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Monday, November 26, 2007

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Starting 'suits' Myers well enough to be a no. 2 rotation pitcher - for anyone, not just the Phillies. Too bad if he can't live out his rock star fantasies for the time being. When his contract expires, he gets to be the one to decide if he'll be a closer or starter. Until then, he'll be wise to stick to his party line of 'whatever the team needs', because *that's* what it's about - what is best for the Phillies, not what's best for Brett. I disagree that it'd be better to just stick some Eaton-esque (much less Eaton himself) louse back in the rotation in order to accommodate Myers' jump-around-and-yell-on-the-mound fetishes.

I totally agree Jason. I think Myers will be be a slightly above average starter, but has the potential to be a great reliever. Assuming something half decent can be figured out in the rotation, a back end of Romero, Flash, Lidge and Myers is looking pretty good.

Also, totally unrelated, I'm starting to get pretty nervous that we're going to deal for Sarge Jr. I think he a chump, but the Halos will be looking to move him and he'll be cheaper ($6,400,000 in 2007) than Rowand and Jones.

I think I'm coming around to your way of thinking, Jason. of course the key is who fills in the empty rotation spot; I think it absolutely has to be a reliable pitcher. not necessarily an ace, but someone who we can count on. that means Colon, Lieber, Clement, Wolf, et al. aren't good enough to move Myers back to the 'pen (IMO, of course).

In a perfect word, Kuroda will say yes to us Wednesday and we'll move Myers back to closer.

Rotation: Hamels, Kuroda, Moyer, Kendrick, Eaton/Happ/Outman

Bullpen: Myers, Lidge, Madson, Romero, Gordon, Zagurski, Condrey/Eaton/Happ/Outman/Mateo/Rosario

Also, in a perfect world.

I agree with Jason, as well. If this were 20 years ago, without a doubt I would agree that Myers gives us the most value as a starter. But today, starters are basically sent out there to give you six innings and keep the game close so the bullpen can shut it down at the end. Myers can give you that.
With a bullpen of Myers, Lidge, Romero, Gordon (I guess), and Madson, the Phillies would be able to consistently hold opponents in check after the 6th inning. In my mind, I would rather have that security 5 games out of 5 instead of having a better option pitch 6 innings every 5 games. I realize that starting pitching is obviously still important.....I just think the greater good (for this team) is served with Myers closing.
And, I have much more confidence with Lidge in a set-up role as oppossed to our everyday closer.

I wonder what the possibility is of Bartolo Colon as a reliever and if he's open to it. At this stage of his career, he should be open to any job that keeps his innings low. The Angels used him in relief at the end of the season. I wonder if the Phils would consider bringing him aboard to setup Lidge or see what shakes out in ST. Although the last report from Stark did not include him on the list of pitchers they were considering.

Like Avery said, starters aren't going as far into games as they used to and 6 innings is about as much as you can expect. Having Myers in the Pen not only means a top-notch closer that enjoys his role, but also that everyone else in the bullpen gets pushed down so that we have less gap between the 6th and the end of the game. With Myers in the rotation, Lidge is in the 9th, Romero/Madson/Gordon in the 8th and lord knows what will pitch the 7th (although Romero/Madson/Gordon could handle this as well). That significantly shallows our pen.

I think Myers should be in the rotation. Your better pitchers, if capable, should be throwing most of the innings.

There isn't a free agent pitcher out there that the Phillies could sign that would make me think otherwise, Kuroda included. I just can't pen in a guy ive never seen pitch in the majors as my number 2. I think people are overestimating what he can do as a starter in the majors.

To me, it would all depends on who they can find as starters. Even if they sign Wolf -- a big IF -- they would still need one more starter to justify moving Myers back to the pen. I'm NOT ok with moving Myers back to the pen if it means having Adam Eaton or someone like him in the starting rotation. We already have one barely passable starter in our rotation -- Jamie Moyer. We can't get by with 2.

If we could somehow get 2 decent starters like, say, Wolf & Kuroda, then I would not be philsophically opposed to moving Myers back to the closer's role. But I think it's safe to say that the Phillies aren't planning to spend that kind of money. That being the case, it's difficult for me to accept having 2 borderline starters in our rotation, when we have a guy in our bullpen who has proven himself to be an above average major league starter. As important as relievers may be in this day and age, they're still not as important as starters -- who pitch around 3 times as many innings over the course of the season, if not more. Moreover, I continue to think it will be easier to find another decent reliever than another decent starter -- let alone 2.

"We already have one barely passable starter in our rotation -- Jamie Moyer."

I disagree with that assessment of Moyer. Nearly 200 innings and 14 wins. He was the best player in the entire NLDS and was also on the mound when they clinched the East. He was much better than passable.

I agree, Moyer is definitely passable and would be starting for most teams in the NL, especially being a lefty.

Pitching is such a mental game, and Myers is such a mental midget, that maybe its best to accommodate him where he feels comfortable to the best of the teams ability. Although, I agree that if they do not sign at least one pitcher this off-season than Myers in the rotation might be something we have to do.

The other thing to consider is that, if our bullpen proves inadequate (hardly an unlikely scenario), there wouldn't be anything to stop Cholly from switching Myers back to the closer's role again. On the other hand, a switch from bullpen back to the rotation would be far less simple.

Remember also that we have Happ waiting in the wings. He definitely needs some more minor league experience but he could very well be ready for promotion by mid-season. I could easily envision a scenario where Happ gets called up in mid-year & Myers moves from the starting rotation back to the bullpen.

I also think Moyer is better than "barely passable," even given the huge risk of plugging a 45 year old into the rotation. but regardless, without Myers starting we're looking at Hamels, Moyer, Kendrick, Eaton, Happ/Wolf/other budget FA. you could have three Mariano Rivera clones closing out games and still I don't think that rotation gets you to the playoffs.

I don't see how it can be argued that Myers was more successful as a closer in 2007 than he was as a starter in 2006. Maybe my memory is off, but I don't think this has any real statistical evidence to back it up.

I agree with RSB - starting "suits" Myers just fine.

Jason: I respectfully disagree. Moyer pitched a couple of good games to close out the year, including the one in the NLDS. But 2 good games does not a season make. A 5+ ERA, & a .285 opponents batting is barely passable, by just about any critria. And lest we forget, he turned 45 last week.

Given Moyer's age, plus his second half ERA of nearly 6.00, it's delusional to think that he is going to be able to duplicate his 2007 performance next year.

district: Well said. Myers was not bad in the closer's role, but he didn't exactly excel there either. The idea that he can one day become an elite closer is really nothing more than an untested theory at this point. On the other hand, we know for a fact that he can be a pretty good starter. I do, however, have some concerns about whether his heart will really be in it when he returns to the starting rotation.

I'd rather have 70 IP of uncertainty in the bullpen than 200 in the rotation.

The problem for the Phils is how thin the list of free agents is. Even if management could be willing to drop serious money on a real starter, whats the best available? Silva? Livan Hernandez? Kuroda? Each one has question marks and will be overpriced. And a trade is less and less likely as the Phils don't have a list of good prospects especially that are expendable. Most of their best prospects are pitchers that shape the future of the rotation (Outman/Carrasco/Savery/Drabek). So, its not like we can get the Marlins to bite on prospects for Dontrelle or could've gotten a guy like Garland. As much as don't want to Flip-flop from my earlier post, it might just be easier to move Brett to the rotation and go after a reliever along the lines of Mahay, Riske, Affeldt to set up for Lidge.

You could sign Mahey, Affeldt and Riske for about what it would cost to get Kuroda. I rather have Myers in the rotation and those guys in the bullpen than Myers in the pen and Kuroda in the rotation. Myers was a legit #1 starter in 06 and he's not a 6 inning guy, he's the one who can go 7, 8, or 9 innings to save your bullpen some innings in the long run.

I'm curious as to what type of condition Myers will be in this year. There was no doubt that he regained nearly all of his weight during last season. I wonder if he is employing the same off-season diet, and if his role next year has an impact on whether or not he can stay fit.

Fantastically written post J. One of the best ever.

Am I missing something?

"Brett Myers jump-around and yell fantasies."

Sounds like a cheap shot to me. Perhaps someone can point to a specific time when Myers has bellyached about being shifted to the rotation (Or the bullpen of that matter). I am not aware of any statement by Myers that sounds anything like a "problem" with the move. He did say that he was dissapointed because he thought he had found his niche, but that he would do whatever is best for the PHILLIES. That sounds similar to what he said when he was moved to the bullpen. He may have had some past problems off the field but I vehemently defend all of his conduct with regard to the TEAM.

I'm sorry, but attempting to create something that is not there is exatly what I despise about the media. Not that RSB represents any media outlet, but it is still annoyoing. Say what you want about Myers as a person, whatever, but to question his commitment to the PHILLIES is nothing more than willful blindness to the facts.

"I think Myers should be in the rotation. Your better pitchers, if capable, should be throwing most of the innings."
This is the type of statement that simply doesn't hold water anymore. If Myers moves into the rotation and has a successful year, say he goes 17-10 with an ERA of 3.80 or something like that (optimistic viewpoint), how many of those 17 wins would the Phillies have won with a lesser pitcher on the mound? Chances are - especially with the Phils offense - they would have won at least 10 if not more of those games.
Now, let's try the other side of that coin. If Myers has a successful year in the bullpen, how many games does he impact and how many more games do the Phillies win with a lesser pitcher? And you have to look at the trickle down effect as well. You have to consider that having Myers in the bullpen allows the other guys (Lidge, Romero, Gordon, Madson, etc.) to play in roles thier more comfortable with. That also equates to more wins.
I realize it is a tough concept to grasp - that 75 innings of Bret is more valuable than 200+ - but the game has changed and we need to change with it. Look no further than your 2007 WS Champs and what they have done with Papelbon. Does anyone want to argue that Boston would be better off using Papelbon as a starter?
(and before you say it, I realize our situations are completely different because of their starting pitching, but you can still make the comparison)

Actually, I thought this was one of Jason's worst posts ever. A lot of guys are getting overpaid in relief, like Linebrink and Romero (easily two of the worst deals of the offseason), so, it's okay to overpay Brett to be a closer, and he should be a closer because he (a) likes it better, (b) is better as a closer (question: what mediocre starter's stats wouldn't improve drastically if they moved to the bullpen?), and (c) will never achieve the same level of glory if he pitches in the rotation. Totally illogical argument. No, he's not a great starter, but he's definitely good enough to be our #2.

avery i understand your argument, and the statement that i made that you quoted is a vast oversimplification of the concept

but

this "lesser pitcher" of which you speak is bascially what it all comes down to. The Red Sox had very good "lesser pitcher" options. (not to mention that Papelbon was proven, somewhat in the closer role and completely unproven in the starter role while Myers is proven in the starter role) The Phillies don't have other options.

I am in the we need two starters camp before Myers goes back into the pen to be the closer.

If we get to that point we all will be dancing in the aisles. If a trade is pulled off for a lights out starter (which is unlikely but could happen if we send 4 top prospects), or we sign Kuroda who should be a #3 or #4 starter, and then a reclamation project like Wolf Colon, or Clements we will have two new arms for the rotation.

Either Moyer or Kendrick could become question marks next year that is why it should take alot to push Myers back into the pen.

If we got that far not only would we have had a great off-season, but we would not have given up our first round draft pick, AND, we would have 6 or 7 draft picks next year in the first 3 rounds.

Keep Myers in the rotation. If Myers is used as a "bullpen ace" then I have less of a problem with him being used for less but higher leverage innings. However Cholly will use him in the conventional closer role -- using him to protect 3 and even 4 run leads. Lidge will be fine here. Avery, the inability of starters to go deep into games not only impacts that particular game, but can have impact on the following game(s).

I really think it comes down to trusting Brad Lidge. Myers has done very well in the rotation before, and I have no reason to believe he will do any worse than 14 wins and 4 ERA, still a huge upgrade over having Eaton start in the rotation.
That leaves you wondering if Lidge and the pen can hold up. Lidge has a 3.30 era for his career, and you have to hope that with the change of scenery and getting his mind right, he can put up those numbers again. And then for the rest of your bullpen, with Romero and Gordon for the 7th and 8th, and Madson for the sixth, it doesn't look too bad at all. So despite Myers great season this year as a closer, the team needs him more as a starter.

Tray: Worst posts ever? Dig through my archives and you'll find worse posts than this one.

In baseball, everyone is overpaid. The fact that Cordero and Linebrink are getting big contracts reveals how important good bullpen is, and how desperate teams are to get it. Linebrink will be a bust in that division, but the addition of Cordero could be huge for the Reds. That division can be taken easily, and the Reds suddenly have a very good pen.

The salaries were mentioned as more of a response to the "you don't put Myers in the bullpen because that's a poor allocation of money" argument. You use him where you need him.

I have doubts Myers can be an elite starter, but not enough to take him out of the rotation as it currently stands. There's just no way unless they acquire a quality starter. Have to see if they get one. If not, you won't hear a word from me about yanking him outta the starting five.

Why shouldn't the fact that Myers is more comfortable closing games be a factor? Why is that illogical? It's the only factor, but it's a factor. Manuel loves him there. The front offense seemed to project him there eventually. Myers likes having the ball in his hands in more games ...

Tray: This might have been my worst post in some time, but the opposite can be said of your post on Wolf/Eaton. I thought it was terrific.

Personally, in the closer role I don't think there will be much difference in the overall performance between Lidge and Myers, obviously then the benefit of keeping Myers in the bullpen is that they are both in the bullpen (forgive me for stating the obvious). At this point I see a rotation that has one sure thing (Hamels) whose is an injury waiting to happen, a 45 year old vet with a 5.00 ERA (Moyer) a 23 year old likely to regress some and statistically an injury risk (30 plus more innings from previous season) and Myers, who with Moyer is the only durable starter (assuming last years shoulder injury was an isolated event). Unless we add two starters with some reasonable capacity to stay healthy (can anyone even name one that's available?) I don't think we can afford to put Myers in the pen. That said if Starting Pitcher options emerge during the course of the season and the bullpen is again a problem I think it would make sense to once again drop Myers to the bullpen.

Myers likes being a closer more, yes, but that only matters insofar as it makes a difference in his performance. Myers's happiness in and of itself isn't a real interest of the team, so the question of which job he likes better all just goes back to what role he's better/more useful in. If he hated being a starter so much that he was unable to pitch effectively in that role, then it would matter that he hated being a starter. If his not liking being a starter is the reason he's never quite lived up to his potential as a starter, that matters too, but most people seem to believe that having an above-average, if somewhat disappointing, starter is more valuable than having a top-tier but not quite dominant closer, especially when you already have Brad Lidge. Of course, if starting Myers means that Gordon and Romero is our set-up crew, that's something to consider as well. We have next to no idea as to what to expect from either.

IMO, I would rather have Myers out there in the rotation than in then 'pen. If you can trot out Hamels/Myers/Kendrick/Moyer and then either go after Wolf/Colon, resign Lieber, or take your chances with Eaton/Durbin.

I think your rotation and 'pen both look strong, with a pen anchored by Lidge/Gordon/Romero/Madson

My biggest problem is your going to lose a bit of run production by losing Rowand (which is appearing likely). I think many of us would feel much better about the pitching situation if we can replace that power that we're going to lose in CF, by making a serious run at Cabrera. I'll invest a few prospects by basically aquiring another 24-year old prospect with very good power numbers.

It is funny how this discussion is coming up because once again it increasingly looks like Gillick is going to fail in doing his job in the offseason. Last season, Gillick decried that he wanted a big bat. He failed on that account and left the bullpen woefully understocked.

Now this offseason, pitching is Gillick's supposed main focus and the Phils have added exactly a net of zero pitchers to their roster that finished the season. Zero.

I know it is still early this offseason but it increasingly looks like the Phils aren't going to add another arm to the bullpen and might only add one starter. Funny, but for a team that had zero pitching depth last year and trotted a franchise record number of pitchers due to injuries and ineffectiveness, you would think this would be a bigger area of concern.

The real point isn't whether Myers is in the bullpen or rotation - the real issue is that this team has such little pitching depth right now that they likely have to continue to trawl for Value Village pickups all next season to round out this roster.

Basically, you might find a Romero but you are much more likely to get a Mesa, Rosario, Alfonseca, Durbin, or some other marginally talented pitcher or washed-up hasbin.

Am I missing something?

"Brett Myers jump-around and yell fantasies."

Sounds like a cheap shot to me. Perhaps someone can point to a specific time when Myers has bellyached about being shifted to the rotation

I took that to mean his closing-game antics where he screams and pumps his fist (et al), not Myers' complaining about starting/closing/whatever. *shrug*

Jason: I thought it was actually a typically good post, even though I don't entirely agree with your stance. I was firmly in the camp of approving Myers' conversion to closing at the time it was decided - though I did have severe misgivings about the way in which it was done, which I believe resulted in his inevitable injury and disabling. While I do agree with your assertion that Myers probably has a greater chance to be dominant as a closer than as a starter, I nevertheless do not agree that it's wise to leave him in that role indefinitely while a more prominent need exists in the rotation. For those who suggest that the starters' role is increasingly minimized, bear in mind that Myers consistently took the Phillies deep in games - in fact, in both '05 and '06 he was easily the most likely candidate to pitch into the seventh and eighth inning every time out.

Perhaps the biggest argument against Myers resuming as a starter is stated above: "Pitching is such a mental game, and Myers is such a mental midget." That much is true, but if what we've seen is all we'll get, I'll still gladly take a season of 12-15 win, 3.50-4.00 ERA Myers in my rotation.

Regarding my earlier 'cheap shot' comments on Myers: yes, he has been compliant with the team's wishes, to his credit; I'm not trying to see he hasn't been. As Jason pointed out in his post, however, it was a noticably "grudging" agreement this time, and it would appear that what closing games really suits better is Myers' ego.

A bullpen of Lidge/Gordon/Madson/Romero appears strong on paper but it is just that. As several posters have pointed out, Lidge's numbers as a closer aren't great. I have less of a problem with that though.

My real issue is that once again the Phils supposedly going with the notation that Gordon/Madson will be healthy and effective next year. Gordon's numbers all went in a negative direction last season. Even more worrisome though is that he really hasn't been healthy since before the All-Star in '06.

The reality is that Gordon is damaged goods and 41 next year. Frankly, I would be surprised if he gives the Phils' more than 40-45 innings next year.

I do have more hope in Madson though. Hopefully he realizes that his best chance of having a lengthy career in MLB is as a quality setup guy. Madson's numbers as a reliever the past 3 years aren't stellar but in this market it translates to least $4 M/year over a few years. Plus, it will help if the Phils stop jerking him around for one role to the next.

The thing that worries me about Madson is that the Phils are going to lean upon him pretty heavily next year. Probably means that Madson will pitch at least 75-80 innings if he stays healthy. In 2005, Madson wore down and was totally ineffective in Sept. during the Phils' playoff run and he has been injured the past seasons. I don't like Madson's chances of making it though this season if the Phils continue to trot him out there at a pretty grueling pace.

Myers has to go back to the rotation, period. The 2008 rotation without Myers is not going to win the NL East again. Any rotation with Adam Eaton cannot be regarded as competitive. So far, they haven't signed his replacement. There is no chance of landing Kuroda. With a contigent of Japanese players and former players, plus Japanese ownership, the Mariners are all but certain to land him. Wolf hasn't signed yet, and despite his injuries is something of a commodity in a pitching-starved free agent market. The likelihood that Jamie Moyer, at age 45, will be effective is remote. Kendrick is a question mark, though all indications are that he is the real deal. So, to contemplate a rotation which does not include Myers is pretty unrealistic. It's a moot point to wonder if he would do more good in the bullpen than as a starter. With just three reliable starters including Myers and four decent relief pitchers, the Phils need to reassess how much money they need to spend to remain competitive.

Even with a bullpen of Lidge/Gordon/Madson/Romero - who takes the last 2 or 3 spots in this bullpen?

I guess Condrey almost gets a spot by defacto but who else is there? Not a lot of stellar options here. You have the flotsam from last year (Rosario, Castro, Durbin), mystery candidates (Mathieson if he can ever get healthy), and some raw talent (Zagurksi, xxx?).

Do the Phils take a note from Earl Weaver's odd playbook and groom a guy in the bullpen like Outman or Happ? Haven't seen any indication that they prefer this approach or would take a starter from the minors to the pen.

Lot of questions and a bunch of question marks.

Loved this reality check from the Yahoo Hot Stove Daily:

"The Phillies have back-to-back MVPs in Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins and don't have a single playoff win to show for it, even though they pitched well in two of their three division series games against the Colorado Rockies."

Say what you want about the Eagles coming up short in the playoffs and not winning a Super Bowl but at least they had some compelling runs. I am still waiting for the Phils to take that hurdle.

Tray: I didn't realize there was a new thread so I'm glad you caught my post at the end of the previous one. It was my tongue-in-cheek way of saying I thought your post on Eaton/Wolf was correct.

How about giving the last spot in the pen to Gange. He didn't help himself much in Boston but did o.k. before that. Might be worth a gamble.We still need a 3b. Maybe Mary will give us her Lamb.

I'm in the camp that believes if your starting rotation is horrible, it doesn't matter a damn who your closer is. I prefer a good starter to a good closer. Myers should be starting.

I've made the argument before but I'll restate it. Myers value as a starter is much higher as a starter than as a reliever. Look at a stat like VORP. Think about how much higher it costs for a starter of his caliber than a reliever of his. I understood the move last year in desperation, but long term you should plan around putting your guys where they are most valuable.
Guys with Borowski's talent can do an adequate job as closer, but they can't do an adequate starter job. Myers throws 4 pitches well. That versatility is wasted in a one inning role.
Boston keeping a guy of Papelbon's talent as closer is a luxury we don't have.
Finally, rickj21's post summed it up perfectly.

Avery, consider that, even with our awful bullpen last year, no reliever lost more than 5 games last year. That was actually Brett Myers. So a loss of seven wins from a starter would in no way be offset by one better spot in the BP.

I am an agnostic on Myers. The Phils should use him wherever they think he helps the team most.

That said, I am, like Tray on Eaton, in the extreme minority on Beerleaguer in thinking that Lidge may not be best suited as closer. I have serious doubts about him in that role, one he's lost 5 times in 2 years. After 2004-05, when they first tried him at closer, he seemed to lose his edge. Was it psychological? I don't know. But one thing that's been consistent is that he's been a very good setup man. Now he may bounce back and become a great closer. I hope so. But until he proves the past 2 seasons were just flukes, I have my doubts.

Definitely in the Myers as a starter camp. At least the Phils have a viable (if not ideal) option right now in their bullpen with Lidge as the closer.

Even with Myers in the rotation, the numbers just don't add up. I wouldn't be surprised if the Phils are once again forced to call up some of their young starting pitchers by May or June - ready or not. Did it with Hamels and Mathieson in 2006 and with Kendrick last year.

Maybe Happ will get another shot if he can pitch well to start the season but frankly it wouldn't surprise me either if the Phils are forced one of there more promising younger starters (Carrasco, Outman, etc) into a start by Memorial Day.

Clout - What worries you more - Lidge as the closer or Gordon/Madson as the primary setup guys. I have to go with the later right now.

Perhaps I might be more receptive to the idea of Myers in the bullpen if managers still used their best relievers the way they used to use them: in the most critical moment of the game, regardless of inning.

Someone last season posted a very well-reasoned & informative post about closing situations & the number of times per season it really makes a significant difference to have a top closer. Unfortunately, I can't remember who the poster was, so I can't give due credit. But the upshot was that, in the vast majority of save situations, even a lesser closer would do just fine. Over the course of the season, a top closer only gets a handful of saves that a lesser closer would not have also gotten. So, to no small extent, Myers' talents are wasted by consigning him to a role where he can only pitch in the artificially created "save situation" -- the majority of which are not all that pressure-packed. Do we really need our 2nd best, and highest paid, pitcher to close out games where we have a 3-run lead and the opposing team has no one on base?

Back in the 70s, relievers were called "firemen," not closers. The best guys came in to put out the fire whenever it happened to arise. To be sure, firemen often appeared in the 9th inning, since the 9th inning of a close game is certainly a pressure-packed situation where you'd want your best reliever in the game, if he's available. But sometimes a potentially game-altering situation arises earlier in the game (See, i.e., 4th inning of Game 2 of the NLDS). When this happens, it makes no sense to leave your best reliever on the bench for a future save situation that may never arise if you don't get out of the present jam.

Some of the comments here about the Phillies rotation suggest people have forgotten the most important stats. Just a reminder:
Hamels 183 IP 15 wins
Moyer 199 IP 14 wins
Eaton 162 IP 10 wins
K'drick 121 IP 10 wins
Lohse 61 IP 3 wins
Lieber 78 IP 3 wins

There are problems with this rotation, but Moyer isn't one of them. Until he shows that he's too old to win 14 or 15 games and throw 200 IP, let's not worry about him.

MG: Both. I have no confidence in Gordon's health and think Madson is over his head as setup man. If Gordon were 100% healthy and Madson just pitched the 6th or 7th, I'd be way more comfortable with that arrangement.

RSB: Should have mentioned this earlier, but your post combined with that pic of Myers wildly celebrating the NL East clinching pitch provided a high quality laugh. The thought of management accomodating "Myers' jump-around-and-yell-on-the-mound fetishes" brought about hearty chuckles. I agree though that at this point, his highest value is in the rotation.

Myers as starter or reliever is not the problem. The problem is are we going to switch out Myers for Lidge and claim the pen is improved? We need at least another arm in the pen that has some major league experience. Myers should stay in the rotation unless we get a solid #2 to replace him.

It is hard to believe that at this point we still have so many questions marks on this team. The pen, 3b and Rf all are still major question marks and are NOT what you would expect from a playoff team. We are in a division with 4 teams that can be vastly improved come the start of next season.

J.: "The fact that Cordero and Linebrink are getting big contracts reveals how important good bullpen is, and how desperate teams are to get it."

I think that's only part of it. Another part is that there's no starting pitching on the market, yet teams have lots of money to spend. When the butcher is out of beef, you buy pork, even at inflated prices.

Mike: actually, every time I see that picture of Myers, I think it looks like he's just been machine-gunned. Sorry, I know that's a little demented...

Clout: I'm still not convinced. Moyer won 14 games for the same reason Eaton won 10 games: because the Phillies scored lots of runs. And Moyer pitched ~200 innings because he stayed healthy all year & never missed a start. That's certainly a tribute to his fitness, but it doesn't say a whole lot about the quality of the innings he pitched -- let alone whether it can be extrapolated to this year, given his age & his dismal 2nd half performance.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that Moyer is at the top of the Phillies' list of problems. Moyer was passable as a 5th starter in 2007. He may or may not be able to duplicate that performance in 2008 and, given their thin rotation & their even thinner budget, the Phillies realistically have no choice but to bank on him to do so. But I do find it surprising that, in a crowd where Pat Burrell is lambasted as though he were the worst player in the major leagues, Moyer not only evades criticism but seems to have a huge number of defenders. If we're satisfied to have a starting pitcher with a 5+ ERA, then the Phillies have succeeded in getting us to lower our standards.

On a day where a well known athlete is fighting for his life because of a gunshot wound thats probably a bit tasteless....

I've always said that Myers is a starter PERIOD. The "experiment " was ludicrous. True, Myers had a great K/BB rate. That stat becomes exaggerated (and easier to accomplish) for a power SP who has 4 different pitches. My overall point is that there's nothing to "finish" if there is drek for a starting staff. IMO, him out of this(current)rotation leaves a lot of drek.

And I still think Myers has more value as a starter -- yet, with each passing day during which our bullpen isn't improved by addition, I better appreciate the argument for keeping him in the bullpen.

Amid all the talk about Myers' mental state, nobody seems to be taking Lidge's psyche into account. Clout notes that he has lost his closer's job 5 times the past two years, but how significant is that considering that all the yo-yoing was by one team? I've never really bought into the "change-of-scenery" theory -- I still think his problem was getting overworked the year the Astros went deep into the playoffs, when he was pitching two innings more games than not -- but I'm not sure I'd want to deal him the mental blow of saying, "Um, we changed our minds -- we want you to set up instead." Just me.

BTW Yanks are in "preliminary discussions" re: trading for Santana acc. to Rotoworld

Go Yankees....as long as it means no one in the NL gets Santana then its good news to me.

BAP: I have to be honest. I think ERA is overrated. If a guy can pitch 200 IP and go 14-12 at the back end of my rotation I don't care if his ERA is 7.00. The problem with the Phillies last year is that Moyer wasn't at the back end. He was their 2nd best starter.

The post was well written and illuminated both sides of many issues J.

I had no knowledge of the Sean Taylor incident when I posted that. Probably tasteless, anyway.

I might as well change the subject. Can we at least acknowledge that it's a positive sign that then Phillies are finally being linked to interest in Japanese players? It's only taken the entire decade, but hey, the Phillies are a come-from-behind team in more ways than one.

Clout: Your hesitations noted, even Rob Neyer seems to believe that Lidge could be a top five NL closer in 2008. When Neyer says that, with no apparent sarcasm, I listen.

Jason and Tray,
Above, both of you lament the "fact" that players get "overpaid". Exactly what is overpaid?

What I have been trying to convey, through my posts about money and salaries, to you and others, is that the using the term "overpaid" to describe MLB player salaries is not only misplaced, it's insidious on its' face if it's not presented in context.

Actually, I've changed my mind. I'm not going to sit here and type a long soliloqoy about free markets and player salaries. Instead, I'd like to turn it around.

You see, when the free market is involved and prices (salaries) are negotiated, it is philosophically impossible for a player to be "overpaid", as the 'market' has determined the salary.

It is possible, however, for a player to not perform up to expectations (see Pat Burrell, David Bell), but that is a different matter.

But (and I'm not engaging in semantics, nor am I willing to argue over them), because a player's salary was negotiated in a free market, again, THAT market determines what he is paid.

So, it's impossible for Linebrink and Romero (Tray's examples) to be "overpaid", as the market's current conditions have determined what value is place on RPs.


So I ask you, under the possibly misplaced assumption that the two of you believe in capitalism and free markets, why is it you believe the free market should apply to everything except player salaries?

Clout: Why do you think Lidge has struggled so much as a closer but been so good as a setup man? Is it that he doesn't have the special magical closer dust sprinkled on him like Myers does? Or is it possible that your just looking at small sample sizes and not realizing that a couple bad appearances at closer have skewed his stats to suit your illogical and totally subjective argument? Please enlighten us.

Also, has anyone on this board ever seen Kuroda throw a pitch? I know we are all supposed to be in love with the idea of him as our #2 starter and Myers back to the pen, but color me skeptical. Not only will we probably not get him, but I ask again: has anyone here ever witnessed him throw a pitch? Why exactly am I supposed to believe in him as our savior? Dice-K, who by all reports is far and away the best Japanese pitcher alive, had a good year but certainly struggled a lot as well. Why do we think Kuroda will be so good? Please, Clout, please enlighten us all as you seem to be leading the Kuroda fan club, and why you still cling to the ridiculous notion that Myers throwing 60 innings is more valuable than him throwing 200. Do some runs count more than others? We are all breathlessly waiting to hear this tremendous change in baseball rules.

I don't think anybody's in love with Kuroda as a #2. but given the other options (or lack thereof), he's probably the best guy out there even before throwing a pitch on US soil.

AWH: You earn an A+ for taking "In baseball, everyone is overpaid" and running with it.

and I should say the reason posters are relatively high on him is that he's spent his entire career in a very small, hitter-friendly park in Japan and has been highly effective nonetheless. that's a big factor if you're trying to find someone to pitch at CBP.

AWH: I understand what you're saying, but I think it is a matter of semantics. Most people, when they say "overpaid", just mean that they think a GM has overvalued a commodity (in this case relief pitchers), and that limited resources (a team's revenue) should have been used for another purpose. Some people, of course, are just stupid.

Jack: wow, I think you outconsdescended clout. I agree with your conclusions, but on your final point of condescension is misguided... yes, some runs do count more than others. Runs another team scores in the 9th inning of a 1-run game are more important than those that they score in the 5th inning of a 5-run game, to use a couple of extreme examples. In one of the situations there is a much greater chance of those runs deciding whether you get a win or a loss, which is really the only thing that matters.

J, reading your column, I couldn't agree with you more. I've essentially said the same thing in threads on the Phillies message board. Good call.

totally agree with the thoughts posted here. if the phils can somehow get another starter, i would put myers back in the bullpen in a nanosecond.

I like the idea of adding another starter in addition to Myers returning to the rotation. I have zero confidence in Eaton and we have to keep in mind that Kenndrick is entering only his second year in the bigs. He had a great run and attacks the strike zone well. But his stuff isn't exactly dazzling. I hope and expect that he will be a solid starter this year but we can't just pencil him in yet.

I don't know much about Kuroda other than the small bits I've read in a few articles, but I would also like them to show some interest and take a flier on a Japenese reliever to round out the bullpen. There have been some very productive arms in the pen to come over in the last several years (Okajima, Saito, Otsuka).

Also, does anyone know the status of Iguchi in terms of compensation? Was he a type A or B free agent and have the Phillies made public whether or not they were going to offer him arbitration?

AWH, you misunderstood. I have no problem with the free market determining players' salaries; that being said, some teams make mistakes and overpay. Baseball players aren't like most tangible goods on the free market, where you know what you're getting; for that matter, even if you did know exactly what you were getting, people still aren't sure how to best measure performance or value. That said, (a) you can make a reasonable guess, and (b) some measures of value are demonstrably better than others; if a team's overly optimistic in their projections or looks at the wrong stats, or ignores stats altogether, they may well overpay. The baseball market is also a little different than a normal auction in that teams often bid way higher than the next highest bidder, in that agents lie to teams about what offers they're getting, and a whole lot of other little discrepancies, so there's way more room for people to come in and talk about error than most free market transactions. Back to Linebrink and Romero, in both cases, the teams who signed them, I think, overestimated what they were going to get. I really doubt that Linebrink is even going to be an average setup man in that division. He did his best work in Petco facing a lot of soft lineups and he's been in decline for a couple years. Now he goes to the AL to face DH's, Indians, and Tigers. It's really a match made in hell. Romero's coming off of a freakish career year; the season prior he was downright Eatonesque. Over his career he's been a little better than average. I think you could've gotten the same quality pitcher for less money, or a better one for the same.

Going back to the well here ...

-----------
Originally posted Friday, August 17, 2007 at 01:12 AM

Been contemplating the Myers as a starter vs. closer argument for a while now, and here's my thinking. My apologies for the long post, but I've got to get it out of my system before I head out of town for a long weekend with the family.

A top-shelf closer rarely affects the opposition's in-game strategy. You never hear of a manager holding his best pinch-hitter on the off chance that he might face a dominant closer in the ninth.

A top of the rotation starter, on the other hand, can affect in-game strategy. The opposition is more likely to pull their starter early if there are fewer chances to score. Also, the opposition's bench is shortened, leaving less pinch-hitting options in the ninth. In addition, the opposition's bullpen is taxed more. An overworked bullpen has a domino affect on the next few games. Also, short, effective innings from a starter mean less time for the good guys in the sun, running around playing defense.

Another item - this team has won 64 games so far. We have only 28 saves, but let's throw out the 3-inning and 1-out variety, of which there are 3 (2 of the former and 1 of the latter). That makes 25 saves. Another 9 saves were of the questionable variety - when the closer entered with a 3-run cushion.

13 saves were when the closer enetered with a 2-run lead.
3 saves were when the closer entered with a 1-run lead.

So there have been 16 games out of 110 with what can be considered "high pressure" saves. There have also been 8 blown saves among the three closers. That makes 24 games with quality save opportunities out of 110. That extrapolates out to about 35 games this year ... about the same amount of games you would get from a healthy starter over the course of a full season. So, what would you rather have - 35 or so great innings from your top-notch closer, who often will not be facing the most potent hitters during those innings? Or 200 innings or so from a top of the rotation starter?

That's my reasoning for moving Brett back to the rotation next season - I simply believe the trickle-down affect of a really good starter is more important than having a great closer. Of course, I'd like to have both, and if we sign some real stud starters, by all means, keep Brett in the bullpen. He seems to like it. But I don't think there's going to be many stud-like starters out there this off season, and the fact that we had to overpay for Crap Eaton does not bode well for our ability to draw top free agent talent.

AWH asks, "Exactly what is overpaid?"

It's a lot easier to determine that after the fact rather then before. Freddy Garcia is a useful example; no one would have argued that he was overpaid coming into the season, but it's fair to claim $10 million is a bit much to pay for a single victory.

However, it's also important to remember that 'markets' don't always create themselves; they can be (and are) driven artificially higher from the effect of a single move, which I think is the gist of Tray's point concerning Linebrink and Romero. A team which is particularly desperate to acquire or retain a player who fills a gaping need may be willing to 'overpay' and overshoot what the actual market might be - thereby creating a new standard altogether, against which similar players must then be assessed.

Kevac, because Iguchi came from Japan he did not go through the draft process, so when he signed his contract with the White Sox it was stipulated that if he was a Free Agent, that there were be No Compensation, Type A, or B for him.

When the Phillies traded for him they picked up that contract, so no Draft Picks will be forthcoming for him.

In 2008 during the first three Draft Rounds, the Phillies currently have a First, Second, Third, and Sandwich Third Round Pick because Workman did not sign during the 2007 Draft.

The Phillies will be getting two picks for Rowand if he is not resigned because he is a type A. The picks will be a Sandwich Pick after the First Round AND a First Round Pick if the signing team finished with the 1-15th Best Won Lost Record, OR a Second Round Round Pick if the signing team finished with a 16-30th Best Won Lost Record. To receive these Picks the Phillies have to offer Rowand one year Arbitration for 2008 and then Rowand will most certainly decline it.

The Phillies can also receive a Type B Sandwich Pick for losing Freddie Garcia, the signing team loses nothing, if they offer Garcia Arbitration AND he declines it.

There is a risk if they offer Garcia Arbitration that he will accept is and the Phillies will have to pay a projected 4-5 million for a half season of Garcia, since he is recovering from Surgery and is not expected back till mid-season. He is not entitled to 80% of his last year salary, that rule is in effect only if Garcia had 5 or less years in baseball and was not eligible for free-agency. So it is a bluff poker game by the Phillies to see if they offer Arbitration to get the Type B sandwich pick between Round 1 and 2.

The Phillies will have 6 or 7 picks in next years draft during the first three rounds, depending on Garcia, if they do not sign any free agents.

The Deadline to see what teams offer their Free-Agents Arbitration is 4 days and 11 hours from now and can be seen on

http://www.sportsline.com/mlb

The Phillies will also be looking to sign players that are not offered Arbitration after that date.

I was saying a little more than that, RSB; I'm also saying that baseball players aren't like most goods where you know what you're buying. AWH is arguing that, because Barry Zito got 100 million, he, by definition, is worth that much. I would say that that's a fair price for a Cy Young-caliber pitcher, which is apparently what the Giants thought they were getting, but it's far too much for what Zito actually is, and that other pitchers of the same quality don't get paid nearly as much. The Giants probably overpaid, though the jury's still out, because they failed to forsee what kind of a pitcher Zito would be.

Ed Wade signs another OLD RELIEVER. True to form. Boy I am glad these days are done in Philadelphia. Wish we had the draft picks Wade lost.

"The Astros have agreed to a contract with free agent reliever Doug Brocail. Terms are unknown; but an announcement is expected Tuesday.

Brocail turns 40 in May. He pitched for the Astros in 1995-96 before his inclusion in a huge multiplayer deal with the Tigers. He had a nice 2007 for the Padres with a 3.05 ERA in 76 innings. However his strikeout rate was quite low at 5.05 per nine innings."

SirAlden - Let me get this straight. The Phils should offer Garcia arbitration so that hopefully he declines it and gets signed by someone else so the Phils get a sandwich pick.

Hate to throw a monkeywrench in the works here but what if Garcia accepts arbitration from the Phils realizing that it may be nearly similiar to what he gets offered from any team if he hits the FA market. Phils basically piss away most of their remaining budget flexibility on a guy who will pitch at the earliest in June. No thanks.

SirAlden - If Wade was able to sign Brocail to a 1-yr at a minimum dollars (say less $750k-$1 M), it isn't a bad move. Basically got a reliever who is making near the veteran league minimum and is a capable reliever yet.

If he washes out, then you can release him and eat the money. I guarantee you that the Phils will bring in someone worse than Brocail and give them a shot to win a spot in the bullpen during spring training.

SirAlden - Didn't realize that Brocail was a class "B" FA. Still not a horrendous move but definitely less much appeal. Right out of the Ed Wade school of veteran relievers.

I love JRoll's competitiveness but winning 100 games next season? Did the Phils acquire Santana and another bullpen arm?

I would be thrilled if this team is able to even win 90 games again next season and make the playoffs again given this offseason so far.

I know he was a class B. Right out of the Ed Wade school of veteran relievers.

The Phillies have lots of budget flexibilty they are just holding their cards closely to their chests. It is a good risk, and can stop the Mets from signing him long term.

The risk is low he will accept. If he does the cost is low, and we will have the inside track with him if is recovers.

So I guess if J-Roll posted that he thinks with a average pitching staff next year, that the Phillies will win 100.

Then he would be shouted down as an idiot here. Way to root.

So I guess if J-Roll posted that he thinks with a average pitching staff next year, that the Phillies will win 100.

Then he would be shouted down as an idiot here. Way to root.

I guess the real question is what Garcia would actually cost. Both sides make convincing arguments, but I have to assume that if the Phillies really thought they could get him in the $5 million range by offering arbitration that they would do it, because even as much as I truly hate Garcia, he still has a 4.07 ERA and a 1.30 WHIP over his career, and is a better option in my mind than someone like Colon or Wolf.

However, assuming he comes back in early June, and requires a salary in the $7 million dollar range, he'd be a ripoff and I rather go with Leiber Leiber Donut Eater and another reliever.

Tray and RSB, thank you for your well-reasoned responses, but I think you missed my subtle point, though RSB may have alluded to it with his "easier to determine after the fact" statement.

The point I am trying to make is that, yes Tray, "by definition" if a player is awarded a contract in the free market (and no market functions perfectly so let's not argue that point ad infinitum) he IS worth that much.

The point I was making is that there is a difference between being "overpaid" (an impossibility in a free market)and "underperforming to expectations"(possible, but any judgement can only be rendered in hindsight).


Take Pat Burrell as an example.

When he was awarded his contract (admitedly a premature move by Wade, IN HINDSIGHT), he was not "overpaid". He has, however, not performed as well as expected. Had he ripped off the last 5 seasons like 2002, no one would make the case that he has been "overpaid". One could make the argument that he has not "performed up to expectations".

So, RSB, you are correct is saying that 'hindsight' is required to make any assessment of a player's 'worth'. It does not, however, mean that any player is "overpaid".

But, Tray, it is impossible for you to make the argument AT THIS TIME that Linebrink and Romero's contracts are examples of players being "overpaid". They may not perform up to the expectations of those contracts, or , they may outperform those same expectations.

Manny Ramirez is another example I would use. Many people feel he was overpaid when he received his current conract, but I would argue that for the second or third best RH hitter in the game (Pujols is better now, but in 2001 Manny was 2nd best) and two WS championships later that the Red Sox made a wise move. In the context of what he's brought to the team (championships), I would argue that Manny has been "underpaid".

SirAlden - Paying $5+ million dollars to Garcia just to keep him away from the Mets is utterly ridiculous. The last thing that Phils needed is another damaged starter who won't even pitch until June or July at the earliest and might be a total wash this season.

Resigning Garcia through arbitration would arguably be the stupidest thing the Phils could do this offseason. Pissing away money that is desperately needed to fix other problem areas.

"So I guess if J-Roll posted that he thinks with a average pitching staff next year, that the Phillies will win 100.

Then he would be shouted down as an idiot here. Way to root."

I am sure it was just JRoll talking but it is a pretty ridiculous assertion that the Phils will win 100 games next year as currently constituted given they would need to improve by 11 wins (which is no small feat moving from 89 to 100 wins).

As a team leader, Rollins is challenging his teammates to go for 100 wins. That is what a leader should do. There would be no motivation if he said that he would expect to win 89 games again. Actually, he may also be challenging his GM and manager in a subtle way.

Jack: This is kind of an old discussion and has been throughly hashed out before. I guess you missed it. kdon, I believe, posted the stats that back it up. Lidge has had much better stats as a setup man than as a closer over the past 2 seasons. No, the sample sizes weren't small. As for why, that's a good question. He's had some injury issues. Also, and I guessed you missed this too, the Astros removed him from the closer's job 5 times in the past 2 seasons. He could very well return to his pre-2006 form, but until he does, I'm skeptical.

On Myers, again you need to keep up with the thread to avoid appearing so uninformed. As I said higher up, I'm an agnostic on whether he starts or relieves. He should do whatever the team thinks his best for him. But if the team signed Kuroda and one other starter, which is an extreme longshot, I think it would be better with Lidge as setup and Myers closing. Kuroda is pretty highly regarded and should get a fair number of offers. Obviously, until he faces major league hitters he can't say for sure how well he'll do, but that's no different than Kyle Kendrick or Hamels or Happ. From what I've read, baseball people think he can do the job.

Also, you keep using words like "us" and "we" in your posts as if your opinion represents anything but you're own. When you presume to speak for the board and not just yourself, it makes you look weak, as if you have no confidence in your opinions.

Good luck on your next post!

AWH: So you think Burrell is overpaid for what's he's done? How do his stats compare to others his age and what were they paid?

Re: Garcia. Has an arbitrator ever awarded a play a 50% pay cut, regardless of injury? Why, siralden and ricky, do you think the arb would cut his salary by half? And, why do you think Garcia will be ready to pitch in major league games by early June? He had major arm surgery to repair a torn labrum. Usually recovery time is one full year. That means he doesn't return until August and that assumes everything goes right.

Clout, read what I actually wrote before taking shots at me. There was an "if" before the statement about him only getting $5 million, because I too am skeptical of that figure. Then I used the word "assuming" as in making an assumption that he would be back in June.

I know its fun to take your shots at everyone on the board, but at least make them well informed shots. Better luck on your next post.

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