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Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Comments

Jason: Castro can be a nice bullpen lefty (I don't think he'll pan out as a starter because of lack of command over his breaking stuff) down the road, but as you say, command will dictate that as well.

He had a decent K/BB ratio at Reading last season (24/6) but when he got to Ottawa he fell apart (47/33).

The thing about Castro is he seems to be close to unhittable when he's on. He just cannot always control what he throws. It's got to be maddening for his catcher and pitching coach.

Serviceable LOOGY is about Castro's ceiling at this point. I don't see him getting much more than that (a la Romero). I think of him as a young, developing left handed Madson.

I was looking a little more at the impact of Feliz' quick at bats on the line-up, trying to figure out who eats up the most pitches for the Phils, and made an interesting discovery. Both Howard (4.19 pitch/PA - 2007, 4.09 career) and Burrell (4.22, 4.19) do very well. But there is another player on the 25 man roster who crushes them in patience at the plate (4.58 in 2007, 4.50 - career).

We are, quite simply, not Werthy.

Going back to the last thread, there was a debate about whether the Phillies are just cheap when it comes to relievers, or whether they genuinely believe that their bullpen is solid.

I think it's a combination of both. Ownership has set up an artificially low payroll, which forces the GM to make choices. Given these budgetary constraints, Gillick seems to think that it's a waste of resources to invest too much money in the bullpen, since no individual reliever pitches very many innings over the course of the year. If the Phillies had a talent-rich minor league system, I wouldn't necessarily disagree with this philosophy. Since they don't have any major-league worthy bullpen prospects, there's no getting around spending money to fix the problem. It's not a matter of how many innings any particular reliever will pitch over the course of the season. It's that the bullpen, as presently constituted, is going to lose them a lot more games than they would have lost by having a Helms/Dobbs platoon at third base or Jayson Werth as the full-time right fielder.

The irony is that Gillick & Amaro both acknowledged the critical need for pitching, in their comments early this off-season. How does one reconcile these comments with their complete inactivity in this area? I believe the answer is this: I am convinced that, ever since the George Bell maneuver, which was 24 years ago, Gillick sincerely believes that he has the unique ability to discern hidden talent that his fellow GMs and scouts don't see. He honestly believes that guys like Travis Blackley, Lincoln Holdzcom, & Shane Youman are going to come in and be solid relievers -- just as he believed that about Jim Ed Warden, Alfredo Simon, Julio Santana, Francisco Rosario, and Ricardo Rodriguez. If he hits a few jackpots, the Phillies' bullpen might well be better than expected. But I wouldn't count on it.

Castro sounds like trade bait to me.

Paul- Castro sounds like he should be back in the competition for a bullpen spot to me. I know he has struggled in the past, his command being the biggest issue, but you simply don't give up a talented lefty arm, especially when you are selling low like the Phils would be right now. You give guys like this plenty of second, third, and fourth chances to make an impact in your bullpen, especially when your pen is as weak as ours. Does anyone disagree that Castro has the potential to be way better than Youman, Condrey, Blackley or any of the other garbage that's in the back of the bullpen now?

understood, and to an extent, i agree.
But Youman Condrey and Blackley sound like trade bait to me, too.
Hes seen the field only in blowouts or in situations where Charlie was out of options. (the crazy Nats two years ago)

Im just tired of hearing about his ceiling and seeing his basement.

Jack - how about phrasing that:

Would anyone not fail to disagree that Castro does not have less value than Youman, Condrey, Blackley etc?

That way we can be clear about our answer.

Paul- Um, what do you expect to get for Youman, Condrey, or Blackley? Not to be harsh here, but do you not understand how trading works, that other people have to WANT what you have in order to make a trade? I mean, maybe we could get like 5 g's and some frequent flyer miles? And you usually wanna deal from a position of strength, not total and utter weakness, like dealing the dregs of our bullpen would be. Say what you want about Gillick or Amaro, they seem to understand this much at least...

Jack: Yes, for what little it's worth, Castro certainly has a higher ceiling than any of those guys. He's also incredibly wild & has never shown even the slightest sign of improvement in this area. If he can ever improve his control to the point where it's merely crappy, instead of atrocious, then he might deserve a spot in the back of our bullpen.

I want to repeat my post at the end of the last thread since it's pertinent to this discussion:
I agree 100% with Tray. The Phillies are quite happy with their bullpen as is, from Gordon as setup man down to Youmans and Condrey in middle relief. They think this is a championship caliber bullpen.

They think last year's numbers (the blown saves, the 4.50 ERA (4th worst in the NL), the .800+ OPS in the 6th and 7th innings) was a fluke.

Here are the bullpen ERAs of the 4 NL playoff teams last season plus the Padres, who are still waiting for Holliday to cross home plate:
Padres 3.06
Cubs 3.76
Rockies 3.85
D'backs 3.95
Phillies 4.50

Bullpen problem? What bullpen problem?


Jack: I agree with you on Castro, but before I throw him to the major league wolves I want him to show me that he can repeat that Reading K/BB ratio in Triple A. If he can't, he stays in Allentown until he can or becomes a 6-year minor league free agent, whichever comes first.


People WANT what you have in order to trade?
Never in a million Abreu years would I have Abreu thought that. At least Gillick and Amaro know that much, though....
But I agree with you once more, 5K and some Flier miles are a good start.

Gillick sincerely believes that he has the unique ability to discern hidden talent that his fellow GMs and scouts don't see.

I think that's probably a very good point, b_a_p. also worth noting that Gillick (or whoever's doing the scouting) actually has come up with good longshot players on offense - Werth & Dobbs being the most obvious examples. and when you compound that with the implausible success of Romero last year and brief intervals of mediocrity from Alfonseca & Mesa, I'm sure those guys have more than enough evidence for their own brilliance.

sorry, cannot get excited about Fabio Castro news while my office window gets bombarded with "ticker tape" aka full sheets of paper from the broadway parade down below...

i feel like McNabb after the rams game...watching the on field celebration to feel what its like...too bad it only took him three more tries

WHEN IS OUR PARADE??????????????

Here's a philosophy I agree with: winning breeds winners. Having a state-of-the-art facility in Allentown should help make Triple-A a viable place to prepare talent again, instead of loser, no-hope places like Ottawa. It's going to feel a lot more like the big-league experience. I'm anxious to see players like Castro, Outman, Happ and Jaramillo continue to grow there.

Never, Dan. Never.

Jason, I grew up in Allentown. What leads you to believe it is not a "loser, no-hope place"?

Allentown put the AL in ALPO.

(Of course I realize you're talkin' about that nice new stadium and not the Lehigh Valley's dingy county seat itself.) (I already have friends asking when I'm coming into town for a 'pigs game.)

Okay Clout, the most important stat for offense as a whole is this: RUNS. Not RBI, not OBP, not SLG, RUNS are the most important measure of an offense. The more runs you score, the better your offense is, period, because you need to score to win the game.

By that measure the Phillies far and away had the best offense in the NL last year. The Mets scored 804 runs, the Braves 810. Now before you go A-HA! Braves scored more runs, here's the monthly breakdown:
Month Mets Braves
Mar/Apr 140 138
May 120 125
June 108 108
July 123 159
August 161 149
Spet/Oct 152 131

Mets beat the Braves every month except May-July, where it's close in May, tied in June. But who was injured for the Mets during that time? Alou missed about 50-60 games during that time period. Beltran, it should be noted also was hobbled by a bad quad (or hamstring) the entire month of June and into the All-star break but kept playing through it. The Braves, on the other hand, lost Jones for stretches during May and June, which is why their run production is lower during those months.

But look at the last two months, where the lineups are similar to what's going to be there on opening day. Mets outscore the Braves, when the former has Castillo and the latter has Teixeira. Moreover, this is when Lo Duca is hobbled by a bad leg and misses time from July-August, and Delgado only plays 13 games down the stretch. The Braves, by contrast are missing Renteria, but that's when Escobar, whom you're so high on, is playing.

Bottom line, Mets scored more runs down the stretch. More runs = better offense.

Sorry, Godfather. You're half right. Runs are merely the output of getting on base and hitting extra base hits. It's pretty well documented that OPS correlates the best with offensive success.

The guy I wanted for our 'pen, Rudy Seanez, just reupped with the Dodgers for a measly 550k.

I really hope Thee Model Dictator finds his stride in Triple A this season and can be used for tradebait or a reliable pitcher in '09.

Interesting. Why not put Castro into the 5th starter mix. He seemed to get stronger as the game went on until he hit the wall in the 7th. Castro struck out the side in the 5th and picked up another K in the 6th. Then tired in the 7th. Reads like Q.S. material to me. Fabio gave up only one run with 6 Ks after 6 innings. The old Kendrick six innings, three runs or less "quality start". But it appears like with KK you'll need to bring on pen after that.

Paul: "Im just tired of hearing about [Castro's] ceiling and seeing his basement."

Isn't it a little early to give up on a 23-year-old whose development was interrupted by being a Rule 5 pick a couple of years ago?

A quality start in the Caribbean Series is different than one in the Majors. Caribbean is an all-or-nothing situation against lesser opponents, in a less-disciplined environment.

In the majors, you need six innings of good pitching every day. Fabio could give them that occasionally, albeit unpredictably. However, he could just as easily last two innings and murder the bullpen, which you absolutely, positively cannot afford. It kills your bullpen and screws your team for days.

If they want to stretch him out in a minor league rotation, I think it's fine. I actually prefer that because the repetition would help him lock into a release point. But unless his command changes dramatically, he's a future situational left-hander.

Godfather: I agree that when looking at the whole team, runs is a prtety good measure of an offense, but it's not perfect. A team with a better offense might NOT score more runs than a weaker team (i.e. differences in number of innings played, quality of interleague opponents, luck etc.) Team OPS is a better measure.

Also, I'm not sure you can cherry pick one part of the season and say that it proves the Mets were the better offense. Who were the Mets playing in that stretch? Teams with good pitchiong or team with bad pitching? That factor alone makes a comparison unfair unless they played identical opponents.

The fact is, the Braves had better offense at 6 of the 8 positions once Tex & Escobar joined the team.

Clout- Agree that Castro needs to start in the minors, either in a starting role or a relief role where he is pitching most days. However, if he shows good control and command, the team should not hesitate to bring him up, as he already has service time and is on the 40-man roster, and because presumably Youman/Condrey/Blackley/garbage will be hurting the team. Or Flash will be hurt.

Quick game: Everyone guess the FIRST person called up from the minors during the season. At some point, probably in April, there will be a transaction in which the Phillies call up a player from either Double A or Triple A. Who will it be? I'll start it off by guessing Castro (although I think J.A. Happ is probably the odds-on favorite to make the first spot start). I predict a bullpen injury and Castro is the first guy to get that call (although I think Mathieson will replace him around June/July). When April comes around, we'll take a look in the archives, find this thread, and see who wins!

Quick note: The game is for first person called up during the season from the minors. That means if Jaramillo or anyone else makes the team out of spring training, they are disqualified. Only for guys who start the season in the minors.

I wasn't cherry picking. The lineups for the final 2 months of 2007 are similar to the lineups for 2008. I'm arguing they're a better indicator for how the teams will perform this season, and also to show that the Mets, when healthy, scored more runs on offense than the Braves.

Jack,
It's almost sure to be a pitcher, with preference for someone who's pitched in the majors; since the bullpen needs LHPs, it'll probably need to be a lefty. They will be reluctant to call up anyone with no option years left. On the 40-man roster, there is one LHP who is down to one option year - and so would be the logical choice for multiple bus trips between the Lehigh Valley and Philly.

In other words, you already took the best choice, Jack. By my best reckoning (and I am wrong more often than clout) it's Castro.

But just to make it interesting, however, I'll take someone else. Hmmmmm...I guess, if he doesn't make the team out of ST (and since he has 2 option years left, they'd drop him down faster) I'll take Zagurski. He'll be sad to leave the promise of funnel cakes from the Great Allentown Fair; but he'll return to the Show for infrequent LOOGY duty.

"A team with a better offense might NOT score more runs than a weaker team (i.e. differences in number of innings played, quality of interleague opponents, luck etc.) Team OPS is a better measure."

Wait, what?

All of those things you mention would affect OPS too, no?

The whole reason that OPS (and OBP) started to become more popular statistics was *because they correlated better with runs.*

When Mike H says:

"It's pretty well documented that OPS correlates the best with offensive success"

the "offensive success" he is talking about is runs. There is no abstract "offensive success" that OPS measures better than runs...runs *are* the standard.

To find the best offensive team, you simply look at runs scored and adjust for ballpark and competition.

Kdon, thanks.

is Mathieson expected to start the season healthy? I think they are counting on some of the young guys (Zagurski, Mathieson) to contribute in the pen...or will at least give them a legitimate shot in ST..that would explain why theyre not wild about signing a proven reliever

ughhhh, the lets go giants chants from city hall are making me sick!!!!!!!!

Godfather - "The lineups for the final 2 months of 2007 are similar to the lineups for 2008."

How did you factor in Church, Schneider and Kotsay?

And, (both sides here) how do you factor in age? Francoeur, Teixiera, Johnson, Reyes and Wright will probably all improve; Delgado, Jones, and Alou will, meanwhile, likely decrease in ability.

It's one thing to argue who had the better offense last year. In that case you cannot separate it out by months. (You might say that the Mets had a better offense in September 2007, but that becomes a little meaningless.)

Since (I seem to remember) the discussion began with a statement that indicated weakness in the Braves line-up, I think we can conclude that there is no such weakness. Using many different measures, I get the idea that the teams each had potent offenses; it seems to be the hallmark of the NL East right now.

Dan:
hop a ferry; it's quiet over here in SI.

Andy: It has more to do with the facility than actual town. When it opens, Coca-Cola Park promises to be one of the best in the minors. New cages, clubhouse, training room, etc. And tons of fans, unlike Ottawa.

Andy, if you wanna predict Castro, go for it, multiple people can select the same guy, makes it more fun that way. Anyway, I like the Zagurski selection just as much, seems like they preferred him at points last year.

Who wants to be bold and predict a major leaguer who starts the season on a rehab stint and then gets called up? Gordon, Lidge, Eaton, Madson all seem like possible candidates...

Dan: Or come up to midtown. Other than the occasional painted face and stragglers from the parade, street looks pretty normal to me.

kdon: How does OPS increase (or decrease) simply because you play more innings than another team?

the problem with both runs scored AND team OPS is that they're park-dependent. OPS+, or away R/G, would probably be better. look at the 2007 NL results - Colorado is second in runs scored, but their away runs per game and OPS+ only rank 5th.

admittedly away R/G is also slightly flawed, since it can get skewed based on the imbalanced schedules and the characteristics of other parks in the division. but you get the idea.

kdon: Do you think the Mets are a better offensive team than the Braves?

Definition of similar: having a likeness or resemblance, esp. in a general way.

I'd say returning 13 out of 16 guys from each lineup (the only changes ARE Schneider, Church, and Kotsay) qualifies as SIMILAR.

And the discussion began with me saying the Braves offense was weaker than the Mets and Phillies. I still believe that is the case, because they lack an established hitter to lead off. Healthy, the Mets are a better team offensively.

NOTE, I said HEALTHY. With Alou out of the lineup and any other injuries they suffer, the Mets are not better. But that's true for any team.

JW - I don't know if Allentown will make that much of a difference in player development. The biggest advantage is that players can be shuffled on a daily basis if the Phils are home or in NY. Plus, you have a better chance of signing of a veteran player to play in Allentown (East Coast) vs another a very boring city in Canada.

For what its worth, Dave Pinto from Baseball Musings plugged in projected lineups and ran their seasons a bunch of times. While it doesn't get rid of park concerns, it found that the Phils and Braves were close and the Mets were projected to be substantially less of an offensive force. Obviously a lot can change - injuries, platoon effectiveness, trades, etc., but its interesting nonetheless.

Dave X, where's this website address? I'd like to check this out for myself.

Reason I am worried about the back-end of the bullpen is that I think C. Durbin is coming to come out of came as the 5th starter (due to Eaton's health issues).

If that is the case, the Phils likely have 3 bullpen spots to fill. Figure they will try to go with a situational lefty. That means that Zagurski or Castro get a shot (even though both aren't ready and would be better served starting the year in the minors).

Other two spots to open to the flotilla of mediocre arms. I would imagine Condrey has an inside spot on one spot unless he pitches very poorly in spring training/gets hurt. The other spot - I have no idea but no real good choices. Maybe one of the Rule V guys shines in spring training.

Regardless, I think that this team is going to lose a bunch of games again due to having 3-4 games in their pen with ERAs over 5.00/marginal stuff. Plus, you compound the fact that Cholly will probably be inclined to pushing his starters more. That is bad news for Moyer (and Kendrick) as the season wears on.

This emphasis on the Phils' offense is overblown. How many runs can the Phils score to offset there below average pitching? Somebody mentioned here the Phils will score even more runs this year. I say that is BS. If anyone the Phils are likely to have a slight decline due to losing Rowand's numbers and a slight decline from a couple of players including JRoll, Werth, & Burrell.

If the Phils are going back to the playoffs, it is because their pitching staff markedly improves from last year and posts an a staff ERA around 4.25. They might get a slight bump on defense from Victorino moving to CF and Feliz at 3B but that is not a huge deal in the grand scheme of things. Maybe 10 runs over the course of the season. Now if the Phils had a stellar defensive LF and a really good 1B, then it might mean more.

the Phillies posting a 4.25 ERA is virtually impossible. that would've been the 6th best ERA in the NL last year (better than LA and NY, two teams who will have a much, much, much easier time posting a low ERA than any Phillies team), and probably no worse than fifth in ERA+.

It's a bit difficult to predict the first call-up when we have no idea who will win the last 3 spots in the bullpen -- but I'll take that as part of the challenge. I'll say Condrey.

http://www.baseballmusings.com/archives/024600.php

Marcel had about a .59 correlation with actual OPS in '07 (the highest being BP's PECOTA and ZiPS at about .62). So there's still a lot of room for error here. It sees more of a decline from the Phils than a rise from the Braves.

JW: Good points. But Castro held his own and does not seem to have that sweeping slider that a lefty situational reliever needs. He seems more comfortable starting. Last night it took Fabio until the 5th inning to dominate even though the lineup was turned over. His outing last night probably was the end of any tought of signing Odalis Perez. See that Rosario is starting for the DR 2 at 4 today. Good to see we have some of the best starting pitching in the DR. Does Rosario have shot to make the staff as the long righty in the pen?

Using the Marcels for next year's OPS, the Braves have better offensive players at 2,3,4,5 and 6. The Mets have a better 7,8,9.
The fourth OF goes to the Braves Anderson over Chavez.

Third base is close. Catcher, first and second are not.

As to the top of the batting order: Since both teams have ample bats in the middle, the job of the top two spots would be to get on base right? I am willing to bet that in 2008 Johnson and Escobar have a higher cumulative OBP than Reyes and Castillo. (Johnson, as well, will do an exceptional job of making the pitcher work, unlike JoseJoseJose.)

Some questions about the projections from baseball musings:
The writer seems to expect a 20 point increase in SLG from Francoeur or 40 from McCann. Exactly what does that project to? 2 more HR? 10 more RBI? And is it assured that these younger players will perform better after a very good year? I'm not sure that will be the case.

I'll give you another statline.
OBP/SLG/AVG/HR/RBI 376/544/282/37/116

Give you 1 guess who's statline that is.

Give up? It's Burrell's from 2002. According to the projected stats this guy used, his 2003 stats would have been
361/488/270/26/92.

Actual 2003 statline:
309/404/209/21/64.

Is this a case of an erroneous projection? Yes. It's also an isolated case. But the point is that projection have been wrong and will be wrong, especially with young players (and the Braves have a LOT of them in the lineup). So I wonder if the Mets projection is more accurate because their players have more data, and the Braves less so.

In case you haven't figured it out yet, I don't like rookies. As far as I'm concerned, you're not the Second Coming until you put up consistent numbers 3 years in a row.

Dull: I'd say pretty much any reliever on our 40-man roster has a chance to make the opening day team. The Phillies are clearly hoping that one of these fringe relievers is going to catch lightning in a bottle & give them a solid season. I'm not too optimistic about that actually happening but, if it does happen, Rosario is as likely as anyone to be the guy.

Godfather, you seem to understand the basic underlying concept of a "projection."

Godfather: The Braves weren't weaker last year even by your own measure, runs scored. By my measure, position by position OPS, the gap was even wider.

They won't be weaker this year either.

FWIW,
I would rank the offenses to be

1) Braves
1a) Phils
2) Mets

When you factor in park, I think a case can be made that the Braves have the best offense in the NL.

The problem is that while I think the top 4 are pretty similar between the Braves and Phils, the Braves get a lot more OBP out of the remaining four than the Phils.

FWIW, I plugged the ZiPS projections--which have the benefit of being more up-to-date and thus including park-adjusted projections for Feliz and Kotsay, for example--into the Baseball Musings lineup analysis and got the following projected R/G:

ATL 5.257
PHI 5.074
NYM 4.848

I used the "real" lineups for the teams; no computer-generated Howard-leads-off lineups. it's worth noting that ZiPS (which is of course a computer program and not subject to any team-based loyalties) is extremely high on the Braves. and there's good reason to take that stance, but it would still be pretty surprising if they suffer no slumps or injuries or ML adjustment periods or anything like that.

Castro likes to start. I hope he is put in rotation at AAA and left there to develop.

I'm no expert on biomechanics, but I am skeptical that a guy who is only 5'7" can withstand the rigors of being a starting pitcher over a full season. Assuming Castro can eventually straighten out his command, I see his future in the bullpen.

ae,

Good stuff, but a question. Did you just use rate stats, or counting stats to simulate?

Related to this is whether you factored in benches.

The Braves look ridiculous on ZiPS until you look at ABs (Chipper, Diaz, Johnson all around 400 ABS)

This is a big deal when you look at that bench.

After their starting 8, the next 5 projected players are: Javy Lopez, Julio Franco!, Scott Thorman, Brandon Jones, and Martin Prado, all of whom hover between about a 670 OPS and a 730 OPS.

I was kind of wondering how uncommon a 5'7" starting pitcher was, so I checked on baseball-reference. answer: since WWII, only four guys that short have qualified for the ERA title (which is I think an inning per team game). Bobby Shantz four times including his 24-7 MVP season in 1952, Vic Lombardi three times, Connie Marrero twice, and Stubby Overmire. and nobody's done it since Shantz in 1957.

so yeah, I think the odds are against Castro.

kdon, the lineup analysis formula uses rate stats. you're absolutely right that over a 162-game season the benches are going to be significant and I'm just using the opening day lineups; those numbers are strictly food for thought.

I just went to the baseball musings website, so it looks like it is starting lineups only.

This gives a huge advantage to the Braves, given that the projected rate stats of guys like Diaz and Johnson are based on extrapolations of their previous rate stats, which were produced while in platoons.

For example, as a platoon player last year, Diaz got *more* ABs against LHP last year (188 to 170), and crushed them at a 964 OPS. But against RHP, he hit only 756.

But while his ZiPS projections are based on him repeating his platoon role from last year (hence the 407 AB projection), the baseballmusings toy assumes he will keep up the same OPS over a 162 game season, when he would clearly have more ABs against RHP.

A similar problem arises with Jones. The toy assumes Chipper will play 162 games! He hasn't even reached 137 since '03.

There are other problems (like the Braves will have to sit one of their top 4 - McCann - more often then the Phils will), but that thing is worse than wrong, it's simply designed poorly.

I'm all for computer simulations, but this give them a bad name.

kdon, I think you're overreacting to the limitations of the system and misinterpreting the spirit of my post. I could be wrong, as my name is not Cyril Morong, but I'm 99% sure that the formula is not meant as a scientific estimation of how many runs a team is going to score on the season. it's only meant to give you an idea of how effective a given lineup will be.

that's all I meant it as. I'm certainly not suggesting that the Braves are going to be exactly .183 runs per game better than the Phillies next year.

and, FWIW, the same criticism that it overrates the Braves can go for the Phillies too. Victorino's not going to start 162 games. Ruiz (who, BTW, ZiPS loves) only played in 115 games last year. what about Werth and Jenkins? what about the Burrell caddy? etc.

ZiPS also cannot take into account how placing Feliz in the batting order makes 1/3 of the line-up a lot easier for a pitcher to get through.

It will not surprise me if the Phils fall behind the Braves, Mets and Rockies in rpg in 2008. I do not think they will; I think they still have lots of pop and the advantage of 81 games in the Zen; but it will not surprise me if they fall in production.

"SirAlden - Castro likes to start. I hope he is put in rotation at AAA and left there to develop."

Agreed. His career as a MLB player would be a reliever but Castro is would be best served by pitching on a consistent basis at AAA.

BAP - "I'm not too optimistic about that actually happening but, if it does happen, Rosario is as likely as anyone to be the guy."

Agreed that is unlikely although I disagree on Rosario. He does throw fairly hard but his fastball seems fairly straight from what I remember. That and no one (including Rosario) knows where it will go. I remember a SF-Phils game out last year where Rosario missed so badly inside that it almost looked like a pitchout.

In a start for the DR 2 in the Caribbean Series Rosario just finished up a 6 inning, five strike out, 88 pitch, three hit, shutout against Venezuela. With Castro and Rosario pitching well in the Series Gillick is building a big inventory of potential starting pitching. But guess they have to keep Rosario or lose him. So Castro gets optioned and Rosario, J.R. Durbin and the 2 Rule 5 guys will battle for the 2 openings on the 25 man pitching staff.

I don't know ae, I think the limitations of the thing make it pretty useless.

When I get the 1000 simulations run by Diamond Mind, then I'll be interested in what ZiPS has to say.

And the problems with the Phils are not comparable to the problems it has with the Braves.

Of the Phils top 4 ZiPS, none are the result of platoons or quirky ABs...the point is that no matter what rate stats ZiPS puts out, the Phillies 4 (Howard, Rollins, Utley, Burrell) are much better bets to rack up counting stats than the Braves 4 (Jones, Diaz, McCann, Texiera). I would say only Tex is in the Phils category in terms of being confident in a full season of production.

And Vic's missed time is not even comparable to Jones's! ZiPS has Chipper pegged for an OPS of something like 1000, while his backup is around 700. Vic, on the other hand is only about 100 points (at best!) above his replacement.

Same with McCann vs. Ruiz.

And it's likely that whichever RF you plugged in has a lower ZiPS OPS projection then what Jenkins/Werth would do.

You really don't think that the combination of ZiPS and the baseball musings toy drastically favors the peculiarities of the Braves's lineup?

And ae, I don't mean to sound like I'm ripping you. I don't think you were making any great claims for the system.

I just think it is an incredible waste of time and (maybe) talent to work up such a complicated system that has such silly input errors. No matter how fancy the equations, if it's junk in, it's junk out.

MG: First a caveat. You can't really take my statements too seriously at this time of year. I spent the whole off-season complaining about management's moves & non-moves. Since it's clear that no big moves are forthcoming, I'm now forced to grasp at straws. So, from now until opening day, you might find me saying idiotic things like, "Maybe Pedro Feliz isn't so bad, after all," or "With a slight correction to his throwing motion, Adam Eaton could be every bit as good as Johann Santana."

With that caveat out of the way, I'll say this about Rosario. He does throw hard and his minor league numbers suggest that his control may be better than he has shown in his brief major league career. He was evidently injured last year, and it's possible that may have had something to do with his control problems. From a standpoint of pure stuff, I like Rosario better than the rest of the garbage that passes for the back of the Phillies' bullpen. That stuff alone gives him a chance -- albeit a slim one -- to be a useful reliever at some point in his career. But it had better happen soon, as he's already 27.

I'll go with Eaton as being the first guy called up.
I don't post much so I figure I'll go with a long shot.

Rev,

That is certainly a longshot.

Eaton would have to accept a trip to the minors and pass through waivers for that to happen.

I'll go with chalk and say the Phils call up Condrey, who still has options left and could start in AAA if someone has an impressive spring.

Andy- You really love Dobbs/Helms don't you? You really think Feliz is so much of a downgrade that we fall from 1st in the NL in runs to 4th? Do you want to give any other reasons for the drop, or is it just the huge downgrade from the worst 3B production to... probably the worst 3B production again this year?

Go to YouTube and search for Kuff and check out his song about Johan Santana. You will love it.

BAP - Your right that at least Rosario can throw hard. The Phils managed to basically fill their bullpen with guys who couldn't strike out anybody out and also had really spotty control.

Last year the Phils' bullpen surrendered 249 BB (15th in the NL) and only had 386 Ks (13th in the NL). Phils were also tied for 15th with 31 HBP.

Given that the Phils are even likely a bit better defensively this year, I would rather have a guy in the bullpen who can get the ball over the plate consistently than throw 92-93 with really spotty control.

MG: I don't disagree. I wish the Phillies would have signed a few of those guys who can get the ball over the plate. Since they didn't, I'm relegated to looking at the garbage on their roster & hoping that one or two of the guys can take a quantum step forward.

MG: Good post. Among the horrible stats put up by the Phillies bullpen last season, that K/BB ratio was the worst. But management thinks we have a championship caliber bullpen, so there's not much to say.

Clout - Yeah. The K/BB ratio (1.55) the Phils' bullpen was the worst in the NL by a big margin. No other team was even close.

Phils much more interested in Benson than what they have let on. He was thrown twice in last week privately for Phils but it looks like the Phils will drag their feet and he'll throw for 4 clubs on Saturday including Atlanta.

Just sign him already, we all need we'll need a starter by May 1st and it looks like Lohse may sign a 1 year contract with the Mets or O's. We all know that $20-$22 million over 3 years is better than 1 year at $11 million. The Phils could get a deal done now but are being too cheap, so sign Benson already.

Looks like we may well sign Benson after all...can't complain at all. This is could be a solid move. Let's hope they do it.

Reports are the Benson has made some progress since his last throwing session, meaning his arm strength is still returning to him. I say throw him a minore league contract and see if he nibbles. Imagine Benson rehabbing in Allentown and having him be able to fill if/when we need a starter.

KDON
I was thinking more along the line that Eaton will start the season on the Dl and that he would throw a couple rehab games then be called up. Like I said I know it's a long shot but why not go for something different.

Jack -
Just got back on and read your post. You are smart enough to understand this, so I'll try it one more time.

It is not just Feliz' poor production (and, incidently, take a look at his ZiPS and Marcels for 2008 - they both, I believe have his BA in the mid .230s) which creates the handicap to the Phil's line-up, it is his P/PA which is the problem. He puts the ball in play by the third pitch 57% of the time. Since his career BABIP is not good (.269), the outcome is not good.

More importantly, placed 7th, he wastes much of the production of the (now sandwiched) Ruiz. Placed 8th, he gives the opposing pitching two easy outs in a row.

Again, I could be wrong about this. I hope I am wrong about this. I pray (as much as I'd waste time praying about babseball outcomes) I'm wrong about this. But rationally, I look at his impact on the line-up and recognize that the production of the bottom third of the line-up will be a lot less formidable than the RUBHRDWC line-up during the halcyon days of September 2007.

Jack, I also realize that it is what it is. I will look to see my prediction placed in the trash bin. Mostly, however, it continues to be about the pitching, and nothing (or not enough) has been done to improve that aspect of the Phils' game.

Reverend, I agree with your thinking - it's a truly well-reasoned guess.

I have to say, I like Rosario's minor league peripherals. He is out of options. It kind of means that the Phils have to surrender either him or both rule 5 guys to someone else. It's always disheartening that we lose young guys with potential at the end of ST while his contract keeps Eaton on the roster.

Hi minor league peripherals might be nice, but that's about it. I know what you mean about Eaton's contract, but I don't know if those other guys are worth squat, either.

O'Neill:
Sort of like Justin Germano last year. We had someone who coulda been better than a lot of the dreck we drug out. But lost him cause he was out of options.

But we still have Adam Eaton!!!!

!!

changing the subject a bit, what do we know about Adam Eaton? have we heard anything about his progress this off-season? has he been doing physical rehab or has he been focusing on the mental side of his game? what exactly do we, as fans, objectively think was Eaton's trouble last year? personally, i think his production will be a keystone to the team's overall success this year. and i think he WILL bounce back and post respectable numbers from the backend.

Just as importantly, we keep waiting for some of these guys to develop. Now, if two of them do, we have to choose which one we release.

Yep. They might never be better than AAA stars. But if they're better than that, and out of options, they become part of the pitching staffs the Phils have to hit against.

I'm not saying that Rozario or Holdzcum or Blackley or Happ are the second coming of Cole Hamels. Or even Kyle Kendrick. I'm just saying it drive me crazy to surrender guys who have potential when we have awful pitching.

Benson strikes me as a much better signing than Lohse, particularly since he only wants a 1 year deal. IP is below 200, so he's not a 7 inning/start guy (but neither is Lohse), but his ERA in the NL seems to be pretty good. Here's the stat breakdown:
ERA/WHIP/IP/HR/BB/SO
2004 (NYM/PIT) 4.32/1.31/200.1/15/61/134
2005 (Mets) 4.13/1.26/174.1/49/95
2006 (BAL) 4.82/1.40/183/58/88

There's a spike in his numbers when he went to the American League, the AL East no less, but if I remember correctly that's also the year he went down hurt in August/September. But his bad year in Baltimore if Lohse's good year in the NL. He seems to be a better pitcher, healthy.

That's the key here, is he healthy? If they can sign him for under 8 mil with incentives, this strikes me as a good deal and a better signing than Lohse. Benson would probably fill in at the 4/5 spot (though if he returns to his NYM form he's easily a number 3). Problem with Benson is he's always hurting (he's only pitched 200 innings twice in his career,).

IP is below 200, so he's not a 7 inning/start guy (but neither is Lohse)...

I don't understand this criticism. besides the confusion of cumulative and rate stats, there simply are not 7-inning guys in baseball these days. you know how many pitchers averaged 7 innings in the National League last year? zero. even if you go down to 6.5, there were only 8 NL pitchers who reached that mark.

the way baseball is played in 2007, you're simply not going to see guys go 7 innings regularly. Benson's career IP/G is 6.19; that's better than any of the Phillies starters last year other than Hamels. it's also better than Myers' career IP/G.

This notion that Benson is going to be ready to start in April or May are ridiculous. He was supposedly only hitting the gun at mid-70s in December. Maybe he has added a couple of MPH but he isn't going to be ready to start by April

If the Phils were wise, they would give Benson a 1-year with plenty of incentive upside. Basically stash him away for the first few months of the season and let him build up his arm strength. Probably does a few rehab starts in the minors and would be ready to start around the All-Star break.

Given the Phils are likely to get outbid and don't have a reputation of rehabbing pitchers' careers, I would say the possibility of Benson signing here are slim to none. My bet - Benson signs a 1-yr deal with the Cards. Duncan has a pretty impressive track record of rehabbing starting pitchers career and St. Louis is a slightly better park for pitchers.

Good point ae.

Benson's problem isn't pitching a lot of innings in games, it's pitching a lot of games period.

I was shocked to see that about Myers, but you're right. Myers has been more of a workhorse in terms of starting every 5th day then in going deep in games.

I think Myers' reputation as a workhorse also comes from his pitch counts...in 05 & 06 he averaged more than 100 pitches per start but only around 6 1/3 innings; he's just not super-efficient with his pitches.

for comparison Hamels in 07 averaged under 100 pitches per start, but was a little more efficent and went slightly deeper into games. we're not talking about a huge difference either way--Hamels averaged about 4-5 fewer pitches per start and less than a third of an inning more. but once you start going over the magic 100 pitch line regularly, you get a reputation as a durable pitcher.

in any case, I don't think there's a whole lot of difference (in terms of in-game endurance) between Lohse and the vast majority of pitchers today. the guys like Webb and Halladay who are regularly end up around 7 innings per start are definitely the exceptions, not the rules--especially in the NL where it's often more valuable to pinch-hit once you start getting into the last few innings.

Godfather: Lohse is a durable, proven starter, good for 180 IP per year. Benson hasn't pitched since 2006 & was hitting 70 MPH on the radar gun when he threw about a month ago. I'm dumbstruck that anyone could believe Benson would be a better signing than Lohse, merely because he's cheaper and could be gotten on a one-year contract. That is Sir Alden logic.

Signing Benson to a one-year, incentive laden deal would be unobjectionable. Counting on him to be the No. 5 starter would be insanity in its purest form.

I meant "between Benson and the vast majority of pitchers", but the point's basically the same either way, I guess...

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