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Wednesday, June 20, 2007



*Kendrick pitched quite well considering the homeplate umpire's strike zone was horrible (many non-called strikes) and the Phils defense didn't help him either (except for Jimmy's nice play on Barfield).

*Howard had a beautiful game, but that's been an exception not the rule. He is still hitting homeruns, but his at bats have been horrible. He flails aimlessly at breaking balls away. I know he's going to strikeout, hell he did so 181 times in his MVP season, but he's been coming up small in situations where we need contact. Hopefully some of you are right and his line will read .280 35 hr 100+ rbi by season's end, and all my worrying is for nothing.

*Charlie Manuel has no clue how to handle the bullpen. Madson for 2 innings? As soon as he got in trouble another reliever should have been callled upon. When a runner reaches base against Madson he gets a deer-in-headlights look on his face and pitches with fright.

Carson, you're spot on with Kendrick. The guy doesn't have over-whelming stuff, but he's gone out there twice now and gotten it done. And last night he did so against a dangerous line-up without a whole lot of defensive help.

I think you're being too hard on Howard. The guy doesn't look comfortable at the plate, agreed. But he came into this, his third, season with an injury. He worried about doing it all and carrying the team and all that other non-sense that gets thrown around, and that just made things worse. So he goes on the DL for a while, gets his act back together and he's been pretty solid since returning. I think he's still working the kinks out, but barring another injury, 100 rbi is a definite and 35 hrs is well within his wheelhouse. Do I think he'll bat 280? Maybe, but I'd be happy with 265 if he keeps obp-ing in the 400 area.

I also wanted to see what other folks thought, but I really believe Howard's defense has improved since last year. I was embarrassed for him at times during last season, but now he really fields his position. He's certainly not in the top 1/4 or anything, but he's a competant defensive first baseman. Now having said that, I'm too lazy to check his E's, which I'd imagine are high. I more just going off of how I have perceived his play thus far. I guess what I'm saying is that while statistically he might be just as bad, I'm not nearly as concerned about it as I was last season.

JTS: I agree with your assessment of Howard offensively. His OPS of .937 is among league leaders at the position and if he maintains an OPS at or above .950, his batting average is irrelevant.
On defense, I disagree. I really see no improvement over last season. Maybe you're just getting used to him. There are 2 or 3 firstbasemen who are worse in the NL, but that was true last year as well.

@JTS -- I think Howard has improved his defense over last year. That throw down to second is still something he's not comfortable with. Listening to the game last night, I heard LA talk about that.

As for Howard's approach to the plate. It has alot to do with his injury, his impatience when he returned from injury (trying to hard to get back on track) and he was lost at the plate.

I have no problem with Howard strikingout. What I have a problem with swinging at pitches that are CLEARLY not strikes.

Michael Barrett traded to Pads. Wonder what Rod the Bod could net us.

Since he's been back from injury he's hitting over .300 with homers every other game with 4 or 5 more RBIs than games played (top of my head stats, but pretty positive they're accurate)...and on top of that all it doesn't even FEEL like he's on a tear. Look at his first half numbers last year, nix the first part of his injured season this year, and he's right on track. He's not dumping the ball in the left field seats like last year, which is worrisome to someone that seemed like a complete hitter. But you've gotta feel good about back to back nights with homers off of hard throwing lefties with good breaking stuff.

What's alot more jarring are Pat's numbers. Anybody else think it's funny how we've grown to just ACCEPT the fact that our 13 million dollar boy is around 30th in the league for outfielders in almost every offensive category?

@JTS - perhaps it was just a perception that he was playing better... He has 5E this year compared to 14 all season last year. His Fielding % is .988 compared to .991 last year. His zone rating is down to .759 from .832, but I would attribute that to the mobility from his injury which probably left him unable to get to balls he got last year.

the production from Howard will eventually arrive, but he is not the same hitter from last year aside from the actual production. The injury may have something to do with it but watching him, I believe his approach is very different. He's simply trying to jack pitches as a rule, hence the flail and bail on the outside deals. Sometimes, he gets it right like he did in the last game of the Tigers series where he scooted the pitch into rightfield for a couple of RBI....just like he would have done last year. He just isn't attacking all sorts of pitches like he did. I assumed he'd eventually become a dead pull hitter, but not nearly this early and it's creating havoc with his swing.

I get the sense that we're not looking at Dye, like the ChiTribune writer thinks, so much as we're scouting pitching:

"Scouts from the Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Mets, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Tampa Bay attended Tuesday's game."

I tried to post this earlier, but apparently it didn't go through...

I have been hard on Howard. He's the reigning MVP, so to have high expectations of his is reasonable. I didn't expect 58 bombs and a plus .300 average, but .280 45 hr 125 rbi was what I was picturing from him this season and seasons to come. His horrendous start was a big part of the Phils early season woes. If he can get hot in the 2nd half like he did last year, then I'll gladly shut up. I'm still a fan of his, still believe he will do well, I'm just tired of k's in crucial situations.

As far as his defense goes, he's horrendous. He looks lazy and unintelligent at times in the field, plus his throws to 2nd base are poor. He has DH written all over him in the future.

*Now that it seems like I have thorougthly bashed Howard...I'm not, I'm just stating the truth.

I do not want Jermaine Dye. He'll cost way too much and is having a bad year.

thing about Howard is that as much as some of us complain about his approach at the plate - and I'll admit that when he looks bad, he looks really bad - he's still on pace for 43 HR and 130 RBI. aside from the low AVG, that's exactly what Carson (not to pick on you) says he was picturing. there's a good post on TGP today pro-rating out Howard's post-DL 2007 (.295/.388/.693/10 HR/25 RBI in 88 AB) to 162 games and comparing it to his 2006. I'll spoil the surprise by telling you that they're almost identical.

To get some chatter going, how about we discuss what it could/would take to get some of the rumored-to-be-available players:

Gagne(not coming here)
Matt Morris
C. Cordero

Have at it.

I'm willing to admit that this is probably a case of my perception of Howard getting in the way of the evidence of Howard's hitting. I've watched so many piss-poor at bats that it clouds my vision of the real Howard.

Food Showdown: Donut-Eater vs. Cheeseburger tonight. Donut-Eateer of course being our beloved Jon Lieber, and Cheeseburger being the hefty-lefty C.C. Sabathia.

The issue that drives me insane in all of the trade chatter that's coming up, to responde to O'Neil, is that I really don't feel like we have any legitimate prospects to move for the help we need. The names on your list would almost all provide some help, but who are we sending the other way? There's a handful of guys that have been mentioned in past threads (Werth, the Bod, Dobbs, etc.) that could be enticing, especially if any of those potential partners have injury holes. In the end though, these guys are known quantities and not projects that we can try to sell on their potential. So unless the front office is shovelling money into an envelope along with those offers, I don't really see any other team wanting to do business.

Are there folks at Reading or Ottawa that could move? Is Ruiz more valuable than I give him credit for? Kendrick might be a nice chip to dangle, but can we afford to give up any pitching prospects?

and it seems like those guys in AAA have arm problems anyway.

All this talk about Howard's numbers is fine, but the fact is that he has proven himself vulnerable to inside breaking pitches. What he's hitting are mistakes, or the result of teams that didn't bother advance scouting him (I notice that Cleveleand pitchers have NOT tried much breaking stuff inside, and they're paying for it). He's looking bad on outside pitches after he's being set up inside. Is this a result of the injury?

but I don't get that, Alby. how do teams not bother scouting the defending NL MVP? it's not like there's not reams of tape on the guy.

I don't get it either. I just noticed that from the at-bats I watched (I did miss a couple), Cleveland's pitchers didn't seem to be busting him with breaking stuff inside. I have no idea why, but if I were an Indians fan I'd be pretty ticked off about it.

I signed off last night before seeing Tray's post about Hamels, in which he said, in part:

"Hamels is definitely not the NL starter in the All-Star game. He's 23rd in the NL in ERA, just a third of a run better in fact than Wandy Rodriguez. Not to say that all 22 guys are more deserving, his strikeouts and wins are impressive, but Peavy, Penny, and Chris Young, just to name a few, have pitched a whole lot better."

Perhaps a better measure of Hamels' standing is VORP (value over replacement player for those unfamiliar with Baseball Prospectus), in which he's currently 17th in the NL (40th overall). The top Jake Peavy, Brad Penny, Ian Snell, John Maine, Matt Cain and Tom Gorzelany. Chris Young is 10th. Hamels is just behind Ben Sheets and Heath Bell, just ahead of Matt Morris and Aaron Harang. (Wandy Rodgriguez is 64th in the league, by the way, so there's a lot of difference between him and Hamels).

By the way, Joe Borowski's VORP is -1.6, meaning he is below replacement value. Antonio Alfonseca's is 6.1 -- no great shakes, but arguably a better off-season signing than Joe Borowski.

Alby: Yet another example of a silly stat.

Yeah - the only real measure of a pitcher's ability should be if they get it done or not. Remember when Eric Milton led our staff in wins? 14! We shouldn't have let him go. He knew what the objective was as a starting pitcher - to allow less runs than ther other starting pitcher. And he did so more than anyone else on the team. He got it done, so screw his other stats, its all about the Ws in the end. Its why when all you statheads said he wouldn't be a good pitcher in Cincinatti you were proven wrong - again. He just knows what he's doing.

P O'Neil, there's just no way the Phillies could land any one of those names without opening another hole elsewhere in their roster. I can't see them making even a minor trade. They have no leverage; their only expendable parts have no trade value. Speculation of this sort is futile.

Just lovely to see that Mesa is now considered a primary set-up man on the basis of his last two mop-up successes. Every time Manuel removes a starting pitcher, the ushers ought to pass out complimentary blindfolds.

I don't give the Phils much of a shot tonight with that pitching matchup. A win would be gravy.

well, I agree that Borowski's VORP isn't really reflective of his actual value this year (as vague as that is), but it's pretty close-minded to then just write it off as a "silly stat." WPA might be a better way to look at it, and Borowski does a little better there (0.24) although Alfonseca still outdoes him (0.49).

the fact is that Alfonseca, as hard as it is to believe, has actually been very reliable. he's given up more than 1 run three times; Borowski's given up more than 1 run four times in two fewer appearances. Borowski's had 20 scoreless appearances in 29 games (69%); Alfonseca has 23 scoreless appearances in 31 games (74%). looking over their gamelogs, I don't think either one has been more consistent recently; both had notably bad stretches earlier in the season but have been pretty level of late.

of course, I do agree that Borowski has done a good job in Cleveland, and that he would have helped our pen, to some degree.

I don't see why it's necessarily relevant to compare Alfo and Borowski. The Phillies needed as much available help as possible. Adding more than one legitimate major league reliever would have been far preferable than having to carry around the Rosarios, Castros, Sanchezes of the world. For a team as desperate for bullpen help, there is no justification for being so conservative with Borowski. No one is saying he would have been a "savior", but he clearly would have helped.

ae: When you give up 10 runs in 1.2 innings over 2 games and then pitch well in 25 other innings, your stats, whteher measured by VORP, ERA, WHIP, BAA etc. etc. are not going to look good.

But, as I've said over and over ad nauseum, what you want from a bullpen is to 1. hold the lead or 2. not allow a deficit to get bigger. If Borowski or Alfonseca or even Jose freakin Mesa can do that (as Jose & Alfy did last night) 85% or 90% of the time as Borowski has, then I don't care if they give up 27 runs and 40 hits in 2 bad appearances. It's all about the Ws.

You know... I'd hate to say this... But... when Gordon/Myers comes back... I'd keep Mesa around And send back Sanches and Hernandez. (Does Geary have options left?) And I'd actually have Hernandez close down in Ottawa... Just to have him pitch in pressure situations... so when September rolls around you might be able to bring him back for the stretch.

I can't believe I just wrote that we should keep Mesa around. I'm going to beat my head against my desk now.

Eric Milton, 2005 8wins 15 losses 6.47 ERA. 2006 8-8 5.19 ERA. 2007 0-4, out for the season with elbow. I am no stathead, but you need to get a grip ctyer.

LOL, RSB, that was great about the blindfolds when the starter departs. We could market eyemasks, like people use to sleep with, in Phillies red with the Phillies "P" over each eye, so from a distance it looks like you have your eyes open. Bring a radio with earbuds to keep up with the action.

I just bought tickets for the July 4th game in Houston. I did the extended rotations from both teams and forecast an Eaton-Chris Sampson matchup. What a yawner!

In doing the extended rotation I saw where the Phillies will need their sixth starter for June 29th when they play a doubleheader with the Mets. They could start Mad Dog. No, that's not a good idea. They could start Germano. No, we let him go for nothing. Will Garcia be ready? No, he's shot for the season. Brito? Oh No!

RSB: My point exactly. The fact is, Gillick, like many posters here, have overrated the talent of Matt Smith, Castro, Madson, Geary, Sanches and Condrey. kdon did it all winter long and others did too and continue to do it. Alfonseca, who most posters sneered at as below the quality of the homegrown Phillies, has been one of Gillick's best signings.

Yes, clout, we ragged Alfonseca early on, but I'm beginning to come around and I now like him. I especially like his attitude on the mound. He really gets excited by outs and shows it with fist pumps and emotion.

I see where the O's are interviewing Girardi. Gillick blew it again. He should've dumped Cholly last month and signed Girardi.

@clout -- There's a difference between overrating talent and a player falling short of those expectations for whatever reason. Nothing in Geary's history has shown that he would be as TERRIBLE as he has looked this year. As for Madson, until the starter/reliever shuffle, he was an above average reliever with the arm strength to go up to 3 innings. He still has that arm strength, but has trouble finding the strike zone. Which wasn't really a problem before because his Change Up was Cole Hamels deadly, that batters couldn't figure it out. Eventually they did, which required him to throw more strikes which he has had trouble doing. I think its more of a mental thing than a physical or talent thing. And we don't have the resources on this coachign staff to correct that.

As for Smith... He was a big disappointment this year. But fromhis performance with the Yanks and the Phillies how can you overrate the performance? The guy didn't give up runs and got the job done last year. How is that overrating???

The biggest problem with the bullpen this year was that Gillick was UNPREPARED for Tom Gordon being healthy and he couldn't trade Lieber. Those are the ONLY real issues... Given the amount of innings your starting staff was going to put up this year. (I think even now the Phillies lead the NL in innings pitched by their starters). You shorten the bullpen innings and they last longer.

The fact that they have been unsuccessful I can't explain, but it should be adequate enough to keep the Phillies in a pennant race.

Oh yeah... we're 2 games out of the Division? Without our 2 best bullpen pitchers? Hmmm...

If Girardi has 1/2 a brain he'd stay the heck out of Baltimore and wait to see what becomes available in the offseason. The ownership of the O's is almost as bad as the owners here.

'Philling in: The Phillies are hoping to have Tom Gordon and Brett Myers back by July 1, as both seem to be on similar paths toward recovery. "It if happens, it'll be great," Dubee said. "We'll take it one day at a time. Flash has been coming along fine. I think Flash is probably a step ahead of Brett just because he's thrown [off the mound] and with more intensity so far."

I guess that would mean Sanches and either Hernandez or Zagurski would be sent down to make room.

Speaking as someone who had no problem with the Alfonseca signing, didn't like the available FA relievers, expected Geary to have a big dropoff because of last year's overuse, thought Matt Smith would be serviceable, never counted on Castro pitching in the Majors and generally discounted the Condrey/Sanchez/etc. flotsam and jetsam, I'm still left wondering why, if we weren't going to offer contracts to Fultz (despite his lousy pitch to Utley last night) and Weird Beard White, we didn't target two guys at least as good. In other words, my only disagreement with Clout is that I wasn't necessarily looking for a big-bucks signing, most of which have worked out poorly for their current employers. I just wanted Gillick to keep us at the level we ended last season. He failed to do even that.

Let's look, for example, at Heath Bell, a guy the Mets considered less valuable than Ambiorix Burgos. He's been so good his VORP is actually better than Hamels'. (Sorry, Clout, I don't agree that it's a "silly" stat. The results align with reality too often for that, whether you agree with it Borowski or not). There are guys like that out there, but you need good scouts to find them. Where are ours?

bronco stays.

yoel, rosario, mesa are the chumps at this point.

no way Girardi manages the Orioles unless he gets a truly, mind-bogglingly stupendous contract. aside from the fact that Baltimore is and will continue to be noncompetitive for the near future, the guy's a Yankee at heart.

I agree, I say he's waiting to see how the Torre situation plays out. Mattingly's in the mix too, but Girardi's got the experience (granted 1 year) to step in.

Alby: You just proved how silly the stat is. Heath Bell is better than Hamels. It's all about the Ws.

Mike Cunningham: You need to have read Beerleaguer in the off-season. Several of us pointed out that Matt Smith is an average prospect at best and it's foolish to project future performance based on 20 innings. Though it obviously fooled you.

As for Madson, Carson has correctly pointed out that he's been bad for a year and a half, not just last season.

On Geary, again, we're talking about an average prospect at best who has trouble getting lefties out. Only a fan (or someone with no knowledge of scouting reports) would project him as an above-average reliever.

You may not be able to explain the bullpen's poor performance, but anyone who read Beerleaguer last off-season can.

Joe: Good question. If both Gordon and Myers come back late next week, who goes? I doubt they'll dump Mesa so fast unless he really implodes over the next 5 days. Geary is fine as a mopup reliever and Madson has earned a chance to be the guy in the 6th inning. That leaves Rosario and Yoel out in the cold, from where I sit.

With Rosario already on the DL, I suppose Condrey is a no-brainer to go ... Francisco can stay on the DL indefinitely ... I like the idea posted earlier about Yoel becoming the closer at Ottawa. We'll probably need a BP arm sooner or later and I'd rather have him sharp there, instead of sitting at the end of our bench here, anyway.

Clout- Your right, it will be rosario and yoel.

I said Condrey .. I meant Sanches, who is currently filling Rosario's spot on the roster.

Two thoughts (I'll keep facts and stats out after I effed them up numerous times yesterday):
- Howard seems to be pulling the ball more this season. All of his home runs are titanic shots, but he's now less of a line drive hitter than he seemed to be the previous two years. The swing seems longer because he's trying to drive the ball more, instead of letting things happen naturally.
- Saw in the paper that the Phillies are reporting that Tom Gordon is further ahead in his rehab than Brett Myers. Wasn't the word early last week that Myers would be back by Monday the 18th? What happened?

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