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Tuesday, December 26, 2006


Come on, Clout. This entry is the fat meatball you've been waiting for. Time to rejoin the fun.

Anything to derail that last thread...was their leftover eggnog to consume or something...I think we can all agree that we would rather not have Zito on the Mets, even if he is overated and headed in a downward direction.

Anyone catch the Hardball Times Christmas "wish" for the Phillies?

I agree with both of you. We need clout back to balance the tug of war. Kdon is right, we should all agree that Zito should sign with anyone other than the Mets.

In a short NFL note, I need to thank the Phila. Eagles for beating the hated Dallas Cowboys and giving my adult life home Saints a bye.

I actually want Clout back just to tell off the Coste Crazies( I'm going to trademark that so don't let me see it at the CBP this year). Lake Fred yeah i'm a Cowboy fan in the heart of Eagles country. Between that game and the in-laws I couldn't wait for the end of the holiday. Thanks for the update on the Iron Pig roster. The longer we go without addressing the bullpen the worse it looks. I just can't help but think PG dropped the ball on not getting some help early in the off season.

At this point, I think Gillick already dropped the ball on the bullpen. Phils just have to hope that the token veteran or two they bring in does ok.

Looks like the biggest question for the Phils in 2007 will be the health of Tom Gordon. Hopefully the Phils will keep him in protective bullwrap this season.

I know that signing lots of bullpen arms at any price seems to be the en vogue thing for wintertime baseball fans in the blogosphere, but now that Cleveland is about to sign Foulke, it seems like all of the top arms went to either Baltimore or Cleveland this year and both teams look to be lacking in enough quality starters to justify the wealth of their bullpens - perhaps those are the best destinations for the Phils erstwhile 6th starter.

Jason, As I see more and more Ottawa filler like Abernathy get non roster spring training invites, I wonder why Travis Minix didn't (or did I miss it). I recall he was a non roster invitee in 2006. He has put up some good numbers (WHIP, ERA) the past 2 years at Reading and SWB. I know he is 29 and doesn't strike out many guys, but he seems worthy of a spring training invite particularly with such uncertainty in the pen.

j - i agree 100% about thinking the mets would have zito by now. i'm actually starting to think that they don't want him. if they really wanted him why wouldn't they just sign him? is there an answer to the why not question? it's not money, so what is it?

i haven't been on in a couple of days so let me get out my merry christmas/ happy holiday greeting now. i hope everyone enjoyed their friends and family and has a happy, healthy new year.

off topic a bit: what's the latest on yoel hernandez? have not heard his name much since the injury early last season.

For some strange reason I always like Lou Collier. I know he's not even really worth rooting for, but he's just one of those players that I always thought was worth a handful a games a year on the team. So good organization filler/backup plan.

I forget where I read it, but Yoel Hernandez is supposed to be ready for spring training and is expected to compete for a bullpen slot.

BM: I don't think this non-roster invitee stuff is very organized on the part of the Phillies. The last I saw on Minix, contract-wise, was that he became a minor league free agent after the season. However, he's one of only a handful of players currently listed on Ottawa's roster at last check of their Web site. Plus, the writer lists his winter numbers whenever they do their updates. He may or may not get an invite; either way I don't see him making the team.

GR: I think Yoel got hurt again last season. I haven't seen anything on his status, either.

Yoel Hernandez last year was battling for the last bullpen slot before he got injured. He has closer potential but I'm not sure how this injury will affect him this year. I have not been successful in finding out so far

Caught a few Dayn Perry articles on FoxSports. In one he talks about the Yankees trading the the Big Unit to Arizona and then signing Zito. Perry says that Yankee Stadium is better suited to a lefty pitcher like Zito. Boy, I hope that's true.

The other Perry article that caught my attention was about how the Braves should now plan on not winning the division any more. The two teams cited to keep Atlanta back in the pack are the Mets and the Marlins. Not a single mention of the Phillies. I see that Pat Gillick's moves must not impress Perry. If Perry's assessment is true, the Phillies need to make their big move this year or forever hold their peace.

With the talk of PG dropping the ball on getting bulpen help, I'm curious which relievers people think he should have signed and how much he should have paid for them ($$ and years). Who exactly did he let get away? Baez? Borowski?
It looked to me like some pretty underwhelming pitchers got some overwhelming money (and years), as did some with big health questions. Were any of them what we might consider a "difference-maker"?
As for filling the holes via trade, are we talking about acquiring Turnbow, Otsuka? Where should PG be focusing his efforts to fill the bullpen holes? Which relievers are the answer to our problem?

We won't know if PG dropped the ball on bullpen help until the season opens. If there's a couple youngsters down there who should be in Ottawa or if he failed to acquire a backup closer/setup guy then, yes, he dropped the ball.

Last season several posters were clamoring for Bobby Scales, talking about his great potential, saying he was better than Nunez etc. ad nauseum. When the Phillies let him go, correctly, we heard nary a peep from those posters.

Jason I can't criticize your Collier/Abernathy post because you included their career stats, which is all you need to know about their chances of making the team. Even Drama Queen would admit they're longshots.

malcolm, re: Coste. I was a HUGE skeptic last year and unlike davthom (and Jason to a lesser extent) I don't think the minor leagues and Indy leagues are crawling with aging players who could make a big impact if only given the chance. Every year, because of injuries, a lot of those guys DO get a chance. Very, very few turn out to be quality players. Coste was the exception and I'd like to see him on the team. On the other hand, I thought he looked kind of clumsy behind the plate and was baffled at why numerous posters on this board said he was a great catcher. I'd call him adequate.

Alby has been doing a great job of responding to dopey posts in my absence, but one pet peeve I have is that any Phils minor leaguer is automatically assumed to be a slam dunk potential stud at the major league level. Please go back and look at the posts about Floyd pre-season last year. Same attitude toward Brian Mazone & Brian Sanches. These guys have flaws, folks! Apart from his injury, Yoel Hernandez does not yet have the command required to pitch at the big league level. He throws hard but is hittable (a hit per inning career, worse at AAA level) and, as a guy who hits 93 mph and is only called upon to pitch an inning or 2, really ought to be striking out more than 6 per 9 IP. He's about to turn 25. He definitely has the talent to contribute, but I'd call this a make or break season for him.

Just so no one accuses me of being a prospect basher, here are guys I like and would love to see get good innings in ST: Justin Germano, Carlos Carrasco, Matt Maloney, J.A. Happ, Josh Outman. I don't mention any position players because the Phils have none worth looking at.

I caught about a dozen Lucky Goldstar Twins games on satellite last season and thought Collier was playing hurt.

That last post was a joke, by the way.

Thanks, Clout, for your return. I was feeling like Randy Wolf trying to complete a game without you. I share your pet peeve about overrating Phillie minor-leaguers. I chalk it up to this blog being based in the team's minor-league territory. I'm down in Wilmington, where the high-A team just reverted from the Bosox to the Royals. It's a pitcher's park, so even some great offensive players who come through post dreadful power numbers, and the pitchers all look like Cy Young. I'm used to it now, so I don't jump up and down and cry if the Phillies take a pass when Runelvys Hernandez is released and signs with the Red Sox.

Once again, in the stampede to worry about the sky falling, people are misquoting me. OF COURSE I would prefer the Mets not get Zito. I merely said I don't waste time worrying about what other teams and players do. I'm just trying to give you nervous Nellies some reasons to brush if off if and when it happens. Frankly the Met I'd worry most about is John Maine, who made the Phillies batters look sick the last two times he faced them last year. If you're going to spend time wishing for things, you ought to wish he forgets whatever it is he learned last year.

By the way, on the actual thread topic, I'm glad to see PG stocking up on AAA players in case injuries strike. If we got an experienced starting pitcher in the same mold, I'd feel a lot better about trading our sixth ML starter.

Clout, I'm glad you're back.

Alby is right on about John Maine. He looked like their best pitcher when he faced the Phillies last year.

Clout is right about not banking anything on minor leaguers and Alby builds on it with the minor league park effect on stats. Minor leaguers are a black box. They are the great unknown. Many of the promising ones never pan out, while sometimes an unheralded guy who gets a random chance at the bigs will shine.

Another thing that blinds us is how high a draft pick a player was. The high school/college draft is a like playing roulette. You think you know which number will come up a winner, but you really don't.

As for the bullpen, I am of the belief that bullpens are composed of flawed pitchers. If they weren't flawed they would be starters. They are composed of guys that lack either stamina, command of pitches, cheese, number of good pitches, or all of the above. Getting all bummed because Gillick hasn't signed the flawed pitcher flavor of the day to bolster the bullpen doesn't have me too rattled. I'm more concerned about our patchwork outfield. As it is currently configured, I think our outfield is one big incongruity. I can't see it working. We need some reshuffling of the outfield deck, with new cards (not the St. Louis kind) added and some discarded.

Lake Fred, The Phils certainly share your belief that relief pitchers are flawed starters. That is why they never develop relievers. Good relief pitchers can and should be developed (eg Rivera, Zumaya, Cordero, Papelbon). Otherwise you end up spending over $20M for 38 year old closers with a history of injuries.

Some of the pitchers on Clout's list are young enough to go either way. The latest organization report in BA focuses on Outman. Though there wasn't anything specific written, I came away thinking his future might be in the bullpen.

I doubt Carrasco, Maloney, or Outman will even be invited to spring training with the major league club. I agree they are all considered prospects, but they are all years away.

Billy Mac, if Papebon was "developed" to be a reliever, why is he slated to be a starter next season? "Developed" means these guys were identified as flawed starters early on and have been relievers during their "development." Many minor league starters get to the majors and their flaws are exposed, sending them to the bullpen at the major league level. I don't think that's any knock on the Phillies.

LF, You may be right about Papelbon, but then who closes for the BoSox ? I think there is something to be said about having a pitcher like Mariano Rivera who you can hand over the ball to in the 9th with a lead. And knowing you don't have to worry about that role for 5 years or more if you have a good young pitcher like Papelbon there. Don't disagree that many become relievers because they aren't good enough to be starters. That certainly is the norm. But there are also pitchers who have the ability to pitch effectively several times a week and some pitchers cannot. I think there is something to be said about drafting college pitchers like Cordero specifically to be relievers or identifying guys in the minors and developing them as such. I haven't seen the Phils do this since Ricky Bottalico.

Yeah, you're Billy Mac, but from what I've read, the Phillies minor league development deficiencies are not limited to just developing closers and middle relief. Woe is us!

I meant to say "you're right Billy Mac". I type like Arthur Rhodes or Ryan Franklin pitches.

all i did was ask what yoel's status was, because we haven't heard his name since he got hurt. so, what dopey posts are you talking about, clout? who's overrating him? did anyone else overrate him here? or, even rate him?

gr: Sorry you didn't understand my post. I didn't think your post was dopey at all. In fact, I never even mentioned your post. I mentioned that Alby has been doing a good job responding to dopey posts. With regard to Phillies prospects, I said I thought there was a tendency of posters here to overrate them. Was not thinking of your post at all when I wrote that.

The dopey posts weren't yours, GR.

Billy Mac, Lake Fred is right. Papelbon was a starter all through the minors. He was tried at closer because the Bosox had no other options. He is slated for the rotation this year because that's where the most high-leverage innings are logged.

As a converted catcher, Bottalico was a bit of a special case -- his arm was never prepared for the rigors of starting. (Troy Percival followed the same career path.) It would be interesting to see a study of pitchers groomed as relievers in the minors and/or college vs. those converted to the role at the major league level.

Two recent (well, semi-recent) examples on the Phillies: Doug Nickle (sp?) was a well-regarded minor league closer who never caught on at the major-league level. Wayne Gomes was a well-regarded college closer who simply didn't have good enough stuff to fill that role in the bigs.

On the other hand, Geary, one of our best relievers last season, was a starter throughout the minors.

In 2004 and 2005 Papelbon was a starter in the minors. I saw him in Harrisburg in '05 and the gap in talent between him and the other players on the field was remarkable. I'd never heard of the guy before that day.

i see. it was a case of A being next to B, sentence-wise. i believe sanchez was the closer last year after hernandez went down. that should go along way towards telling everyone all they need to know about our farm sytem, bullpen-wise.

While there are guys like Huston Street who are drafted and developed as closers, I agree the general trend is to start all your best pitchers off as starters, and then convert the ones who fail into bullpen roles.

This might change in the future however, if middle relief guys start getting 5-6M per year.

"the Phillies minor league development deficiencies are not limited to just developing closers and middle relief."

LF, the Phillies have struggled to develop arms (though Myers, Hamels, Wolf, Geary, Bucholtz, Ramirez, Tejeda and Madson? is a pretty good haul), but they simply haven't stuggled to develop other positions.

Players the caliber of Utley and Howard are usually developed about once a generation, and the Phillies brough them up in back to back years. Also, last year the offense led the league in runs with (on average) six of the eight starters comming up through the minors. (Ruiz/Coste, Howard, Utley, J-Roll, Burrell, Vic)

I can't think of any other team other than the Twins who have consitently developed offensive star talent at the level of the Phillies the past 5 or 6 years. It is interesting, because I think it is precisely because Howard, Utley, J-Roll and Burrell are all so good that we forget they weere all prospects drafted and developed by the Phils.

Good stuff Alby. I forgot about Wayne Gomes.
Papelbon was certainly a bad example as he was a starter until last year, but I think there is something to be said about leaving him in the closer role. The BoSox seem to have enough starters and no closer. I understand the desire to give him more innings and perhaps his arm is not suited to pitch on consecutive days. I used to go to Trenton Thunder games (when they were a BoSox affiliate). The truly talented really stand out at that level, so Papelbon must have dominated.

i think all hometown fans of every team over rate their homegrown prospects.

the difference in philly was that the last front office was the biggest over-hypers. sometimes to a fault (reggie taylor, brandon duckworth, anderson machado, but sometimes thankfully so (ryan and chase).

A word on drafting vs. development: The Phillies position players who have come up through the system tend to be high draft picks whose development took place in college (Burrell and Utley) or another team's system (Victorino and Coste). Rollins and Howard are the only two who came up the Phillies ladder rung by rung. (Pitchers are a different story; except for Floyd, the Phillies have had an unusual amount of success with first-round HS pitchers. It's become an axiom that such pitchers rarely work out, but the Phillies have bucked that trend admirably.)

What sticks out about the Phillies minor league system is the lack of progress made by lower-round draft picks, who by definition are guys with either physical limitations (too short, too slow, etc.) or weak spots in their game (can't hit the breaking ball). Teams like the Twins and Cardinals seem to be able to take lower-round picks and turn them into major leaguers. The Phillies, like a lot of teams, not so much.

Only reason Papelbon is slated to be a possible starter is because of the uncertainity of the rest of the Sox rotation. Beckett and Dice-K are only sure starters at this point. Both Schilling and Wakefield are nearly 40 this year and injuries waiting to happen. Clement is out for the year and Lester is coming back from cancer treatment.

I am willing to bet that Papelbon ends up in the pen again though for the Sox. Timlin is 40 and his best years are past him.

This goofy fan poll must have been only seen by Tigers fans so far....

Tim, as I recall Duckworth was not especially hyped by the front office; if anything, his initial success was greeted with surprise. A contemporary pitcher of his who succeeded without being overhyped was Wolf. The Phillies have a bias -- and this goes back to the 1950s -- for big, physically imposing pitchers. Wolf, at 6 feet, didn't fit the mold, so despite success at every minor league level he was never touted much by the front office. Duckworth wasn't physically imposing either, so he flew in under the radar.

Machado was one of the cases I would point to as proof that development is lacking -- they signed him as a 16-year-old kid with great hands, but despite six years in the minors he never learned to hit. Maybe no team could have taught him that, but if I were a 16-year-old whose game needed work, I'd sign with someone other than the Phillies.

Reggie Taylor, as we all know, fell into that other phamous Phillies phetish, the fast, toolsy outfielder who can't hit. This started back when Giles bought the team, during the heyday of the early 80s Cardinals teams, which ran the Phillies ragged (this had to do more with the starters' inability to hold runners on -- tall pitchers with long deliveries are slow to the plate and first base, and so have a lot of trouble with the running game). Bill Giles, having the baseball IQ of a fairly dim lizard, thought the Phillies should build their team along the same lines. It made a bit of sense in the plastic grass era, which emphasized speed, but now that we're back to natural grass -- and playing in a hitters' park -- we should be drafting more for power than speed.

At risk of sounding like a prospect pimp, the Phillies will be looking at enough pitchers with talent this spring that the odds shouldn't be that high for at least one of them will work out. I'm curious to see what they have planned for Segovia. He's the closest to the majors of all their higher-ceiling prospects. He's been stretched out long enough following Tommy John, so it might be time to set him loose in the bullpen. He was showcased this fall in Arizona exclusively in relief, and if the numbers are any indication, he must have been dominant.

I agree with what you said on a general level Alby, but I think you may be nitpicking a bit.

The point is that the Phillies have consistently brought up very good hitters from within the organization; I don't particularly care if this is because of good drafts or good development - what matters is getting cheap, young, talent.

Also, Utley was a solid college player, but I think he definately improved while he was with the Phillies. Vic also saw his production go way up after joining the Phillies organization.

Who are the Cardinals and Twins low-rounders who have contributed (aside from Pujols, who I think we have to say was going to be a stud no matter who drafted him!)?

I tend to thiink that NO teams consistently develop low round picks...maybe Atlanta? Overall, however, I would put the Phillies minor league system over the past few years in the top third of the league.

Kdon, I enjoyed your post on the Phillies minor league development. I was ready to concede the point, then I read the posts that followed yours. I'm not sure there is a definitive answer to this topic. I'm sure that 99.9% of all major leaguers spent some time in the minors, so hence, they were "developed" by one team or another.

Many posters continually write how the Phillies minor league system has done a poor job of developing players; that the minor league cupboard is bare. FoxSports' Dayn Perry article on the Braves remarked how successful the Braves were due to developing their talent through their farm system. Perry writes how now the more successful teams on this in their division are the Mets and Marlins. He didn't mention the Phillies at all, past, present or future.

I don't know the answer. How do the Phillies rank in developing talent compared to the rest of the majors? How's our future outlook? I don't know.

I might want to wait a bit on Segovia...he was a stud last year at CLearwater and Reading, but he hasn't thrown a single pitch above AA and he was nothing special before last year.

Also, why move him to the pen...he averaged over 7 innings per start last year. Are there concerns about his arm? He isn't a big time K pitcher, so I can't imagine he has great stuff. He seems like a guy who should get 25 starts at AAA this year and head into '07 as an option to replace Garcia or Moyer.

I see as I was writing my comment, kdon already anticipated it and answered my question by stating that he "would put the Phillies minor league system over the past few years in the top third of the league." What does the rest of the Beerleaguer board think?

I sure several of you already read this, but John Sickels posted his top 20 Phils prospect list (or 21 as he initially forgot Edgar Garcia).

He only rates Segovia as 14th best prospect.

oops, that should be '08.

LF, I agree that all players are "developed" by someone, and that Alby is right that "only" Howrad and Rollins came through the whole system (although Burrell, Hamels, Myers, and Utley DID all play at Clearwater, Reading and SWB)

My point is that I think we tend to fetishize "development" of projects (the "step by step" process) when all we really want is cheap talent. If that can be done by drafting fully developed collge players or through the Rule 5 draft, then I could give a fig about development.

I mean, if the Phillies can draft players who can contibute in the Majors without hanging around Lakewood for two years, or pick up players that other organizations undervalue, that is to their credit, not their detriment.

The farm system had a positive year overall, from the graduation of Cole Hamels to the progress off the Lakewood pitchers. They suffered setbacks with their position talent, which will be minimized somewhat by what they already have in Philadelphia.

Neither Chris Coste nor Fabio Castro match the Phillies bias that Alby speaks of, which is probably why neither is getting much credit from the front office in spite of being successful on the field last year. Coste was a clutch hitter in spite of the talent evaluators' incorrect predictions. Castro proved he can get major leaguers out - granted that he looked at the very end of the season that he was not ready for pressure situations yet, but I would take his seemingly too small frame over the White Sox apparent #5 starter-to-be Gavin Floyd's supposed ideal dimensions any day. I agree with Gillick's move to finally give up on Floyd and I believe (based on the fact that he kept Castro as one of the club's 25 for the entire season) that a more seasoned Castro will be brought up into one of the critical bullpen positions by 2008, if not sooner.

Good link BM, I hadn't seen that yet.

I have a few problems though. If Ruiz is counted as a prospect, he should be much higher considering he projects to be a league average player THIS year, which is better than anyone else on the list.

Castro should also be higher, ROberson should be nowhere near a prospects list, and Jaramillo should be on there.

And not to rub it in, but seriously, did the Phillies really trade Abreu (who incidentally, is projected to have the HIGHEST OPS for the $200M team this year!) for four guys who make a total of ONE appearence on the Top 21 prospects list (and that's Smith, who is projected as a LOOGY)?

What a joke that deal was...I've officially gone from being upset to laughing at the absurdity of it.

Outman! What a great name for a pitcher!

What's up with that Condrey dude? He was up and down a lot last year and I've heard little about him ths winter.

I would think Condrey would be in consideration for a bullpen job- probably as a long man competing with Eude Brito.

I had a crazy rumor come across my blog that something big is in the works involving Burrell, Lieber, and Bourn. I'm not sure exactly for what, but I'll keep ya posted.

Condrey really doesn't strike out enough hitters to be effective against ML hitters, if given extended time, he will get hit hard.

His ERA from last year in the majors is a bit of an illusion, as he gave up nearly 15 baserunner per 9. It's possible he has experienced some kind of breakthrough after moving to the pen, but I doubt it. I think Brito has a better chance to stick, though I think the Phillies do need to add another bullpen arm.

I've spent the past couple of hours looking up drafts from '94 through '01, and I take it back -- neither the Cards nor the Twins have done much, at least with drafted talent. But then, what really struck me is that almost NO teams have developed lower-round draft picks. (Oakland, of course, has a pretty good track record.) The development these days seems to take place with Latin American free agents.

Verdeforce, Castro had to stay in the majors for Rule V purposes.

Castro's status is back to normal because he was kept up through the season. He can be optioned to the minors.

I wouldn't put much stock in Stickels' list. He's one guy, he doesn't actually scout the games -- it's sort of a stat-based compilation of conventional wisdom.

Thanks for doing the research Alby, it's nice to see a poster actually attempt to back up argument with evidence and admit a mistake.

I think every team's fans believe their minor league organization is weak because it is rare when a AAA guy steps up big. What they forget is the the overwhelming majority of minor league players (on every team) will never even play in the majors, let alone contribute. The fact that the Phils can expect significant contirbutions from no less than 12 players who came through the draft, as a minor league FA, or Rule 5 is pretty damn good, especiually considering how many prospects were traded away for pitching.

The 12 are Coste, Ruiz, Howard, Utley, J-Roll, Burrell, Vic, Hamels, Myers, Geary, Madson, Castro. (also Bourn, Sanches, Condrey, Brito, Roberson, Happ, Segovia and Sandoval will all probably see time, though this may or may not be good news).

If I had the time, I would like to do a study of the percentage of VORP that a team recieved from players who were not ML FA or trades (basically guys who already had a ML career before coming to their team). I have a feeling the Phillies would be pretty high on that list, considering they also got contributions from Lieberthal and Wolf last year.

You're right of course, Kdon, about the poor chances of lower-round picks of ever making the majors. What strikes me is that virtually every draft pick, even the 30-something-rounders, signs for more bonus money than all but the best Latin Americans. No wonder teams scoop up as much of this cheap talent as possible.

according to that sickels thread, one commentor said hernandez is gone, a 6-year minor league vet and now a free agent.

Alby, thanks for looking up drafts from '94 through '01. You mentioned that almost NO teams have developed lower-round draft picks. How did the teams look on their "blue chip" draft choices? Was their success hit or miss like NFL drafts? Were any teams better than others? Any other interesting tidbits?

I understand Rule V and I know Castro has options now, but they only exist because Gillick decided to not mess with his spot and for the great majority of the time they were only playing 24 guys last year. I was trying to make the point that for a change, a little guy was valued enough to be kept around. Of the 3 Rule V guys picked up this year, I see no way that the major league club keeps more than one around the whole season and it is more likely that none will be given a set space like Castro.

gr, Yoel Hernandez is listed on the Phillies 40 man roster on This is generally accurate and up to date.

A really lazy way to do what I want to do is just look at the team leaders in VORP. The Phils top 4 hitters from last year (Utley, Howard, J-Roll, Burrell) all came from the organization and 7 of the top 10 (exceptions: Abreu, Dellucci, Rowand) spent at least a year in the Phillies minor league system before their debut.

On the pitching side, the top 3 came from the organization (Myers, Hamels, Geary).

As far as I can tell, only one other team had their top three hitters AND pitchers come from within the organization (revealed later). The twins come close, with (hitters) Morneu, Mauer, Hunter, Cuddyer and (pitchers) Santana and Liriano but Joe Nathan was their #3 pitcher.

The other team...of course, the Braves! McCann, Chipper, Andrew as the top 3 hitters and Smoltz, James, and Villareal as the top 3 pitchers. But even the Braves has Renteria as their #4 hitter, so the Phils STILL got more production from in-house guys.

I didn't go through every team, thinking of obvious teams to throw out that rely on FA (Red Sox, Mets, Yankees) and spot checking the rest, but if anynoe can think of another team that has its top 4 hitters and three pitchers from inside the organization, let me know.

One thing I don't know about Rule V status is when the DL exemption is used - say Simon has a minor injury in spring training and the Phils keep him on the ML DL all season - does the requirement for a year on the major league 25 man roster just re-start with the next season or does the player than get his control with options for the next season? Also, how well are the injuries of these guys monitored by the union or the league, etc.?

Verde, what do you mean by "set space?" They either have to keep their Rule 5 (not V, BTW) on the 25 man roster or not, so if a player stays, he will get the same "set space" as Castro did.

I don;t know about the last part, but if you keep a guy on the DL for the season, he becomes your property. Most teams won't do this, however, because it basically means the player (usually young) will go an entire season without playing baseball...not good. Most teams will sort of slide a player back and forth.

Since a lot of teams do this, I can't imagine their is much enforcement.

Yanks farm actually powered their championships of the late 90's. Jeter, Posada, Bernie, Mariano Rivera, and Petitte. And recently Cano and Wang.

I was borrowing Alby's roman numeral (V=5), geesh, anyway - a "set space" on the 25 man roster. Others spaces or spots between 20 and 25 on the 25 man roster often see a lot of movement on the Phillies 25 man roster.

Got it Verde, I agree that none of the three Rule 5 guys are as good as Castro, and I wouldn't want to waste a spot on them.

You're right, I should have corrected Alby when he first wrote Rule V...nip this thing in the bud.

Fred, Baseball Cube is where I did my research; it's fairly easy there to look up a team and then call up each year's draft for that team. Because players who made the majors are shown in boldface type, it's easy to see at a glance who panned out and who didn't.

I did not look up every team; I was trying to cherry-pick teams that I thought of as having good farm systems, and I checked about 18. That said, it's striking to see that the vast majority of draftees who reach the majors are taken in the first three rounds. Even the teams that might have one good draft, where several mid-rounders panned out, rarely do it again. The one team that stood out for having multiple players from several drafts reach the bigs was Oakland.

True, BM, but the '96 team also had Girardi (no Posada yet), Tino Martinez, Wade Boggs, Paul O'Neil, Mariano Duncan, Gerald Williams, and Ruben Sierra in the starting lineup (7 or 9) and Jimmy Key, Kenny Rogers, Dwight Gooden and David Cone in the rotation (4 of 5), not to mention Wettland as there closer.

The '98 team added Posada, but they sill had 6 of the 9 position players as FA or trades, 4 of the 5 starting spots, and the entire bullpen aside from Rivera and Mendoza.

By and large, the 90s Yankees had far more contirbutions from outside players then in-house guys.

Oh, and Wang and Cano don't even come close to Howard and Myers, or Utley and Hamels, or even Burrell and Geary.

Alby: Sickels actually does scout the games and also maintains a network of scouts he keeps in contact with. His analysis is probably 60% stat-based, 40% scout-based. He's a former assistant to Bill James so is generally seen as a stat-head, but it's not that cut and dried.

kdon: Did you just say that Wang is better than Geary?

kdon: I had that backwards.

Yep, that's right, Ed Wade managed to produce not 1, but !3! duos better than the Genius Cashman...and it's not like they traded away a whole lot of stud players, though they likely gave up a ton of draft picks in recent years.

I would take Wang over Geary. His stats are better as his upside.

verdeforce: I'm with you.

No doubt kdon, but in that timespan developing 2 HOF players (Jeter and Rivera)plus multi-year all-stars like Bernie Williams and Petite is a pretty good track record for a team regarded as simply buying mercenaries. Recently add Wang, Cano, and perhaps Melky and Hughes. How many players on the Phillies roster this year will be under 25 besides Cole Hamels ? Maybe Castro. Anyone else ?

And by the way it is Arbuckle who has been in charge of the farm system and he's still there, so there is still hope for the future.

On the top of the hour CBS radio news on in the background of my office, they announced that a federal judge ruled that the MLB has to turn over the names of the (about 100) players that tested positive for illegal drugs in 2003. It's about to hit the fan. Let's see 100 divided by 32 teams yields an average of three players per team.

Interesting LF. My guess is mostly pitchers and Quad A guys on that illegal drug list.

You are right BM, but they developed that reputation in the time between Jeter and Cano, and it was justified. Soriano, Cano, and Wang are the only three players they have developed since the dynasty.

The Phillies top guys from the minors are all more developed than the Yankees, and hence, older, but Hughes has done nothing in the Majors so far and Melky had an OPS of 750 last year, good for a player so young, but hardly a lock for anything.

Also, Wang has been very good so far, but I would be worried about a player who only strikes out 76 batters in 223 innings. He is an awsome GB pitcher, but even guys like Lowe and Webb strike out more batters than that.

Cano is very good, but I wouldn't take him over Howard or Utley.

Alby, thanks for the tip on the Baseball Cube. I looked at the Ryan Howard year of the Phillies draft. He was a 5th round pick (140th pick overall). Good pick for the Phillies.

yeah, I know who sickels is, and i'm still not impressed. not to be a dick about it, but how many games does one guy -- and a kansas city fan at that -- really get to see? Does he have a professional scouting background? I generally feel more comfortable with the Baseball America list because it comes from more than one person. just to keep things in perspective, bill conlin gets a lot of his opinions from talking to scouts, too, and the general consensus around this board is that he's full of --it and himself, not necessarily in that order.

and sorry about the v instead of 5. I've seen it both ways, I just thought it looked more old school. damn, this shift key isn't working right.

on the rule 5 front, it should be noted that teams occasionally complete a trade involving a rule 5 draftee. wikipedia has a list of all the players who have made the majors through the draft. mitch williams is one who was drafted and retained despite being sent to the minors because the teams, I believe the Padres and Rangers, completed a trade to keep him in the Texas organization.

For what it's worth, here's the list of top 10 Phillies prospects by Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus:

Excellent Prospects

Very Good Prospects
1. Carlos Carrasco, rhp
2. Kyle Drabek, rhp

Good Prospects
3. Michael Bourn, of
4. Josh Outman, lhp
5. J.A. Happ, lhp

Average Prospects
6. Matt Maloney, lhp
7. Adrian Cardenas, ss
8. D'Arby Myers, cf
9. Scott Mathieson, rhp
10. Greg Golson, cf

Clout: Its good to have you back.

When you said, "Just so no one accuses me of being a prospect basher, here are guys I like and would love to see get good innings in ST: Justin Germano . . . " So would I like to see Germano get some innings in ST, and I never did understand why Germano never got a callup last Summer, at least for a spot start or two, after coming to the Phillies from the Reds in the Cormier trade. After all, the Phillies agreed to take Germano in the Cormier salary dump, after the Reds had "showcased" Germano with a single start against the Brewers on July 29th, when Germano had 8 strikeouts in 5.2 innings,after an earlier successful relief appearance for the Reds against the Cubs. Small sample indeed, but with all of the starting and relief pitching problems the Phillies had after the Cormier-Germano trade, Germano warranted at least a major league "look" from the Phillies. And Germano was the seventh-ranked pitcher in the Inernational League last season, averaging more than six innings per start, only 24 walks in 155.1 innings, a 10-6 record in 25 starts, and a 3.48 ERA in that hitters' league.

And Clout, you hit it on the "nines" when you said, "davthom . . . think(s) the minor leagues and Indy leagues are crawling with aging players who could make a big impact if only given the chance." Indeed, that's exactly what I think.

Along those lines, IMO, good-fielding, left-handed-hitting non-roster outfielder Greg Jacobs, signed last week out of the independent Northern League, has the potential to surprise in St, if he is given a decent look -- which likely will not happen. I don't believe that minor league stats mean absolutely nothing, unlike a number of others posting on this board. In 89 games with the Kansas City T-Bones last season, Jacobs had a .333 BA, 15 home runs, 64 at bats, a .571 slugging percentage, and a .444 OBP. Unfortunately, however, it increasingly appears as though PG and company view Jacobs as nothing more than AAA depth, and he'll be lucky to get 10 ST at bats.

Yeah, that's it, Dav, it's all a big conspiracy. All those teams know that there's a cheap, abundant source of great talent out there, but they won't give those guys a chance because...wait a second, in all your craziness you've never given an explanation of why everyone else who follows baseball is wrong but YOU'RE the guy who's got it all figured out. By all means, enlighten us.

Alby, of course, you mischaracterize my post. My point is very simple, and, reduced to the essentials, it is that there are a number of players who would be productive and even highly successful in MLB, if given a chance.

Far from being "crazyness", as you derisively assert, as I have personally observed, it is a fact that there are a number of players in the minors and independent leagues who have been either overlooked by major league talent evaluators, or "typecast" as being "non-prospects" for one "in-the-box" reason or another -- ie. an unorthodox swing, lack of size, right-handed pitchers who don't hit 90 m.p.h. on the gun, and the list of purported reasons goes on and on.

During the two baseball seasons of 1996-1997, I was one of the four principal owners of a franchise in the then-existant Prairie League, the Grand Forks (North Dakota) Varmints. No, Chris Coste was not in that league at that time, although Coste began his professional career the year before (1995) with another team in the league, the Brandon Grey Owls. And, to the extent that the matter need be repeated, as I have said previously I do not know Coste, have never met him, and probably know only one person who does know him. I participated with our general managers during those the two years of 1996-1997 in player aquisition, and, in a few instances, in transactions which brought players on our team directly into MLB-affiliated major league organizations at the AA and AAA levels. I got to know many players during that time, many of whom had been in MLB-affiliated organizations, and others who would go to them, and I learnjed a lot from this wonderful experience.

Considerations such as how much money an organization has invested in a player in signing bonus money, draft position, etc., factor into a numebr of decisions which make or break players'MLB-affiliated organization careers -- often shortly after these careers began -- as in the instance of a guy drafted in the thirty-somthing round -- who is not permitted more than a couple of bad at bats before he is cut.

This subject is involved, for me, but put simply, my reasoning for my view that the MLB-affiliated minor leagues and the indy leagues contain many players who would be productive and successful major leaguers derives from my personal experience.

Yes, I realize that, Dav. And it's unsupported by any actual data. That's the reason I call it craziness.

Those arm chair, fantasy-site, stat-head-projection-site devotees weren't there. I was. And for those folks -- not necessarily classifying you among their ranks at this point, Alby -- to sit from the fan's desktop or couch and say they know how it is on the ground in the MLB-affiliated minors or the independent leagues -- is itself "crazy", in my estimation.

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EST. 2005

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