As the days get longer, the number of players in the Phillies big league camp gets smaller. This gives the established players more playing time, as well as getting more looks at the guys on the bubble to go north with the club.
But of course the big news – which caused many a major re-write late yesterday afternoon – is the signing of Jake Arrieta to a multi year deal, pending a physical.
Phillies Get Arrieta:
To riff on this past weekend’s changing to daylight savings time, the Phillies set the clock ahead on the rebuild a few ticks, as one of, if not the biggest, FA starting P in this year’s market – certainly the biggest unsigned – will reportedly be in Phillies Red Pinstripes for three years, $75M.
Arrieta, 32, has been with the Chicago Cubs since 2013, and put up a 14-10 record and a 3.53 ERA last season, averaging 5.6 innings in 30 starts. He has at least that many starts the last three seasons. He had problems with the HR ball last year, 23 compared to 16 (2016), and 10 (2015), the two years prior. He won the Cy Young in 2015.
It would seem the top 4 rotation could be just about set, as Arrieta would join Aaron Nola, Jerad Eickhoff, and most likely Vince Velasquez. That last spot, barring any other pick-ups, would be between RHPs Nick Pivetta, Ben Lively, and Zach Eflin.
The team was busy this week whittling away at the in camp roster.
They optioned RHP Drew Anderson to AAA Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs, and RHP Ricardo Pinto to Minor League camp.
They also reassigned C Edgar Cabral, C/1B Nick Rickles, RHPs J.D. Hammer, Enyel De Los Santos, LHPs Cole Irvin, Brandon Leibrandt, and IF Heiker Meneses to Minor League camp.
Of all of the above, probably only Pinto had a realistic shot at making the team in the bullpen.
Apparently the Phillies and Rhys Hoskins could not make a contract deal, so they renewed his contract, the club announced on Saturday.
The deal is reported to be for $552,500, $7,500 above the league minimum.
“I think there was just an agreement to disagree,” Hoskins said. “There’s no hard feelings at all. It’s the business of baseball. They reiterated they were completely happy with everything. No, there’s no hard feelings at all between either party. It’s a business. I get it.”
He was the only player with whom they could not come to an agreement, as they signed the other 31 other pre-arbitration players to deals.
Since the other two non-roster guys have already been reassigned, we are left with the now injured Abad. A hamstring injury has sidelined him since March 3rd. He is competing with Hoby Milner, and Zac Curtis to be the second LHP in the ‘pen alongside Adam Morgan.
Abad is well traveled. The Phillies would be his sixth major league team since his debut with the Houston Astros in 2010. He got his first career save against the Phillies as a Minnesota Twin on 6/22/16.
Abad is known for his slow, and slower stuff. Abad likes to call the 60-70+ MPH pitch, which he throws with the same trajectory as his 75-85 mph “regular” changeup, his “super changeup,” What makes it so effective is that it is also the same motion he uses for his 90 MPH fastball.
Here is one to Adrian Beltre last July.
Phillies Pitchers Batting 8th?:
Speaking of pitchers, on Saturday the Phillies gave us a possible glimpse into the managerial style of Gabe Kapler, when they batted the pitcher, Vince Velasquez in the eight hole. J.P. Crawford followed.
This would not be totally new for the team as they lead MLB in 2016 doing this 35 times. Of course back then this was done by manager Pete Mackanin more to break a scoring slump, than any strategic reasons.
“We want more runners on base at the top of the lineup,” Kapler said. “We’re utilizing J.P.’s superior on-base skills. That’s the intent there. It’s possible that we use a similar kind of lineup during the season. We don’t want to do anything for the first time in the season that we didn’t do in practice here.”
“If you think about where we can do a lot of damage, it’s right at the top of our lineup,” Kapler said.
With the opening news, we will have to keep an eye on Arrieta to see what kind of shape he is in, and if he could get enough work in to possibly be ready for the start of the season. The team will also continue to shorten the roster, so we will report on that.