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Friday, July 21, 2006

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I noticed that Sal is back in the dugout. It's interesting that Coste is catching Lidle tonight when it's usually Lieberthal when he's healthy. I tuned in late ... has anyone heard anything on this situation? I wonder if the Phillies are going to designate Lieberthal ...

Right about now, Disney execs are vetting Chris Coste's life story for "The Rookie 2".

Man, nothing like looking to see how the game's going, and being like "Coste is catching? Interesting. Coste just hit a home run? Holy crap!"

McCann's got a streak of his own to continue in this game, too.

Quiet after a win.....

6-5 Phillies win. Very good game with excellent pitching. Lidle had one of his best and longest games of the season (8 IP, 3 ER).

The bottom of the lineup was a key contributor for each team. Beerleaguer player of the game was David Bell, who went 4-4 with two runs to continue his hot hitting. He's hitting over .280 now and his OBP will probably rise over .350. He's getting good, long at bats lately and making the pitcher work.

Chris Coste drove in Bell with a two-run homer off Smoltz to get the Phils on the board. Coste has emerged as the Phillies best offensive catcher, and it certainly looked like he and Lidle were on the same page tonight. It's not just a great story; Coste is getting more and more starts and has reportedly made a believer out of the manager.

David Dellucci drove in the go-ahead run with his 15th pinch hit of the season.

Pat Burrell looked like he always does against good pitching, particularly Smoltz. Over his career, Burrell has been useless against the right-hander.

Bottom line: Great game for those who still believe in the Phils. Great game for those who want those trade chips to sparkle. Great, short game for those headed out to the bars.

I know I am gonna jinx it by saying it, but the Phils have OWNED the Braves this year! 5-1 so far

ok.... i was at the game tonight.

first: coste. smoltz decided that he was going to teach coste a lesson his first time against him about his curve ball. smoltz won. K, coste looked silly.

the second time, smoltz decided to bust him inside.... oops, HR, coste. and it was a SHOT! almost in harry the k's.

i dont know what got into lidle, but it was a beautiful outing by him. efficient, effective, and quick.

what a clutch hit by delucci!

great game played by the phightins.

ok.... i was at the game tonight.

first: coste. smoltz decided that he was going to teach coste a lesson his first time against him about his curve ball. smoltz won. K, coste looked silly.

the second time, smoltz decided to bust him inside.... oops, HR, coste. and it was a SHOT! almost in harry the k's.

i dont know what got into lidle, but it was a beautiful outing by him. efficient, effective, and quick.

what clutch hitting by delucci and utley! chase extended his hitting streak to 22, and made it count for 2 rbi's

great game played by the phightins.

these guys are a different team with a too-old rookie catching.

After Chris Coste's 2-run homer in the 4th inning tonight to put the Phillies on the board, and the 6-5 win, starting pitcher Cory Lidle said: "I haven't been able to get that far in a game in a long time. I found a good rhythm earlier and carried it through eight innings. It's big for me." And just take a look at the performances by pitchers in games in which Coste has caught, and compare those performances to the performances of the same pitchers throwing to the three others, Lieberthal, Fasano and Ruiz. Sam Carchidi writes about tonight's game in the Inquirer, saying: "With Sal Fasano about to come off the disabled list, the Phillies soon will have to make a decision about their catchers. Chris Coste is making part of that decision easy. If the Phils decide to keep just two catchers on their roster, Coste has shown he deserves to be one of them. Tonight, one game after he slammed his first major-league homer, the 33-year-old rookie ripped a two-run home run to give the Phils a 2-0 fourth-inning lead against John Smoltz . . . After being promoted from triple-A Scranton, Coste went 0 for 14. Since then, he has hit a staggering .450, boosting his overall average to .333." Coste may well be an exception to the "inside the box" world of MLB scouting and player evaluation conventional wisdom -- but a welcome exception Coste is to the Phillies right now, nevertheless.

I would rather see Coste play than Lieberthal. There are some people on this team going through the motions and Lieberthal is the leading candidate.

I would also like to see Coste replace Liberthal the rest of the way. It's time for the Phils to close that chapter.

From this morning's report oni the Blue Jays MLB web site:
Hillenbrand, Chulk dealt for Accardo
07/22/2006 2:30 AM ET
By Jordan Bastian / MLB.com
TORONTO -- The Blue Jays officially parted ways with Shea Hillenbrand -- their disgruntled designated hitter -- by completing a three-player trade with the San Francisco Giants on Saturday morning.
Toronto sent Hillenbrand and right-handed reliever Vinnie Chulk to San Francisco in exchange for pitcher Jeremy Accardo, who will most likely join the Jays' bullpen. The move completes a strange series of recent events and gives Toronto some relief help.

"We're just happy we got a good, young arm that's controllable for us," Toronto general manager J.P. Ricciardi said shortly after the deal was announced. "He can be a good guy in our bullpen for a couple years."

Accardo, 24, is in his second Major League season and is currently making $330,000. Giants manager Felipe Alou said that he believes Accardo has "closing stuff." The reliever was disappointed to be traded, but was pleased to be going to a team that wanted him.

"I guess that's one of the good things I could take from it," Accardo said. "I knew [the Giants] were going to make a move, but today was the first time I thought my name was going to be in it.


"I'm going to go there and help them win, but I have to leave here and the team that helped me get here," he said. "That's a tough thing."

The move will give the Blue Jays some financial flexibility because Ricciardi said they will not be forced to cover any of the remaining money Hillenbrand is owed this season as part of his $5.8 million contract.

Ricciardi declined further comment on the deal, saying that he would discuss the trade in more detail prior to the Blue Jays' game against the Yankees on Saturday.

The deal puts the finishing touches on a series of incidents that led to Hillenbrand's dismissal from the Blue Jays. Toronto's former designated hitter had complained about serving as a full-time DH for the last two years and attacked the organization and asked to be traded during an angry pregame tirade on Wednesday.

Also on Wednesday, Hillenbrand was involved in a pregame clubhouse incident, in which the words "This is a sinking ship" were written on a dry-erase board in the room. That led to a heated confrontation with Jays manager John Gibbons, who reportedly told Hillenbrand one of them was going to have to leave the team. Toronto then designated Hillenbrand for assignment during the game, which meant the team had 10 days to release or trade the player.


complete coverage >It only took three days for the Jays to find a deal they were satisfied with.

In 38 games with the Giants this year, Accardo went 1-3 with a 4.91 ERA. The right-hander has 40 strikeouts, 11 walks, and has given up 38 hits in 40 1/3 innings this year. Last season, Accardo appeared in 28 games as a rookie for the Giants, going 1-5 with a 3.94 ERA. The 6-foot-2, 189-pound pitcher led San Francisco's farm system in saves (28) in 2004.

Accardo will most likely take Chulk's spot in the Toronto's bullpen, which ranked 10th in the American League with a 4.32 ERA, entering Friday. Chulk, who was selected by the Jays in the 12th round of the 2001 First-Year Player Draft, went 1-0 with a 5.25 ERA in 20 games for the Blue Jays this season. The 27-year-old posted a 4.40 ERA in 132 games across four season with Toronto.

Hillenbrand, 30, hit .301 with 12 home runs, 15 doubles and 39 RBIs in 81 games with Toronto this year. In two seasons with the Jays, the 2005 American League All-Star hit .294 with 30 homers and 121 RBIs in 233 games. Hillenbrand, who can play both corner infield positions, will get most of his playing time at first base for the Giants.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its

I don't know what you do for a living, DavThom, but I wonder how often you risk your reputation by "thinking outside the box" and making decisions based on such small sample sizes as Chris Coste has given us. Look, I like the guy, but you have a man-crush on him. I agree he looks better than Fasano or Lieberthal, both of whom look like leftovers from the slaughterhouse. But the guy they should play in the interest of laying a foundation for the future is Ruiz, who at least has the arm to throw out opposing baserunners. Stop basing you decisions on month-long hot streaks. I doubt you do it in your day job; try applying a rule known as "common sense" to your fandom. You'll maintain a more even keel.

I agree, it's time for Lieberthal to go. His final Phillie season is resembling that of Von Hayes. I hope he makes a comeback somewhere else, but right now, he looks cooked. It may seem inappropriate to unceremoniously release a player in mid-season who's played here for over ten years, but really. He's contributing absolutely nothing.

alby,

>But the guy they should play in the interest
>of laying a foundation for the future is
>Ruiz, who at least has the arm to throw out
>opposing baserunners.

Ruiz has demonstrated very little ability in the majors. he cant hit a curce with an ironing board, lookjs clueless calling pitches, and doesnt have an arm worth mentioning.

i'm not sure which team your watching, but Coste has earned a starting spot on this squad, and should be considerred the starting catcher for the foreseeable future.

talking about man-crushes, i dont understand what people see in ruiz, at all. he's been a chump every time i see him play.

yeh, i can see how you think that ruiz's arm is stronger. he's thrown out 25% of base stealers, while coste has thrown out 37.5%.

wait, 37.5 is bigger than 25, right? oh well, i guess your argument doesnt hold water. again.

Joe: Does the phrase "sample size" mean anything to you? Let's see where Ruiz & Coste are after 400 MLB ABs each and then we can have an intelligent conversation about comparisons. Right now all we can do is speculate based on what we see and the judgments of the scouting staff and various analysts like baseball prospectus.

lets go phillies!!!!!!!!

The easy thing to do with the Coste/Ruiz controversy is next year, have coste and ruiz split time. After May, make your decision.

And clout, the fact is, he's hitting .450. As long as he keeps hitting .450, he plays and Ruiz stays down this year.

If the Phillies cathcer situation is Coste/Ruiz next year to start the season, there will be little to no improvement from this season's starting duo of Lieberthal/Fasano.

Coste has played with some gusto but his limitation as a hitter would get exposed if he played 4 or 5 times a week. Plus, Ruiz is polished enough defensively but I am not sure he can hit enought to keep a backup job. Don't need Gil Hodges at backup, but Ruiz does need to hit at least .240-.250 to make him a viable MLB catcher.

Alby and Clout: What Joe and I are talking about, with regard to Chris Coste and his performance, is not merely the 54 MLB at bat limited opportunity which Coste has been given during the 2006 regular season thus far. In part, "thinking outside the box", where Coste is concerned, means taking into consideration Coste's 2006 ST [yes it does mean something], Coste's 2005 AAA All Star season at S W-B, and Coste's 2005 ST with the Phillies, for that matter. And for me, perhaps it also means making some instinctive (and even subjective) assessments, based on my 40-plus years of (first) playing, and (later) watching baseball, my favorite sport. And, as I have said before on this board, my involvement in professional baseball has not always been observational and casual either. I was one of four principal owners of an independent league franchise during the 1996 and 1997 seasons. For our operation, I was the owner who was most involved, with our GM, and with our manager (Mike Verdi, who previously managed High A in the Red Sox system at Winter Haven in the Florida State League), in player procurement, evaluation and transactions. On some occasions, when a major league organization was interested in signing one of our players, I was the one who spoke with the MLB team farm directors about the terms of the transaction. And, back to Coste, the bigger the "sample size", Alby and Clout, the better Coste looks. And Alby, quit with the "man love" stuff. OK? I assume you're speaking figuratively, but that kind of junk only diminishes your own credibity. Also, I do root for forgotten, trashcanned or overlooked guys who have come out of the independent leagues, and I surely make no apology for doing so. And finally, as for Ruiz, the buzz is that some things took place during Ruiz's most recent recall which were not favorable. The most prevalent comment I've heard is that Ruiz had poor connection and communication with his pitchers, and the pitching performances, during Ruiz's three straight starts during these three San Diego series losses in Philly, certainly tend to indicate problems along those lines. Another comment I have seen is that something happened off the field, but until something like that is confirmed for me, I discount it. Either way, although Ruiz did not hit badly during his last trip to the bigs, in contrast to his first time up, some negatives have apparently entered into the picture, relative to Ruiz. Regardless, Coste should now get the majority of catching playing time, until and unless Coste shows that he is no longer productive. Personally, I don't think that will happen. We'll see.

Sorry, DavThom, we're fated to disagree about this. You're basically in favor of riding the hot hand until it turns cold -- and in addition you're predicting he'll never get cold. Yet you think I'M the one with a credibility problem?

I've read all about your ballclub ownership; my question is what do you actually do for a living, and do you favor "thinking outside the box" all the time when you're doing it, damn the consequences? In Coste's case, you're essentially saying winning today's game is all that matters. For all I know, you always feel that way. Maybe that works in the Independent leagues, but when you're trying to build a playoff club in the majors, starting a 34-year-old with almost no catching experience isn't going to cut it. Of course, if all you're worried about is winning as many games as possible THIS YEAR, I agree with you -- go with Coste. But is that really what you want to do? Because if it is, then you don't trade Abreu, either. And frankly, I wonder why you would choose that course, given the slim chance of the team making a playoff run with its pathetic starting pitching.

As for Joe and others who think Ruiz hasn't shown much, that's exactly the point of playing him. Does he suck, or does he have the beginners' jitters Coste displayed at first? At least, at his age, he has a decent chance of improving. Not so Coste, and it's not just "conventional wisdom" that says so. It's all of baseball history. Sorry, DT, his sample size is exactly what I said it is -- 53 major-league at-bats (and much smaller still on throwing out baserunners). There are metrics for translating minor-league stats into major-league stats, and I doubt they'd make a strong case for a permanent starting job for Chris Coste. Besides, whatever league he's in, 33 is the start of the decline phase of the career of anyone who isn't juicing.

In short, a lot of the thinking I'm seeing here is the sort of grasping at straws common to fans of an underperforming team whose season is going down the drain. Chris Coste is not going to save the season, and he is not a long-term answer at catcher. So why do you want to give him the bulk of the playing time? So they win an extra couple of games? Maybe that works in the Indy leagues, where rosters turn over and you need a winning product on the field to keep the turnstiles rotating. For the Phillies, the reality remains -- next year's team has no third baseman and no catcher, and, with all due respect to the overachieving Mr. Coste (I root for him, too, by the way), no viable internal options for playoff-caliber players at either position.

Interesting and insightful post, Alby, but we do disagree. And I was under no illusion that you would respond to my post by immediately signifying your agreement with me, relative to Chris Coste. [Parenthetically, to respond to your question, I am a lawyer. And yes, practicing in the field that I do, attempted empirical judgment, while one pursues creative legal thinking and aspirational *long-term "outside of the box"* strategy are not mutually exclusive concepts or practices. And for me, they are not only desireable, they are virtual necessity.] On the baseball topic at hand, I have not said that Coste would never have a cold spell. All hitters do, regardless of whom they are. Secondly, to be clear, the "beginners jitters" which Coste experienced lasted only through Coste's first 14 at bats, when he went 0 for 14, before hitting at the .450 pace that Coste has shown since. In contrast, Ruiz had 30-some at bats, before he was sent down the first time back in late May. From what I understand, the issues the Phillies front office has with Ruiz transcend mere "catch, throw and hit" skills. Apparently, Ruiz was abysmal is calling pitches, and Ruiz evidently had problems in "getting on the same page" as his pitchers. But even if we give Ruiz the benefit of all doubt, as you propose, Chris Coste should still be played *this season* until Coste shows that he will not be productive. Coste's hitting performance has been clearly superior to Ruiz's, in pretty much the same number of at bats. [Coste: 54 AB, .333 BA, 12 RBI's, & .500 slugging percentage; Ruiz: 44 AB, .205 BA, 3 RBI's, & .273 slugging percentage]. Additionally, Coste's performance in throwing out baserunners has surpassed Ruiz's as well. [ Coste: 3 CS, 5 SB; Ruiz: 2 CS, 6 SB]. Furthermore, your reference to Coste as a "34-year-old with almost no catching experience" is flatly in error! Coste has *always* been primarily a catcher in his minor league career, with the only exceptions being the past two AAA seasons, when Coste played more third base and first base than catcher. However, Coste did catch, and catch well, over the past two AAA seasons, nevertheless. It should be emphasized also that Coste caught a full season of winter ball (at least 60 games) in Mexico this past winter. Any suggestion that Coste has "almost no catching experience" is patently wrong. Take a look at Coste's published book, entitled, "Don't Blame Me -- I'm Only the Catcher", which contains anecdotes about Coste's long trail through the minors. Finally, all this talk about "insufficient samples" of playing time, as applied to the Coste/Ruiz situation, to me, is simply a way of cleaverly saying -- "ignore the comparatively poor performance of Carlos Ruiz", because it pales in comparison with Chris Coste's torrid hitting and superior defensive performance. Sorry, I won't ignore Chris Coste's fine performance so far, and neither will I ignore the fact that Carlos Ruiz has displayed far less in almost the same number of at bats that Coste has had. Neither should Phillies management. Also, I have raised the question in prior posts as to just what "long term" positional solutions are any more in the contemporary MLB landscape, with injuries, free agency, and players collapsing, in a season's time or less, seemingly without any prior indication that they would do so. As for "guilded edge" catching solutions for the Phillies, if that "can't miss" "blue chip" prospect or FA is out there, one thing is certain. He's not under contract with the Phillies now. So, for the time being (meaning this season, as I see no blockbuster catcher deal on the horizon), Coste getting the bulk of the catching time until he shows he is not worthy of it is the Phillies best catching option, in my opinion, by far. Good post, Alby, one to which I enjoyed responding. But as you said, and rather predictably, "we're fated to disagree about this."

Fasano designated for assignment
Associated Press
Major League Baseball News Wire

PHILADELPHIA -- Popular backup catcher Sal Fasano was designated for assignment by the Philadelphia Phillies on Saturday.

Assistant general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said the Phillies have to trade, release or send Fasano outright to the minors by July 31. Fasano was placed on the disabled list on July 4 with left knee inflammation.

Though he was only batting .243 with four homers and 10 RBIss in his first season with the Phillies, Fasano quickly earned a fan club.

A group of guys called themselves "Sal's Pals" and sat in the upper deck in right field wearing long wigs and mustaches like Fasano. Link:

http://beerleaguer.typepad.com/beerleaguer/2006/07/utley_looks_to_.html#comments


DavThom: I was unaware that Coste was primarily a catcher before the past two years, so that alleviates some concern on that score. But it doesn't allay my worry about him being good enough to be the starting catcher on a playoff-caliber team. As for the sample-size question, most SABR analysts would tell you that even a full season is limited sample size as an accurate predictor of future performance. But if we concede that, as constituted, the Phils aren't likely to be playoff-caliber next year either, I could see him as a one-year stopgap. Let me put it this way: I'm a LOT more worried about who we get to man 3B next year than I am about catcher.

Alby: Your points are legitimate. My assessment is simply that Coste has (and will continue to) outperform Lieberthal in all aspects of the catching game, and thus should get more playing time, unless and until Coste shows that he doesn't warrant it. But again, I don't think that will happen. As for the immediate future, I don't know what deals are being discussed (other than the obvious Abreu, etc.), but obviously, Lieberthal would not be easy to trade. Also, I doubt that Lieberthal would be designated for assignment, particularly now, after Fasano was designated yesterday. Ruiz has hit well at S W-B all season, with the understandable exception of a small cold spell when Ruiz was first sent back down in May. However, after watching Ruiz this year (and I did personally see Ruiz play in the final game of the San Diego series), I don't think that Ruiz will hit for much of an average in the bigs (he seems to swing *through* curveballs). In contrast, I think that Coste has a swing (albeit a bit unorthodox) and hitting psyche that will enable him to hit for high average (even in the .300 range) and production in MLB. Correspondingly, I think that Coste, who has done well in throwing out baserunners, calling pitches, and generally "being on the same page" as his pitchers, could well be a good short-term (2-3 year) solution for the Phillies at the catching position. We'll see.

Frankly, I don't think we'll ever find out if you're right. If ever there was a think-inside-the-box organization, we're rooting for it. I believe they'll keep Coste as the backup for as long as he keeps playing like this, but I can't see them ever penciling him in as the starter.

You may well be right, Alby, and to me, that would be unfortunate. In the absence of a trade, or some other transaction involving a catcher with another organization, we certainly will know shortly about the way in which the Phillies will utilize Coste. Nevertheless, I think that Coste's performance, to this point, entitles him to at least split time with Lieberthal for the remainder of this season. Whether that happens remains to be seen.

Truth be told, I too am pretty tired of writing "F7" and "F9" in the scorecard next to Lieby's name, and wouldn't mind seeing Coste catch every day; I just understand why the front office would be reluctant to do it. But then, I'm also tired of watching Bell have to dive for every ball that isn't hit directly at him; I never understood why 3B wasn't treated as a platoon position from Day 1. Of course, Nunez now can't hit his weight, so maybe that wouldn't have worked; the question then becomes, why was he signed? It should have been obvious to the front office that Bell could no longer field his position, and sharing time was the solution.

With Lieberthal having been inserted into the Phillies starting lineup tonight for a third straight day (Lieberthal was slated to start in Sunday's rainout), it does appear that you may well be correct in your assessment of the limited amount of playing time which will be given Coste from this point forward. Again, I think this is unfortunate -- mostly for the Phillies -- and, of course, for Coste individually. By the way, when I referred in an earlier post above in this string to "players collapsing, in a season's time or less, seemingly without any prior indication that they would do so", I was thinking specifically of Nunez as "Exhibit A" of this type of scenario.

I hesitate to defend Nunez on any level, but I thought he was acquired with the idea of platooning him with Bell. Instead he was allowed to collect rust. Delluci also started off cold due to his use as nothing but a pinch-hitter but responded to more playing time. I doubt Nunez would do the same at this point, but I still blame Uncle Chollie for riding his starters too hard and letting his bench players rust. Just once I'd like to see the Phils eat a salary. Heck, I'd like to see them hire a major-league third-base coach, but they're too cheap to do even that.

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