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Tuesday, September 12, 2006

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At this point, given Burrell's injuries, I really have no idea what to do. If he put up 30HR and 110 RBI per year, I could care less about the other stuff, but as Manuel indicates, the foot hurts him in the batters box as well in the field, and we may not see those numbers again.

Quite frankly, it just sucks that he is injured. PtB, for all his critics, has never complained and always worked hard to improve and appears to keep himslef in good shape...he is just a big dude who puts a lot of strain on his foot.

While a trade would be nice, there is no team that would pick up more than a few million dollars of his contract, leaving the Phils with around $17M a year on PtB and Thome. Despite how bad he looks now, I would keep him and hope the off-season surgery goes well. 400 ABs of around .850 OPS is reasonable and better than we can find on the free agent market.

BTW, the Florida announcers said he would likely have surgery in the off-season. Anyone else know this?

Burrell definitely needs to have the foot surgery. It's not like the injury is getting better on its own. While the doctors are at it, they might as well take a look at his wrist if it is still bothering him (according to the article it still is from time to time). The Phillies cannot afford to give Pat the luxury of having him only have these surgeries if he deems it necessary. They need to play hardball with him to get him as healthy as possible for next season, whether it is here or somewhere else.

Excellent article! A couple of points really jumped off the page:
1. Burrell seems resistant to the suggestions that he needs to make adjustments to his stance.

Whereas Ryan Howard seems to make adjustments daily, Burrell looks like he has the same approach as he did when he was a rookie. He looks like he is still trying to pull the ball deep to left on every pitch, no matter the count, no matter the situation. About the only change he did make - laying off the low and away slider - sent him to the opposite extreme - looking at called strikes in the fat part of the plate.

2. "It's not that big of a deal" as long as his production rate is acceptable, Burrell said.

Saturday's game was typical of Burrell's season, failing to produce in critical situatuions. That Burrell considers his '06 season as "acceptable" says a lot about PB.


Add in his poor fielding (can't ever remember him misplaying so many fly balls as recently) and his chronic injuries and I have to agree with kdon: it will be nearly impossible to trade Pat without eating a large chunk of his salary or packaging him with a blue-chip prospect. If that's the case, than what's the point of trading him?

The Orioles are supposedly in the market for a left-fielder, Angelos may be the only sucker out there willing to take Burrell off our hands for less than exorbitant prices.

Resistant to being traded, resistant to adjusting his stance, resistant to surgery, resistant to accept that he is having a poor season; I will be extremely surprised, shocked actually, if Pat the Resistant is not a Phillie through 2008!

Hmm...so he plays hurts, talks about being in a wild card race, and won't accept excuses.

Sounds like someone the fans should love...oh but wait!!! He makes more money than me!!! And women like him!!! I have to hate him!

Oh, and Burrell doesn't change??? What was he doing the past 3 years constantly changing??? If anything, it messed him up. He's found something that's worked enough for him to get on base at a 37% clip. That's good enough for me.

The phils only hope of trading Burrell is if:

1) gets off-season foot surgery
2) plays amazing the first part of next season
3) the Phans still boo him so hard he'll go anywhere but stay here.

I know I have had the same frustrations with Burrell that most folks have. I do agree with Chris that his overall numbers are good enough for that slot. However, I do understand that the "clutch" numbers are incredibly terrible. It's amazing that a player can be that different in 2 different situations. Regardless... Burrell will be gone next year. If NOT in a trade, in a forced surgery... which will make him miss most of the year. NOW... If Burrell is removed... WHO is going to be in Left Field. If you think staying with the Dellucci, Victorino, Conine, Rowand combination will work, you are insane. No combination of that outfield, will match the production of Burrell, Rowand, Abreu.

So until somebody gives me reasonable options in the outfield, I'm going to have to agree to more of the same.

Mike: Exactly right. You can't replace someone with no one (or a bunch of punch and judys).
VOR: Excellent point. What separates the rebuilding teams that are doing it right (Florida) from the rebuilding teams doing it wrong (Phillies) is VALUE. The Marlins made sure they didn't deal their vets unless they got quality prospects back. The Phillies traded Abreu for a pile of manure, perhaps because that's all that was available at the time. The solution, as you say, is to do what the Marlins did: Either get quality back or keep 'em until you can.

If the Phils are able to trade PB (very questionable), the success of it can't be determined strictly by the production of the next left fielder.

If management would use the money saved on Burrell, Abreu, etc. (even more questionable) on a frontline starter and/or 3rd baseman and/or catcher, the team could be more successful even with less production from the outfielders.

Also, Burrell's defensive and baserunning liabilities detract significantly from his offensive production. Replace him with a lower-priced speedy, defensive outfielder who can score easily from 2nd on a base hit and the overall production is at least a wash. Players like Eric Byrnes or Juan Encarnacion in the $4M range come to mind. Although neither is a free agent, corner outfield is typically the easiest position to fill. How about Shannon Stewart? Other arbitration-eligible outfielders may become available after the offering deadline passes.

Right now we shouldn't even bother looking at Burrell's season stats. I'm all for numbers, projections, and things of that nature, but watching Burrell day in day out is painful (much like his wrist and foot must be). I like Burrell, always have, and will continue to. But he is totally lost at the plate over the past 2 months, and has been a liability in the field the entire season. His OPS might be around .850, but we know that doesn't indicate that level of his production. I think we can all agree that he's not doing well...plain and simple.

Mike C, where did you hear that Burrell would miss most of next year if he had surgery?

Also, I agree with Chris in that this article is actually somewhat sympathetic towards Burrell. Just think how many players would complain about lack of playing time or being dropped in the order.

There seem to be two critiques of Burrell: 1) He has no heart (soul, etc.) and is a detriment to the team because of his attitude, particularly his selective approach at the plate and 2) He just doesn't hit well, period.

I think with the exception of the past few weeks, #2 is just plain wrong, and almost any statistic will prove that. He is not an elite, all-star player, but a solid, run-producing outfielder, in other words, someone who is valuable to his team. Even if you want to talk about clutch hitting, Burrell was very good last year. Yes, that's right, in '05 Burrell hit .313 w/RISP. I've said this before, but there is very little connection year to year in "clutch" hitting.

As for #1, I think the article shows that Burrell is commited to the team and that he WOULD consider a trade or sugery and that he is willing to be moved around in order to help the team.

Burrell is a dissapointment because he was the #1 pick and has a big contract, but he is far from the major problem with the team.

VOR, the problem with your argument is that the Phils cannot get rid of Burrell's contract that easily and would have to include money or a stud prospect in any deal.

Everyone here would agree (I think) that if the Phillies could simply cut Burrell and not be responsible for his salary or trade him without including money, they should do it. But absent an idiot move from a team like Bal., the situation is more difficult than you make it seem.

kdon: I certainly don't agree. You don't make your team better by giving something away for nothing.

kdon, as I said in my first post on this thread: Under the circumstances of salary, injuries, etc., I would be shocked if Burrell is not a member of the Phils through 2008.

Does anyone know what the actual injury is with regard to Burrell's foot? I have yet to hear it adequately explained.

Clout, have to disagree. If the Phils were able to unload Burrell on another team and use the $27M on a frontline pitcher, they've essentially traded Burrell for that pitcher.

But the Phils management putting that theory to the test is altogether an entirely different matter.

clout, The assumption (and a big one)that the freed up dollars could be used to sign a free agent outfielder or trade for one. Heck, the BoSox were willing to give away Manny Ramirez a few years ago if someone was willing to take on the remaining $100M of his contract. If there were no takers for Manny, do you think anyone will take on the $27 Million Burrell is owed in 2007 and 2008 ? I think the only trade possibility is to trade for another player with an equally bad contract. Manny is still owed $40M after this year.

On a completed unrelated note, I saw that Travis Lee was released by the Devil Rays. This is likely the end of the line for the former Phil.

You're right VOR, I was only commenting in response to the idea that the Phillies could trade all of Burrell's contract and free up money, a prospect we both agree is remote.

Really clout, you don't think there is a better allocation of $27M than an above average LF who can only play 4 or 5 days a week and is one mistep away from a major injury?

Abreu for nothing was bad because he was only slightly overpaid and the Phillies are unlikely to reinvest that money. With Wolf/Abreu/Lieberthal off the books, I think the Phillies will be around their expected budget. If they could drop Burrell's salary, I think they probably WOULD reinvest that money in pitching/3B etc.

Travis Lee: so much talent, so little production. Sweet swing, great glove, no desire.

I'll always remember Travis Lee for this (facts may be hazy): Last game of 2002 against the Marlins in Miami, Phils are 80-80 going into the game, bottom of 10th, runner on 3rd with less than 2 outs, on a pop foul beyond 1st base, Lee makes a running catch with his back to the plate and no chance of getting the runner. Game & season over.

Yes, it was a meaningless game. Yes, there is little difference between 81-80 and 80-81. But a winning season did matter to the manager, to some of his teamates, and to a lot of fans. But Travis could have cared less.

The Burrell piece was fantastic. And it's a good way of keeping the Burrell discussion in a Burrell discussion thread, too.

Right, then. Anyone see this?
http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2006/baseball/mlb/09/11/fvi.phillies/index.html

My favorite part is the team rating. Through in Hamels and that's three reasons to get excited.

Hopefully they can still pull together for the Wild Card, although I have this awful feeling that the Braves will sweep them this week.

The Phils do have a young nucleus that actually wants to win, though. So good for the Phillies.

Last thing, and way off topic: Anyone catch Bill Burr's Philly trashing from Saturday at the Tweeter Center?

He said the Phillies uniforms looked like they should be selling cotton candy at industrial league games.

Travis Lee has the distinction of being the major leagues' career fielding percentage leader (.997) among first baseman with 750 or more games played. My Travis Lee memory was game winning HR in Baltimore and the crowd erupting in cheers like it was a Phils home game, since there were so many Phils fans who made the trip to Camden Yards. Agree VOR, wasted potential.

Also, I checked 2005 NL Wildcard standings from exactly 1 year ago today. I had forgotten how Florida folded the last 3 weeks of the season last year.

Florida 77-67
Houston 76-67 .5 gm back
Phil 76-68 1 gm back

Good memory VOR, just looked the game up on Retrosheet:

MARLINS 10TH: Castillo singled to right; Castillo stole second
[Castillo to third (on wild pitch by Mercado)]; A. Nunez was
called out on strikes; Encarnacion hit a sacrifice fly to first
[Castillo scored]; 1 R, 1 H, 0 E, 0 LOB. Phillies 3, Marlins 4.

Ah the old Phils, Joe Roa started and Lieberthal hit cleanup!

I just read the Pat Burrell article. There was enough negative stuff for the Burrell haters and enough good stuff for the Burrell lovers to continue to duke it out on this webspace.

I liked the reference to Manuel as a power hitting guru. Do you think he deserves any credit for the power figures of Howard, Utley and Rollins?

Manuel obviously deserves most of the credit for every homerun hit by the Phillies over the past 2 seasons...gag me!

But seriously, Manuel may have helped in that aspect, but I just can't stand him. He needs to go!

The list of hitters is simply too long to say Manuel deserves no credit. If they make a switch, I'd love to see him stay on in an instructional capacity, but it rarely happens that way.

No, no, and no.

All three have shown the ability to hit for power in the past.

Nobody on this site has a truly educated opinion of Manuel's behind the scenes instruction with hitters, positive or negative. Player testimony is that he's excellent with hitters who are willing to accept his advice.

You're right Jason, that was a pretty knee-jerk reaction...I've never had any problem with the Phils development of hitters, I just let my anger at him for stategy boil over into other matters.

As a card-carrying Burrell supporter I feel compelled to point out that the batting average part of the article is absurd because batting average fluctuates so much naturally. Burrell has 412 at-bats on the year and 103 hits (.250). To get the 20 extra points of batting average referred to in the article he would have had to have gotten 112 hits (112-for-412 = .272). That's nine hits over 5 1/3 months or less than two a month.

Clout says "you don't give away something for nothing", but Gillick has certainly done it before, first with Padilla, then with Abreu - albeit in the latter's case, although the return appears comparatively like 'nothing', the reality of this remains to be seen. I would be completely shocked if Burrell is a Phillie after 19 more games. Manuel says in the article that he "fits in the organization", but the opposite seems to be the case.

With the exception of his strong 2002 and 2005 seasons, Burrell's cumulative output has not been anything to be excited about - these are the *only* years in which he's exceeded 30 HRs, out of six full seasons. Basically what you have is a player whose lone outstanding strength - power - has *not* been very outstanding, and since the very beginning of his career, it has very seldom come in situations when the team has needed it.

Some of his struggles have been due to injury, but most haven't (see '01, '03) and even now, there is no way of telling just to what extent his mediocrity is the result of his foot and wrist; just watching his approach, still swinging for the fences with the poorest of mechanics and with a truly nonexistent sense of pitch selection and overall hitting intelligence, my feeling is it's mostly about a lack of adjustment, a lack of determination to make his game better. And it doesn't seem at all likely he'll ever *get* any better. I was as enthused about Burrell as everyone else in '02, but that seems like an awfully long time ago now. I won't miss him a single bit and I could care less if they get anything for him.

Right, and whats the difference between a .250 power hitter and a .270 power hitter?

sheesh. thats why we keep stats, we can definitively say that yes, he is doing worse.

Off topic a bit, but I don't see how getting rid of Padilla helped the team. He is 13-9 w/ a 4.52 ERA in the AL in one of the best hitters parks.

Replace Floyd's or Madson's early starts with Padilla and we are probably talking about a Phils team that leads the WC race.

Yeah, so he was a jerk, and worked slow, and got a DUI...he was dumped for salary reasons, pure and simple. Salary that (and this may be a harbinger of what happens with the Abreu "savings") was never replaced.

RSB, we all know you don't like PtB, but what would you actually do given his contract status...cut him and eat $27M, use him as a pinch hitter, pay him to play for another team, include a player like Gonzalez in order to trade him, or play him most days and get around an .850 OPS out of the LF?

Burrell's mechanics have been terrible since day one, and today he has the same basic flaws. However, a younger, healthier Burrell could make up for it a little.

If you watch footage from the earlier years, he could reach down and get it better, reach across and get it. Plus, his swing was faster without the lingering wrist problems.

As unorthodox as it is, the collapsing back leg allowed him to do some things he can't do anymore, at least to the same degree. He wasn't this much of a statue early in his career.

He's always been a mistake hitter, and has never hit good pitching. He's never known what to do with an inside fastball, and now pitchers are hammering away with it. This is another season where Burrell has started hot and faded, and one of the big reasons is the slate gets wiped clean every season. Fresh book. New managers. New players. Nobody is thinking about pounding Burrell inside.

Some of the "heart" numbers can be explained that way. I see a lot of Burrell home runs in the fourth inning, second inning, etc. I believe part of that is pitchers and catchers may simply lose focus during "casual" spots in the game, whereas with RISP, late innings, etc., they'll bear down, or even bring in another pitcher to face him. Not every inning plays the same way. On paper it does, but in reality it doesn't.

And that's fine. At the end of the season, Burrell will get his RBIs and HRs, but he's never going to be an everyday player again, and he's never going to hit good pitching. His mechanical flaws have caught up with his body, plus, everyday exposure at this stage would see his average drop into the .215-.230 range.

If they can't move him, Burrell is best suited for the part-time, No. 6 role he's currently filling. The moment he gets on base late in a game, lift him.

I've been saying this since day one- Manuel would make a far better hitting instructor or batting coach than head manager...he just doesn't cut it at manager overall. Players over the years have credited him for various reasons in hitting aspects, so I'll give him credit too. But that wasn't my point. I wasn't trying to say he's completely worthless, I just can't stand him managing!

Billy Mac: I forgot about that Travis Lee HR. I now remember watching the game on TV, Lee hit a line drive into the SRO area in right and the fans went bonkers. It looked like the Phils had won a playoff game.

Great moment for the Phils and Travis Lee, that moment was the only time I remember him cracking anything resembling a grin.

Let's see if we can actually quantify these statements about pitcher's "bearing down" on Burrell in important situations. MLB stats allows you to sort according to late innings of close games. Here are Burrell's numbers (BA/OBP/SLG) according to this metric along with some other Phils in order of OPS:

Howard .333/.531/.667
Burrell .316/.435/.605
J-ROLL .288/.364/.508
Utley .267/.375/.483

So while Burrell has indeed struggled this season w/RISP (reversing last year's great numbers), he has been frankly GREAT this year in the late innings of close games.

Interestingly, most of the Phillies have great numbers this year according to this metric, meaning something else must be responsible for the late game phlops.

Also, just going back through PtB's stats you realize how meaningless any of these splits are. Last year, when he hit well w/RISP he was terrible in late innings but in 2003 (the year of .209) he was great!

The point is that "heart" numbers are basically useless as an indicator of future ability. In the long run Burrell's 30 HR are going to be just as important as Utley's or 1/2 of Howard's. The idea that you could actually watch a 162 game season and be able to tell when a player gets big hits is absurd.

I love stats, but as we can all admit their is NO perfect stat that tells a player's true worth. I'll be the first guy to joke around and make fun of a player, but I understand that there are other things that they offer to a team that I may not be aware of. Numbers are great, but it's how they obtain the numbers that matter. For example, a 3-hole hitter should be able to easily knock in 100 rbi's just because of his spot in the batting order. So does does 100 rbi mean more from a 3-hole hitter than a leadoff guy who knocks in 75? This will be a never ending debate. Another example, a pitcher with a 5+ ERA that has 15 wins on the season versus a pitcher with a losing record but 3.50 ERA...who's better?

If I was Gillick, I'd have Burrell undergo complete wrist and foot surgeries and/or therapies.

I'd tell him that if the surgeries fail, they want to start training him to be a coach and that part of that training is to learn the mental aspects of the game including the psychological part. I'd get him interacting with a sports psychologist under the guise of management training for the after playing days part of his career.

The Burrell haters never make reasonable arguments. They don't like him, based on selective memories of AB's where he didn't produce, so he has no "heart".

For example, (as our host wrote above), how can a guy have lousy mechanics and hit 30 HR? You can't do it on athleticism alone. Or, "he's just a mistake hitter." They said the same thing about Yogi Berra. If PB had all these crushing liabilities as a hitter, wouldn't the pitchers have run him out of the league by now? Even with all the injuries, PB's numbers his year are at his career norms. So the entire line of "reasoning" here is crap.

But this is the nature of the dumber side of the Phillies' fan base. They always attack their best players, or at least their better players. You don't see hundreds of comments about Abe Nunez. There's something completly irrational, and a ittle sick, about the scapegoating of people like Burrell and Abreu.

True DQ, but in your first example, you are talking about RBI, which is a pretty poor stat. In the second example, clearly the second pitcher is better, no?

My point is not that all stats are meaningless, but that splits that invlove less than a few hundered ABs (such as average w/RISP) are meaningless because there is too much luck and variation involved in each at bat.

kdon- I wasn't trying to argue with you, I'm actually agreeing with what you're saying. Stats only tell a small portion of the story, keen observation tells the rest.

I know I'll get plenty of arguments on that last statement.

kdon wasn't bringing up RBI, he showed rate stats

John, there's no argument about Nunez. We all know he's not a hitting machine. There is legitimate questions about Burrell. I wouldn't refer to those people who disagree with your stellar opinion of him as "the dumber side of the Phillies' fan base."

DQ- "Stats only tell a small portion of the story, keen observation tells the rest."

You're right....you'll get plenty of arguments. First of all, do you watch every game? Second, as I noted above, memory is selective, and we tend to rememeber unusual events and things that fit our pre-conceived ideas. So if a Pat Burrell gets a walk that keeps an inning going, and Ryan Howard hits a homer-nobody remembers the walk-but the walk may have had a huge role in creating what happened after it.

No, these guys have 600 AB's a year..it's too many events. You need data.

Lake Fed-you missed my point entirely.

There is absolutely no question that Abe Nunez is doing to ensure the Phillies don't make the playoffs, than Pat Burrell or anyone else.

The "dumber part of the fan base" isn't dumb because it disagrees with me. We all have opinions.

It's the scapegoating of good, valuable valuable (like PB, Abreu, Rolen) that I find irrational and idiotic. And it never ends. Once Burrell is gone, they'll go after somebody else. So and so lacks the heart to win. Then he goes elsewhere and they love him. Do they grow hearts in new towns?

Stats are good....I've been saying that. However, they are not the only side of the story. If we went on stats alone we wouldn't need a manager to write out a lineup card or to change pitchers. I agree that we "only remember" certains plays or situations, but to totally dismiss observation is crazy. I believe the "keen observation" needs to be made by the Phillies coaching staff. I as a fan tend to think I'm making "keen observations"...but apparently I only remember what I want.

By the way, I do watch every game...sadly. Also of note...I hate Nunez and like Burrell, but I'm not willing to say Burrell is having a decent season because of his OPS or rbi total.

valuable players, that is...

DQ, I know you weren't trying to disagree with me, but I think you unintentionally did. As I said above (we may have cross-posted), I think stats tell A LOT of the story, but you need a sufficient sample size. My point is that Burrell's struggles this year in "heart" situations are a statistical artifact rather than an actual measure of ability.

Imagine flipping a coin one thousand times, each time with a wager attatched to it. Sometimes the wager is $10 dollars, sometimes $20, etc. up to $1000. Over the course of one thousand flips, you will get something close to 500 heads, but in the (say) ten times you wager $1000, it may come up heads only twice. This doesn't mean the coin has no heart or is not clutch.

You may think it crazy to compare a human being to a coin, but how else do you explain the wild variation in player stats in small sample sizes. Heart? Go back over the career of Burrell, Abreu, Lieberthal, Rollins, etc. and look at their numbers in clutch situations...they are all over the place. I think it's more sane to explain this variation through statistics than through wild ups and down in heart. Did Burrell lose his heart between '05 and '06, or Lieberthal between '03 and '04? Did J-Roll gain a heart this year?

DQ-Do you rememeber every Burrell AB? Or Rollins AB?

That's why you need numbers. Nobody's saying "stats alone", but that would be better than observation alone. NOBODY can remeber the games in enough detail not to need facts.

Of course if you're not interested in facts and just want to hang onto your prejudices...

I personally have never been a big fan of the entire "heart" comment about players. Some players play the game with more enthusiasm or flair, others look at it as merely doing their job, while others are hot heads and break bats after strikeouts...who's to say one has more "heart" than the others?

Bottom line- baseball is a whacky game, and true fans are constantly trying to make sense of it all. We all seem to think we have the answer for the Phils problems and have the game itself figured out. I may spout off at the mouth on my own blog and on here as well, but I'm not dumb enough to think I'm the "end all, be all".

When Pat first began to struggle, he invariably flailed away at sliders low and away. He simply couldn' lay off them. Then, he began to lay off of them, beginning last season and carrying over into this season. He started to draw more walks,too. Unfortunately, Pat is now vulnerable to hard stuff in on him and, incredibly, more or less right down Broadway. Why? He went from trying to pull everything to being an almost pure guess hitter. That would be OK if he were guessing right more often, but he doesn't.

John Salmon wrote "For example, (as our host wrote above), how can a guy have lousy mechanics and hit 30 HR? You can't do it on athleticism alone."

There is generally no disagreement from even the Burrell supporters that he has poor hitting mechanics. His strength, hand/eye coordination, and balance have compensated for this.

Hayes' article touched on some of his key flaws. He collapses his back leg, his swing is too long, he has a tendency to lunge and his stance is too upright. There is a long list of players who have been successful with a flawed baseball swing, golf swing, football throwing motion, and so forth. It is just more difficult to be consistent with it.

John Salmon- what the hell are you talking about me "wanting to hang onto my own prejudices". I'm actually calm as heck today, listening to everyone's opinion, and trying to give logical explainations for my thoughts. I did not personally attack you, so what's up with coming at me.

If you read what I typed, I would hope that you conjured up that I'm saying it's about observation and stats...not just one or the other, but both combined.

Sometimes I don't even know why I bother...

>Lieberthal between '03 and '04?

Lieberthal lost his knees, not his heart.

Now, if only we could find a brain for Cholly the Scarecrow, and da Nerve for our Cowardly Lion; Brett Myers (put up yer dukes, c'mon, c'mon...)

John. You didn't get the drift of my comment, either. Maybe too busy calling me a dumb, prejudice, irrational Burrell-hater. Otherwise, you would have read "And that's fine. At the end of the season, Burrell will get his RBIs and HRs, but he's never going to be an everyday player again, and he's never going to hit good pitching."

Goodman: That's a good observation, but like I was just corrected, it does not involve a "metric" or stats of any kind, so I cannot possibly take it seriously.

My keen observation of late is that every time I see Burrell bat he comes up empty. I don't know about everyone else, but I have a bias towards weighing that recent memory more than the things I've witnessed that have happened further back. Which is why I agree with everyone else -- you need both your keen observations and your stats.

I don't think Burrell is done. I think he still has good years coming, for the Phillies or someone else. Even with his awful year this season he's still 26th in OPS in the NL and 27th in RC/27. I don't know exactly what Jason meant when he said he's never hit good pitching. If he meant he's never been successful against good pitchers, I disagree. 5-for-18 with four home runs against Chris Carpenter (278/381/1.000). 17-for-56 (304/412/500) against Glavine. 6-for-14 (429/467/1.143) with three home runs against Mark Prior. 5-for-18 with two home runs against Schilling.

To me, it's not a question of whether or not he's a good hitter. It's a question of whether or not he's worth $10 million a year. If he's going to hit like he has this season, he's not. When he's not in an awful slump like he is now, though, he's going to be a tough guy to replace. Even this year he's on-based at least .390 in four of the first five months of the season.

Tom Goodman- excellent analysis of Burrell's swing and approach to hitting, but apparently your analysis doesn't count because it's not based on stats, rather observation...come on now, get with it!

Weitz- appears we both were making the same joke about "stats vs. observation", you just beat me by a few minutes while I was typing.

BillyMac-Not surprisingly, I disagree. Plenty of guys are strong (Pete Rose was strong as an ox), all baseball players have excellent hand/eye coordination, and balance is part of mechanics, right? Yet very few guys have consistent long ball power.

Guy are successful with all sorts of different hitting styles. There's no more "one way to hit" than there is one way to play guitar. The only hard and fast rule is that the bat has to be moving really fast when it hits the ball. Most of the rest is choice and body types. The only real mechanical flaw you identify is the length of his swing, which is a real issue. But that's hardly new.

I just received this e-mail from a friend of mine who works for the team:

Hey breaking news…in case we have a one-game playoff for the Wild Card here’s our scenario for each team we could play:

Padres – home
Marlins – home
Giants – away
Reds – away
Astros – away

We can't even catch a break with a coin flip. If we somehow manage to tie one of the teams we're chasing for the wildcard, we get to play them at home -- where we stink.

Jason-Sorry, but when say, directly or by implication, that a guy lacks heart, that's typical Philly-fan scapegoating. It's your site, you can say Pat Burrell is the anti-Christ, but it's the same old Philly fan silliness. Blame the good players for the team's failures, not the sucky ones. I never understood the fans booing Mike Schmidt, and this is the direct descendant of the Schmidt booing.

DQ-You've made my point for me. If you don't want to look at the bigger picture...

Salmon- I don't even know what the hell you're talking about. "If you don't want to look at the bigger picture..."...huh?

We all know Nunez sucks. There is only so much you can say about him sucking. Jason didn't even imply that Burrell deserves all the blame, but if you're stupid enough to not give him any of the blame then I turn this around on you..."You NEED to look at the bigger picture"!

John Salmon, No one is disagreeing that there are differences in hitting styles. But if you break down Burrell's swing (his stance, weight shift, stride, swing, follow-through, and so forth), the flaws are obvious.

nobody can make anyone else have surgery. for somereason the culture in baseball approves of guys playing through pain and hurting the team - like it's macho or cool. it's moronic. thankfully the phil's have semi-stopped letting pat do that. nobody will ever know what the medical opinions regarding surgery this offseason where.

All teams have players of varying skills and abilities. Usually the benchwarmers, young players, new players and near retirees aren't paid very well and are judged accordingly, and are given slack by the fans as little is expected from them. An example would be Coste. Here's an old rookie who is a pleasant suprise. We don't expect him to carry the team.

You expect highly paid players like Burrell and Abreu to carry the heavy loads. The highly paid players get scrutinized and criticized because they are paid to be the "Difference Makers" between winning and losing. When you are highly paid and you don't come through, then you get booed and criticized when you fail to perform at crucial times. That's the way it is John. I'll boo Burrell when he strikes out. You can boo Nunez when he strikes out.

People are making alot of interesting points about Burrell. Why I love this Phils' blog. I generally have mixed feelings on Burrell. The whole "lack of heart" is the typical Philly-fan garbage. If Burrell was hitting, fans would be pretty up on him. The thing that does drive me nuts about Burrell is his approach to hitting behind in the count, especially with 2 strikes. Basically, Burrell takes a Dave Kingman attitude with 2 strikes. If he whiffs or hit a HR, it seems to be ok with Burrell. This must make Manuel grind his teeth.

However, Burrell's recent swoon is killing the Phils. Burrell's lack of hitting and the bullpen's implosion will probably wind up being the key reasons the Phils don't make the playoffs.

Regardless of how the rest of this season turns out, I just don't see how Burrell will still not be a member of this team come April. He has a no-trade clause and is owed a ton of money ($27 million) for a player likely on the decline. If Burrell only had 1 more year on his contract, the Phils' might be willing to eat a small portion to jettison him. There is no way this management will eat $8-$10 million dollars on Burrell's contract.

Perhaps the most vital offseason need the Phils' have is acquiring true protection for Howard next year. This lineup is pretty deficient after the top 4 hitters. There have been some nice stories on this team this year (Coste, Dellucci, Victorino) but Howard will see alot of pitches out of the strike zone next year unless the Phils get a decent hitter or two behind him.

I've always wondered whether he has vision problems. Maybe he does but has too much pride that it could affect his social life. How can you constantly jackknife on every pitch on the inside part of the plate? Maybe he needs glasses. That won't fix the swing though. My 97 year old grandmother's swing is more fundamentally sound.

As far as heart goes, this topic really cracks me up. Travis Lee had no heart, supposedly. When Gregg Jefferies would make an out, he'd slam his bat and break it. He was called "selfish". You can't win in Philly unless you hit 56 homers, crash face first into a brick wall, etc.

A common theme with the Pat Burrell debate is PB's offensive stats. Add his defensive deficiencies and lack of speed on the bases to the equation and it detracts significantly from his offensive production. If he were merely an average outfielder with average speed he'd be more valuable, but how many runs score because of shallow singles that drop in and because of misplayed fly balls? If Pat has any value for his salary, it's only in the AL.

If Pat were as valuable as so many posters believe, he'd be snapped up pretty quickly by a GM in need of some potent offense. Unfortunately for the Phillies, that is not the case.

Burrell is likely to stay for next year. He is just not valuable to other teams where the Phils could get salary relief and prospects. With a fresh start in spring he may turn it around. I feel he needs to be counted on as the 4th OF next year and maybe he can gain some trade value.

Jason: Here is something that cannot be taken seriously: "He's never going to be an everyday player again, and he's never going to hit good pitching."

Think about that. Sometimes our emotions get the better of us.

Jason, are you seriously putting "metric" in quotes, like it is some sort of crazy jargon? Egrisson and I both posted stats that directly challenge statements made about Burrell that recieve no response. These are real, they are culled from the actual, you know, performance of the players.

You can't just dismiss with jokes the fact that Burrell HAS hit good pitching and DOES get big hits in important situations.

He is hitting like crap now, but let's not project that back over his whole career.

And drama continues on BeerLeaguers...the never ending saga.

kdon: Exactly right. What we ought to be debating is this: Is Burrell in a lengthy slump because of injuries or is he washed up? If it's the former, he ought to be benched except for the ocasional start vs. LHP. If it's the latter, they should dump him for whatever they can get. But the fact is, at age 29, the odds are tremendous that he's NOT washed up. And if the Phillies pull an Abreu with him, they'll be eating the Marlins dust for the next 10 years.

I agree Clout. Let Burrell get surgically fixed up over the winter and come to spring training healthy. I would say that he'd be a starter on opening day.

I would think that a sore foot takes points off your batting average.

For the stat guys, here's a stat I don't like: Strikouts - Howard 156, Burrel 117, and Utley 111, down the list is Rowands 76 and Rollins 72.

egrissom, etc.: Fair enough, you called me on my blanket statment on hitting good pitching over his career. Next time he faces Smoltz or someone, I'll keep my eyes open and metric ready.

Kdon: Can't commute home from work and respond to comments at the same time. Must "bear down" and do better. Sorry to insult your metric with crazy quotes.

Game in Atlanta canceled tonight. Two days in a row without baseball. I don't know what I'm going to do.

Clout: Didn't see your comment there. Got it.

can you guys lay off of Pat, he's swings a huge bat and i love it!

Well that settles it.

OH IT GETS FUNNIER EVERY TIME!

But, seriously, this rainout ruined my night. It's a plot by the Braves to hurt the Phillies' chances since a split is likely in the doubleheader.

Ok, so we've trashed Burrell.

I personally always trash Manuel.

Nunez trashes himself.

Who's the next victim?

But seriously, complaining about players and their ups and downs is one of the reasons for this interactive site. If you don't like to hear the truth about Pat Burrell then go elsewhere!

DQ lets trash the Braves ground crew for the rainout

Today's ESPN.com poll in the MLB section was about NL MVP.

Choices Ryan Howard, Miguel Cabrera, Carlos Beltran, Albert Pujols, and Jose Reyes. At the time I voted Howard received 64% of the 52,486 votes...next closest guy Pooh-holes at 18%.

Bob D(ylan)- I hate the Braves, thusly-hencely-therefore hate their grouds crew too. Those lazy hiney-hoppers should have had the field ready to go tonight...simply no excuse!...ain't venting frustration great?!

Check out Abreu line: 2 1 2 7, and its only in the 3rd!

6 RBIs in the 1st - Damn Yankees.

That's it, I'm commiting treason and becoming a Yankee fan.


NO WAY IN HELL!

Funny thing is this one of the few posts that Weitzel actually took an extreme position. Usually he provides a good centrist viewpoint even though is obviously a fan.

From Jason:

"Kdon: Can't commute home from work and respond to comments at the same time. Must "bear down" and do better. Sorry to insult your metric with crazy quotes."

Sorry Jason, work sucks, we all understand. Even though I brought up the point you directly, it was meant at ALL the "heart" folks, not just you.

You would think after seeing evidence that Burrell has an OPS over 1.000 in late/close games, someone might say, "oh, well maybe I should incorporate this into my analysis of Burrell." but nope. Who can argue with unsupported rhetoric?

Time out.

-- I overstated things with career numbers.

-- I'm not a "heart" anything. This needed to be clearer. If anything, I wanted to blow that idea apart by explaining those types of situations some other way in regards to Burrell. Could his numbers w/ RISP be skewed by the number of fresh relief pitchers he faces? Possibly. That's the kind of idea I was trying to get across.

-- Close and late was stated in general terms, but okay, he's been better than some would think in close and late in games.

-- I value stats and look at them more than anyone on this space. Which brings me to my next point.

-- As long as I pay the utilities, I write what I want, particularly in the comment thread. The better quality stuff, with more time devoted to research, goes in a post. The comment thread is for Weitzel B-sides: passionate ditties, but not the most technically sound numbers.

-- My restated position on Burrell vs. good pitching is this. If Burrell has had prolonged success against a good pitcher, shame on the good pitcher.

-- There is zero chance Burrell takes the field with the same frequency as Howard, Utley and Rollins as long as he's in Philadelphia. His days as an everyday Phillies contributor are over.

Reds beat SD in the 11th despite Ryan Franklin's 0.2 IP, 3 ER.

Abreu had 6 RBI in the first inning tonight, and one more for good measure in the third. He even got to rest after the seventh.

I'm sure glad we traded that good for nothing bum. He obviously didn't have the heart for a playoff run.

Yeah, but the bum had 5 LOB!

With 7 RBI he can leave all the guys he wants on base.

For all my negative Bobby Abreu comments:

I will begin a ritual of daily self-flaggelation until the Yankees either lose a playoff series or win the World Series.

Jason,

I reread your earlier post and I understand more about what you meant, i.e. Burrell does not lack "heart" but that his game is particularly vulnerable to approaches late in the season and in games. Sorry if I attributed a more radical position to you, it was a mistake.

I know you are not of the RSB school, but you seemed to be leaning that way. However, even though I agree with your subjective scouting report about what good pitchers/relief pitchers SHOULD do, the numbers indicate that this DOESN'T in fact happen. One conclusion is to place "shame" on pitchers like Schilling (who, BTW, studies hitters more than anyone) because they fail to exploit these weaknesses, but there is another conlusion you can draw: PtB weaknesses' are not as grave as some people claim and that even good pitchers cannot get him out consistently.

Also, no one (at least me) is questioning your right to post, or claiming you have no interst in stats (I came to this blog, after all, because I read your preview in THT, a fairlt stat-centric site).

Finally, if Burrell has succesful surgery, I don't see any reason why he can't be a contributer to the future Phillies success. If not at an Utley or Howard level (two of the best players baseball, after all), certainly at the level of J-Roll or any of his possible replacements (Delluci, Conine, Bourn, Roberson, FA's like Byrnes or Encarnacion).

He may not play 162 games but I don't see why 140 games of .850 OPS is so terrible. You seemed to be writing his career off based on a two-week slump that most certainly is injury related, and I think that is premature.

kdon, in response to a question you asked much earlier in the thread, concerning how the Phillies might be able to lose Burrell:

I wouldn't advocate releasing him and eating that much money. I think there's got to be a creative enough way to get something done. I'm thinking along the lines of what Florida did with Mike Lowell last year - also a decent RBI guy with too big a salary. The Marlins basically said to Boston, look, you *have* to take this guy in any trade we make with you, or forget it.

Now, who else do the Phillies have to offer that could create a situation in which they call the shots like that? I'm thinking about a certain paunchy pitcher who's trying not to think about his rapidly approaching court date about now.

Or, maybe some other kind of package. Burrell won't be much in demand, but he's of some value to someone, I guess, so long as they get something they really want out of it. But trying to trade him alone to a team is never going to get Gillick (or Burrell) anywhere.

RSB - coming up to the trade deadline, I was all for shopping burrell on his own. (conveniently forgetting - again - his huge salary. I swear I've blanked it from my memory with some kind of hypno-therapy.) I think you're right - if we are to shift him, it will be with someone else (Rowand? Probably wishful thinking - more likely a team would want myers), but I think we will be eating some of that wage regardless, and I think we should be prepared too. But judging from the gillick comments (see the later post), I think its unlikely that gillick is going out to seek a new leftfielder. Although I'm generally wary of the FA market, on principle its more likely we can pay reasonable value for an outfielder, because there's more of 'em. So like you I do think a trade is not out of the question.

Weitz- I love the way you handled this situation from today's comments. If you feel passionate about something, you have every right to get on here and spew.

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EST. 2005

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