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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

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Considering all of the items discussed here about player development, I expected only two. When there is five in the top 100, then we Beerleaguers should be happy. We return you now to our regularly scheduled criticism of management, already in progress...

Mike H: Three, not five.

That Gonzalez ranking is very depressing.

If the Phils could have kept him, then the Thome trade could have really worked out nicely.

I've been trying to convince myself this offseason that Gillick has only been neutral in his time here, that while he has done nothing to improve the team, his poor FA signings and trades didn't hurt the team, but it's harder and harder to believe that.

I don't want to start the season on a bad note, but I think we are going to look back on the three years of Gillick as a wasted opportunity, when we had young stars making little to nothing, and only a couple of good moves away from being the dominant team in the NL.

As it, we're contenders, but only because of a core that was already here when Gillick arrived. The late 70s Phils needed a manager to put them over the top; this team needs a GM!

Mets can't even beat up on Michigan...where are the Stemheads now?

Love the notes showing the slow, but steady rebuilding of the minor league ranks. One of my favorite parts of this site.

"When there is five in the top 100, then we Beerleaguers should be happy. "

Absolutely right. When there are, we will!

Clout, are you saying you are happy with three minor leaguers out of the top 100?

According to SI's Jon Heyman, Patty G is the 6th best GM in MLB...foolishness.

Mike, I think I read your post the same way clout did, that you were happy with this list because you thought 5 were in the top 100.

Misunderstanding.

Got it. I expected two, indifferent about three, and would be happy with five.

Carson, foolishness is to be expected from a fool.

David Wright at present is not near the player that J-Roll is. I'm still not sure that he will ever peak as high as J-Roll will. Presently, there it is no contest.

wow. so wrong. so painfully, blindingly wrong.

Simple math tells me that a team which does an average job of scouting & player development should have 3.33 prospects in the top 100. That puts the Phillies as slightly below average.

Of course, Baseball America's list is hardly a scientific measure of minor league talent and, even if it were, you couldn't compare teams' minor league systems by just looking at the number of guys each team has in the top 100. Still, you'd like to have at least 4 or 5 guys in the top 100. Whether warranted or not, BA's list carries a lot of weight with GMs and scouts & highly ranked prospects are the currency with which you can trade for top-tier major leaguers.

Re: Wright and Rollins, in terms of value they were pretty close last year, most objective stats say Wright was better, but whatever. You can't quantify leadership, and we know Rollins is certainly one of the leaders on this team, so that counts for something. As for long-term, Wright is 5 years younger, so anyone who says they wouldn't trade Rollins for Wright is either lying or doesn't know a single thing about running a baseball team. Not that any of us really do, but I can't imagine many intelligent baseball fans wouldn't choose Wright over Rollins at this point, based on age, potential and current value.

For whoever said that Wright is nowhere near the player Rollins is, please contribute some sort of evidence to back that claim up. It's one thing to say I'd rather have Rollins on my team because I like him, or to say he was the MVP last year because he did more for the team- perfectly fine arguments. But you just claimed Wright is nowhere near the player Rollins is, and you need a LOT of evidence (that frankly doesn't exist) to back that claim.

Clout: Ok, maybe the difference is more than "slight". Amazing you're arguing for defensive importance after your bashing of Feliz, despite his being the BEST defensive 3B in the league. Even still, do you think the difference between above-average defense at SS and above-average defense at 3rd is enough to overcome an OPS+ diff of 150 vs. 118. Do you? I know OPS+ was your favorite stat to use to bash Feliz. Now you kind of have to admit that using objective stats, Wright was better than Rollins, no?

Again, I'm not saying Wright should have won MVP. I'm happy Rollins did. I love him and he led our team to the pennant. I could care less who thinks what about the MVP.

Bap, looking at it in the context of total # of players in the top 100 is probably not the best way to judge the system. YOu have to look at where they are, as the top 10 are orders of magnitude better than the group at 40-50, who are in turn much better than 90-100.

Look at it this way:
An average team should have 1.66 players in the top 50, and the Phillies have zero. That makes them, according to my calculator, infinitely worse than average!

(Yes, I know, you can't divide 1.66 by zero and that it doesn't actually equal infinity, but it's more fun that way)

Jack: As you know there's a lot more that goes into who's MVP than just offense. But I am impressed that you finally realize 3B isn't the most important defensive position on the field and that very few teams employ a good-field no-hit 3Bman for that very reason. I'd rank it 6th myself. I think if the Mets had won the East, Wright would've been MVP and rightly so.

kdon:
Actually 1.6/0 = infinity.

But, kdon, we have one in the top fifty. Gio Gonzalez is rank...

oh. right.

Hi Jason-

I just want to say thanks for the Phillies ticker and News Journal links to the right. I was tickled to see the link to the ptiching lineups for next week (at Phuture Phillies), as I am going to my first ever Spring Training games next week in Clearwater.

I enjoy the comments and pictures here very much. I seldom post, but I sure like the site.

Except for all the ridiculous bickering.

Go Phillies!

K-Don: thanks for the heads up on FireJoeMorgan. I thought it had an unneeded demeaning tone and was surprised to see it in a major publication, but sounds like it's par for the course.

The truly scary thing about those three top prospects is that they are very far away from the majors. And all have seriius question marks. Will Carrasco have enough command to excel at level AA and above? Don't know. Will Cardenas settle into a position which the Phils need? Don't know. Will Savery regain his ability to miss bats? (And would he have made a better first baseman rather than pitcher?) Don't know.

Meanwhile: will Gio make it to the show? This year. Book it. In a pitcher's stadium. He may get knocked around; but I will gladly wager all my Vic Darensbourg trading cards that Gio gets more major league strike-outs than Carlos Carrasco.

If there's one thing about the consistent criticism of Rollins that bothers me the most, it's that frequently posters compare his offensive stats with players at different positions. Of course a good hitting first baseman is going to hit more HR and get on base more, that's his job. But you wouldn't bat him leadoff. Everybody on this site knows that certain positions are valued for their offense, and certain positions for their defense. Corner outfielders and first basemen are the big bats. But you wouldn't ask them to play SS, just like you can't ask Wright to play SS as well and expect him to perform the same.

The fact that JRol plays at SS must be taken into account. The only players I could find with a higher OPS over a full season in 2007 at SS were Hanley Ramirez, and Jeff Keppinger (CIN, had 241AB). Ramirez also had twice as many errors as Rollins last year, it seems he's much worse defensively. Bottom line, the production out of SS that we get with JRol is magnnificent. Add to that his defensive abilities and the leadership he provides and you have a nearly complete player. He's invaluable to the makeup of this team right now.

Except for all the ridiculous bickering.

except?! ridiculous bickering is the whole point!

Of course they have question marks.... that's what makes them prospects! If they were sure things at age 21, we wouldn't be ridiculously bickering about the #5 starter.

The Top 20 of this top 100 list is a little bogus. Evan Longoria (Mrs. Parker) is 2, Joba Chamberlin is 3, Jacoby Ellsbury is 13. We can reasonably assume they are major leaguers with spots on their 25-man rosters on March 31. Anywho, just a dash bogus. I'll have half an eye on Colby Rasmus and Fernando Martinez.

"kdon:
Actually 1.6/0 = infinity."

Not really Andy, at least as I remember it. In common language, it's okay to say that 0 goes into a number an infinite number of times, but I think mathematically if you say that it screws everything up.

Unless of course, you are Chuck Norris, in which case, do as you please.

As I remember it, anything divided by zero is infinity. But it's been a long time since AP Calculus, so I could be screwing it up. Wouldn't remotely be (as clout and others will point out) the first time.

mathmatically, anything divided by zero is "undefined."

Well the problem Andy is that when you are working with real numbers, infinity isn't included.

It's not a number, but a concept, so it's the equivalent of saying 5 X 5 = free will. There are set equations where infinity is used, but I don't think the old sideways 8 is ever used in numerical mathematics (could be wrong, it's been a while)

1/.000000000001 gets you really close to infinity of course, but technically, you just *can't* divide by zero.

Actually, for the most part, it looks like 1.6/0 would be infinity by most (but not all) definitions. Here is a helpful link.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Division_by_zero

I was about to say "undefined" too; but then I remembered that we kinda reserved that for zero divided by zero.

Infielder Ray Olmedo was claimed off waivers by the Phillies, assistant general manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. announced today. Olmedo had been on the Pittsburgh Pirates' roster.
Olmedo, 26, appeared in 27 games for Toronto last season and made 12 starts at shortstop for the club. In 97 games for triple-A Syracuse, he hit .290 with one home run and 26 RBI. Against left-handed pitchers, the switch-hitter batted .323.

kdon - we used to use the sideways eight thing a lot in calculus ("as the limit approaches infinity"). Infinity, as a concept, is actually pretty integral (pun intended) to the concept of calculus, because as you integrate you cut the area under the curve into an infinite number of pieces.

The question, however, becomes more real than that. Say Vic Darensbourg comes into the last game of the season, with the score tied and no one on base. It's an away game and it's the last inning. He gives up a solo home run (as impossible as that is to imagine. His ERA is 1*9/0. What is it?

I'd have to write a sideways eight there.

Andy, I think Wiki is saying something similar to what I said:

"In ordinary (real number) arithmetic, the expression (a/0) has no meaning."

"Thus, as a rule of thumb, it is sometimes useful to think of a/0 as being infinty, provided a is not zero."

Yeah, so in the fancy computer arithmetic you can do it, but I stand by the fact that "1.66" cannot be divided by zero!

Okay. But what's Darensbourg's ERA?

Well, you have to write something, I guess, and the infinity sign works well to get at the basic idea of 1 run in zero innings, but it is still not logically satisfying.

In a world of pure logic, Darensbourg would simply cease to be as soon as the ball cleared the wall.

Infinity or not, kdon's point about the huge yawning gap between elite prospects and the bottom 50 is a sound one. There is not enormous difference on a list like this between the 60th best prospect and the 90th. There is a giant difference between the top 20 prospects (or so) and the next 20.

Actually, among the quotes on the Wki page, I liked this one (as applicable to beerleaguer) the best

Patrick Suppes 1957 (1999 Dover edition), Introduction to Logic, Dover Publications, Inc., Mineola, New York. ISBN 0-486-40687-3 (pbk.). This book is in print and readily available. Suppes's §8.5 The Problem of Division by Zero begins this way: "That everything is not for the best in this best of all possible worlds, even in mathematics,is well illustrated by the vexing problem of defining the operation of division in the elementary theory of artihmetic" (p. 163). In his §8.7 Five Approaches to Division by Zero he remarks that "...there is no uniformly satisfactory solution" (p. 166)

Think how many discussions on beerleaguer can be summed up as having "no uniformly satisfactory solution."

So I guess we have determined that the Phillies minor league system is either:

a) infinitely worse than average

b) undefined

c) logically incoherent

I have to agree with both propositions.
1) There is a huge difference between a #26 and a #54, for instance; and even more between a #26 and a #90.

2) Vic Darensbourg would vanish into the Realm of Phillies infamy (which actually has a sizeable population).

I'd answer you're multiple choices there, kdon, but I have to admit that there is no uniformly satisfactory solution.

ugh...
"your" obviously.

I'm very partial to "logically incoherent." in fact, I think it would make a great motto for the 2008 Phillies motto.

I disagree, Andy, the uniformly satisfactory solution is...fire Mike Arbuckle.

I'll send that suggestion along to Patrick Suppes.

"1) There is a huge difference between a #26 and a #54, for instance; and even more between a #26 and a #90."

I agree. Look at 2002. # 26 was Marlon Byrd & # 90 was Erik Bedard. That's a huge difference!

(Yes, I did cherry pick the best example I could find. No, I don't think that the #90 prospect has a better chance than the #26 prospect.)

See, that's what I mean. Firing Arbuckle alone wouldn't do it for me...

"I'm very partial to "logically incoherent." in fact, I think it would make a great motto for the 2008 Phillies motto."

...better than "Goosebumps."

stjoe ... nice refutation.

I still think Gio has a much (only slightly less than infinitely) (since infinitely doesn't really exist) better chance of becoming a contributing big-league LHP than Savery. (And much, much sooner.)

But hey you're right. I'd take Bedard over Byrd too. (What were they thinking when they ranked Byrd 26th. Talk about drinking the kool-aid!)

"ridiculous bickering is the whole point!"

I think this could be a secondary headline for Beerleaguer.

Byrd was a pretty good prospect coming up, a good defensive CF with OPSs of 894 (A), 941 (AA), 838 (AAA) from age 22-24.

He had a great rookie year too, but I don't know what happened after that...his BA just went in the tank in '04 and he seemed to collapse in '05 with the Nats. It was nice to see him regain his form in Texas last year.

Mike H.
I wouldn't mind ridiculously bickering about how serious the several question marks are. Savery gets their #90 slot, for instance, but the numbers they show to demonstarte why he's there are his hitting stats. Hmmmm...

Does anyone think that Olmedo has a chance at beating out Bruntlett?

According to PhuturePhils, Savery would rank as the #1 1b prospect in the system.

That is both interesting and terribly, terribly, sad.

Wayne, I don't think so. He is minor league filler, this year's Joe Thurston.

There won't be an honest competition, Bruntlett would have to get hurt not to make the team.

At the end of the last thread Sean Breslin wrote:

"I am sick and tired of beerleaguer taking the typical cynical Philadelphia point of view. There is no reason a seemingly legitimate blog should take the tone of two old men lamenting that they won't ever see another Philadelphia championship. This blog should look on the overwhelmingly large bright-side of this team and recognize that we are in a better position than ever, including the end of last season, to make a run at the pennant and world series. I can personally vouch for at least a dozen readers you've lost because of this overly cynical tone that pervades your articles. At this point, metsblog is a more reasonable way to get Phillies news (not that you should ever go there)."

Now in keeping with the spirit of being a bit more optimistic, I would think if the list was the top 100 players already on the 25 man rosters, the Phillies would have at least 4 players: Utley, Rollins, Howard and Hamels, maybe 5, if the writers were to add Burrell or Myers. That's what counts when the 2008 NL East War begins.

Prospect lists are rarely accurate, as more often than not, can't miss prospects never make it. They are subject to bias and are often arbitrary, filling the bottom 50 with players that may not actually belong on the list just to be sure that all teams are represented. (That's where all our touted praspects reside.)

I, for one, blame management!

kdon: In a world of pure logic, Darensbourg would simply cease to be as soon as the ball cleared the wall.

See, *this* is the kind of stuff that makes me come back to this site. Bravo!

BTW fellas, excellent discussion on infinity and it's resemblance to the lack of talent in the Phils minor league system...I enjoyed it. Please, continue.

"*this* is the kind of stuff that makes me come back to this site."

Really? I come for the ridiculous bickering.

Lake Fred: I would think if the list was the top 100 players already on the 25 man rosters, the Phillies would have at least 4 players: Utley, Rollins, Howard and Hamels, maybe 5, if the writers were to add Burrell or Myers.

I would toss out a guess that all six would be on that list. Remember that teams like the Pirates and Nationals and Marlins would only have 1 or 2 apiece, not the 3.33 that average teams would have. Then again there are the Mets/Yankees/Sox with 5+ as well.

Would be an interesting exercise to go through if someone was so inclined...

Beerleaguer: If it's ridiculous bickering you want, why try the rest when you can have the best!

One of the bright-side Phillies blogs is Balls, Sticks & Stuff. It's an excellent read, generally positive, and Tom knows his stuff. May your friends go there and post away, Sean. Or the dozen other Phillies blogs.

BL has always been a place for alternative views on the Phillies, back in the Berks Phillies Fans days. After years of FO sunshine being blown at/up us through the traditional media, this outlet was one of the first to ask the tougher questions. We ask because we want to make the franchise better.

The Phils do have the best core players in the majors. Those five bring me unmitigated joy. No doubt about it.

Tartar, based on VORP from last year, Myers and Burrell would be on the outside looking in.

Assuming 50 pitchers and 50 position players, the Phils had 5 last year (Utley, Rowand, Howard, Rollins, Hamels), with Burrell at 61 on the position player list.

Kendrick, Romero, Madson and Moyer all ranked above Myers last year, but I could see him in the top 50 pitchers with a full season at starter. He the 28th best pitcher as a starter in 2006.

Burrell would have to step it up a lot, considering the position he plays and his woeful defense.

If there's one thing about the consistent criticism of Rollins that bothers me the most, it's that frequently posters compare his offensive stats with players at different positions.

Godfather: We have talked about this. The stats that most people base the pro-Wright arguments on take into account position and defense. These stats are therefore valid for comparisons accross positions.

The Red Sox reportedly just signed Colon for virtually nothing. I guess this move was logically incoherent enough for "them".

Actually, I find even this blog too bright-side. For me, this season looks to be one long excruciating countdown to elimination. I refuse to believe last year even occurred. As for infinite ERA's, you see them all the time in April. Newspapers usually write something like "ERA: --".

There is no reason a seemingly legitimate blog should take the tone of two old men lamenting that they won't ever see another Philadelphia championship.

Cynical Philadelphia response: "Precisely. Because Philadelphia championships occur so darn frequently."

More thoughtful Beerleaguer response: "Sean, we are here because we have gotten bitten by the Phillies bug. We hope for a championship. We apply our intellect (however poorly defined it is) and discuss baseball realities. When you look at some of the realities out there, the Phils of 2008 do not look very much better than the Phils of 2007. Try to be intelligent, fair and realistic. Offer an honestb positive assessment. We'll take you seriously. If we disagree we'll also tell you so. And really, chances are, many will agree."

Throw up your hands Andy response: "See: there is no uniformly satisfactory solution!"

Wayne: If you took Abraham Nunez's stem cells and grew them in a Petri dish for 26 years, you'd have Ray Olmedo. Except with less power because even the first copy fades a bit.

kdon/andy/all: as much as I enjoyed the calculus discussion, why exactly were you dividing 1.6 by zero in the first place? I don't think it made any sense to do that in the context you were using.
(and the supergeek squashes the lesser geeks fun)

Remember for a few days during the 1993 Series when David West had an infinite ERA? I remember telling my friends that he ate it. Good times.

Brian: They were discussing that based on simple numbers, the Phillies should have 1.66 prospects in the top 50 of the Baseball America list. Because the Phils in actuality have 0, the discussion came up about how to describe the Phils prospects as a deviation from the mean.

Byrd was great to watch coming up. I remember I went to a Scranton Game on year when he was at AAA(and i believe, just before he got his first cup of coffee).

He got on with a double and then the there was a shallow hit to left center. Byrd rounded third and was halfway home. The throw beats him, and he just doesn't stop and competley railroads the catcher and the ball went flying. Really exciting stuff(and he was a little heavier at that point too).

Shame he never worked out in philly...i always remembered that game.

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