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Thursday, February 28, 2008

Comments

I realized (with your help) after my post the other day that I would miss what I have if it disappeared. So:

Bicker on, and live long!

Also, I will be in Clearwater for the games on Monday so if anyone comes across the pitching lineups, will you please post them or provide a link?

Thanks.

Oops, that was me, phargo.

Hey a couple of buddies and I are planning on making the trip down to see some GL games over our spring break. Anyone who has been have any tips or ideas to enhance the experience? (Besides drinking large amounts of the kool-aid)

Good to see Kendrick having more pop on the FB. Bodes well, it does.

Incidently, Joe "Trade the Farm" Blanton gave up eight hits in two innings. Hmmm... Think I'll keep all three of my "Cars."

Only thing I real cared about is seeing Holdzkum walked 3 guys in limited action. No shot to make the team if he keeps that up regardless of how hard he throws.

This why I think the Phils bullpen is going to post some really subpar results again this year - not only do they have a lack of strikeout pitchers in the bullpen (besides Lidge they don't have a real power arm out of the pen) but they will likely employ a number of relievers who will walk a ton of batter again.

I thought this was a good day. The bats seemed alive early again, a good sign. Kendrick was very good for February 28. Let's face it - Outman and Savery were never projected to land higher than Reading and it would take the longest or most desperate of shots for them to be with the big boys this year.

The pen may be lacking pure strikeout pitchers, as MG noted. But I see the Plan B option of a ground ball inducing bullpen as a decent backup because of the quality of the infield defense. But if they do give out 249 walks in 520 innings, like last year, or one every two innings, hang onto your hats. To compare, the Nationals bullpen gave up 226 BB in 590.2 innings last year.


Um, were there no comments in the last 12 hours about payroll at $106M for this year? Seriously?

So, clout, are you ever going to answer the question, to wit: What difference does it make whether Ruiz or Feliz hits 7th or 8th? Those who want Ruiz 8th have made their argument -- he's better at taking walks, which theoretically would be more common when he's at No. 8. Do you think it makes any difference, and if so, why?

Mike H: Since the payroll limit has been arbitrarily set by the front office, which doesn't necessarily tell us the truth about anything anyway, what is there to say? We'll be able to judge soon enough whether there's any more money to spend. I expect that, as our bottom-of-the-bullpen guys crap out, we'll start trolling the waiver wire. If we are, as last year, unwilling to pick up veterans until they clear waivers, so as to incur no expense but the minimum salary, we'll know there's no money left.

Outman pitched better than Geary did today for the Astros...

My grandma could have pitched better than Geary, and she's dead.

Somewhere on or around October 25, the conventional wisdom of this blog was heavily tilted toward ownership cutting payroll from last year. It doesn't look like that was the case.

Totally off topicbut I just thought of this:

If Jayson Werth hits like he did at the end of last year, could he be the righanded bat the Phils need to bat third? What do you all think?

If Burrell hit like he did at the end of last year, wouldn't he be better than Werth?

I still like the Utley-Burrell-Howard trio better than Vic-Utley-Howard, anyway.

Mike: I'm with Alby. The Phillies' owners have a vested interest in convincing their fans that payroll is at an all-time high. To make this case, they often resort to BS accounting methods -- like comparing their 2007 full-season payroll to other teams' 2007 opening day payrolls. Besides, between now & opening day, there will undoubtedly be some additional shedding of salary (such as a trade of Helms, for instance). For these reasons, the only payroll numbers I'll accept are the opening day payroll numbers which USA Today puts out.

Sounds good to me, BAP. USA Today is a verifiable, third-party source. I'll go with that, too.

Alby: I prefer to have my better hitters higher in the order. Unlike Brian G., Jack, and perhaps you, I believe Ruiz is a better hitter than Feliz and will have a considerably better offensive year.

Batting 7th, Ruiz has a better chance to generate runs. There are more likely to be men on base there rather than in the 8 hole, especially with the NL's most prolific out-maker batting ahead of him. Others may focus on "turning the lineup over" but I focus on having someone who can actually hit.

J.R: I'd have no problem at all batting Werth third against LHP.

The thing about these spring training games is you can't tell anything without seeing them. What I'd want to know from today's game, for example, is how many of Savery's pitches worked? Were his mechanics consistent? How fast was he throwing? What was his demeanor when he got into trouble? Same for Outman and Holdzkom. Maybe Billy Mac can help us out with additional detail.

Let's assume for argument that their opening day payroll will be $106 million. If Lidge does the Freddy Garcia trick, then the collective payout to him, Helms,Thome, Moyer,and Eaton (i.e.,the "Deadwood Boys") will be about $29 million or over one quarter of the total payroll. Hard to compete when so high a percentage of their payroll is going to injured players and stiffs. Of course this assumes the worst case scenario about Lidge's knee. The assumption about Moyer and Eaton is not unreasonable, and Helms is likely to be traded if a sucker can be found.

It would be nice if Savery and Outman have a nice spring but I honestly am not all that concerned about how either one pitches at this point. Much more important they get through spring training without any significant injury so they can start the season in Reading on schedule.

Honestly, the only starter I am frankly concerned/interesting in seeing this spring training is Eaton. As long as Eaton is healthy to start the season, he is going to be the guaranteed No. 5 starter. Hopefully a good spring will at least set out Eaton on the right foot.

I expect Eaton to start out on the right foot. Savery's ERA will serve as a target for Eaton, who is feeling confident that he can keep his ERA under 45.00.

The Zolecki article today on the "$106M payroll" was basically PR junk. Look at Cot's Contracts and any fan could do the same (and have on this website on numerous occasions).

I don't want to rehash it verbatim again but the "$106M" number is so loaded. Like when I look over a 10k and see when a company is booking revenues/expenses. Typical Phils' spin. If you take out the 2009 buyouts (which I have no idea why they are included in this figure) that subtracts nearly $2 M. Plus, there is always the accounting issue with the $6M with Thome.

It is in the range of what Monty said but the "$106M" is purely a numbers/PR spin.

HitMan - That is my point and why I keep calling Gillick the worst GM in Philly right now. Gillick has yet to acquire a player who was a significant difference maker for the Phils and frustratingly potentially invested a significant portion of their payroll (20-25%) this year (and next) in players that might do little to nothing to help the Phils.

clout - agreed. Especially Savery's consistency and Holdzkom's head. I'd also add in how many pitches Feliz looked at.

Friday's scheduled pitchers at McKechnie Field in Bradenton, FL (1:05 pm)

Phils: J.D. Durbin will start then Shane Youman, Joe Bisenius, and J.A Happ

Pitt: Ian Snell will start to be followed by Sean Burnett, Elmer Dessens, Evan Meek, Franquelis Osoria, T.J. Beam and Romulo Sanchez.

Phils will also play the Pirates at Pirate City in Bradenton, FL at 10am (B game)

Brett Myers will start for the Phils.
Pirates have announced Jimmy Barthmaier, Masumi Kuwata, Casey Fossum, Adam Bernero, Mike Thompson, Hector Carrasco and Jesse Chavez will pitch.

I still bet that a guy like Blackley has a much better shot at making this pen (even with his lackluster velocity) than either Rosario, JD Durbin, or Holdzkum because he can do two things:

- Throw strikes with some level of consistency
- Keep the ball down and in the park

I will say this - I can't imagine going to pay to see this Pirates' team this year. Great stadium but just a horrendous team without a single player you are really interested in seeing either on the mound or in the field.

Of course the Pirates' owners will make a ton of profit because they don't spend any money and receive some fats handouts from MLB.

Clout- Now not only are you using insignificant stats (like SAC), you're outright lying. You are officially a tool.

"Ruiz is a marginally better hitter than Feliz"- direct quote from me

"Unlike Jack, I believe Ruiz is a better hitter than Feliz"- Clout

So you either can't read or are lying. Which one is it, you fraud? Or just ignore this like you do everything else that works against you. I'm done with you, you're a joke.

Does it really matter who you or I think will outhit whom this year? One will, and all signs point to Ruiz, if only because projection systems are generally built to assume young players will continue to improve while older ones will continue to decline. Why are you so obsessed with predicting who will do what? Most of us are interested in discussion, not a contest of who's best at predicting things.

BTW, that's not much of a reason you gave for batting Ruiz 7th, considering that much research concludes the lineup makes no difference. If you followed your logic throughout the lineup, Utley would lead off and Howard would bat second; they're the two highest OPS numbers on the team, right?

Is Feliz any faster than Ruiz? That might be another reason to bat him 7th -- on the rare occasions when he's on base, is he more likely to take the extra base than Ruiz is?

At any rate, I'm of the opinion it matters not at all. Both are below-average hitters; I wouldn't blame Cholly if he decides merely to ride the hot hand. Like others, I am very worried about Feliz batting 5th even in ST. I don't want them to get the urge to do that in the regular season, ever.

Clout, Savery almost got out of the 4th inning jam, but left some pitches over the plate to Josh Wilson and Nate McLouth. It seemed the problem was location, but his stuff looked good. He broke a bat and struck out two. Couldn't see the scout's radar reading on him, but he throws hard. On Outman, the triple was misplayed by Bruntlett. Not sure why Cholly had him in CF on game 2 when you have so many outfielders on your roster. Holdzkom was brought in a tough spot -- man on 3rd with 2 outs in the 8th. The wild pitch looked like he and Jaramillo were crossed up. It was more of a passed ball. His ball really moves, but he is wild. He did bear down with the bases jammed with only 1 out to get a strikeout and a ground out to first base. So he showed some poise there.

Jack: Tsk tsk, now you resort to personal attacks. By the way I listed about 12 stats that showed Ruiz was better than Feliz, but if you want to obsess about Sacs obsess away.

Alby: You asked me why I thought Ruiz should hit ahead of Feliz. He's a better hitter. Then you go off on a rant about predictions? And compare it to hitting Howard second? Huh?

Billy Mac: Thanks! That's really the kind of stuff you can't get from the box scores.

Alby: You ought to read your own posts:

"much research concludes the lineup makes no difference."
and..
" I am very worried about Feliz batting 5th"

I agree with Clout that: (1) Ruiz is a better hitter than Feliz; and (2) the No. 7 spot will have more RBI opportunities than the No. 8 spot. However, I don't agree that Ruiz is more likely to knock in runs than Feliz is.

Ruiz's BA was only .06 higher than Feliz last year. His slugging pct. was .22 lower. With a similar batting average and considerably better power numbers, I would expect Feliz to actually drive in more runs than Ruiz would out of the 7 spot. On the other hand, because of his superior walk totals, Ruiz will keep innings alive more often than Feliz -- and some of those extended innings would result in additional runs. Would those additional runs offset the number of extra runs that Feliz would drive in because of his superior power? The lineup construction research says it would probably be about a wash. Since it probably doesn't much matter anyway, I'm with Andy. Any inning that the pitcher leads off is pretty much an inning wasted. Batting Ruiz 8th, as opposed to Feliz, would result in fewer such innings.

At bottom, this is a pretty academic debate. The Phillies' fortunes this year are not going to rise or fall based on whether Feliz or Ruiz bats 7th.

Whether Ruiz or Feliz hits 7th really means nothing compared to the myriad of pitching issues this team faces.

How about this compromise? At CBP and other bandboxes, bat Feliz 7th and Ruiz 8th to take advantage of Feliz's power. Everywhere else, bat Ruiz 7th.

Bap, can we use your last post as some sort of closure on the Feliz/Ruiz debate?

I've enjoyed the academic part of the debate (how much does hitting 8th boost OBP? can you turn the lineup over? etc.) but I think between you, Andy, Jack, and Brian G., all of the salient points have been made. I think any further discussion will just be sarcastic and not constructive to thinking about how to build a lineup.

Let's move on.

"Whether Ruiz or Feliz hits 7th really means nothing compared to the myriad of pitching issues this team faces."

MG, thanks for stepping in and providing a voice of sanity. Run scoring will not be the problem this year. 2008 will be "deja vu all over again".

When the heck is Eaton making his spring debut? Not today from what I know. He's our #5 starter, start getting him some innings.

Looking at the boxscore and reading Billy Mac's commentary on Savery and Outman made me recall a raging debate BeerLeaguers had in the past:

Signing free agents vs. keeping the draft picks. "Alden.....paging Alden.....

('scratch, scratch, scratch' is the sound of AWH opening old sores)

As we saw yesterday, against a mediocre Pirates team, young pitchers are not a sure thing. Neither are free agents, though they do come with MLB track records. It does seem to help, however, if teams are willing to pay above slot for truly talented draft picks.

It will be interesting to see how their young pitchers develop, and whether or not their confidence got rocked.

In the end, no matter which path a team chooses, it all boils down to scouting.

Jason, suggested headline for a new thread:


"BILL CONLIN READS BEERLEAGUER"


After reading Conlin's column today that is the only conclusion. Every idea he expressed:

"small-market team," vs. "We're a small-market ownership."

'Big-time ownerships spit red ink in the eye of the bottom line when there is a possible pennant to be had. "

"So . . . To sell or not to sell?"

"by then Ryan would be 32 years old, probably up to the $25 million range and could be rendered untradable"

These and others in the column are all ideas that have been previously discussed extensively by the posters on this board.


Too bad you can't sue Conlin and the DL for plagiarism.

Carson, Eaton is scheduled to go tomorrow against the Yankees.

Tray: I like your compromise.

AWH: The irony here for our "small-market ownership" is that there really is a methodology for building consistent winners on a cheap budget. Please see the Oakland A's.

It does require superior scouting, the ability to get quality prospects in exchange for high-salaried stars, the ability to uncover free agent bargains and a willingness to pay above slot from time to time. The Phillies do none of these things, but it can be done.

The great tragedy is that with this superior core of young players, you don't even need to add any stars: Just solid quality supporting players to fill the holes. And by that I don't mean the Pedro Felizes, Chad Durbins, Shane Youmans and Eric Bruntletts of the world.

Feliz is on fire!!!! Just Kidding, sort of. He is on fire in spring training, which means nothing.

BTW: Did Pat Burrell serve as the model for that Pirate logo? I swear it looks like PTB wearing a Pirates hat.

Thank B-Mac. I can't stand Eaton, but I'm very much intrigued about how he pitches this spring and hopefully improves this season because he is a crucial member of the staff/rotation in my opinion. Benson won't be ready, Chad Durbin is better as longman, JD Durbin is far too inconsistent, and Blackley is a longshot.

Hey Beerleaguers,
I need a little off topic help, two things.
1) Is there a website comparable to Cots for Football, I really want info on salary cap room?

2) Is there a beerleaguer equivilant for Eagles football?

Thanks

AWH:

I also read the Conlin article. And said amen to every bit of it.

Clout: Imagine what could be done with the Phillies larger then average budget and some billy bean style scouting and development. The Phillies have the resources to be a top notch franchise.

I do think it is nuts to label the Phillies "small market", they are a mid market team on the cusp of being a large market one. Their budget is in the top 10 every year.

Spending money on a player like Feliz is the problem, not the total budget.

Pride:
There is no "beerleaguer equivalent" for anything.

(Actaully, there probably is; I was just giving more props to Jason et al.)

PoP, I think "The 700 Level" does Eagles stuff but I don't really know, football and blogging just don't go together for me.

3 hours, once a week, is enough football.

I don't know about football salary data, but maybe digging around at pro football-reference .com or football outsiders would turn something up...

JW:
I think that is a call to start another fan website!

Kdon,
Thanks I will check those out

I would really like to see Eaton pitch this spring. Like it or not, the Phils are stuck with this guy for another 2 years in their rotation. All of this talk about the No. 5 starter spot being wild open are BS. If Eaton is healthy, he is the No. 5 starter coming out of camp.

Even more so than Myers, it might be more critical than Eaton has a solid spring to build on. You haven't heard it discussed much but it sounded like their are a bunch of doubts about Eaton's mental composure (toughness, in-game pitch selection) from both the managers and the players. I wonder if the Phils didn't have such good chemistry or if they had a manager who was tougher on his players that at some point last year they would have called out/turned on Eaton. On a bunch of other clubs, I bet that would have been the case at some point during the season.

Hopefully a decent spring coupled with a few decent outings in April will put Eaton on track to even have an very average year (say 10 W, 4.50-5.00 ERA).

On more important lineup issues..
I'm an advocate for the Rollins/Utley/Burrell/Howard/(werth/jenkins)/Victorino lineup. I like splitting up Utley and Howard so one really good lefty reliever can't come in just for them late in games. Additionally, Burrell's OBP is maximized with a monster like Howard hitting behind him, and putting those three eyes in a row will really make a pitcher labor. Also, Victorino can run all he wants when he gets on base if has Feliz and Ruiz (heh, ironic that I realized only now that their names rhyme) behind him.

Brian G: Why would you want to deprive Howard of any and all protection by putting jenkins or werth behind him? Lets see, a guy with zero pop or a guy with a .247BA and .320OBP.

Put Burrell behind Howard and he will see a lot more pitches to hit.

Rollins, Utley, Howard, Burrell. Ideally you the Phillies would have a lead off hitter who knew how to take a walk in fron of Rollins, but at least this way Howard will get to Mash instead of being walked to face jenkins.

Brian G - its not a bad thought, but you kind of devalue Victorino's speed if you have him stealing bases and hoping in most cases that the bottom of the order will drive him in.

Come September we'll be talking about Victorino having 50 stolen bases and being stranded on 2nd or 3rd 95% of the time.

Plus, by batting him 6th, you start to depend on him to be an RBI guy, which he is not.

I'm okay with the lineup as it is now. We already have one player with a SLG % over 500 at the top of the order, we don't need two guys who could combine for 60 HR hitting 1-2.

The LOOGY thing doesn't bother me now as much as it did with Abreu/Thome. Both of them had pretty severe platoon splits, but Uts and Howard can hold their own.

I will, however, predict that Jenkins finishes in the top 5 in GIDP...even as a part time player. He is going to have three 400 OBP guys hitting in front of him!

Utley's career splits v. RHP and LHP:

RHP: .307
LHP: .282

Not much of a difference there. His BABIP vs Lefties is actually higher than against righties. The point is that the value of left handed pitching against him is constantly overstated.

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