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Sunday, October 02, 2005

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Ultimately, this season was yet another failure. How sad that the team with the 5th highest salary in baseball has to suffice with being the fifth best team in the National League. There's plenty of blame to go around, but I start with Ed Wade (as will most), who didn't recognize Ryan Howard's and Chase Utley's potential early enough in the season, burying them behind a suffering Thome and a barely conscious Bell (and Polanco, but he should have played third instead of Bell). After Wade, I think David Bell may share the next highest level of blame, but he is what he is, and that is not a good hitter. This year, his defense left something to be desired too. I don't assign much blame for his disastrous dash toward third in the Mets game, becaue he was trying to be a sparkplug. But I wish he could be replaced; good guy, but not helping us. And his mellow demeanor makes it look like he doesn't care, which doesn't work in Philly. Charlie Manuel is the obvious other top three buy for the blame game. Too many bineheaded decisions, surely leading to one or two losses (though not the ten some people claim). He should probably get another chance, because the players like him and did seem to gel under him, at least late.

Anyway, Bill Conlin is right: Howard had better learn to play left field this winter, with Burrell moving to right and Abreu to center. (Actually, third base would be great, where he and Bell could platoon, with Bell getting at-bats only against tough lefties, but that may be asking too much of Howard.)

Another long off-season, thanks to yet another phailure by our phightins. Thanks guys.

Jason
I have enjoyed your site after seeing for the first time this summer.

Phils were the best team not to make the playoffs. HAving 4 legit(i count howard) 100 rbi men, 2 .400 hitters in sept, and a closer who was 38-41 did not get it done..

bell hurt us badly with his overall poor play, but he did come up big in some key spots, cant hate him he is what he is..

manuel you have to take the good with the bad..he kept them loose but seemed outmanaged many times.. one biggie that comes up is that A's mariners lost week when they kept howard down so thomas perez could get some ab's(ahem)

and finally, i ask, could we have any weaker leadership in the 4/5 hole with burrell and abreu..dont bore me with stats..you all saw the games..check swings, called strikes...our 1/2 hitters hit over 400 in sept!!!!! what did abreau and burrell do?? i would trade one of them for a pitcher(i am well aware that may be tough) and move on..the 2 of them together dooms the phils to mediocrity in my opinion.

thome/howard?? what to do?? its so easy to say dump thome..but getting thome to hit a couple hr's next yr so we can get something for him seems to make more sense..doesnt it?

It's a quiet day at work today, and with little to do, I'm indulging my Phillies meloncholia with Sigur Ros (). I heartily recommend it to all Beerleaguer readers - kinda wistful and ever so slightly hopeful. Picks you up off the floor, y'know?

Oisin: Did you buy that disc from the amazon link on this site? It would have sent a couple cents my way.

Everyone: Do the Phils bring back Manuel next season?

Sorry Jason - I've had that album for over two years, so I didn't help your bank account.

As for Charlie, I'm going to scribble up my impressions of the guy's first year this evening, but I say keep him on. He got us 88 wins - more than bo ever did - and I don't think the mismanaged games outweigh the overall tenaciousness of the team.

jason - great year. i mean for this blog not the team. well, for the team too, sort of. nice work this season, thanks.

steve - i don't know you so don't take this personally, but you must be out of your mind. bobby in center is a disaster. he tracks down NOTHING. howard in the OF shouldn't happen either. realistically, how many big boppers do you want in one linuep? they need to move either bobby or burrell (and of course thome).

As for manuel,,, its not an easy question..

with this particular group i say keep him on (i choke when i say it) ...he got alot out of them...

the problem i really think you are going to lose some games because of the way he does things. for example..did anybody else cringe when he brought urbina in the 2nd game of the doubleheader against nationals in august?? when he brought cormier in over and over..when he brought wagner into a blowout to get some work before the biggest 3 games of the yr(which we lost all 3 - astros)..

just seems like he doesnt get sometimes but this group of guys like him..

like i said...either burrell or abreu needs to be traded,, keep thome hope he can still hit...then trade thome too.

another question...does anybody beleive that s victorino is going to be a quality mlb player?? i'm keeping fingers crossed based on his sept call-up

Ken:
You totally nailed it. I was thinking of that second Nationals game just as you posted it. That was a DUMB loss. That was when fans started worrying the bullpen was getting taxed too hard. Urbina had just pitched the earlier game if I'm not mistaken, making it his third in 24 hours. Too many throw-away losses like from Manuel and company.

I agree with Oisin, Manuel's in-game gaffes are outweighed (barely) by his psychological skills in the clubhouse.


As for Victorino, I am positive about him, but I also think there needs to be a backup plan. If you look at his minor-league stats, he was up one year, down the next.

Bottom line to me is wins. I know that I have called CM Elmer all year and denigrated his gamesmanship, but I would be willing to keep him around another year. This group absolutely responds well to him as evidenced in this last month.

On the other hand, slow Eddie must go. But I don't think slick Dave will do it.

My opinion for next year is this:

Trade Abreu, preferably for pitching.

Then Pat can move to RF, Howard goes to LF (we have had lumbering LFs before that can bop, does Luzinski ring a bell?), Victorino goes to CF to start the year, Keep J-Mike as a #4 OF.

That leaves C and 3B as the other major upgrades needed, but probably very restrictive contract-wise.

And the fact is that if Bell goes, then who plays 3B? We have nobody else. Unless maybe Pat wants to take a crack at that.

But this squad needs tinkering, for sure, and I think we get the best bang for the buck with Abreu.

I am actually starting to salivate over having Howard and Thome in the same starting lineup.

Well gang, those are my opinions, feel free to rip 'em up!

I'm gonna root for St. Louis in the post season, I went out there this summer and there's a REAL baseball town. Like Philly USED to be!

Jason, I'll be watching for any and all insights that you might get regarding our boys in the off-season-keep up the good writing.

Whatever about Manuel, I would like to see Dancy gone at 3rd - his bad calls are not outweighed by a damn thing.

Is it greedy to keep Kenny Lofton about, with a J-Mike/Victorino platoon and see how that works?

I'm not for abreu or burell going, unless we had a more imaginative GM. I've said before and I'll say it again - Wade is conservative, not as bad as some may say, but NOT imaginative - He doesn't make the Beane deals. We would not get the kind of replacement value we should expect from Abreu or Burell, and we would be deprived of hitting.

Plus, I want a major review and restructure of our minors. Best thing we can do next year, if we have core players to build around, is to ensure that future years we have the pieces we need to plug gaps. I'd love to know stats on how long most of our existing minor league staff - ESPECIALLY pitching coaches - have been around. Our development of pitchers can NOT simply be put down to consistently drafting more risky high-school prospects.

I really enjoyed your stuff this year, Jason. About the only fun thing about the Phils not making the playoffs will be reading what you and the other Phloggers say about how to fix it.

Ragtop Guy - Conlin makes the point that Howard is not nearly as lumbering as he might be portrayed when the phils wanted to trade him, and that the outfield might be the way forward. But why not just put him in centre and see how it works next year, lose lofton, keep J-Mike and Victorino for a more potent bench? 'Course, that does nothing for the pitching, and I can see why the pressure is on to trade burrell/abreu for pitching.

And who are (if any) the pitching FAs for the coming offseason

Gentlemen: Where's the love for K-Lo?

The only reason I would get rid of Lofton would be to shed a couple bucks to go toward a pitcher. Otherwise, I'd be OK having him back, even at age 39, and even with Victorino factoring into the mix. He was an exceptional No. 2 hitter and platoon partner with J-Mike. No power, but good on base (.392) and he got the juices flowing with lots of base knocks (.335 BA). He gets my vote for most underrated player on the team. I'd take his season over some of the lackluster seasons the prize CFs produced, including Juan Pierre.

Jason: What a year in no small measure thanks to Beerleaguer!!!


Ken Lofton is 39 years old. This was probably the best year that he will have ever in his career. Plus I'm sure that his salary is up there. The reason I say Victorino is that youth must be served! Plus this kid looks hungry. All the young Phils looked hungry down the stretch.

Nothing other than age against K-Lo. He did have a really good year. But if we want to win, we need young legs in CF. The best teams are strong up the middle.

Oh and as for the bullpen, I'd say unload the old guys (Cormier, Urbina) and try that Lopez kid out as well as Tejeda. Save some bucks there too.

Don't know about Wagner, if he wants more than 9-10 Million a year for 3 years, let him go too. I'd give him 2 years guaranteed with no-trade and then an extra year without no-trade for say 25 million total.

I like the idea of movie Howard to 3rd, but I don't know enough about his physical skills to play that position.

Would trading Howard for Tory Hunter make sense? I've seen this mentioned, I believe on this site.

Jason, like I said - is it too greedy to ask for Kenny Lofton there, alternating between him and j-mike with victorino coming off the bench? not least because it's allus good to have a strong bench, and we've been less than satisfactory on that front for some time.

Still doesn't solve where the pitching will come from, and who moves to closer when Billy Wagner goes. U-get would, I feel, ask too much, and drive us to distraction. Pawnking has suggested in the past moving mad-dog to the starting rotation - perhaps you stick that with OneChair's suggestion to move Padilla to closer, if he likes that, but we're still short one other pitcher, with Tejada jumping between the bench and starting rotation when required. But that still feels like its stretching us thin. Unless the phils put in major work with Floyd in the offseason and it works. Like Tom Goodman, I'm not expecting Hamels to stay healthy any time soon.

Hunter would be an amazing center fielder to pick up the slack for Abreu and Burrell, but at what cost? I believe his contract goes up to around $10.5 million next season, with a $12 million option for 2007. I'm not sure the Phils would be looking to add more big salary for a position player unless the Twins were willing to eat a ton of it. I don't believe there will be any serious effort to move Howard anyway. I look at Howard and see a player capable of hitting 40 homers next season.

If you want Hunter, then you should trade Thome to Minnesota to get him. That would make sense for the Phillies and the Twins (with the Phillies eating some $$ there somewhere).
If you want to trade Abreu or Burrell, you trade Abreu. The Phillies do not have any RH power other than Burrell. I also think that Abreu now has enough recognition around MLB that he could fetch more talent in return than Burrell.

Great job this season Jason

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