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MacPhail talks rebuild as Phillies report to Clearwater

Photo by Keith Allison

Good morning! Here’s the news rundown for Tuesday.

REPORT DAY: Pitchers and catchers reported to Clearwater Monday, and all looks good.

Phillies President Andy MacPhail spoke to the media, doubling down on the rebuild while maintaining his team will continue to put a premium on pitching. The 2017 goal? “Stay on track.”

So what does that mean? It means allowing prospects to play their way onto the big club, finding out what’s under those rocks, and slowly making moves to improve the noticeable flaws. When will the Phils be in on a big free agent? Maybe at the end of this season. Maybe a little later. It’ll come. He promises.

We’re patiently waiting. Still.

MEANWHILE IN LA-LA LAND: Just to update: The Dodgers have signed Chase Utley to a one-year, $2 million pact. Like Pete Rose some 35 years ago, Utley will find work because he plays hard, and players and coaches love him. Maybe he’ll be a coach one day.

Either way, read this Peter Gammons’ piece about Utley, with a couple amazing stories that are entirely believable.

BALLGIRL SEARCH: The Phillies are searching for a few ballgirls for 2017. To apply, send a resume and a video of your softball skills to the Phils by March 1. More info here.

3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. bruce

    February 15, 2017 at 12:50 am

    Great news about Utley signing another contract with the team he wants to play for. I’ll be looking forward to seeing him play again with the Dodgers.

  2. joseph goldberg

    February 15, 2017 at 8:52 am

    As training camp gets underway and the Phillies’ braintrust continue their long term plan to bring the team back to baseball prominence, the question of how to best structure this year’s 25 man roster remains. In wanting to buy time to both allow the multiple younger prospects currently in the higher minors to develop, and to determine which of them seem mostly likely to be part of the team’s future, it’s easy to overlook two slightly older and less highly regarded members of the farm system: Brock Stassi and Jason Knapp. Unless they have terrible springs, both should be in the team’s dugout in Cincinnati on opening day, in my opinion.

    After showing little to get excited about in his first two seasons after being drafted out of the University of Nevada-Reno on the 33rd round in 2011, Stassi began to come on in 2013 at Clearwater in advanced A ball. His production regressed some the next year in his first full season at AA, but in 2015 he blossomed in a second season there, and finished as the Eastern League MVP. Last year, moving up to AAA, he got off to a bad start for the first six weeks or so, but from about late May on he returned to the form of the previous year. That was followed by a very strong showing in winter ball. He is considered to be an excellent fielding first baseman and has consistently produced a high on base percentage (.394 in 2015, .369 last year) and strong OPS (.863 and .806) with relatively few strike outs (13.5% of his ABs in ’15 and 20.2% last year). He’s left handed and can spell Joseph against RH pitching while providing a solid bat off the bench. Having him with the big club this year not only provides a left handed pinch hitter who makes regular contact, but also a platoon option if Joseph struggles against righties. Most importantly, with him turning 28 in August, it’s the perfect time to find out about his potential as a major league hitter, and it can be done now with little risk.

    This season offers the same opportunity to find out about Knapp. Jorge Alfaro will almost certainly become the team’s starting catcher soon, but who’ll remain as the long term backup is yet to be determined. Jason has always been a good offensive catcher, and in that regard is a much better option to back up Rupp this year than either of the veterans they’re bringing to camp (Ryan Hannigan and Bryon Holaday). He’s a switch hitter, which not only allows them to sit Rupp against right handers on his days off but gives Mackanin more flexibility with hitters off the bench. If Knapp and/or Rupp puts up good numbers it provides us with a potentially good trade piece as well. Catchers who can hit are a premium commodity, and either being dealt alone or as part of a package could bring us a nice return.

    It’s reasonable to assume that the team will bring 12 pitchers north, along with 2 catchers 6 infielders and 5 outfielders. There are currently five infield roster spots set (Joseph, Hernandez, Galvis, Franco, and Blanco), four in the outfield (Saunders, Herrera, Kendrick, and Altherr), and the sole catcher in Rupp. Six of these ten are right handed, two left handed, and two are switch hitters. Stassi adds a LH bat and Knapp another switch hitter. This is the year to find out about these two players, and both of them would most likely strengthen the roster and add flexibility in the meantime.

    • denzen

      February 16, 2017 at 2:49 pm

      I think Knapp will get a spot on the roster, unless something odd happens in spring training. I would like to see Stassi as a lefthanded bat, and defensive replacement. I hope Cam Perkins gets a shot also. I don’t really think Stassi or Perkins are long term solutions, but these moves will keep moving farm system forward.

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