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Monday, October 02, 2006

Comments

That stat about the bullpen sounds bad, but would it have even mattered if this team could hit with runners in scoring position? Sure, the Phils scored plenty of runs, but they could and should have scored even more.

Timr: Nothing burns more than a lack of timely hits, but I still wouldn't put that weakness ahead of late-game pitching.

Also: Congratulations are in order for Martin Smith, winner of the 2006 Phillies Blog All-Stars fantasy league. Enrico from the 700 Level finished 2nd, while Deanna from Marinerds finished third. Yours truely finished 4th.

I predicted this before the season began-"Prediction: Very pissed off fans. 85-86 wins, and that's my optimism coming through. Team will score plenty of runs, but will surrender even more. No playoffs yet again...only in dreams."

Sometimes I hate being right!

the problem with the bullpen is that there was no depth.

that, and rhodes, who can take his hitch to whatever team will have him.

We have a solid base for a bullpen next season with Gordon, Geary, and Smith returning. Fultz will most likely be back. Castro might be ready for a more exposing role, not just tucked away and forgotten. Madson might accept the fact he is a relief pitcher and figure out how to pitch again for 1-2 solid inning(s) at a time. That's 6 guys. I like White because he was fun to have around, but he's expendable. Rhodes is surely gone. Sanches, Condrey, Brito will certainly be in the mix. I'd really like to see 1 or 2 guys with proven success come in so the 7/8th inning isn't such a mystery.

DQ: That mix isn't even close to solid. I wouldn't expect a repeat effort from Geary, Gordon or Fultz. Smith looks good as a situational left-hander. Sanches and Condrey look like they could be decent, but are still unproven. They need to add two upper-tier relievers if they want to match the quality of the bullpens featured tomorrow in the Wild Card round.

Yeah, I gotta agree with J on that one. Gordon is anything but solid. I think he is pretty much done. Old and injured. I'd shoot him if he were a horse. Geary looked good at times, and Condrey looked promising late in the season (particularly in the 14 inning game). I'd rather see another reliever, than a starting pitcher. Both would be even better, but a reliever is top priority.

mathiesons injury hurts here. i don't think he would have made the roation but he definately could have helped in the pen. bummer.

just imagine how bad we would have been without geary. yikes...

Why are we so down on Geary? I thought he was a bright spot on the season, and may be even better if given a more defined role, with a manager who won't try to kill him down the stretch.

Gordon and Fultz I agree on -- can't bank on them. Geary, though, is someone I have faith in.

Weitzel- I completly agree that the bullpen needs two "big dogs" to make it SOLID. I think Fultz is a decent component of the bullpen if we don't rely on him to be a setup man. I think we can all agree that we need bullpen help, and that was the point I was trying to make above earlier in this thread.

One thing I want to look at is the month-month breakdown of how many innings the bullpen threw and their performance. It seems that in the last month, the starters went a little deeper and the damage was minimized. While the Phils bullpen needs soem help, it would be interesting to see if the team could have made up the wins -- or, rather, how many wins -- through better starting pitching. Not exactly a rocket science theory, when one considers floyd and madson as starters, but i'd like to see how quantified it could be. my thought is that the bullpen could be passable to above average if used at a reasonable level. the team needs a bullpen usage plan next year ("hey look, geary and fultz are up again"), as this is the 3rd straight season we've been banging the tired arms drums in September. not that i'm confident cholly could implement the plan anyway.

JW, so, I'm guessing that the numbers that the bullpen put up to achieve that "3rd in NL" stat were all in blowouts, one way or the other (special thanks to Fabio in those situations)? Those numbers you present are alarming, especially considering that with the law of averages, that crew OVERACHIEVED. What does that say about the same staff next year? We don't need to put the pressure on the offense to score 8 a game to be competitive.

Bottom line is that changes are definitely in order. Many will speculate and hypothesize about what should be done. Obviously 3B is a big priority. I think we're "sound" enough at catcher for the very short term, but improvements would be welcome, as well. Priority #1 should be pitching, with an emphasis on the 'pen.

I'm sure I subject myself to some hatred, but I think we are seeing the apex of Myers' talent and should sell while his stock is still high (and while he's still out of trouble). I also think the same can be said about Rowand (minus the potential legal problems). Pat B is the obvious expendable piece, too.

According to other statistics, phils era innings 1-6 was 4.7, innings 7+ was 4.41. Phils scored the 2nd most runs innings 7+ in the ML (272). Phils were 2nd in ML with 85 holds, middle of the pack with 42 saves and 22 blown saves.

From these stats, I'm not so sure that the bullpen should be a primary blame. Possibly the bullpen was simply overworked. The key periods of the phils season to examine were april, late may and june when they sucked, the rest of the year they were winning.

The end of the season was a high point in the phillies performance. They were 8-4 including the meaningless loss. Using that period as a microcosm of the season is simply off point.

The april, late may and june periods are key, and this period was characterized by poor starts of shaky rotation, e.g.,brito, floyd, mathieson, madson, and lieber (how soon we forget how unstable the rotation was early) probably a couple of franklin flops in relief (gordon was strong early), and the offensive inconsistency that plagued the phils before howard dominating 2nd half performance, hamels and moyer helped shore up the rotation, with a little improvement from lieber, and a few okay starts from wolf.

My conclusion: starting pitching was the key to the phillies problems this year. The rotation was solidified at the end of the year. Hamels and Myers should be poised to have great years next year, hopefully wolf, lieber, and moyer have enough gas to have solid years, but the addition of one quality starter seems to needed.

Sean and GR both pre-empted me - as bad as the bullpen number sounds, how many innings did we get out of our SP 1-5 this season? Our rotation and charlie manuel have both contributed to an overworked bullpen.

Next year Geary, Madson, and Gordon will all be back. They are the backend of the bullpen. If Gillick can bring in another closer then those 3 are pushed back in their roles and adds depth. Another solution would be to bring in a top setup guy who can fill in for Gordon when or if needed.
Gillick already has given clues to his plans during his Q&A session earlier this month. He mentioned Brito among those who maybe in Philly next year. Also Castro is likely to start the season at AA or AAA rather than the majors to gain experience. He made it seem as he was planning on going inexpensive next year, so I find it likely that we will see young relief pitchers. Smith will probably be a situational lefty as Jason suggested. Sanches and Condrey will be in the mix. Gillick will probably have as many as 10 legitimate relievers come spring and will take the best north with him and stash a few in the minors. The team needs a handful of extra pitchers at AAA available during a long season to cover injuries or ineffectivness.
During the next year a number of good prospects should be knocking on the door to the majors who may fall into the rotation or relief corps. They may include Gonzalez, Sergovia, Happ, Mazone, Germano, and Yoel Hernandez (if healthy) among others. Some of these guys are starters but a few will find their place in the pen as Madson has found out.

There can't possibly be a shallower Phillies statistic than 85 holds. Arthur Rhodes finishes tied for 5th in the NL with 23 holds. Nice job, Artie. Be sure to put that on your resume when you send it off to the Devil Rays.

Those kinds of stats for late-and-close performamce by both the bullpen and the offense are extremely revelatory, particularly as it blows the lid off misleading general stats like bullpen ERA and overall runs scored. This team is at its worst when it matters most, and that's one thing Pat Gillick is going to be hard-pressed to even know how to begin to correct. Despite their flaws, the Phillies would have been in the playoffs in each of the last two years if they performed better late in games and with runners on base.

As far as getting a reliever who can back up Gordon in case of further physical ailments, Zolecki threw an interesting name out there in his Q & A forum: Brad Lidge, who might well be available (along with Ensberg?). Even if it's not him, the Phils absolutely need a stronger option to replace him, or to serve as the primary set-up man. Geary did a very good job with that eighth-inning role once they finally stopped using Rhodes there (If he hadn't blown his elbow out, he probably still would have been in that role), but there does need to be one more strong presence at the back end of the bullpen besides him. I can live with Smith, Fultz, and White as middle-inning guys.

Also, I agree with Preacher that this is the time to move Myers. If *any* kind of significant trade is to made this off-season, I can't see it not involving him.

i could see wolf moved to the bullpen if he's as effective as he was this year.

i'm assuming that wolf will be brought back, and moyer will go back to seattle to be with his family.

oh, and i'l betcha that colly will be around next year, too.

RSB:

I dont think that Myers will be moved. Too young and cheap and good.

How does ESPN define "close and late?"

This Met fan wants to give the Phils credit. Most, including myself, wrote them off after dumping Abreu and Lidle on the Yanks. To see the team never give up, and the continued emergence of Howard, Rollins and Utley bodes well for their future.
Improve your bullpen. A good to great pen can overcome issues with your starters. Look at the Mets, they had several starters out for periods of time, plugged in whoever was available, and let the pen finish it up.
Gordon is fine. Is he lights out, no, but very few are. Find someone to groom to replace him in another year. Rick White is not an answer.
Putting aside how despicable what Myers did was, the guy has talent. If he can get a lot of value back (which he probably can) trade him. Odds are he cannot recover his rep in Philly. He could rebuild with a new start, and you guys could get some nice value back, perhaps a starter and a bullpen arm.
I'm not going to pretend I know all about your team, but I do know they have several good pieces in place. Fill in the holes. They can contend next year, and for a while afterwards as well.

There is an enormous amount of material on philly.com today regarding the end of the season and offseason predictions. Among the more eyebrow-raising quotes sifted from the articles:

"I want to be back, and I plan on being back. I don't know why I wouldn't be." - Pat Burrell.

Bill Conlin succinctly answers that mystery:

"No matter how much money they have to eat, there is no reason why the author of the softest, most irrelevant 29-homer, 95-RBI season in modern franchise history should ever play another inning in a Phillies uniform. How does he hurt you? Let me count the ways: Hitting with runners in scoring position. Clogging the bases when he manages to get on the way a jackknifed truck on I-95 gridlocks rush-hour traffic. The balls that drop in front of him, which are not to be confused with the balls that go over him or past him into the corner or the power alley."

Elsewhere, Pat Gillick offered this none-too-pleasing analogy about his team's season:

"I think about it like a movie. You have high-budget movies that don't do well, and you have low-budget movies that once in a while hit the jackpot. 'Fargo' was a low-budget movie that kind of hit the jackpot. We were the low-budget movie that almost got there."

And last year's team was the high-budget 'Titantic' team which almost got there. Big whoop, now we're the underdog. The result is *exactly the same* with or without the slightly higher payroll. Look: if you're the Pirates, and have had 13 straight losing seasons, an 85-win, also-ran season is acceptable. If you're the Phillies, and have had five consecutive seasons with at least 80 also-ran wins - it isn't. So please, Pat, spare us the positive spin.

Further down the line, David Dellucci actually said this: "Gosh darn it, I know I can hit lefthanded pitching."

And, while you all know I love the man, the H. of K. offered this somewhat unobjective assessment of his game-calling skills:

"I'm still seeing the ball well."

Er...

Close and late: Results in the 7th inning or later with the batting team either ahead by one run, tied or with the potential tying run at least on deck.

OT: Tim M. has sent along an e-mail encouraging writers to pass along this information on Ryan Howard.

According to numbers compiled using Baseball Reference, Howard's 2006 performance would have won the Triple Crown in three different MLB seasons. He would have won it in the NL in 1988 and in the AL in both 1968 and 1945.

Relief pitchers, with a few exceptions, are notoriously inconsistent from year to year. They come from nowhere like Turnbow and Jenks in 2005, or from hanging on for years like Politte and Todd Jones in 2005. Then some have nothing the next year, Turnbow and Politte in 2006. The best track record seems to be Japan for producing relief pitchers. So maybe like teams sign Dominican youth, find quality in quantity. Who is the next JJ Putz?

Thanks, Jason. If I get some time, I will try to put the '06 Phillies in historical perspective with this stat.

That's really a fascinating stat Jason, thanks for bringing it up. Part of the problem can be attributed to the early season guys who were pitching in close situations...Franklin, Rhodes, Santana, Cormier (yes, I know he had a good ERA but he let in a ton of inherited runners).
I see Madson, Geary and Gordon as Manuel's 7-8-9 guys and each one is a question mark (though I think Geary is the real deal as a set-up guy and Madson could return to form if he is given less of a workload). Gordon? Who knows, if Charlie wants to keep pitching him with three run leads in May, he will probably break down again.

Another point on the numbers is that late/close game HITTING tends to vary a lot from season to season (look at J-Roll, Burrell, or LIeberthal)...while overall season numbers look about the same for players, they are distributed differently in terms of when they happen. It may be the case that PITCHING is like this too, that the above numbers aren't so much "unclutch" as they are simply unlucky (again, though, at the begining of the season it was mostly because the arms just stunk).

I would be aginst trading Myers, especially if the only reason is to package him with Burrell...the guy at this point is close to a lock to throw 200 IP of above average ball, and the Phillies don't have any young pitchers (yet) who can be expected to fill that role.

At least next year we have a slightly deeper farm system to draw from to tryout some pitchers if/when need be. You have to give it to Gillick there - he definitely got the Phils payroll down while improving the minors. Although there really was no where to go but up concerning the farm system to begin with.

Can we all agree that Weird Beard needs to go? Am I the only one who has to run for the Rolaids when I see him wobbling to the mound?

WP: I like Rick White, and would like to have him back next year. He was above-average effective while on the phils this year.

I think the Phillies need to set the bar a little higher than Weird Beard.

i think that the bar for middle relievers *should* be weird beard. its a helluva step up from Franklin.

Walker (Philly): Speaking of managers do think there is a chance the Phillies could fire Manuel? If so, who do you see Gillick bringing in?

Buster Olney: Walker, Pat was strangely lawyerly when asked about Manuel's status yesterday... If he fires Charlie, I think he brings in Lou Piniella.

Rick White has no place on a major league team, beard or no beard...his numbers with the Phils are a fluke, and even they are not particularly good, he somehow managed over a 3:1 GB/FB ration this year which is double his career average...38 hits in 37 inning, and a 23/15 K/BB ration with the Phils is below average and that is a major improvement over what he has done before...he caught lighting (or more like a spark!) in a bottle...cut him loose.

I absolutely agree the Phillies need a mininum of 2 quality relievers before they can contend next season. However, the late and close stat is heavily influenced by what the starters did. I'd be willing to bet that late and close stat was far worse after the All-Star break than before. The rotation was so horrible in the first half of the year that the bullpen was overused. Gordon & Rhodes wound up with arm trouble. Geary barely finished the season. Had the rotation been even average during the first half you would not have such bad bullpen numbers. I hate to sound like a broken record, but the blame for this season's failure falls squarely on the 5-man rotation that opened the season and its performance in the first half. And the current rotation is NOT, I repeat NOT, playoff caliber. If you added Jason Schmidt to Myers & Hamels, bumping Lieber to a well-deserved #4 you might have something. I don't think Moyers or Wolf will be back.

Oh yes, forgot to mention all of Gillick's non-quotes about Manuel. The guy would have made a terrific secret agent.

I agree the starting rotation was a contributing factor. Certainly. It wasn't the only factor however. Rhodes and Franklin (remember, Franklin was the seventh-inning guy for a while) were pretty bad even before the break, then Madson didn't perform filling in for Rhodes later on.

Conlin's suggestions seem pretty unusual (and pretty bad by my estimate). He's fine with Nunez at third, thinks J-Roll can bat fifth, says Burrell must go, and foresees an outfield of Rowand, Bourne, and Vic. He sites catcher as the problem spot. Adds up in my mind to a VERY weak, speed-oriented offense that I don't care to see. I'll take some power with my speed (a.k.a. Soriano). Also Rollins is NOT enough protection for Howard. I think the priorities should be a major righty bat to back up Howard and a coaching staff with more tactical sense. If they could ever sign another good starter like Schmidt (as Clout suggested), they'd have four very solid starters. I'd say plug in Wolf for the fifth spot. The bullpen can probably be built more or less from pieces they already have. Provided it's used properly and guys are given more solid roles, it won't break down as much down the stretch.

Mike: I'm with you on Conlin's outfield, especially if he's keeping Nunez at third.

I forget who it was (I've read about 100 "how to fix the Phillies articles" today), but someone else suggested seeing if Tejada is interested in moving to third after another shitful year for the Orioles. I know they were trying to dump Burrell off on Baltimore around the deadline. Maybe they could do it in the offseason.

Jason - interesting fact about Howard's stats qualifying for the Triple Crown in three seasons, although the 1968 and 1945 seasons are really major aberrations. the 1988 NL, on the other hand, is pretty impressive - no wartime/heavy pitching excuse there. hard to believe that nobody in a modern day, non-shortened season could record more than 109 RBI (Jack Clark's league-leading number in '88).

a few thoughts I have of the ideas discussed:

1. a weak-hitting, speedy outfield is a terrible idea. especially since none of the suggested players are particularly speedy in an effective way - it's not like we're putting Vince Coleman circa 1985, Lou Brock and Omar Moreno out there. (although these guys would probably put up similar OPS.)

2. I can't see Myers getting traded. and I'm not sure that's a bad thing. I think we can all agree that his personal behavior this season has been reprehensible on the whole. however, losing him would gut our rotation and I can't imagine who we could get in exchange that would be comparable. I don't support trading him for nothing a la the Abreu disaster just because he's unsavory - and his reputation doesn't seem to have suffered as much as, say, Burrell's.

3. I have been trying to read the tea leaves behind giving Wolf that last start in FL down the stretch. I could very easily be wrong, but it seems to me like a vote of confidence in Wolf, and makes me think he will be back next year on a reasonable contract. I can't see many teams offering him a lot of money, even though he should post better numbers a year removed from TJ. Burrell, on the other hand, I really don't think will return.

4. the problem with targeting the bullpen is that it's such a crapshoot. I can't see the 2007 Phils shelling out serious money for a setup man or middle reliever - if we're not going to pay big money for a 3B/OF/SP, why would we spend it on a replaceable part type position? this is something I think the franchise will have to address internally, or through some other alternate method - international signing, trade throw-in, Rule V, etc. I'm not saying the bullpen isn't important, just that the risk/reward ratio in heavily pursuing a 7th/8th inning reliever is very poor.

Some of the blame needs to go to Manuel. He notoriously overused some bullpen pitchers and didn't utilize others hardly at all. Some pitchers did well, but when they are used game after game after game after game (Geary and Smith come to mind), they tend to wear down some. Granted it is up to the pitchers to perform, but it is still the manager's responsibility to put them in the best position to have success. I'd really like to see some new blood in here, not just with regard to a new manager, but his entire coaching staff as well.

Two arms (one being a healthy closer candidate) are a minimum for this pen. I still like Geary, Smith, and Gordon as potential hold guys. Madson still could be valuable, but he needs to get his head out of his ass (there is no other way to say it). Condrey could be a nice wildcard to make the team out of spring training next year, but you don't want to bank on him just yet. Sanches and Castro need more time in AAA. Brito doesn't have a real future with this team and should be a throw in on an off-season trade. Finally, I think we have gotten the best out of Fultz, and Weird Beard's best days are behind him. I could careless if they parted ways with either of them.

I love the enthusiasm and hopefullness in the "How to fix the Phillies" mindset here, however we have to keep a few things in perspective. The Abreu move was first and foremost a salary dump, for the sole reason that management does not want to carry a $90 million payroll for this team (winning or not). So, any and all moves will unfortunately have money as the primary motivator in this off-season. Gillick's quotes almost certainly affirm that point, to the point that IF the Phils keep Manuel, it is simply so as not to have 2 managers on the payroll, as Manuel is contracted through '07.

This off-season is going to make the A.J. Burnett deal look meager in terms of mediocre to down-right crappy starting pitchers getting huge deals. Bottom line is that everyone wants good starting pitching. Schmidt is certain to make a mint wherever he goes (and it won't be Philly). Same goes for Mulder. I won't be the least bit surprised to see a big trade that puts Dontrelle Willis in a Mets uni, either.

I think the Phils will improve this off-season and freeing up some salary helps, however I think we're all dreaming if we think that Monty & Co. will ever get anywhere near back to the payroll that they started '06 with. And that doesn't even factor in the fact that they need to tuck some $$ aside for Howard and Utley.

WP, Agree about free agent pitching salaries. Oswalt got a 5 year $73M deal about a month ago. The top free agent starters will get contracts in this vicinity. However, I don't think Mulder will command this as he will be coming off arm surgery and a terrible 2006. I wouldn't want him anyhow.

I'm really having a hard time believing that Catcher is a priority position to fill for next year.

We need a 3b and a Righty-Power outfielder. Starting pitching would be nice, but after Zito and Schmidt, there isnt much else.

Hell, I think that Wolf may be the next best free agent starter, we may as well keep him here.

I have a hard time believing that Burrell will be able to be unloaded, between the money owed to him, and his no-trade clause, he aint going anywhere.

Moyer is going to go back to seattle. Which is unfortunate, because he really brought a tremendous amount of maturity with him, amd was a great stabilizing influence in the rotation.

I'm hoping ARam. Tejada would be good, too, and I dream that we could pull Cabrera.

I expect to see Brito given another shot at starter, as well as Gonzalez and prbly Mazzone, and whoever else is tearing up the minors. You need 7-8 starters throughout the season, due to injuries, ineffectiveness and wife beating sessions.

I expect Rowand to be back, unless traded back to the chisox for their stud 3b prospect (cant remember his name).

Oh, and as I said before, I expect Cholly to be back, hopefully he sees the Wizard of Oz for that brain...

ae: Excellent assessment. The Conlin vision of an outfield of Victorino-Rowand0-Bourn would probably save a run a game with their gloves while producing one and a half runs per game less than the Phillies outfield produced this season. If the Phillies played in Petco, it might work, but it would be a disaster at CPB.

clout, should I be getting nervous that I agree with your interpretation 110%? Not sure how much the home ballpark plays into personnel decisions, but CBP certainly should this off-season. Speed is great, but Vic can cover enough ground without help and his drop-off in power MUST be made up for in the other OF spots (and Rowand doesn't cut it).

Not to mention, speed means nothing if a) you can't get on base and b) once on base, you don't know how to use it

DId Conlin really suggest that the team have Nunez, Bourn, Rowand, and VIc in the lineup?! That is just silly. Nunez, depsite his fine defense, is just too bad a hitter to play 3B....576 OPS...gimme a break. Either Rowand or Vic needs to be traded, so that one can be the everyday CF and Bourne can be the 4th or 5th outfielder.

It's funny that everybody wants a power hitting outfileder AND get rid of Burrell...you can argue about whether he can hit in the clutch, but the guy put up very good numbers. By EQA, Burrell ranked 19th in the NL this year, one spot behind Utley and one ahead of Andruw Jones. Considering you would have to give up a prospect in order to trade his salary or pay a part of it, I would rather keep him and hope he has surgery. Burrell is not Howard or Utley, but he is still pretty good.

I went back in time and found my Phillies prediction. Here's some excerpts:

"I feel less optimistic right now about the Phillies than I normally do for a mediocre Saints team. Here’s why: Preseason games mean nothing. If the Phillies come out of the gate strong like they did in 1993, I’ll jump on the Magic Carpet. If they start bad like Phillies teams of recent years, it’ll just be heartbreak all summer as they try to get back to .500."

My conclusion was:

"I see the Phillies as a team on the downslide in the beginning of the rebuilding process. I don’t see them in the playoffs let alone the World Series. I fully expect a third place division finish and I’ll be pleasantly surprised if they finish higher."

I may change my name to Lake Nostradamus.

kdon, Since your middle infielders will drive in 180 runs and hit 55 hrs, I think you can sacrifice some offense at 3b or corner outfield but not both. clout makes a good point about cbp. The A's have a speed/defensive oriented outfield, but they have a park for it. I don't think you go into the season with Rowand, Vic, and Nunez as your starters, but I think you can go with 2 of the 3.

I agree with keeping Burrell if you cannot get anything for him, but Conlin makes a valid point that despite good end of season numbers, Burrell's defensive shortcomings, lack of speed, inconsistent offense, and hitting with risp probably make him just good -- not a top outfielder. I cannot completely discount 95 rbis and nearly .900 ops, but I certainly wouldn't lump him with Utley offensively regardless of stats like eqa.

JW, A very interesting statistic on the bullpen. It always seemed like the Phillies bullpen era was a hollow statistic. The Phils bullpen seemed to blow close games and this drives this point home. Would the Phils even consider acquiring a closer with Gordon making $7M next year and $5.5M the following season ? I don't see this happening. Gillick is on record saying he prefers a younger starting staff and experienced relievers. Unfortunately, I expect more Santanas, Franklin, and Rhodes type acquisitions this off season. I have no confidence in Gillick's ability to assemble a bullpen.

Interesting post - never would have known the numbers were that horrific!

I wonder what the breakdown is by pitcher. Anyone no of any sites that breakdown close and late Runs Allowed by pitcher? Was this a "team effort" or was it skewed by a few individuals (Franklin, et al.)?

You can't win with somebody like Pat Burrell in LF.

Unless you have somebody like Greg Luzinski out there.

The Bull was far worse defensively than Burrell, and the Phils played on turf in those days. And in a bigger ballpark. The Bull couldn't run balls down, and he couldn't throw.

Conlin wants to keep Nunez and dump Burrell. Tells you all you need to know about his ability to analyze baseball.

The real solution to the Phils' problem is new ownership. The current regime is as disinterested in winning as the people who post here are interested in it.

By the way, the logic of "you can sacrifice offense in the OF because you have Rollins and Utley" escapes me. You're still giving away runs, net.

I'm sorry, but no matter how good his defense was, I cannot imagine the Phillies allowing a guy with a .211 average to be given a starting position next year. Nunez is a good role player - not a good regular and not a good bench player. To maximize his value, the Phils need another option at third base.

Ironically, they very well *could* have found a way to make him a role player, by platooning him with Bell, who also is a terrible excuse for an everyday player - but Manuel was inexplicably loyal to Bell and never played Nunez until he had no choice to. Really, if they loved his defense so much, why were they electing to start a (moderately) better offensive player over him all that time?

BM, I agree that the offense from 2B and SS allows you to go defensive at other positions, but Nunez is absolutley horrible, and despite his late "surge" he was one of the worst everyday players in baseball last year, even if you include defense. A below average 3B would put up an OPS of .700, ab average one around .750 (like, say, Bell)... Nunez was at .576!! Not even Brooks Robinson could make up for that, especially considering that 3B is not even a crucial defensive position like C or SS. Teams trot out statues like Glaus or Tony Batista because there are just not that many plays to 3B. I'd take either of the AAA guys over Nunez in a heartbeat.

Also, Conlin's points on Burrell don't hold up. CBP has a tiny LF and any power hitter is going to be as slow as Burrell (or if they are not, are going to be VERY expensive). Hitting w/ RISP varies from year to year because the sample size is so small. Yes, Burrell had a tough year in big spots, but he has also had very good years in these situations (like 2005). He is overpaid, but unless we find an incredibly stupid team who would take on the whole contract, he is my everyday LF and hits 5th after Howard (3) and Utley (4).

kdon, regardless of whatever you think of Burrell, I don't think we want him hitting behind Howard again. He's too easy to pitch to, and Howard would challenge Barry Bonds' intentional walk record while struggling to hit 35 homeruns next season if Burrell followed him again. RyHo clearly needs better protection - my preference would be a higher-average, clutch-hitting guy and not necessarily just a power hitter (definitely someone who is not so strikeout-prone) - who could really make teams think twice about walking the big man.

Rollins may well be that kind of hitter, but I think he's their leadoff man to stay.

kdon:

you need a caveat there: unless ARam or Soriano, or (lordy, please) Cabrera ison the team.

kdon: fun fact about Brooks Robinson fact - in his first full season, 1958, he actually posted a Nunez-esque OPS of .597. (obviously I'm not saying that to disagree with you or excuse Nunez, who is a blight on the offense. and the era was completely different, and Robinson was only 21, etc.)

I do disagree with you that 3B is not an important defensive position, however. and if we go back to the David Bell era posts, I'm sure we would find that Phillies fans were looking very, very closely at defense at third...

Cabrera's definitely not happening. The Marlins should be liquidated if they trade him. Ramirez seems to be the best option, in which case they can just keep Burrell and move him down to 6th. His numbers present a very solid 6-hole in the NL. Lineup: Rollins, Vic/Rowand, Utley, Howard, ARam, Burrell, Coste, Vic/Rowand. I think Ramirez actually has better numbers than Soriano, too. Same OBP, same slugging, higher average, more RBIs (on a crappier team) and WAY fewer strikeouts. I'm pretty much dying for Ramirez now. I can't wait 'til they start making some moves. I need some fresh Phillies developments.

I, far and away, had the worst prediction of all. I think I predicted 95 or 98 wins. Some of my offseason time will be spent reviewing why I completely blew it. Dammit, I feel like Gavin Floyd...

Thanks for pointing out such an ugly stat from the bullpen.

I thought this team would win 88-90 games. I admit to being fooled to some degree by the results of spring training, but this was way back when Floyd and Madson appeared to be for real and Lieber was coming off a 17-win season. Nevertheless, I don't believe the Phillies were not capable of winning those 3-5 extra games sometime in April, September, or in between. I still say I *should* have ben right.

Salisbury said in his column that Ramirez wasn't coming here, but failed to elaborate. To be honest, it seems like the scenario of him coming to the Phillies seems to be entirely in the heads of bloggers without any external reality to suggest it's a real possibility.

Today we have nothing to do but keep grousing about the Phillies, but tomorrow there's three playoff games. Time to get over the home team and focus on what should be two really good AL matchups and two ragtag NL matchups. I'd love to see the A's or Twins prevail, but I know it'll be the Yanks. Also, I hope (and believe) the Padres will enjoy sticking it down LaRussa's throat.

I didn't think he ruled out Ramirez, just wondered if they had the money to get him. The column I read just suggested being creative and looking at Tejada, Crede, or a guy coming off a down year like Ensberg and Blalock. It's a little sad how many times I checked Beerleaguer today. I need to move on with off-season life, haha.

Honestly I think if we simply get a new manager we'd probably win the wild card next year. It's really not a stretch to say Manuel cost us anywhere from 2-5 games this season. As for personnel moves, I think the best, and cheapest thing we could do would be to add some relievers. I wouldn't necessarily ditch Burrell and I see no reason at all to trade Myers. With Burrell, I don't see where we're going to find better protection for Howard if we trade Pat. There aren't a lot of good options on the market and we'll just be left with something even worse, like Delluci.

Tray- you're deadon! Manuel easily cost the PHillies 2-5 games this past season. More about Burrell, I know he's many people's whipping boy, but honestly, I don't foresee us getting a better option to play outfield with power...just not available. Hell, if Burrell were available and people didn't watch him play everyday, we'd be saying "sign Burrell". Just so happens we watch him play nearly every game and get disgusted by some of his antics.

A-Ram is my wish at 3rd, and I know it's a stretch, but I started suggesting it back in July, so I'm sticking with it now. Imagine A-Ram 5th behind Howard with Burrell batting 6th...sweet!

I know Aramis name has been tossed around here, but does anyone have a link to the rumor? How about a link to Salisbury's article? I can't track it down. Thx.

I'd LOVE to have Crede. He seems like the "Philly-type." Then again, they said the same thing about Rowand and I'm still on the fence about him.

Great points about protection for the Howitzer. Everyone wants to compare him to Big Papi, so he should have protection the same way Ortiz does, or else he's set up to walk, walk, walk. Obviously, we'll never see anyone the likes of Manny to bat after Ryan, but any ML hitter who doesn't strike out more often than they put the ball in play would fit well in that role (secretly hoping that change at manager, albeit unlikely, will at least give hope to the Rollins-later-in-the-lineup argument).

Salisbury article:
http://www.siliconvalley.com/mld/philly/sports/baseball/15656859.htm

he only says that Ramirez may be too expensive and recommends that the Phils "be creative."

although in this Paul Hagen article:
http://www.siliconvalley.com/mld/philly/sports/baseball/15658152.htm

"6. Who will the regular third baseman be in 2007? It won't be Aramis Ramirez. Sorry."

he makes no argument to support that statement.

personally, I think A. Ramirez is unlikely. too many things would have to go right - he opts out of Chicago, the Phils are interested, and the Phils manage to make the best offer.

I'm just praying that all this "Nunez would be okay over a full season" noise is just bluffing, or it's going to be a long 2007.

Gillick would be crazy to go into the season with Nunez starting at third. I don't care if he has the range of Ozzie Smith and the gun of Shawon Dunston, he needs to hit some too. Nunez has never shown to be adequate with the stick in my opinion, even during his "career" year last season. Look at his numbers over his career, they're horrible. A sub-700 OPS is just unacceptable in today's game, no matter how good your glove is at 3rd!

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2006/baseball/mlb/10/03/girardi.marlins.ap/index.html

What's the over-under on Manuel today? Can the Phils please hire this guy? Please?

RSB, the only proper protection for Howard is Utley...thats why I think the lineup should be:
3 - Howard
4 - Utley
5 - Burrell

I know teams like to have their big power guy at four, but the Cardinals used to hit McGwire 3rd and the Giants hit Bonds there a lot. Not only does hitting Howard 3rd get him a few extra ABs and force pitchers to throw to him, but it breaks up the slowness of Howard and Burrell.

Also, i know the Brooks comparison was a joke, but actually, the league OPS that year was about 50 points lower AND Robinson still hit better. As relative to the league, Nunez offense was significantly worse than Brooks's in '58.

Also, I know 3B can appear to be an important defensive position, but it is clearly less important than SS, C, CF, and 2B.

kdon, if we come back with pretty much the same positional players, i agree that howard/utley/burrell might be the way to go, but if that chump manuel is still the manager don't count on it, makes too much sense.

I absolutely agree Howard should hit 3rd. that was possibly the most mind-boggling decision Manuel made all season, especially in the last few weeks when he wasn't able to get anything to drive.

I disagree with your assessment of defensive importance, however. third is obviously less important than SS/CF (and catcher, although I think it's such a different position it's not really comparable), but I don't think the gap between third and second is all that big. don't really have any evidence aside from observational, but that's my opinion. I think it would be a big mistake to ignore defense at third, especially considering the emphasis conventional wisdom places on using groundball pitchers in CBP.

Personally I'd like J-Roll in the spot behind Howard. Utley showed he knows his job in the 3-hole and did it well. I wouldn't be opposed to a Victorino-Utley-Howard-Rollins 1-4. I just think that Howard needs a righty behind him.

What about taking on Manny's contract? You've gotta believe that Burrell would love to play in Boston.....?

And no, im not wasted......yet.

With the line-up, we're basically all trying to build the Eiffel Tower with only three legs. We can build a tripod this way or prop it against a mountain, but really the best way is to go out and get the fourth leg. Go get a another righty bat Gillick.

As far as what will actually happen, I think Burrell will stay and the phils will roll the dice with Burrell batting behind Howard and hope against hope that he remembers/learns how to hit.

I've read all the postings about middle relief. I believe that the glamour positions for pitchers are starters and closers. If you aren't good enough for those positions, you end up in middle relief. I'd rather see the Phils upgrade their starters and closers and let the rest fill up the middle positions. We seem to have a lot of good arms down on the farm, we should be able to improve without going out of the system.

I think the questions about starters Myers, Moyer, Wolf and Lieber are more crucial. I agree with clout's statement "the current rotation is NOT, I repeat NOT, playoff caliber." If they were so good, why did we lose four of our last seven games.

I also think that we need to replace Flash Gordon. I think he will steadily deteriorate from this point forward.

Another major upgrade to pitching would be to upgrade the guy selecting which pitcher pitches and when. Cholly has to go. We need an upgrade there. Cholly had his favorites that he would trot out every day and others that withered away due to lack of use.

Lake Fred: Gordon's performance after his stay on the DL was dismal: 14.6 IP, 16 H, 11 ER, 7 BB, 13 K, 3 HR. Given his age, it has to be cause for concern.

Here's my bright idea for 3B: Mike Lowell. Gold Glover, decent pop. Boston needs young pitching, we have Gavin Floyd & Scott Mathieson. Youklis can play 3B everyday so the Red Sox can spare Lowell.

clout: didn't Lake Fred echo your sentiments about Gordon, or did I miss something?

Problem with Gordon is the 7M he's owed next year. I could see the phils trading him at the deadline if they get a decent offer, but, like you said, his stats since coming off the DL were abysmal and he's getting older.

Will: I was agreeing with Lake Fred, simply adding some stats to support his viewpoint.

If you flip-flop Howard and Utley, all that does is ensure that *Utley* will get walked. I really don't see what that accomplishes. You need a better player hitting fifth, period, or a vital part of the offense is going to be neutralized.

Swapping Utley with Howard is a dead idea now that the season is over. It was only a quick-fix solution to make teams like the Marlins and Washington pitch to Howard, aand back him up with a hot bat.

Frankly, I don't see Utley as a reliable, go-to source for RBIs. He's just too streaky. A better lineup will lean on Utley to collect hits, with Howard and someone else driving him home.

I like the theory of batting J-Roll 7th.

clout: I like Lowell too, although his age and salary ($9M next season!) scare me.

fred/will: Gordon isn't going anywhere. nobody's going to trade for him with his age, contract, and second-half performance. we're going to have to cross our fingers and hope we get one more year out of him. even if he puts up another ridiculous first half, why would anyone trade for him if he's just going to fall apart after the break again?

I wasn't ignoring that defense at 3rd isn't important. defense at any position is important, but rock solid defense does NOT make up for an anemic bat (ex: Nunez)

I've never liked Lowell. I don't know why, the guy just annoys me.

Girardi's out officially. What do you think are the chances the Phils would make a bid for him?

I can better sympathize with people quitting smoking, drinking, etc. Last night was rough. I kept reading the ESPN scrawl trying to get the Phillies score. Cold turkey end of season is tough.

Saturday and Sunday were horrible to get scores. Our all sports station was broadcasting football. Our News-Talk-Sports station was doing the same. I like football, but it's not baseball. The Phillies don't play football! I could care less about T.O.!!

Phils probably aren't even considering Girardi. Those idiots are probably happy with Manuel.

I think Girardi will be in Wrigley Field. If Cholly is shown the boot, it'll be to make room for Lou Piniella. I don't think Gillick is enthralled with Cholly, but I don't think Cholly will be chopped just for chopping's sake, without a quality replacement in hand. It won't be done like the Cubs, Giants and gNats. Now they are out looking for a replacement.

ae: Right on about Flash, his health and dependability in pressure situations are a concern, but at $7M, he'll be the closer to open the season.

I'd like to see Victo leading off, Rollins dropping down to 5th, Burrell 6th. J-Roll's power numbers are similar to Burrell's w/ fewer strikeouts. He won't hit into many rally-killing DP's and his switch-hitting would make it difficult for the opposition to match-up.

The problem with that lineup is finding a #2, Rowand (if he returns) and the current C & 3B are not the answer. In that case, Phils would have to sign a corner OF to replace Rowand or Burrell (if they can find a taker for his contract) and/or sign a new 3B.

Should be an interesting off-season!

ESPN just announced El Duque is out with a torn(?) calf. Poor Mets!!!

Duque's out too? that can only mean one thing for the Mets postseason...


LIMA TIME!!!

LOL!!! What color hair will he show up with?

Twins lost 3-2 as the Big Hurt hits two homers and Zito beats Santana. You got to like the Twins, though, as tomorrow's pitching starter is a rookie named Boof Bonser! Love that name!

I could see the Rowand, Victorino, Bourne outfield if we get power at 3B. We cant have Nunez there. Remember, Rowand can hit 20 homers. We dont know about Bourne yet. 3B is definitely our need position. I really like what I saw out of Ruiz down the stretch. Just get power at 3B and we could use that lineup and be successful. My question is, if we dont go with this outfield where are Rowand and Victorino going to play? I guess you could move Rowand into RF, but I dont know about that.

what am i missing here? this is from mlb.com, and seems to tell an entirely different story.

Sortable Team Stats
National League Pitching Stats, Late Innings of Close Games 2006 Next Stats >>


Select
up to 5
teams


Picks left Team LEAGUE W L ERA G CG SHO SV SVO IP H R ER HR HBP BB SO

1. Atlanta Braves
NL 19 23 4.90 52 2 0 13 30 154.1 178 95 84 18 4 87 115

2. Arizona Diamondbacks
NL 15 19 4.43 48 0 0 15 31 164.2 172 87 81 21 4 71 154

3. Houston Astros
NL 20 17 4.48 46 2 0 20 29 166.2 163 85 83 28 8 63 145

4. Cincinnati Reds
NL 22 16 4.22 47 2 0 17 27 155.2 168 78 73 25 7 62 118

5. Milwaukee Brewers
NL 23 20 4.20 54 0 0 16 32 156.1 151 78 73 24 3 65 121

6. Philadelphia Phillies
NL 19 21 4.11 45 1 0 16 29 160.0 172 76 73 17 6 71 126

7. Pittsburgh Pirates
NL 21 19 3.32 55 0 0 15 26 179.0 173 71 66 11 7 80 148

8. Los Angeles Dodgers
NL 15 14 3.91 40 0 0 13 25 145.0 130 69 63 11 6 71 110

9. St. Louis Cardinals
NL 18 21 3.77 49 2 0 12 24 152.2 141 67 64 19 9 72 106

10. Washington Nationals
NL 20 17 3.79 43 0 0 15 27 142.2 130 63 60 20 9 66 111

11. Colorado Rockies
NL 14 19 3.61 44 1 0 12 23 149.2 156 62 60 14 8 66 130

12. Florida Marlins
NL 17 18 3.34 46 2 0 13 25 134.2 119 58 50 15 8 79 110

13. Chicago Cubs
NL 12 19 3.43 41 0 0 11 22 131.1 127 56 50 5 7 59 113

14. New York Mets
NL 25 11 2.51 47 0 0 20 28 168.1 119 54 47 11 8 61 151

15. San Francisco Giants
NL 18 17 3.16 45 1 0 15 26 139.2 127 50 49 12 6 52 105

16. San Diego Padres
NL 24 19 2.42 52 1 0 22 33 178.2 130 49 48 18 6 56 145

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