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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

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"Three months later, Gillick hasn’t exactly given his field boss much choice."

Jason, over the last several months, I've given up expecting more from Gillick and this ownership group. Haven't you?

Quite a stat to warrant keeping Eaton in the rotation:

"As a starter, officials view Eaton as a pitcher who gets stronger as the game goes on, and the numbers back it up. Over his career, he’s best between pitch 46 and 105. The first 15 pitches are his worst."

I think that stat may be a bit overrated, if Cholly gave him some time to adapt to a RPs routine. Sadly he has given none to either.

I think motivation may be the biggest factor here. Eaton just got his deal and should be eager to walk the line for the team, while Lieber is in his walk year and needs to get his price tag up for his last deal.

My gut says that neither will do well in the pen due to lack of experiance there. Hope I am wrong though.

Anyone know what would be worse for Eatons finger situaton? Starting or relief?

Not sure of the specific nature of the injury, but I'd assume the more he throws, the worse it gets. But, for someone in the organization to say "he could win 20 games", then have him in the BP, is a big difference. I dunno.

Don't forget Eaton is also near the bottom of the league in innings per start over the past 5 years. Most of that, of course, is due to injury, but I'd be shocked if he suddenly turns into a 7 IP starter. Also, I think Lieber's trade value goes down if he's sent to the pen.

That's a good point about losing trade value. I've lost track over the last 5 days or so, but wasn't he having a decent spring? Going to have to keep praying someone else loses a starter...and soon.

of the two, I'd go with Leiber, mainly for the walk rate. That's the one aspect of his game which doesn't seem to have changed much in his time at Philly. They both managed about the same homeruns per 9 last year (1.52 for eaton, 1.45 for lieber), although Lieber's tendency to give up the longball has grown whilst at Philly.

If we're going to get value out of eaton, and he still has this potential (i'm sceptical myself), he should be given every opportunity to show it. He can't do too much damage as our 4th/5th starter, so best to let him get on with rebuilding his game after several years of injury.

I wish I knew who in the organization thought he would win 20 games. I would put the odds at that slightly below Jimmy Rollins scoring 150 runs and slightly above Pat Burrell winning the batting title.

regarding liebers value going down if he goes to the bullpen - I don't think it would in this case. Any GM is going to recognise that the only reason lieber is in the bullpen is because we haven't been able/wanted to trade him so far. Normally if an experienced starter gets moved to relief, then yes, I think people's expectations of their value would decrease. But everyone recognises that he's being moved to the 'pen because we have one too many pitchers, not because we think he's more effective there.

True, not like it's a mystery that Lieber's being shopped.

Oisin, I would generally agree with you, but if Lieber gets tagged in the bullpen I'm not sure how far the perception of him as a Starting Pitcher (and not a guy who's just washed-up) will go.

ae - more to the point, I wish I knew WHY they think he can win 20 games. There's nothing in his peripheral numbers that I can see to indicate a great or even good pitcher. Aside from 2001, when he managed a very respectable K/9 ratio of 8.41 (but only managed to pitch 116 innings), I can't see anything which really screams good pitcher. Granted, his K/9 do seem to be marginally better than league average, and maybe its just a case of him putting it together in a different way to become an effective strikeout pitcher. But I think it very unlikely.

just read verducci's dice-k article on SI.com.

i know this sounds like heresy, but can someone explain why we don't just use a 6-man rotation, besides the fact that most american pitchers are used to a 5-day rotation to build up their arms after a start? i guess that would also reduce the number of starts for top-of the rotation guys like myers and hamels, but isn't it possible that they'll hold up better and provide better and longer starts over the course of a season and playoffs?

ae- I'm not even bold/stupid enough to predict Eaton with 20 wins. Now Rollins 150 runs on the other hand...j/k.

Verducci's column is interesting (maybe a little overwritten) but IMO completely wrong. adding another starter to the rotation doesn't allow pitchers to go any deeper into games. with few exceptions, most pitchers tire after ~100 pitches no matter how much off time they have. Japanese baseball is really not a valid comparison - bottom of the order hitters in MLB (*especially* the AL East) are much better than bottom of the order hitters in NPB. Matsuzaka is not going to be throwing 150-pitch outings in Boston, and if he does, he will burn out within a year or two.

of course, it's theoretically possible that Matsuzaka could be one of those genetic oddities that come along occasionally. Livan Hernandez is one of course, although he's a) not very good any more and b) a very, very large man - unlike Matsuzaka. but I see it as highly unlikely. we just went through this whole issue of young, seemingly invincible pitchers with Prior and Wood (and the Orioles went through it in the 1960s with Jerry Walker, Jack Fisher, Chuck Estrada, and Steve Barber - see Rob Neyer's Baseball Lineups book) and it has got them nowhere but the DL.

other reasons, that I can think of:
- doesn't apply to us, but few teams actually have six legitimate starting pitchers.
- uses up a roster spot that could otherwise be put to better use - i.e. on someone you use more than once a week.

Six-man rotation idea is interesting especially given the Phils' bullpen woes. Just don't see a guy like Manuel though doing something that different though.

Guess Lieber is your 5th starter for now. As Weitzel stated, Lieber is not really a viable candidate to go to the pen.


I've gone back and forth on Lieber/Eaton and at this point I just don't know. WHat I do know is that it probably won't make that big of a difference, maybe a handful of runs over the course of the first few months before someone gets hurt and things return to normal.

But...I think I would go with a six-man rotation at this point. While Hamels, Myers and Garcia are a notch above the rest, it's not like we would be pushing back Pedro c. 2000 or anything. Eaton, Hamels, Moyer and Myers could probably all use the rest early on in the season.

The problem, of course, is that this would take a more creative manager and Cholly wouldn't be able to use his lame 7-8-9 bullpen every night.

So if that's not happening, I say move Lieber to the pen, mostly because of that slow start stat Jason posted. It won't matter by the end of March anyway.

Fearless bullpen prediction:

Gordon, Geary, Madson, Lieber, Smith, Alfonseca, Condrey

Ooops, meant "end of April", not March.

Kdon: From earlier post. No, I certainly do not think that Victorino is going to put up Abreu (Past or Present; He is going to have down year this year) numbers. To me that is irrelevant. It would be a luxury to have a guy that could produce like Abreu, but we dont need that, nor could we afford that (At least in Montgomery's mind). Vic is fine for what he is, and as long as their is not a major injury, the Phils will score plenty of runs.

Clout: I agree, Geary does not have the makings of a closer, and I never said that. I dont think that being the most consistent reliever and being the closer are mutually exclusive. I just wanted to say that I'm glad we have him.

Clout again: I don't think it was the water that Padilla was drinking at Ameriquest that made any difference. May have been liquid, but not water. Maybe it was the absence of some drink that made a difference. Or maybe he just sweated it off better in Texas. Dunno?

I don't want to belabor the always fun Abreu arguments, but how is the production of the RF "irrelevent."

If you have Abreu, you can let Rowand walk and put Vic in CF. Rowand + Eaton = $13M, or a whopping $2M less than Abreu would make this year.

Sorry that was a little unclear. I mean the Phils could have had a very similar payroll this year even if they kept Abreu...all they had to do was pass on Eaton and let Rowand walk.

don't understand why we can't trade him to the G*d*mn Twins! I seriously doubt they want to start Ponson.

They have a plethora of bullpen arms.


mm: that's what i thought too. we could use Pat Neshek even though he's a righty. but according to THT, twins have the deepest starting rotation in the bigs on the account that their farm system has really good starters in the queue.


Even at this late date, I still cannot believe Gillick would actually go all the way into the regular season with six starters. It would be a travesty. Maybe if one got hurt in April, he'd look like the Old Wise Man of baseball. But you don't count on someting like that happening, certanly not as a justification for keeping an extra starter around when you have other needs on the team to address. Which are easier to find: starting pitchers or relief pitchers? The answer has to be relievers. I cannot believe Gillick has no way of getting something done with some team. He says everyone is looking for the same thing: relievers. I say they're looking for starters *at least* as much. And if everyone is looking for relievers, I'll ask this of Gillick: why the hell not you for the past four months? Clout brought up Dotel in the last thread; another prime example, along with Hermanson and Borowski, of someone who could have been had relatively cheaply, who have far better upsides than Wonder-Digit Alfonseca.

If the Phillies elect to put Lieber in the bullpen, it is nothing short of asinine. This is a guy with *zero* relief-pitching experience, one who is perhaps the most hittable pitcher on the staff - great, he doesn't walk anyone, but how in the world could you have confidence bringing him in with runners already on base? To make matters more absurd, he hasn't even been used in relief all spring! I know kdon has the theory that it doesn't matter to a pitcher whether he's starting or relieving, but no one has any way of knowing how he would adapt to that role. It's a complete crapshoot.

And to put Eaton in the pen might even be more ludicrous, especially considering the bloated contract he just got. He doesn't have the stuff to even be a set-up man. You're going to pay a 6th/7th inning guy $8 million?!? One who has no previous experience as a reliever, at that? The word is INSANE.

Manuel sounds like he's stopping just short of lashing out at Gillick. If he doesn't work something out with this pitching imbalance, he's going to have had a worse off-season his first one, which is really saying something. I am incredibly underwhelmed with his performance as the Phillies' GM to date.

the Twins do have a very weak back of the rotation - but they also have at least three, maybe four major league-ready arms at AAA. most of the columnists I've read are mystified why the Twins are even wasting time on re-re-retreads like Ponson when they have a surplus of young arms who wouldn't do any worse.

anyway, the upshot is they have no need for another aging back of the rotation starter, unfortunately.

RSB: As usual, you and I agree. :-)

The ideal solution is that Lieber gets traded for a real setup man so we don't have to use Geary/Madson in a role they're not equipped for. And if one of the starting 5 gets hurt, we have Germano in AAA to step in as insurance. ooops!

I am right there with you RSB and Clout. IMO, there is very little chance we go into the season with Lieber on the team, regardless of what Gillick has said. Hell, if all we can get is Damaso Marte, do it! At least he is a veteran left-hander out of the pen (something this team sorely lacks...but of course we all knew that already).

And who knows if Lieber's arm can respond to pitching multiple times in a week or coming into games and working primarily from the stretch ?

I am OK with stashing Lieber in the pen until you can get value for him in a trade. This certainly is not a long term solution though.

And I don't get this caution people have over trading Lieber: 'you can't just give him away!' Yes. You can. Get a reliever for him. Any reliever will do. Thank you.

Impressive outing for Segovia. He should be considered to be in the bullpen mix.

Lieber's market value is pretty low. He wasn't even able to fetch Torres from the Pirates straight up.

There are very few teams that are going to give up a guy who has the potential to close better than Madson for a back of the rotation starter. The only way that's happening is if the Phillies also move a blue chip prospect, which includes Happ and Bourn. That said, I wouldn't be surprised if Coste gets traded to the Rockies for Kim or a left handed RP like Affeldt.
That said, if you look at last year's stats, there aren't too many reliable left handed relievers with low WHIPs around the entire league with a decent number of innings pitched. In fact, Smith and Castro compare fairly favorably under that metric. Probably the best, somewhat attainable guy is Damaso Marte of the Pirates. In fact, if we can land him with Lieber, I'd don't think that'd be a bad deal. but then again, the pirates have no interest in Lieber, so that's simply wishful thinking. I wonder how much the Rockies would ask for B. Fuentes? He's someone that I wouldn't mind setting up and eventually taking over for Gordon. Does anybody know when he becomes a free agent?


Fuentes signed a two year contract in 2005. So he'll be a FA next year. If the Rockies start tanking, the Phillies should definitely go after him.

Like Martin said in the previous thread, Segovia's season in Reading was similar to that of Carlos Silva when he was in town. Stingy with walks. Good with home runs. And he sort of has the same low profile Silva had in terms of hype. And just like Silva, he seems to be in that gray area whether he's a future starter or reliever. Segovia would have been in the running for 20 minor league wins last season if he hadn't pitched for Team USA. I like him, and I think his road to the majors will go through the bullpen first. I get a feeling the Phillies feel the same about him, they've reportedly been stretching him out since surgery, but ultimately view him as a reliever. That's what I've heard.

Nevertheless, the Phils have been wrong before on how to use pitchers. Silva was thought of as Jose Mesa's heir to the closer role. He was later traded and won 14 games for the Twins.

Geez RSB, cool the hysterics. Lieber isn't going to be bouncing the ball up there just because he isn't starting the game. You still do the same things, throw strikes and let you're fielders do the work. You make it seem like we're putting him at SS!

Everyone just needs to calm down and realize that the difference between Lieber and some retread reliever is nothing, and that there is even a possibility Lieber is good at it. Add in the fact that one of the five will almost assuredly go down during the season, and it makes sense to keep all six unless you get a great deal. We've given away enough players in the Gillick era, thank you.

I agree that the pen is not where it needs to be, but to call carrying six starters into the season a "travesty" is going waaaay overboard.

And seriously, "Segovia should be in the mix"

Why in the world are you comforatable with a guy with NO IP above AA (and almost all as a starter BTW!!!!) over a ML pitcher with 13 years of experience?

This is ludicrous.

Clout, I know you were joking, but seriously, who does fill in if/when a starter goes down if Lieber is traded? Happ, Brito, Madson?

RSB Leiber pitched in releif for the Pirates in 95 & 96. Not since though.

JW: I see now why Segovia is similar to Silva. Hopefully not quite as hittable, but I don't see any reason why he couldn't be a serviceable sixth-inning guy.

kdon: it is a travesty, in my opinion. If you have a surplus in one area and a deficit in another, you deal with it accordingly. You don't slide one of the surplus into the area of deficit because it's convenient. It needs to be gauged whether the player can actually perform in that area. The Phillies don't know this. I'm glad you seem so positive Leiber will be exactly the same pitcher in bullpen situations. I don't see how he is suited to the bullpen, especially if he's been accustomed to pitching every five days for his entire professional career. And we're not talking about someone with Dennis Eckersley's or John Smoltz's stuff here - he's not the kind of pitcher who could turn such a conversion into an advantage by airing it out for one inning. So whereas you say there is no difference between Lieber and a retread reliever, I say that Lieber's downside is worse in that role - and there isn't good upside to compensate. At least a retread is familiar with and comfortable with the role he'd be heading into. Lieber does not fit on this roster. It is useless to try to make him fit.

This was too much. From Scott Lauber's blog, the straight shooting Assistant GM Amaro commenting on losing Germano to the Pads:

"At least at this stage, we figured he wasn't going to figure in for us at the outset," assistant GM Ruben Amaro Jr. told me. "We tried to sneak him through waivers. We felt like he had a shot to get through. We would've liked to have him as inventory, but it's kind of a no-harm, no-foul thing for us."

Link here:
http://www.delawareonline.com/blogs/phillies.html

Trading a decent reliever and getting nothing in return is "no harm". No wonder the bullpen has problems.

boy, can't wait for the Amaro Junior Era! ETA what, next spring?

Jason, kdon, RSB: Segovia is considered a mediocre prospect by every web site and scouting service I'm familiar with. But so was Carlos Silva. I would say maybe 1 out of 8 grade C prospects is successful in the majors. Silva was the one. Whether Segovia is also, I don't know. But I think the odds are against it.

Happ is a much better prospect, but as a finesse lefty, has little room for error. I love his K/BB ratio and he's got good command of a curve and change. If Happ can maintain his command in AAA, he'd be my choice to fill in if a starter goes down. If he struggles, then kdon is right, it'll be Madson or Brito.

To re-emphasize my point about Lieber's trade value declining if he's in the bullpen, it's not that he would forget how to be a starter, it's that it would probably take him at least 3 weeks to get back on a starter track. The training, workout procedure is totally different. Only a small group of pitchers can easily move from starting to relieving and back on short notice.

tony: I like Fuentes & Marte and that might be doable. But on Torres, he was one of the best relievers in the NL last season so saying that Leiber couldn't even fetch Torres is a big "Duh!"

Unfortunately, 'it is what it is' as far as the pen is concerned.

I've read a lot of posts on this site today about the supposed availablity of certain relievers. Borowski was available but this risk adverse ownership group, burned by the Mike Jackson signing, among others, is too risk adverse (translation: cheap) to do a deal like that.

Dotel wanted to close, so he probably wouldn't have come to Philly. Besides, this ownership group NEVER would have put up the dough it took to get him.

Hermanson: chalk that up to lousy scouting.

Speaking of scouting, doesn't Gillick pride himself on 'personally' scouting players. If that's the case, I wonder what the state of the pen says about his ability.

It doesn't appear Jon Lieber will "figure in" much at the onset, either. Maybe the Prince of France could try slipping him through waivers, too. After all, most front offices are largely disinterested when pitching becomes available. It's only "inventory."

clout, the only way Torres rates as one of the best relievers in the NL last season is if you're judging based on appearances. he had a 1.46 WHIP, .274 OAV, 3.66 BB/9. he had a terrifically lucky ERA because he never gave up any HR - not that that's not important, but it's almost literally the only thing he did well. (he was very good in 2004 and 2005, but it's a stretch to say he was more than average in '06.)

as a matter of fact, I think Torres is probably one of the worst names thrown around. the guy is going into his age 35 season, and he's made 256 appearances for 280 innings in the last three years. that's an absurd workload for a reliever. I don't know if I'd want to take the chance that he's the next Hoyt Wilhelm.

ae, pleeeeeeeeease don't remind me that the Amaro, Jr. era may happen. Pleeeeeeeease!!!

And to think Hunsicker was avialable. But geez, so was Leyland....once.

The eleven best pitchers for the Phils are healthy, in camp, and ready to go. It's a nice luxury to have, but at the same time, it's like we've paid too much for car insurance.

I hate to bring this up, but do we know how healthy Lieber's groin is? (Yech, what a thought...) If that is 90-95% healthy, then he has his command and his follow through to induce the grounders. He's still Lieber and will keep the walks down. He's the better bullpen pitcher statistically and he's right there when one of the starters will go down, as they always do.

"Only a small group of pitchers can easily move from starting to relieving and back on short notice."

cmon, clout, doughnut boy is in good enough physical shape to go to the pen and back. Give him a break...a coffee break with doughnuts, that is.

How was Torres one of the best relievers in the NL last season? He had a 3.28 ERA, a WHIP of 1.46, gave up more than a hit an inning, had a K/9 rate of about 7, and had less than a 2 K/BB rate. Those are all mediocre-crappy numbers for a reliever.

So dump Lieber for any reliever we can get even if that reliever is worse than one of the choices we already have available?

Now that's BRILLIANT strategy. I'm sure these are the same people bitching and moaning because we gave Abreu or Rolen away.

If Lieber's value isn't high enough for us to get what we need now, hold on to him until some team gets desperate. And remember, that desperate team might be us in April should something happen to one of our starters.

"If Lieber's value isn't high enough for us to get what we need now, hold on to him until some team gets desperate."

And when exactly is that going to be, CJ, if it isn't in the last two weeks of spring training?

Here's a synopsis of my logic. Phillies need: relievers. Lieber: not a reliever. Trade what you DON'T need for what you DO need instead of pretending that what you DON'T need can assume the role of what you DO need.

tony: OK Torres has been one of the best relievers over the past 3 years, how's that? Last season he was down a bit from previous two. But a guy who gives up singles, gets lots of DP balls, can pitch close to 100 IP every year, had a 3.28 ERA and 12 saves is NOT remotely mediocre-crappy. If he was mediocre-crappy you could've got him for Lieber.

As long as Lieber is on the team, I wonder if there's some way to use Lieber in a role between starter and 1 inning reliever. That is, use him like a long inning reliever, but one you would actually use in higher leverage situations.

We know that the Phillies are going to try to avoid using Flash multiple games in a row. Lieber could be used to close out some games from the 6th or 7th innning on. For example, say the Phillies are up in a game 7-4 in the 7th inning and the starter is coming out. Rather than use the Madson/Alfonseca/Gordon trifecta, or whatever it may be, just use Lieber for 7-9, especially if the 3 have pitched the day before. Basically, use Lieber to finish games with medium size leads, like 3-4 runs.

This is a pretty unorthodox strategy and that alone makes me think the Phillies would ever use it. Still, I'd be curious how it would work. Substitute Eaton for Lieber in the above paragraph if you think Lieber is a better starter (which I do).

RSB, CJ:

Phillies don't really need a reliever...yet. They just need to get lucky and have one of their young guns step up and fill in the space at the back of the bullpen until the AllStar break.

If the Phillies don't have an established 5th reliever after Madson, Geary, Alfonseca and Smith, I don't think it's a big deal. If one of the top 5 starters goes down and the Phillies then have to rely Happ, we'll be in huge trouble. As i noted before, the Mets are rolling with 9-10 veteran starters deep. Since no one's willing to trade a top of the line reliever for Lieber right now, there's no need to give up your sole starting rotation safety margin for a mediocre, back end bullpen guy. the phillies can just as easily rotate people in and out of that spot and see give their prospects some big league experience.


CJ, no one is advocating trading Lieber for "any" reliever.

The problem is many teams are still in need of pitching, either starters, relievers, or both.

The Yankees rotation has aome question marks. The Muts, too. The Red Sox have as many questions in teir pen as the Phillies.

Pitching is at a premium as long as it's position players being traded for it - witness the LaRoche/Gonzalez trade, where an everyday player who can hit for power was traded for a reliever, something that never would have happened in times past.

So, to try to trade pitching for pitching is tough. Teams that need pitching are reluctant to give it up.

My problem is a personal one. I'm losing faith in this team's ability to do a trade for Lieber that has any kind of long-term benefit.

clout -
torres is trending downwards. i agree that he does induce a lot of ground balls, which suits CBP (but with the Phils weak infield defense, that might not be that much of an advantage). however, he's still not one of the top 20 relievers in any of the last three years, much less collectively.
and given what gillick says, lieber can't retrieve an even half-decent reliever right now. if you think about it, look at who's in the market for above average bullpen arms or closers and you'll see that the Phillies can't match the offers that are being made by teams like the Red Sox, Marlins, and Reds; they have a lot more to offer than the Phillies' offer of Lieber.

The notion of leverage is intriguing. Remember 2 inning plus saves in the 70s and 80s? Good times. Some guy named McGraw did that on October 21, 1980...

Interestingly, Tom Verducci makes the point that experience in the pen doesn't matter that much. Limk here:

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2007/writers/tom_verducci/03/20/preseason.picks/1.html

It's the talent, stupid!

I agree that Lieber will be moved. Maybe I am a real cynic but I have been a Phils fan long enough to know that money talks with this team. Really think the Phils are motivated to move Lieber as much by his contract ($7.5 million) as they are by filling a bullpen need.

Moved Lieber to the bullpen is just a plain stupid idea for at least 5 reasons:

1. Phils desperately need bullpen help - Bullpen was a huge problem down the stretch last year and if anything the Phils actually somehow managed to create less depth this offseason in their bullpen.

2. Lieber hasn't been a reliever anytime recently - No one has any idea how his arm will respond to potential usage in consecutive games. Just don't have alot of faith in a guy who is in his upper 30s, is not the best conditioned, and spent a decent amount of time on the DL last year.

3. Lieber isn't a strikeout pitcher - Lieber is not capable of coming in to strike out a batter with runners on base.

4. Lieber's trade value will be further diminished - Whatever trade value he has left as a starter is gone. No way a team trades for a long relief making $7.5 million.

5. Lieber's reaction/attitude to a demotion to pen - No one has really raised this issue but I doubt Lieber will be a good soldier about this move. Lieber is in a contract year and could potentially still sign a decent 1 or 2-yr deal next offseason. Hell, if Lieber puts up decent numbers as a starter this year (4.00-4.25 ERA), then he stands to cash in for at least $8-$10 million next year. Don't discount that factor.

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