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Completions this season by Carson Wentz and Eli Manning

Eric Fisher’s weekly column about a variety of topics. This week Eric serves up opinions on the success of the NFL Draft, the first rounds of the NBA and Stanley Cup playoffs and having new names atop the NASCAR standings.

Eric Fisher turns over his column this week to Achilles Heel, who offers poignant memories of the Ultimate Warrior, who died Tuesday just 3 days after being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.

Eric Fisher’s weekly column about a variety of topics. This week Eric serves up opinions on the Eagles’ offseason challenge, Penn State’s future and two changes in the sports broadcast landscape.

Archive for the ‘Phillies’ Category

Phillies Notebook

Posted by Eric Fisher On September - 11 - 2017 ADD COMMENTS

When a team has the worst record in Major League Baseball, it can’t afford to part with many assets. But the Phillies, with the worst record in baseball, may trade their team leader in home runs (who also happens to be the team co-leader in RBI) and their co-leaders in triples, one of whom also is their best defensive player.

And they might not get too much in return for any of them.

Why the rush to trade these players? Because they’re blocking the paths of some of the Phillies’ top prospects.

First baseman Tommy Joseph, who leads the Phillies with 21 home runs and is tied with Maikel Franco for the team lead in RBI (66), is directly in the path of the phenomenal Rhys Hoskins, who is climbing the home run leaderboard with 14 in 31 games.

Second baseman Cesar Hernandez, who is batting .289, and Gold Glove shortstop candidate Freddy Galvis will likely be replaced at some point by Scott Kingery and J.P. Crawford. Crawford was called up to the majors last week. The only thing that is likely to prevent Kingery from starting next season with the Phillies is his contract situation. The Phillies can delay Kingery becoming eligible for arbitration and free agency by delaying his ascension to the big leagues next season.

The dilemma for the Phillies is they might lose their current statistics leaders for a negligible return. They tried to trade Joseph at the mid-summer trade deadline, but didn’t find an appetizing return. Hernandez may bring a prospect or two in return. Galvis is a superb fielder, so he might bring a bit more in return, but his .253 average might scare teams away from giving up too much for him.

If the Phillies can’t get much for Joseph, they might have to give him away. Barring injury, there’s no question that Hoskins will be the starting first baseman next season.

There is a little more doubt about Crawford. The Phillies have him in the majors this month so they can make a more informed decision about him – and about Galvis. Hernandez may stick around until Kingery is promoted, although the Phillies would certainly trade him during the offseason for the right price.

Teams, especially bad ones, usually can’t afford to trade team leaders in home runs and triples.

With top prospects waiting in the wings, however, the Phillies almost can’t afford not to trade them.

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SLOW START: Six games are too few from which to draw conclusions, but J.P. Crawford is batting .200 after six games. He has seven strikeouts and hasn’t walked.

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STREAK OVER: Freddy Galvis started the first 140 games this season at shortstop before being replaced by Crawford in the starting lineup Friday. Galvis pinch-hit, so he still has played in every Phillies game this season.

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HERRERA’S FOLLIES: Odubel Herrera continues to be an incredibly frustrating player. On the one hand, he compiled a 21-game hitting streak (which ended last week). On the other hand, on Saturday he broke in on a ball that sailed over his head in center field, and then jogged back to the wall to get it while the Nationals’ Michael Taylor circled the bases for an inside-the-park grand slam.

I’m tired of the “Odubel is just being Odubel” crowd. Breaking in on the ball was a mistake. Failing to hustle to retrieve the ball after making the mistake is unacceptable. How many times does Herrera have to fail to hustle before the Phillies decide to trade him?

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CROWDED HOUSE: With Odubel Herrera and Aaron Altherr coming off the disabled list, the Phillies have a crowded outfielder, particularly with Rhys Hoskins playing left field at times so Tommy Joseph can start at first base.

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LIVELY ARM: Ben Lively suffered the loss Sunday against the Nationals, but he made his third straight solid start. Lively struck out seven and allowed three runs in eight innings during the 3-2 loss. Unfortunately for Lively, his mound opponent was Stephen Strasburg, who limited the Phillies to two hits hurling eight shutout innings, extending his streak of scoreless innings to 34.

Lively has only allowed six runs in his last three starts. Despite a 3-6 record, his ERA this season has improved to a respectable 3.86.

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AWARD WINNERS: Second baseman Scott Kinger and pitcher Tom Eshelman were named winners of the Paul Owens Award as the best position player and pitcher in the Phillies’ minor-league system. Kingery batted .304, with 26 home runs and 29 doubles in a season that started with Class AA Reading and finished with Class AAA Lehigh Valley. Eshelman also was promoted to Class AAA during the season, finishing a combined 13-3 with a 2.40 ERA in 23 starts.

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VELASQUEZ HAS SURGERY: Vince Velasquez is expected to be ready for spring training after having surgery to address circulations problems in his right hand and middle finger. The question is whether he will be considered for the starting rotation or the bullpen if he’s ready for spring training. How many more chances will Velasquez receive to be a starting pitcher?

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SHUTDOWN RELIEVER: The Phillies have shut down reliever Jesen Therrien for the rst of the season to an injury to the ulna collateral ligament in his right elbow. If surgery were to be required to fix the problem, that would be a major surgery best known as Tommy John surgery.

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HERE TODAY, GONE TOMORROW: Reliever Juan Nicasio barely had time to unpack his bags. He made two appearances for the Phillies after being picked up on waivers from the Pirates before the Phillies sent him to the Cardinals for infield prospect Eliezer Alvarez. Nicasio posted a 1-0 record while hurling 1 1/3 scoreless innings. That’s quite a Phillies career.

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STREAKING: The Indians take an 18-game winning streak into Monday’s games. At the other end of the Spectrum, the Dodgers have lost 10 straight games. Even so, the Dodgers built such a big cushion that they still have a nine-game lead in the National League West.

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AVOIDING CENTURY CITY: With 16 of their final 19 games at home, the Phillies (54-89) need to win nine games to avoid finishing the season with 100 or more losses. They start that home stretch Tuesday with the opener of a three-game series with the Marlins. That will be followed with three games against the visiting A’s, who are in last place in the AL West, before hosting the Dodgers for four games.

Phillies Notebook: Hoskins making history

Posted by Eric Fisher On August - 29 - 2017 ADD COMMENTS

Perhaps we should start calling him Baby Rhys.

Hoskins has been hitting home runs at an unprecedented rate. And that’s not hyperbole.

He reached 11 home runs faster than any rookie in major-league history. He has hit more home runs in a month than any Phillies rookie in history, breaking the record of 10 set by Ryan Howard. Keep in mind that Hoskins didn’t make his major-league debut until Aug. 10, so he almost missed one-third of the month.

And while we’re discussing history, there’s this gem from mlb.com’s Todd Zolecki and Ben Harris: the record for home runs in a season for players who did not appear in their first game until Aug. 1 or later is held by Ted Williams, who hit 13 after Aug. 6 in 1953 following his return from the Korean War, which ended on July 27. With more than one month remaining in the season, Hoskins is two homers away from tying that mark.

He’s a little more history. Hoskins’ 25 RBI are the most in baseball history through 19 games since 1925, when Mandy Brooks had 28.

Hoskins enters Tuesday’s game against the Braves tied for sixth on the Phillies in home runs. In 19 games.

No player could maintain this pace for an entire season. That would equate to 99 home runs in a 162-game season. The question is how long can Hoskins, whose streak of games with a home run ended at five when he merely doubled home the go-ahead run against the Braves, continue his torrid pace.

The real question, though, concerns how Hoskins will perform on a consistent basis in the majors. In that respect, the 10-game hitting streak and .309 batting average Hoskins brings into Tuesday’s game against the Braves is as important as his home runs.

Hoskins is making consistent contact. And that contact usually includes a whole lot of power.

In a season with few positives, it’s tempting to go a little over the top and anoint Hoskins as the Phillies’ savior. I’m guilty of making references to all-time greats Babe Ruth and Ted Williams in this Phillies Notebook. That’s some pretty lofty company for the Phillies rookie.

We must remember that Hoskins hasn’t even played a full month in the big leagues. But it’s difficult to resist getting excited while wondering about what Hoskins could achieve in a full season.

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TRIPLE THREAT: Not content to contribute merely by blasting home runs, Rhys Hoskins made a shoestring catch in left field Sunday to start a triple play during a 6-3 victory over the Cubs.

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IRONMAN: Shortstop Freddy Galvis has played in all 130 games this season.

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EXPERIENCING THE RUNS: Phillies pitching has allowed 99 runs through its last 15 games (entering Wednesday’s games against the Braves). What’s hard to believe is that the Phillies have won three of their past four games, and there are four games during this stretch in which the Phillies have allowed 2 or fewer runs.

What’s clear is that the Phillies don’t have a reliable starter after Aaron Nola (10-9, 3.46 ERA) – and even Nola had two bad starts during this two-week stretch. Jerad Eickhoff (4-7, 4.36 ERA) has pitched better lately, and Mark Leiter Jr. turned in an exceptional outing, but Ben Lively, Nick Pivetta and Jake Thompson have joined the revolving door of a rotation after the ineffective Vince Velasquez and Zach Eflin sustained injuries.

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SOUTHPAW RELIEF: Two exceptions to the Phillies’ poor pitching lately have been left-handed relievers Hoby Milner and Adam Morgan. Milner, with his sidearm delivery has a 2.25 ERA in 23 games since being called up to the Phillies. He has not allowed a run during 12 August appearances. Morgan (2-1, 4.57 ERA), who has rallied after an awful start to the season, has allowed one run in 10 appearances during August.

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KINGERY A HIT: Prospect Scott Kingery had a 23-game hitting streak snapped Saturday during a 3-0 loss to Pawtucket. Kingery, a second baseman, is batting .298 entering Tuesday’s game against Syracuse.

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HAPPY TO SEE BRAVES: Do you think the Phillies are happy the Braves are in town? The Phillies are 12-2 against the Braves after Monday’s 6-1 victory. The 12 wins are nearly one-fourth of the Phillies’ win total (49) this season.

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STANTON HITS 50: Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton has hit 50 home runs this season. With 17 home runs and a .381 batting average during August (entering Tuesday’s game against the Nationals), Stanton may be the only player having a better August than Rhys Hoskins.

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ARIZONA-BOUND: Seven players, including a pair of players picked up at the trade deadline, will represent the Phillies in the Arizona Fall League. Reliever J.D. Hammer, acquired in the trade that sent reliever Pat Neshek to the Rockiers, and reliever Garrett Cleavinger, acquired in the trade that sent Jeremy Hellickson to the Orioles, are among those headed to Arizona. Outfielder Cornelius Randolph, the Phillies’ first-round draft pick in 2015, is also going to Arizona after three mediocre, at best, seasons.

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SWEET DEAL: The Phillies are offering tickets to all 15 September home games for as little as $50. That’s a steal. Watching Rhys Hoskins bat in 15 games is easily worth that price.

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ON THE ROAD AGAIN: The Phillies open an 11-game road trip Thursday with the opening game of a four-game series with the Marlins. They follow the Marlins series with three games against the Mets and four against the Nationals.


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R.I.P. Bobby "The Brain" Heenan