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Wednesday, January 24, 2007


zerns....i love that place

Haha, good piece J-Dub. You're right on - more of the Phils need to check out the wisdom and intrigue of the Beerleaguer comments section. I mean, besides Chris Coste.

Zerns... it's been 20+ years, but I loved that place, too. Is a grand tour of Pottstown in the works, too? Are they all going to DeMatteo's Bar for a shot and a beer? Count me in!

I'll call Scotty P. and have them land the zeppelin on High Street.

Being stuck up here in NYC and reading about Zern's and High Street has brought a small tear to my eye. Perhaps we could watch the low budget wrestling I hear they are having at Zern's and then head over behind Mrs. Smith's for a beer at Frankie and Johnny's. God I miss PA.

Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard, Aaron Rowand, Cole Hamels, Matt Smith, and Greg Jacobs were all at the Sixers game last night and participated in a 3-point shooting contest at halftime. Howard and Rowand tied for the win, sinking 6 threes.

I can't wait for spring training to start. That means a whole new batch of material to blog about.

I hope, Billy Mac, that means that you weren't at the Sixers' game...

this is ridiculous!!! we all know lieber can't do lunges.

Greg Jacobs! What's that all about? I smell Burrell trade!

It was a typo. He meant to say 'lunches'.

Nice of the boys to talk the talk, now how's about going out there and making other people believe the Phils are the team to beat in the East...

This article/comment thread is hilarious. I love coming here and reading what you guys have to say. That comment about the current topic of depression era uniforms had me rollin. Keep it up guys.

Another great post. The hot stove league meanders to wherever it wants. Utley signs up for seven years, gets a great post header and the Beerleaguer gang is off researching old uniform designs while arguing about Cholly, Gillick and Coste. Only in Beerleaguer!

this is awesome news. we've never been the team to beat on paper in this town ever. what a promising revelation.

Good article on ESPN by Jayson Stark on Howard and his contract status. Worth a read:

Article today on reported that Werth's wrist is supposedly near 100% and that he will be given a shot to start in right field.

I like Victorino as a 4th outfielder a whole lot better than as a starter but I am pretty dubious on what Werth will contribute. Best I see for Werth is that he is healthy for the entire season and ends up with .250-.260 with 15+ HRs. More likely he spends some time on the DL and hits around .230 with less power.

Great post, JW!

gr, you've got a terribly short memory. Check the preseason predictions coming into 2003 and 2004. The Phillies lead baseball in "on paper" division titles. I don't want to hear any talk like this until after they've actually won something. It's kind of a joke to announce you're the team to beat when you haven't been to the damn playoffs in 13 years.

Anyone read the McCaffery piece today?

I hope not, it was terrible. However, Manuel does say that Burrell will be the guy at #5 this year (thank god), and he admits that he may have hurt Burrell's overall production by removing him so often late in games.

That's what happens when you can't run, field, or hit in the clutch. You get replaced late in games.

Jon Lieber doing any sort of working? Bah!

that was supposed to read:

Jon Lieber doing any sort of WORKOUTS? Bah!

anyone else think that Paul Hagen looked like a chicken tonight on DN Live?

Seriously, this January is dragging along. I've been ready for baseball almost directly after the World Series ended...c'mon February!

I'm a bit alarmed by the mention in one of the papers that has Alfonseca as the setup man. Alfonseca should be thought of strictly as insurance. Middle reliever for now, insurance for failure or injury to Madson/Gordon. If PG fails to add bullpen help before the season opens, my opinion of his effort this offseason is going to change.

MG: Excellent analysis of Werth/Victorino. Neither is good enough to play everyday, but they could make a passable platoon.

I do not think Victorino will be an all-star, but I think we could be pleasantly suprised with his production, especially if he adds the element of stealing bases. .280 12 hr, 90+ runs, 65 rbi, 25 sb out of the 2 hole is within reason in my opinion.

Carson -

I think that I will go out on a limb, and predict that Vic will have 30-40 stolen bags this year.

Hopefully Lopes can teach him to run.

clout, I'm surprised that you're alarmed by the Alfonseca set-up talk. I've been saying that Geary is the logical choice, but Alfonseca will be the guy. Typical veteran-loyalty move. I'm beginning to think that minor league team was onto something last year when they let their internet fans vote on the nightly starting line-up.

rsb -- allow me to introduce you to irony.

When was the last time Alfonseca pitched in MLB? I think it just set in, but I'm thouroghly ticked off by this move. I cannot take anymore games where the Phils go into the eight with a 1-2 run lead and end up losing it on walks and doubles. Arthur Rhodes was a master of this, and unless I have missed something from the past couple of years, nobody has put Alfonseca in any meaningful games. Our bullpen is now officially shaky at best. Gordon could join the AARP at any moment, Geary is being improperly utilized, Madsen has all the consistency of a habitually drunk schizophrenic, and Matt Smith may or may not pan out. It all hit me at one time fellas, lets hope that the Starters are Hell on wheels this year and that the Bats all have Wonderboy engraved one em. Dang it I hate it when reality sets in.

"I'm a bit alarmed by the mention in one of the papers that has Alfonseca as the setup man."

OK clout, do you believe AHW and me now about the dangers of the Alfonseca signing? "Veteranacity" is a dangerous dangerous thing that can affect the mind of even the most astute baseball men. This is exactly the reason why I didn't like the move. His "name" status will be writing checks that his talent can't cash.

WP: There've been conflicting reports. One quoted either Cholly or PG (can't remember which) as saying Madson would be the setup guy. This makes sense to me as he has better stuff than Geary and higher ceiling. I'm hoping the Alfonseca report is wrong.

Joe- it's funny you mentioned that with the help of Davy Lopes that Victorino would be able to swipe 30-40 bags, as I actually typed something like that on my own blog this morning before coming over here and commenting.

I hope Alfonseca either comes into camp and dominates or is dominated. Any other occurrence will lead to the Phils using him as setup guy way too much and way too long and getting off to a crappy April/May as per usual.

kdon: I understand your point. You and I are on the same page with regard to the dangers of using someone like Alfonseca in a key position.

But here's where we differ: You think Brian Sanches and Clay Condrey can help more than Alfonseca. I don't.

carson, joe: If Victorino swipes 40 bags this season, I'll treat both of you to a steak dinner at Morton's. It ain't happenin' But I know spring is the time of year to fantasize.

Parker, glad to see you coming around. As I've made mention, sometimes we get so bogged down in the individual transactions that we forget to step back and take a look at the big picture. This "upgraded" starting rotation is going to make or break this season. Not sure that this is a warming thought. As much as everyone loves this "best rotation in the NL," I think you could argue that the 'pen might be as equally horrific, depending on how these guys are used.

clout, I can see your point on Madson as the setup guy, but we're splitting hairs. If Madson or Geary are HEAVILY relied on to get to Gordon (in cloxse games), this probably isn't a playoff team.

Oh, wait. Excuse me, i didn't see the article "Phillies Players, Fans have postseason fever."

Aren't we getting a little ahead of ourselves or are they that much in need of additional season ticket holders?

Clout- I think he is capable of swiping 40 bags, now if he does it is a completely different story, but I hope he does as I'd love to be treated to a steak dinner and some interesting Phillies conversation.

Clout, John Finger had this about our set up man. He sounds like a guy telling everyone what they want to hear: "Like Coste, newly-signed reliever Antonio Alfonseca has to prove he belongs on the team this spring. Still, the veteran closer could have the inside track on the set-up job in front of Tom Gordon though Manuel says he likes some of the guys already on the roster.

“We need one of our guys to step up. Somebody like Madson or Geary. I definitely think Madson can compete. You guys always talk about how good he could be in the back of the bullpen. I hear our organization talk about how good he could be in the back of the bullpen. The door is open for him,” Manuel said. 'Alfonseca] can definitely take over that job right now. We might have that guy in-house. We need to beef up the back end of our bullpen. The more depth we get in the bullpen, the better we'll be.'"

They're guessing how many games the Sillies will win next year right now on WIP. What does everyone think as of right now?

I'm thinking 88

Not just a steak dinner Carson, a Morton's steak dinner. I guess it's too late to jump on the Victorino-40-steal bandwagon, Clout? I'm willing to guess anything about the Phillies, no matter how far-fetched, if there's the slightest chance of getting Morton's for it.

Only time in my life I ate 40 ounces of steak in a sitting. Man was that good.

Based on current roster, more pointedly bullpen, the Phils will win 89 games. Now, if we can trade Lieber for some semblance of a set-up man, then I'm thinking 91-92 wins. Keep in mind I predicted 85 wins last season, so I'm not overly optimistic.

Any gueses where Trachsel will end up? I can't believe that he's still out there.

on Rotoworld:
Free agent Bernie Williams said he would consider playing for a team other than the Yankees, though he's not necessarily committed to playing another year.

"Yeah, I think I could," Williams said when asked if he could sign elsewhere. "The loyalty factor goes both ways. When a team that you’ve played for doesn’t want to offer a contract, it is making a business decision. So I have to make a business decision." The Phillies may have some interest if Williams is open to playing elsewhere.

Oh christ, sign bernie, PLEASE!

gr, my apologies. Didn't catch that it was sarcasm.

Haha, he doesn't exactly sound thrilled about the idea. I'm guessing he's just posturing for the Yanks. He has no desire to play for anyone else. The Yanks are stupid if they think he will.

Sidenote: Notice how Howard is everywhere you read recently which is nice that he is as accomodating and in demand as the new superstar of Philadelphia.

I know everyone talks about the bullpen but he is still the key factor this year in regards to the post season chances. Any injury or prolonged Burrell-type slump could be devasting and I just hope he stays healthy, composed and himself.

Only a few select athletes have ever experienced the domination in their sport in such short time as Howard did last year. The resume showed the promise as did the ROY award but no one could have predicated his end results and all the accolades and national spotlight.

That is alot to absorb in one year and it is hard to fathom him not getting somewhat caught up in all of this and effecting his performance this upcoming year.

One good note is that I read Manuel is thinking of putting Utley behind him against righties which should create the best protection scenario.

I heard Bernie wants to sign but Ruiz won't give up his number

Clout and KDon: I agree about having little faith in Alfonseca, the "12-fingered wonder." He is probably one of the few guys that I will be really interested in during spring training. Just hope he can still hit 92 or 93 on the fastball but I don't have high hopes.

If this bullpen is to be even somewhat decent though, there has to be at least one "breakthrough" guy ala Geary last year. Maybe Sanches or Condrey catches lightning in a bottle but I think that one of the younger guys (Segovia, Bisenius, Castro, ???) is a better candidate to break through.

Phillies manager Charlie Manuel reiterated that Pat Burrell would remain the No. 5 hitter behind Ryan Howard to begin spring training. "It's his job to lose," Manuel said...

Ugh, I'd forgotten how much I hate those words.

I haven't forgotten how much I hate Charlie Manuel though.

Jason: Great hed.

Zach: Morton's...totally, dude.

MG: Dead on. I'm guessing Segovia or Bisenius, and I'm still hoping they go very light on Castro this season. Example after example exists of pitchers overworked at this age and burning out by age 25. A few, like Dwight Gooden, are so good they can keep going as a .500 pitcher for several more years, but most fade away fast, a la Steve Avery. I, on the other hand, think Castro could be a latter-day Bobby Shantz if handled properly -- as a significant long-term asset. I have no reason to be optimistic, do I? I seem to be the only one on the board worried about overwork.

Alby, considering how often he was used last year, the only way I see Castro getting overworked is when he hits AAA. He isn't old enough for Manual to over use him.

If overwork is what you're worried about, you might look toward Moyer, Myers, etc.

WP -

Myers?? Moyer? Christ, one throws so slow, that I think you coud start him back to back, and the other is a big, muscular workhorse.

The one you have to worry about is Geary, and Gordon.

As for Castro - I'm hoping for 75-100 innings out of him. His young body should be able to do it.

Our main durability concern should be Hamels. He still hasn't played a full season.

As presently comprised, I'd expect them to win 84 games, but should we trade for some help in the bullpen, that number could go up. Really though, it's hard to be too optimistic when you figure we'll get no production from our catchers, next to nothing from our third basemen, subpar production from the outfield, a very iffy and old closer, and no one that's really good enough to replace him or pitch in the 8th.

Tray- we won 85 games last season, so why would we dip down to 84? 3rd Base has been upgraded with the addition of Helms instead of the hated David Bell/No-Hit Nunez suckfest. Mike Lieberthal's defense was shot an his hitting was ok, so I think Ruiz and Barajas will be able to cover that "loss". Freddy Garcia is a workhorse a solid top of the rotation pitcher, and Eaton has plenty of that dreaded word...potential. Last year we suffered through Madson and Floyd...huge upgrade! Not to mention a full season of Hamels and progressiong from him equals more wins, and Myers still has the opportunity to improve as well. Victorino is a drop off from Bobby, but this offense is still going to score a ton of runs. If Gillick can add a decent reliever for Lieber then we're set.

Tray: Agree with the OF production being down, but should be up at 3B because of Helms. Catching should be flat with last year.

zach: I'm with you. Hamels still has a degenerative disc in his back and remains the most fragile of the starting 5. I hope they go easy on him early.

alby: I like Castro, but Bobby Schantz is a bit of a stretch. I hope he gets at least a half season in AAA this year.

MG: I agree with you too, as usual. If there's a bullpen surprise it won't Condrey or Sanches. It will be one of the kids.

Hey kdon, looks like clout finally sees the light a bit regarding Il Pulpo.

Clout, the question of who can "help" more in the bullpen revolves around what they are asked to do.

At the time they signed Alfonseca, kdon (he can post for himself) and I were concerned for the reasons you two have already discussed, so I won't repeat them.

Where you and I differ about Condrey vs. Alfonseca is the roles that they are asked to perform. In a middle relief or mop-up role, Condrey, IMO, can be just as effective as Il Pulpo, at a much lower cost. That's what the debate was about when they signed him.

Now, our worst fear has materialized, they're talking about Il Pulpo at the back end.


GM-Carson. If I had to highlight one area that has been overlooked, it would actually be the offense. The core of the Phils' offense (Utley, Howard, Rollins, Burrell) is solid but they can't be certain about what kind of production they are going to get from CF, RF, 3B, and C. Plus, their bench is generally be pretty weak again offensively this year so don't count on much of an upgrade their. Phils probably get more offense from 3B but less from CF, RF, and C than last season. Who knows - maybe the pitchers start to hit.

Plus, the Phils really depended on the long ball to score runs last year. Just don't see Howard or Rollins getting near their totals from last year. Phils' fan are being pretty zealous if they expect Howard to hit more than 50 HRs again. I would be thrilled with 40-45 HRs. Plus, I don't know how much power the Phils are going to get out of a platoon of Victorino/Werth.

All-in-all, I think the Phils are going to be a good offensive team but they won't lead the league again in runs. My darkhorse prediction - I am willing to bet that the Braves and the Mets score more runs than the Phils this year.

MB, I agree with that assessment. I think the pitching should be stronger but the offense not as productive, while the bullpen and bench will be as subpar as they were a year ago. I see it all evening out to about 87 wins and yet another scramble for the wild card.

Make that MG.

MG, RSB, you have raised the 'to be, or not to be' question.

It's baseball. We don't know what we're going to get from this offense, or from the pitching.

Let's look at the lineup, top to bottom. I'll make several assumptions about who's starting.

Leadoff - Rollins
Was last year a career year in HR? Can we expect more? Will he raise his average or regress to '03? Will his purported weight loss amount to a faster start for him and for the club?

#2 - Victorino
Can he improve on last year's performance? Will the additional weight he claims to have put on help him through the year? Will it diminish his speed, or can he steal 30-40 bases? Will it help his power numbers? Can he even become an everyday player?

#3 - Utley
Some of the same questions as Rollins. Can he cut down his Ks and raise his average? Can he improve?

Cleanup - #6
Will increased confidence coming off of last year lead to bigger numbers? Can we expect more? Will he come back to earth and only hit 40-50 HRs with 120 RBI? His talent is nearly limitless, but will the increased glare and attention take it's toll?

#5 - Burrell
Which Pat Burrell will show up this year, and why is he so un-coachable?

#6 - Helms?
Has he, in the world according to Gillick, "gotten it"? Is he the .316 hitter the last two years, or the .243 hitter from '02? Can he provide enough punch and defense to be additive?

#7 - Rowand
Will we get the Aaron Rowand who was hitting .310 before he encountered the unpadded CF wall - a gift of ownership too cheap to spend $$$ on padding? Or has his vision been damaged permanently, and is he a .262 hitter from now on?

#8 - Catcher
Your guess is as good as mine. Will it be Barajas and his .252 average the last three years? Will it be an improving Ruiz who raised his average from .191 Sept. 3rd to .261? Or will Coste become the primary catcher? Will he settle in at .280 - .300, or can he stay above the magic 3-0-0?

What happens in the 8 hole is, IMO, the most important Chollie decision/development in the entire lineup. It can affect whether the lineup turns over, whether anyone is on base for JRoll if he hits a dinger, etc., etc., etc.

#9 - Pitcher
Are they the worst hitting group of pitchers in baseball, or does it just seem like it? And can they please, please, puleeeeeeese just get a damn bunt down and move the runner over. The inability of this pitching staff to learn this basic fundamental could be the biggest failing of the Milt Thompson hitting coach era.

The bench?

BTW, I was just adding up the dollars. The salaries of Abreu, Wolf, Lieberthal, Bell, Rhodes, Lidle, Franklin, Cormier, Fultz and Delucci added up to $49,175,000 last year. Whew!

AWH, I would expect Rollins to hit around .300 but with not quite as much power. He seems to be turning into more of a line-drive hitter instead of a fly-ball hitter. I'm predicting around 20 homers and another all-star selection for Jimmy. I think Utley has pretty much maximized his power potential but may have room to improve on the batting average; he could contend for a batting title. Howard will almost certainly come down a bit, I'd think with about ten fewer homers.

I can't see Victorino playing more than 130-140 games in RF. I think he's going to be a streaky player as a regular, but when he's hot, the top of the order will be a menace. I see him and Rowand putting up comparable numbers. I don't see him stealing 30-40 bases. Helms is kind of an unknown. I'm guessing about .260 with 15 homers and a ton of double-play, sound like any third basemen we know? The catchers likewise are impossible to predict. I *still* think Ruiz doesn't finish the season in the Phillies' organization - only if he outplays Barajas by a considerable margin will this not occur. And Burrell...I see him hitting over 30 homers but not doing enough to change his game to have the kind of success the Phillies need him to have. Why is he so uncoachable? You can start with a fatal combination of big ego and small brain.

It's a good offense. It's not a great offense, and nor is it not a balanced offense. The Phillies will have a lot trouble scoring runs in the bottom part of the lineup, once again stacking slow right-handed hitters of dubious quality all in a row. The top four hitters are going to have to carry this team night in and night out.

Hopefully that won't happen. It was a drag last year feeling like you didn't even need to watch until Jimmy was up again.

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EST. 2005

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