Remember This Guy: Chad Ogea

Remember This Guy: Chad Ogea

I’m bald. I started losing my hair while I was in high school, and by the time I was a junior in college, I came up with the ‘brilliant’ idea to never get my haircut again. If I never got another haircut, I thought. I will always have hair. Which is fine in theory, but not if you find more hair on your pillowcase than on the top of your head. I looked like a deranged scientist, which was bad form for a 20 year old single guy. My mother bought me shampoo for “thinning hair.” I didn’t take my Phillies hat off for two semesters. I was clinging to the past – clinging to my high school days. I just couldn’t pull the band-aid off.

Thus concludes my preview of the 2014 Phillies.

I’m not saying that I’m pessimistic about this upcoming Phillies season, but I did just spend the last twenty minutes Googling  Jeff Manship.

Name: Chad Ogea

Position: Starting Pitcher

Wheels’ Scouting Report: “Oh, ho boy, that Ogea. He’s a quirky one. Not quirky like a left-handed reliever - I mean, they’re really quirky. But Ogea, he’s quirky, too. A bit of an odd ball. The one thing that stands out about him is that he’s always talking the game. You can just tell. Chad loves coming to the ball park every day. You love to see that.”

Phillies Tenure: 1999

Semi-Believable WIP Call from 1999:

“Steve, Mike … big fan of the show. Ogea has been struggling this year. I was thinking maybe a stint in the bullpen would help? Help find his rhythm again? We’re gonna need him for the stretch run.  Oh, and are you guys still asking for a movie for the Guy’s All-Time Movie List? Has anyone said Platoon? Imma hang up and listen.”

The Phillies acquired Chad Ogea via free agency for the 1999 season. Ogea found some success a couple of season prior in the ’97 World Series while pitching for Cleveland. He was an unlikely hero. Chad, whose career numbers screamed more Mark Leiter than Al, went 2-0 against the Fish in the Series while posting a 1.54 ERA. And despite a disastrous, albeit predictable follow-up season in 1998, the Phillies inked Ogea to a contract for the 1999 campaign.

Ogea had a 5.63 ERA in his lone season with the Phillies, but Baseball Prospectus suggest that his ERA would have been a run and a half lower if Ron Gant was allowed to be positioned in Section 358 of the Vet. According to Baseball Reference, Ogea conceded a healthy 32 home runs that season. But if that number seems a touch low, it is. For seasons prior to 2000, B-R only classified home runs as balls that landed on the moon. Measuring Ogea’s season by more traditional home run standards and Chad actually allowed 284 bombs in 1999.

If Chad Ogea pitched to Bobby Abreu at the Home Run Derby in 2005, then we would still be watching the 2005 Home Run Derby. Bobby would still be belting 78 MPH fastballs all over Comerica Park. Time would have stopped. The world would have stopped. All eyes would have been on the Motor City. Ogea and Abreu could have single-handedly resurrected the Detroit economy. Bobby would be approaching his three trillionth home run – a record that should stand for the foreseeable future. Detroit would be preparing to host Wrestlemania 31 at the Pontiac Silverdome (over 93,000 people expected to attend). People in the Delaware Valley would have had eight years to discuss the pros and cons of acquiring Kip Wells for the ’05 Wild Card run. The city would have been overrun with hot sports takes.

“Ed Wade has to pull the trigger! The Phillies are built to win now! Kip’s a grinder!”

“We have to stay the course! We can’t mortgage our future! Eude Brito has a live arm!”

“Kip is a clubhouse cancer! He’s not a winner! He doesn’t respect the game!”

Every kid under the age of eight would’ve been named Kip, or Bobby, or Chad. Or Aiden probably. Everyone’s kid is named Aiden.

Chad Ogea was the poster child of those lousy 90’s Phillies teams. Well, Ogea and Ricky Otero anyway. Outside of a select few, it was a roster littered with fringe prospects and castaways. But we wanted to believe otherwise. That there was more there – diamonds in the rough, hidden treasures, just ready to explode. Kids like me clung to our Wendell Magee Jr. rookie cards like they were antique pendants handed down from generation to generation.

“When did you get a safe, Bob?”

When I acquired this Fleer Wendell Magee Jr. rookie card in mint condition, Tim.”

I distinctively remember Ogea laboring on the mound, exhausted, as the summer heat and the scorching Astro Turf zapped all the life from his fastball. Ogea reminded me of Tony Danza’s character from Angels in the Outfield, but before the angels intervened.

“You used to be Mel Clark.”

“Yeah, I used to be.”

But, looking back, I had that same distinct laboring memory with Mark Leiter and Mark Portugal, too. So what do I know? The late 90s Phillies was an exercise in patience. Their starting rotation especially was an exercise in patience. It was Curt Schilling and pray for a monsoon. But, as we all know, the only Monsoon worth praying for is Gorilla.

So, today, we remember Chad Ogea.  He pitched to contact. And contact he found.

*

You can follow @wheresbenrivera on Twitter and check out his previous Remember This Guy(s): William Thomas, Chris T. Jones, and a guide to hating the Cowboys.

NBA draft profile: F Dragan Bender

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NBA draft profile: F Dragan Bender

Dragan Bender

Position: Power forward
Height: 7-1
Weight: 225
Team: Maccabi Tel Aviv

Croatia’s latest basketball export is just 18 years old. He won’t turn 19 until November. Like a lot of teenagers, he’s hardly a fully finished product. The kid is raw, but his obvious potential figures to make him a high lottery pick in the upcoming draft.

Through 38 games with Maccabi Tel Aviv this season, Bender averaged just 12.9 minutes. He took 3.7 shots per game. He shot 42.3 percent from the floor, 33.8 percent from deep (on 2.0 attempts per game) and 71.9 percent from the line. He didn’t get to the line very often, by the way. In fact, he hardly got there at all, taking less than one attempt per game from the stripe.

But Bender’s appeal isn’t about what he is right now; it’s rooted in what he could become with time. There’s a reason why all 30 NBA teams sent someone to watch him play this year, according to DraftExpress. Investing in him could yield a significant return. Also, dude’s name is Dragan Bender. He was destined to become a pro athlete or conquer King’s Landing. Either way, good things ahead.

Strengths
Bender has been on the NBA’s projection radar for a while now. He’s worked hard to develop his shooting. Initially thought of as a non-shooter with wonky mechanics, Bender changed his stroke. It’s more compact and efficient now. Despite the small sample size, Bender had a 54.1 true shooting percentage and a 51.4 effective field goal percentage through 38 games this season.

He could pass more, but when he does he’s pretty savvy — particularly with the full-court outlet pass. Defensively, he’s not a rim protector, but he has a long wingspan (7-2) that should help him be a good pick-and-roll defender with time. In the increasingly switch-everything NBA, that’s a plus.

Also, did we mention his name is Dragan Bender? Donald Bender works in Croatian finance. Dave Bender has a nice B&B on Hvar Island. Dragan Bender is a potential NBA star.

Weaknesses
He’s reportedly put on some weight recently and worked hard to develop a better base, but he’s 7-1 and 225 pounds. Someone needs to feed him lots of sandwiches and protein shakes. Adding muscle for the long-slog NBA season will be important.

In addition to having a still-developing body and skill set, he hasn’t faced top-level international competition yet on a regular basis. He needs minutes against the best in the world, and in order to get those minutes he’ll have to refine his game – particularly his ball-handling and driving, which are still works in progress.

Unlike some other recent NBA imports (Nikola Mirotic and Kristaps Porzingis among them), it’s probably going to take a while before Bender can be a consistent contributor in the league. Any team that takes him has to acknowledge the inherent time commitment.

How he’d fit with the Sixers 
If we’re talking about how he’d fit with the Sixers, who had a long-term plan and weren’t in a hurry to rush anything, the Sixers who embarked on an open-ended journey with no fixed timetable or end point, you could make a case for Bender (but not with the first overall pick). Five or seven years from now, Bender could be a polished product – an outside shooting threat with, perhaps, an expanded offensive game that allows him to put the ball on the floor and optimize his passing and scoring. You could imagine him growing defensively and creating mismatch problems. You could envision it – over time.

The question is whether these Sixers, who keep talking about transitioning from the rebuild into whatever comes next, are about to scrap the slow-and-low approach to cooking their roster in favor of adding on-court heat and off-court PR sizzle. If that’s the case, Bender wouldn’t fit well at all. Not to mention that taking Bender means adding another body to an already clogged frontcourt.

NBA comparison
Lots of people have drawn a parallel between Bender and Porzingis. That’s the easy, reflexive comparison. Both are tall, lanky stretch fours from a not dissimilar region of the world. But really that’s unfair to Bender. Porzingis declared for the NBA draft back in 2014, only to withdraw his name and wait until last year. The wait helped elevate him to more of a known commodity. At that point, he had played three seasons for Sevilla of Liga ACB in Spain, one of the best leagues in Europe that features some of the premiere international talent. Bender isn’t there yet in terms of experience, and their games aren’t one-to-one equivelants anyway. Bender might ultimately shake out as something closer to Andrei Kirilenko (if he can improve his handle) or Nikola Mirotic.

Draft projection
Top five. If he lasts any longer, it will be a surprise.

Eagles mailbag: Jordan Matthews; injury concern, leading rusher

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Eagles mailbag: Jordan Matthews; injury concern, leading rusher

Another day, another mailbag. 

I hope you're enjoying your Memorial Day Weekend. If you're reading this on the beach or at a BBQ, well done. 

Yesterday, I answered the first round of your questions about Doug Pederson, Brandon Spikes and the possibility of adding another running back. 

Today, I'll answer some more: 

At times, Jordan Matthews will still be in the slot this season. But he won't be there all the time. 

In Doug Pederson's offense, the receivers will move around quite a bit, which means we'll see Matthews lining up out wide on both sides and in the slot. He has the ability to do both. Either way, he's going to be on the field. He's clearly the Eagles best receiver and they're not going to take him off the field. 

I think there's a good chance we'll see some Josh Huff in the slot this year, which would make a ton of sense to me. Huff is at his best when he gets the ball in his hands and can make something happen. He's shifty enough to play in the middle. 

The idea that slot receivers are just small, shifty guys is outdated. It's all about matchups and Pederson won't be afraid to move his receivers around to find the best ones. 

Good question. I'll give you two names. One on offense and one on defense. 

Now, I didn't just pick the best players, I picked the best players with the biggest drop off to their backups. So on offense, it's Jason Peters and on defense it's Jordan Hicks. 

The scary thing: it wouldn't be shocking if either of these two go down in 2016. 

If Peters goes down, the Eagles will be fine at left tackle, because Lane Johnson will shift over. But that means either Dennis Kelly or Halapoulivaati Vaitai will come in. We all know what's happened in the past when Kelly comes in, and Vaitai is just a rookie. Not a ton of great depth at tackle. 

As for Hicks, we saw what happened to the defense when he went out last season. And this year, the team has virtually no depth at linebacker. If Hicks went down, either veteran special teams player Najee Goode or rookie Joe Walker would need to fill in. Yikes. 

I understand it's kind of a cop-out to just pick the top running back on the depth chart, but that's what I'm doing. I know Ryan Mathews has a lengthy injury history, but I can't see Darren Sproles, Wendell Smallwood or Kenjon Barner being the team's leading rusher. 

And when healthy, Mathews was the team's best running back in 2015, going for 539 yards on 106 carries, an average of 5.1 yards per attempt. If he manages to play 12 games this year, I think he'll be the team's leading rusher. 

Phillies pitching prospect Mark Appel hits DL with shoulder strain

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Phillies pitching prospect Mark Appel hits DL with shoulder strain

Mark Appel, whose fastball velocity was down considerably in the first inning of his last start, was placed on the disabled list Friday with a shoulder strain.

Appel, 24, is 3-3 with a 4.46 ERA and 1.57 WHIP in eight starts for Triple A Lehigh Valley in his first year in the Phillies' system. He's struggled his last four times out, allowing 18 runs (15 earned) in 16⅓ innings on 20 hits and 11 walks.

The No. 1 overall pick in 2013 out of Stanford, Appel has had a disappointing pro career to this point. In 62 minor-league games (61 starts), he has a 5.04 ERA. The Phillies acquired him from Houston as part of the Ken Giles trade this past winter.

Appel's trip to the DL creates an opportunity for right-hander Ben Lively, who was promoted from Double A Reading to Triple A to take Appel's place in the IronPigs' rotation. Lively, acquired from the Reds for Marlon Byrd prior to the 2015 season, is 7-0 with a 1.87 ERA this season.

Rehab updates
Leftfielder Cody Asche and left-handed reliever Mario Hollands had their rehab assignments transferred to Triple A Lehigh Valley. 

Asche is 5 for 34 (.147) with two home runs and 12 strikeouts during his stints with Clearwater and Reading. 

Hollands has been sharp, posting a 1.04 ERA in 8⅔ innings with 12 strikeouts and one walk.