Philadelphia Phillies' Howard reacts to striking out during their MLB Divisional Series playoffs against St. Louis Cardinals in St. Louis

The Phillies’ bats have gone cold

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Don’t kill the messenger. I merely pass along the observations of others about how the Phillies’ offense sucks right now, not to make judgments myself.  But of course, reasonable people can only draw so many conclusions from data.

ESPN’s stats crew — passed along in Buster Olney’s column today — noted that in yesterday’s Cards-Phillies game, Edwin Jackson threw 15 sliders out of the strike zone, and that the Phillies chased 10 of them.  What’s more, Jackson — not known for his control — went to only one 2-0 count.  Jackson basically junkballed the Phillies to death and they couldn’t lay off.  Especially Ryan Howard who went down on strikes three times, the tenth time he has done so in the playoffs.  Howard has the highest strikeout rate in postseason history.

Meanwhile, Matt Gelb of the Philly Inquirer points out that while Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley have gotten the job done as best they can, the Phillies’ 3-4-5 hitters are ice cold.

Having Roy Halladay on the hill for Game 5 may all but moot this.  After all, picturing him having some sort of disaster start is just not part of a reasonable person’s frame of reference, and you know that Charlie Manuel won’t take the ball out of his hands until the game is over or he hits 130 pitches, whichever comes first.

But in the off chance that Halladay isn’t Halladay, does anyone have any faith that the Philly offense is going to suddenly wake up?

Athletics sign Santiago Casilla to two-year, $11 million deal

MIAMI, FL - AUGUST 10: Santiago Casilla #46 of the San Francisco Giants throws a pitch during the 9th inning against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park on August 10, 2016 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images)
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After letting rumors of the deal percolate for the last week, the Athletics officially announced their two-year, $11 million contract with right-hander Santiago Casilla on Friday (and threw a little bit of shade at the Giants, too). As previously reported, the contract includes an extra $3 million in performance bonuses.

Casilla, 36, got his major league start with Oakland back in 2004, racking up a 5.11 ERA and four saves over six seasons in the A’s bullpen. After picking up a minor league deal with the Giants in 2010, the righty flitted in and out of the closing role with varying degrees of success. Notwithstanding a slight downturn in his production rate during the 2016 season, he earned 123 saves and a 2.42 ERA during the past seven years in San Francisco. Securing another closing role might be a little tougher across the Bay, however, with a bullpen that includes fellow closers Ryan Madson, Ryan Dull and Sean Doolittle.

Keith Law: The Braves have the best farm system. Who has the worst?

PHOENIX, AZ - APRIL 06:  General manager Dave Stewart of the Arizona Diamondbacks laughs on the field before the Opening Day MLB game against the San Francisco Giants at Chase Field on April 6, 2015 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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Why is this man smiling? Man, I wouldn’t be smiling if I read what I just read.

This is the week when ESPN’s Keith Law releases his prospect and farm system rankings. He kicks off his content this week with a top-to-bottom ranking of all 30 farm systems. As a rule he limits his analysis to players who are currently in the minors and who have not yet exhausted their rookie of the year eligibility.

For the second straight year, Law ranks the Braves as the best system in baseball. Number two — making a big leap from last year’s number 13 ranking – is the New York Yankees. Dead last: the Arizona Diamondbacks, which Law says “Dave Stewart ritually disemboweled” over the past two years. That’s gotta hurt.

If you want to know the reasons and the rankings of everyone in between you’ll have to get an ESPN Insider subscription. Sorry, I know everyone hates to pay for content on the Internet, but Keith and others who do this kind of work put a lot of damn work into it and this is what pays their bills. I typically don’t like to pay for content myself, but I do pay for an ESPN Insider subscription. It’s worth it for Law’s work alone.