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Friday, March 14, 2008

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From my pot-stirring comment last thread:

Joe Sheehan at BP states (and I agree) that the three variables that dictate where a free agent signs are money, preceived competitiveness, and geography.

We can all speculate the level of priority Lohse and Scott Boras placed on those three with some reasonableness. These are value-based judgments from the players perspective. Lohse placed an ultra-high priority on money. He's pitched close to everywhere, so I doubt geography matters to him much.

No team - none that Brian mentioned or other perceived contenders like the Cardinals, Rockies, Brewers (who all think that if things break their way, they can make the playoffs) - bought was Lohse and Boras sold over the course of the winter. Thanks, BAP, for making this point. The FO's values didn't jive with Lohse and Boras. Why? The market changes all the time. Lohse and Boras's insistence to pay for a high price in the face of market dynamics doomed him in the end.

FO people are business owners. If there's a cheaper, more effective alternative in the market, 95 out of 100 business owners will make the switch.

Lineups being announced at Clearwater...

I'd like it better if Rosario had to face Teixeira, too. But those top 5 oughta be a decent test. Let's go Frankie R!!

"FO people are business owners. If there's a cheaper, more effective alternative in the market, 95 out of 100 business owners will make the switch."
Mike: I'd hope 100 out of 100 would want to pay less for a better product if they had that option.
But the point is, the Phillies don't have a cheaper, more effective alternative. They have two prayers: that Rosario is following the Johan Santana career path and that the rest of their pitchers stay healthy.

3 up 3 down for Rosario.

You'd be surprised about the other reasons for those 5. Customer loyalty might be a reason, or a friend of the family - that kind of stuff.

Andy

very mundane, used the 'insert / symbol' option in Word, then sopied and pasted it


you could posibly even copy and paste thse symbols?

copied obviously, I tried to sopy it but it froze my computer

Gotta be careful when you're sopying stuff.

And yeah - my plan is to copy and paste your infinity symbols. It'll help when referring to Feliz' fielding percentage, for instance, or Eaton's ERA.

Sounds like Rosario's control is ∞ly off this inning.

Was Brandon Watson really sacrificing in a ST game?

Walks and hit batsmen. Control issues. Then Rosario tries to groove a strike on the first pitch and the result is a moonshot over the fence. Grand slam, Escobar.

Typical.

Cue the rants against Rosario and how we have no fifth-starter candidate...

6 runs on 3 hits. The real Francisco Rosario shows up.

Ok, back to the drawing board. Problem is, I think we just ran out of chalk.

Horacio Ramirez anyone?

Yikes. Jeff Weaver is still out there. I'm joking! I guess they will muddle until the savior Benson comes. My guess is Benson won't be a savior but we'll see.

Hate to repost my own stuff, but...

"I think the 5th starters job at this point must be Rosario's to lose."

Response:
"Is that because he is the only one who hasn't started yet?"

I imagine clout isn't worried though...it isn't March 20th yet.

as bad as Jeff Weaver is/has been, the best the guy has pitched was when he was in the NL (LAD & STL). If I was a NL team I'd take a look at him.

It might be a good time for the Phillies to reconsider their decision to send Happ back to the minors.

Screw Horacio Ramirez!

Say goodnight, Sugar Shane Youman...

Can we get Don Carmen out of retirement?

I assume we all realize where this is headed? Adam Eaton as our No. 5 starter.

I wonder how many times Uncle Charlie can skip the 5th spot in the rotation.

This fight for the 5th starter spot is the worst "competition" I've seen since the Hipster Olympics.

This is embarrassing really, we basically have five guys fighting for the spot (Real Deal, Durbin, Rosario, Eaton, Blackley) and they *all* are getting lit up.

I'd rather see Shane Rawley at this point than Shane Youman...

Suggested theme song for the Phils' 5th starter "competition":
"Another One Bites the Dust".

"Adam Eaton as our No. 5 starter."

Funny how Eaton's injury is so sensitive that it responds to the performance of other pitchers.

I've never bought the fact that he was ever injured really. He got hurt in '06, and since then he is just a bad pitcher. If the Phils had not signed him last offseason, I think he would be a non-roster invitee somewhere this year.

If not Happ, then my next candidate for the No. 5 starter is Ryan Madson. I know. That idea is nuts, for a whole lot of reasons. If anyone has any better ideas, I'd be glad to hear them. Hopefully April and May will bring lots of rainouts.

Mad Dog's the only one who hasn't been lit up.
Yet.

Guess I'll have to fish for another issue to adopt now that Rosario has gone from having an "eye-opening" spring to a terrible one in a matter of minutes. Maybe he pitched okay but made unlucky mistakes?

Anyone know if Gary Knotts is still in camp?

kdon: I feel today exactly as I felt, and so stated, last November: This team doesn't have enough pitching, especially in the bullpen.

From last thread:
I've been as tough on Golson as anyone, but the fact of the matter is he is young enough to develop baseball skills on offense. I cannot imagine that he'll be ready to step in for Burrell in 2009, but if he makes progress this year at Reading and moves to Allentown in '09 with more development there, it could land him a job at CBP in 2010.

I do agree with Jason that this season will go a long, long way toward telling us how Golson is likely to turn out, far more than any of his previous seasons. Double A is where the prospects get separated from the suspects.

Said months ago but as long as Eaton isn't on the DL when the Phils need their No. 5 starter, he is the man. If not, I still think C. Durbin gets the nod just out of sheer lack of a better alternative.

Rosario got lite up but if he can be a backend guy in the rotation who is even adequate, that is all you really need from him. He just can't throw strikes and I bet like many others is back and forth this year between Allentown/Philly.

Madson as a starter is ridiculous. Besides needing an arm in the pen that actually might be regularly effective, we have seen the "Madson as a starter" experiment. Complete failure.

Meant bullpen for Rosario. If he can give the Phils 40-50 innings this year of even so-so relief (say an ERA around 4.50), I am sure the Phils would take it.

Amazing as it is to say, I actually (in person) saw Shane Youman beat Carlos Zambrano last year at PNC Park in the last game before the All-Star break. Hey, minor miracles happen.

Of course, along the same lines, I also did see (again in person) Ryan Madson throw 8 2/3 shut-out innings at Camden Yards in 2006.

Is anyone else as disgusted as I am by what has happened this pre-season? The Phillies had massive bullpen needs heading into the off-season. They seemed to recognize those needs, by announcing their intent to focus almost exclusively on pitching. Then they went out and spent all of their FA money on everyday players. To "solve" their pitching/bullpen problems, Gillick relied solely on his own acumen for spotting hidden talent -- in the form of fringe major leaguers and a couple of Rule 5 draft picks with "live arms." Then ST arrives, and not a one of these guys pans out. If this scenario sounds familiar, it's because it's exactly the same scenario that played out last year. Gillick is too stubborn to learn from his mistakes.

Still say it breaks out this way:

1. Eaton is the No. 5 starter
2. Gets shelled in April and put on DL
3. C. Durbin gets a nod and really struggles
4. Phils call-up somebody from AA or AAA give them a nod
5. Benson comes in sometime in June to the rotation

Now that assumes that the other guys can stay healthy and effective through June and I think that is highly unlikely too.

I've never seen the guy in person, but judging from the boxscore that Lillibridge guy is tough to miss.

b-a-p:
So basically, (I'm summarizing), Pat Gillick has mailed it in the last two off-seasons.

Or he's just ∞ly bad at acquiring pitchers.

bap - Maybe Gillick was under some fiscal restrictions/FA market wasn't great for starters but the point is that for the 3rd year in a row, this pitching staff will likely be in the bottom 3rd of the NL.

At this point, Gillick has been here long enough that deserves to shoulder the blame for the pitching staff inadequacies.

I figured it out! The Phils are sand-bagging ST so that their NL East opponents will get over-confident.

There can be no other explanation!

(You know, apart from sucking.)

MG: Yeah, Madson as starter is ridiculous. But so is Adam Eaton as starter.

Madson did have great results as a starter in ST 2006, & he also started off the 2006 season with 2 strong outings, before his famous 1-inning, 9 earned run implosion. But, even after that, he managed to have quite a few strong outings -- and a few very strong ones -- which we tend to forget about. Madson's problem was that, nestled between the good outings were several complete abominations. But, on balance, Madson actually did a better job as a starter than Adam Eaton did last year. I agree that he's an important piece of the bullpen, but the bullpen won't matter if we're out of every fifth game by the second inning.

jobbers, I love that whole symbol thing. Now we can say things like
"Eaton isn't even worth ¥24.5MM."
or
"Holliday still hasn't touched ⌂."

The possibilities are, um, infinite...

Free agency isn't the only way to find starting pitching. I believe I wrote a post early last off-season, suggesting that the Phillies try to trade for a young, under-the-radar starter with an excellent GO/FO ratio, but who might be available in a trade because his overall performance hasn't been that great. Paul Maholm & Daniel Cabrera were 2 names that jumped out at me. I suspect either one of these guys -- or someone like them -- could have been had for relatively little in return.

Andy: Your use of ∞ is becoming ∞ly annoying...

C-Jon, Thanks for the feedback.

b-a-p:
Sergio Mitre?

BAP:

Got to agree. I've gone off on ownership, but Gillick has now had 3 off seasons to improve the staff, and he took the job understanding the budget limitations. And the staff is pretty much at the same level of quality as when he took the job.

BAP: Cabrera is a 26-year-old RHP with command issues who made $1.8M last season and I doubt the pitching-poor O's would've given him up for "relatively little."

On Maholm, it's not even close. He's one of the Pirates top prospects, a 25-year-old LHP whose numbers would've been much better had he not tried to pitch thru back problems late last year.

so I guess John Ennis is the new dark horse candidate for the 5th starter spot?...

If the Phillies were able to get a decent late innings bullpen piece this year like say David Riske they would be able to at least try Ryan Madson as a starter again.

b-a-p:
1) If the Phils move Madson to the rotation, who is left in the bullpen - especially when Gordon/Lidge/whomever goes down with an injury?
2) I'm not sure that Madson's failure to acheive success in the rotation was circumstantial. What are his pitches and how many does he throw effectively? He might just truly be better as a reliever.
3) Gillick stinks as the Phillies' GM. He may have been tolerable or even good somewhere else at some other time; but right now, in Philadelphia, he is lousy, awful, dreadful, horrid and bad, simply.

Gosh, typhoon, you mean we could've signed Riske, Knight, Wise and/or Mahay and been a better team? And Gillick chose not to do that? He must've been pre-occupied with that other pitching deal he was working on, the one that got us, um.... what did he do this off-season?

BAP - Disagree on Madson. He was completely overmatched as a starter. Only really throws two pitches, doesn't really have an "out" pitch, has stamina issues, and seemed to get hit hard on the 2nd time through the lineup.

Agree that the Phils could have gone after a second-tier starter in a trade but they would have had to give up something of value from some pretty thin pickings.

I said this offseason that any supposed "competition" for the No. 5 starter spot was a complete sham. The Phils invested their money in Eaton and are dead set on getting something out of him even if it likely horrendous.

It was like last year during spring training when the Phils were supposedly having a competition between Eaton and Lieber for the No. 5 spot. That was ridiculous. Like the Phils were going to admit that they had just spend $25M on a guy who couldn't even make their rotation. Fat chance.

Tell you what:
If the Phils have to play the Braves in late September and the Braves are using their third-string minor league call-ups, we better have Mr. John Wayne Ennis ready to pitch; 'cause he can mow those boys down.

You bet, Gary Knotts is still in camp and I always thought he had the best chance to be the 5th starter.

MG - "Fat chance"

Were you making a Leiber joke?

The Boston Red Sox placed Curt Schilling on the 60-day disabled list as he continues to rehabilitate his right shoulder. Moving Schilling to the disabled list cleared space for Boston to sign righthander Lincoln Holdzkom to its 40-man roster.
Holdzkom, who played in the Red Sox farm system last year, was selected in the Rule 5 draft in December by the Phillies, then offered back to the Red Sox. Because it was his second outright assignment, he became a free agent and re-signed with Boston

The worst thing that Gillick did this year was handcuff the Phils' this coming offseason too by signing Jenkins and Feliz to multiyear deals. Phils could potentially over 20% of their payroll next year invested in 3 Gillick acquisitions (Feliz, Jenkins, Eaton) who will do little to nothing to help this team win in '09 either.

That has been Gillick's cardinal sin while he has been the Phils' GM - no long-term vision or strategy on how to really improve this team to put them in a position to contend for a championship.

Andy - I was but remember that Lieber actually looked pretty good in spring training last year while Eaton got smoked. I actually advocated resigning the Donut Eater this offseason to a deal like the Cubs gave him. 1-yr deal with plenty of upside potential.

Yeah, I wasn't a big fan of Lieber but he would arguably be the No. 4 starter on this team.

Andy: Exactly. The only real pitching moves made were lateral moves at best (Lidge trade and re-signing Romero). However I blame Gillick and the Front Office/Ownership equally. I really hope the GM next year isn't Amaro or Arbuckle or it will be more of the same. Although this ownership needs to go as well.

BTY - Donut Eater has looked pretty good on the mound (and in relative shape for him) and looks like he will definitely get a spot in the Cubs' rotation coming Opening Day.

MG - right now, Lieber would be #3 on this team.

So...my problem is that I should never say anything hopeful or optimistic.

Golson just whiffed.

MG, you're right about Madson only throwing 2 pitches. But, when I looked at his game-by-game peformances, I profess to being surprised that he wasn't nearly as consistently awful as I remembered.

Since the Phillies aren't big on creativity, the 5th starter's job will undoubtedly come down to Eaton or C. Durbin. Chances are pretty good that, before ST is over, Eaton will have one outing that isn't quite bad enough to qualify as hideous (say 5 IP, 3 runs allowed). That will be good enough to win the job.

So does Helms getting a walk and another hit make his trade value better? Will the Dodgers give us "future considerations" for him yet?

Nice outing by Carrasco. Hope he doesn't turn to mush at Reading this year.

One subject that has not been brought up is how Burrell and Jenkins together impact the line-up.

Both are very, very streaky and have found themselves on the bench various times throughout their careers respectively due to prolonged slumps.

Obviously Jenkins will be platooned which should alleviate some of his potential damage but add Outman Feliz into the equation and it might be a good time to stock up on the TUMS for the season.

JB - I prepped for the pitching staff, the local CVS is clean out of tums.

JB: I'm not going to get at all worked up about the offense until they give me a reason to. This offense will be just fine... even with the addition of Mr. Out (Pedro Feliz).

CJ - are you sure that's not "Señor Out."

Ditto MG, Madson doesn't have the command of 4 pitches that he'd need with his stuff to be a starter. He's fine in the bullpen. There have been guys who did pretty well with 2 pitches over the years, but the 2 pitches they had were great and they could command them at will (Mario Soto and his 97 mph moving fastball plus drop-dead changeup come to mind.)

MG: The Phillies attitude toward Eaton is identical to their attitude toward Nunez. It became obvious almost immediately that the signing was an utter disaster, but the Phils paid their money and stuck with him through more than 600 wrteched plate appearances over 2 years despite the fact that his presence mostly hurt the team. It is interesting to note that the best Nunez can do is a Triple A contract.

Nunez isn't the same as Eaton at all. Nunez played bc Charlie thought he was the best option on many days. Last year he had two other options in Helms and Dobbs, yet Nunez still showed up in the lineup quite a bit. Eaton is playing solely bc of his contract.

Not to mention 2 yrs for a comined 2 mil can never be an "utter disaster", just a stupid minor mistake.

Brian G: Nunez made $3.35M on his 2 year contract ($1.25M in 06; 1.925M in 07; .175M buyout for 08), not $2M. For that money you could've gotten a decent middle reliever. You think he was a net positive for the Phillies?

Brian G: My point was this: There were innumerable alternatives to Nunez, both at the major league and Triple A levels. The Phillies kept Nunez because they had to pay him anyway. Same deal with Eaton.

Have to agree with Clout. Not exactly the same with Eaton but Nunez played so much because the Phils' were paying what amounted to be a significant amount of money.

Nunez was one of the worst positional players to put on a Phils' uniform the past 25 years. Completely useless with a bat (he couldn't even drop a bunt), on the bases, and vastly overrated defensively at 3B (could only play 2B too and was at best average there).

Any chance Rosario's struggles today were linked to the wet weather? Jayson Stark reports, "The game was delayed by rain before the start and then was played in nearly constant rain throughout." That's apparenlty why Tim Hudson was scratched.

"Nunez played so much because the Phils' were paying what amounted to be a significant amount of money."

That's not true. Nunez played so much because Charlie didn't like Dobbs/Helms on defense late in games and when Moyer pitched.

He may have been on the roster because he had guaranteed money, but the reason he played so much was the inadequacies of the third base options. It's not even close to the same thing as Eaton.

"Any chance Rosario's struggles today were linked to the wet weather?"

A) We might think that with a wet ball he couldn't get a grip; or

b) We might use that rainwater to mix ourselves a fresh batch of blue-raspberry kool-aid.

CJ -
Or put another way, if the rain was messing up Rosario, how come none of the Braves pitchers was messed up?

I think that Rosario's next start will be pretty telling. If he bounces back he still has a decent shot. If he struggles... well... join the club.

Theory: I agree with you. One bad start won't disqualify a guy from consideration; if it did, there would be no one left.

Clout identified 3-20 as the magic date when the results start mattering. I'd put the date as 3-15, which is tomorrow. ST ends 2 weeks from tomorrow, so guys like Eaton, Rosario, Castro, & the Durbins should all have 2 to 3 more appearances to prove (or disprove) themselves. To this point, all of them have been so horrendous that it would be literally impossible to identify one as the best of the lot. Therefore, if I were the Phillies, I'd give all of them a mulligan for everything that has happened so far. Whoever is the best over the next 2 weeks wins the job, plain and simple.

I'm buying what you're selling, BAP. It is even apparent to Charlie that something has to give.

I'm going to keep stats from today on to see who, if anyone, makes any vast improvement.

Wow, Charlie actually is unhappy. This has to be the strongest language I've ever heard from him (Eskin excepted):

""We have some guys that are too cool, and there's a fine line between being relaxed and being complacent."

I have a feeling when someone like Cholly says this, it has an impact.

i'm throwing my unwavering support behind the model dictator. go fabio castro, go!

I have a feeling when someone like Cholly says this, it has an impact.

honestly, you think that the guy would have got the hint when he was left off the post-season roster.

for who? mesa?

dudes gotta do some soul searching....

kdon: You agree with me and don't realize it:
"He may have been on the roster because he had guaranteed money"

That is exactly why he was on the roster. That is exactly my point. It is also exactly why Eaton is on the roster.

"To "solve" their pitching/bullpen problems, Gillick relied solely on his own acumen for spotting hidden talent -- in the form of fringe major leaguers and a couple of Rule 5 draft picks with "live arms." Then ST arrives, and not a one of these guys pans out. If this scenario sounds familiar, it's because it's exactly the same scenario that played out last year. Gillick is too stubborn to learn from his mistakes." - bap


"bap - Maybe Gillick was under some fiscal restrictions/FA market wasn't great for starters but the point is that for the 3rd year in a row, this pitching staff will likely be in the bottom 3rd of the NL.

At this point, Gillick has been here long enough that deserves to shoulder the blame for the pitching staff inadequacies." - MG


bap and MG, you guys sound like you think this phenomenon is something new.

Whatever the problem is (scouting? drafting? developing? you choose?), the Phillies, during the Giles/Montgomery era, have had tremendous difficulty fielding teams with even average pitching.

As I've pointed out before, since Giles replaced Paul Owens with himself as GM for the 1984 season, years they have produced pitching staffs that have been below league average in ERA+ most of the time.

If you toss out 1985 and 1986(as the last couple of season Owens' impact mattered), in the last 21 years the Phillies pitching staff has finished the season in the bottom half of league ERA+ 16 times 76% of the time.

More recently, in the last 10 years, Phillies' pitching has finished in the bottom half of league ERA+ 80% of the time.


I ask you, is that a track record that should be acceptable for an organization with the resources provided by operating in the largest monopoly market, and 5th largest overall market?


As I said, this phenomenon is nothing new, and I'm not sure the current group of owners even know how to fix it.


What scares me even more than that, is the feelng I get that they actually think they're good at what they do as far as pitching is concerned.

I'll concede that the current core of position players is phenomenal, and give credit where credit is due.

However, the ability to field a team with decent pitching (and pitching depth) seems to be nonexistent.

Giles? Wade? It really doesn't matter who the GM is. There's something else amiss as far as the pitching is concerned.

It's not a recent phenomenon.

Kdon, Charlie might be able to motivate a good player who's lazy, or even a mediocre one, but he can't coax Eaton into performing or make Rosario less wild. You can't draw too many conclusions from a couple weeks of spring training, but so far they're confirming what many of us already knew - that this pitching staff is a lost cause.

I wanna make sure we have this article ready at hand on March 30th, when Eaton goes north with the club. From Zolecki: "Adam Eaton said he felt no pressure to hold on to his job. If he stays healthy, he said, he should be able to pitch well enough to keep it. Of course, it certainly helps him that he's in the second year of a three-year, $24.5 million contract. Manager Charlie Manuel acknowledged Eaton has the inside track on the team's No. 5 starter's job."

And from the honorable gentleman himself:
"I haven't read you guys this spring, so I don't know what my standing is," said Eaton. "I think I've established myself as a big-leaguer. I'm getting paid extremely handsomely, probably more than I'm worth. But everyone is not worth what they're getting paid. It's fun. If you don't like the competition, what are you doing here? Everyone should thrive on competition."

Clout, I was responding to MG's comment, not yours.

But the Nunez experiment was reason #1 why I wanted Feliz, because it gave Cholly a 3B who didn't need a defensive replacement and could start when Moyer pitched.

Without Feliz, Bruntlett would be getting all of those Nunez ABs, and not hitting much better.

kdon: Sounds like we agree. Nunez is one of the very few mlb players for whom Feliz would be an upgrade.

{Sorry about the Eaton stuff. I just remember losing track of his stupid ST quotes from last year and never finding them. I figured sticking them on the Ides of March, I'd be able to access them later when we need to remember that "everyone is not worth what they're getting paid" and that "It's fun."

clout - "few" might be stretching it. I'm sure if I worked long hours on B-Ref, I could come up with a dozen.

I see Marcus Thames is out with a muscle ache. All it takes to get an injury is for it even to be rumored that the Mets are interested in you.

AWH: You're right that the buck starts with ownership, but that doesn't mean that Gillick deserves a free pass. Within the constraints of his admittedly too-small budget, he has had choices. He has chosen to forego quality pitching in favor of mediocre, and largely unnecessary, everyday players like Nunez & Barajas in years past, and Feliz & Jenkins this year. And, when he HAS spent money on pitching, he has done so foolishly (i.e., Eaton, Garcia, Rhodes, Franklin, Gordon).

The bullpen has been the team's biggest problem for the better part of the last decade and, in each of the last 2 off-seasons, Gillick applied identical strategies for dealing with this problem. He forewent experienced, proven commodities, & relied instead on his ability to discern hidden talent that would cost next to nothing. Didn't work last year & seems to be failing even more spectacularly this year.

Ever since Gillick pulled off the George Bell coup 28 years ago, he seems to think that the Rule 5 draft is a critical part of any off-season rebuilding plan. It isn't. It's nothing more than a lottery, in which the odds of success are about 1 in 1,000. I don't know of any other GM in baseball who treats it as anything other than this. But, with the Phillies, they clearly drafted guys like Jim Ed Warden, Travis Blackley, & Lincoln Holdzcom with the idea that they had a strong chance of being major contributors. You need only go back & look at Ruben Amaro's quotes to see how unreallistically optimistic our management is about their Rule 5 acquisitions.

Justin Germano had a fine five inning outing in Beijing as we were all asleep. It still sticks in my craw that he got away. The man knows how to pitch. There'd be no fifth starter concern.

Big day today, for lots of reasons...


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