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Tuesday, January 29, 2008


.288..... damnit

Colour me unimpressed. Still all is not lost, I keep waiting for the pitching to arrive. You know, the pitching that was a priority this off season. It's gonna arrive.... It's got to... right?

Dobbs and Coste are still options (Helms, too, for now). I just wish that I had more faith in Cholly to know when to use them.

Thank God we never got Soriano. We might go weeks on end without ever seeing a walk.

As much as I understand that many of our most thoughtful posters like the signing of Feliz, and as much as I understand their reasoning, still, I wonder why it is that the only fans who are laughing gleefully about this acquisition are fans of other teams.

Ruiz still has room for improvement, too. There were times he demonstrated a nice approach to hitting.

I'm content with it, not impressed, but not worried like some seem to be. We couldn't come into the season with a Dobbs/Helms platoon and a Werth/Jenkins platoon.

How many times did we hear Ruben Gillbuckle say "we're done" or "3b isn't a priority", even after the Lowell flirtations?

I have heard the idea mentioned that Feliz will be okay in the 8-hole in the line-up. But given his inability (unwillingness?) to lay off bad pitches, it would be inadvisable to place him there. The Giants, in fact, discovered that, as his propensity for swinging at (virtually) everything became known, he was totally ineffective batting right before the pitcher. In the last 4 years, the Giants wrote him into the starting line-up as the 8th hitter five times.

Bed's Beard:
Kinda instills a feeling of confidence in the FO, right?

No, it shows the constant over analyzing of everything those FO people say is ridiculous.

Jack: Yep, the Red Sox are really emphasizing defense. That's why two of their newest everyday players are Youkilis and Drew. Your cluelessness always amazes me.

Jason: Please note that many "statheads" value the importance of defense a lot. Most statheads value categories like VORP and WARP, in which Feliz outperforms Dobbs/Helms, because it counts defense as well as offense.

Clout: You're joking about Youkilis and Drew, right? Youkilis is one of the best defensive first basemen in the game, and is widely regarded as such. Besides winning the Gold Glove and compiling an entire season error-less streak, he is considered by most advandced stats to be at least above-average. Drew is an above-average defensive right-fielder, and last year they featrued Coco Crisp, one of the best defensive outfielders in all the game. Honestly, I like arguing with you because you make some valid arguments, but this is just an idiotic one on your part.

Tray: Your straw man argument (Helms vs. Feliz) is silly. Helms was NOT going to be the everyday thirdbaseman. The correct comparison is between the platoon the Phillies would've used vs. the everyday player they will not use. That makes your stats worthless. The correct stat is this: Feliz made an out in 72% of his plate appearances. Dobbs/Helms made an out (and this is with Helms having a career-worst season) in 66% of their plate appearances. Over 500 PAs that means Dobbs/Helms makes 30 fewer outs, assuming Helms has another career bad year, which is a long shot. Another way of looking at it: Feliz costs you 1 full inning of outs per game for 10 games more than a Dobbs/Helms platoon.

Here's my only OTOH.
If the Phils place Eaton on the 60-day(Mentally)Disabled list and Travis Blackley is the (Jamie Moyer clone) fifth starter, it might be good to have some additional fielding ability on the left side of the field.

See, I truly am trying to get my brain around this.

And you think the Sox made room for Youkilis because of his glove? Amazing!

No, but it is certainly a part of his game that they appreciate and part of what makes him a highly valuable player. Of course his OPS is what makes him such a strong offensive player, but there's a reason they play him at first and DH David Ortiz.

Jack: Coco Crisp isn't close to "one of the best defensive outfielders in all the game."

His arm is below average and, while his range is above average, there are a number of outfielders with better range.

I guess you just see a different game than than most people.

By the way, Jack, I'm still waiting for that list of "homegrown" Phillies pitchers who are better than the free agent relievers the Phillies ignored and could've signed for the money spent on Feliz.

Jack: Point taken on defense. I went back and clarified that in the header.

reposted from previous thread:

i believe this signing is all a part of the "dinger" theory:

the front office wants the everyday lineup filled with as many players who will hit as many home runs as possible. because as we all know, the fans love them dingers. and happy fans means happy financials.

going by their 2007 stats, the lineup is a homer machine:

Rollins - 30
Victorino - 12
Utley - 22
Howard - 47
Burrell - 30
Jenkins/Werth - 32
Feliz - 20
Ruiz/Coste - 11

= 204

last year, the phillies on the whole hit 213 home runs. that was with both utley, howard, and victorino spending DL time. adding in bench bombs and adam eaton long drives, this team is geared to be a home run force.

damn the sabermetrics, the people need dingers!!

Clout: Peter Gammons wrote in a story earlier this year that Billy Beane considers Crisp "the best CF in the game right now"; sorry if I trust his judgement more than yours. Ken Rosenthal quotes the Red Sox as considering Crisp's defense to be "gold-glove caliber", and that is why they haven't traded him yet.

I think I'm most nervous about the fact that the picture that Jason used makes Feliz look an awful lot like Otis Nixon. We may have a new candidate for ugliest Philadelphia athlete of all time (although, in all honesty, he's still light years behind Manute Bol).

The one undeniable positive is that it improves the bench. They already have a personal caddy for Burrell. Third base is one less move they have to make late in the game. It adds up, over 162 games.

Clout: Personally, I wouldn't mind seeing some of our young starting prospects groomed in the bullpen. If Carrasco is pitching well in Double-A, I'd be happy to have him come into a relief role in the 2nd half of the season and see how he does, while at the same time monitoring his innings; same thing with Outman. I haven't seen any evidence that pitchers are better served ong-term starting in the minors as opposed to relieving in the majors. I think Mathieson is obviously a very strong candidate for the bullpen, and I think Zagurski deserves another look as well.

Are any of these guys great options? No, but none of the veterans you mentioned (who are they again, that are available right now?) are great either, and are overpriced. Additionally, calling up your young players gives you a chance to develop them for the future under major-league tutelage (and Jamie Moyer). Sure, it's entirely possible that this is stupid and you should go ahead signing veteran middle relievers to try and build a bullpen, I fully acknowledge that this is in no way a proven method- it's just something I would try.

Also, I think the team believes it's easier to pick up middle relievers during the season than it is 3rd basemen- see Romero and Alfonseca last year.

Jack - I think your post emphasizes the difficulties in using defense as a reliable metric. some statistical systems consider Crisp an excellent centerfielder; some consider him only average. some scouts perceive him as a strong defender, while some see the opposite.

there simply is not a consistently accurate defensive statistic, which is why many posters don't buy the argument that Feliz will save exactly X more runs with his glove than he'll cost us with his pathetic bat.

Jack, I think you mean see Romero and Mesa last year.

IIRC the Mesa thing didn't turn out so well.

Jack: Well if Gammons and Rosenthal say so, it must be true.

Here are 6 centerfielders who are as good or better than Crisp defensively: Andruw Jones, Mike Cameron, Vernon Wells, Curtis Granderson, Tori Hunter, Ichiro Suzuki, Corey Patterson.

His range is as good as most on that list, but not all, and his arm is nothing special. Of the 18 MLB centerfielders who played enough to qualify for the batting title, 8 had as many or more assists than Crisp.

Ruiz may be 29 now, but he's a young 29. By that I mean that he still has the ability to improve, I doubt he's peaked. He needs to learn to relax with men on base, that's when he was jumpiest and swung at bad pitches.

I like this move because of Feliz's defense, but by golly it better be as good as advertised or I fear for his life. It does make the bench better with Dobbs going back to that role. I still hopes Dobbs gets 1 or 2 starts a week at 3rd though against tough righties. I'm also glad I won't have to watch Manuel F-up the 3rd base rotation and use 3 players at the same position every game.

I dislike this deal because Feliz is going to kill plenty of rallies while in the lineup. Sure his 20 homeruns will be nice, but making an out 72% of the time is not good.

ae- You are exactly right, but just because no one has found a completely accurate stat to rate defense, doesn't mean it doesn't exist. In fact, it probably means that we consistently undervalue defense because we can't rate it. Almost everyone, scouts and statheads alike, agree that Feliz is a very good defensive 3rd baseman. Almost everyone agrees that Helms and Dobbs are bad defensive 3rd baseman. Just because we don't know exactly by how much, doesn't mean the difference doesn't exist.

As I said before, most progressive teams in the "moneyball" style, such as the A's, Red Sox, Blue Jays, and Diamondbacks, have developed serious defensive scouting and metrics recently and all rank near or at the top of team defensive rankings for last year. They realized that the market was severely undervaluing defense in recent years precisely because of the point you raised- no one could measure it. They've worked on measuring it, and have gained a competitive advantage because of it.

Jack: You may recall that the Phillies folowed your advice last year, using Matt Smith, Zagurski, Condrey and Brian Sanches. How did that work out?

And are you seriously predicting that Outman, Carrasco, Mathieson and Zagurski will end the season with better NL stats than the FA relievers I listed yesterday?

He's better than Wes Helms. That's something, right? I just hope Dobbs still gets a lot of ABs.

I like the term 'seamheads'. I've never heard it before. I'm a bit of a seamhead, and not just because I look like Frankenstein. I think stats can be overrated. But I'm not a fan of people with no patience at the plate..

Clout- who were those 8 centerfielders who had more assists? Did you look at park factors when assessing assists and arm strength? Also, you do realize that assists are a skewed stat to measure arm strength by because runners tend not to run on guys with strong arms, thus giving them less chances for assists, right? I'm not saying Crisp has a tremendous arm, but it's not bad, and his range is top notch. Crisp is widely regarded as one of the best defensive centerfielders in the game- not sure why you're arguing with that. Can you find an instance where someone has claimed he's not a good defensive centerfielder?

I absolutely agree that defense plays an important role. and at some point, there may be a reliable, publicly available defensive metric. but I don't think we're there yet. (maybe one's already been developed by the Sox or A's, they're not sharing their findings.)

"And are you seriously predicting that Outman, Carrasco, Mathieson and Zagurski will end the season with better NL stats than the FA relievers I listed yesterday?"

No, because they won't get the chance. Also, please compare these lists:

Smith, Zagurski, Condrey and Brian Sanches

Carrasco, Outman, Matheison, Zagurski

Do you notice anything different? Last year they tried bad retreads who were never really prospects, with the exception of Zagurski. These guys are all good to very good pitching prospects- that's my point. You use the best TALENT available to build a bullpen- these guys all have more talent than the guys you mentioned. Pretty simple.

Gillick's not a stathead. He's portrayed as Billy Beane's opposite in Moneyball, so I doubt he looked at the number comparisons between last years platoon and Feliz the way I did a few days ago. Feliz provides more power, but less OBP. Seems like he'll strikeout less than the platoon. I've also suggested that Dobbs full time stats would probably be closer to his 2nd half performance (which is the equivalent of Helms' last year), so Dobbs may not be in fact a better hitter than Feliz.

I doubt anyone will argue this is a defensive upgrade, a big one. It's probably at best no upgrade offensively and likely a small downgrade, on the other hand Feliz does have the pop to hit 25 HR at CBP (he hit 20 HR playing in a Pitchers park, remember). I don't like this signing, I'm on record as saying that. But 4mil/yr for 2 years (8.5 total) isn't bad. I think it's still pricey but at least they didn't overpay like with Bell, Thome, Burrell, Abreu, and Garcia.

I wonder though if the coaching in SF had anything to do with it. Felipe Alou was the skipper over there during the majority of Feliz's career with the Giants, when they relied upon Bonds to provide all the offense. Not saying that's the reason for his poor OBP, but I wonder how much of a factor it is (and I'd like to see some discussion of it).

Jack: The Diamondbacks are one of the best defensive teams in baseball? Say what?

Let's go down the list: At 1B we have Conor Jackson, one of the worst defensive firstbasemen in all of baseball. At 2B we have O-Dog, who is excellent. At SS we have Drew, who is league average at best. At 3B we have Reynolds, also league average, and Chad Tracy, who is below average.

In RF last year the D'backs mostly used Carlos Quentin, who's league-average. CF is Chris Young, who's above average, and LF is Eric Byrnes, also above average. Their catchers were Snyder & Monteiro, both about average.

That totals up to an excellent gold-glove caliber at 2B and 2 very good, above league average outfielders. Everyone else is just average or worse. I'd argue that the D'backs were NOT "near or top" in team defense.

Horrible, horrible, horrible, horrible, horrible move.

I hope I'm being clear.

Feliz's glove may be better than what we have, but it will not overcome his horrendously bad offense. Not by a long shot. We just signed the worst offensive regular third baseman in basball. Period. And no one on this list can even argue against that.

That means he'd have to be the greatest defensive third baseman since Brooks to even come close to overcoming what he'll do to our lineup.

Horrible, horrible, horrible, horrible. The most sickening move the Phillies have made this season. By a long shot.

Jack: The problem with those guys is that they aren't ready to pitch in the big leagues. You have to start the season with someone in your bullpen. Right now those someones are Condrey and Shane Youman. If Gordon gets hurt, then that puts other pitchers into spots they are not qualified for and moves Condrey and Youman into important positions. Same if Eaton can't go. It puts C.Durbin into the rotation and adds another non-quality arm to the bullpen to replace him. It would be far safer to spend a couple million on (pick two) Affeldt, Herges, Wise or Matt Clement.

CJ - c'mon. Tell us what you really think.

Gillick does look at OBP, no? He must...I can't imagine he would be so out of date and ignorant. However, if he were that ignorant, it makes sense that it was the Phillies who decided to hire him.

I think people here believe I've been a pretty regular defender of this front office. You certainly can't suggest I've been a constant critic. I've generally given them the benefit of the doubt and last year's playoff appearance could be evidence that they know what they're doing.

But... there's no way I can defend this move. With the tight budget we have, that money absolutely should have been spent on improving our bullpen or bringing in another starter. One or the other. If we were all that worried about defense at third, we should have just plugged No-Hit Nunez in there every day.

Of course I look at OBP! That's why Feliz will be wearing jersey number 28.8.

Jack: re: Crisp, the debate isn't whether or not he's a good defensive centerfielder. He certainly is. The debate is whether he's "gold-glove caliber" or "the best in the game" as you proclaim. He isn't.
The centerfielders who had as many or more assists than Crisp are: Suzuki, Rowand, Patterson, Granderson, Cabrera, Matthews and Cameron.

Clout: Affeldt and Clement signed other places to start, however, an option you are not affording them in your scenario. Thus I don't see how you can count them as legitimate options. Herges and Wise I can understand as possibilities, and am open to the argument that they may be a better use of the money than signing Feliz. I'll be convinced when I see how they perform this year.

This was a stupid move for two reasons -

1. Two years guaranteed when I bet the Phils could have held out for another 7-10 days and given Feliz a 1-year deal with an option. No one except the Giants were expressing interest.

2. This money would have been better directed at the pitching. If the Phils are going to make the playoffs again, it is because their pitching improves (not defense a single position or a few more HRs).

Godfather: So we can expect everyone who had a worse second half than first half last season to do worse overall this season? Can you explain? Thanks.

Feliz can get hot for a few games but when he goes cold (and it can happen for weeks) he contributes NOTHING offensively. No walks, no ability to take pitches, no ability to bunt, and not a great contact hitter. Plus, he has has slowed up a bit.

Phils are going to see a ton of 6-4-3 and 5-4-3 DPs this year from him as Feliz tries to pull every damn pitch.

Clout: You are right that Arizona was the weakest example of defensive strength that I offered. Here are all 4 teams that I gave as examples, as judged by The Hardball Times' team defense plus/minus ranking:

Toronto: 1st in Team Defense in the AL
Oakland: 2nd
Boston: 3rd

Arizona: 6th in NL (with better numbers than Oakland and Boston, 2nd and 3rd, respecitively in the AL)

The Red Sox won the WS last year, Arizona had the best record in the NL, Toronto finished above .500 while playing in the AL East, and Oakland regressed from appearing in the ALCS in 2006 to being a under .500 team.

Jack: You think Condrey and Youman will perform better? As for Affledt or Clement, they would be signed initially for the pen but with the idea that they become starters when Eaton can't cut it or if one of the other starters gets hurt. Right now the Phils fallback is Chad Durbin and if he moves into the rotation some other piece of crap will join Youman and Condrey as 3 members of a "playoff caliber" bullpen.

The only advantage Feliz will get coming to CBP is that he might be able to hit a few more HRs to LF due to his propensity to pull everything. Maybe it gives him 2-3 HRs over a course of a season vs. when he played in SF.

I doubt it is will make of a difference though because if I recall right the Giants' announcers always said his real power was to left CF.

Someone made a great point - two year of Wheels going "Pedro FelEEESE"

yeah, that is the key, MG.

for everyone who was so tickled by the "20 good swings" comment about Burrell last year--now you get your wish, since Feliz almost literally contributes nothing but 20 good swings.

Jack: I'm curious, what bizarre metrics do they use to show that Arizona was a better defensive team last year than Oakland and Boston? I mean that's just laughable.

I have to agree with Clout on the back end of bullpen. There is going to be a shuttle back and forth to Allentown/Reading running all season most likely and at least 1-2 pickups off the waiver wire again.

Didn't the Giants offer Feliz a better deal than the Phils?

Arizona had the best record in the NL despite being 12th in your favorite category, OPS, Clout- how did they do this? By being 4th in pitching and 6th in defense. Now, some of you may say, well, the pitching carried them. However, their pitching was strongly helped by their defense, considering they were not much of strikeout pitchers- ranking 8th in the NL, or right in the middle, in K/game. Therefore they let a lot of balls in play, and yet still had a low ERA- do you think defense might have helped with this? Or do you think it was magic?

Clout- what indication do you have that Affeldt and Clement would have agreed to sign initially to bein the pen? Any? Or should we just take the evidence that they signed TO BE STARTERS as stronger than your fantasy world in which they agreed to be relievers?

MG- Yes, but that would most likely be the case no matter who we signed. Most teams have a bullpen that is pretty fluid throughout the year- most teams are lucky just to have a solid 8th and 9th inning guy they can count on (which, of course, we don't). Again, I agree the bullpen is a serious problem that needs to be addressed and that they have failed to do so. I wouldn't argue that.

Jack: And how do you know they or the others wouldn't have signed here? It is all speculation. You still haven't explained why you think Condrey & Youman are better than those two or Wise and herges or any 2 of the other free agent relievers who were signed this offseason.

Jack: Please name the dazzling gold glove fielders who secured that great D'Back defense. I just went down the list of all their everyday starters last year. Name the great glove men there beyond the 3 I identified.


So, if I'm clear here, you're suggesting we dump our questionable defensive performers like Ryan Howard and Pat Burrell and find ourselves some more solid gloves. We'll be a World Series team in no time!!!

Remember watching Dobbs play left field in a spring traning game last year. Would not be surprise if he sees some time out there against RHP when Burrell goes into one of his funks. The Feliz move also gives them flexibility for 09 when Burrell moves on. If Golson is not ready, an outfield of Dobbs, Victorino and Jenkins is already under their control for 09.

Let's stop over analyzing the signing of an average 3B and realize that we're a Santana to the Mets trade away from all of this meaning NOTHING!

The Feliz move also gives them flexibility for 09 when Burrell moves on.

um. how?

In terms of errors, the D'backs ranked 11th in NL fielding pct. So it must've been their dazzling range. Yet outside of the 3 players I mentioned, none in that lineup has great range. And the D'backs ranked 10th in assists.

How can this possibly be? They were 12th in OPS so it wasn't the offense. And we all know that pitching is totally dictated by defense, right Jack?

What a mystery!

Jack, Clout: I think the answers lie somewhere in the middle. We all agree athat while the offensive upgrade is negligible at best, Feliz brings a plus glove, which in no way is a bad thing. Also, adding lidge is nice, but there is no way we can count on mad, flash, and jc to lock down 7-8. Unfortunately, there doesnt appear to be anyone out there who can guaruntee us this right now. Maybe we erred in not signing wise, but that remains to be seen. i find it silly, however, to ridiculle the FO for giving market value to a 3B that gives us more bench depth and the ability to dangle Helms to a team in spring training that may become in need of his services (the yankees?) do to injury or performance of their own options (at 1B).

The one pitcher I do think Feliz will really help is Brett Myers, who gets an inordinate amount of soft hits toward third base. That said, I hate this signing.

Well, Wise was good in 2005 and 2006 but really struggled last year. You could argue he is declining and not worth 1.2 million. Herges is 38 and had a good year last year in limited (48)innings; the year before he pitched 71 innings and was league-average, and the 4 years before that he was significantly worse than league-average. Is he worth 2 million dollars? Both are right-handers, and you have spent a lot of time arguing we need another lefty in the pen. Youman is a lefty. Also, neither of them have decent strikeout rates at all, something you look for in a relief pitcher.

Both Condrey and Youman will make under a million dollars this year, presuming they make the big league roster.

CJ: Don't be an idiot.

there's absolutely no evidence that this contract is market value. because there is no market for Pedro Feliz. there are literally two teams interested in him - Philadelphia and San Francisco, and he turned down SF's offer. as a couple people have posted, there's every reason to suspect that the Phils could have waited a few days and not tied themselves down for two years and/or gotten him at a cheaper salary (what else is he going to do?). unless, of course, they actually wanted to tie themselves down for two years. which is stupid but not unlikely.

JKanef: Just to correct you, this is a downgrade offensively. Pedro Feliz was the worst offensive regular third baseman in baseball last year. When you sign the worst, you are getting a downgrade. Period.

Clout- How do you know those players don't have great range? By watching the few games a year in which Arizona is on tv, either against the Phillies or on national TV? Pretty solid, objective analysis there.

Also, everyone knows fielding percentage is a stupid defensive metric to use.

Jack: And Condrey and Youman will be better than herges and Wise and all the other free agent relievers, right? And who are their mystery replacements if they don't make the roster? Zagurski and Fabio? Mathieson and Matt Smith?

Lekh - I would tend to think the Feliz signing helps Moyer and Kendrick more than Myers but I would have to look at the numbers.

In my view, the problem with the bullpen isn't that the Phils signed guys like Youman or Durbin. Everyteam does that and frankly I wished the Phils would have taken a flyer or two on another veteran reliever for a minor league invite.

The problem is that they are counting on guys to fill key roles who aren't going to stay healthy (Gordon), guys who are either not ready (Zagurski) or will likely not give the much (Condrey, JD Durbin, Garcia, etc).

That would be "ok" if the Phils had a few viable arms that would be able to come up in June/July to fill the gaps but I don't see where these guys are at.

Besides Lidge & Madson, I see a bunch of guys who are going to have ERAs of 4 & 5 again in the bullpen forcing Cholly to roll the dice in a bunch of situations again this year.

By the way, an NL bullpen should not be full of 3-4 relievers with an ERA over 5 but I think that will be the case again with the Phils this year.

How is that worse than the worst offensive production from the position last year, which came from us? Call me crazy, but I don't get it. 4.25 for an everday starter seems fair, and we keep neglecting the added depth and value we get at aving dobbs as a utility...i just think that is an important consideration.

Jack: Fielding pct. isn't stupid as long as it isn't used to measure anything more than error rate. And the D'back's error rate was not great.

As for range, I gave you the list of players. I'll ask my questiuon again: Beyond the 3 quality defenders I named please tell me who on that list has the great range that makes the D'backs a better defensive team than the Red Sox and A's? And yes I did see enough D'backs games and read enough about them to know who the quality defensive players are on that team and who are the mediocrities.

The one claim which continues to drive me MAD is that Feliz is any kind of offensive upgrade. Please look at his OPS over the past 3 years. Please? Make all the claims you want about defense; he is better than any Phils' 3B since Rolen. But do not make a claim that he is an offensive upgrade. At all.

Also, a note. His 89 HRs have come against 79 different pitchers. It's a "fool me once" kind of thing. No one's given up more than 2 to him. Even the Zen will not compensate for good scouting.

Clout- We both agree the bullpen is a trouble spot- I just don't think there is a lot of value out there to sign right now.

Did we make a mistake in not signing Herges or Wise? Very possibly. Unfortunately, they are not available anymore. Neither are Clement or Affeldt. I've at least proposed some sort of solution, as harebrained as it might seem, to the bullpen problem, which is to try out some of the young, talented pitching prospects we have in those roles. You have proposed nothing. What would you do, RIGHT NOW?

Clout- I couldn't tell you who are the great defenders on that team. I'm not a professional scout, and I'm pretty sure you aren't either. Or am I mistaken? Are you, actually, a professional baseball scout? If that's the case, then I will defer to your judgement.

That not being the case, I rely on objective analysis. The stat I used was a team defensive metric, plus/minus, as it appears on the respected baseball website The Hardball Times (Jason links to their stats pages from this blog). Their metric has the Diamondbacks as the 6th best team in the NL, with a plus/minus of +39 (the Phils were plus 24). Last year, the stat had Oakland and Boston at +35 and +32, respectively, good for 2nd and 3rd in the AL, behind Toronto (with a tremendous +91, which makes sense consdering they have Alex Rios, John Mcdonaldn and Aaron Hill, all great defenders). While I don't take this as gospel, I certainly respect these stats' ability to judge team defense more than yours. Sorry.

Also, a note. His 89 HRs have come against 79 different pitchers. It's a "fool me once" kind of thing. No one's given up more than 2 to him. Even the Zen will not compensate for good scouting.

that's a great find, Andy.

MG: I agree it will help them too, if not more, but I just remember Myers getting killed by poorly hit balls to third, especially as a closer. My thought is that the balls hit off kendrick and moyer would be harder hit and generally easier plays than the slow rollers and choppers hit off Myers' filthy stuff. That said, Kendrick and Moyer may get more grounders as a whole, however I have always thought of Myers as a pretty decent groundball pitcher.

Does Helms have any trade value, whatsoever and, if so, can he bring an upgrade over Eaton or the current middle relief?

Excellent breakdown of what the phils are and were. In the back of my mind i think that Pat Gillick has so little confidence in Charlie's game decisions that he just wants to sign station to station players. Be prepared for blowouts or shutouts. This signing was inevitable. This team won't score with two outs and less than bases loaded, particularly in the late innings.

I love my Phils, but have grown to dislike what they have become. My philosophy was always to have one aggresive at bat per game and try to extend the pitcher the rest of the game. This is how series are won. With Charlie as the hitting coach, nothing will change. This team has no chance to do anything significant.

Jack: let me posit a theory. Now this may seem unbelieveable and astonishing to you, but it's my belief that good pitching is 95% because of the pitchers, not because of the defense.

The D'backs got very good pitching last season. Their defense was about average overall, weaker at the corners, stronger up the middle, which is good. Young is above average in CF, Hudson is one of the best at 2B and I may be underrating their young catchers a bit. Drew is just average at SS, but he didn't hurt the team either.

So you have good pitching that is maybe slightly helped by good defense up the middle.

As for the miserable offensive numbers they are a couple of things lurking in the background. The team had an overall OPS of .734, but that number jumped to .756 with men on base and it positively leaped to .774 in "late and close" situations.

The D'backs did so well not because of their gloves, but because they had very good pitching and their offense was at its best when it was needed most.

Benson to throw for phillies and others tomorrow in atlanta. Aparently he could be had on a minor league contract. This would be a great low risk move. I would be content if the phillies let Benson work his way into shape until about May and when the Adam Eaton experiment inevitably fails call up Benson and put Eaton on the DL due to inflamation of the ego (that's why his hair is so pooffy, right?). Eaton should be given at least 5-7 starts before he's officially given a dunce cap.

Jack: The feeling is mutual.

You are suggesting that the Arizona Diamondbacks are evidence that OPS doesn't matter and that defense does. Am I misreading you?

lekh - nice call on Eaton's hair

You were right about Myers, he consistently gets more grounders than flies. (1.45 GO/AO over his career) but the number has been shrinking each year (1.25 in 2007).

Jack: I've been talking about my solution since the end of last season. Unlike your harebrained "oh veteran relievers cost too much so let's fill from within" approach, I was in favor signing or trading for a couple quality bullpen arms. That was my solution and I, and many others, have only suggested it about 1,000 times, but I guessed you missed it.

Willard: We'll be lucky to get a bag of baseballs for Wes Helms. He'll be had for some middling prospect who will never reach the majors just to take the salary off of our hands.

WP: No, Helms has no value. The only offer the Phils got for him was from the Marlins who offered organization filler. Because they also wanted the Phils to pick up most of Helms' contract, Gillick turned them down.

CJ - instead of baseballs, can we get a bag of old eyeglasses for Pedro? Maybe he has vision problems like Carl Henry.

CJ: You can't possibly believe that's what I'm saying. Considering I'm advocating using advanced statistical analysis, I find it hard to believe you would think I don't care about OPS. My point was that defense can certainly help you win, and it appears that it did for Arizona last year; the best way to win is to have great offensive production (as measured by OPS), great pitching, and great defense. Not many teams can have all 3. The Phillies already have great offense. To me, improving our defense at the slight downgrade offensively helps us because it helps our team defense and our pitching, because, as Bill James has argued, "much of what you think of as good pitching is in fact good defense".

Do you think its coincidence that the 2 World Series teams last year were both in the top 3 in team defense in their league, as well as being in the top 3 in OPS? I'm not arguing that offense isn't, in general, MORE important than defense, just that defense matters as well, especially in the postseason, where I imagine you would like the Phillies to succeed. Do you honestly think taking the vaunted Dobbs/Helms platoon out of our lineup makes our offense so weak that we won't still be a top 3 offense in the NL?

Clout: What would you do RIGHT NOW? Or, more specifically, what would you have done yesterday instead of signing Pedro Feliz?

Jack: You're missing my point, and many others. It's a horrible, horrible, horrible contract to sign the worst offensive regular third basemen in baseball to a two year $8 million contract when there is no real competition for his services. The move is likely being made at the expense of improving our remarkably questionable bullpen and shaky rotation.

Defense does NOT win championships in baseball. It just doesn't. It's nice to have, but teams win with pitching and hitting.

We did not NEED the black hole bat that is Pedro Feliz so that we could improve at a defensive position that, frankly, is not all that important. We need better arms in the bullpen. We made the playoffs last year with the substandard defense at third base despite Charlie's inability to correctly use the platoon.

This move was costly, unnecessary and provided us with one of the worst bats in the league.

And this was a good move?

I don't think this is a stathead/seamhead debate. I think it's a debate between statheads who believe that defensive statistics mean something and statheads who think all defensive metrics are so unreliable that we can't assume anything from them. The fact is, Feliz's range factor per nine innings has been virtually constant over the past three or four seasons, while Helms, defensively, has actually seen even worse years than 2007. If you project it all out, I don't see how there's any doubt that Feliz saves us quite a few more hits than he'll cost us hits and walks. Is it good for the offense? Of course not. But he'll make our pitchers look quantifiably better.

ae: Excellent point about the lack of market for Feliz. I went back through the previous news on Feliz at the Rotoworld site and the offseason evolved like this: The Brewers, Phillies, Giants and Dodgers were the only teams to show interest at all.

The Dodgers interest made no sense (they have LaRoche and Garciaparra) and it was never reported in any LA paper only a brief mention by Ken Rosenthal, whose track record on these rumors is mixed.

The Brewers never made a contract offer and when they signed Cameron and moved Hall to 3B they ceased discussions.

That left the Giants and Phils. On Jan. 24, the SF Chronicle reported that Feliz had turned down a 2-year offer. Sabean said the Giants were no longer interested in Feliz as they didn't want to sweeten their offer.

That left one bidder, the Phillies. Four days later they signed Feliz for two years, prompting Rotoworld to write, "Why any team felt it had to go to two years to get Feliz is a mystery."

Considering there were no other bidders, it's a mystery to me too.

And clout, 47 more plays made is still more than 30 outs. Besides, he's not really replacing Dobbs, Dobbs is still on this team and I'm sure he'll still get some starts. Helms, I think we can safely assume, will be shipped out. Also, I used Helms's career averages, not his numbers from last season, just to make the comparison even fairer, although many people would argue Helms is irrevocably shot.

Tray: There is absolutely no factual evidence to support this statement. None. "If you project it all out, I don't see how there's any doubt that Feliz saves us quite a few more hits than he'll cost us hits and walks."

Believe what you want, but your evidence is nonexistent.

"We made the playoffs last year with the substandard defense at third base despite Charlie's inability to correctly use the platoon."

CJ: By that logic I could argue that we made the playoffs last year with a terrible pitching staff, so why should we upgrade that?

Also, please stick to regular analysis like this and not your desperate attempts at baiting me with obvious Clout-like misinterpretations of my statements and blatant attempts to be disingenuous. It doesn't behoove you to act like a second-rate Clout.

Tray: Feliz is the everyday thirdbaseman. He will play everyday. It is a choice between a Helms/Dobbs platoon and Feliz playing every day. Get it?

Jack: Ooooo, sounds like I'm getting under your skin!

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