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Wednesday, July 25, 2007

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Yes, I have to say.. this team is starting to get done been growed up.

From last thread:

Quite the gamut of topics we've run today. I'm shocked we're wasting so much time talking about next year's team when we're in the center of a playoff race.

This team is 5 games out of the division lead with 7 games (4 home) against the Mets and 9 games (6 home) against the Braves. We are also just 3 games out of the wild card chasing a team with no offense that just lost one of their aces to an injury while their other ace hasn't won in a month. We have three home games left against San Diego and four road games against Chicago.

We have the best offense in the National League by a long shot (535 runs scored, no other team has cracked 500).

Since starting the season 3-10, the Phils have a .558 winning percentage in their last 86 games. If we continue to win at that pace, the Phils will finish the season with 86 wins. Is that enough to make the playoffs? It might be.

We've scored 79 runs in the 11 games since the All-Star break, an average of 7 runs per game (up from 5.4 overall). Our opponets have scored 46 runs, an average of 4 runs per game. Our 4.18 ERA since the break would have us closer to 12th in baseball than our current rank of 28th (4.85).

I honestly believe our biggest problem is losing close games and those games usually come down to the bullpen. Getting Gordon and Myers back healthy should help that.

There's no doubt we're in this race. Now we have to prove we're in it to win it. That means finding another bullpen arm and ideally some back of the rotation help (I tend to believe Kendrick will likely fall off to a bullpen role).

You just don't know what the future will bring. That means winning now. Next year, Howard and Utley may collide in the infield and miss six months. Then what? You just never know. When you're close, you have to go for it.

Phillie fans have such low expectations. 4 wins in a row, and we're looking to pass out huzzahs. The day we've passed Atl. and NYM and are in first place is the day I'll start looking around to see who got us there. 3rd place isn't even an improvement.

No. No he does not.

I think you're right, Jason, about Williams and Lopes making differences this year on the coaching staff. (Steve Smith, on the other hand, has been a less impressive addition.) Last night's game did call to attention the fact that the Phils have not been beating themselves the way they were in April; in short, they're playing tighter ball and in marked contrast to the Phillies in mid-season the past two years, they've gotten a serious head start on playing like they know each game means a lot and playing like they want it badly.

Despite Gillick's comments, I can't believe he would think about trading Victorino, who's been such an essential part of the Phillies this year. There's just no way a guy who's been around as long as Gillick would overlook the defense, the speed, and the hustle Vic brings - and he's still on pace for nearly 20 homers. I have to think his dissatisfaction lies with Burrell, but also as evidenced by last night's game, Burrell hasn't been hurting the team for awhile now. In fact - I really have no idea why Gillick would even mention the power of his corner outfielders. That isn't even close to being an issue with this team. If he wants to lament an offensive position, perhaps he can look at third base sometime.

Looking ahead: next week's road trip is another huge test against the class of the NL Central, two teams tough to beat at home.

Final thought: why do I have the distinct feeling that Jeff Conine is going to end up with the Phillies again?

curt, I'm less impressed with the four game winning streak than I am with the .558 winning percentage the last 86 games. It's not yet enough... but a little pitching help here or there and it could be.

Final thought: why do I have the distinct feeling that Jeff Conine is going to end up with the Phillies again?

I don't think that would be so bad. He did a decent job for us late last year.

Bridoc: No, I don't either. But I don't know where I'm getting this idea, it could just be a SirAlden moment.

cj - I was responding to the suggestion that Cholly deserved credit for something.

rsb - Conine was an effort to find a little right-handed punch to protect Howard. Rowand's got that covered this year.

I'd like to point out I've never passed out any huzzahs to anyone.

Anyone know why Alfonseca is still closing over Gordon? Isn't Gordon off the DL? I know Big Un's did the job last night, just curious about the move.

Oh no, this just can't be. I can't come to Beerleaguer and read cheery posts and optimistic comments.

locastic: I think I saw that Gordon will not return to the closer role. He'll retain a set up role until Myers is ready to close again. Frankly, ol' 6-fingers has done a good enough job that I don't think we need to rush Gordon into that role.

curt: Ah... I got it.

I want to support something CJ said on the last thread in response to McSnooger who said Rowand will be a Type A free agent.

CJ is correct. The Elias rankings are based on the past 2 years of a player's stats, which makes it very unlikely Rowand will be Type A. Not only that, but MLB has toughened the rankings. It used to be that the top 30% in the category got A's, but this year it will be top 20%.

"I want to support something CJ said," wrote clout.

-----------

I'm totally framing that!!!!! ;-)

clout - if Rowand is not a Type-A FA, what kind of compensation do the Phillies get if he leaves? I've been operating under the assumption they'll get some high pick(s) if he leaves.

locastic:

The Phils will receive a "sandwich" compensation pick. That's a pick that falls between rounds 1 and 2 in next year's draft.

Thanks CJ.

I just went through your initial post on this thread. You say to go for it now; I'm assuming you mean you want Gillick to make a move. Who would you trade to get that? I tend to agree with Gillick that the prices are too high right now, maybe they'll drop near the deadline, but right now they're prohibitive.

From the Minnesota Star Tribune:

"On Saturday, Philadelphia assistant general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. was in attendance when Twins prospect Kevin Slowey, currently with Class AAA Rochester, faced Ottawa. The Phillies might set club records for offense this season, but they badly need pitching. Pat Burrell (.249, 12 home runs and 46 RBI) could be available, but he's making over $13 million this season and Philadelphia would have to eat most of that salary."

It's a shame the Padres picked up Bradley because Rowand would be a great addition, and they can spare pitching.

I might not have heard Gillick correctly last night, but I'm pretty sure he said "corners" rather than "corner outfielders." Obviously he's not talking about Howard, but 3B would count as a corner.

locastic:

I agree... from what we're hearing the price does seem prohibitive at this point. I don't want the Phils to deal Victorino at all. I'd only deal Rowand for a real, no-doubt-about-it upgrade (which is unlikely). I'd only deal Bourn for something that would be a clear upgrade.

The names being thrown around (Lohse, Towers, Kennedy, etc) are not worth a player currently on our major league roster.

That means Gillick must find a way to use our marginal prospects (not Carrasco) to find some help. I didn't say his job was easy... but that's where we are.

CJ - well, OK. I'm on the side that would trade Burrell for a bag of balls, so I'd do that deal. But I'm probably not thinking reasonably about the issue.

locastic: Despite Burrell's problems, I tend to believe his production is worth more than a lot of people give him credit for.

Is he worth $14 million? No. But he's not going to offer to take a pay cut and no team will take on his full contract. I guess I'd rather pay for that production on our team than pay for that production on another team unless we can get something real in return.

Oops, thought the blurb from Minnesota was in regards to my question.

I don't know, maybe if we send fake scouting reports of our AAA propects to all the teams, we can help Gillick trick some sap into making a deal.

That's the best plan I can think of. Hmm.

Bridoc & RSB: Looks like we have a bit of revisionist history going on here:

Conine's 2006 stats with 2006 Phillies: .717 OPS (.280, 1 HR). Of all Phillies with 100 ABs or more, only Fasano & Nunez had worse stats.

Could the Phils possibly put together a nice 10-game win streak? Does anyone know the longest win streak they've put together this season? I doubt it is more than four.

Phils won 5 straight April 21-25. haven't won more than 3 in a row since (except current streak, obviously).

5 in a row from the 21st through the 25th of April - took the last 2 from Cincy, crushed Houston in the make-up game, then took the first two from Washington. Streak ended with a BPS loss to the Nats. The streak COULD have been 7 - but Gordon gave up the 2-out solo homer to Hatteberg in the Cincy opener in the 9th. I believe the Phillies have ended up losing 3 games this year where they were 1 out away from a victory - this game, the bad call in Houston and the Hawpe HR in Colorado.

I have to beg to differ with CJ: Burrell is not untradable.

PtB has a terrible contract, but a small set of contracts are even worse. I mentioned Kevin Millwood in an earlier thread. I'm not saying that Burrell for Millwood (who seems to be breaking down physically) would be a plus move for the Phils, just that I think Texas might go for it.

The Giants know they have made a dreadful mistake with Zito. Think they would say no to Burrell for Zito straight up?

Again, caveat emptor, but the Phils with Burrell have an NBA scenario where if they want to deal, they have to exchange one bloated contract for another.

The wisest course may be to let Burrell play out the next year and a half rather than take on someone else's headache. But Burrell is tradable.

fightins4ever: I'm not sure I ever suggested Burrell is untradeable. My point is that there are few, if any, real trade scenarios that would actually benefit the Phillies.

I'll give Manuel credit for some of the offensive explosiveness we have, because I think he's a helluva hitting coach, but a lousy manager.

Davy Lopes has obviously made a difference. Shane Victorino is going to earn me a steak dinner via Clout.

The defense has been better this season and that's largely do to the substraction of Lieberthal and less playing time for Helms. Victorino is amazing in RF too...sorry Abreu lovers.

The pitching staff actually isn't too bad with the exception of Clay Condrey and the enigma of JD Durbin.

As far as believing this team actually has a chance at the playoffs...I'm unconvinced/very skeptical.

Burrell may be tradeable, but I have a hard time seeing how any trade would actually improve this team. either we continue paying most of his contract for the privilege of taking on somebody else's minor league filler, or we take on a much worse contract from some other team.

Again, Burrell has to agree to a trade. That helps make him untradeable.

Is Torii Hunter out of the question? Is it assumed he'll be signed by a team like Boston?

Even though Burrell's stats are worse so far this season, I think Rowand's monster year has made Burrell a lot easier to watch. The fact that Burrell is now undisputably the six hole batter when he plays, rather than someone we wish was a good five hole batter - changes what you need from him. Instead of looking for the big hit each time he is up, you can look for him to just not make outs and keep the rally going, which is something he is pretty good at - just take a look at his obp.

Jason: as you probably know, I would love to see Hunter in red pinstripes, though I don't suppose it would make much sense a) as a more expensive alternative to Rowand, and b) in lieu of spending on pitching. From what I've heard, the Rangers actually look like the favorite to sign him at this point.

If no one else is going to take a shot at that ludicrous Zito-for-Burrell idea, I will. You're completely high.

RSB: It was one of those suggestions I wasn't sure needed an actual rational response...

RSB & CJ: he was clearly kidding.

haaa-haha. ha.

Zito for Burrell is not a suggestion to improve the Phillies. It is an example that illustrates that other teams are saddled with terrible contracts, and as a result, may be motivated to take on Burrell.

I'm with fightins because Burrell is overall heinous and we have a lot of donuts piling up in the clubhouse with Lieber on the 60-day DL.
Millwood can help chow down on some tasty pastries.

in case you're keeping score at home, "heinous" = .404/.538/.702 this month.

What was he last month?
What was he with RISP last year?
Is his range still < 5 strides in LF?

Who wouldn't want Kevin Millwood after his previous successful stand with the Phils and his stellar 5.56 ERA and 1.63 WHIP.

Playoffs... here we come!

"in case you're keeping score at home, "heinous" = .404/.538/.702 this month."

Not to mention that his OPS+ is 117 for the year, so we're talking about someone who's been above average from the plate all year long.

Crazy Jon: You're complaining about Pat Burrell's outfield range while suggesting we trade for Kevin Millwood?!? At leas you live up to your name...

Here's Burrell's value thus far:
12 HR this year = $1.083MM/Hr thus far
46 RBI this year = $282M/RBI thus far
62 hits this year = $210M/hit thus far
etc etc etc

What do the Phillies need more, starting pitching or marginal offense?
If we're going to be stuck with a bad contract, I'd prefer someone that has potential to give us a quality start every time out over the league leader in srikeouts caught looking.

"what was he last month?"

terrible. Howard also struggled for extended periods this season. it happens. baseball players are not robots.

"what was he with RISP last year?"

why only last year? did his 2005 season (1.027 OPS w/RISP) get expunged from the record books?

"is his range still < 5 strides in LF?"

Burrell is average or a little below average as an LF, and we play in a small ballpark. I'd rather have him in left than a Gold Glove fielder who can't hit.

"If we're going to be stuck with a bad contract, I'd prefer someone that has potential to give us a quality start every time out over the league leader in srikeouts caught looking."

Not that I doubt you, but where were you able to find a ranking of strikeouts looking? There could be some interesting things on that list.

In response to CJ's comment way above about how if we "keep playing .558 ball" we'll make the playoffs, we have played .558 ball since our 3-10 start, but we've also been hovering around .500 for a month or two. We first got three games over .500 on June 12th, when we were 34-31, and we've just clawed back to three games over .500 as of yesterday. So over the past six weeks we've played .500, and I think it's kind of deceptive to basically use our late April and May record to make it seem like we're playing at this great winning pace. All that happened was that we got off to an unlucky start, we regressed to the mean, and since we've played like what we are, a .500 team.

Only in the Beerleaguer Funhouse of Selective Statistics could Pat Burrell's performance this season be seen as 'above average'. Somehow, it's overlooked that Burrell's basic production numbers are simply puny. Without all those walks, he would have nary a defender.

Fightins: other tha the fact that both signed long-term contracts, there's a vast difference between Burrell and Zito. In so many ways that I don't even know where to begin. Let's start here: Zito is a starting pitcher with several years left on his contract. One poor season does not automatically render Zito's contract a 'mistake', and there is no way the Giants would have any plans to trade him so quickly.

Crazy Jon: For a guy averaging fewer than 6 innings per start and more than four and a half runs per 9 innings... I think it's a stretch to say Millwood has the potential to give us a quality start every time out. How is he an upgrade over what we've got.

Not only that... Millwood's horrible contract runs through 2009 with a $12 million 2010 option if he reaches certain innings requirements. Ouch.

It is always amazing how this 4-game winning streak has everyone drinking the "playoff Kool-Aid."

The Phils have barely picked up any ground on the Mets the past 10 days and the wildcard is still a pretty crowded place with Chicago, SD, Atlanta, and possibly Arizona.

Fact is the Phils absolutely have to win a minimum of 4 of 6 during this homestead and then play well against Chicago/Milwaukee on their upcoming road trip. Getting Myers back and healthy would be huge lift but Chicago has been playing really well the past month and Milwaukee is fighting for their playoff lives.

Plus, the August schedule is not as favorable as last year. The stretch that really looks ominous is the 10-game homestand from Aug. 21-30. Phils play 3 against LA, 3 against SD, and 4 games against the Mets. This is where the Phils' season will likely be made or broken.

If the Phils are still within striking distance at Labor Day weekend, then I will get excited but not until then. I have learned my lesson the hard way the past few seasons.

MG: No one is asking you to get excited. You can continue to hold on to your dismal outlook as long as you'd like :-D

players with a lower OPS than Pat Burrell: Carlos Beltran, Frank Thomas, Lance Berkman, Adrian Gonzalez, Nick Markakis, Bill Hall, Miguel Tejada, Brian McCann, Jeff Francoeur, Carlos Delgado, Bobby Abreu, Gary Matthews Jr, Mike Cameron, Vernon Wells, Ryan Zimmerman, Garrett Atkins, Andruw Jones, JD Drew, Jermaine Dye, Shawn Green, Scott Rolen, Johnny Damon, Nomar Garciaparra.

Why do I think if the Phils are able to trade Burrell that they are going to have to eat a large portion of his contract for next year and then use that an excuse about spending money this offseason?

"Only in the Beerleaguer Funhouse of Selective Statistics could Pat Burrell's performance this season be seen as 'above average'."

Actually, it can also be seen on baseball-reference.com.

But I do agree that without the walks, his stats wouldn't be as good. But since walking is still part of baseball, we're going to count it as a positive.

I do agree that his fielding is below average, and that his baserunning is nothing special either. But that doesn't change the fact that from a statistical standpoint, Burrell's production has been above average from the plate this year.

"Without all those walks, he would have nary a defender."

well, yeah. but walks are also a pretty immensely important part of being a productive hitter. that's like saying if Jimmy Rollins didn't have "all those hits," nobody would be defending him.

"Without all those walks, he would have nary a defender."

Aye, there's the rub.

all the walks are what makes Burrell productive. To be a successful baseball team, you must string together hits in an inning. By not making outs, you increase the chance that this will happen. Not making outs to the degree that Burrell does is much better than a 300 average in many situation. Plus, he hits it a long way every now and again.

I know "not making outs" doesn't sound very impressive. But when you think about how valuable an out is an inning, it makes sense this is important.

Crazy Jon: Here's the real question with Burrell. He's had an .890 OPS the past 2 years and will wind up around .850 or higher this season. Please name the Burrell replacement who will deliver an .850-.890 OPS next season. Thanking you in advance.

CJ - I am certainly enjoying watching the offensive this team puts up. They are a really fun and enjoyable team to watch.

I am just hesitant about getting excited about this team making their supposed "playoff run." How many times has this team done this now? It like watching the same character in a horror movie franchise but just a different sequel.

MG: Fair enough.

I guess I enjoy the getting excited part. I know it may not happen, but I prefer to remain optimistic to the end... I figure Phillies fans have to choose one or the other!

Defending Burrell? Did people not watch him for the 2 months in May/June when he did absolutely nothing?

If Burrell continues to produce this second half, then he will end up a with a decent season but I am dubious. He has never generally put up better numbers Post All-Star break in his career.

"He has never generally put up better numbers Post All-Star break in his career."

I love unsupported claims.

Burrell pre-ASB, career: .255/.362/.470/.832
Burrell post-ASB, career: .260/.368/.484/.852

Wow those numbers are sooo...different.

"but ae," you say, "what about recent history? I don't care what Burrell did back in 2000!"

Burrell pre-ASB, 2006: .250/.376/.508/.884
Burrell post-ASB, 2006: .268/.403/.495/.898

Burrell pre-ASB, 2005: .283/.373/.498/.871
Burrell post-ASB, 2005: .279/.406/.509/.915

CJ: any legitimacy to the Kevin Slowey rumor, he's 6'3" 195 lbs. 23 year old righty that is 8-2 with a 1.58 era at AAA, 76 k's to 7 walks in 85.1 innings and only 3 homers allowed. Seems to good to be true. Why would Minnesota trade him and what would we need to give up to get him?

Plus, besides Burrell's deficiencies on the basepaths and in the field are so glaring that he needs to produce at a high level at the plate to compensate. Hitting .250 with 20 HRs is just not sufficient - particularly at $14 million dollars next year.

Well... they aren't so much different as they are higher in the second half than they were in the first half. That would mean generally put up better numbers in the second half than the first half.

That's not to say he WILL do that this year, nor does it mean he will have SIGNIFICANTLY better numbers. It means he sure as hell can do better in the second half than he did in the first.

O'Neil: As someone who declared Burrell "done" a few weeks ago you probably don't have much credibility in this discussion.

ae - I stand corrected. Still doubt that Burrell keeps up his hot string for so much longer. At least Cholly recognizes it and is riding it out while it lasts.

lekh: I don't know how real the rumor of the trade is. We know someone from the Phils scouted him. We don't know why or if there is any real deal out there.

MG: I think we all agree that Burrell won't live up to his contract. However, that doesn't change that fact that if we trade him we may not be able to replicate his production... and we'd still be on the hook for much of that salary anyway.

OPS is the most bogus stat in baseball.
Are you really telling me that you would take Burrell over Carlos Beltran, Bill Hall, Miguel Tejada, Brian McCann, Jeff Francoeur, Vernon Wells and Andruw Jones?.
BTW Clout - Andruw Jones would deliver the same OPS as Burrell - his career OPS of .843 is on par with Burrell's .841.
He can also move > 5 steps in the outfield.

nobody can argue that Burrell's a disappointment. (although constantly quoting the $14M is a little misleading - the AAV of his contract is $8.33M over 6 years, which is a lot closer to reasonable. this is what happens when you sign immensely backloaded contracts, but that's just my own pet peeve.)

but if he does something like .250/.380/.490 over the remainder of his contract - which is really not an unreasonable prediction - that's worth much more than whatever return we could by trade.

This Burrell debate is the same Moneyball/Three Nights in August debate all over again. You really have to love the stats to tolerate Burrell, because by old-time standards, he's a bit harsh.

heh...to head off the flames, that was meant to read "nobody can argue that Burrell's not a disappointment."

CJ - I am not for trading away Burrell just for the sake of moving him. Especially if the Phils have to eat a significant portion of his salary because they will use that bullshit excuse (just like the Thome money) about why they can't make a significant move this offseason.

MG: Most players go thru hot and cold streaks during the season and then wind up close to their career average. Burrell's numbers at the end of the season will be close to his career average. As for his lack of speed and range in LF, you'd be very hard pressed to prove statistically that he costs the team more runs than he creates on offense.

Wow, so I can't comment now!

"Burrell's not a disappointment" this season so far. Say What? Hitting .240 with league average power for a LF while playing horrendous defense and terrible base running is a disappointment.

MG: I agree. If Gillick could find a trading partner to take on his entire salary... even if it's not for a great deal, we'd have to consider it. I'm not saying we could replicate his production this year, but a Bourn/Dobbs/whoever plan could get us by offensively and then we could put that financial relief to good use in the offseason.

I just don't think it's realistic that a team will take his salary.

MG: that was a typo, see my 2nd post...

Crazy Jon: Bill James and numerous other people say OPS is the single best measure of offense in baseball. Plus it makes logical sense. If you'd like to create a better stat, the baseball world awaits.

If OPS is so great, then we should shut the eff up and be thankful that we have Burrell instead of Carlos Beltran, Bill Hall, Miguel Tejada, Brian McCann, Jeff Francoeur, Vernon Wells and Andruw Jones?.
Makes logical sense to me.

Ok, weeks ago when I was asked, my gut was he's "done". Fine, maybe he's really not "done", but reading his defenders try to defend his below average numbers is fairly amusing. Someone above is right when he/she said that if Rowand (and maybe Victorino) wasn't doing as well, the spotlight would be on Burrell's lack of production. Of the smarter points on this thread.

clout: Everyone knows home runs is the best stat. It's how we know Aaron Rowand is almost as good sa Chase Utley.

This is real easy. Among qualified players who play LF in the NL (without salary considerations):

Better than Burrell - Holiday, Bonds, Duncan, Dunn, Byrnes, Lee, Soriano

Same as Burrell - Willingham, Gonzalez, Bay

Worse than Burrell - Church

by what standard are Burrell's numbers "below average"? his OPS+ is 117. that's 5th best on this team. obviously his numbers are not terrific, and we all wish they would be better. but there's no reasonable way to call them below average.

I thought the preferred stat these days with the statheads was Eqa or Warp, whatever those stand for.

.236/12 HR/46 RBI/62 hits/64 K.

Do any of those look like above average statistics?

From MLB.com:

Fantasy Comparison:
Gary Sheffield 1415
Grady Sizemore 1345
Eric Byrnes 1253
Torii Hunter 1219
Pat Burrell 581

Burrell's EQA is .293. average EQA for an NL LF is .268. his WARP (which is cumulative) is 1.7 (wins), don't know how that compares to average.

Jon, you have clearly won this argument by citing the incontrovertible "MLB Fantasy Comparison," which measures...something. but it sure proves whatever point it's trying to prove.

Here's the thing about Burrell's stats. The raw stats aren't as good as the OPS because his at bats are down. Now, of course, his at bats are down because he had such a bad stretch a month or so ago that we had to sit him down for games at a time.

Burrell has not been great this year. Nor has he been terrible. He has not and will never live up to his contract. But he's also not a part we should sell off for a bag of balls.

There's is a middle ground here... why are we arguing on the extremes?

CJ: I agree with you completely. look over my posts on this thread. nobody is arguing that Burrell's an MVP candidate.

ae: I guess the extreme I was mostly arguing against was the "terrible" or "heinous" descriptions.

He's also probably not quite as "good" as his OPS or OPS+ because he hasn't gotten a full season worth of at bats.

You and I pretty much agree on Burrell.

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