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Tuesday, March 18, 2008


"The comparison of Helms and Bruntlett is bizarre. They fill 2 very different roles."

C'mon, clout, stop (trying to make?) making sense.

Jason, where'd ya get the photo of Favre in a Phils' hat?

From Rotoworld:
"A.J. Burnett has yet to throw a single curveball this spring because of a broken finger nail."

Where's Madge when you need her?

The thoughts of Blackley and/or Castro making the pitching staff makes me vomit in my mouth/throat and swallow...dammit Gillick!

Hamels gets out the first 6 Rays up, with 2 K's. Good to see.

For what it's worth, Conlin in today's DN predicts the Phils for 88 wins and possibly 3rd place. I don't know about that, but I would agree that 88 wins won't make the playoffs.

Turn that switch, baby.

Jesus, Jason, this time the Beerleaguer curse reversed!

If Lidge and Benson get healthy- 90+ wins. If they don't get healthy quickly and we suffer any more injuries- .500.

Carson: You need to stop depending on Benson. You're only setting yourself up to get hurt.

So Hamels answered his questions, obviously and even Jenkins personally responded to Jason's challenge with a home run.

Is there a chance that Jenkins is going to be this years Helms? A platoon player that we thought would be a good help but just ends up sucking and riding the bench? I can see it happening

Good things happen to those who wait, but one individual who's still waiting to win the lottery is Jason Weitzel of Chester County, Pennsylvania ...

I hope no one had been worrying about Hamels. As long as he is healthy, he is literally the least of our problems (which are still many).

ThugLife - funny I was just thinking the same thing. I mentioned in a previous post of some concern of him and Burrell slumping at the same time.

Hopefully this will get him kick-started but a double-shot of all or nothing streakiness just might burn a hole right through all the previous gastrointestinal-damaged beerleaguers.

Good signs:
Hamels mowing down the Rays.
Jenkins going deep.

Expected signs:
Feliz, after that amazing start, is now hitting .222

Strange signs:
Chollie just pulled a sextuple switch. (b-a-p: That's showing off!)

Casey Smith still in camp. Watch your ass, Chase Utley.

Alright, I'm able to admit when I'm wrong and, upon further consideration, my idea about dumping Bruntlett was idiotic. Feliz has, and could, play SS in a pinch, but we don't have anyone other than Bruntlett who can back up Utley -- so I guess that means Bruntlett and his lousy bat must stay.

However, the impetus for my post was the notion that we need to give Helms away in order to clear up roster space for Dobbs & Bruntlett. This is still a notion that I reject. Helms' decent bat off the bench will be of more value to the Phillies than the crappy reliever that we might get by trading him. Perhaps the solution is to carry just 6 relievers, instead of 7. It's not like we'll be losing out on a quality player if we have to trim someone off the back end of the bullpen.

Maybe we should trade Utley for Steve Kline, and then give the starting 2nd base job to Casey Smith.

Casey Smith is still in camp because the Phils are showcasing him for a trade for pitching help. Straight up for Johnny Cueto. LOL

b_a_p: Although I am not convinced that the Phils should trade Helms for a garbage reliever, wouldn't it be helpful to have as many arms as possible in the bullpen given the lack of quality just to see what sticks? It would seem to be the same approach that should have been taken with the fifth starter.

If the Rox really want to dump Fuentes maybe they'll take Casey for him. Stranger things have happened. (Why I heard once that a team was willing to trade Bobby Abreu for 4 lumps and a sack of magic beans, just to dump salary! Can you imagine?)

>Chollie just pulled a sextuple switch.
Umm, err..

okay joe l,
that sounds stranger than I intended...

Andy, not that there's anything wrong with that.

Bruntlett is kind of a necessary evil. You need at least one player on the roster who is capable of backing up the middle INF spots. I do agree with you though BAP though but Bruntlett's offensive limitations and really hope that Cholly minimizes Bruntlett's PH opportunities.

I actually do think Helms will have a better year this year but there is ZERO reason for him to be on the roster right now. He isn't a lefty bat and the Phils already have Dobbs to play the 3B/1B role.

Plus, I don understand the reluctance to trade Helms for any warm-bodied reliever. Even a guy like Gas Can who could give this team 50-60 innings of even adequate relief would be value.

Ideally the Phils will trade Helms for an able-bodied lefty reliever. None of the remaining pitchers in camp have shown they deserve a spot The Phils will go with 7 relievers then:

C. Durbin
lefty reliever

If Lidge isn't able to be on the opening day roster, then the Phils go north with one of the remaining candidates. Probably Condrey.

We also shouldn't compare Bruntlett to other hitters on the roster or other team's starters. Every team requires a player to backup middle infielders. Last year, we had Abe Nunez, who couldn't even really play shortstop.

Let's compare Bruntlett to other utility infielders. I'm not sure he rates so badly in that case.

Maybe we can trade Helms for Placido Polanco.

JAS - looks like your sentence got cut-off, let me finish it for you:
Maybe we can trade Helms for Placido Polanco's high school team manager's uncle's neighbor's used sweat socks.

There. That looks better.

Andy: I won't settle for anything less than Placido Polanco's high school team manager's uncle's neighbor's used leather jacket.

Casey Smith still in camp. Watch your ass, Ryan Howard.

Phillies won again today. Does that mean they're going to win the World Series? Because everytime they lost it meant they weren't going to make the playoffs. At least on this message board

No, no, no, Bob. When the Phillies lost last week, it meant they were not going to do better than third place. Except the Mets fans. They thought fourth place.

MG - I would say, and not based on today's performance, but based on his overall spring, his lefthandedness, and his health, that the left hander to go north would be Castro.

If we win every spring training game left, I'll still predict a second or third place finish. As for the 90+ wins prediction from Carson (if Lidge and Benson are healthy), I think that's next to impossible.

Sorry bap, can't let you off that easy. Even if the Phils carry only 6 in the pen (which is fine with me), Snelling is a better candidate for the last spot.

Tray: Winning two more games than last year is next to impossible?

90 wins certainly isn't impossible.

I would bet 85-88, but the low nineties are in the range of the possible.

The Phils have taken some steps backward, but having Myers start every fifth day is a big improvement over last year's squad.

Hey guys - flying back East next month and want to take my cousin to a Sunday afternoon game at the Cit. Along which baseline do you suggest I buy tix? Plenty of options on StubHub ...

"Tray: Winning two more games than last year is next to impossible?"

With this pitching staff as currently constituted going into the season, there is almost no chance. The Phils would need to see a substantial reduction in their runs allowed.

Assuming the "Pythagorean winning percentage"

1. The Phils scored 895 runs again last year and I think they will have a slight falloff to around 870 runs. Still arguably might lead the NL again in runs if they score 870 runs.

2. The Phils' pitching staff would lead to see a substantial reduction in the runs allowed to the tune around 760 runs (or a reduction of 61 runs from last season).

3. Assuming the Phils score 870 runs and allowed 760 runs, it would put them around 91 wins. I don't there is a chance in hell that this pitching staff/defense has improved by 60+ runs from last season.

4. If anything, the Phils are likely to see a modest improvement at best in their runs allowed which puts them solidly in the 86-88 win range yet again.

If this team wins 88 games or less, they are definitely at home again come Oct. I am 100% confident in making that prediction although I don't know if it would put them 3rd in the NL East because I am just not sold on the Braves winning more than 85-86 games either.

kdon: Is this a playoff caliber bullpen? (Please say yes as it will sustain a year long argument.)

I think Lidge and Benson's health is certainly important, but there's one other pitcher whose health is crucial: Tom Gordon. There is no one else on this team who is a quality setup man (except Lidge and he's the closer).

MG: I agree with you on 88 wins. The NL Central is better and the NL West has 3 very good teams, maybe 4. I think it takes 90 at least this year to get the Wild Card.

The key for the Braves is their rotation. Everything else is playoff-caliber. But if James can't pitch through arm woes or Glavine falls apart or Jurrjens and Reyes both fail to step up as 5th starter, they will not make it. On the other hand, if Glavine repeats his 2007, James is healthy and Jurrjens (and/or Reyes & Hampton) steps up, I can easily see them winning the division. Even if Santana wins 24 games.

"Is this a playoff caliber bullpen?"

I don't know. I never understand this question. The team as a whole is
"playoff caliber", but that doesn't necessarily mean every aspect of the team is playoff caliber.

I mean, was Adam Eaton a "playoff caliber" 5th starter last year?

Conversely, Albert Pujols is certainly a "playoff caliber" 1B, but what did his team do?

Teams have strengths and weaknesses, and like last year, the bullpen currently counts as a weakness.

I gotta agree with kdon on Snelling (although I still disagree on his potential upside. I don't think he'll ever be a regular and if he does hit 110-115 OPS+ as kdon has predicted it will be in fewer than 300 ABs off the bench. He'd never do that as an everyday player.)

You've already got Coste and Taguchi as righty bats on the bench. Helms would make Dobbs the lone lefty (except when Jenkins sits vs. LHP). Assuming 12 pitchers, you've got 5 bench spots: The non-starter in the RF platoon, Bruntlett, Dobbs, Coste and either Helms or Snelling. Snelling hits lefty and can be Pat's defensive caddy, thus adds more value than Helms.

We can't honestly be looking at the Pythagorean winning percentage telling us anything, can we?

Exhibit A: Arizona Diamondbacks

Besides, I think it's just as possible this offense is more productive this year based on a full healthy year from Howard and Utley and improvement from Victorino and Ruiz. There may be a drop off from Rowand to Werth/Jenkins, but I'm not sure how much. And as bad as Feliz is... our production at third last year was abysmal.

I have always enjoyed the first base line at CBP far more....either way your view out wont be much different, so it is more of a park where it is pretty much personal preference. Phillies sit on the 1B side if that makes a difference to you.

In the midst of all this Bruntlett (not to mention Feliz) talk will my wisdom finally please be respected - the same thing I've been saying since forever: we should have bent over backwards to make a deal with Iguchi - so what if he would have had to miss April. It was a deal worth doing even at that point.

Arizona was one outlier out of twenty years of proof that the Pythagorean formula was statistically significant. Run differential is as close to a scientific law that you can find in baseball.

I'm so pleased that expectations are so diminshed about Pat Burrell in a contract year. That way, we'll all have something to complain about when he puts up better than average numbers this year. Then, we will want him to stay in Philadelphia, even though he'd have to take a pay cut to do it.

CJ: Actually the combined stats of Helms and Dobbs last season were superior to Feliz's. There will be a dropoff at 3B and in CF. In RF I see an INCREASE in offense by Jenkins/Werth over last year's Vic. The core (Rollins, Utley, Howard, Burrell) remaining healthy will determine whether the team scores more or fewer runs than last season.

Thanks Ben - was leaning that way myself, since I'm used to the 1st base line at AT&T Park. (Just nabbed my company's seats for the Phils trip to SF.) Last time I was at the Cit I was up in the nosebleeds ...

I guess I like Helms better than everybody else does. Perhaps I might not be so adamant about keeping him, if I thought more highly of Feliz. But I can easily imagine a scenario where Feliz has a .245 average and a .246 OBP at the All Star break. At that point, Cholly would have no choice but to look for alternatives. Having Helms around would give him a viable part-time alternative.

CJ: Here are the Pythagorean formula numbers for the Phils since they moved into CBP in 2004

Run Scored/Run Allowed/Expected/Actual/+ or -

2007: 892 runs/821 runs/87-75/89-73/+2
2006: 865 runs/812 runs/86-76/85-77/-1
2005: 807 runs/726 runs/89-73/88-74/-1
2004: 840 runs/781 runs/86-76/86-76/right on

The Pythagorean formula is pretty spot on and definitely statistically significant at the .05 level for every season since the Phils have moved into CBP.

If anything, the numbers last year suggest that Phils were a little lucky. Lets say the Phils duplicate their run total again this year (again pretty unlikely).

My point is that it is likely the Phils are going to have to allow 785 runs or less to have a shot at winning 90 or more games (key to making the playoffs).

More than likely though the Phils will have to reduce their runs allowed total by 50 or more runs. I say there is no shot the Phils ' pitching staff/defense has improved by that much.

Can Casey Smith play any short? If so, would he be a offensive upgrade as the middle infield utility guy over Bruntlett?

MG: Great way to frame the question for statheads. And the conclusion backs up clout's position since forever: This pitching staff, particularly the bullpen but also in starter depth (the 6th thru 8th guys every team stashes at AAA), is not of playoff caliber. I said 84 wins last year, so I'm no accurate barometer, but I'd guess 86 as constructed, a good 5 games behind the boys in blue and orange.

No doubt moves will be made in season in attempts to address the obvious flaws, but since we have few resources the moves will of necessity be minor. I think you'll see some clutching at straws, a la the '64 team, bringing up every promising pitcher with a functioning arm and burning through as many as needed, future be damned, in the search for the elusive 5th starter (might as well be the Lost Chord or the Fountain of Youth for all the Phillies front office can tell).

Does Castro have options left? If he does, I can see them taking that other Vic north. Yes, it's very nearly come to that.

AJC1: If you go 3b side, be careful to get a view of the scoreboard. If you're too far back you get a truncated view.

Alby - Fabio Castro has two option years left.

Tartan69 0 Smith plays him some short. Not the best in the world, but some. If Jimmy went down, Chollie might put Dobbs at 3rd and slide Senor Out over from 5 to 6.

Alby: Thanks. I had said 85 wins last year and wound up being pleasantly surprised. I would agree though with your and Clout's take on the pitching staff.

The issue if the Phils likely will need a starter from their minor league system from Reading or below to have a real positive impact (discounting a guy like Segovia, Castro, Segovia) on their system for a third year in a row and likely getting lucky with a waiver-wire reliever like Romero again.

I actually have more faith in the later than I do the former this year.

Tartan - that zero before Smith should not be there. I was not implying that Casey is, in any way, the SS that someone else named Smith was.

If JRoll (knock on wood) went down, the Phils would call somebody and make Bruntlett the temporary fill-in. If long-term, I could see the Phils even making a minor trade for a SS.

This is ZERO chance that Feliz will be a starter at SS.

"I would say, and not based on today's performance, but based on his overall spring, his lefthandedness, and his health, that the left hander to go north would be Castro."

I think Blackley will eventually get 2nd lefty spot in the pen. They have moved him down there for a reason. Plus, they don't want to have to give him up. They like his potential.

Castro has options, and hasn't pitched that great anyway. He can go back to Allentown, and work out of the pen there.

I think Chad Durbin gets the long-man/6th starter role in the pen, with (unfortunately) Eaton starting the season as the 5th starter.

The pen looks like this to start the season (as long as Lidge is healthy):

C. Durbin

If Lidge can't go opening day, Condrey makes the team, and Madson is the closer.

The bench looks like this:


Helms is traded before April 1.

For all the struggles the Phils have had with their No. 5 starter spot this spring the Mets are having issues too because El Duque is only hitting 81 MPH on the gun (can you retirement in Spanish?) and I think Pelfrey is vastly overrated. The only difference is the Mets (3/4 starters) are light-years better than the Phils right now.

Phils just have to hope that Perez struggles a bit more this year and that Pedro doesn't give the Mets 30 starts either.

I'm not sure if some people are misinterpreting the "love" for Casey Smith. It's tongue-in-cheek. The guy is an organizational filler. He's 28 years old. He's not a prospect. It would take a minor disaster for him to see the major league roster this year.

Castro sent down today, so that clears up some things.

"Actually the combined stats of Helms and Dobbs last season were superior to Feliz's. There will be a dropoff at 3B"

Unfortunately, for all involved, the Phillies actually played 3 people at 3B last year, not two.

Phillies 3B last year: 688 OPS
Feliz: 708 OPS

Considering the respective parks, it's safe to say that Feliz outhit our 3B by a good margin.

The above statement that there will be a dropoff at 3B means a prediction that Feliz will hit worse than a 688 OPS this year. I disagree.

Perhaps not signing Jenkins could have been money better spent on Pitching. I don't understand why we needed him so badly. I would have been happy to let Werth start and have taguchi in some game, hell even golson. I don't think it was the best investment of money for a platoon player.

Over on MLBTR they have something up about the reds looking for a catcher. Freel is the possible trade candidate on their end. Not a bad guy to have on the bench, has versatility in the field and can hit a little.

Perhaps getting rid of Jenkins now wouldnt be a bad idea; package him with Jaramillo, or if Jenkins would be too much(in $$), or if they beleive Jenkins will be fine come the season then maybe helms in there on the salary dump, they throw in a reliever as well perhaps..

It's interesting to read so many comments about the Mets and what a uge upgrade Santana is to the rotation.

Well, it was mentioned on this board before, and I think I'll repeat it in question form:

How much of an upgrade is Santana? He essentially replaced Glavine. Glavine has averaged 205 IP the last 4 years for NY, while Santana has avereaged 228 IP.

Yes, Santana is much more dominating Yes, wa better peripherals), but it's not like he's going to save their bullpen by averaging 2 more innings per start than Glavine did. He simply hasn't done it and is not likely to in 2008.

The really big upgrade, or potential upgrade, for the Mets is not Santana, but the return of Pedro Martinez - if he stays healthy.

That, IMO, will have a much greater impact on the Mets fortunes in 2008 than the upgrade of Santana over Glavine.

Did anyone hear about Benson getting monkeys?

Kris Benson was showing off his family's new pets, a pair of marmosets. His wife, Anna, bought the two tiny monkeys for $2,000 apiece on Monday.

"My wife has always wanted a monkey, for some odd reason, and she kept pushing and pushing," said Benson, holding one of the furry little critters.

The Bensons already have nine dogs and a cat.

Carson - that's funny.

MG - The "slide Feliz over" thing was in response to a scenario where Casey would be the utility guy, not Bruntlett. Presumptively, if C Smith were on the 25, Bruntlett would be elsewhere.

CJ - You are correct about Casey Smith. He has done well in 2008 ST. But what that really means is, um, he's done well in 2008 ST. Bruntlett's .303 BA as a PH (and his .902 OPS with 2 out RISP) has been done at a major league level. As much as it might be fun to project Smith into the 25, it will not happen. It might be nice to stash him at Allentown, however, so we would have some kind of insurance in case of an emergency (like Bruntlett stubbing his toe).

So Carson, if she's out walking her monkeys and it's a cold day, where is the best place for her to keep them?




No, man. That's just wrong. You are such a perv for thinking things like that!
She'd keep them in a monkey carrier.

sounds to me like benson just bought some cheap, adorable 5th starter candidates.

Names for Benson's 2 monkeys = "Dos Durbins".

Crazy Jon - Just so she doesn't call them Ruben and Chollie!

So now Jeff Kent is down for a week. I'm tellin' ya, if the Phils can't make a deal with, like Helms and Casey Smith for, like Kuo or even Greg Miller, then they're not trying.

Hey guys, tomorrow's the big day (3/20). We can start to prognosticate over this season's Spring Training!!!!

Greg Miller's distinction in life is that I think he's the first player I've ever looked up who pitched a significant number of innings during the preceding season & somehow managed to have more walks than IP. Last year, he pitched 76.2 innings at AA & AAA. He issued 89 walks. I'll pass, thanks. Ditto for Kuo, who is simply horrendous.

For all his faults, including his excessive salary, Helms is an established backup infielder, with a solid track record as a competent bench player & part-time starter. If we must trade him, is it really asking too much that, for once, we actually receive someone in return who would improve our team, even slightly? I don't think it is.

Is Dobbs out of options? If not, and if we're unable to trade Helms for anything decent, then I would send Dobbs to AAA before I'd give Helms away for nothing. If I optioned Dobbs, then I'd probably keep 6 outfielders, as Snelling would give us a 2nd left-handed bat off the bench.

The other possibility would be to trade Dobbs, whose salary might make him more attractive than Helms. They could even package Dobbs with Taguchi, thereby opening up a roster spot for Snelling. A package of Dobbs & Taguchi would significantly bolster any team's bench. Surely we should be able to get a solid reliever in return.

BAP: He has options, but Dobbs is too important to send to Lehigh Valley. He was one of the best pinch hitters in the National League last season and can start even more positions than Helms. They're not going to get any more for Helms by keeping him on the roster. Taguchi signed as a free agent, so they can't ship him out just yet.

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