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Thursday, June 14, 2007

Comments

Excellent post Jason, I can see you put a lot of time and effort into...well appreciated.

For once, I'm enjoying an off day. Got a new job, Phils are winning, and I'm going to be a dad within a couple months...good times!

Congratulations, Carson. Enjoy the moment.

There are a lot of reasons Barajas deserves getting crap, with his failure to block the plate against the Marlins at the forefront. It's frustrating, however, to see Barajas continually attacked for playing just about as well as you could reasonably expect him to.

So far, Barajas has an OPS of .758, which is better than Ruiz at .706. He's also shown tremendous (and uncharacteristic) plate discipline with 18 walks to 17 strike outs. His BABIP this year is a career low .234, which when compared to his average around .270 for the last 3 seasons, actually indicates that he's more likely to improve on his batting line so far rather than get worse.

Yes, he's certainly been bad in clutch situations and has made some bad plays in other instances. But, honestly, what is he not doing that is to be expected of him? Be mad at the Phillies management for not getting a better catcher, not at Barajas for not playing well.

So you've included Pat Burrell in the list of those keeping the ship steady, and left Rowand off.. 10-letter typo? :)

Good point. In my ramble, I mistakenly missed yesterday's hero.

What's amazing about Barajas' walks is that he actually has MORE walks than Rollins -- and he has less than 1/3 of Rollins' at-bats. You could make the case that he hits eighth and so often with two outs, they'll pitch around him to get to the pitcher's spot, but even so, only two of his walks were intentional.

I agree with Jeremy and the other posters who have commented on this earlier: I can't believe that Barajas' play continues to be such a sore point here. You can be mad at Gillick for signing him, you can bemoan the contract, etc. But c'mon, for a backup catcher, he's NOT THAT BAD.

I get the feeling that Polanco might do to his old team what Rowand just did in the Sox series. It's hard to believe that we let him go to keep David Bell, and the guy we got in return is sitting in prison.

jeremy, Phils management is precisely who we are disappointed with.

Barajas is what he is (cliche, Jason?). While you raise a decent point about his BABIP, there is no guarantee that it will revert to the three yr avg. (It didn't happen with Pat Burrell last year, as the only difference between Burrell '05 and Burrell '06 was mostly attributable to that). To assume that that number will return to his BABIP avg of the last three years, you must assume that he's swinging the bat precisely the same way (not a given), that he won't decline, that pitchers are approaching him the same way, and that there's a decent hitter behind him. (Oops, I forgot there's no DH in the NL).

He is doing what was expected of him, and that's why we thought it was a waste of money.

The first zone rating stats for the season came out today, there's an article on the Hardball times about it... Chase ranks as the top defensive 2B in the majors, but Rollins ranks as 2nd-worst SS.

Second, Barajas isn't doing that bad for ANY sort of catcher, at least in the NL, offensively. On defense, and all around, I think most of the ire comes from the blocking the plate fiasco. But on offense, only 3 NL catchers have a higher OPS. Throw in the more talented AL and still only 9 catchers in the majors, qualified for the title and not, have a higher OPS. So while yes, he does suck compared to say Utley or Howard, its important to always remember he's a catcher.

Alby, Barajas can be traded as long as they're willing to eat some of the dough. This is where Gillick needs to be a "good", creative GM, instead of "average" (his decription) to below average (my evaluation).

Trade for who? Maybe a backup catcher who CAN be stashed in AAA.

Minor notes: Matt Smith has been placed on the DL at Ottawa with left elbow inflammation. Meanwhile, Lynx starter J.A. Happ has been activated from the disabled list in time to start tonight's game against Columbus. He was placed on the DL with an elbow injury May 30.

Lot of injuries this season in Ottawa (Bisenius, Davis, Happ, now Smith).

Germano Update: 6IP, 0ER, 3H, 1BB, 4Ks against the D-Rays. Not sure why he came out of the game with a shutout going and having only thrown 86 pitches.

Salt in the wound note: the ESPN photo of him has him in a Phils cap.

I missed yesterdays game but heard it on the radio while driving around working. I almost rear ended somebody when Rowand hit that slam. I didn't hear notice yesterday, but I still don't get why LA does some play by play. It seems unnecessary when you Frantzke there to do it.

This is going to be a tough series, have they announced the Phils pitchers for the series? Are they going to skip anybody to allow Hamels to go on Sunday against Verlander?

Congrats Carson on upcoming fatherhood. There is nothing like it. My son was born in April and every day seeing him grow is a blessing.

Great post Jason, and it does feel good that they are finally 4 games above .500 and are with in two of the NL East lead but as you said, I believe it's all smoke and mirrors right now. The way the manager manages the team, the fact they have a starting pitcher in Garcia (who was suppose to be the reason why they were a "shoe-in" to win the NL East) probably out for the rest of the season (and his Phillie career), a weak bullpen. It's going to all be too much to overcome. The Mets are slumping right now but that isn't going to last forever. If they take 2 out of 3 from Detroit I will be shocked, if the take 1 out of 3 i'll be happy with that too.

Who cares about germano or abreu? Become a padre or yankee fan if you want to follow their careers, or if you have an obession with bad moves, go watch the dancefloor at the Coastline in Cherry Hill on a Friday night.

I've missed most of the last two series, but from my outsider's perspective, things indeed are looking far better than they were at this time a year ago, when the Mets were sweeping the Phillies and building an 11-game lead.

Chief among the positive developments:

1. The Phils have *one* blown save since Myers grabbed his shoulder in Florida. I never, ever would have imagined that would have been the case. Alfonseca has stepped up big-time.

2. The Phils have swept three out of the last six series, and wonder of wonders, they even managed to win a home BPS yesterday. That would appear to indicate that the let-up they customarily demonstrate may be on the wane.

3. The Phils are getting some breaks with some of their call-ups. Zagurski has been mostly effective in the left-handed bullpen role, and Kendrick similarly came out of nowhere to eclipse the typical quality of a Freddy Garcia start. If the Phils were going to lose a starter, they lost precisely the right one. Even Adam Eaton has had his moments. Garcia contributed *nothing* to this team. His loss doesn't hurt them a single bit at this point.

4. Utley is having an MVP season and Hamels is having a Cy Young season (well, if weren't for Peavy and Penny).

5. Perhaps most hopeful of all is the way the Mets and Braves have looked so lame over the past month or so, allowing the Phils to recover from their shabby start and climb fully into the divisional race. Suddenly, we aren't relegated to discussing wild-card standings. I am surprised at how well the Mets' starters have performed to date, but on the whole that team looks old and tired to me; the Braves, meanwhile, are beat up. I originally picked the Braves to win the division and the Mets to finish third; I still believe this well may be the case. I think the Phils would have to win the East in order to make the playoffs. I remain unconvinced they have that in them, but it is reassuring to see their competition buckle so profoundly; while we (I) tend to focus on the Phillies' weaknesses, this recent stretch has served to remind that the teams around them are significantly flawed in their own rights.

I have an obsession with good moves, actually. I can't just think of many that have gone down around Philly recently.

And, you're right, if I'm a ture Phillies fan I shouldn't pay any attention to any other major league player's career. Solid point.

ture=true

It's so true with the Phillies. We say it over and over again, but they are a roller coaster ride like no team I've ever seen.

What are the chances of the ride ever ending at a climax that doesn't blow up in our faces?

P. O'Neil: Are you doing PR for the Phillies? Let's pretend 1964 didn't happen either and that they're really not going to lose 10,000 games. Maybe if we pretend those bad things didn't happen, it will all turn out right! LOL

Great post, Jason.

What's the word on Garcia? Aren't we supposed to have heard something by now?

Good post, RSB.

Damnit, Jason. You make me want to believe again.

And congrats, Carson. But remember, I have dibs on Chase Abraham Aaron for my first born, which, at this rate, will be in about never.

clout, once again, to the point. PO'Neil is turning into SirAlden, Jr. with some of his posts.

AWH, so you're advocating trading Barajas and eating some of his salary just so you can promote Coste and replace him at AAA with a catcher not as good as Barajas? As I said, that's not a coherent strategy, it's a fit of temper. At this point, I think the smart move would have been to DL Ruiz and bring Coste up so we have two healthy catchers on the team. As others have noted, Ruiz' slump has dropped him below Barajas in OPS.

Dave X writes, "The first zone rating stats for the season came out today ... Chase ranks as the top defensive 2B in the majors, but Rollins ranks as 2nd-worst SS." This is a pretty good sign that these "stats" are close to worthless.


Laramie, I almost always agree with you and appreciate your insight -- I'm still in awe of you predicting Helms finally going deep -- but I have to disagree with your take on the Polanco trade: "It's hard to believe that we let him go to keep David Bell." It wasn't as if Detroit said, "We'll trade you Urbina for one or the other, your choice." The trade wouldn't have happened unless it was Polanco; Bell not only sucked, he made more money. I think it was a lousy trade, but the only option on the table was shipping out Polanco.

Good post from RSB... but, I still think we have a better chance at catching up to the second place team in the West than the Mets. First of all, the Padres are the class of that division - they have an average NL offense that will probably get a little worse as the season goes on, but they have a 2.97 team ERA and between the park, Peavy, Chris Young, the bullpen, and the fact that no one on their pitching staff is really overachieving a whole lot, I don't see that changing much. The Dodgers and the Diamondbacks, on the other hand, have the same mediocre offense but don't have nearly as good pitching (though their pitching's very good) - as a result they have run differentials of just + 29 and + 5 respectively. So both of those teams are catchable. The Mets, on the other hand, have a strong offense that's probably going to start scoring more runs, assuming Delgado improves, and the pitching's been very good, though there's certainly room for doubt with a lot of their starters. That said, they'll probably look to pick up an arm at the deadline. I also don't think the Braves are a real contender, they'll score runs, especially now that Chipper's back, but their starting rotation is at least two fifths iffy and the bullpen's just so-so with the loss of Gonzalez. A wild card in all this is the Cubs, they're a much better team than their record shows and will probably make some noise in the wild card race before the season's over, or even catch the Brewers.

I don't think we'll need to eat any of barajas' salary. He's making what 2.5,mil? And l'm sure PGs phone is ringing off the hook for offers lol.

Word on Garcia is that he's being shut down indefinately and no time-table has been given for his return.

Now, food for thought, do we stay with Kendrick or is a trade possible?

The NL West is a strong division, and those teams are going to push each other, especially towards the end of the year. I also see the Giants climbing back into it and making a run.

Polanco deserves the same kind of ovation Thome got. Of course, he might not be as gracious, perhaps recalling the way he was unjustly booed for starting over Utley early in '05. If the fans want to be pointed, though, they'll cheer him and scream like teenage girls every time Leyland sets foot on the field.

Lauber:

June 14 -- NO SURGERY


In a minor upset, renowned ortopedic surgeon James Andrews concurred with the Phillies' medical staff that Freddy Garcia's damaged right shoulder doesn't require surgery.

Who knew?

That said, don't expect to see Garcia on the mound any time soon. Phillies assistant GM Ruben Amaro Jr. said Garcia will be shut down for "several weeks." After that, he'll begin a throwing program. There's no timetable on his return. Can't imagine it will be before the All-Star break.

Alby, you're right about the Tigers of course; I was careless with my wording in my previous post. I agree that the Tigers wanted Polanco, not Bell (nobody wanted Bell, not even us, really), and at the time, some sportswriters and Tigers bloggers felt that we actually got the better side of that trade. I don't think the trade itself was so bad, especially not when you compare it to our other recent trades. We'd mostly be cheering that trade again if it happened today, I think -- without the whole Urbina-being-in-jail thing.

But just to clarify, Polanco actually was making more money than Bell that year. We offered Polanco $4.6 million in arbitration (which he accepted only after somehow his agents managed to not tell him about contract offers from other teams in the days leading up to the arbitration offer). I don't think the Phillies really expected him to accept arbitration, and I don't think he expected to not get a contract somewhere. But we ended up stuck with this guy who we were paying way too much money to not play everyday, but we had a rising young all-star in Utley at 2nd, and another guy who we were paying way too much money in Bell at 3rd. Polanco obviously was the more trade-able of the two.

Stat of the day, from Baseball Prospectus

STAT OF THE DAY

Top 5 Luckiest NL Starters, by LUCK

Player, Team, W, L, E(W), E(L), LUCK

Cole Hamels, PHI, 9.0, 2.0, 5.8, 4.3, 5.5
Adam Eaton, PHI, 7.0, 4.0, 4.1, 5.8, 4.8
Dontrelle Willis, FLO, 7.0, 5.0, 3.5, 6.0, 4.5
Carlos Zambrano, CHN, 7.0, 5.0, 5.1, 6.0, 2.8
Todd Wellemeyer, SLN, 2.0, 0.0, 0.6, 1.2, 2.6

Interesting, eh?

I'm not sure how much faith to invest in the Phillies, specifically that they're all that much closer to the >.600 team they've been over their last 51 games than the consistent mediocrity of the last six years. I can sort of see it either way.

Reasons for hope:

--They haven't had an ace on the level of Hamels since Schilling got hurt in mid-1999. (He wasn't the same guy in 2000, though he was still pretty good.)

--With the arguable exceptions of Dobbs and Alfonseca, nobody is really playing much above his head. (FWIW, I think Dobbs is pretty much for real, and I'm not sure about Alf.) If anything, Burrell is probably hitting in some bad luck, and his numbers are likely to improve. I guess Rowand might regress, but his approach at the plate has been so good that his doing so is far from a sure thing IMO.

--Utley is probably one of the five best players in the league now, a guy who can help you win games in a lot of different ways. And while I'm not much for "chemistry" and "intangibles," I think it's possible that he sets a certain tone.

--The bench is pretty clearly the best of Manuel's tenure, and he's using it better than he has in the past. (Maybe Williams is helpful there.) If/when Myers and Gordon come back, the bullpen has a chance to be really good as well.

Reasons for skepticism:

--There's still a lot that can go wrong with the rotation. The odds of both Lieber and Eaton making it through the full season in good health seem long, Moyer's 44, and Kendrick may or may not be adequate as the #5. If he's not, they don't have many other viable options.

--Utley seems to be more consistent this season than in past years, but they still have a lineup full of seriously streaky hitters--Rollins, Howard and Burrell can look awful for weeks on end. If they all go cold at the same time, the Phillies are in big trouble.

I want to believe, but I need to see them handle success well. The Arizona series and the Kansas City series are still too fresh in my mind to feel as much confidence as I might.

garcia will start a throwing program in August.

he's prbly thrown his last pitch as a phillie.

Solid, dajafi. True enough, one more injury (beyond a 15-day DL) in the rotation and this team is probably cooked as far as getting to the playoffs.

I also agree that Burrell has not been as bad as his numbers look. He can't get any leg hits. I saw him blister a ball in the hole with 2 men on that the Sox' 3B dove for and speared - seems like he's been at least hitting the ball harder in those situations this year; last year, he was popping up and striking out almost every time from mid-season on. He's best-suited as a platoon guy at this point, but can still be somewhat valuable as such; I can see the Phillies acquiring that missing LH outfielder later on if they stay close. I'd say that guy might as well be Dobbs, but I just don't like him in the field - and yes, he's probably even worse out there than Burrell, who can at least throw.

There are at least three positions on this team - 3B, LF, and C - at which Manuel is just as likely to start one player as not these days; only Utley, Howard, and Rollins seem guaranteed to be in there every day; Rowand and Victorino *most* every day. This does represent a higher degree of flexibility from Manuel this year, though perhaps with the bullpen, it's out of necessity more than anything. Still, it's up to a manager to get optimum production from what he has on his roster, and outside of his sporadic use of Michael Bourn, I think Manuel's doing a fair job of it.

The only thing that's really gone wrong with the offense this year is Helms, and to a lesser extent the addition of Barajas over Coste; the production of Dobbs, however, has somewhat offset Helms' disappointing output. Earlier, Howard was a liability but he's righted the course. The pitching staff has featured several debacles but still may be solid enough if Myers and Gordon can come back and contribute in the second half. So we have a decent idea by now of what the Phillies are about this season - another mid-80s season, in all probability. I think it will probably come down to whether the other above-average teams are weaker or stronger competition at the end.

nothing like rating luck......

Baseball has a stat for everything...

I'm having a boy and his middle name(s) will be Michael Jack, and you can all imagine why. First name is going to be my wife's maiden name. Now lets all hope for a lefty!

OK, Carson, the next born boy will be named Chase and, if a girl, Chasella!

RSB, your first long post her was excellent, but your more recent post reads like it was ghost written by Sir Alden. It is way too optimistic.

The LUCK rating looks like crap to me. We know Cole Hamels is excellent, not a lucky pitcher who should be 5-4. Eaton has had more than his share of good luck. Willis and Zambrano are damn good pitchers, too. It's not luck, the good pitchers succeed when they are not at their best through a strong will to win inner strength.

Jason, another great thread header. You are the MAN!

Optimistic? Shoot.

The Phillies are run by blind fools out to make a buck, obsessed with and yet wretched at public relations, too greedy and myopic to perceive that their failed efforts to keep back-dooring into the playoffs are going to prolong the agony of the inevitable drier than dry spell to come.

How's that?

I'm gonna go ahead and vehemently disagree with some of the Barajas alleviators. I don't think the guy needs to be the whipping boy of the season still very much undetermined, but there is absolutely no excuse for that play vs. the Marlins. I dare say that I've never seen anything quite like it. THAT play is exactly the kind of physical embodiment that the Wade years cultivated and evidently and frighteningly, still lingers.

The fact that the Phils played through that debacle that was that inning is a testament to what they've accomplished. Let's hope that we've seen the last of that BS.

Alby, that's exactly what I'm advocating.

You're welcome to accuse me of having a "fit of temper", but you'd be wrong.

To wit, I'm advocating putting THE BEST MLB TEAM on the field.

If this team, at the MLB level, is better with Coste and Ruiz sharing the duties, that's who should be there. The team wins more games that way. Isn't that the goal?

If I have to have a "catcher not as good as Barajas" at AAA, in order to have an MLB club that is better, so be it.

You can blabber about having Coste as 'insurance' in the minors on the chance that there might be a major injury, but how does that help the MLB CLUB win games?

What you're advocating as a strategy is to keep the highest paid guy on the 25 man roster, regardless of talent, ability or production, even if your MLB team is weaker because of it. Please explain how that is "coherent"?

"The Phillies are run by blind fools out to make a buck, obsessed with and yet wretched at public relations, too greedy and myopic to perceive that their failed efforts to keep back-dooring into the playoffs are going to prolong the agony of the inevitable drier than dry spell to come. "

Classic, RSB, classic!!!!!!!

And, unfortunately true.

bigmyc04, I don't believe anyone wants a whipping boy. We will, however, point out mistakes, mental blunders, and in the case of the play you cited, total lack of cajones.

If you recall, Dobbs got plenty of criticism on this board for his brain cramp during the same inning.

What the difference between the two? Dobbs owned up to it.

That "luck" stat is interesting... I wonder how they come up with it. Hamels' xFIP - which, according to statisticians, is what ERA would be with absolutely no luck involved - is 3.15. Thats 2nd best in the majors and below his ERA suggesting that he's been unlucky. Its amazing how these sabermetric stats conflict sometimes, its important to remember that even the best pitching projection systems only hover at about .500 correlation.

Of course, luck is just what the Phillies need. Aside from some certifiable juggernauts - this season, the Red Sox and the Angels - a little lucky deviance from a statistically projected record is what puts some teams in the playoffs and others on their couches.

And sweeps and grand slams aside, it is still worth a great gnashing of teeth that the people who oversee this franchise believe that it is better served with Jose Mesa on the roster than Chris Coste. That belies any and all reason, sense, logic, and rationality.

Regarding Hamels and his 'luck': he leads the league in strikeouts, his ERA is under three and a half and he pitches in a playpen. That's far more good than lucky. I assume this statistic refers to won-lost record. So what should he "really" be, 8-3? Never mind: it's not even worth the amount of time it takes for a computer to calculate.

I've never posted here before, but the last line of this article might be the most moronic one I've ever seen. This man really ought to find a different job.

Rocky Mountain News - Utley

Hoy, "Moronic" is the right word, although I would extend that adjective to the entire article. Maybe someone needs to point out to this guy that the Rockies are in 4th place & that everyone who gets traded to Colorado suddenly bats .50 pts higher than his career average.

"That "luck" stat is interesting... I wonder how they come up with it."

Based on their site, it looks to use the real wins & losses, compared the 'expected' wins and losses, where the expected ones are based on "how often pitchers with the same innings pitched and runs allowed earned a win or loss historically (this differs from how it was computed, which was a more complicated, theoretical calculation)."

I'd think that two things would make a pitcher 'lucky' (based on that definition): Offensive support & a low number of unearned runs. And looking at the stats, Hamels has the 2nd highest run support in the NL (behid Dontrelle Willis, looking at pitchers with at least 40 IP).

Oh yeah, it's awful from top to bottom. Upon a second reading, I think this is my new favorite line - "This leaves poor Kazuo Matsui, the best-hitting second baseman in the league (and gives the Rockies four of the top eight when he has enough at-bats) stranded." - In reference to Kaz Matsui not being the starting second baseman for the NL All Star Team.

I just read that column three times trying to understand it. it's impressive; it's actually literally incomprehensible.

my two favorite things about it:
1. the guy seems to be sincerely unaware that there's any way to measure offensive performance other than batting average. I don't think it's an act.

2. I really think he wrote two completely separate columns (The Rockies Don't Get Any Respect and They Don't Make Baseball Players Like They Used To) and then, in an homage to William Burroughs, cut them apart and pasted the sentences together to create a new column. I can't think of any other way the words in that column could exist in relation to each other. (i.e., Chase Utley is too anonymous, so Kaz Matsui should be on the All-Star team?)

although in his defense, Holliday should - and almost certainly will - be an All-Star.

It's an awful column, but bap, you're wrong about people becoming better hitters in Colorado. Since they put in the humidor it's not such a hitter-friendly park anymore, and guys like Helton and Holliday have All-Star caliber road numbers. And the Rockies are an okay team, they're about to improve to .500 and take two from the Red Sox at Fenway. I'm really not sure, though, what his point was about Chase...

The Twins Get 4 hits and an Error to score 3 runs in the bottom of the ninth to SWEEP the Braves.

The Phillies are now in sole possesion of second place.

The Twins were 0-27 trailing after 8 innings, now they are 1-27.

:)

Tray: You're right about Coors. It's not nearly the launching pad that CBP is and the stats back that up.

Alby: Great comment about those goofy range rating stats. Anyone with eyes can see that Utley is not the best secondbaseman in the league and Rollins is not close to the worst shortstop. Some of these sabremetric efforts are worthless.

Regarding Barajas, yes his OPS may be among the tops for catchers at the moment, but it's still a pretty sucky OPS. Once some of the league's better catchers revert to career form, Barajas' OPS will be nothing special even among catchers. I mean he's a backup catcher hitting .214 having a career year in K/BB ratio, which probably won't last.

Regarding Polanco, there seems to be some confusion about how to rate a trade. Posters get mixed up by things like salary and whether this other guy would be tradeable, and we had another guy at the same position, etc. etc. Here is how you rate a trade: Which team got the better player(s). The other stuff is all CYA bullcrap. If you can't get fair value YOU DON'T MAKE THE TRADE! A smart team would've benched Bell, eaten the contract and played Polanco or held out for a better offer.

Yeah, the numbers between Utley and Matsui aren't even CLOSE:

Matsui: 38/116, 1 HR, 15 RBI, 24 R, .355/.474
Utley: 80/256, 12 HR, 53 RBI, 47 R, .393/.566

What the hell is wrong with this guy?

I just sent the guy an email (see below if interested). Yes, I have nothing better to do. By the way, I was at Coors last week (in Denver for business) and that field is HUGE!!! I can't believe how big the outfield is. While the humidor helps with homeruns, the large outfield sure doesn't hurt the batting average.

Ripping Chase Utley - that takes some guts. You have some good points with Holliday vs.Beltran and I agree with you, too many players with average or below average stats have been making the team because of previous notoriety. But Chase Utley? He is the best second baseman in baseball, plain and simple.


Braves lost...so there 2.5 back now...

It's true that Coors Field isn't quite as bad as it used to be, before the humidor. But it's still the most hitter-friendly park in the majors when it comes to batting average. It isn't just coincidence that guys like Willie Taveras & Kaz Matsui, who were never any good before, suddenly go to Colorado & start hitting .300.

I'm sorry my foray into Beerleaguer posting didn't include my thoughts on Abe Nunez* but I am glad others thought the guy was an idiot. Sure Chase only has an OPS about .150 higher than Matsui, but Matsui's batting average is a couple of points higher, so he's automatically a better hitter. Sure Utley has 11 more homers and 38 more RBIs, how does that count?

*He really stinks and a Dobbs/Helms platoon should start pretty much every game (unless Kendrick is starting, who needs every out he can get and gets a ton of ground balls), and Nunez should become the 3B version of Bourn for Burrell, minus the stolen bases.

Well, Taveras and Kaz are hitting .314 and .313 on the road respectively, and Taveras is hitting for a lower average home than away. He also hit .291 his rookie year in Houston, so this isn't terribly surprising. In any event, I'm not putting them on my all-star ballots of course, but it's not clear that Coors has much to do with their recent success. Anyway, the standings are encouraging and they could get more encouraging when the Mets go to Yankee Stadium, but this Tigers series doesn't set up well for us at all. They're the highest-scoring team in baseball, and this month they're all hitting well, from Sheffield and Ordonez to Polanco, Guillen and even Inge, and we've got Lieber, Moyer, and Eaton going up against Bonderman, Miller, and Verlander. Miller vs. Moyer looks like the most winnable one but Miller's a very talented prospect who's pitched well so far.

I am going to say it now without muttering on about any particular reason why I believe this (I am going to cite new agey stuff and say we should all just believe in the power of positive perception) but the Phils are going to take 2 of 3 in this series. Why? Because I believe they can do it. They will, I insist.

If they win one out of three in this Tigers series, I'll be happy. They're going up against two of the better young pitchers in baseball in Bonderman and Verlander (am I master of the obvious, or what?), and Miller is no slouch.

If the bats come alive, and the starting pitchers are as good as they can be, the Phils could win 3 out of 3, in which case I'd be elated. Oh, by the bats coming alive I mean the team scoring 4-6 runs per game.

Fortunately, I'm taking my Dad to the game on Father's Day, so we get to see Verlander. I'd love it if somehow they light him up, but I'm not counting on it.

Err.....typo. I meant the Phils could win 2 out of 3. As sweep would be great, but let's be real.

This moment in the Phillies season is like the discussion Santiago has about fearing the Tigers, Indians and Yankees in The Old Man and the Sea. When I read that book in the early/mid 90's, I never thought that these three teams would ever regain their former glory.

[Stranger, in a span of ten years the Indians lost and regained it!]

It's time to pounce on them Tiggers!

I have always like Polanco. I have always liked Leyland. Man I wish they were on our club. Hope they dont unleash a vengeful fiery fury from hell on us.
Have mercy!
Phils show us this weekend if they can play with the big boys.

Fortunately, they only have to get played with by the big boys for the next 6 days. After that, back to NL fodder St.L., Cinn.

Polonco has the biggest steroid head in baseball

AWH: Your approach is the perfect one -- if you're playing fantasy baseball. If you're playing real baseball, you don't worry about just "the best 25 guys," you worry about the entire organization. What you're advocating -- dumping Barajas, promoting Coste, finding a catcher of Barajas quality (he's certainly not the worst backup catcher in the league; I'm no longer a subscriber, can someone find his VORP?) who could be optioned to AAA -- might make sense if Coste were a promising prospect. Instead, he's what, 34 years old? Most general managers consider backup catchers interchangeable commodities. If Todd Pratt signs somewhere else this year, you pick up Paul Bako, or one of the dozens of these guys out there. The difference between Barajas and Coste is unlikely to work out to even 1 win per season. With so many areas that truly need improvement, your focus on this strikes me as perverse.

That said, I would be perfectly OK with trading Barajas for one of the other parts we could use, particularly bullpen help, provided we get back the kind of catcher you're talking about. But it's hardly a priority.

One thing in our favor against the Tigers pitchers we face: The Phillies are a good fastball-hitting team. Their big problems are usually against sinkerball and junkball pitchers. Verlander's no-hitter came because his breaking ball was filthy and consistently in the strike zone. If any of these guys can't control their breaking pitches, our chances improve greatly. And the bullpen, a huge plus for Detroit last year, is very ordinary this year; Rodney just fell to 1-5 the other day.

Luck?

"The kid is legit. He's the best pitcher we've faced from the National League so far." -- Ozzie Guillen

"That's as good a pitching performance as we've seen all year." --Ned Yost

Alby: Good point. Plus it's supposed to be 92 degrees on Sunday, which means the 'Bank will play like a phone booth.

With all this talk about the Phils woes at catcher, who is out there? Doesn't Paul Lo Duca come up at the end of the season for free-agency?

On the other side of the rubber, why haven't we heard anything about the Orioles' Steve Trachsel as a potential replacement for Freddy Garcia? With the O's going the opposite way of the Phils, I can see Trachsel fitting into the rotation quite nicely.

I'm sure Lo Duca and Hamels would make a great battery combination.

Trachsel wouldn't fit into any rotation nicely. he's been spectacularly lucky this far: his walk rate is bad, he doesn't strike anyone out, and he's a flyball pitcher.

Kendrick is in over his head, but you won't hear anything about a veteran trade until he starts going 4 innings, 7 runs. Still a very real possibility.

"And the bullpen, a huge plus for Detroit last year, is very ordinary this year"

I guess it is just a matter of time til Leyland sends Verlander or Bonderman out to the BP then.

Daily News says Joe Savery should be on TV Sunday, starting for Rice in the CWS. game's on ESPN2, at 2PM if the team loses this afternoon and 7PM if they win.

Ummm Jason, we've got one of the better starters in the league about to come off of the DL. And, FWIW, one of the hottest "closers" already in place.

Look at it as a rare 2nd chance to rectify one of Cholly's follies.

curt, Myers isn't going to start this season. it's just not going to happen.

Is it just me or is anyone else having trouble coming to grips with the fact that we have to root for the Yankees and the despicable Roger Clemens tonight?

So clout, when evaluating a trade, is it "who got the better player" or is it whether you got "fair value"? What the heck is "fair value" if not a thorough analysis that takes into consideration talent and past performance as well as "CYA bullcrap" like salary and years left on a contract?

We traded half a year of Polanco for half a year of Urbina (and, to be fair, Ramon Martinez). We needed a few months' service from a reliable setup guy since Worrell wasn't cutting it. In retrospect, sure, Detroit re-signed Polanco and he's gone on to become a minor star. It's water under the bridge now, admittedly, but do you really think that was a bad trade? Could a half-year rental of Polanco really have brought us much more "value" than Urbina?


ae, this being the Phillies, you're probably right. But that's no reason us out here in the peanut gallery have to accept their mistakes quietly.

laramie - everyone is endowed with perfect hindsight. It allows us to moan constantly about the good ones who got away, and forget immediately all of the duds we dumped.

It also allows us to both moan about and forget the same player depending on how they're playing at the moment (when's the last time you've heard a moan about Robinson Tejeda?).

"It's so true with the Phillies. We say it over and over again, but they are a roller coaster ride like no team I've ever seen.

What are the chances of the ride ever ending at a climax that doesn't blow up in our faces?" ....... Enrico

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Enrico,
When the Phillies were bad, they were bad and you had no great expectations. It
was only when they were good (1964, 1975 - 1983, 1993, 2000's), they would break your heart. In 1980, Bob Boone dropped a ball that would normally lead to a loss. Only this one time in the history of the Phillies, someone saved them and they won. PETE ROSE was stronger than any Philly jinx!

@bay_area_phan -- I have NO problem... NO problem at all rooting for the Yankees tonight. You know the old adage, my favorite team is the Eagles and anyone who is playing the Cowboys. My favorite team is the Phillies and anyone who is playing the Mets and the Braves.

Go Bobby... YOU CAN DO IT!

Alby, please clarify and quantify your assertion that the diff between Barajas and Coste is unlikely to work out to more than 1 win. I'd like to see the evidence.

Secondly, your point about being concerned with the whole organization is a valid one, but it ignores the fact that if Barajas hadn't been signed, the money could have been used for pitching, thereby benefiting the "whole organization". Besides, improving the MLB squad needs to be the primary focus, so I would suggest to you that you need to get your priorities in order.

Third, what does Coste's age have to do with it? If you could have Jorge Posada (36) as your C, or Manny Ramirez (35) as your LF, or Chipper Jones(35) as your 3B (all older than Coste) I think you'd take them. Using age is an arbitrary, diversionary tactic on your part, and has nothing to do with the discussion. In case you missed it, it's about talent.

Lastly, you need to look at the big picture. Dumping Barajas frees up $$$ that can be used to acquire a reliever at the trade deadline. How is it "perverse" to focus on that?

This team needs pitching. Good pitching.

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