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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

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wonder how good is defense is.

BP says it's pretty solid. The idea might be to replace Burrell late in games with a player who can run, cover ground and can hold his own at the plate if need be. The GM and manager don't want anything to do with Burrell late in a ballgame.

I think you frame this perfectly Jason.

If Werth is meant to replace Conine, it is an acceptable move. If this means are five outfielders are:

Burrell/Rowand/Vic/Conine/Werth

then I am suspect. Does Gillick not see the need for a LEFTHANDED bat? We have two on the entire roster and they most likely will be hitting back to back. I'm still holding out hope for Huff or Nixon, but I'm concerned that we haven't heard any rumblings. Have the Phillies reached their spending limit?

Also, this means it is unlikely Lieber will be traded to Toronto (or anyone else) for outfield help. The Jays are apparently looking to move Johnson or Rios for starting pitching help. I would have liked to see Johnson. He is RH, but he got on base at a .390 clip last year and would be an ideal player to hit second and play RF.

There is also a terrified part of me that thinks this could mean Burrell's departure. If the deal is for more than one year, I'll be officially worried.

Well, if he is going to be Burrell's caddy in LF, then it is a nice move. Werth seems like a hitting version of Eaton...he should be good, but he has battled injuries and inconsistency. He also is hitting his age 27 season, which historically is when players begin having their peak seasons.

Please, please, please tell me Conine is gone.

I believe that's a significant reason for this move. The Phillies are faced with a situation where they should replace both Helms and Burrell to protect a lead. Nunez and Roberson (or whomever) is just too much of an offensive sacrifice.

I'm not sold on this guy. The wrist injury scares me, as the wrist plays an integral part in hitting a baseball. He says it's still sore. I'm a doubting Thomas on Werth. I'll believe it when I see it. I doubt that he'll head north when camp breaks this spring.

I am with kdon. If this is to replace Conine - fine. If Burrell/Rowand/Vic/Conine/Werth are your 5 outfielders next season, I don't like it. Add to it, Gillick's poor track record so far with lower tier free agent pick ups, and I am concerned. This team needs a left handed bat off the bench.

Can Werth play center (at least to backup Vic)? And if so, could this be a precursor to a Rowand trade ?

again with the rowand trade.

i dont understand why everyone is so excited to get rid of the guy. he had a down offensive year, and ran into too many things.

he is still considerred one of the best defensive cf's in the game.

Billy Mac: Werth can indeed play CF. Jason is correct when he says this move is more for defense.

Chris Roberson, it's time to move on to your life's work. HINT: It ain't playing baseball.

Good article by Todd Zolecki linked in the left margin about baseball stats guru. He interviews Bill James and asks a lot of great questions. James gives good answers on all except the last question about managers affecting the outcome of games. James say a lot of words about that, but actually takes no stand. He waffles. I guess there is no stat other than wins and losses that James could look at to verify managerial ability.

"he is still considerred one of the best defensive cf's in the game."

Unfortunately, he just ISN'T one of the best defensive CF's in the game. One of the most fearless? Sure, but that doesn't make him great.

I read that Fred...interestingly he commented that JR is one of the top 6 leadoff hitters in baseball and, that Burrell is more than enough protection for Howard. He likes Burrell

Also: The "protection" issue is a non-issue as far as he is concerned - stating there is no evidence that it makes any difference who is hitting behind you in the order.

...and that he believes the Phillies score plenty of runs and should continue to focus on pitching.


Not sure I agree with him but a nice read.

Joe, Victorino is younger, cheaper, and better than Rowand. He is a better fielder, thrower, runner, and hitter. Rowand has slightly more power but strikes out more. Neither one of them is a corner outfielder and Rowand will likely sign elsewhere next season. It makes sense to me to try to move him.

I would prefer superb defense in both CF and RF with Rowand/Vic, then entertaining shipping Rowand for an oft-injured questionable RF.

Scoring runs aint the problem with this team, its the pitching.

unless Rowand brings major pitching pieces, trading him is simply not worth it.

Jayson Werth . . . Ugh. Another bottom of the barrel acquisition by Gillick to round out the bench. Werth is probably an upgrade over Roberson but he isn't somebody I want to see getting a significant amount of playing time.

This all comes down to dollars. Why are the Phils so damn cheap? If they really cared about building a competitive team as possible, they would attempt to trade/release Conine (eat his $2 million salary) and sign a legimitate Left-Handed bat to play RF with Victorino.

Unfortunately, tbat would mean the Phils have to spend around $6-$7 million total (new acquisition and probably eating Conine's contract).

Billy Mac: I would love to see a full year of Victorino before I unhesitatingly say that he is a better player than Rowand. He certainly had the better season in '06. Is he a better player? We'll find out this coming year.

with the loss of abreu and delucci, scoring runs isn't going to be quite the cinch it was last year, i don't think. until rollins gets going, this offense has the potential to depend too much on howard/utley. an OF with both rowand and victorino should be offensively unaceeptable on a contending team.

I've seen him say that about protection before and I still don't buy it. If you put Corey Patterson behind David Ortiz vs. Manny behind Ortiz I think Ortiz would have a better year with Manny. Maybe it's just me.

Tony: What this boils down to is: do pitchers decide whether to pitch to a Barry Bonds or David Ortiz based on who hits behind them? I don't think I've ever seen a stat-based study done on that subject.

I do know that managers tell their pitchers, "Don't let X beat you." I think pitchers then try to be careful with X regardless of who hits behind him. Bonds over the years has had good hitters behind him and mediocre hitters. Seems like his walks didn't vary much.

Ryan Howard's walks jumped in August and September of last year. Now RSB will tell you that's because Burrell, hitting behind him, went into a slump. And because of that Howard's bat was muffled and that cost the Phillies a wild card spot. After all, observation is far more meaningful than stats.

So is Burrell the reason why pitchers walked Howard so much late in the season? Or is it because August and September were Howard's two hottest months?

Howard's OPS leaped from .949 in July to 1.063 in August and 1.150 in September. His two highest OPS of the season (and his highest SLG). That's with a slumping Burrell hitting behind him and pitchers not giving him anything to hit. So is having a big bat behind Howard the Phils biggest need?

One correction: I used career stats not season stats on Howard's August and September. The season stats are even higher, 1.214 and 1.312, again, the two highest months of the season both OPS & SLG.

If the guy passes his physical, he can't help but be an upgrade on Roberson. The fact that there was room for Chris on the 25 man roster all year long tells you that the cupboard is more than bare. And of course, the September callups certainly confirmed that fact. On that evidence, the organization can't pick up too many projects like Werth, aging Northern Leaguers, Rule 5 guys, AAA castoffs, etc. -- not that any of them are likely to ever make a difference, but you should be able to dress "role players" with the potential to hit the ball past the mound.

clout - I don't think it is one or the other, I think it is both.

I don't buy it either, Tony. Logically, it makes no sense at all to say that a guy won't see better pitches with Albert Pujols on deck rather than Al Newman. If that hitter is Pujols himself, and can flat-out put any pitch in play *hard*, it's one thing. Howard hasn't shown that ability as of yet. 180 strikeouts will testify to that.

The interview with James revealed some curiosities. Not to whip my favorite dead horse, but what exactly is the cause of his enthusiasm for Burrell, and why does he state that he's 'underrated'? Furthermore, I have read James articles about how poisonous and sapping strikeouts were to an offense; now he says, well, if the team led the league in runs scored, how is it a problem? Here's how it's a problem: your 15-2 blowouts one night, and your 3-1 losses to nobody changeup artists the next day. It all works out to a healthy average, but those whi watch the Phillies every day know that they do *not* boast a consistently formidable offense. Every team is prone to droughts no matter how talented, true - but this has been a characteristic of the Phillies for years now: they're masters at the art of tacking on those eighth-inning runs when they're already ahead by seven or eight, and futile when it comes to scratching crucial late-inning runs across. The year-end stats bear out that they're strong offensively, yet they have such trouble manufacturing runs and taking advantage of mediocre pitching much of the time.

Meanwhile, amazing to learn that Werth was yet another Gillick draft pick. Does he ever allow himself to take chances with guys he has no particular history with? Just wondering.

RSB: I don't have time to do it, but it should be fairly easy to test your hypothesis: The Phillies play an inordinate number of blowout games which artificially inflates their offensive stats.

The issue of "protection" for Howard is silly. How many players in the MLB would you prefer to face Howard over?

2, maybe 3? (Manny, Pujols, and Cabrera?)

Or, even with one of them behind Ryan, would you still IBB Ryan when he's hot?

Who, exactly, can you get to "protect" him?

You can't use hitters like Bonds as an example of why the priority of 'protection' is a myth. Bonds has one of the best batting eyes of all time. Again - Howard is not at that level. It isn't a reasonable comparison.

Howard's walks jumped down the stretch not just because Burrell was in a slump. Burrell wasn't even in the lineup for several of those games, and was hitting sixth more often than not, when he was. The real point is, he was being pitched around, pure and simple. I really don't know how this can be denied. His walks were way up and his power numbers were way down. You can argue the reason why he was being pitched around, but the most obvious one is, *there was no one remotely as dangerous following his slot in the batting order*. Teams evidently figured that despite Howard's prowess, that he could be pitched to - but after the All-Star break, when he was pulling more pitches and hitting the ball out of the park in all directions, that theory flew out the window. So they simply began pitching around him or not to him at all. The irony, despite the strong finish, is that I recall Howard getting himself out *frequently*, particularly against lefties in late-inning situations, by going after a lot of bad pitches and not succeeding.

to be fair, joe, the IBBs aren't the issue exactly. its whether you have someone in the next spot who can deliver at something resembling the rate that Howard delivers. that is, someone who make teams pay for putting a guy on. pat burrell 2005 would be sufficient, if not streaky. pat burrell, 2006, not so much.

clout: I see your point and I'm not saying that it is the Phillies biggest need (I think Burrell will do fine). I just think that when you have a good player behind a great hitter it effects the way you pitch a guy. With no one behind Ortiz, he'll see a steady diet of garbage all year long, rarely, if ever being challenged. The only "cookies" he'll see are mistakes. With Ramirez behind him the pitchers thinking "OK, if I walk this guy it could easily turn into 2 runs, better off taking a chance with Ortiz and throwing him a few strikes." With a stiff behind him you walk him on 4 pitches and throw 4 high fastball to a guy like Preston Wilson and wait for him to swing at a bad pitch and K or pop out. That ain't happening with Manny.

___________________

I see that Bonds walks stayed the same but did his teams runs increase in the years he had good hitters behind him? Did they decrease when he had Edgardo Alfonzo behind him? I have no idea, I could be completely wrong, just asking.

Just taking a quick look, In 2002 with Jeff Kent and Reggie Sanders behind Bonds the Giants scored 783 runs. The following year with Edgardo Alfonso and Benito Santiago behind him the Giants scored 755 runs.

There probably is way more to it than that but i don't have the time to do a statistcial analysis of the 2002-2003 Giants.

RSB: You write, "The real point is, he was being pitched around, pure and simple. I really don't know how this can be denied. His walks were way up and his power numbers were way down."

That is simply false. His power numbers were the HIGHEST OF THE SEASON in August & September.

Tony: That proves that Kent & Sanders drive in more runs than Alfonso & Santiago. Not sure it proves anything about Bonds.

My hypothesis, more accurately, is to state that the Phillies are champions of scoring superfluous runs and largely inept at scoring crucial runs. The run total does not bear out that they often have trouble scoring when homeruns are not involved, that they aren't a creative or dynamic offensive team. The situational hitting has been wretched for years, and the multitude of strikeouts, slow hitters, and LOBs speak of a team with far more serious offensive shortcomings than it is perceived. I look at how a team like St. Louis won all through the playoffs, how many different ways they scored runs and how many different ways they won games despite technically being the inferior team. I look at the Phillies, and see that they pretty much beat you with the homerun - and if they don't get it, well, too bad. Reflective perhaps of its manager, it's simply not a smart or improvisational team. It can look strong when it's regularly belting out four homers a game, but when you really need that run pushed across on the road in the tenth inning, it looks positively clueless.

It proves that the Giants as a team scored 30 more runs that season with an All Star behind their best hitter compared to 2 players past their prime. They also made the World Series that year.

How many more wins would 30 runs create?

In all fairness RSB the White Sox of 2005 sat around and waited for the 3 run HR. A lot of teams are built like that these days.

Clout, I'm referring to the stretch run, not the whole of the last two months. After the 3-homer game against Tim Hudson, teams largely began to pattern their game plan around Howard and this is the period I am talking about. You insist that this is a tiny sample size proportional to the whole season, but I feel it is insightful because it followed a shift in teams' approach to Howard. He did still perform well overall, but Howard's strength is the long ball - and I don't believe the explanation for two homes in the final three weeks can be traced to mere fatigue.

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Thanks,
David

Tony, I recall it being trumpeted that the Sox made a conscious decision in '05 - signaled by the trades of Lee and Ordonez - to play tighter fundamental baseball and emphasize the manufacturing of runs. That team won largely on the strength of its pitching, but it boasted an exciting and consistent offense as well.

Clout, Howard only had 2 HRs the last 3 weeks of the season when pitchers changed from pitching carefully to him to not pitching to him at all. His SLG was fueled by a few early series in September. That being said, I agree the subject of protection is overblown. Kevin Roberts of the Courier Post did a pretty in depth study of this already. It would be interesting to test the theory about the consistency of the Phils offense. My observation is similar to RSBs, but I am not sure if it holds up. Seems simple enough to track mean runs scored and their standard deviation versus the rest of the league.

I mean Howard's high SLG in "September" was fueled by early series in September.

Deal finalized: The signing is officially a one-year deal. From the Phillies news release:

"Outfielder Jayson Werth signed a one-year contract with the Phillies, Vice President and General Manager Pat Gillick announced today.

"Werth, 27, spent the 2006 season on the Dodgers' disabled list recovering from left wrist surgery. He last appeared in the major leagues in 2005, when he hit .234 with seven home runs and 43 RBI in 102 games. That season, Werth missed two months of playing time due to two separate stints on the disabled list.

" 'Jayson is a young outfielder with a combination of power and speed,' said Gillick. 'He's had some injuries over the past couple years, but we think he has tremendous athleticism and we're very happy to have him in a Phillies uniform. He's a great addition to the club.'"

Howard had to bury himself in Counts to get an at bat. You could watch him do it.

Pitcher's would throw one or two balls, and then Ryan would swing at the next two pitches, no matter what, and hope to get reasonable pitches with 2 strikes.

Hopefully, Ryan will learn a little better plate discipline, and take the walk when its being given to him.

However, after the display in Japan, I exepct MLB to start walking him intentionally in April.

RSB - the perception that the phillies are quintessential feast-or-famine run producers was disproved here. The article states that in 2006 the phillies, compared to other teams, neither significantly produced <3 runs AND >6 runs. The only teams which fell into this criteria were houston, cincinatti and minneapolis.

It might have seemed that way day-in, day-out, but the phillies were no worse than the vast majority of MLB teams.

i'm not a huge fan of his K numbers, but i like werths athletism. it'll be interesting to see how the outfield situation plays out.

Useful data, but I don't feel it disproves what I'm saying about the Phillies' offensive tendencies - though I'm sure certain hardline mentalities will see it that way. James' comments are characteristic of someone who looks only at the numbers and doesn't watch a team or player on an everyday basis; my point is to say, don't just make some blanket statement that just because a team leads the league in runs means it doesn't have offensive issues. I'm interested in *when* those runs are being scored, not how many. I'm more impressed with efficiency and timeliness, not raw quantity. I don't mean to say that they *only* seem to score after a game's been decided one way or the other - just that they don't find ways to score when they need it most, which is one fundamental reason why they can't get over that 85-87 win hump.

" 'Jayson is a young outfielder with a combination of power and speed,' said Gillick. 'He's had some injuries over the past couple years, but we think he has tremendous athleticism and we're very happy to have him in a Phillies uniform. He's a great addition to the club.'"

Gillick BS translator - We were able to pick this guy up cheaply since he has been injury-riddled. If he is healthy, which is a huge question mark, he might be a decent addition.

So the consensus is that Howard's late season numbers were a fluke? Or they all came in a couple games? That pitchers didn't begin pitching him around until the last 2 weeks of the season and that's when he piled up all those walks? Should be easy enough to research.

After reading all these comments, I tend to believe that the way teams pitched to Ryan Howard in September was due to Howard, not Burrell. Teams were afraid of the long ball. You can argue that they weren't afraid of Burrell, so they pitched around Howard, but I don't think that argument can be the main reason to toss junk at Howard. There are not many lineups with Mantle and Maris batting back to back. Howard was pitched around because of Howard's big bat. That's my opinion and I'm sticking to it!

MG, I loved your GM translator. I agree with your tranlation fully. You'll have to employ the GM translator often. I got a good laugh and a big grin from reading it.

I can't spell. I meant: I agree with your translation fully.

RSB - then we go back to a fundamental disagreement - I think money and effort is more usefully spent sorting out pitching and the bench than fine-tuning the offense. You feel that fine-tuning that offense will have a larger effect on the phillies fortunes next year.

That's not to say I'm discounting spending on offense. Next year's phillies are going to be a very different offensive beast. Losing the regular production from RF that we had has changed the priorities of what kind of offense we should acquire. I'm more concerned with any production we can get out of right-field, rather than the quality. And I would say that the 2007 offense simply won't display the same kind of problems that you feel were there the last two years. With helms at 3b and whoever in RF and possibly CF, we've got an entirely different beast. A full year of coste+ruiz is another variable different to last year.

On that basis alone, I'd have to say that none of us are in a position to characterise how the phils offense will work next year. too many variables for my liking.

Oisin, I think I agree with you. Bullpen pitching is top priority, with the bench a close second. I'm not too comfortable with the outfield as currently configured. Other than Burrell, and Rowands, if they keep or start him, are the onlt two real starters. The rest are just the bench extended into the outfield and possibly third base, too.

I'm confident that the team we currently see is not what we'll see prior to spring training. We are in the holiday lull period right now. I envision more deals, signings and trades.

"Protection" is a myth. Always has been. Always will be. David Ortiz had Manny Ramirez hitting behind him and still lead the AL in walks and was second in IBB's to Vlad.

When you're as dangerous as Howard or Bonds or Pujols, you'll get pitched around no matter who is behind you.

The guy who will actually get "protection" is the guy in front of those guys. The player hitting in front of Howard or Bonds or Pujols will get more pitches to hit because the last thing a pitcher wants to do is give the guy in front of the monster a free pass.

Exactly CJ...nice

Exactly CJ...nice

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