefully produce, and make themselves a trade option by July at the latest. The Phillies and their fans have to be hoping that this scenario is exactly what plays out.

Philadelphia Phillies 2016 Grades: Outfielders

There is probably a wide swath of the larger Philadelphia sports fan base who were not paying much attention to the Phillies during the month of September.

Unless you are, like myself, one of the hard cores who follows closely year ’round no matter the circumstances, you missed something significant and exciting.

That exciting and significant development was the somewhat unexpected promotion and insertion into the regular lineup of outfield prospect Roman Quinn following the conclusion of the minor league playoffs.

The 23-year old speedster has worked his way towards the top of the Fightin’ Phils batting order, producing four stolen bases and eight runs scored over his first 65 plate appearances over 14 games, 13 of those as a starter.
Those may not sound overly impressive at first blush. But extrapolated out over a full season at the top of the order, and we are talking about a likely base line of 40 stolen bases and 80 runs scored for the switch-hitter.
I’ve been harping the talents of Quinn for the past couple of years, so the fact that I am a fanboy is no surprise to anyone who follows.
He is also weighed down by a .226 batting average that is sure to increase by at least 50 points as he adjusts to the big league level. His on-base percentage of .349 is already acceptable.
But I believe that anyone who has watched his speed on the bases and that same speed as well as his throwing arm in the outfield now is well aware that I haven’t been selling a bill of goods. Quinn is the real deal, and he is the Phillies future in center field.
Quinn is one of seven Phils outfielders for whom I am going to provide a grade for their 2016 performance.

I’ll be leaving out a quartet of relatively inconsequential players who each received fewer than 100 plate appearances: Darin RufDavid LoughEmmanuel Burriss, and Cedric Hunter.
The seven who will receive grades are Quinn, Odubel HerreraPeter BourjosTyler GoeddelCody AscheAaron Altherr, and Jimmy Paredes. So let’s begin with the dispensing of their 2016 report card grades.
SEE ORIGINAL article at That Ball’s Outta Here for grading breakdown.

Phillies Closing August in Poor Shape

Following Tuesday night’s 3-2 defeat at the hands of the NL East rival Washington Nationals, the Phillies have played the schedule to a 12-13 record during the month of August.
While that might now seem like too bad a mark, a look at the club’s recent play and some of the mitigating circumstances shows that they are entering September in much worse shape than fans hoped would be the case.
Over the last two weeks the Phillies have won just four of their 13 games, and have now lost four consecutive series of three games or more. Only the two game Interleague split with the White Sox was a non-loser in that stretch.
During this stretch, other than the pair against the Chisox, the Phils have faced some really good, contending ball clubs in the Los Angeles Dodgers, Saint Louis Cardinals, New York Mets, and now the Nationals.
Those four teams are a combined 50 games over the .500 mark, and the group includes two divisional leaders (Nationals, Dodgers), one of the two current NL Wildcard teams (Cardinals) and a Mets club that is just 2.5 out of that WC race.
However, more than the competition level is at play here. The Phillies are simply not looking very competitive most nights, and do not seem to be playing with the same spirit, drive, and intensity that characterized their early season success.
It seems like forever ago, maybe it was just a dream? But the Fightin’ Phils were five games over the .500 mark as late as May 25th.
However, the Phillies have now gone 18-24 since the MLB All-Star break. And what for a couple of mid-summer months seemed like a hot and cold club treading water appears to have become a fast-sinking ship as the ‘dog days’ of August come to a close.
The Phils have now lost young starting pitchers Aaron Nola and Zach Eflin for the season to the disabled list with arm and knee injuries respectively.
There is even a possibility that Nola could be gone for most, if not all, of the 2017 season. For that matter, Eflin is also questionable to return healthy.
The loss of the two youngsters comes after the club had already lost an expected innings-eating veteran, Charlie Morton, back at the end of April to a season-ending injury.
Vincent Velasquez has proved enigmatic. The stuff is obviously there to get big league hitters out. He has allowed 124 hits over the same number of innings with a 144/45 K:BB ratio.
But Velasquez struggles almost every time out with command and control issues, running up huge pitch counts early in the game, leading to regular early exits.
The most consistent starters all year have been the two eldest, 29-year old Jeremy Hellickson and the now 26-year old Jerad Eickhoff.
Aug 30, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies pitching coach McClure (22) talks with starting pitcher Eickhoff (48) after he finished the sixth inning against the Washington Nationals at Citizens Bank Park. The Nationals defeated the Phillies, 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
With the injuries, those pitchers are now joined in the rotation by lefty Adam Morgan, who has been consistently disappointing, and by 22-year old top pitching prospect Jake Thompson.
The bullpen has gone nearly the entire season leaning heavily on just two reliable arms in surprise closer Jeanmar Gomez and setup man Hector Neris, though young Edubray Ramos has generally pitched well since his late June promotion.
The offense still struggles most nights. The Phillies are last in Major League Baseball in runs scored, just 23rd in home runs, 29th in extra-base hits, and 29th in walks.
With a thinning rotation, an overworked bullpen, and an offense that is overmatched on most nights, there is a distinct possibility that what we have seen over the last two weeks could snowball into a disastrous September finish.
There was great hope at one point in the season that the club could hope for an infusion of young position player talent from its minor league system at this point.
Prospects such as shortstop J.P. Crawford, outfielder Nick Williams, and possibly a catcher from among Andrew Knapp or Jorge Alfaro would arrive to inject some life and talent for the final few weeks.
That no longer seems likely, as each of those still highly rated youngsters has struggled to a large extent in August, with the lone exception of Alfaro, who may now have passed Crawford as the organization’s top prospect.
Another factor is that most of the Phillies minor league affiliates are headed to the postseason. That is a great development for the organization as a whole, and for the players as they experience winning.
However, it also means that the arrival of any legitimate help from those minor league clubs is probably delayed by a week or two.
Manager Pete Mackanin has telegraphed some curious plans for the lineup in the coming month, stating that Tommy Joseph will see much more playing time at 1st base as Ryan Howard is phased out (if he is not traded).
Jun 29, 2016; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Goeddel against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
However, at the same time Mackanin seems to be leaning towards playing journeyman Jimmy Paredes over rookie Tyler Goeddel, who has all but disappeared from the lineup in recent weeks.
I hope that the doom and gloom that I am feeling right now regarding this team in the short-term is something that passes, and that the current group finds a way to kick it back into gear a bit and make a final push towards respectability.
Unfortunately, that is not what I am seeing right now. My fear is that this 2016 Phillies team could finish well short of the 75 wins that I predicted as the season opened.
They would need a 15-15 record over the final 30 games in order to reach that mark now. What I once hoped would be a low-ball prediction on my part now seems to be rapidly becoming an unreachable goal.

Realistic Expectations for Phillies Summer of 2016

From Saturday, April 9th when the Phillies registered their first victory of the 2016 season behind a stellar outing from Vincent Velasquez through Saturday, May 14th when Aaron Nola beat the Cincinnati Reds, the Phils registered a phenomenal 22-11 record.
That stretch of .667 baseball left the club tied for first place in the National League East Division for a few heady hours. There was widespread talk of a possible miracle season.
The formula was often maddening, yet it was just as consistent: great starting pitching, strong relief work, and just enough runs to win the games, often by just a single run.
However, for every fan who dreamed of a worst-to-first campaign, or at worst, a legitimate Wildcard playoff chase, there were others who saw inevitable trouble ahead.
Those were not negativists speaking against contention, they were realists. The fact was that the Phillies entered the season widely predicted to finish at or near the bottom of the overall MLB standings for a second consecutive season.
Teams simply do not overcome such talent evaluations made by educated observers within the industry on that widespread a level.
You are what you are, and unless you flip the script in a major way with injections of talent to the playing lineup, things are not going to change very much from those predictions.
Sure, you can buck the odds for a short time. Every team goes through hot and cold stretches during a season. 
Your team gets hot, starts to believe in itself, then maybe management also buys in, injecting talent from outside via trade. Maybe that props you up enough to stay in the race for most of a season.
But for that to happen, your team probably needs to stay in contention through June, and be hanging around the Wildcard race at the MLB All-Star break.
It does not look as if this group of Phillies is going to be able to extend their own hot streak out that far. 
In fact, it is not very difficult to make the argument that by the end of June, this team will be as buried in the standings as those preseason prognosticators imagined.
Since that surge to the top of the division on May 14th, the Phillies have gone just 4-10. They are now only one game over the .500 mark, and a loss tonight would sink them to that dead-even level for the first time since they were 10-10 on April 26th.
Those prognosticators would, in fact, say that the .286 winning percentage over these last two and a half weeks is likely closer to what we can expect the rest of the summer than even a continued .500 mark.
It won’t continue this bad. Last year’s club, which finished with 99 losses and the worst overall record in baseball, recorded a .389 winning percentage. This year’s team is noticeably better, if only on the pitching mound.
Back on April 4th in my “Phillies 2016: Editor’s Prediction” piece at TBOH, I called the Phils as a 75-win team this season that would indeed surprise – but only to the point of finishing in 3rd place, ahead of the Miami Marlins and Atlanta Braves.
Sticking with that prediction would mean that from here on out, the Phillies would go 49-62, which would be a .441 winning percentage over the course of the summer.
Now that is cheating just a wee bit, since summer doesn’t officially start for nearly three more weeks. But with Memorial Day weekend in our rearview mirror, considered the “unofficial start to summer” by most folks, I’ll stand with the prediction.
No matter how long this current cold stretch goes on, it will end, and the club will level off a bit at some point. But fans should not expect to see them play at that earlier .667 pace again over another month.
Playing at a .441 percentage over the rest of the summer, which is what I predict will happen, gives the club a final 75-87 record. They will be able to look back at the end and know that had a half-dozen games turned differently, they could have been a .500 team.
That is where we will begin in 2017, with a team legitimately looking at their first winning season since 2011. It should indeed be an expectation next year. There should be enough infusion of real talent to manager Pete Mackanin‘s everyday lineup to make that a legitimate goal.
The position player core of Maikel Franco and Odubel Herrera may still see Tyler Goeddel added to their number from those presently with the team, but no other current Phils’ regular figures to remain in the lineup when the club emerges again as a winner.
For this summer, fans should definitely temper any playoff expectations while continuing to watch solid performances from the young pitchers, both starters and relievers.
Fans should also continue to monitor the minor leagues for the development of the best position players: J.P. CrawfordNick Williams, and Jorge Alfaro in particular.
Getting Williams and Crawford to Philly at some point this summer is a realistic possibility. 
I believe that you will see Williams first, possibly by or just after the All-Star break. Crawford has begun slowly at AAA, and unless he heats up and stays hot, it may be September before we see him.
Also this summer, we will see more good young pitching come from the minor leagues. Adam Morgan appears to be one or two more bad outings away from a demotion, with Zach EflinAlec Asher, and Jake Thompson all pushing hard for the next shot at the big leagues.
That was always what this 2016 season was supposed to be about, watching some of the younger players continue to develop, enjoying beautiful Citizens Bank Park, the excitement of the first overall pick in the MLB Amateur Draft, and following those minors intently for the kids to come.
And that, as it turns out, is exactly what this summer is going to be all about. Not some miracle, magical playoff run. No, that won’t be happening. But better than last year, with legitimate hope for next.