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Saturday, October 13, 2007

Comments

On the coaches - works for me. Like Jason said, let's hope Steve Smith really was just having trouble adjusting to the NL (I noticed his extremely poor decisions were rarer as the season went on, for one thing).

Hypothetical situation:

Resign Rowand and Romero, sign Schilling to a one-year-deal, sign Mahay, trade Bourn/pitching prospect for Crede or Atkins (a much better prospect if we get Atkins, but we also get a much better third baseman).

None of those things seem outrageous, economically or baseball-y, and if we could pull that off, we might put together the best Phillies team in the last 27 years. How many people think that is possible?

king myno - trading Bourn for Atkins or Crede is not possible.

Sophist - Bourn/pitching prospect. Still might not be enough, I just can't tell you what else we have that someone may want.

myno: Trading Bourn/good prospect for Crede might be possible, but it would be a bad trade for the Phils. Trading Bourn/good prospect for Atkins would be impossible.

Thanks for changing the thread, Jason, I was detecting a bit of godless communism creeping in on that last one.

The coach thing is no surprise to me. Once you re-up Charlie, it's in for a dime, in for a dollar.

Condrey actually wasn't that bad this past season. His numbers stunk because of 3 or 4 appearances. He was stellar in the rest. This, of course, is the exact same thing that happened to Borowski, which is why I get a hearty laugh when the Borowski detractors note how well Condrey pitched 95% of the time. That said, Condrey's skills amount to no more than a middle-inning guy, same as Geary. As for Sanches, when I started posting here 2 years ago, one of my first posts said that Sanches was not a good prospect. That remains the case, and will always remain the case.

Yeah. Condrey isn't the best example there. After Sanches, I should have hung a left at Yoel Hernandez.

Sigh. Typical Phillies. Avoid loyalty over competence whenever possible.

Mixed on Dubee but ok with bringing him. Hard to judge him this year given the near constant shuffling of the roster/marginal talent in the bullpen.

This season is going to be a much clear indicator for what he can do. I am particularly interested in the development of Hamels and Kendrick. Also interested to see what Dubee can do to help Eaton rebound to some degree (one of the most important developments for next season but totally off the radar).

Amazed that Smith was brought back as a coach. If a 3B coach is doing his job adequately, you shouldn't even really take much note. It is only when a coach is as incompetent as Smith that fans/writers take notice. Almost any other team would have made a change here this offseason.

Almost not impressed that the Phils brought back Williams. I know he was supposed to help Cholly with two major areas: in-game strategy and getting this team ready for the season. Frankly I didn't any noticeable improvement in either area.

Williams just seems to reinforce some of Cholly's biggest shortfalls as a manager including tending to stay with someone /something a bit too long and ignoring some strong statistical evidence.

Seems that Cholly would be better suited to have someone who would be able to give him a different perspective than reaffirm most of his strategies.

Someone in the previous thread brought it up but did the Phils not bring back their strength and conditioning coach? That would be an interesting argument against my most recent post.

Still, I am already getting a bad feeling about this offseason. Almost as if the Phils are taking a "don't rock the boat" approach.

If the Phils are taking the approach they couldn't be more dead wrong. This team was lucky to make the playoffs with 89 wins. It likely won't again next year. If anything, the Phils should take the attitude that they will need to win another 3-4 games to ensure a repeat trip to the playoffs.

Gillick early comments lead me to believe that the Phils will take a meddling approach yet again to the FA market. Let Rowand walk and tinker around the edges by bringing in another mediocre starter, a marginal bullpen guy or two, and somebody like Feliz to play 3B. Hopefully I am wrong.

Last thing on Rowand:

That 6 yr/$84 million contract may seem kind nuts but it is not in retrospect if you look at the deals that Soriano or Lee signed last year.

Rowand's agent is probably about right that the market for Rowand being in the $13-$15 M/year range given the thin FA market this offseason. If that is the case, he is as good as gone from Philly.

Clout- Moses told Jason to change the thread.

My two cents: Two bad offseason decisions: Rehiring Dubee and Steve Smith. Bah! Humbug!

It's interesting that Zolecki's article originally had Jimy Williams seekign other offers... yet remains with Charlie.

Charlie should have the freedom to keep his staff as it is. Despite my misgivings about Smith, it did seem as if his transgressions decreased over time. Remember Manuel overhauled the coaching staff last year (or was it directed by Gillick?) If you were going to ask Manuel to return it makes sense to allow him to pick his staff...

I understand Dubee's successes in individual pitchers, but the 23rd best ERA out of 30 (the worst of any playoff team) shouldn't be acceptable in any form. He should be on a short leash next year. (There isn't a dramatic difference between home and away numbers either. Except for Home Runs. They have given up 52 more homers at home than away but just 21 more runs total.

I'm not entirely happey about Jimy though. Jimy Willaims is Charlie Manuel, Manuel is Jimy. I kind of wish there was a younger voice on the bench.

a "thin" FA market? there's Rowand, Jones, Hunter, Cameron, Bradley, and Lofton as free agent CFs. I would argue that this is probably one of the deepest free agent classes baseball's ever seen.

Letting Rowand go, and saving cash for pitching/3B is the right baseball decision. Rowand had a career year in a contract year - good for him - but I am not expecting to see that again.

I'm OK with a Pat, Vic, Bourn/Werth OF if they land a right handed bat at 3B, and get another quality starter.

Hamels/Lohse/Kendrick/Moyer(Eaton)/traded for pitcher has a great chance of winning the division again.

Being realistic, Eaton is here to stay as the Phils are too cheap to admit that mistake. Moyer is old. He may have another average year, but relying on that would be a mistake.

With respect to the coaching retention, I am not sure how they could let any of them go if chemistry is what is getting credited for their success. Yeah, I know that Jimmy, Chase and Rowand were terrific all year and Pat and Howard had excellent offensive second halves, but they don't get that opportunity if the coaching staff gives up on them. It would have been not unreasonable to get Bourn even more time in left and bench Burrell when he struggled. If they had done that, there is no way they make the playoffs.

My two cents.

"would have been not"

would not have been

my mother would have been pissed if I let that stand

It is interesting to compare what kind of post-season Manny & Big Papi have had compared to certain other middle-of-the-lineup guys. If Manny & Big Papi played for a team that allowed 4 runs in one playoff game and 2 runs in another game, would that team have lost those games? Certain middle of the lineup guys went 1 for 14 in those 2 games. And if you add the 3rd middle-of-the-lineup guy you get 2 for 21. That's .095. I don't want to call anyone out on our favorite team here, but it's worth noting.

birds: What would you think of an OF like this: LF: Burrell CF: Lofton/Vic RF: Bourn/Werth?

clout - For some reason I find it partially relieving that the series loss was due to the team's strength. Carmona could make them look bad tonight. Maybe. Doesn't Yukilis usually bat lead-off, or I have just not carefully watched a Red Sox game in months?

Looks like the majority of Youkilis' at-bats came from #2.

How Kenny Lofton continues to play well makes me feel very optimistic as I get into my late 30s.

He may not be worth the $$ he will command, as I would spend that on Lowell and pitchers #2 (Lohse) and #5.

Also, I believe in Vic. Defensively he is a lock, as far as I am concerned. He has a cannon, and playing everyday in CF will make him even better, and solidify his place on this team for the years to come. Platooning with Lofton only delays what I see as the inevitable OF of the future of Bourn/Vic/new hired gun (I am not sold on Werth as the long term solution).

I am not well versed enough in the farm system to know what is waiting in the wings, but I read this site frequently and it seems to me that those who know Reading and Ottawa are not talking about the second coming of Ryan Howard getting groomed in the farm system. Am I correct?

@clout: It does seem like the Phils middle of the line-up guys tend to think much bigger than they need to - i.e. sometimes, as Papi and Manny have demonstrated, a couple singles are just fine.

birds - right. Not much power to speak of. Any consistent hitting at AA and AAA tends to come from older (30ish) minor league vets. The kids have great inconsistencies. The highest level real power threat is Costanzo, who still strikes out more often than he hits. (His bright side is that he did better in the second half than the first.) (His down side is that his first half was, ummmm, not good.)

$0.02 -
I understand all of the staff rehirings, mainly since Chollie's a guy who likes having people he's used to around.

Personally, I do wonder about Dubee. In particular I wonder if he couldn't have gotten Eaton turned around somehow. But given some of the statements Eaton made, I'm not so sure he's easy to coach. And he really might deserve some credit for helping J.D. "The Real Headcase" Durbin make a few quality starts. Jury's out.

I also sincerely hope that Smith (who did seem to get better with experience) will be better in 2008.

I havfe no problems with Williams; and think Lopes is the second coming of... hmmmm... we've never had a baserunning coach this good.

And I will never say ANYTHING bnad about Milt Thompson because we were born on the eaxact same day.

that was "anything bad" of course.

I know this may sound idiotic but I'm a believer in Lohse. He has pitched well in hitter's parks, likeable, team player, and throws a ton of innings. In my mind he is 5 times a Milton, Leiber or Millwood. I believe he could be a consistent 14-15 game winner for the Phils because the Phils will score a ton of runs. He also helps the bullpen by going 6+n innings consistently. I would try hard to sign him and I would pay him Eaton-like money.

I'd forget about Rowand at $14 mil/year and start thinking of using Dobbs as the 5th outfielder.

I'd focus more on finding a third basemen that can play some defense, hit for average and doesn't strike out. Crede is a possibility and I think he can be had without trading Bourn or Vic

I'd focus on loading up the bullpen with some 7th and 8th inning guys including locking up JC Romero.

If there is a shot at signing Schilling then the Phils need to dump Eaton even if they need to eat $4-5 mill/year. If not, you hope Eaton can quit his video game addiction and get his act together.

I'm a Dubee skeptic who just read about the availability of Leo Mazzone.

The Phils called up Kendrick from AA out of nowhere because he showed special makeup. He's not a guy with stuff who couldn't get his mechanics together before. What he showed this year as a rookie, he showed the organization before he was called up.

* It was great to see Justin Germano come into Phils spring training a sleeper and have a big season. The problem was he had a big season for another team.

* Adam Eaton showed flashes during the season of what made him a success in past seasons. As many have painfully observed, he was a total mechanical and mental mess by the end of the season.

* Durbin went from first to worst. He went from harnassing his potential to becoming the second coming of Joe Cowley.

* Gordon and Geary both regressed

Dubee's been in the organization for a while, and maybe it's time for him to show he's Mazzone's equal in another organization, while we get the real McLeo

* Guys would pitch well at Ottawa, get called up, and throw batting practice.

Has Timlin gone to his hat at all here in the top of the 8th? He's got a big mark of something green, sticky and dirty right on the front bill of his hat. . .

Ian, I don't really buy any of those arguments.

- Kendrick: are you saying that Kendrick was just so good that he didn't even need a pitching coach? that kind of flies in the face of reason.

- Germano: not sure how that's Dubee's fault.

- Eaton: has been a disappointment for a number of teams, not just the Phillies. he's certainly not a feather in Dubee's cap, though, and this is the closest you come to actually making a point.

- Durbin: actually pitched better for the Phillies than he has for any other team in his brief major league career, and showed some flashes of being a decent pitcher. I don't know how his failure to win 20 games, or whatever standard you're rating him on, is Dubee's fault.

- Gordon: is old and has a variety of physical problems that aren't Dubee's fault. plus, he actually pitched pretty damn well in September.

- Geary: was almost surely overworked last year, and showed the effects. plus, he's a fringey middle reliever. guys like that aren't models of consistency.

- unnamed "guys at Ottawa": what, like Kane Davis and John Ennis? you really think someone like Mazzone would have turned them into the second coming of Mariano Rivera? because I gotta tell you, Mazzone didn't do too well himself with actual, you know, talented relievers and not minor league detritus.

ultimately my view is pretty much the same as Jason's. it's almost impossible to say which successes and failures are or aren't the pitching coach's, barring some kind of complete top-to-bottom team collapse. ultimately, I think you just have to trust management (as hard as they make that) that he's doing his job.

I love the folks who want to dump eaton and eat his salary... the Phillies would need to eat alomost 90% of his salary to get rid of him. And believe me... they are not going to then spend that same amount to replace him.

I suppose if you bought a 6000 dollar flat screen TV without a warranty that was half the quality you expected, you would just dump that in the trash and buy a 4000 dollar tv???

They have to live with that mistake for at least a year and half.

Mike - I totally agree about Eaton. The notion that the Phils will eat his salary just to get rid of him are absurd. Probably one of the dumbest ideas I have seen posted on the blog in 2 years.

I despise Eaton but unfortunately the Phils are stuck with him for another 2 years. The Phils need to focus on making sure that they can at least get average league numbers from him next year (one of the more important keys to next season).

Anyone else less than enthused about the possibility of Schilling coming to Philly? Both from an obnoxious personality standpoint and from a losing his stuff standpoint.

Seems like the Phillies are hiring coaches who the players like. The players apparently did not like Bowa or Joe Kerrigan and the team is going out of their way to hire coaches who are not like them.

It was reported on ESPN Friday that Mariano Rivera has said his interest in returning to the Yankees hinges upon whether Joe Torre is rehired and that the Yankees may bring him back for this reason. However, the same report said that Torre made $7 million last year and that he would probably have to take a pay cut if rehired.

So, it looks like the players have a lot of influence on these decisions, at least with some teams in MLB.

Limoguy:the fact that the Yanks are paying Torre $7 million a year is comical. He hasn't delivered in 7 years w/ a payroll that continues to lead the MLB. Steinbrenner let cashman talk him into keeping Torre-Huge mistake. Lou Pinella would have kicked that team into gear this year. I think Lou is the 2nd highest paid at 3.5 million.

ehh on the coaching stuff.
but for the record, ball players should be scumbags not boyscouts. babe ruth, mickey mantle, lenny dykstra all prototypical ballplayers. enough with the god stuff. also the 7th inning already has a song and a darn good one at that! the yankees god bless america BS is them wallowing in sept 11 and waving a flag in everyone's face. we so much more patriotic. don't forget how bad things were. but really this is entertainment we are here to escape not mourne. i hope the rockies fall apart and have to answer all these questions about where god went.

Kells, you're probably right about Piniella being the man the Yanks needed for the 2007 season. I'm a big believer in changing things up. Some managers are more in your face and others more laid back. After a team has one type for awhile, it's probably good to switch up to the other. Manuel was the perfect type of guy to follow Bowa and Piniella would probably have been perfect to follow Torre. Eventually the Phils brass will tire of Charlie's aw shucks style and rumblings will start about how the team doesn't respect him, etc, and after that he will be gone.

However, there is the question of whether today's ballplayers have any tolerance at all for playing under the in your face type of manager. Let's look and see what happens with Piniella and the Cubs next year. I'd be willing to place a small bet that they win less games next year. Players seem to feel that coaches like Bowa and Mike Keenan in hockey are just too harsh. It's a huge surprise to me that Calgary hired Keenan this year. It would be an even bigger surprise if he lasted the season.

mike nutter, i completely agree.

as far as schilling goes, i still think his benefits outweigh the costs for 2008 (probably not any longer).

On the subject of the sox (Pappi/Manny) vs our middle of the lineup (Utley/Howard), a couple of points.

First, walks. Its not even so much that they got small hits when necessary, its how important the walks they were getting were in both games, though the first game even more so. A number of us bitched (and you'll notice that CBP crowds moan) when Howard walked a lot, but those guys working those walks in the past two games were *huge* for the sox (and interestingly, the Fenway crowd got that, cheering wildly every time one of them did it). I also can't help compare Ortiz's plate discipline to Howard's, and it makes me think more and more that for Howard, they key to remaining a truly special player even as a hitter, or perhaps becoming one of those transcendent players, is all about discipline / improving his recognition, and yes, learning to stop trying *quite* so hard to do it all every time.

Second, its interesting that the guy with the higher average hits after the guy with the bigger power (Manny after Ortiz), even if, clearly, the big hitter is also a slug on the basepaths. Especially when you have a six hole hitter to protect both. Its very interesting to imagine Howard, with a bit better plate discipline, hitting after Rollins / Vic and then having Utley, Burrell, whoever hits sixth for us next year after that.

Last, what happened to the sox last night, bullpen implosion after a mediocre outing from a starter where the bats had managed to keep the game close / tied, follows a bad pattern we've become all too familiar with here. Its the text book example of how the Phillies lost a lot of games, except that for us what often happened is that we could be almost guaranteed to lose if we didn't score more than three / four runs. No matter how good a lineup we have, we're going to continue to lose many low scoring games and some that we manage to keep close with our later in the rotation starters unless we can get some serious bullpen help. If the sox last night weren't an argument for putting *most* of our eggs in the bullpen basket, I don't know what is.

As for Schilling, and I say this as someone who watched him much more with the Red Sox than with the Phillies (he being gone almost as soon as I got to town and me sticking to my American League New England roots for a long time before finally caving in and starting to root for the home team), I think I'd still take a shot at him, especially if he wants to be here. He is not going to be our number one, and possibly not even our number two. He's in a Moyer / late career Pedro place right now, and still, I think, learning how to be a more strategic / slower pitcher as his velocity declines. His mental toughness and devotion to the craft of pitching actually makes me think that he's going to get *better* in that role as time goes on.

And remember that Fenway is definitely a Hitter's park, though in a slightly different way than CBP since the monster makes it very easy to do ridiculous amounts of damage using extra base hits to work runs in. Believe me, I spent my entire childhood watching Sox teams, all the way back to the Yaztremski / Fred Lynn era, do that to opponents there. Not quite the same as CBP, but still a place where a fly ball can, and will, *hurt* you badly.

One more thing, on Schilling again, I have to say I like the idea of having him around just as another person for Hamels / Kendrick to learn from. If we're worried about Dubee as a pitching coach, I have a lot of faith in Moyer as a pitching coach, and I think Schill might fulfill a similar role, especially with Jamie to show him how.

MG/Mike: The relevant question isn't Eaton's salary. It's whether the Phillies care about winning (I'll assume the answer is yes) and, if so, whether they honestly believe Eaton is going to be substantially better next year? If you DON'T honestly believe he's going to be substantially better, how can you bring him back? The salary you're going to pay him is out the door already. If he hurts the team more by being on it than he does by NOT being on it, then the proper decision is to pay him to not be on it. If that was the proper decision during the September stretch drive, it's also the proper decision in April, 2008. The games count the same.

My own view is that Eaton isn't likely to be much better next year -- at least not if he's on the Phillies. Besides being an underachiever his whole career, Eaton is a poor fit for CB Park because he has always had low GB/FB ratios. His ratio last year of .97 was actually on the HIGH end, relative to the rest of his career. In other words, Eaton may have been spectacularly bad last year, but we may not yet have seen his full downside.

I refuse to concede that a guy with a 6+ ERA should be reserved a spot in the starting rotation of a contending team. I realize that's the way the Phillies operate, but I refuse to accept it quietly or as a given, the way many of you seem willing to do. And, until I see evidence that the Phillies have made major efforts to trade Eaton, but have come up empty, I also refuse to accept that he is untradeable. Jason Marquis had a 6.02 ERA in 2006, then signed a 3-year, $21M contract with the Cubs. And Gil Meche signed a 5-year, $55M contract after posting 5+ ERAs in 2 of his last 3 seasons. Eaton is young, has good stuff and starting pitching is scarce. Eaton at 2 years, $16M is admittedly pricey, but if the Phillies kick in $4M, then he's suddenly $6M per year instead of 8. At that price, someone might well be convinced to take the leap.

The Phillies are going to have to pay Eaton $8M this year & $16M over the next 2 years. If they pay $4M to be rid of him, they will have SAVED money, not lost it.

@ BAP. If you're really going for the poetic justice thing, why don't we just make Eaton the highest paid starter in Ottowa history.

*joking....mostly*

Ed: Wouldn't bother me at all. If we can't trade him, Ottawa is where he should be. He's nothing more than a reclamation project at this point, & the place for projects is in the minor leagues.

Pitching coach is probably the most important coaching position for the Phils, since Manuel defers responsibility to him. The pitching coach on the Phils makes personnel decisions, establishes game strategies, pen management, and is supposed to be a teacher. A lot of ways analogous to the Eagles situation where Jim Johnson runs the defense. This is a typical Montgomery era move. Use coaching positions to reward people who have been loyal and as long as we are making money -- keep the status quo. The pitching results of the past 3 years show we can do better. Of all the great pitching instructors out there, is there no one in the country who could do better than Rich Dubee ?

@ BAP: Yep.

More on Eaton. Perhaps the most analogous situation I can think of would be Joel Pineiro's situation after the 2006 season. Pineiro --another guy with good stuff -- had just completed seasons in which his ERAs were 5.62 and 6.36. Eaton has just finished seasons in which his ERAs were 5.12 & 6.29 -- so, actually, slightly better than Pineiro's. Pineiro signed a one-year deal with Boston for $4M. Ok, 2 years, $16M is not 1 year, $4M, but the point is, even after 2 spectacularly dreadful seasons, someone was still willing to pay a considerable amount of money for Pineiro's services. If the Phillies kicked in a whole year of Eaton's salary, then the other team would basically have to pay Eaton what Boston paid Pineiro -- but for 2 years, instead of 1. And the only out-of-pocket loss to the Phillies would be the cost of replacing Eaton -- which they could do with Happ, who would cost just the major league minimum.

Also, some basic contract principles here. If the Phillies cut Eaton outright, everyone seems to think they would be on the hook for the full $16M. That's false. They would be on the hook for the full $16M minus whatever money another team or teams paid to Eaton over the next 2 years. So, if Eaton could land himself a couple of 1-year, $4M gigs the way Pineiro did, the Phillies would only have to pay him a total of $4M per year for the next 2 years. A player is not entitled to a windfall because his team waived him. He is entitled to the benefit of his bargain, but no more. So, if Eaton is paid to play for someone else, that money gets offset against what we owe him.

bap, If Eaton were waived, the team claiming him would just have to pay him league minimum, so the Phils would be responsible for nearly all of the $16M.

@ Billy Mac. I agree with you to an extent, and Dubee worries me.

OTOH, I've heard it said that its not a good idea to tweak a pitcher *too* much, as that can lead to a guy getting to the point where he's overthinking what he's doing to the point where he becomes a basket case. There seems to me to be a real degree to which by the time a pitcher makes it to the show, we have to assume that they're a professional and to a considerable degree a master of their craft. If that's not the case, its on the player and on the people who decided to put them in a situation they were not prepared for.

As BAP said, the minor leagues are where *teaching* has to go on to the largest extent. At the major league level, it should be about managing / refining a talent that's already largely developed. We had a lot of pitchers last year who weren't really in a place where they could play effectively at this level, Eaton being the most egregious, but hardly the only example. And I think that asking the Major League pitching coach to fix that with a guy who's supposed to be playing in major league games while its going on is a very tall order because playing on a major league roster isn't really an appropriate situation for a player to be a *student* in that sense.

With regard to Eaton, and in light of BAP's comments on contract stuff: it seems to me then, that the question you have to answer if you're the Phillies is whether Eaton *can* be reclaimed by your minor league people and become an effective pitcher for your club. If you think so, and you can also envision having a use for his services at the major league level because you don't have a full roster of pitchers who are better than you project a fixed Eaton becoming, then you keep him, send him down, and work on him. If not, either because you find yourselves a staff you are comfortable with that doesn't include Eaton, or because you just think he's a lost cause, at least within your organization, you let him go and hope someone else thinks otherwise.

Ed K, I disagree on the importance of a pitching coach. Look at well regarded mlb pitching coaches and their successes. Rick Peterson is given a lot of credit for "fixing" John Maine and Oliver Perez. I listed JC Bradbury's research on the effect of Leo Mazzone on the previous thread. Further, there are teaching coaches like Roger Craig, who enhanced careers by teaching the split. This doesn't end in the minor leagues.

Billy Mac: Point well taken, and I think I made it into more of a strong dichotomy than I really intended. But I do think that there is a point where if the problems are extensive enough, its unreasonable to expect *any* coach at the major league level to fix the problem because playing at that level is just not the place where someone is likely to be able to learn what they need to -- in other words, learning doesn't take place so well when one is under that kind of pressure.

Billy: I guess I was thinking that, if Eaton were released, he would be free to go to the highest bidder. But, now that I think about it, I believe you may be right that, under the waiver rules, his new team would only need to pay him the league minimum.

So scratch the idea of waiving him. But I still say it's plausible to trade him and, if not, you can send him to the minors where some pitching coach can try to straighten him out without costing the Phillies games in the process.

Good discussion on the coaches and Eaton.

To all those who think Rowand at 6/$84 is crazy: I agree it's a high number, but MLB revenues are up everywhere (revenue sharing, remember), and he might get close to it.

Did anyone see Gil Meche getting 5/$55 or Eaton getting 3/$24 last offseason?

Vernon Wells deal was 7/$126. Would Rowand be overpais at 6/84 in comparison to Wells?

Rowand is one year older than Wells, so he gets a discount for that, but here's a comparison of their 162 game career averages form baseball-reference.com:

Wells, 9 seasons:
G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG *OPS+

970 3823 563 1076 236 23 157 581 63 19 279 546 .281 .331 .478 107


Damn, I hit post instead of preview.

Rowand, 7 seasons:

G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA SLG *OPS+

849 2664 419 761 166 12 93 347 54 19 161 505 .286 .343 .462 106


Based on this comaprison, would Rowand be overpaid at 6/$84?

BAP - You are normally a pretty reasonable poster. I agree that the Phils shouldn't hand a starting spot to Eaton.

However, it is a ridiculous notion the Phils will be able to trade Eaton. Maybe if he had a year left and the Phils ate a portion of his contract (say $3 million of so). I guarantee that no team in the majors would take on Eaton's contract this offseason. Not a one.

Releasing him outright is also an absurd notion for the following reason - the Phils have already built his salary into their cost structure. If you just release him, then the Phils just pissed away $16 million dollars. They aren't going to do that.

Eaton is going to be back next year and mostly likely given a role in the starting rotation. What the Phils need to do this season is concentrate on figuring out why Eaton has been the same pitcher since he went on the DL in '05 with the strained middle tendon injury in his middle finger (right hand).

I can't believe I am defending him but Eaton could be a capable starter if he reduces the walks and HRs next year. Even with the diminished Ks, it is the walks and HRs that really killed Eaton this year.

Phils need to figure out why Eaton's control has diminished (poor grip, shoulder angle, delivery). Almost more importantly, the Phils have to figure out if Eaton is capable of turning his 12-6 curveball into an out pitch again. Eaton's fastball doesn't have the same life anymore (90-92 instead of 92-95 a few years ago) and Eaton desperately needs to find a pitch that will bury hitters when they have 2 strikes.

The one thing that really frightens me about Eaton is that he is pitching with an injured shoulder. Frankly, given the Phils' BS stories about the health of their pitchers, this would not surprise me. If Eaton is hurt, then off bets of him being a capable starter next year are off.

MG, agree. Even Mitch Williams said he thought he might be hurt.

AWH - Nice post on Wells/Rowand. The only issue I see is that Rowand has had 2 plus years and 2 average years since '04. You can kind of toss out last year due to the injuries but I don't know if the Phils are going to get the same type of production from Rowand again next year and his career average numbers (.280-.290, 15-20 HRs) just aren't worth $14 million a year.

The worst thing about the proposed Rowand contract is the length and not the money though. I would love if the Phils were able to resign Rowand at 4 yrs/56 million. Just think those last two years of the contract will be a real loss.

In an ideal world, the Phils would bump up their payroll to $110 million, resign Rowand, and still have some money left to go after pitching. In the real world, the Phils will probably keep their payroll at about status quo so the Phils have to decide between Rowand or serious pitching help.

AWH - If Eaton is hurt, it is amazing that every major pitching acquisition during Gillick's tenure has been injured or hurt. All of the talk about getting new coaches and yet the team physician (Dr. Ciccotti) has been overlooked.

I would love to talk to some fellow orthopedic surgeons and see what the real issue is which him.

a substantial difference between Wells and Rowand is that Wells has six full major league seasons since he became a starter (five when he signed the contract), while Rowand has about three and a half full seasons since he became a starter. it makes it a lot easier to project contribution out of Wells than Rowand.

I wouldn't have signed Wells to that contract either, though, so ultimately how much Wells makes isn't that relevant IMO.

Perhaps I'm being naive about the plausibility of trading Eaton. But we have seen plenty of instances over the years of some guillible team taking on another team's grossly overpaid player. It's a different sport, but here in the Bay Area, the Warriors managed to trade away not one, but two, of the worst and most overpaid players in all of basketball in Troy Murphy & Mike Dunleavy. The lesson I derived from that trade is that there's always a sucker out there.

Speaking of suckers, Rowand at 6 years, $84M would be madness. I'll leave it to others to sort out whether he is "worth" this price under the current market. If the answer is yes, then the current market has lost all semblance of sanity. In his 4 years as a starter, Rowand has had 2 good years, 2 very average years, & 0 great years. Overall, he is certainly a good player, but he was no better than the 5th best offensive player on his own team last year and, on a year-to-year basis, there are AT LEAST 25 major league outfielders -- and probably 7 or 8 center fielders -- who are better hitters than he is.

aren't there any other "eatons" out there (pitchers under contract for big money, but not producing)? if so, how about a swap? one of those deals where everyone could benefit from a change of scenery.

Also, after long contemplation, I am now in the "Don't sign Rowand" camp. No matter what, he is going to be overpaid. It is not that difficult to find capable outfielders in this league. i also think he strikes out too much, doesn't work the count enough, and that his defense is overrated (he's tough, but his range is not the best). i like the guy, but it just doesn't make sense to me.

[First, walks. Its not even so much that they got small hits when necessary, its how important the walks they were getting were in both games, though the first game even more so. A number of us bitched (and you'll notice that CBP crowds moan) when Howard walked a lot, but those guys working those walks in the past two games were *huge* for the sox (and interestingly, the Fenway crowd got that, cheering wildly every time one of them did it).]

First of all, I've never heard fans at CBP moan when a player gets walked. In any case, the knowledge of the fan-base as to what's a good plate appearance is irrelevant. What is relevant is that the Phils middle of the lineup has generated as many walks as the Red Sox', contrary to your assertions here.
2006

Utley: 63 BB (739 PA), 3.96 P/PA
Abreu: 91 BB (438 PA), 4.47 P/PA
Burrell: 98 BB (567 PA), 4.32 P/PA
Howard: 108 BB (704 PA), 4.06 P/PA


Loretta: 49 BB (in 703 PA), 3.67 P/PA
Ortiz: 119 BB (in 686 PA), 4.07 P/PA
Ramirez: 100 BB (in 558 PA), 4.16 P/PA
Trot Nixon: 60 BB (in 453 PA), 3.72 P/PA

in 2007

Youkilis: 77 BB (625 PA), 4.27 P/PA
Ortiz: 111 BB (667 PA), 4.10 P/PA
Ramirez: 71 BB (569 PA), 3.86 P/PA
Drew: 79 BB (in 552 PA), 3.93 P/PA

Utley: 50 BB (613 PA), 3.94 P/PA
Burrell: 114 BB (598 PA), 4.22 P/PA
Howard: 107 BB (648 PA), 4.19 P/PA
Rowand: 47 BB (684 PA), 3.55 P/PA

That the Phils keep up with the Sox in this regard is notable as the Sox are one of the most disciplined teams in the league.

Also note that Howard's discipline, by these metrics, increased this year. He walked way more in fewer at-bats and took more pitches. Despite his SO, Howard is among the league leaders in P/PA these past two seasons, his first two full seasons in the league.

You can say what you want about 3 postseason games (a small sample size to be sure), but the difference between these teams - over the course of a season - is to be found somewhere besides the middle of the lineup, and certainly has nothing to do with plate discipline.

[I also can't help compare Ortiz's plate discipline to Howard's]

I just did. Of course, there's more to the story than BB/PA and P/PA, Howard walked more often than Ortiz in '07 and took more pitches in his PA.

bap, you just can't compare baseball to basketball in this context. (especially when the deal you're talking about was a massive trade - wasn't it like eight guys?)

[The one thing that really frightens me about Eaton is that he is pitching with an injured shoulder. Frankly, given the Phils' BS stories about the health of their pitchers, this would not surprise me. If Eaton is hurt, then off bets of him being a capable starter next year are off.]

Isn't there reason to think an injury would be good news, in that it would be better for his poor results to be due to an injury than poor mechanics or preparation?

I suppose it depends on the severity of the injury, but this is my thinking.

Sophist.

Since I know that was addressed at me. I was doing that on the basis of impressions, not research. Very interesting though, that they are as close as they appear to be.

Yeah, Ed. Like I said, there's more to the impression of Howard's lack of discipline than the numbers above, but I think the SO are misleading. Howard is disciplined. Manny is not so disciplined and had a down year in many ways.

One thing to keep in mind regarding walks - Howard gets a ton of intentionals... much more than either Utley, Ramirez, or Ortiz.

Sophist: Sure. In any case I think the comparison between the two sets of players is apt in many ways and we might be able to learn something from it, also in terms of getting ideas about how to use them to best effect.

Dave, Ortiz gets less intentionals almost certainly because Manny is behind him. It does you no good to put him on base if you've got a good situational hitter with power *behind* him. That's why I actually was thinking that having Howard bat before Utley might not be the stupidest thing ever done.

And Sophist, the difference between the two teams, I think, is fairly clear: pitching.

Clarification on the occasional suggestions of sending 'doghouse' veterans to the minors: it can't happen. As documented on Wikipedia -

"Veterans' consent: If a player has 5 years of major-league service, he may not be assigned to a minor-league team without his consent, regardless of whether he has already been outrighted once, even if he clears waivers. If the player withholds consent, the team must either release him or keep him on the major league roster. In either case, the player must continue to be paid under the terms of his contract. If he is released and signs with a new team, his previous team must pay the difference in salary between the two contracts if the previous contract called for a greater salary."

Assuming that we try and try but can't trade Eaton and we can't send him to the minors, wouldn't it be best if he was injured so we could just DL him all year.

Also, in terms of a double salary dump, could we not package Eaton and a marginal prospect (say Happ, for instance) and take on an equally bad contract.

Assuming we don't resign Rowand, why not go after someone like Sammy Sosa as a part-time starter/right-handed bat off the bench. He'd be relatively cheap and could platoon with Werth and Bourn in RF with Vic in CF and Burrell in LF.

Sosa played 16 games in the field last year. he's a DH, not an outfielder. (also, he's not very good and not getting any better.)

ae: thanks for the info, I was speculating mostly from memory of Sosa's strong start this season. My suggestion wasn't so much for Sosa personally but for someone with a similar skill set. A cheap aging veteran with some pop in his bat to throw into the outfield mix. I think an outfield of Burrell, Vic, and Werth/Bourn would be okay, but we could use a veteran with some pop that can get on base, though that player may be a lot like Werth with worse defense. The way I see it, we have no reason to spend good money on an OF this offseason, as Bourn and Werth could seemingly form a solid platoon. They both get on base and play good defense. Obviously Bourn has a ton of speed and Werth seems to have a knack for knowing when to steal a base as well. While Werth has shown flashes of power, he is still best served hitting mostly against lefties in a platoon. If we could supplement this outfield with a respectable veteran bat, we have no need to spend $80 million on Rowand. I think Vic can absolutely match Rowand's numbers (with maybe 5-10 less homers) and plays better defense. If Bourn plays about 20-30 games in CF to spell Vic than Vic may even last to the end of the year before his legs give out. Either way, I think our focus should be pitching and 3B. The only problem with losing Rowand is that we lose the ability to trade Bourn or Vic for pitching.

Dave X, the IBB totals do make a small difference. Just to put them on the page:

1352 PA
143 BB

1353 PA
195 BB

The former's being Howard's. So over 2 seasons, Ortiz draws roughly 20 more BB/year than Howard. Of course, like I said before, this isn't the whole story re: plate discipline.

One other thing to note, Howard has ~1700 TPA in 2+ seasons in the MLB. Ortiz, who is 4 years older than Howard almost to the day, has ~4900 TPA in 8+ seasons. Ortiz didn't draw 100+ walks until 2005, roughly his 5th full season.

[The way I see it, we have no reason to spend good money on an OF this offseason, as Bourn and Werth could seemingly form a solid platoon.]

I agree, but also because I think Vic could have a huge year. He'll ineluctably improve with experience, and I think get bigger as well.

I really don't think its going to be possible to improve the 3B situation. A Helms/Dobbs platoon is going to be just as productive as Werth/Bourn, although with worse defense. Still, there are far more OFs on the market than 3Bs...

If the Phillies spend the money allocated last year to the following players:

Garcia 10
Lieber 7.833
Barajas 2.5
Nunez 1.925
Rowand 4.350
________________
26.608

and add, say 4 MM,(also, I don't remember when Thome's money comes off of the books) it gives them 30 MM to spend in the off season, either through signing free agents or trading for players without too much regard for salary.

The question is: where is the money best spent to improve the team?

The obvious answer is pitching, but what free agent pitchers are available that are an upgrade from Kyle Lohse (FA also), who will probably command a contract somewhere between what Eaton and Meche got last year; so, if he's re-signed, or offered arbitration and he accepts, there goes approximately a third of the money.

What other pitching, particularly bullpen help, is available, and is it worth the money?

Is it a better use of resources to offer Rowand arbitration, even if he accepts and gets 10-12mm/yr? Is it a better use of resources to sign him to a long-term deal?

It will be very interesting to see what Gillick and Giles' company men do to try to improve this team in the offseason.

We know how the two big moves the last offseason turned out.

Questions for the experts. Is Garcia done? Would a minimum contract with lots of incentives be a bad idea? I can't see many teams offereing him a contract.Have the Red Sox said they aren't going to try to resign Lowell?

Very thoughtful posts on whether it would be easy or not to trade Eaton. But what struck me is the pitchers used, correctly, as good comparisons: Meche, Marquis & Pineiro.

All had 2 bad years in row, even worse than Eaton's. It seemed crazy to give them contracts. How did it work out?

Meche went 9-13, 3.67 in 216 IP for a very bad Royals team.
Marquis went 12-9, 4.60 in 191 IP.
Pineiro went 7-5, 4.33 and was especially good down the stretch.

And if we trade Eaton for the next C.J. Henry, while paying half his salary, how do you think that one will turn out?

jr: I would offer Garcia a heavily incentive-laden, one-year contract, understanding he won't be ready until late July, if then.

I'd be curious to know how many infield singles Michael Bourn had last season. I saw him bunt for a hit a couple times.

I would be very, very tempted to stick him in CF and bat leadoff, dropping J-Roll into the 2 hole. He's shown OB skills throughout his career and that didn't drop off in The Show. He was also 18 for 19 in SB attempts. Keep in mind, all this in just 119 ABs. I think the kid has a chance to be as good as Juan Pierre or Luis Castillo.

AWH, I think the Phillies would be crazy not to offer Rowand arb, for the simple reason that they have to do so to get compensation picks if he signs elsewhere.

clout, I agree that Bourn could be a good leadoff guy; the Castillo comparison I think is pretty good (offensively, of course). I don't know that I would put him there opening day, though - that's a lot of weight to put on a guy's shoulders. it's kind of too bad we're not an AL team, because he would be great to stick in the 9th spot as a second leadoff guy while he develops as a major league hitter.

The Rockies new slogan is the same as Dr. Gonzo's statement after spilling a bag of cocaine on himself, riding in a convertible in Nevada with Hunter S. Thompson: "Do you see what God did to us man?!!!!!

clout - Good posts as normal. I do think that Eaton will improve his numbers next year just for the fact that his performance can't be much worse. The big caveat though is Eaton's health.

As for the incentive-laden deal, call me crazy but I would give it to Lieber not Garcia. Garcia didn't have surgery and I can't any reason to expect that his performance will improve much next season (rest or no rest).

MG: Actually he had surgery on a torn labrum in August. He had tried to recover w/o surgery, but it didn't work. That's why he won't be back before late July and probably not even then.

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From the Bostonglobe.com today:
A name to watch as a possible Japanese free agent: Hiroki Kuroda of Hiroshima Carp. He's 32, a sinkerballer who has played in the smallest ballpark in Japan. Sound familiar?

Anyone have any info on this guy?

If I had a choice to sign either Lieber or Garcia, I would go Lieber, but neither is going to or should happen.

All this optimism for Eaton in 06 to show improvement dumbfounds me. He is terrible. I guess he can't get much worse, but I didnt see anything to make me think he will get any better.

BK - I don't think it is optimism on Eaton. It is just hard to believe he will be as bad next year. Plus, the Phils are stuck with him and have to find a way to get better production out of him.

MG I understand your points, but I just didnt see anything to indicate possible improvement. Obviously I hope I am wrong.

I've read some posts about how the Phils should send Eaton to Ottawa next year. Let's not forget that the AAA squad will be in my Lehigh Valley next year. (although on second thought maybe they should just send Eaton to Ottawa anyway)

Eaton does not seem to know how to put a hitter away. No killer instinct in other words. Either you have that or you don't imo. The guy just seems clueless - a head case.

limoguy, Eaton doesn't have an "out" pitch, a deadly one he can throw when he has 2 strikes on a batter. Now, striking guys out is not the be all and end all, there have been plenty of successful MLB pitchers that don't strike out a ton of batters.

They do, however, have the capacity to make hitters, as Robin Roberts do aptly put it, "swing at their pitch". Eaton was not able to get hitters to even do that very often last season.

He may go down as the worst FA signing in Phillies history, and that is saying something.

From Ken Rosenthal:

"The Braves' front-office shakeup is expected to prompt the departure of scouting director Roy Clark, who could become Brian Sabean's No. 2 man with the Giants ..."

Anybody else in favor of the Phillies making a hard-nosed decision to replace their scouting director if Clark becomes available?

IMO, their problems with pitching for most of the last 20+ seasons stem from bad scouting of prospects, free agents, and pitchers received in trades.

Nah. Dave Montgomery doesn't have the stones to do it. In fact, he probably thinks Wolever and staff are doing a good job with pitchers, regardless of what the track record indicates.

Maybe Marti gets him coffee in the morning.

AWH - maybe the point I made and the one you made are related. Maybe he doesn't have an "out pitch" because he lacks the drive to develop one.

limoguy, AWH: I certainly don't disagree with your comments on Eaton, but you are talking about symptoms, not the disease.

Adam Eaton had a bad season because he could not consistently throw the ball to the right spot. When he could, he was fine. But that would only be 2 or 3 innings here and there. He was contsantly leaving pitches up and over the plate. That's why he got killed. Then he'd get too fine and get behind in the count. His K/BB ratio sucked.

Stuff and "out pitch" and drive are utterly irrelevant if you don't have command within the strike zone. Give me the most determined, greatest stuff, killer out-pitch guy in the world and if he cannot throw quality strikes, he will get pounded.

I saw several interesting looking *free agent* Japanese pitchers, including a couple of closers, on the mlb4u list of free agents last night. Interestingly, their mention of teams that might be interested in some of these guys did not at any point include the Phillies. You'd think that with Charlie's Japanese connections, we'd at least be taking a hard look at some of these players, especially given that some of them are projected to go for significantly less than 5mil a year, which is a bargain if it means we can get Meyers back into the rotation.

The talent pool is deeper than players currently in the major leagues, and given the limitations of that pool, it seems that we need to be doing a better job looking at other options.

Iron Pig. Eaton Crap. They sound made for each other.

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