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Monday, February 25, 2008

Comments

For what it's worth... The timetable at least for this particular surgery seems reasonable. If it really is just a torn medial meniscus, 3-6 (leaning toward the end of that term) is feasible. Does anyone have some concrete info on what surgery he had done back in October?

Someone in the last thread ranted and raved about "getting it done, no matter the cost" and, one post later, mentioned Armando Benitez.

Wow.

This is someone who, when he lost his effectiveness, threw his teammates under the bus, namely, Omar Vizquel. Who buys clubhouse cancers anymore?

I see Benson getting healthy, then the Phils not give a spot on the staff, then Benson asks for his release and signs with someone and wins 8-10 games.

I truly hope the Lidge injury/surgery/rehab isn't bad and he's back without much harm done, but forgive me for being skeptical.

I had surgery on a torn medial meniscus a month ago and I feel almost back to normal. And that's without rehabbing as efficiently as a I hope a professional athlete would. I could see myself pitching in a couple weeks, so Lidge by the first week of April isn't unreasonable.

Jack: There is actually a BIG difference between the 8th and 9th innings. You can give up the lead run in the bottom of the 8th and still win.

Clout: Sure, but the point is you still have to outscore a team over 9 innings to win a game, and the scenario you describe is a)possible only in half the games, and b) more unlikely because the closer is usually in when you are winning the game, and so you'd have to give up multiple runs to lose the game and not have a chance to score again, which is, of course, more unlikely than giving up just 1 run.

The fact is, higher leverage situations will occur more in the 6th-8th innings than in the 9th inning, even accounting for the road game situation where you may not have a chance to score again. Gordon will probably convert almost all of the save chances that Lidge would have, but he may not get as many chances because we are now even more likely to lose leads and give up runs in the 6th-8th innings.

Nice hint at the end there Jason. Unless Lidge were to be gone till something like August, they can't think of moving Myers. I would *never* do it, but I could see thinking about it if Lidge was gone that long.

If Myers moves to the pen, you're basically looking at 4/5 of the rotation as 4.75-5.00 ERA pitchers.

Fans tend to emphasize the bullpen over the rotation because an extra run in the eighth inning is viscerally worse than an extra run in the fourth, but it all adds up the same.

Mets fan here,

yeah that's it - go get Armando Benitez - please, I'm beggin' you.

Reading Metsblog and the comments I've seen written here by Mets fans, I'm confused about something. When do we, as Phillies fans, ever use injury as an excuse for our team's ineffectiveness? I've never seen it. If a player gets injured, we blame management. If the team loses, we blame management or underperforming players.

Armando Benitez is terrible. He'll shut down the Nationals in mid-June, and give up a grand slam to the Mets in mid-Setpember. No? No.

There's been some historic revisionism on this blog by some posters about Alfonseca's contribution to the team last season when Myers and Gordon went down.

Please note this is NOT an appeal to bring him back. The guy is cooked. But kdon, Jack and others have dismissed him as a negative on last year's team, when in fact, the team could not have made the playoffs without him. The fact is, when the Phillies were in dire straits with no setup man and no closer, El Pulpo went on his best streak of the season.

The FACTS: Gordon's last game before the DL was May 1, Myers May 23. They did not return as a tandem until July 28. Here is what Alfonseca did between May 23 and July 28: His first 9 appearances were scoreless, including 5 saves. He then gave up solo runs in 2 non-save apps, had 3 straight scoreless apps including a 6th save. He then blew 2 straight saves on single runs, but followed that with 3 straight scoreless including 2 more saves.

During the games that Alfonseca pitched in this period, the Phillies went 17-3 and Alfonseca lowered his ERA from 4.79 to 3.58.

If Lidge is going to be out for any length of time they could do worse than bring in a veteran who could step up like that.

Isn't Bob Wickman still available? Is he worth taking a look at?

I agree with clout. The Octopus was great last year when it mattered most, i.e., he was our only option. The rest of the season he pretty much stunk, and I wouldn't let him anywhere near my roster unless my only other choice was Jose Mesa.

Alfonseca ranked as high as 10th in Beerleaguer's player power rankings last season. That was late June. He was also awarded honorable mention in the listing of the five best surprises of the first half.

A fine demonstration of the streakiness of relieving in the majors, clout. Are you making the argument that, in relief pitching, you ride the hot hand until he craps out?

I love when clout takes a few offhand comments and extrapolates them into some great conspiracy amongst beerleaguers so he can lay out an argument he wants to make.

That said, I will never forget and always be grateful for our lockdown bullpen of Geary, Madson, Alfonseca in our oft-forgotten first sweep of the Mets last June... which culminated in Burrell's first de-pantsing of Wagner last season.

Benitez is as shaky as they come, especially in big games (my O's fan friends have even more nightmares than Mets' fans about him)...but the Vizquel incident was with Jose Mesa, not Armando. I don't think Armando is a great clubhouse though - but he did start one hell of a brawl with the Yankees in the Bronx (the one that led to Darryl throwing haymakers in the dugout).

"That changed the moment Lidge caught his spike on the mound after making one batting practice pitch on Saturday."

Yeah, but from what I've heard, that one pitch was FILTHY!

Um, Clout, I don't think I've ever even really talked about Alfonseca on here. I'm confused as to why you named me in that post.

Re: Benitez. Check out this article

2007 = Benitez. 1997 = Mesa. ;-)

Scott Lauber of the Wilmington paper did a nice job explaining this whole pickle. He didn't have to resort to giant hamburgers or kielbasa and whimsy paraphrasing to explain a dicey, bad luck situation.

Lidge's injury went well today Based on the extent of the injury and what I've heard the recovery time on it is, I'm feeling we have a good shot of seeing Lidge on opening day.

Jason, I really don't think Phillies fans try to use that excuse (at least not most of us blogosphere fans), but some of our players do seem to fall back on it. I'm thinking mostly of Rollins' rationalization that the 2008 team could/would win 100 games because of all the injuries to the 2007 team. gotta love Jimmy's optimism, but that's some sketchy logic there.

ae, you've got a point, but when your biggest offseason acqusition and another one of your starters go out for the season, and you roll out Alfonseca as your closer for and extended period of time, you have to feel you could do better next year.

Does anyone else fear that JC was pitching out of his mind last year and won't be nearly as dominant or effective as he was last year? I say put Myers back in the pen and sign Lohse!

Not to worry. This is a typical Phils spring...

- Lidge shreds his knee on his first pitch.
- Benson threw a curveball for the first time in 3 years (HA!).
- Our closer is a 45 year old guy who every time he throws a curveball his labrum frays.

Any day now a pitcher will be put on the shelf because of "elbow stiffness".

Brad,

The question isn't whether Romero will come back to earth, it's how hard he hits the ground; he isn't going to allow 4.5 H/9 for an entire year.

If he levels out around his career average (which would be odd, since he has almost always been awesome or terrible), I would expect a mid 3 ERA with a WHIP around 1.4.

Even with the Phils, he still had a frighteningly low K/BB ratio (31/25). I would expect a decent year from Romero, but with a slightly higher chance of implosion than repeating last year.

Mike H:

That was I who mentioned Benetez as an option. At this point, I suppose I wouldn't advocate bringing anyone in because I'm going to drink the kool-aid and hope Lidge is back by the beginning of the season, or at least by the end of the first week of the season.

But Benetez at this point has two advantages that two of our big offseason aquisitions do not have: A working arm and a working knee. Just saying...I do agree with your clubhouse cancer statement though.

I still want Embree here though.

Embree would be very nice. He makes too much sense (and costs too much) for the Phillies, who no doubt are still sour over having to pay Howard 3 million more than they wanted to.

John D.
I've been drinking it since the Feliz acquisition. It's nice with pizza, burgers and even falafel!

"The Phils have 16 million reasons to give the final spot in the rotation to Adam Eaton, instead of a Rule 5 pick or Durbin."

Those 16 million "reasons" should have nothing to do with their decision. In fact, it should be completely irrelevant. Slowly but surely fans are learning the concept of a "sunk cost". Hopefully you are just pointing out flawed logic and not agreeing with it. It wasn't clear, though.

Also, I'm with the others (Jack, Kdon) who recognize that a run in the first inning counts the same as a run in the ninth. We remember blown-save losses and they stick in our craw because we're human, but in the end, runs in the early innings count the same as runs scored late.

What good are 2 more saves when it costs 6 more save opportunities?

(Psst, Jason... that should say "lose" sleep instead of "loose" sleep.)

Drinking Kool-Aid leads to statements like this...

“He can win 20,” Billy Wagner says flatly. “Heck, he could have won 20 last year if the bullpen had helped a little more and he didn’t let an inning get away from him here and there.

The Rat, of course, is talking about John Maine.

When you stop drinking Kool-Aid, three things happen.

1. You don't make ridiculous statements like Billy the Rat.
2. You rely on data more than hopes and prayers.
3. You get pleasantly surprised when Brad Lidge comes back from injuries on April 30 instead of June 1.

Of course there's a difference between the 8th and the 9th innings. The graveyard of closers is littered with great 8th inning pitchers who could not handle the additional pressure of the 9th inning. It's a different ball game. And those who believe otherwise are fooling themselves. There's a reason the game's best relievers pitch in the 9th inning. Because they can handle it.

xfactor: A lot of folks have been setting up this straw man argument about moving Myers to the pen, but I've yet to see more than 1 post from anyone who thinks that's a good idea. Moving Myers leaves a gaping hole in the rotation. It shouldn't be done unless an adequate replacement could be found.

The problem I have with the straw men debaters is they never mention anything about the bullpen, should Lidge be out for a month or more. Keeping Myers in the rotation is fine, but you're surely not suggesting the Phils should do nothing for the bullpen are you?

can't let a mention of Benitez go by without reminding everyone of the good old days of November 2006, when posters would seriously make statements like "in any trade for Burrell...they should be happy with Benitez." or "Benitez is damaged goods, but then so is Burrell."

speaking of which, whatever happened to RSB?

Clout: Something should definitely be done about the bullpen. More than likely, they will do nothing.

CJ: The reason the best relievers pitch in the 9th inning is because their managers put them in in the 9th inning. Although certainly some teams have done it differently. Tigers used Zumaya in the 7th and 8th and kept Todd Jones as the closer despite Zumaya being deomnstrably better. The Indians used Betancourt and Perez as setup men and kept Borowski as the closer despite both being way better. And the Cubs used Carlos Marmol as a setup guy, despite being way better than Ryan Dempster. It's not set in stone that your best pitcher has to pitch only in "save" situations, and I would think this will change more and more in the coming years as teams realize better to use your best pitcher in the highest leverage situations no matter the inning or whether its deemed a "save" opportunity.

That's some good classic Beerleaguer ae, the old RickSchuBlues!

I would love to see a "best of" list for RSB's comments on Burrell.

#1 is surely that Chris Roberson would be a better player!

Jason,

I noticed you changed the ticker on the side. Good stuff, but you have to talk to whoever is over at CrashburnAlley...he doesn't have Beerleaguer linked!

Kdon:

Didn't Romero have a sub 2 ERA while pitching 80+ innings for the Twins? Not saying I'm putting my money down, but just that he has done it in the past.

CJ: I've always been pretty skeptical of the notion that a guy can be a top set-up man but not a top closer. There's plenty of pressure when you're pitching in the 8th inning of a close game and, as Jack notes, many save situations involve little pressure at all. I simply find it hard to believe that the difference in pressure -- if any -- between the 8th & 9th inning is enough to cause an otherwise good reliever to turn into a bad reliever.

There have been set-up men who failed as closers, but there have also been a whole lot who have succeeded, at least for a few years. In fact, almost no reliever walks onto a major league team & immediately assumes the closer's role. The vast majority of present closers started out as setup men.

True, there have been setup guys who failed as closers, but there can be plenty of reasons for that which have nothing to do with the change in role. I have yet to see any research which statistically documents that the year-to-year failure rate of successful setup men turned closers is any higher than the year-to-year failure rate of successful relievers in general. Until I see it documented, I won't believe it.

Jack: So what you're suggesting is that baseball manager's are wrong and you're right?

Bottom line: The best relievers are generally used a closers. Note, I did not say the most talented or the pitchers with the best stuff. Borowski and Jones kept their jobs because they got the job done. Plenty of pitchers with "great stuff" don't cut it as closers.

BAP:

Good point, and good idea for some research...

BAP: I think you're confused as to what my point is. My point is that your pitcher best able to shut the door should be pitching the 9th. Period. Sure, there may be a handful of 1+ inning saves, but the pitcher best able to shut the door should be the last pitcher in the game.

There is a reason guys like Mariano Rivera pitch in the 9th inning. Because they get the job done. Having electric stuff doesn't mean you'll get the job done.

And about your exceptions to the rule? Zamaya was injured most of last year. Betancourt was coming off a season in which he had a 3.81 ERA and couldn't be counted on to be a closer and then you're going to bench the league leader in saves? And Carlos Marmol was a converted starter and moving to the bullpen in just his second season.

Sure, throughout the season, managers will find guys with great stuff, but it still doesn't mean they're either 1) ready to be a closer, or 2) suited to be a closer.

Clout:

I think the bullpen is okay for now (not great) as long as Lidge doesn't miss more than two months of the regular season. I have faith in Flash Gordon--hopefully he won't break down again.

If a long-term bullpen hole opens up, Gillick will have to make something happen along the lines of signing Iguchi when Utley went down.

Frankly, even if Lidge is out for the season, I would rather have Myers in the rotation, unless for some strange reason he isn't effective there.

Bottom line: your #1 #2 and #3 starters are all more important than your closer. Myers should stay put unless two suitable replacements are found. JMHO.

xfactor wrote: "I have faith in Flash Gordon--hopefully he won't break down again."

Wow... just wow... I'm not even sure how to respond to that. That blind faith in broken down 40-something relievers is what created our bullpen mess last year. And we want to do that again?

xfactor wrote: "Bottom line: your #1 #2 and #3 starters are all more important than your closer. Myers should stay put unless two suitable replacements are found. JMHO."

In a vacuum, yes, I think everyone would agree. However, this isn't a question in a vacuum. With Lidge out, are we better off with Lohse (for example) in the rotation and Myers closing or are we better off with Myers in the rotation and Gordon closing. Myers might win a game every five days, but Gordon may lose 3 every week. I don't like that trade.

CJ: Well, I would agree with you as a general proposition. I would, however, add a caveat, which is that I am a strong proponent of the Bill James view that your best reliever should be saved for the most important points in the game. If your team has a 1 or even 2-run lead, the most important point of the game will most often arise in the 9th inning. But not always. How many times have we seen the following situation, or some close variation on it: The Phillies have a one run lead in the 7th inning. The starter begins to tire & allows the other team to load the bases with one out. Cholly goes to the mound to remove his starter, & summons Jose Mesa or Clay Condrey to replace him.

In a situation like this, you're very likely to lose the game if the other team gets a hit. I say that's the time to use your best reliever. Never mind whether or not it's a save situation.

Can someone explain what wrong with the upside down approach?

-put your short relievers in first. LOOGYs, middle relievers, set-up guys etc...

-If by the 3rd or 4th inning, the game is close or tied; put in your best available starter for the rest of the game. This is where Cole Hamels and Brett Myers would earn their money.

-If your team has a comfortable lead by the 4th inning, put in your lesser quality starters. If the Phils are beating the Nats 7-1 in the 4th, Kendrick or Moyer come in to close out the win.

-If your team is well-behind by the 4th inning, let your long relievers and 5th starters close it out. This is when you use Adam Eaton and the Durbins.

I feel like the stability provided by starting pitchers would be better suited to innings 4-9, rather than 1-6. How many quality starts did the Phillies bullpen blow last year? Wouldn't you rather get that over with early? Why should Cole Hamels pitch 8 innings of a game the Phillies lead by 5+ runs? If a team survives the volitile first 4 innings, their best pitcher can seal the win.

CJ: "the pitcher best able to shut the door should be the last pitcher in the game."

In general this makes sense but on the other hand, the turning point in every game does not happen in the 9th. Sometimes it happens when the bases are loaded in the 7th. After the starter is done, which reliever you bring in should depend on the level of threat. I understand Manuel's preference for having roles defined by the inning because it may help prepare players mentally, but if the bases are loaded in the 7th and the meat of the order comes up, I'd rather see the best pitcher in the game right then and there.

With regards to saves, I think save opportunities are key. If you can create 6 more save opportunities by keeping Myers as a starter, even if a Gordon blows half of them, you're still 3 wins better off.

My faith in Gordon comes from his experience mastering the mental aspect of closing, which is the toughest part of the nut to crack for replacement closers.

I'll say it again: If leaving Myers in the rotation gets you 6 more save opportunities, even if Gordon or someone else blows half of them, you're still 3 wins to the good.

xfactor: The later the inning the less chance your team has to come back from a deficit. That is why managers save their best relievers for the last 2 innings of the game.

With regard to your faith in a bullpen that features Gordon as closer and Romero as setup, all I can do is repeat what CJ said: "Wow."

baxter: You get an A for creativity. But how would you decide which relievers to use? As it is now, the decision is driven by the game situation. You don't use your closer in a 10-0 game & you don't use Clay Condrey, if you can help it, in a 3-2 game. But if you use your relievers in the first few innings, the decision would necessarily have to be arbitrary, since it's really too early to tell whether to use your good guys or your bad guys.

I believe Lou Pinella threatened to start his relievers with Tampa Bay in his last year there. Most people thought he was headed to the loony bin after the mere thought of it. It would sure be interesting for someone to try...very risky and easily could cost someone his job. In cold, hard theory though, not impossible.

baxter: I like your out-of-the-box thinking. I'm just not sure it would work in practice.

I agree that the first inning is especially tough since you face the best hitters. But by using up your moves early, you lose lefty-righty match-up options late.

And in the 9th, with your 4th inning "starter" at the end of his rope and the hitters looking at him a third time around, you might wish you hadn't already used a guy with better numbers against the hitter. Flexibility in your moves matter more and more as the game goes on.

Also, in general you want your starters to go as many innings as possible but your method would eliminate the 8 or 9 inning outings that can rest a desperately tired bullpen.

I'm not dismissing your suggestion, though. It definitely deserves to be discussed.

About the RP starting games theory, What happens to the rotation? Your theory works if any day you could use any starter. What happens if the offense is slumping and 3-4 games in a row are tied/1 run games and you would want the good SP in there?

I have no faith in a bullpen headed up by Gordon either, clout, but I never had much faith in this bullpen to begin with. That said, I don't think it's likely that Gordon will completely implode during his month or two in the closer role. He'll probably save about three quarters of his opportunities, much like Alfonseca did last season when Myers went down.

It doesn't deserved to be discussed. One of many reasons why is that it would throw off starting pitchers routines and preparation, which would lead to more injuries. It may work the first day of the season, but after that you start to get into trouble. Also, would you start off every game with your best relievers? Wouldn't they get tired? The current setup allows you to use your best relievers in more high leverage situations, Etc.. etc...

Clout:

"The later the inning the less chance your team has to come back from a deficit. That is why managers save their best relievers for the last 2 innings of the game."

The general idea is to have a lead by then, no?

Why be forced to come from behind because your best pitcher is waiting in the bullpen for a lead to protect that never materializes?

Better relievers are used late because you're more likely to see pinch hitters. The cat and mouse game of matchups comes into play, but I'd rather not have to come from behind at all.

Also, using that logic, why don't you save Ryan Howard and Chase Utley for the last two innings so you can send them up with with runners in scoring position?

Which is worse: having a lead with no closer to protect it? Or having a closer with no lead to protect.

Guess you heard Forsberg signed with Colorado. Back to baseball. What about that other Rule % guy Lincoln whatever his name, isn't he a closer type, we could add him to the mix as a 7th inning guy. But Lohse could also be a 7-8 inning guy and ready for the rotation in case of emergency.

xfactor: I think you're having a debate with yourself. Neither I, nor anyone else I can see, is advocating taking Myers out of the rotation. I DO advocate using your best relievers in the last 2 innings though, for the very obvious, common sense reason stated above.

Clout: "I think you're having a debate with yourself."

Not the first time I've been called a master debater.

Just think, this time last year Jim Ed Warden was dazzling Jayson Werth in batting practice...any word on Holdzkum though?

Random trivia about Lincoln Holdzkom from his wikipedia page: speaks fluent latin, turned down academic scholarship to princeton, friends with Ben Savage...

My big concern is that even if Lidge misses the first few weeks of the season, he could miss two series against the Mets. We need to get off to a fast start against the Mets and play them something like 6 times in the first 19 games. Hopefully Lidge makes it back by then. Maybe its time to kick the tires on Bob Wickman?

I've bee lurking the last couple of days watching the rest of you get worked into a lather over the Lidge injury.

At this point most of what I've read is speculation. We have, at this time, no idea how well Lidge is going to pitch if and when he comes back, nor when he is going to come back.

In fact, there was no guarantee that he would have been any good BEFORE he tweaked his knee for the second time.

I think we were all in "Wait and See Mode" regarding Lidge before the injury. So....let me ask you....what's changed?

The one thing we do all seem to agree on is that "Amaro Syndrome" still infects the Phillies' organization, and that the Phillies are, once again, ot being forthcoming about the health of one of their players, much less properly managing his rehab.

(For new readers who wonder what "Amaro Syndrome is, with Jason's permission I'll be happy to post AWH's Phillies Lexicon, complete with definitions of such terms as 'Liar, Liar', 'Seattle Stew', 'The Puppet', and contributing editor dajafi's contribution, 'The Walking Sphincter'.

Mets Fan here,

Why doesn't your team try Madson out as the closer if Lidge is more hurt than led to believe?

I know you guys have Tom Gordon but lets be honest here...1 blown save can start a 3 week tailspin for that guy.

Romero worked for you guys in the middle innings. I still think Myers has more value to your team in the rotation...do you really want to have that much less depth in your rotation and have possibly Kris Benson start games when he gets healthy?

(trust me you don't...what a snoozer)

Looking forward to this rivalry and hopefully my team getting some revenge...regardless F the Braves!!

(we can agree on that)

One undiscussed reason for saving the best reliever is that when it is the sixth inning of a one-run game you do not know for sure that it is the most critical situation. It still may be a one-run game in the ninth, which would be more critical. If you use the guys who would be your closer and set-up in the sixth and seventh, it's the back end working the last couple.

I simply think that managers want to know that, in those situations where it is a one run game in the ninth inning, the guy they pull in will be appropriate for the situation. So they don't burn him earlier - even if it ends up that it would have been the right thing to do.

Also, the idea that somehow saving the best reliever for the high-leverage end of game situation equates to saving Howard or Utley doesn't cut it. If you put the "closer" in in the sixth inning he's done. If you start Utley, he's still batting sometime in the last three innings.

CJ: You'll find absolutely no support for your position among the SABR community. And I'm pretty skeptical about the "graveyard being littered" with the failures myself. How do you explain all the competent closers who emerge from nowhere, particularly on sub-.500 teams? They just have that special closer juice? And how to explain, oh, Benitez? He just ran out of closer juice all of a sudden?

And to claim that managers have some sort of "expertise" on how to use relievers is the height of folly. Most teams use closers in any situation where they can pad their stats, because that's the only way to keep them happy. I don't have the stat at hand on 3-run leads lost in the 9th inning, but it's not more than 2 or 3 percent of the games. Yet no manager dares leave his closer on the bench in that situation; it would lead to hard feelings, because saves equal dollars to a reliever.

Al: I think there isn't real disagreement here, just a failure to communicate. I happen to agree that there's no such thing as a "born closer." I also agree that many 7th or 8th inning guys can be fine closers. But the fact is the graveyard IS littered with failed closers. Why? Because the graveyard is littered with failed pitchers period. Unless you can show show me with your SABR metrics that pitchers tried as closers fail as at lesser rate than, say, guys slotted as #1 starters.

The face is, the failure rate for closers or #1 or #2 starters is higher than the failure rate of middle men or #5 starters BECAUSE MORE IS EXPECTED. So the guy you hoped would blossom into a #1 winds up as your #3. And the guy you hoped would be a closer winds up as your 7th inning guy (Madson). Not because of special closer juice. Because you want your best guy there (and your best starters at #1 and #2) and the vast majority of major league pitchers aren't good enough to do the job. Just as the vast majority of major league hitters aren't qualified to bat in the 3 hole.

lekh: I am on record (from the day he was drafted) as saying Link Holdzkom has a better chance of making the Phillies than Travis Blackley. (Yes, this is damning with faint praise.)

But I am a sucker for good stuff and I love Holdzkom's 95 mph sinking fastball. He's got an OK slider and mediocre curve. He has allowed exactly 5 HRs in 269 IP. That's not a misprint.

The catch? His command sucks. That makes him one of approximately 1,243 prospects with great stuff and lousy command. And at age 26 he pretty much has to get it this year. Long odds, but huge upside, even if he improves his command 30%.

A little off topic, but the Lohse non-issue is slowly driving me moon-bat crazy. Wasn't the reason we didn't re-sign him his supposed high cost? Somehow, I don't think he's going to get that 4 year/$40mil deal.

We're talking about a guy who could reasonably end up as our third-best starter. To gamble on another year of Moyer/Kendrick/Eaton is absolutely crazy when a low-risk/mild-reward pitcher like Lohse is sitting at home.

Clout: Pretty good post on the bullpen. Agree with almost all of it.

CJ has shown me no convincing evidence that somehow Gordon will be a worse pitcher in the 9th than in the 8th. The real difference is that we lost our best relief pitcher and have to replace him with pitchers that aren't as good at the back end. That's all there is to it. Nothing stupid like somehow Gordon will fail more in the closer's role than he would as a setup guy- people will just place more emphasis on it because it is the 9th inning. It's also ignoring the fact that Gordon has 203 career saves, so I think its safe to say he has that magical "closer" juice that CJ values so much. He has "gotten the job done" in his career. I wouldn't want him as my closer because he's not a great pitcher at this point in his career- that's all there is to it.

Mets fan here. I'd take a look at Wickman and just go with "bullpen by committee." You're gonna get LIdge back in the bullpen by May maybe June. With your sticks, and if the rotation does its job, you should be ok.

As we learned last year, it's a very long season. Injuries will no doubt play a roll on both teams at different points during the season.

My concern, if I was a Phillies' fan, is Lidge's mental frailty, rather than his physical frailty. I think the doctors just missed a little frayed cartilage the last time. Once they clean the knee out good, he'll be ok - physically. A cheap shot homer or two at CB and the boo birds reining down boos on him will be a more serious problem IMO.

Looking forward to some intense baseball by these two team. Should be fun.

Read about an interesting new stat Bill James came up with in a piece he did on Craig Biggio for Slate. Apparently, he now has a Batting Performance by Quality of Opposing Hitter stat. Meaning, he breaks down how well hitters hit against pitchers with ERA's over 5.25, below 3.50, etc. If anyone's a member on his site, it would be interesting to see what the numbers are on our hitters. So often people on here talk about how so-and-so can't hit good pitchers. With this you can see if it's true.

Interesting discussion on the importance of closers. I realize this point has been made, but managers save their best relievers until the last possible moment. Its not clear that the 7th inning will be the most crucial inning, but by the time the 9th rolls around, its clear that its either irrelevant, or the most important inning in the game. Much like hockey coaches saving their best shooters for the end of a shootout, or a track coach putting his fastest guy on the LAST leg of the relay. It goes along the same lines. Personally I'd believe that starters are more important than closers anyways, and would rather have Myers starting then closing. Even if we do sign Lohse, there is no way the rotation is solid enough to justify moving Myers back to the pen.

Oh and we have actually had a few Mets fans posting today with interesting and valid points! Can anyone believe it?

So in preparation for Savery's start tonight I looked back on his numbers and, not to be a downer, but I have concerns.

In all reports on Savery, including today in the DN, he is described as a "power pitcher." While that may have been true in his sophomore and junior seasons, it wasn't the case last year

K/9

(2005) SO - 9.78
(2006) JR - 9.00
(2007) SR - 5.88

(2007) RK - 7.52

Now this is obviously a concern, but it's possible he is just coming back from surgery he had after his junior year. The rookie number indicates he might be on the way back, but it was only 26 innings (and I imagine it helps a lot to pitch to a bunch of guys who have never used wood bats before).

Backers might point to his consistent ERA over this time, but there are many ways to keep your ERA down, some easier to repeat than others.

For example, guys with nasty stuff who strike a lot of people out are likely to continue doing so as they move up the ladder. But doing it in other ways (high GB%, low walks, low BA w/RISP) is a little bit harder to do.

The problem, as I see it, is that while the Sophomore and Junior Savery posted low ERA's with lots of Ks, the Senior and rookie-ball pitcher has done it with extremely low HR rates, including 0 last year in rookie ball. All you need to know about minor league HR rates is to look at Cole Hamels career; unless you are a freak GB pitcher (which Savery isn't), it's almost impossible to keep HR rates that low.

We'll obviously get a better idea after actually watching him pitch, but he is going to have to start striking out more batters if he is going to be a top of the rotation starter.

I thought it was sort of axiomatic that Savery wasn't the pitcher he used to be. But thanks for reminding us.

I'm not sure if anything relating to a specific pitcher can be called an "axiom," but if you mean "conventional wisdom," I wasn't aware of it.

Is everybody ready for the new look base coaches? Nope, same dudeds- Steve Smith and Davy Lopes, but they'll be wearing the ear-flapless batting helmets starting today in action against Florida St.

Carson: That's a good thing. I think Lopes was hands-down the team's MVC (Most Valuable Coach) last season.

Savery's surgery was on his labrum, wasn't it?

kdon: You and Tray are both correct. Tray is correct that Savery was a controversial pick because of the surgery. He lost quite a bit off his fastball in his senior year and he dropped in the draft because of that. Phils scouts were projecting that he could make it all the way back despite the horrible track record of pitchers drafted from Rice.

And you are correct that his K/9 and K/BB ratio will tell the tale of whether he is coming back from the injury. BTW, his 14 IP in the Arizona Fall League produced 11 BB and 5 K (although only 4 H and 1 ER).

He'll be at Clearwater and his K rate there should be very revealing.

Alby: Yes.

I've never seen him pitch, except once in the college WS, but on Savery - does the scouting report confirm that he's not a GB pitcher? because minor league splits has him putting up a 39:18 G/F ratio last year.

that's 50% GB, which isn't quite Derek Lowe, but is pretty pronounced. (only 14 ML pitchers were over 50% GB last year.)

Jason, you say so much in so little. You should enshrine this statement you wrote as one of the rules of being a Beerleaguer Phillies fan:

"If a player gets injured, we blame management. If the team loses, we blame management or underperforming players."

I'd add: When in doubt blame management.

LF: I have no doubts about it.

clout - I'm with you on Holdzcum.

(Note: I initially, however, had similar thoughts/hopes for J.D. "Not As Much the Real Deal as He Thinks" Durbin.)

(Which is sort of "Good Stuff" kool-aid.)

excuse me: "Holdzkom"

is this game going to be televised anywhere or at least on the radio?

Mike H. -
When you stop drinking Kool-Aid, three things happen.

1. You don't make ridiculous statements like Billy the Rat.
2. You rely on data more than hopes and prayers.
3. You get pleasantly surprised when Brad Lidge comes back from injuries on April 30 instead of June 1.

Regarding #2: If you rely on data more than hopes and prayers, you realize the Phils signed a line-up black-hole to be the everyday 3B. Since I want to believe in the possibility of a decent season, I'll skip the reality and rely on the hopes and prayers of all those beerleaguers who love Feliz.

Quick off-topic. Sports Illustrated's most recent was a tribute to the Mets. The cover story was a multi-page tribute to the Santana acquisition and how a new day is dawning. In addition, there was an unrelated short piece that basically ridiculed the selection of J-Roll as MVP, and suggested that a more worthy candidate was David Wright.

There is perhaps some truth in the observations, but I personally felt the tone of the MVP piece amounted to a cheap shot at Rollins. It got my hackles up, anyway.

Did some more research on Savery, and it does appear that the injury was talked about a lot in the scouting world, if not in the Daily News and Inquirer.

I vaguely remember the concerns, but had no idea how precipitously the k rate fell. Only time will tell on this one, but I thought I would bring it up since this is the last time we'll talk about Savery for a while.

Bob, the SI piece was from FireJoeMorgan, so you can expect them to be dicks.

FJM was fun to read for about a month, then I realized it was more productive to actually look at good baseball writing as opposed to tearing down bad writing.

They definitely serve a useful purpose if all someone reads is Conlin or SI, but no much beyond that.

Bob, I agree and that piece made me angry. I hope JRoll and Co. read that too. I also remember Wright making key errors down the stretch and being the front-man for the collapse.

"If a player gets injured, we blame management. If the team loses, we blame management or underperforming players."

This is necessarily true - especially about injuries. I don't think almost anyone here last year blamed management for most of the team injuries including Utley, Victorino, Bourn, or a myriad of others. However there were a couple of notable exceptions:

1. Howard - Clearly a case where Howard felt pressured to play through his injury so the club could get out to a good start in April. Instead, management should have told him it was more important to get healthy and put him on the DL instead of having Howard struggle the first 6 weeks of the season.

2. Gordon - This team flat out LIED about Gordon's health in spring training. I understand there was some reason to not disclose the truth about Gordon's health to the media/fans due to trying to trade Lieber but I also think it was partly due to the fact that the Phils didn't want to additional flak/criticism while trying to sell additional tickets during the spring.

3. Garcia - Phils management tried to spin this BS yarn about how teams never require a player to get an MRI before completing a trade. That is flat out ridiculous. I understand the Phils were maybe taking a risk on a player they felt could help them win but they didn't due their due diligence either. They traded for damaged goods and got burnt (Note: Williams already had a track record of trading a starter who he likely knew was damaged goods with the Sirotka trade in 2001).

I also remember Wright making key errors down the stretch and being the front-man for the collapse.

oh, please. I have no problem defending Rollins as the MVP based on the fact that the MVP is and has always been more about the story than the numbers. but Wright, by any reasonable statistical standard, had a far better season than Rollins. and far from being the "front-man" of the collapse, he hit .372/.474/.628 over the last two months of the season.

ae, how was his first half? and with that first half, how were the Mets? Given Wright's 2nd half, how did that correlate to the Mets finish? I don't know about you, but I watch just about every Met game and Wright's 2nd half surge didn't really help his team. I also watched just about every post-game, especially during the collapse, and Wright's interviews and demeanor were baffled and lacked major confidence. If an argument should be made over MVP, where was Holliday's name? JRoll and Holliday both made the playoffs and got their teams there when it mattered...Wright's team endured a historic collapse consisting off awful D, which he contributed to, and HIS team looked like the Marlins.

Also, 2 months aren't a full season and those 2 months where the beginning of the end for his team.

Reed,

Your memory may not be accurate. Aside from hitting well, Wright made only 4 errors in September, and none in the last week of the season, or against the Phillies.

Sept 22, an error in the which didn't cost the team a run, Mets win 7-2

Sept 19, an error in the ninth that cost one run, Mets win 8-4

Sept 17, an error which opened the way to a 4 run inning, but only 1 unearned. Mets lose 12-4

Sept. 2, error in the sixth, no runs scored, Mets win 3-2

Reed: " I don't know about you, but I watch just about every Met game and Wright's 2nd half surge didn't really help his team."

What the hell does this mean? How can someone hit .372/.474/.628 over the last 2 months and that NOT help his team?

Please guys, stop trying to bash David Wright in defending J-Roll as MVP. It just makes all of us sound stupid. Who cares? Be happy that Jimmy won the MVP and that we won the pennant. Why do people get so worked up about articles that say Wright was better last year? They're just articles, they affect nothing on the field, either last year or this year. WE WON last year, remember? That's all that matters.

"Wright's interviews and demeanor were baffled and lacked major confidence"

This is a joke, right? Please god tell me this is a joke. Not to get all FJM on you, but if you believe this crap then you're an idiot. Of course he was baffled and lacked confidence! His team was in the midst of a huge collapse!

Look, I'm the biggest Phillies fan in the world and the biggest Mets hater, but some of you just sound so stupid trying to defend Jimmy. HE WON. Be happy with it. Let the criticism go.

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