TBOH Debate – 1/29/2014


Jul 14, 2013; Flushing , NY, USA; USA pitcher

Jesse Biddle

throws a pitch during the 2013 All Star Futures Game at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Every week, the writers of That Ball’s Outta Here debate the key issues facing the Phillies.  Joining me this week are Alex Cheremeteff, Emily Gruver, and Michael Lecke.

If Masahiro Tanaka‘s agent had said to you last week: He will sign with the Phillies for the contract (7 years, $155 million) he agreed to with the Yankees, would you have said yes?


If Masahiro Tanaka’s agent had dialed up Ruben Amaro and said we’ll take the 7 years at $155 million, I would have hit the ‘send’ button on the fax machine before the call was even over.  There is a premium on starting pitching, and considering the alternatives on the free agent market – Bronson Arroyo, Ervin Santana, Fausto Carm…errrr, Roberto Hernandez – it would have been a price worth paying.

Sure, his ‘stuff’ isn’t in the same stratosphere as Yu Darvish, but if he is comparable to Hishashi Iwakuma or Hiroki Kuroda, it would have been quite the coup for the Phillies.  This signing would not have cost the team draft picks or further deplete the farm system.  It would have given the Phillies a solid top of the rotation with Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels.  Plus, if Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez turns some heads this year, the Phillies could have had a very formidable starting four.

Tanaka’s last three years in Japan were off-the-charts.  53-9, with a 1.44 ERA.  A WHIP of 0.951 and a SO/BB ratio of around 8.  Also, he’s just 25 years old.  So yes, I would have ponied up an average of $22 million a year.

But, in the meantime, I’ll just have to settle for another season of the Kyle Kendrick Experiment.


Yes, I would say yes. Although it’s a huge risk, the Phillies NEED to get younger and get talent, and Tanaka is a guy who could come with a huge reward.


I would have signed him to that deal.  Assuming he lives up to the hype, Tanaka would have both improved their chances in 2014 and given the Phillies a supposed top of the rotation starter for the next seven years.  Plus, with the presence of Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee, there wouldn’t have been immediate pressure on Tanaka to be a stud.

Pitching is expensive, and if you’re going to pay a premium price, you might as well pay for a guy who will likely be worth it.


I would have said yes. The Phillies need a number three starter in the worst way. Masahiro Tanaka may or may not fit role of a true #3 but he was the closest thing out there and he is only 25. The price was high and the stories of Tanaka reaching astronomical pitch counts in Japan is scary, but the Phillies have no one comparable to fill the hole. The Yankees may regret it, but they appear ready to contend. Without a #3 starter the Phillies appear to be crossing their fingers.

Maikel Franco and Jesse Biddle were both named to MLB.com’s top 100 prospects list for 2014.  Which Phillies farmhands do you expect to see on the list next year at this time?


Two Phillies farmhands that I fully expect to see on MLB’s Top 100 Prospects list in 2015 are SS J.P. Crawford and RHP Severino Gonzalez.

Gonzalez, who the Phillies signed out of Panama for the equivalent of pocket change, has put the organization on notice.  He won the 2013 Paul Owens Award as the top pitcher in the minor league system.  He has been a swingman throughout his minor league career.  However, if he can put together a stellar season as a starting pitcher, there is no reason he shouldn’t be on the list.

Crawford, the 16th overall pick in the June 2013 draft, is on the fast track.  The he started his professional career in the Rookie League and ended last season with the Lakewood Blue Claws.  He held his own against older competition.  He posted a .405 on-base percentage – a stellar mark for an 18-year old.


J.P. Crawford just missed the list this time; he’s a lock to make it next season.  I think he will be among the top 50. Crawford is the name we will rank number one in the Phillies Pharm until he arrives, possibly 2016.

I’m not sure the Phillies have another guy ready to be a top 100 prospect. If Carlos Tocci adds muscle and pop he could break out. If Aaron Altherr develops a better idea how to reach base, he could break out. Ditto Dylan Cozens, Kelly Dugan and Zach Green, who all swing and miss a lot. Since these guys all have serious holes in their games, I’m guessing we won’t see another Phillies name besides Crawford on the top 100 list next year.


Franco will be back on the list because I don’t think he’ll see enough major league playing time this season to disqualify him.  I have a suspicion that Biddle will not because he’ll either have made the majors or been traded.

Based on the raves he’s received thus far, it wouldn’t surprise me to see J.P. Crawford join Franco on the list.  I’m also going to be really optimistic and say that Tommy Joseph will have a rebound year and make it onto the list.

What do you think?  Feel free to share your opinions below!

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