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Monday, May 28, 2007

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Besides the bullpen, this team is really starting to come together. Gregg Dobbs is a good role player. He and Nunez should continue to split time at 3rd, straight up platoon, with Nuni against lefties and Dobbs against righties. Helms then becomes the primary pinch-hitter and in that role he's decent. I know people dislike Werth, but as a 4th/5th outfielder and pinch-hitter he's decent too. Overall, our offense is sweet. Rowand has been great, Jimmy is back to his comfort zone in the leadoff, Vic is good when he gets the ocassional breather, Howard is back, Utley is the MVP, Ruiz is a nice bottom of the lineup guy, and well Burrell, he's Burrell.

The rotation has 2 quality lefties (young Hamels and crafty oldy Moyer), a man re-energized (Lieber), a guy trying to fit in and become consistent (Eaton), and a letdown that needs to start pitching better for both the Phils hopes and his future contract (Garcia).

Like I said, the bullpen is what is up in the air. Look at this though- Madson is back and healthy and should be able to handle the 6th. Geary is our 7th inning man. Zagurski lefty. Alfonseca in setup duty, but besides a rough 2 week stretch, he's been good. Myers and Gordon come back healthy and ship out Rosario and Condrey, things don't look as bad. Still don't look great, but it's an improvement. Yoel Hernandez is even finding his niche.

Carson: Good summary. The way I read this, it all depends on Myers & Gordon coming back healthy. I do not want Alfonseca (or Geary or Madson) as my setup man/closer. Way, way too risky. Zagurski, who's added 2-3 mph to his fastball over the past year, is hopefully the LOOGY answer.

Jason, I agreed with your point about lineup fungibility in the last thread, but we shouldn't go overboard.

One of the problems when Howard was out was that both Rollins and Rowand tanked when moved.

More important than the lineup changing is the simple fact that Dobbs and even Nunez hit way better than Helms. The fact that they have other dimensions (LH bat, some speed) is helpful, but I think if Helms had gone on a tear, we would have seen the same thing.

"Besides the bullpen, this team is really starting to come together."

Not to call you out Carson, but this quote is indicative of why so many people were saying "look at the Braves." The team did a nice job against Hudson, but over the weekend they faced stiffs.

We always tend to think of teams gelling or breaking apart, but really it's just talent vs. talent with a healthy dose of luck. The Braves played without Chipper Jones, with a horribly slumping Andru Jones and Thorman, and with two stiffs in the rotation.

Not saying that the Phils didn't play well, only that the drastic highs and lows seen on this board could be leveled a bit if we realized there was another team on the field.

Remember, last Wednesday night, half of this board was ready to jump ship. I guess we can start sending out the life rafts now.

kdon- I don't feel like you were calling me out. And you're right about the "jumping ship" thing. I ride the ups and the downs and stick around for it all. I was pissed about the Marlins series, but that all boiled down to a stupid manger and a worthless catcher. I'm holding out hope Barajas is done doing boneheaded things, and possibly being shipped out shortly. Manuel wil forever be stupid, but this team in my opinion has enough talent offensively to overcome it.

Ah yes, 3 victories in Atlanta and life is good. No doubt it will stay that way -- as long as we keep facing mostly AAA and AAAA pitching, facing teams missing their #3 hitters, face few lefties, get production from Howard, keep all 5 aging and/or injury-prone starters healthy, get strong work from some of those guys in the BP who couldn't get anyone out for much of the year, get Myers back at 100% soon, keep getting timely hitting from all those guys on the bench who were deemed worthless for much of the year, get at least competent coaching for a change.... In other words, this is the same thin, shaky team it was a few days ago. The "trade" of Myers for Howard doesn't constitute an upgrade.

Damn Curt, Won't you drink even a little Kool-Aid?

Maybe I am getting fooled by the Phils again, but I like it and I'll enjoy it as long as it lasts.

Any idea what the record is when Ruiz starts vs when Barajas starts?

All Charlie has to do is keep Burrell out of the lineup and the Phils will win more games. For that matter, Helms, too. Reading might get smoked today up in Portland by Clayboy.

Random:

Huge series starts tonight in the AL with Boston and Cleveland. Wednesday's game three will be on ESPN2. These are baseball's two best clubs IMO, then I'd go Mets, LAA, Detroit in power rankings. If Phillies win this series with Arizona, they will be knocking on the door of breaking the top 10, with bullpen woes the only drag.

Astros have lost eight in a row. They're a non-factor this season. NL Central stinks. It's horrid.

Randy Wolf ... it's a sad shame he didn't want to stay, because if he had, the Phils would be sporting damn near the best rotation in baseball. He's setup for big success in LA however. 71 strikeouts is third in NL.

curt, you can use that exact same laundry list of problems for just about any other team in the National League (with the possible exception of the Mets).

Burrell's .225/.400/.408 line is obviously not helping anything, but replacing him with Bourn's .226/.351/.290 isn't going to help the Phillies unless we can convince every team to start their minor league organizational filler against us.

mediocre lefty going against the phils again tonight. will our bats show up?

Phils record when Ruiz starts: 17-13
Phils record when Barajas starts: 9-11

although to be fair to Barajas, Ruiz entered several games late which were then lost while he was behind the plate, not Barajas.

I'd like to emend what I said - the Dodgers Pythagorean record is better than ours by a nose. They've outscored their opponents by 18, we have by 20, but they're playing much lower-scoring games... when you do the math, our Pythagorean winning percentage is .540, theirs is .543. The Dodgers will probably also trade for a bat at the deadline.

I wouldn't call Davis mediocre, but he's definitely beatable. He held the Phils to two runs his last start and has a good track record against them.

well, you have to admit that we have a penchant for making run-of-the-mill lefties look like all-stars. and davis hasn't been bad, but he isn't exactly setting the world on fire with a .293 BAA and 1.72 WHIP so far this season. would be really nice to carry over the weekend's offense and put a lot of runs on the board for freddy "30 pitches an inning" garcia.

Phillies need to keep these games out of the hands of their bullpen, but if it comes to it, the most important guys are going to be Madson, Zagurski and Alfonseca.

After trashing him for half of April, Madson has quietly returned to form. I think Madson is so key right now, and Zagurski, too.

You've got to love that Zagurski kid, he just looks like a Philly kind of guy. You know the fans are going to make him one of their own quick. We were due for a guy like this to come from the minors and give us some excitement (I'm not discounting that this could be a fluke). Count on seeing a bunch of overweight guys in blonde wigs sporting a lame nickname fan group this week at the top of the stadium.

Our bullpen's pretty shaky and we'll need it early tonight - I'd say advantage Arizona, but the Phils are favorites to win the next two.

Thanks, ae, for the catcher stats.

So Ruiz is 17-13, Barajas is something 9-9ish and combined they're 0-2 or 3?

I agree with both kdon and Carson: Yes it's a long season and the manic/depression of this board seres to series can be maddening. On the other hand, there are 2 teams the Phils must beat to win the division: The Braves and the Mets. They just got done sweeping the Braves. Regardless of matchups, that's a good thing.

hippo: I disagree on Davis. He's off to a crappy start this season (hideous K/BB ratio), but the past 3 seasons he's been a solid, innings-eating middle of the rotation guy. Far superior to Buddy Carlyle and Kyle Davies. This series with the D'backs will be a good test. I think they have the best young talent in the NL West.
Matchups for the rest of the series: Lieber vs. Owings and then The Big Unit vs. Moyer in an Oldtimers matchup. Owings is one of a barrel of quality young talent the D'backs have, a big strong power pitcher out of Tulane who raced through the minors in a year and half. He throws 89-92 mph, but the key is his slider. When he's got command of it, he's very, very tough.

ae, your statement about Burrell being replaced by Bourn is the same argument from last August when Abreu was replaced by Victorino. Both Burrell's and Abreu's defense cost a team MORE LOST GAMES than they can win with their offense.

I think Manuel stumbled onto something here: when you play your bench players more often, they tend to produce more. He was pretty much iron-clad with the lineup for the first five weeks; Burrell, Rowand, Helms every single night, in that order, regardless of who was hitting. His willingness to start inserting Rowand in different spots in the order was the start of all this, and it should continue according to recent performance. The one mystery remains why Nunez hits 7th when he's a far better 8-hole hitter.

Phils need to keep it rolling at home, but opening a series with Garcia leaves room for caution. I'm guessing they lose 2 of 3 to AZ, win 3 of 4 from SF.

Walt: I bet you can't prove that statement.

while we are doing stats, the team is 0-1 in games in which Barajas fails to stay in a crouch at the plate and stands up to try and tag out the runner 5 feet from the plate for the 27th out

Walt, Dellucci/Conine replaced Abreu, not Victorino.

and also, you're wrong anyway.

The thing about PtB is we're stuck with him for 275 more games. Come Oct. 2008 he disappears without a trace. Until then, the Phillies send him a big fat check every month and Cholly has no choice but to run him out there most every night. That's just the way it is. All we can do is hope that Cholly & his successor are allowed to minimize the harm by sliding him further down in the order, and by giving him lots of rest days.

A Nunez/Dobbs platoon at third makes a lot of sense, but part of me wants to see what Dobbs can do against lefthanders.

He has such a nice swing. I don't see why everyone assumes he can't contribute every day. He at least should get a look.

On the bullpen: I'm the biggest Ryan Madson fan outside of his immediate family, but this team is going to have a real hard time staying competitive until Myers comes back.

Ben Keeler:

You oughta contact SABR - I bet they'd kill to add that stat to their arsenal of statistical evaluation tools.

Dobbs against lefties over his career:

2004: 3-4 .750
2005: 3-10 .300
2006: 0-1 .000
2007: 2-8 .250

small sample size, but 8-23 isn't too shabby.

I have nothing against Burrell. He is what he is, a great on-base guy with power.

i took a quick look at dobbs' minor league splits, figuring we'd see that he really struggled against LHP, but it's not the case at all. he actually hit better against LHP.

curt: Who replaces the .890 OPS when Burrell leaves? There's no one in the minors. If we sign a free agent, will he be cheaper or more expensive (as in way more expensive)?

Don't get me wrong, I'm not a huge fan. He's two dimensional. But if you want to contend, you'll have to replace him with something as productive or better. Who?

Actually Ben, we're 1-0 in those games.

Finished my plus/minus ratings for this past week. Basically I look at the stats for the past week and grade each player according to those numbers.

May numbers:

Top Six
Cole Hamels: +11
Shane Victorino: +9
Brett Myers: +7
Abraham Nunez: +5
Chase Utley: +4
Greg Dobbs: +4

Bottom Six
Clay Condrey: -7
Wes Helms: -7
Fabio Castro: -6
Antonio Alfonseca: -6
Francisco Rosario: -5
Pat Burrell: -5

2007 Season:

Hamels: +18
Rowand: +11
Utley: +11
Moyer: +10
Victorino: +8

Matt Smith: -9
Castro: -8
Rosario: -8
Helms: -8
Gordon: -7

Catchers: -2
Infielders: +10
Outfielders: +13
Starting Rotation: +23
Bullpen: -41

Clout~

I agree. There aren't many who are going to replace Burrell's numbers, even in bad year like '06. The owners will probably give his dollars to Howard when he leaves and replace him with garbage. They didn't upgrade RF when Abreu got traded. Don't get me wrong, I like Vic, just not in RF as faras his bat goes. I personally believe that the 2 OF and IF corners along with C should have power bats. So they won't replace Burrell either. It's just the nway they are.

That being said, let's see what PG does at the deadline if anything and hope it's better than what he's done so far. It's quite amazing that this team is 2 games above .500 after a 4-11 start and let's hope they keep it going. BTW if abyone's counting Borowski got his 15th save yesterday.

clout -- PtB two dimensional? What's the other one? Sorry, I refuse to be happy with a bad player because his replacement could be worse.

The 2007 OPS is .808. It's been all over the place in other yrs. His SLG today equivalent to Victorinos. His good OBP reflects a bunch of walks. Walks are great if a guy can hit at the top of the order, or if he can go from 1st to 3rd, or 2nd to home. PtB can't do any of these things, meaning we usually need several hits from the bottom of the order to score him. Generally not going to happen, so his OBP is a hollow stat (not to mention you don't want a great walker batting 5th behind Howard). In short, he can be replaced offensively by a guy with Vics power and a lower OBP but average speed. A slightly better BA would be a bonus. Even in this market $14 million/yr. ought to be able to buy a guy like that.

What's your solution? Would you re-up PtB for a few more yrs?

DPatrone: OK for a guy with a bad arm, huh? No matter, we got Condrey and Rosario and Yoel.

Curt, your point about Burrell's 'hollow' OBP is right on. I've been trying to get this point across for the better part of two years, though, so don't expect to change anyone's mind who doesn't want it changed.

even before Burrell leaves, we are going to have to worry about finding a decent OF bat for the 2008 season when Rowand inevitably leaves. fortunately there's a lot of guys hitting the market, but odds are we're going to end up handing out a contract bigger than Burrell's for not much more offense.

Curt: Pat's OPS the past 2 years has been .890 and .892. Let's see where he is at the end of 2007. My guess is he'll be close to that.

Here's what I have a problem with because it reflects an attitude shared by quite a few on Beerleaguer: "I refuse to be happy with a bad player because his replacement could be worse."

I get the sense that some fans here don't mind losing as long as they dump a guy who's disappointed them. Addition by subtraction, right? If that's the way a fan feels, he has no standing to complain about no pennant in 14 years.

ae: Bingo!

Even if a player who walks a lot doesn't have much speed or tend to score on his walks, the mere fact that he doesn't make an out gives other hitters chances to continue the inning. For instance, suppose Howard doubles with one out and Burrell walks. Aren't our chances of scoring much better than if the walk hadn't occurred? You'd certainly rather have one out than two, now two hitters can get a crack at driving Howard in.

clout -- Once again you failed to answer my questions, or respond to the substance of my answer to your questions. If you are not interested in discussing a topic, don't ask me a question.

Clout I love you but you do that alot.

To answer curt's question, I assume PtB's two dimensions are getting on base and power.

My thinking on what to do with Burrell is this:

- He always plays against LHP
- In CBP and other hitters parks, he plays everyday, unless it is a day game or *really* nasty RHP
- In pitchers parks, he basicall platoons with Bourn
- If the Phils have a lead from the 8th inning on, Bourn is the defensive replacement

I like Pat as much as anyone here, but in terms of range, he may be the worst fielder in all of baseball. I don't in any way agree with RSB and curt that his OBP is "wasted."

RSB and curt are right to an extent: not all OBP is equal. You can make the argument that Burrell gets less out of a walk than Bourn (true), *but* you can't then deduce from that that Burrell gets *nothing* out of a walk. As much as Burrell is a liability in the field and bases, there is no way a player who only makes outs 60% of the time hurts a team.

It's ironic that fans hate it when their pitchers walk a batter but then don't value their own players who draw walks.

I was just looking at Borowski's contract and something stood out. My understanding was that the Phils were willing to sign him for one year, but balked at a second year because of the physical.

But while Borowski's deal with Cleveland is two years, the second year is a club option, and they buyout is peanuts ($250K). Anyone remember the details of the "failed" physical.

On his actual performance, he has been very good recently, to lower his WHIP to 1.45. We'll see if he can actually get it to a reasonable closer number. I think at this point it's pretty silly to criticize the Phillies for avoiding an injury risk when the pitcher in question has pitched all of two months.

Right now, Joe Borowski is the 4th highest paid member of the Cleveland Indians and has a WHIP worse than both Geary and Madson. I don't quite think all the data is in on this one, boys.

kdon -- No one said anything about PtB's OBP being "wasted." That's your word. It is undeniable that in PtB's case the stat means a whole lot less than it does for anyone at the top of the order, or anyone with at least average speed. And it is not the first (or 2nd or 3rd) stat you go to when judging the effectiveness of your 4/5 hitter.

Just saw Gameday.

Werth is in LF, for PtB. Nunez is at 3B. Ruiz is catching.

"The 2007 OPS is .808. It's been all over the place in other yrs."

This is true curt, but I fail to see how it supports your argument.

PtB OPS since he became a regular:
'01: 815
'02: 920
'03: 713
'04: 820
'05: 893
'06: 890

So if you look at these data, and his current OPS is 808, which way do you think it will go?

I swear, Zagursky grabbed his crotch 330 times, and licked his had 200 times in his first appearance. I think he is shooting for some unnoficial record.

kdon: As I and several other posters have said, stats like ERA, WHIP are meaningless for relievers because the sample size is so small. Again, what a team wants out of a reliever is to hold the lead or, when behind, to not allow the margin to get greater. If a reliever does that in 17 of 19 games, then he's a damn good reliever even if he allowed 12 runs in the two games he blew. How good has the Phillies homegrown bullpen been at holding leads and keeping margins the same.

curt: I'm not sure what your question was other than we should dump Burrell. If you're asking who should replace him, that was MY question to you in the original post! If you want to dump someone, you have to have a replacement. Since none is available in the minors, who?

Burrell benched 2 games in a row. Interesting...

1. J Rollins, SS
2. S Victorino, RF
3. C Utley, 2B
4. R Howard, 1B
5. A Rowand, CF
6. J Werth, LF
7. A Nunez, 3B
8. C Ruiz, C
9. F Garcia, P

Garcia throws harder to first base than to batter

I was wondering how true the claim was that Burrell's walks aren't so valuable, so I looked at all of his walks in the month of May and tabulated how many runs wouldn't have scored if not for his walks.

Two-out walk, no one on. Nunez strikes out for third out, no runs scored.

Two-out walk, no one on. Helms grounds out, no runs scored.

One-out walk, no one on. Helms flies out, Werth strikes out, no runs scored.

Leadoff walk. Helms bunts Burrell over, Werth grounds out, Ruiz strikes out, no runs scored.

One-out walk, no one on, Dobbs grounds into double play. No runs scored.

Leadoff walk. Dobbs singles, Burrell to second. Helms walks, Ruiz strikes out, Lieber walks, Burrell scores, Rowand singles, Dobbs scores, Victorino singles, Helms scores, wild pitch, Lieber scores, Rollins sac flies, Rowand scores, Utley walks, Burrell strikes out. Five runs score. (Two runs score thanks to Burrell's walk - his, obviously, and Rowand's, because otherwise Rollins's sac fly would have been the third out.)

Two-out walk, no one on. Pinch-run for, Dobbs strikes out. No runs score.

No-out walk, Utley on first. Dobbs reaches on force attempt, Nunez singles, Utley scores, Ruiz grounds into double play, Hamels strikes out. One run scores.

Two-out walk, Utley on second. Dobbs triples, Utley and Burrell score. Nunez singles, Dobbs score. Ruiz homers, he and Nunez score. Bourn flies out. Five runs score. (All five wouldn't have scored if not for Burrell's walk.)

No-out walk, men on first and second. Howard hits grand slam. Nunez grounds out, Ruiz flies out, Moyer strikes out. Four runs score. (Only Burrell's run can be attributed to his walk.)

Two-out walk, no one on. Rowand strikes out. No runs score.

Two-out walk, no one on. Rowand grounds out. No runs score.

One-out walk, men on first and second. Rowand sac flies, Victorino scores. Helms strikes out. One run scores. (Victorino wouldn't have scored if not for Burrell's walk advancing him to third.)

Leadoff walk, pinch-run for by Bourn. Rowand flies out, Bourn steals second and third. Helms reaches on fielder's choice, Bourn scores. Ruiz strikes out. Hamels strikes out. One run scores.

Leadoff walk, Rowand grounds into double play, Helms singles, Ruiz grounds into force out. No runs score.

No-out walk, Howard on first. Rowand singles, Howard out at home. Helms grounds into double play. No runs score.

Leadoff walk. Rowand pops out. Nunez singles, Burrell to second. Ruiz flies out, Eaton grounds into force out. No runs score.

No-out walk, no men on. Helms grounds into double play, Werth flies out. No runs score.

Two-out walk, bases loaded, Rowand scores. Helms strikes out. One run scores.

Nineteen walks lead to eighteen runs, twelve of which wouldn't have scored if not for Burrell's walks. So, in the month of May at least, one Burrell walk directly led to .63 runs. Seems valuable to me.

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