A Glimpse of the Future

We all know this is a rebuilding season for the Phillies. While they have played competitively and are currently at .500, they are probably playing over their heads a bit. Their offense is just too weak to be contenders. This year is all about letting young players develop as well as getting a better idea of how good they are.

Just recently I wrote about their offensive woes, particularly their lowly OPS ranking. Part of OPS, of course, is on-base percentage. There is only one Phillies player who is excelling at getting on base. That is Odubel Herrera. Herrera had a great year last year, especially considering that he had never played above AA before. Not only that, but his second half was stronger than his first, which suggests he was not having success because he was unfamiliar to pitchers. So far he has confirmed that his season last year was not a fluke and that he will be a fixture on this team for years to come at the top of the lineup. After 20 games, he has 19 walks and an OBP of .442. I don’t think that high number is going to last the whole year, but the guy knows how to draw walks and look at pitches. It’s been quite a long time since the Phillies had a legitimate leadoff hitter. Jimmy Rollins had some years where he did a pretty good job getting on base, but never cracked the .350 mark. Herrera is a guy the fans should be excited about.

Now imagine Herrera as the leadoff guy, and batting after him or in third is J.P. Crawford. I saw this article today on CSNPhilly about how Crawford is again playing well in Reading and may soon earn himself a promotion. What’s great about Crawford, is he is another guy who can get on base. He’s actually walked more in his career than struck out, something that Herrera is doing this year. Crawford also has a little bit of pop in his bat, too, which is never a bad thing. Following these two you will have Maikel Franco supplying some power. That’s what the top of the lineup will probably look like next year. Of course, three guys don’t make an offense, and there is a pretty big dropoff after that. However, maybe later in the year we will be able to say Nick Williams will be ready to be the number five or six hitter. It’s no secret the free agents in 2018 are going to be some big names. By that point the Phillies will have an extremely low payroll and a better team. That is the year the Phillies will probably begin to spend on big-time free agents again. Some of the hitters: Bryce Harper, Josh Donaldson, Andrew McCutchen, and Manny Machado. Some of the pitchers: Clayton Kershaw, David Price and Matt Harvey.

Hopefully, the players I mentioned will continue to sustain and improve upon their success so we will continue to see an improving Phillies team that is ready to add some expensive pieces in 2018. And, of course, hopefully the Phillies will also draft well the next few years.


The Phillies Offense: A New Hope

Well, we all knew the offense was not going to be good this year, and that is currently the case. The Phillies have been a little lucky with their 6-9 record as their Pythagorean W-L record is 4-11. Not that the advanced stat predictions are always right, as Jayson Stark noted recently, but still I think we can all agree that their record could be worse. It’s mostly been due to their lack of offense, and it is pretty darn bad. They have yet to get more than 9 hits in a game after 15 games. The last team to achieve that ignominy was the 1978 Mets. Not surprisingly they are last in the NL in runs, third from the bottom in hits, they may be 9th in home runs, but they are second to last in slugging percentage, a better indicator of power, last in on-base percentage and second to last in OPS (on-base plus slugging). They are also not hitting the ball very hard, as they are third from last in hard-hit balls.  They are towards the top of the league in line drives, if that matters. Their offense was really bad last year, especially early one. It never really caught fire, but it did improve. Through the first few weeks they were on pace to score the second fewest runs in team history. As it turns out, it only became the 47th worst in team history. Right now, they are basically on the same pace they were last April and if things stay exactly the same they will finish with 399 runs scored. The 1942 Phillies scored 394, but it fewer games, of course.

This post is not to tell you what you already know (although their lowly pace might be news). It’s to maybe offer you some hope. One thing I can mention is that their BAbip (batting average on balls in play) is significantly lower than the league average, .263 to .297 which suggests they’ve been a little unlucky when hitting the ball; hitting at guys instead of in the holes. Ryan Howard is actually one of the lowest on the team at .179. That will only take you so far though, and their biggest problem is power and getting on base. If it seems like it’s been like that for several years now, it has. In 2015 they were second to last in the NL in OPS. In 2014 they were tied for 12th in the league. The year before that, they were also 12th. You have to go all the way back to 2012 before they make it to the middle of the pack in OPS. And we can’t blame Dom Brown anymore. So what can we look forward to? I think you will see Maikel Franco hit a little better, and that’s about it for the major league squad. Herrera is having a very nice year, even with the low batting average because he is getting on base. I think we will see a little more power from him as well. Ruf will provide a little more, too. After that, there’s really no offensive improvement available.

So wasn’t this supposed to be about hope? Yes, and that is in the minor leagues. You will see some of the guys in AAA up before the year is out, and probably before that, too. The Phillies don’t have any big-time hitting prospects, but there are some intriguing candidates. I don’t think you will see anyone from AA like JP Crawford, and I am okay with that because he is quite young still. Cam Perkins, LF,  is a guy who had taken a step back last year after a good year in AA, but is on fire right now. He will almost certainly be called up for a tryout. Andrew Knapp has continued his torrid hitting. Now, he’s a catcher, and I don’t know if I see Rupp getting displaced for a younger guy this year (I could be wrong), but Knapp has played first base before. Of course, Ryan Howard is still there, still blocking younger players. Hopefully he can hit well enough to be traded to another team. Until that time, Knapp probably will stay where he is. Tommy Joseph (who for some reason looks about 40 in his team picture) is an intriguing name because of his history as a prospect turned often-injured catcher, turned surprising resurgence story. However, he also plays first base and I don’t know if I see the Phillies calling him up until September. If Nick Williams starts to hit, he will be another guy to keep an eye one. Hopefully he can start doing that as the weather turns warmer.

So, in the end, it will be another long season, which is no shock. But the pitching staff is generally better, and we may have some young hitter to watch soon.

2016 Prediction

Hi folks! Yes, this blog is not defunct…. I have some time to work on a post, so let’s do this! I couldn’t let Opening Day go by without some predictions. Last year I picked the Phillies to lose 101 games. It was very clear they were headed in a very bad direction, and I was correct. They lost 99 games. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that one out, though. For a while they were on pace for somewhere around 113 losses with a historically runs-scored total. However, they did improve a little and were able to avoid 1oo losses. The good news is, they get the first pick in the draft, the most money for the international signings, first pick on waivers, and first pick of the Rule 5 draft. So, losing has its privileges you might say.

This year, the Phillies are trending upwards. While Las Vegas says they will win no more than 69 games, I will give them 6 more wins for 73. Their starting rotation has improved and they have some good prospects who can come up and pitch some games if needed. The lineup is a little better than last year, but they will still not have enough power. Their bullpen will probably be their weakest spot, but they certainly have a lot of guys trying for those spots. Usually, I go through the lineup and give predictions of stats, but this year since I am short on time, I think I will just give a few sentences on a couple of players.

Maikel Franco– This guy is headed for a nice season. While the spring stats were incredible, they should be taken with a grain of salt. However, he did very well last year too, before getting hurt. I like Franco to hit at least 30 HR and have an OPS of over .850. He’s still young, so I imagine he will have some significant valleys, but I think he is a player the Phillies can get excited about. He seems to have a pretty good head on his shoulders, too.

Odubel Herrera– He’s another guy that I think will improve this year. They guy hit .297 with an OBP of .344 last year and he had never played above AA. His second-half stats were significantly better, too, which says that the league was not catching up to him the second time through.  I like Herrera to hover around .300 with a slightly improved OBP and show a little more pop. It’s going to be fun to watch him, too.

Cesar Hernandez and Freddy Galvis– I don’t think these guys are long-term answers for the lineup. I think Hernandez has more of a shot to stick, especially with J.P Crawford behind Galvis in the minors. I think they both could be above-average utility guys, though. If anyone surprises me, I think it will be Hernandez.

Darin Ruff– It’s no secret we’ve long been a fan of Babe Ruf, and have lobbied for more playing time for Ruf. While it’s fair to say he did not quite seize the day when he was in the lineup, when he started, he played well. He had a great spring with an OPS near 1.000 and looks like he will platoon (finally!!) with Howard at first. The Yellow Seats still believes that if Ruf played every day he’d give you a .270 BA, .340 OBP with 30 HRs over a full season. But when you were not drafted high and have a guy in front of you making $25 million, it’s hard to crack the lineup. As for Howard, I would be shocked if there were any improvement from last year, unless it’s just because he’s hitting against righties. He’s the franchises best first baseman in history, but that time has passed.

Peter Bourjos- I don’t see him doing all that great this year and getting back to his 2011 form, but you never know. He will be fun to watch in the outfield, though.

Here are some thoughts on some of the starters:

Jeremy Hellickson and Charlie Morton– These two guys have had some success in the past, but not lately. I don’t see them doing all that great, but it is possible. Of course, the best case scenario is they have great first halves and then are traded for prospects.

Aaron Nola– Nola pitched very well for a rookie, even if he was a much-heralded one. A 3.59 ERA with a 1.197 WHIP is a very nice rookie year. I’d like to see that WHIP come down a tiny bit as he is not an overpowering pitcher and needs to keep base runners to a minimum. I’m not sure how much Nola will improve in the ERA department, but I’d like to see it under 3.50. He probably won’t get many wins as the bullpen will probably be bad and the offense will most likely struggle to score.

Jerad Eickoff- Eickoff had an even better, but shorter rookie year with an ERA of 2.65 and a WHIP of 1.039. Eickoff was part of the Hamels deal. His success took me by surprise as his minor-league numbers weren’t great. His career minor league ERA was 4.14. Going from that to 2.65 in the Majors does suggest that kind of success won’t continue, but you never know. While I doubt he will have a sub-3.00 ERA over a full season, it doesn’t mean he won’t be a good major-league pitcher, if not great (and 2.65 would be great).

All in all, this will be a much more exciting year for the team. We have some promising young players already here, and some in the minors who we might see before the end of the year like Nick Williams and Jake Thompson, who destroyed the Eastern League after he came over from the Rangers organization in the Hamels deal. Take it away, Harry!

To DH or Not to DH

One of the last differences between the leagues in Major League Baseball is the designated hitter, or DH. The American League first used it in 1973 and has never looked back. The DH just missed being adopted by the National League a few years later, and if you believe Bill Giles, it was because of a fishing trip by Ruly Carpenter during the vote that prevented the NL from also agreeing to the DH.

In the succeeding years, the idea of whether the DH is a good idea has spawned a good amount of debate. On the DH side there tends to be those who root for teams in the AL and people who believe watching a pitcher try to hit is ridiculous, a waste of time, and a rally killer. On the other side are those who tend to be fans of NL teams and baseball traditionalists.

The debate has renewed recently as the MLB commissioner had hinted a change might come, but a few days later made another statement that, if it does, it won’t be that soon.  Regardless, the editors here at the Yellow Seats thought it might be a good time to address the topic. Our Editor-in-chief is against the DH, but we hope to address the debate with as much objectivity as possible.

Those in favor of the DH usually say that it should come to the NL for a few main reasons: it makes the game more exciting/entertaining, it makes sense to have both leagues playing under the same rules, and it will put the two teams in the World Series on a more even footing. I am not in favor of the DH, and will explain why in the next few paragraphs.

Before I go into why I am against the DH, let’s look at why it was created in the first place. According to this interesting contemporary article in SI, it was due to low attendance and low scoring in the National League. This was not too far after the infamous 1968 season when the pitchers dominated so much the mound was lowered a few inches the following year. With offense down recently, there has been more talk about lowering it again (nonesense) and, not surprisingly, bringing the DH to the NL. However, perhaps to the dismay of baseball purists, the idea of the DH dates very far back in league history.

So let’s take a look at the reasons given in favor of the DH. There is something to the point that it makes a game more exciting. We’ve all gotten excited about a rally with two outs until we realize the pitcher is on deck. Making matters worse is how completely inept modern hitters are at bunting, including pitchers. There’s not much worse than watching the pitcher pop a bunt up in the air or, more usually, foul a few off and then strike out. While other ideas to make the game more exciting have backfired (inter-league play) we have a test case in the American League that has been going on since 1973.  However, let’s look at the flip side of this added offense and entertainment. The games are a little bit longer in the AL. Not by much, but a little bit. That can’t be solely blamed on the DH as the Dodgers were close to the top in length of games, but it is almost certainly a factor.

More importantly, the amount of offense goes through peaks and valleys and has since the dead-ball era came to an end. Right now, we’re in a big valley, similar to 1973 so it’s easy to say “Bring the DH to the NL! The games need more offense, it’s boring!” However, it wasn’t too long ago during the “steroid era” that people were looking for ways to reduce the amount of offense in the game. Here’s an article about possibly raising the mound from back in 1999. And another here about GMs saying the same thing the following year. My point is, there could very well be another surge in offense in the future, leading people to complain about it the way they did ten years ago. The length of the games would increase again, and people would call for the mound to be raised and the DH abolished, which would be very difficult to do.

As for the league playing under two different set of rules, it is strange. Realistically, the easiest thing to do is bring the DH to the NL. It wouldn’t get any push back from the players union at all, as removing the DH would. While it is strange, it’s been done for over 40 years now, so it’s really not that big of a deal. It would seem to give the American League teams an advantage in the World Series, though, as they would almost certainly have a better hitter as their DH than the NL team. The American League has, in fact, won more World Series games than the National League, but by just a few so it may not be a huge factor.

Those are the common arguments in favor of the DH. Let’s take a look at the arguments against. I believe the most compelling argument is the decrease in managerial strategy it would bring.  The AL game is more on cruise control than in the NL, something that Joe Maddon, manager of the Chicago Cubs, agrees with. Maddon has managed in both leagues. A manager in the AL does not have to consider whether or not to pull his starter in the 7th inning when his team is down by a run with one out. Neither does the manager have to consider making a double switch when the pitcher’s spot is up the following half inning.  This may seem like a small matter, but it does give people something to talk and complain about when at the game, or at home watching the game, or around the proverbial water cooler at work. This is good for baseball. At a time when the interest in sabermetrics is increasing, it would seem like it would be more beneficial for the game to not get rid of any strategic elements.

I also believe that the DH is a burden during times of high-scoring offense. It’s easy to call for the DH now, but as I’ve already said, when home runs are out of control, having another skilled hitter in the lineup will make the game that much longer.

Also, if you are a fan of a small-market team, the DH is another position where a wealthier team can outbid your team. If you think that competitive balance is important, then you should probably not be a fan of the DH. This Daily News writer recently brought up the fact that this is why the DH would be good for the Phillies, a team with deep pockets.

The DH makes Hall of Fame voting a little more difficult as a career DH may never have played in the field, which is half the game. However, that is something they can probably work out over time and with a little thought.

In all reality, the NL will probably adopt the DH at some point. One of the biggest reasons is the fact that because the DH exists in the minors, when pitchers get to the Majors, their batting skills are almost always lacking. Once in the big leagues, there is no financial incentive for them to be better hitters.  In some cases, like with the Phillies, they don’t even seem to put time in to learn how to bunt properly. However, for the reasons I mentioned above, I believe the game is better off without the DH. At the very least, keep it out of the NL.

Off-Season Moves

The Phillies sure have been busy over the last few months. Nothing like the era of getting Cliff Lee, etc. but busy nonetheless. New GM Matt Klentak has stressed they are trying to build up the pitching depth, and they really have made attempts to do that. It seems like a good time to take a look at some of the moves so far.

First, the Phillies finally…FINALLY, got rid of good ol’ Dom Brown. Brown’s story is well known–once an untouchable prospect, he turned into a player who really seemed to have no clue how to play the game or about how bad he was playing. The only reason he had not been turned loose earlier was his earlier status as big-time prospect, and his very good three months a few years ago when he made the All-Star Game.  With a new GM with no ties to Brown, it was probably a very easy decision by Klentak. Technically, he could still be in the organization as he was “outrighted” to AAA, but I doubt he will stay.

One thing the Phillies have done is to sign a number of relief pitchers who were once good, but have gotten hurt, or have had bad seasons. This is not a bad strategy as relief pitchers are notorious for being inconsistent and having good seasons after bad, and vice versa.  Several of these guys are on minor-league deals, so they are low risk. One might turn out to have a good half-year, and that means the Phillies can flip him for another prospect. One notable name is Greg Burke. Notable because he is a local guy, born in Gloucester City, NJ. Burke has never really had what you would call a good major league season, so I would be surprised if he made the major league roster. He will most likely be a depth guy in Lehigh Valley. David Hernandez, formerly with Arizona, is another relief pitcher who was picked up by the team. Hernandez had a few good years with the Diamondbacks, with some closer experience. He has a good shot to make the bullpen.  Ernesto Frieri is another guy signed to a minor league deal. Frieri had some excellent years back in the day including some as a closer. He did have a notable decline in fastball velocity last year. No doubt he will get a look to be that guy again in spring training. Another local guy they signed is Andrew Bailey, former All-Star closer with the Oakland A’s and a local product. Bailey pitched with the Yankees last year after not pitching in 2014 due to injury. There wasn’t much of a drop-off with Baily’s velocity last year. I think he will have a good shot to make the bullpen.

Of course, the biggest news so far was the trade of closer Ken Giles to Houston for a number of prospects. I agree with the idea behind the trade. Giles value will never be higher and the Phillies don’t need an All-Star closer at the moment. I understand that some people have said he was one of the few players fans would want to see, which is true, but if it can hasten the rebuilding movement and get a winning team on the field quicker, then it was a good trade. People have also said that Giles is young enough that he could still help them when the Phillies are good again, which might be true in theory, but the Phillies would be taking a risk there. Giles could get hurt or stop being as effective (remember he had poor control in the minors). The Phillies got a number of prospects from Houston, including former number one overall pick, Mark Appel. Unfortunately, Appel has not approached mediocre in his minor league career so far, so the Phillies are hoping for a “change of scenery” scenario. However, people love his stuff, and was still listed on the Baseball Prospectus top 50 prospects list as of last year. Another young pitcher they picked up is Vincent Velasquez, who pitched in the big leagues last year. He had a very nice minor league career and will no doubt be in the starting rotation next season. Velasquez has nice velocity and also throws a slider, curveball and change-up. Velasquez was a nice pickup. Next up is another young pitcher, Thomas Eshelman, who was just drafted in the second round next year. The interesting thing about this guys is his other-worldly control. This will no doubt help, but his velocity isn’t great. He sounds like Aaron Nola with better control, but lower velocity. I am thinking he projects to a back of the rotation starter. Another young pitcher they stockpiled is a guy named Harold Arauz. He has shown some good strikeout numbers in the minors. He’s young, so time will tell.  Brett Oberholtzer is another pitcher they picked up. He is not as young, 26, is from Delaware and has pitched in the majors. He hasn’t pitched well since his rookie year, and has put up some bad WHIP numbers the past two years. I guess he would be a mop-up bullpen kind of guy who could make a spot start.

The Phillies have picked up a bunch of other guys as well, but those are some of the bigger names. Klentak is certainly doing what he has said he was going to and has already stockpiled a lot of pitchers, some of them which show nice promise.  With the Giles and Hamels trades, the Phillies have put together a nice group of prospects. Time will tell of course, but it is a reason for Phillies fans to be hopeful.




The Utley Controversy

It took the Chase Utley slide controversy to wake the Yellow Seats out of its off-season slumber. We couldn’t let Chase be harangued by the unruly social media mob, so we’re here to set the record straight. First, here is the play:

Now, the question that everyone is asking: was the slide dirty? When saying a sports play is “dirty” you are implying that the player was purposely trying to hurt another player. I do not think Chase Utley was trying to hurt Ruben Tejada on that play. I’ve watched Utley play his whole career, and he plays the game hard, very hard. That is what happened here. Utley was trying to break up the double play, and went it very hard into second. Was the slide against the rules? That’s a tougher question. Obviously baseball thinks so. Here are the rules in question:

Rule 6.05 (m) A preceding runner shall, in the umpire’s judgment, intentionally interfere with a fielder who is attempting to catch a thrown ball or to throw a ball in an attempt to complete any play:

Rule 6.05(m) Comment: The objective of this rule is to penalize the offensive team for deliberate, unwarranted, unsportsmanlike action by the runner in leaving the baseline for the obvious purpose of crashing the pivot man on a double play, rather than trying to reach the base. Obviously this is an umpire’s judgment play.

Rule 7/09 It is interference by a batter or a runner when —

(e) If, in the judgment of the umpire, a base runner willfully and deliberately interferes with a batted ball or a fielder in the act of fielding a batted ball with the obvious intent to break up a double play, the ball is dead. The umpire shall call the runner out for interference and also call out the batter-runner because of the action of his teammate. In no event may bases be run or runs scored because of such action by a runner.

Now, the strange thing about these rules is, as Utley’s agent has noted, they are rarely enforced. The part about the “obvious intent to break up a double play” really throws me for a loop, because that happens all the time. Players are taught to break up double plays with intent. In fact, if you don’t, and pull up short, your manager is sure to get on you. In neither of the two rules does it say anything about the runner needing to be an arm’s length from the bag when breaking up a double play, which is what you hear all the time. Is that one of the “unwritten rules”? If it is in the rulebook, then I haven’t seen it. Regardless, Utley was clearly in the vicinity of the bag. Was Utley’s slide unsportsmanlike? Maybe, but we’ll address that later.

With all of this attention, some have pointed out that these slides have happened before and few said anything, at least not to this magnitude. Granted, Tejada did break his leg, but other collisions have led to injury too. This next video is very interesting. It’s an Utley slide against that same player. In fact the slide is almost exactly the same (I orignally saw this on philly.com):

David Wright spoke after the game about it, but there was nothing from MLB. Here’s an interesting article from the SF Chronicle about a Matt Holliday slide that injured Marco Scutero. And here is the video. That slide was very similar and probably a little bit worse, although one broadcaster called it “a good clean play”. Holliday is much bigger than Utley didn’t role over on Tejada’s leg. Of course, those who think Utley’s slide was dirty would say “two wrongs don’t make a right” or “Utley’s is just the latest example of slides that must now be banned from the game”. Okay, but more on that later.

When I watched the replay, I noticed that Tejada did something that was kind of strange. When he caught the ball, he slowly spun around with his back to Utley, almost as if he had no urgency. While I am not going to blame Tejada for breaking his leg, this was a contriuting factor. He was not able to brace himself properly for the collision. It almost seemd as if he didn’t expect Utley to be there, it was kind of strange and not wise on his part. Larry Bowa saw the same thing and came to the same conclusion:

Bowa also said that Tejada “put himself in harm’s way.” The shortstop was turned around and in the midst of spinning while trying to turn the double play. “You’ve got a tying run at third. It’s the magnitude of the game. If the situations were reversed and the Met guy did that to the Dodger guy, he would be getting an award before the game tonight. If you know Utley, he’s not a dirty player. He plays hard.” Bowa also said that Tejada “put himself in harm’s way.” The shortstop was turned around and in the midst of spinning while trying to turn the double play. “That’s not a double-play ball,” Bowa said. “Once you turn your back on a runner, you get the out and get out of the way.”

Some people have really gone to extremes on this calling Utley a dirty player and calling for hard slides into second to be banned from the game. This is ridiculous. The collisions at home plate is one thing; they could be very violent. Hard slides into second a rarely that violent and it would be very, very difficult to enforce. The guy in the linked article said the rule should be that the runner would have to slide “directly into the bag”. First, you can slide directly into the bag, but with your spikes up. Second, that takes away the runner’s ability to disrupt the double play. Fielders sweep the bag to avoid the runner. If you can’t deviate a little bit, what’s the point of sliding? Look, nobody want to see players badly hurt, but you can’t take away every play that could potentially lead to injury. A contrasting view on this matter is from Craig Biggio who believes the players should police themselves on these matters.

In the end, what Utley did is no different from slides in the past, but this time someone got seriously hurt because of it. It wasn’t dirty, it was just the result of playing hard. The biggest thing wrong with the slide was that it was late, but, again, there have been slides like that in the past. However, I understand why baseball had to do something, because of the severity of the injury. While Utley’s agent has a point that should be addressed (i.e. if you don’t want players playing that way, why wait until now to do something?), MLB probably had to do something here. It’s also one of those things where if Utley was on the Mets and he took out the Corey Seager, they would be okay with it. Utley is a throwback and goes 100% all the time. All the time. And that’s what made him such a great player, that’s probably one reason his production dropped as it did a few years ago, and, unfortunately, it’s partially why the injury happene.d

Three for Three

Three for three, meaning three cities, three annoyed fan bases, three teams that no longer want Papelbon’s services. I don’t have to recount what happened, we all know that Papelbon grabbed his team’s best player by the throat. Af if that wasn’t bad enough, as others have noted, it was after Papelbon gave up the lead. I guess timing was never Pappy”s strong suit.

Anyway, what I’d like to point out is the aftermath, especially this excellent article by a Washington Post writer. It’s entitled “The Winners and Losers From the Jonathan Papelbon-Bryce Harper fight”. Here’s the best part, and it’s very true:

Winner — Phillies fans

This was understandably overlooked in the moments after the incident. It shouldn’t be. Imagine, just after the Papelbon trade, that you asked Phillies fans to concoct a dream scenario for how this transaction would play out. Would any of them have suggested that the Nats would almost immediately begin to slide in the standings after Papelbon’s arrival, that Storen would wind up punching a locker and breaking his hand, that Papelbon would be suspended for throwing at Manny Machado, and that it would all culminate with Papelbon choking Washington’s franchise player, in the dugout, on fan appreciation day, during a blowout home loss to the Phillies, the day after the Nats had been eliminated from playoff contention? It’s unimaginably worst-case for Washington, which makes it unimaginably best-case for Philadelphia. Fans of a last-place rival team shouldn’t get to be this happy.

It’s almost as if Papelbon was a secret agent sent to the Nationals to destroy their team from within, like a Soviet-era spy. I also imagine Red Sox fans felt the same way when Papelbon began to meltdown in Philly.

But it gets better. Nats fans have started a campaign in which they will donate thousands of dollars to charity if the team releases Papelbon. It’s not going to work as the team still owes him $11 million next year. This is the exact scenario the Phillies were fortunate to avoid by trading him this season.

And lastly, it was reported the the Nationals took Papelbon’s jersey off the racks at their clubhouse store. What does this all mean, besides a “dumpster fire” of a season as the above Post writer pointed out? Well, it probably means that Papelbon’s career is over after next season. Considering the Phillies tried to trade him for months and luckily found a team in Washington to take him, I can’t see another team taking him on, especially considering his age. Jonathan Papelbon has had a very good career, but much of it will be overshadowed by the circus he brought to each city.