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Monday, March 24, 2008

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Here here.

As a fan who derives all his information on Philadelphia sports from the internet's editions papers, my morning metro ride is spent focused on things like Lauber's blog, Zo's Blog, the Philly.com articles, then a flip over to Balls, Sticks and Stuff and Beerleaguer. Lauber's blog has information that appears in the Inq's and DN's coverage a day later. Lauber’s enterprise pieces have been nothing but interesting, informative and great reads.

What I'd do for the greater Phila version of Comcast Sports Net...

You are absolutely right.

http://www.delawareonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/section?Category=SPORTS01

and

http://www.delawareonline.com/blogs/phillies.html


Lauber is now in first place in my mind as well. Great Post.

You are absolutely right.

http://www.delawareonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/section?Category=SPORTS01

and

http://www.delawareonline.com/blogs/phillies.html


Lauber is now in first place in my mind as well. Great Post.

I second the support for Lauber. While browsing around philly.com, I'll always check out the latest Phils blog posts there, but I've got Lauber's blog bookmarked as one of the first sites I visit all day. Plus, he'll even respond to comments you make on his posts; in that way, he's Weitzel-esque. Refreshing for a beat writer to talk back to the fans, rather than shun them as nobodies like certain other prominent Philly writers do (to be fair, I've emailed Paul Hagen a half dozen times on issues serious and otherwise, and he always writes back. Equally impressive, in my mind.)

Nice summary JW. Appreciate Lauber's perspective and he has written the most interesting, thought-provoking articles during spring training this year. Keep up the good work Lauber.

Speaking of beat writers, is Hayes officially done at the Daily News?

Murphy seems to be a fairly run-o-the-mill beat guy, but that in itself is a vast improvement over Hayes.

And I agree that Lauber is very good.

On the Zolecki article about Gillick:

- Generally agreed with Gillick's remarks except he did a doublespeak moment about the
bullpen.

- Comparing this team to the team that broke camp last year is kind of bogus. That team was clearly inferior and struggled though April/May. The real issue is this team better than the one at the end of the season last year in Colorado. Right now, I say no.

- "Gillick thinks the offense is better because of Pedro Feliz's arrival at third base, the maturation of catcher Carlos Ruiz, the potential of Geoff Jenkins and Jayson Werth in right field, and the continued development of centerfielder Shane Victorino."

Gillick is crazy if he thinks this team is going to score more runs (892) than they did last season. I don't know why Gillick is seemingly obsessed with HR power in lieu of some of the huge deficiencies (from both a saber point and a traditional point) that a guy like Jenkins or Feliz bring to the lineup. Only way this lineup scores more runs if he Howard or Utley has an MVP season and even then I doubt it.

Forget this:

"So is pitching, and the Phillies are still hoping to upgrade their staff with a week to go."

- I know that Gillick likes to make moves before camp opens but this way of building a bullpen is getting ridiculous. What kind of help are the Phils going to get with nothing to trade and an unwillingness to take on any more significant salary?

In that same article, Gillick also said that Victorino would hit for higher average than Rowand -- which seems to me like a highly dubious proposition.

Oh . . . that last post was me.

Speaking of Lauber, I was amused by the comment of the anonymous scout, quoted in Lauber's article, who lauded the Feliz signing on the grounds that he'll knock in a ton of runs with all those high OBP guys hitting in front of him. Huh? Feliz was a great signing because the guys hitting in front of him will be great? Talk about circular reasoning.

If Feliz's high RBI total will be a product of the guys hitting ahead of him, then how does that make Feliz any better than any random replacement player who you insert into the No. 7 spot in the Phillies batting order? Helms, Dobbs, & Nunez combined for 110 RBIs last year -- the vast majority of them obtained while batting in the 7th spot.

For me, Lauber's breakthrough will come when he puts up a detailed post on Tuffy Goosewich.

A carryover from the very end of last thread. Aaron Fultz is about to be let go by Cleveland. Since he's under contract, the team that signs him would only have to pay the major league minimum. There is literally no excuse for not signing him immediately.

The get Fultz this late would be a small blessing. Is he hurt? I agree with BAP - go get him.

From the article on mlb.com:

"Fultz had an abysmal spring, putting up an 11.88 ERA in seven Grapefruit League outings. He gave up 14 runs (11 earned) on 16 hits with three walks and seven strikeouts in 8 1/3 innings. He was also roughed for four runs in two frames of a Minor League intrasquad game against Double-A Akron last week."

Fultz was officially released and is not hurt. He just stank this spring:

"Fultz had an abysmal spring, putting up an 11.88 ERA in seven Grapefruit League outings. He gave up 14 runs (11 earned) on 16 hits with three walks and seven strikeouts in 8 1/3 innings. He was also roughed for four runs in two frames of a Minor League intrasquad game against Double-A Akron last week."

"There is literally no excuse for not signing him immediately."

How about that he isn't very good? Or at least that's what the Indians thought, who dropped him (even *after* exercising the 1.5M option) in order to pick up a waiver-wire LOOGY.

I mean the guy was a fringe player to begin with and was hammered this spring. I'd rather hold onto Blackley.

MG: Excellent, excellent point: "Comparing this team to the team that broke camp last year is kind of bogus. That team was clearly inferior and struggled though April/May. The real issue is this team better than the one at the end of the season last year in Colorado. Right now, I say no."

Looking at the team's weakest link, the bullpen, there's no question this season's bullpen is superior to the one that opened last season, which included the likes of Joe Bisenius, Zack Segovia and Matt Smith. The question is whether it's better than the one that finished the season. And that depends on how much confidence you have in Gordon holding up, whether Lidge is a better closer than Myers and whether Durbin/Darensbourg is better than Geary/Alfonseca.

8.1 innings is a small sample size, and it includes one outing where he pitched .1 innings and allowed 8 hits & 7 runs. Throw out that outing and he has allowed 8 hits in 7 innings, with 3 walks, 6 strikeouts, & a 4.50 ERA.

Coming off one of his best seasons, it's pretty unlikely that Fultz is suddenly washed up at just 34. I'd gladly take my chances. Fultz isn't Mariano Rivera, but the difference between Aaron Fultz & Vic Darensbourg is like the difference between Monet and the guy who painted my townhouse last year.

MG, while I wouldn't bet on 892 runs, there is some room for optimism.

Here are the positional OPS for the Phils last year:

C - 725
Same, and possible increase if Ruiz continues to develop

1B - 930
Same, possible increase (Howard healthy all season)

2B - 935
Same, again a full season out of Chase helps

SS - 875
Decrease. I think this is going down some. '07 was J-Roll's career year

3B - 688
Increase. Say what you want about Feliz, but his is almost a lock to hit better in CBP than what they Phils got from the 3B position last year

LF - 904
Same. If there is a player who is a lock to have a 900 OPS out of LF, it's Pat the Bat

CF - 884
Big decrease.

RF - 791
Slight increase, especially if Manuel keeps the platoon open.

So basically the Phils take a big hit in CF, but can expect increases at C, 1B, 2b (maybe), and 3B if the players there simply hit their median expectations.

In short, I don't think it would take any career years to match last seasons run totals.

Comparing Fultz to Monet is a stretch. He's more like Bruce Blitz, the guy who does charactures at CBP.

J: Well, alright. Sometimes I use outlandish hyperbole as a way of making my point.

I don't think Fultz is the answer to any solution, certainly not any more than someone like Vic Darensbourg. I also disagree that the Phillies should drag Blackley around with them for six months. The guy just can't reliably throw strikes, and doesn't look like he's about to correct that issue anytime soon. I don't advocate that the Phillies carry 12 pitchers, because the 11th and 12th are going to be stiffs all year long, no matter who they are. If they can't trade Helms, I'd rather have his competent bat off the bench than a nonentity like Clay Condrey, whose sole purpose would be to pitch either when a starter got blown out early or in emergency extra-extra-inning work. Chad Durbin and the 11th man can fulfill these roles sufficiently enough.

One man's opinion: David Murphy is an improvement over Hayes and light years beyond Zolecki's talent level.

What I want to know is why the Phillies didn't sign Breslow, the player the Indians signed off waivers that forced them to cut Fultz

He looks to be a cut above the group like Fultz, VD, and Blackley.

27 years old, over a K per inning, and 3/1 K/BB over the last two years at AAA.

Sorry, I just listed two purposes for Condrey after I announced what his sole purpose would be. The point being, however, that his value to the team is pretty marginal. (They'll probably keep him, though.)

Nice post. I get feeds from three Phils' blogs delivered to my electronic doorstep in Phoenix -- Beerleaguer, Lauber's, and Phuture Phillies. Those provide a great daily fix of the Phillies.

From Rotoworld: Despite a 1.80 spring ERA, Jon Lieber will open the season in the bullpen, manager Lou Piniella said.

"Sometimes I use outlandish hyperbole as a way of making my point."

It's what keeps me coming back for more...

kdon: "What I want to know is why the Phillies didn't sign Breslow, the player the Indians signed off waivers that forced them to cut Fultz."

In waiver position, when an American League team releases a player, the other American Leaguer teams have first shot. If the player's still unclaimed, then national league teams (in reverse order of finish last year) can claim him.

My favorite beat guy is Randy Miller of the Bucks County Courier Times. His two stories today for example on Chooch Ruiz and Jason Donald were uniquely revealing.

http://www.phillyburbs.com/pb-dyn/section.cfm?id=102&tmpl=phils

Aaron - That was my original thought too, but I'm seeing some places (namely Cot's Contracts) that say that the league only comes into play from August 1st through November 10th. No clue on which is accurate.

Well I have to disagree with you, RSB. Our bullpen is so bad that Condrey might be its fourth best pitcher. After Lidge, Madson, and Romero, the next best guy might be Condrey. Gordon has the potential to be really awful this season, and Condrey has pitched well all spring. Put it this way, I can't imagine a situation where Condrey was the 12th man in our pitching staff, so if you want to lobby for cutting someone, stick to Blackley or Darensbourg.

I also have to disagree with this comment from Jason: "Phillies fans are blessed with a vast pool of writing talent." You're good and I'll take your word for it that Lauber's good, but the coverage in the Inquirer and Daily News is really pedestrian. Especially when they get to writing columns.

I always liked Fultz during his tenure here, but like kdon has asked, I want to know why Gillick & Co, didn't go ahead and have a look at Craig Breslow. I have to wonder what the thinking was there, especially knowing that he was out of options with the Red Sox.

Breslow earned a trip to the Triple-A All-Star game in July for the second straight season for the Pawtucket Red Sox. At the end of June, Breslow’s ERA was 1.55. But his final numbers for 2007 were 2-3, 4.06 ERA, 25 walks, 73 strikeouts in 68 innings. He was promoted to Boston on September 1, 2007 but did not make an appearance and was sent back to Pawtucket on September 2nd to make room on the team for Jon Lester.[7]

Through 2007, he held major league batters to a .154 batting average with runners in scoring position (and .059 with 2 outs and runners in scoring position), and lefties have hit .200 against him, with a .314 slugging percentage.

His fastball tops out at 90 mph, but generally sits in high 80s, and he has added a cut fastball. He also has a plus overhand curveball, an average to above-average changeup, and a 78 mph slider/slurve.

Thanks for that info Aaron. That explains it. I am sure Gillick & Co were feverishly looking into the possibility of grabbing Breslow off of the waiver wire, no doubt! I assume that I was writing my response while you were posting already.

I might still take a chance with Fultz, knowing what we already have in the BP. It doesn't cost anything to take a shot, does it?

RSB - Agreed about the Phils carrying a 12th pitcher. Makes no sense when the guy is going to be very marginal at best. Having Helms or Snelling as a PH bat would probably make more a difference.

Tray - I agree about the Phils' coverage in the Inquirer/Daily News. Some good stuff but alot of pedestrian rehashing of obvious points.

Fultz isn't the answer but I wouldn't mind see the Phils take a flyer on him or even trying to keep Blackley. At this point the Phils just need arms and need to see if they can get some useful contributions for the 1st half of the season. This is just the reality of the Phils' middle relief.

What about Salisbury in the Inquirer and Conlin and Hagen in the DN? I look forward to reading them.

Besides the written word, Philadelphia is covered. DNL is a very good program. Different perspectives and styles, insightful, entertaining ... I have a hard time believing many other markets offer more on the whole. Two radio stations dedicated to sports ...

I'd like Fultz over all of our current options for the final bullpen spot. He was decent while here and was decent last year for the Tribe, he's just having a lousy spring.

Thanks for answering my question Aaron. I guess that's one thing we can give Gillick a pass on.

"Agreed about the Phils carrying a 12th pitcher. Makes no sense when the guy is going to be very marginal at best."

"Fultz isn't the answer but I wouldn't mind see the Phils take a flyer on him or even trying to keep Blackley."

MG, the problem is you can't have both of these, unless you want to take Blackley/Fultz over Condrey.

Don't know if this was mentioned elsewhere, but Metsblog is reporting that the Mets will go with a fifth starter right out of the gate despite an off day. That means the series against the Phils will be:
Pedro
Perez
Maine

Instead of...

Perez
Maine
Santana

Huge fan of Zolecki because he does a good job taking the lead, while also relating to fans. Still too early to tell about Murphy, but he seems like he's getting it quickly. Better than Hayes, for sure.

I like Lauber - he sometimes does things others don't. Part of that is likely the "centerpiece" rule most Gannett papers carry. His section likely needs a good anchored feature per day, so he'll do the more off-beat, off-radar stuff.

Randy Miller is another I enjoy. I've always liked Salisbury for his reasoning and attempts to at least tap into a younger fanbase. Conlin is a windbag. I wittingly enjoy him for his flowery style of writing, but it's all bright lights and Broadway.

But Jason, you're head on: The beat writers are all at least good at their jobs and don't just hash each other over and over. Radio adds a nice dimension (WIP for Joe in South Philly; PEN for discussion) while TV shows like DNL present facts and good opinion. I have to say, NESN and YES do neither - they're shows are all sugar coated, even Bob Ryan's 10 show where he breaks down big Boston stories.

Lest we forget our fan blogs here. We have a great mix, really. Without naming names, we have intelligent commentary, updates, humor, statistical analysis and real personality in a lot of our blogs, and each has a good niche. The Phils get nice coverage all the way around.

JW - Agree coverage is pretty saturated at the point but the media coverage is mixed. Conlin is incredibly knowledgable about the Phils (and baseball) but his columns are only spot-on when he applies a bit of editing and polish. Way too much rambling and personal diatribes in between his coherent points. Only gets away with doing this since due to his senior status.

Hagen and Salisbury are both solid beat guys but I wouldn't say they are spectular. Do a good job of reporting the daily stuff but almost never read anything from that gives me any new info/new perspective.

Radio stations are a waste in regards to Phils' coverage. Jody Mac is the only guy with any real knowledge and Eskin usually get a scoop but that is about it.

DNL is really solid and I miss that out here in the Bay Area.

CJ, that also makes the series at Philly:

Santana
Martinez
Maine

And Cole only figures not to start once against the Mets in the first two series, Myers not at all.

KDon - Depends on whether you think the Phils need a second lefty or another long-guy like Condrey. I think they need another lefty instead and it is laughable that Darensbourg is getting serious consideration.

Condrey will pass through waivers back to Allentown and I bet the Phils could even keep Blackley because the Giants will refuse to take him back.

The Phillies need 12 pitchers. I could see keeping 11 only if Lidge breaks camp on the DL and Helms hangs around while the Phillies look for a trade partner. Otherwise it makes no sense whatsoever. Why carry Snelling with Dobbs around?

Opening with Romero as the only lefty in the pen would leave the pen especially vulnerable.

Fultz may be a better option than Blackley, but then again, I haven't seen Fultz pitch in a while. I'm not so sure Fultz would out-pitch Darensbourg at this point, but Charlie might feel more confident with Aaron since he's managed him before.

Thanks for the nod to Lauber. Also worth noting his blog always has a nice picture. The photos aren't credited, but they deserve to be.

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