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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Comments

Going out on a limb here but I am predicting Durbin pitches decent today.

MG - you could probably make some bucks today if you willing to take the risk.

Interesting article in the Inquirer about Burrell by Marcus Hayes - Manuel makes a few candid comments about him.

Not that anyone did not it but he appears to be an insecure and vain person.

Manuel states he thinks Pat is trying to keep up with Utley & Howard which Burrell denies.

Then Manuel compares Utley to Burrell:

"Utley has a lot of self-confidence. He doesn't get caught up. He doesn't get caught up in what people are saying; he couldn't care less what people are saying, about being in the paper, about getting on TV," Manuel said.

OUCH! Sounds like Pat has a little penis-envy in the clubhouse.

Interesting JB. I can see that being the case. Burrell was the star, had a bad year and never got back on track totally. In the meantime, the other hotshots-Utley, Howard (and Thome) and Rollins have stepped up and been consistent.

JB: Marcus writes for the Daily News, not the Inquirer.

Also, what is your basis for thinking Durbin will pitch well tonight?

O'Neil: What year are you talking about?

What year?

I've done a lot of soul searching since last night, and I've made a lot of changes in my life. And I'm ready to admit it.

My name is from the district, I am twenty two years old, and I am a Pat Gillick apologist. There I said it.

Pat Gillick has not been a very good GM since November 2005. Though the full scope of his moves will not be able to be fully evaluated until after he is gone, we can say that his immediate impact has been, at best a non factor. At worst we can say that he has damaged the Phillies during a time when they had a very good chance of putting together a world series contending team.

Though it is possible that he is not as bad as many people here believe, the bottom line is that he is not getting the job done. Period.

I am going to try very hard to refrain from apologizing for Pat Gillick's poor general managing in the future, but I can't promise anything. Cause he's the only GM we've got. If I don't believe that he can stop sucking in the very near future - then what hope to the Phillies have? If the Phillies don't have any hope, then what hope do I have for entertainment?

And I've always believed if you are going to be delusional in any facet of life, you'll have the best and least permanently damaging time deluding yourself about a baseball team.

Wasn't Burrell's "bad year" 2003?

Here's to hoping the 'Real Deal' lives up to his self-given moniker tonight. ugh.

In Daily News today, Sam Donnellon has a column about Steve Smith which tries to explain away his problems in coaching third base at CBP--"there is a train of thought that coaching third in the Phillies' home bandbox presents some unique challenges. It's a hard place to get a read on the ball.
"Because it's more shallow," said Smith, who has counted 12 Phillies runners who have been thrown out at home this year."
How lame an excuse is that?? By the way, speaking of awful stats, bullpen ERA is now 4.77.

O'Neil: You wrote, "Burrell was the star, had a bad year and never got back on track totally."

What year?

I think you're aware what the year was-2003. Had a good year in 2005, but his inconsistency doesn't endear him to many.

O'Neil: I agree except for the part about "never got back on track."

clout - my bad on Hayes.

The reason I think Durbin will pitch alright tonight is that the end result is usually the opposite of what the majority opinion is here at Beerleaguer.

Burrell is definitely an intriguing and polarizing player. Of course as a talented young prospect and 1st overall pick a lot was expected of him and those expectations seem to be too high. I read somewhere before the season that Pat gets about 40-50 good swings a year, the majority of which he puts out. His swing just isn't good enough and his career contact rate of 71% is low. I've been wondering lately if Burrell has come to grips w/ his poor swing and has actively decided to augment this by becoming more patient at the plate. His walk% this year is up to 21%! Which is quite high and his BB/K ratio is over 1 at 1.02, now thats only one more walk than strikeout but that those numbers are close shows a distinct change in attitude at the plate. Pat has never had a BB/K ratio over .75 (last year) and his career is .56. This brings his OBP up to .391 which is only slightly better than last years .388 and '05's .389. So, what is to blame? Luck, specifically bad luck. This year Pat has a BABIP of .263 which is way down from his career of .311. BABIP is Batting average of Balls in play and means the percentage of contacted balls that fall for hits. Players generally don't have much control over this at least not in a change from their career numbers. A standard BABIP for the league would be between .295 and .325. So, should Pat become more "lucky" in his contacted balls than his average and OBP should go up and we are looking at a semi-career year for a player that has recognized his flaws and compensated as he saw fit. Now, will Pat ever bat .300? Hell no! But .265 w/ a .390 OBP and 25+ HRs isn't exactly horrible...not what you're looking for from a first overall pick, but we should stop thinking of him as such.

would noah lowry and steve kline make the phillies a playoff team?

they can both be had.

Clout: Burrell's good year was 2002, when his OPS+ was 149. Beyond that, he was around 125 in 2005 and 2006. It currently stands at 112 this season.

Nicely done, District. The first step to overcoming your problem is admitting that you have a problem.

But, unfortunately, you are very right about the fact that Gillick is our GM & probably will be for next year as well. So we have 3 choices. The first choice is to just hope he finally does something right & brings us a better team for next year (despite the mounting evidence that this is highly unlikely). The second choice is to take your satisfaction from incessantly criticizing him the way that I and others on this board do -- while still hoping, deep down, that he finally does something right & gives us a good team in 2008. The third choice is to openly delight in the Phillies' problems & to root for them to keep losing, on the theory that a 90-loss season might be the only thing that could lead ownership to make the kind of changes this team really needs.

Toward the end of the Ed Wade era, I was in full-blown "root against the Phillies" mode. I haven't quite gotten there yet in the Gillick era, but a bad swing on this west coast trip could put me there.

BAP: Interesting that you bring that up. I have probably watched fewer games this year than any year since the Wade era, when my two favorite players made their priority forcing trades to get them out of town. The first year CBP opened I thought they had a chance to make the playoffs, so I split a 17-game plan with a co-worker so we'd get first shot at playoff tickets. Same the second year. The third year I decided it wasn't worth the anguish; if they made the playoffs I'd pay scalper prices. This year I find myself with other things to do in the evenings, and I only attend games when my friend has tickets.

In the same way that Atlanta fans are jaded with a team that always makes the playoffs but seldom advances to the World Series, and has only one it once during their long playoff run, I find myself jaded with a team that, unlike so many Phillies team past, is a little above .500, that competes for the playoffs but never seems to make them. Those turnstiles are spinning this year, but I'll be curious to see the backlash from what's shaping up as the worst season of the Gillick era.

He did get on track that one year(06), but maybe his "track" is really what he is now and not his 2 big years.

A few weeks ago, I read a quote by a scout saying that the book on Burrell is essentially to pound the inner half of the plate on him because he rarely attacks inside pitches. Besides the called 3rd strikes, this would hurt his power production as well. His home run pitch is out over the plate and he hooks it to left, which puts a lot of topspin on the ball and results in those low line drive home runs he hits. That's not how I remember him hitting home runs when he first came up.

It'd be interesting to see Burrell make this adjustment. Maybe if he moved a bit off the plate, he could attack the inside pitch and hit balls on the outer half to right--he certainly has the strength to hit opposite field hr.

That said, I'm absolutely on board with other posters who argue Burrell is pretty valuable, if overpaid, if he produces the way he did in '05 or '06.

Where can I find stats to compare teams records over the last 20yrs? I have a bet with a guy at work and need to find the answers and have had no luck this morning. If someone could please help with a site I would be grateful. Thanks.

I'd love if someone could dig up some video on Burrell's swing 2002 vs. 2007.

Jason wrote "On a positive note, Moyer’s extra work meant the Phillies only burned two relievers: J.C. Romero and Jose Mesa."

The only positive I see is that both got so burned last night that they're not available to go tonight.

If Burrell plays like he did the last 2 years -- a major IF -- he is certainly a good offensive player. But, as with Abreu, I just don't think the whole adds up to the sum of his statistical parts. Part of that is simply his salary. The 2006 version of Burrell is about a $7 or $8M player and, on a team with an effective $95M salary cap & dire pitching needs, it's just not cost-effective to be paying $14M for an everyday player who is far from elite.

But, even if you discount salary -- which isn't easy to do -- I'm still not sure having Burrell on the team is a good thing. Yes, he draws walks but what good do those walks do when he can't run, & when the guys hitting behind him stink? More problematic to me are the prolonged slumps he suffers through, even in good years. Burrell's final numbers may be pretty good but, over the course of the season, there are a lot of long periods of time when he's absolutely killing the lineup. I know he has his supporters at Beerleaguer, and I, myself, was in that camp up to this year. But I do think the time has come to pull the plug on his Philly career -- if it can be done.

BAP, I agree that for Burrell's current $13+mil salary that the numbers he is and can be putting up are not worthwhile. Unfortunately, he is the only true power source the Phils have in the OF. Although they make up for the loss of OF power but having it in spades in the middle infield the Phillies are power weak in 2 positions where the rest of the league is strong, 3rd and LF. Do the Phillies run out there smallish lineup w/ Bourn, Rowand, and Victorino in the OF and play a more small ball style while saving the money Burrell is costing and investing in pitching talent? It's definitely a thought although I see 2 things in the way; 1) Burrell's contract, he has a no trade clause and another season. If they can get him to waive the clause nobody would want him anyway. 2) Manuel is a power coach, he wouldn't know how to finesse a team to wins.

I can't remember where, but I read an idea about another park alteration to address the HR issue at CBP. Short of actually removing seats to push the walls back, the idea was to remove all the "landscaping" from around the outfield. Push the walls back as far as possible. Not much room is gained for left or right, but a good bit is there for center. Make the brick wall "batting eye" the actual center field wall. If you like, instead of a line, make it so they actually have to hit it OVER the wall for a HR.

It will never happen, but I think it has merit.

BAP - what do you think are the changes that this team really needs?

I would rather see Burrell traded somehow, someway and Rowand resigned than the likely outcome of Burrell here for 2008 and Rowand gone via free agency.

Hard to imagine the Phillies spending the money to keep Rowand with Burrell's mirror still in the clubhouse.

Plus the Phillies have greater needs in pitching and have Bourn in the wings.

Thinking about next year makes me think we should be grateful for where we are at this year.

In any endeavor there are a few individuals and/or organizations of excellence. Sadly, the Phillies organization as presently constituted is not one of them. I'm still getting over the fact that they had a shot at hiring Jim Leyland and somehow ended up hiring Cholly instead. I hate to even begin to compare the two because it would be an insult to Leyland to so so.

Bill Giles, Dave Montgomery, Gillick, Amaro, Jr, Cholly. None of these guys impress me. What decisions do we expect from these guys and what kind of results should we really expect on the field? About what we've been getting I would say.

Bob Spelled backwards is Bob -

just go to baseball-reference.com, they have all the records there.

surprised at all this optimism for durbin tongiht. Maybe no one else has seen him pitch. Hope you guys are right.

Bob Spelled backwards is Bob: baseball-reference.com

God invented the DH for people with low calibre defensive skills such as Ryan Howard. However he needs to adjust his "OH WELL" attitude away from the Pat Burrell zombie end of the intensity scale and toward the Victorino side of the scale if he thinks that the Yankees will ever offer him a $100mil++ deal.

from the district:

What this team needs is pitching. Power in the outfield and at least competent 3B are nice but totally eclipsed by the atrocities on the mound. However, we've been ignoring pitching for so long that now we're forced to pay over fair market value for slop if we're honestly expected to compete. Billy Beane types don't exist in our management, so scouting for market inefficiencies is off the table, though I'm sure they thought they pulled a fast one in the Freddy Garcia trade. Necessary changes seem out of reach until fundamental shifts are made in personnel management and scouting--not unheard of but this seems to be something other teams do much better than us.

Why do we need power in the outfield? Why do we need it at 3rd base? This team has scored the most runs in the National League, we don't need more hitting we need more pitching!! Starters, relievers and anyone else able to throw a strike! If this team continues to run with a budget, which it seems to be, why spend money on more hitting when the most runs in the national league will still only get you .500 baseball and 5 games back of both the wild card and the division.

District: I don't think I'm going to start too much controversy by saying the whole culture of the Phillies needs changing. Practically every decision in Philly-land is made for the wrong reasons -- either out of PR concerns, misplaced loyalty, or simply a desire not to rock the boat. It's the worst-kept secret in history that that's the reason they hired Cholly over Leyland. But it's also why they hired the stodgy 70-something Gillick, when pretty much everyone thought Gerry Hunsicker was the best man for the job. And, of course, it's also why guys like Ruben Amaro & Dallas Green continue to wield such enormous influence over the team's day-to-day decisions.

A team's success or lack of success starts from the top & the Phillies, as an organization, find mediocrity to be perfectly acceptable, so long as the turnstiles are still moving. How else to explain Monty's comments that the Eaton and Moyer signings were "great," and that, if baseball used the same playoff format as the other major sports, the Phillies would be a playoff team? And how else to explain all the excuse-making -- much of it based on revisionist history (such as, for example, their continued claim that a healthy Freddy Garcia, with his 1 win & 5.90 ERA, would have helped them?)

Finally, the Phillies' ownership loathes anything that is new & unknown. That's why they've never even explored the possibility of looking for bullpen help in Asia. That's why they shun all things sabermetric and instead rely on old-school hunches in evaluating potential prospects. That's why they signed guys like Rod Barajas and Adam Eaton. I could go on but I won't.

Basically, this team needs wholesale change, from Monty all the way down.

I'll be optimistic about Durbin pitching. Why not? It's more fun to be optimistic. Stranger things have happened. I'd take 6 innings and 4 runs.

And hey, Comcast put a little statue of William Penn at the top of their building. So we've got that going for us.

nobody wants to comment on noah lowry or steve kline? i think those guys could really help for a playoff push.

i also think (if he would accept it) burrell could be packaged with say bourne and a lower prospect to get those two.

phil's get help this year in the pitchers (kline is signed in 08 and lowry to 09) and get burrell off the books (at least partically).

giants get two young guys that they desperately need. bourne plays right away and they also get a decent minor leaguer. burrell can play first for them and is a decent player with an expiring contract who they will get draft picks for and at least hit homers in that terrible lineup.

any thoughts (other than burrell will never accept a trade there)? i'm more curious with what people think about trying to get lowry and/or kline. and i realize the phil's would HAVE to find a righty to platoon in left with dobbs.

Only brain dead circus monkey types such as Chris Wheeler, Dave Montgomery, Rich Dubee, Charlie Manuel, Ruben Amaro Jr. fit into this organization. No one else can thrive; look for Wheller to manuver the departure of Gary Matthews. Thus the dumping ground status for the rest of MLB. At best the Phillies are a developmental AAAA team for the real teams of the AL.

Tim - I'd do that trade in a heart beat. And I think Burrell likes SF, so that shouldn't be a problem. But why would SF give up two young arms like that? Do they have an overload of starting pitching? (doubtful)

I might be in the minority here, but the Achilles' heel of this team is the starting pitching. Phils basically have only two starters who give them a legit chance of winning (Hamels and Kendrick) right now.

Two weeks ago I thought this team had a shot a the playoffs if they got a 5th starter and
Myers/Gordon both come back healthy. That is just not the case now. Moyer is flashing "E" on the gas tank and Eaton has been an unmitigated disaster.

Unfortunately, I think the Phils are most likely just going to have to just play this season out. They don't have enough assets to be sellers at the break and they are going to need low-cost player like Bourn and
Ruiz to round out the roster next season.

There is no way the Giants trade for a veteran like Burrell. Giants want to get younger and they are looking for players that they can build around for '08 and beyond. Burrell certainly does not fit into the picture.

MG: I wouldn't take one over the other. They're both in terrible shape. They both feature an equal sampling of players who have no business on the team.

Tim, No one commented on Noah Lowery & Steve Kline because the Giants aren't trading Noah Lowery. You cite no source for your proposition that Noah Lowery "can be had" and Brian Sabean, the Giants' GM, has repeatedly said he isn't going to trade Lowery, Cain, or Lincecum.

bap

I would say, then, that a ninety loss season is not going to help accomplish the goal of fixing what is really wrong with the team. we had a bunch of them in the nineties, and there was no wholesale change.

Looking at our farm system and free agent prospects, how can we *not* be scouting Asia, South America, or the Newark Bears?

These options aren't a matter of salary. In fact, the team could likely save millions by aggressively pursuing foreign assistance. It boils down to laziness and xenophobia.

kline is an old man - so there is no problem there.

lowry is the tougher guy to get obviously - especially with his great contract.

but for a team that really isn't going to compete in 08 anyway, i think burrells draft picks might just be enough. they have to have someone on the team who they can justify as hitting somewhere near the middle of the lineup. and it'd only be for a year and two months.

i'd look at it like they were trading for bourne and the other prospect - burrell would just be a rental to get the picks. and you never know, maybe they could see a high trade value burrell at the deadline next year.

bay_area_fan - i heard it this morning on espn. they said only cain and franchise were staying.

it makes sense since they are only going to be decent at best in 09, lowry's walk year.

anyway, what do you think about kline?

JD - I am also strangely optimistic about Durbin keeping the Phils in the game tonight.

Dodgers have a "dink" offense and need to string together a bunch of hits/walks to make things happen since they have no power and not much speed (Furcal has been slowed this season and Pierre isn't the base stealing threat he used to be). If Durbin can just throw keep the walks down tonight to 1 or 2, I like the Phils' chances a lot.

Cholly should also sacrifice some offense for defensive tonight. Bourn should get the start in LF and Nunez at 3B (who is better against LHP anyways). Even though Hendrickson is a LHP and this is kryptonite to the Phils' lineup normally, he went two innings on Sat. Doubt Hendrickson is super fresh and he won't go more than 5+ tonight. Plus, Hendrickson is a soft-tosser that the Phils should be able to do some damage against.

Key matchups tonight are:

1. Durbin vs. strike zone
2. Howard vs. Hendrickson

I was listening to Ray Ratto (main columnist who covers the SF Giants for the Chronicle) talk the other day on the sports radio station out here. Giants will mostly likely move Lowry this offseason to get offensive help.

The only starting pitcher they will move is Morris and it will take something decent in return to get him. Phils just don't have an attractive enough package and I am not sold that Morris will be effective/healthy again next year.

@BAP:

While everyone is well aware of Jimmy Leyland's success in Detroit after the Phil's snubbery during the dog-and-pony interview process, where did Gerry Hunsicker land and how has he fared since being passed over for P. Gillick?

There is ZERO truth to the rumor the Giants are shopping Lowry. Sabean is on the record saying the Giants are rebuilding, will be sellers at the deadline and are looking to add young players. Lowry is a 25-year-old LHP who is one of their rebuilding blocks. Kline, on the other hand, I fully expect to be traded.

The Burrell haters need to ask themselves two questions:
1. If the Phillies dump Burrell, who replaces him?
2. Does that replacement make the Phillies a better team?

If you can't answer those 2 questions positively, then dumping Burrell is a bad move. Assuming you care about winning (which half the posters here don't) you can't replace somebody with nobody.

"Basically, this team needs wholesale change, from Monty all the way down."

bay area phan, you are only partially correct.

Montgomery may be listed as "General Partner, President and Chief Executive Officer", but Bill Giles is still listed as "Chairman".

I do not refer to Montgomery as "The Puppet" for no reason. I have said for many months on this board that I believe that is what the relationship is.

Imagine this scenario, you are the CEO of a company, and amid massive public criticism you make the decision to voluntarily "step aside", and turn the post over to your immediate underling. However, you are still the "Chairman" of the company and run the Board of Directors meetings. The new CEO, who used to report to you, still reports to the Board, which you preside over.

That is the current state of the Phillies.

If anyone who reads this site doesn't think Montgomery clears all his decisions with Giles, or at the very least runs them up the flagpole, then you are horribly mistaken.

The wholesale change you refer to needs to start with Giles. Otherwise we'll have more of the same mediocrity and incompetence - in building a pitching staff, designing a ballpark, etc., etc., etc........

Ok, the Phillies need to make up their mind on Durbin. Either he is going to be a starter or a bullpen guy. You can't expect a guy to not start for 2 or 3 weeks then all of a sudden throw him out on the mound with less than 6 innings under his belt.

Ok, the Phillies need to make up their mind on Durbin. Either he is going to be a starter or a bullpen guy. You can't expect a guy to not start for 2 or 3 weeks then all of a sudden throw him out on the mound with less than 6 innings under his belt.

Clout- if another team is silly enough to take on Burrell's contract then I say "dump" him. I've alread "thrown in the towel" on this season, so replacing Pat with Michael Bourn for the time being is acceptable. I'm not saying Bourn is the long term answer, but if we could unload Burrell's contract and sign a free agent that has a track record of now sucking for long periods of time, then that's the way I'd go. I was all for keeping Burrell if he would have produced at his career norms, but he's not eve close this year.

By the way- here's my constructive criticism...J.D. Durbin is awesome...at sucking!

I guess dreaming the impossible dream is a trait of youth.

Carson, there's not a team in baseball that will pick up more than a couple of million of the dollars owed to Burrell -- and there are only a handful that would take him even under those circumstances. And Burrell is under no obligation to waive his no-trade for any of them.

Tim, it's even sillier to believe that Sabean will trade a hot commodity like a young, cheap, talented left-handed pitcher for a one-dimensional -- wait, make than half-dimensional -- washed-up slugger. Seriously, guys, if proposing impossible trades is how you get your jollies, I'd suggest joining a fantasy league that has some rule forcing everybody to make at least one trade every two weeks.

But wait -- those aren't the wildest dreams on this thread, this is: "If Durbin can just throw keep the walks down tonight to 1 or 2, I like the Phils' chances a lot." Yeah, and if pigs could fly, we could all get rich operating car washes.

AWH: Fair enough. The wholesale changes should start with Giles & the Gang of 7. But I don't even dare dream that these guys are ever going to sell the team, so the best we can hope for is that they fire the highest guy on the totem pole who can actually be fired. That guy is Monty.

Clout: I can't sit here right now & tell you who Burrell's replacement would be because there are too many variables in the equation. However, Burrell's sporadic offensive contributions can certainly be replaced & for far less than $14M. The Phillies need pitching more than they need offense, so if they can trade Burrell for a decent reliever or two, I would do it. And, at the risk of sounding like SirAlden, the salary relief they could find by trading Burrell would very much help them in next year's free agent market. Of course, I wouldn't really trust Gillick to spend that money wisely, but that's a whole separate issue.

LiveArm: Hunsicker is some kind of special assistant with Tampa Bay. You can be sure that isn't his idea of a dream job so it's still not too late for the Phillies to do what they should have done before & hire him. Hunsicker isn't necessarily my dream candidate for GM but I think he is a competent GM who understands that pitching wins championships.

Tim: Whatever they said on ESPN was pure speculation. I read the San Francisco newspapers & listen to the San Francisco radio interviews with Brian Sabean. Unless he gets an overwhelming offer, he is not planning to trade Noah Lowery. If you want to give up Ryan Howard or Jimmy Rollins, maybe you could entice the Giants to trade Lowery. Short of that, it isn't happening.

Carson: Then I put you in the "don't care if we win" camp.

yo daddy: If a pitcher cannot control the baseball, it matters not how he's used. I don't want Durbin as a starter. I don't want him as a reliever. I don't want him hawking cotton candy until he can control the baseball.

Strongly disagree, Clout. Durbin is more than qualified to hawk cotton candy.

BAP: But not peanuts. Those vendors have to hit a fan's hands from 40 feet away.

I hate that BABIP stat. If you're a really slow runner like Burrell, you're not going to beat out any close ground balls. Thats not luck. And if you're hitting harmless pop flies all the time, thats also not luck--its a bad swing.

Trading Burrell would absolutely help this team. It won't happen though.

Clout: I agree to some extent. I'm sick of going to bat for Durbin. He needs to stop being such a head case and just Deal. He has the ability, but needs to put it together before he gets put on waivers again. (How many times have I said this?)

The Burrell haters need to ask themselves two questions:
1. If the Phillies dump Burrell, who replaces him?
2. Does that replacement make the Phillies a better team?

The time to dump Burrell was last season. It's barely worth discussing now--pure fantasy that we'll get rid of him without forfeiting buckets of cash.

But, since we're in the realm of fantasy, how would you feel if:

1. We somehow got rid of Burrell in 2006 without incurring salary penalties.

2. We retained Conine or signed an equivalent outfielder for $2 million in 2007 and about the same in 2008.

3. We spent the remaining $23 million over two years overpaying for pitching.

In the above scenario we'd be the joke of the Major League with our outfield, especially in 2008 if Rowand isn't replaced or upgraded, but to make good on our $23 million investment, we'd need only about 7-10 win shares per year for a lateral move. It'd be tough not to accomplish that.

Forget about Hunsicker. Rube Junior will be the next GM, and that is a very depressing thought. Other equally depressing realities: pitching is 90% of baseball success, and the Phils will NEVER attract a top free agent to pitch at CBP. They will only be able to sign mid-level underachievers like Eaton and trade for free agents-to-be like Milton and Garcia. How'd that work out? The future is darkly bleak.

Clout- placing me in the "don't care if we win" camp is harsh. I want to win, but I don't see us winning enough with Burrell. By "throwing in the towel" I mean giving up on playoffs for this season, and I think you would agree that's a pipedream. So why not trade Burrell if at all possible and his horrid contract and see what we can plug into LF via free agency. I don't see how my logic right now doesn't equate to winning in the future, unless of course you think Burrell is a cog on this team that is necessary.

It's not just the $$ in Burrell's contract that's the problem, he's got a NO TRADE CLAUSE . He reportedly turned down a deal to go to sleepy Baltimore.

Burrell's BABIP this year has nothing to do with "close ground balls." for a player like Burrell you're talking about line drives that happen to go right at defenders.

last year, his BABIP was .294. in 2005, .336 (obviously fluky). even for a slow player like Burrell, .259 (AFTER he's been returning to the mean for several weeks) is an abnormally low BABIP that indicates bad luck. nobody's saying he's going to turn into Ichiro (a guy who has a career .355 BABIP) or that he's going to win a batting title any time soon, but an average in the .250-.270 range and a BABIP in the .280-.300 is entirely reasonable to expect.

I think it's a myth that top pitchers won't sign to play at CB Park. Most pitchers will play anywhere if the money is right. Mike Hampton, for example, was one of the top pitchers in baseball at the time he agreed to pitch his home games at the pre-humidor Coors Field.

I do think CB Park's dimensions have an adverse effect on the Phillies' pitching staff that likely carries over to away games. But I am skeptical of the claim that the park is driving top pitchers away. Perhaps I would change my mind if I actually saw the Phillies woo a top pitcher, only to have him sign elsewhere, with the explanation that he didn't want to pitch at CB Park. But when was the last time you ever saw the Phillies go after a top pitcher in the free agent market?

AE, those stats are nice, but Burrell's problem has been he doesn't try to put enough balls into play...besides in his private life of course.

On second thought, even today, the Phillies might be helped if some other team ate as little as $4 million of Burrell's 2008 contract and we could come up with Joe 105 OPS+ OF for 2008, which should be doable for less than $4 million.

It's disconcerting that I doubt whether our former "franchise savior" would be taken with $10 million cash included.

whelk, realizing that you're positing a fantasy scenario, where are you getting $23M over two years? this year's money for Burrell is already spent, it's irrelevant. if you trade him without throwing in another penny, you save $14M in dollars that can actually be spent on pitching (and on replacing his non-trivial production).

in your scenario, the Phils actually have an extra $12M to spend on pitching...can they get something worthwhile for that? in theory, sure, and if we could trade Burrell without spending a dime I'd probably support it. but that's a pipe dream (to be fair, as you acknowledge).

Carson: I guess you're right. The more correct term would be "don't think we have a prayer of making the playoffs this year" camp. I honestly think management ought to make a run for it this year. Neither the Mets nor Braves are juggernauts. And this could be the last playoff chance for a very long time. If Myers & Gordon can stay healthy and pitch well, one starter might be all we need. I think 88 wins can take the division.

Carson, that's not true. I quoted Burrell's previous BABIP stats. and he's actually striking out less this year than he has at any point in his career, despite what observers may like to believe.

whelk, how does that plan help the Phillies either in the short term or the long term?

Clout- that "one starter" would have to be a legit #2 or 3, not an ass-clown like Kyle Lohse or Jose Contreas. I especially don't want Contreas because he's owed 10+ million in '08 and '09. I'd take a chance of Lohse if he didn't really cost us much of a prospect, but he wouldn't be enough to get the Phils into October. I just don't see this team acquiring a frontline starter, so playoffs are a dream to me.

ae- this is solely based on observation, so I'm willing to conceed I'm wrong, but Burrell's strikeouts aren't the only reason he's not putting balls in play. He is so timid at the plate that he'd rather take a walk and clog the bases than try to get an extra base hit. I'm not saying walks are bad, but for an ulta-slow runner like Burrell a walk isn't usually the preference. He also doesn't get the opportunity to bat late in games when he starts because he often gets pulled for a pinch-runner/defensive replacement. All-in-all he's putting less balls in play than ever before due to many factors.

ae, I rewound to end of 2006 for my figures (See item 1). I also didn't explicitly suggest Burrell was ditched for free--I assumed that transaction results did not harm budgets for 2007-2008 (another pipe dream). Asking for 14-20 Win Shares (remainder of Burrell's estimated 35 minus Joe Outfielder's estimated 20 throughout 2007-2008) out of over $20,000,000 is not a pipe dream, however.

I see whelk, I missed that. it's undeniably true that the team could've been improved without Burrell's salary since 2006. but then that's what happens when backloaded contracts go bad - at $7M in 2005, Burrell was practically a bargain.

whelk, how does that plan help the Phillies either in the short term or the long term?

The "dump Burrell" plan helps only if Joe 105 OPS+ OF can be had for $4 million or, preferably, at a significant discount. Even mediocre outfielders will field more outs than Burrell, compensating for the OPS drop. The remainder of the $4 million would represent a gain unless Pat Burrell's 2008 performance is above average.

Whelk was making a fantasy trade in 2006. It was a "what-if" scenario not one that he was suggesting for 2007.

"Even mediocre outfielders will field more outs than Burrell, compensating for the OPS drop."

this is more or less a fantasy. Burrell isn't nearly as terrible in the outfield as everyone assumes, especially since he has a good arm.

it's entirely possible that the kind of OF who signs for $4M (or less? seriously?) could outplay Burrell, but it's not even close to a certainty.

Regarding Burrell's fielding, I'll take outs in the left field corner over the close plays at third, but I realize it's almost a toss-up. It's meant to be; I'm targeting Burrell's lateral replacement.

$4 million for 105 OPS+ over 400-450 ABs seems reasonable to me. Remember this guy'd be sharing time with Bourn and Dobbs.

Burrell's expected OPS is higher than 105, but I'm not convinced the number is reliable, given his speed issues. I'm genuinely interested in a sabermetric argument that pits higher OPS from a slow BB guy against slightly lower OPS and faster baserunning and fielding.

I wish people would not use my name to propose stupid things like us getting noah lowry. not gonna happen

ae: I agree and would add this: How does one predict how many outs one fielder will get to over another? Even taking an extreme example: Bourn and Burrell, I think we can all agree that Bourn will catch more balls than Burrell. But how many more over the course of a season?

And will that number offset the difference between Burrell's runs-created and Bourn's? Probably not. So when you're talking about a far less extreme example, such a statement becomes impossible to prove.

clout, is measuring expected outs recorded "impossible" or simply not analyzed thoroughly enough? Maybe I'm reading in the wrong places, but I don't see many discussions on such matters. How much does Pat Burrell's defense help/hurt over replacement player? I don't have any measurements, but neither does anybody else. My "speedy outfielders are better" carries the same weight as "Burrell has a rocket arm" in absence of supporting evidence. FP doesn't tell the whole story, either.

By the way, Bourn's a sub 80 OPS+ guy and earns league minimum--not the comparison I sought.

I like Bourn's potential. I really loved that lineup with Bourn second and Victorino sixth. I know Manual is playing Pat now that he's hot, but I wouldn't mind seeing that lineup more often.

From yesterday's thread about waiting to judge Gillick based on his draft classes. Gillick has very little to do with the amateur draft or player development (or more aptly put, he has changed very little). The philosophies are the same (draft athletic high ceiling talent), the evaluators are the same. Why would anything change ? It is the same crew since the Wade era and in some cases the Lee Thomas era . Gillick in his two years here has brought in one trusted scout (Welke then Kerfeld when Welke left)and for the most part has made personnel moves around the fringes with players he was familiar with from previous gm positions. I don't see any big changes as it appears to me that Montgomery and his loyal lieutenants (Arbuckle, Amaro, Green, Wolever ) are the ones really running the show.

well, there's always Fielding Runs Above Replacement. Baseball Prospectus has Burrell at -5 on the season, which is undeniably bad, but they also had him at +6 last year and +7 in 2005. or there's Rate, which has him at 84 (i.e. 16 runs below average per 100 games), but had him at 98 last year and 97 in 2005.

the statistical evidence, for what it's worth, says that Burell is having a poor season defensively this year, but has been at right around the replacement level defensively in recent years.

whelk: That's my point exactly. There is no reliable statistic that can tell you how many outs one outfielder will make over another. It depends on whether the pitchers are flyball pitchers, how many hitters you face that hit that way, the speed and arm strength of the outfielder etc. etc. Impossible to measure beyond common sense: Bourn will obviously get to more balls than Burrell. But enough to offset the dropoff in offense?

I say never give up you can't wait till next year because next year never comes! Did anyone in there right minds think the Cards would win stay close and make moves.

I'm not sure enough people have processed the actual point of Rich Hofman's column: Phillies pitchers have given up about the same number of road homers as opponents have given up home homers, but in CBP Phillies pitchers have given up far more than opposing pitchers have. In other words, he thinks the nature of the park has gotten inside Phillies pitchers' heads.

BAP cites the Hampton signing in Colorado as evidence that money changes everything, even the minds of left-handed pitchers. But I would suggest we recall how high the Hampton premium was -- at least $20 over market value (about $2.5M a year) to overcome the detriment of pitching in a hitters' park. He's still pulling down about $6M a year from Atlanta, and will through next season.

Here's a blurb on him from Baseball America in 2002, when he was traded from Colorado to Florida to Atlanta:

"Hampton, a 30-year-old lefthander, completely collapsed after signing an eight-year, $121 million contract with the Rockies in December 2000—and he can't completely blame Coors Field. Hampton went 21-28, 5.75 in two years with Colorado, but his ERA on the road (5.77) was higher than it was in Denver (5.73). He completely lost his confidence, and his combination of sinker, cut fastball and changeup no longer fooled hitters."

After that, he resurrected his career somewhat, going 32-20 over three seasons, but has missed both 2006 and 2007 with a torn tendon in his pitching arm. He is owed $14M each this season and next.

So are you sure this is your best poster boy for how overpaying will lure a pitcher to a hitters' park?

@Barajass makes a good point. Last year in the first week in August I was in St. Louis watching the Phillies wrap-up a sweep of the Cardinals, who had just lost 6 straight. The guy sitting next to me... an 81 gamer turned to me and said around the 3rd innning, while Cole Hamels was mowing down Redbirds and before Utley extended his hitting streak to 35 -- "WE SUCK."

It was just like being in Philly. So we should never lose hope... not until we're out of it.

Possible starting pitcher if Durbin bombs out. Gary Knotts who is currently pitching for the Newark Bears. He started 37 games for
Detroit Tigers in 2003-2004. He is curently
5-5 2.76 in 14 starts, 94 innings with 74 hits.

Someone mentioned looking for Burrell's 2002 swing. And that's a great idea. Here's something close, Burrell going deep against Dice K in the pre-season: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nQNZ7cdPSsk

But this reminds me of what my Dad had mentioned during Burrell's first slump in '03. "You will know Burrell will be back when he starts hitting line drives down towards the 3rd base coach box." When Burrell first came up, he nearly killed Vuk a handful of times from my recollection. That's was when he was Attacking those inside pitches.

Manuel seems to be a coach that wants to keep players in their COMFORT zone. But maybe for a player like Burrell, he needs the opposite. That's my Dad's Costanza theory. "If everything you do is wrong, than the OPPOSITE has to be right." IF Costanza could fix Danny Tartabull, he could absolutely fix Burrell.

Thanks for the info, ae. I'm not familiar with these statistics but have started to pull up players at baseballprospectus.com.

clout, the problem is I agree with you on this case; I'm not arguing Bourn as an outright replacement for Burrell for 2008, though it could happen, I suppose.

I'm more interested in marginal cases: middling OF with 105 OPS+ and faster fielding (but slower than Bourn) vs. slow Burrell with 115 OPS+ and lots of walks. Who's more valuable and by how much?

Well, Whelkman, Victorino is at 102 OPS+ for this season, vs. Burrell's 112. There's your comparison.

Wayne, if you go trolling through that league for pitching you'll find a lot of familiar names. Forget starters; how about we re-sign Eric Junge for the bullpen? He's got a 2.28 ERA and a strikeout per inning for the Bridgeport Bluefish.

Knotts would still be starting for Detroit
if not for some injuries, and it looks like
he is recovered. If he could give us 6 innings with 3 runs like Kendrick, he could
win most of his games. Junge, a Bucknell alumni would be great.

This would be a way to help the Phils catching and pitching - from today's delawarleonline
"Trade rumor: The Yankees, still trying to decide if they're buyers or sellers, could make relievers Mike Myers and Luis Vizcaino available and may have interest in a veteran backup catcher like Rod Barajas. Myers and Vizcaino will be free agents after the season." Sounds good.

As well, on all of this trade Burrell talk, I think it would be better to keep him around the way the Phils did with Rowand, because I expect him to continue his hot July hitting for the next year and a half, because there is no greater motivator than that next contract - see Rowand's year. On the other hand, there is no reason to think Durbin will suddenly learn how to pitch at the major league level tonight from anything he's done so far. Please bring Myers back to the starting rotation when he returns!

Thanks for the tip, Alby. I spent too much time looking outward for comparisons when I should have looked within.

Unfortunately, this is too easy: Victorino is a bargain. In my original scenario he'd represent over $3.5 million in extra funds given a $4 million Burrell replacement budget. Victorino's an every day player to boot; I set my sights lower. I was hoping to uncover a more expensive middling free agent aged 30-35 who's good for 400-450 ABs and 2-4 triples.

Right now I'm having difficulty interpreting these fielding statistics due to lack of time to absorb the information, but it appears that Victorino records outs well enough to save a few games, while Burrell, on average, is a slight liability.

Independent of fielding, Victorino has 10 win shares to date, which is about what Burrell would produce at this point on an average year as an every day player.

Verdict: 2007 Victorino at an eyelash over league minimum represents more value than Burrell at $4 million and 115 OPS+. Judgment call, but I'd say 2007 Victorino is still worth more at $4 million but his career numbers don't warrant the salary. I say Victorino + $1 million is worth tangibly more than Burrell.

Interesting point, Verdeforce. My arguments assume Burrell finishes at 115 OPS+ or lower for both 2007 and 2008. He could very well earn a good chunk of that money should he decide to showcase himself for 2009. I don't think he has it in him, though, but a repeat of 2006 isn't outside the realm of possibility.

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