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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

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Werth is living up to his reputation for drilling left-handed pitching. He's sporting a 1.017 OPS in the early-going off lefties.

Didn't see the game, did Holiday happen to touch home plate?

Boston wins, but Joe Thurston goes 0-for-5 stranding 9. Ouch.

I say this with a straight face: Phils bullpen has been great this year.

Great? Nah. But when you're used to terrible, it just seems that way. Too many walks. I prefer the term "normal."

Lidge is the one who is scaring me with the walks, but his slider has been absolutely nasty

Yeah I guess I got a little excited. But normal will do

Great comeback win for the Phils...they could have easily packed this one in down 5-2 in the 6th. I thought this game really showed some character.

When is Manuel gonna stop replacing Pat in late innings of a close game? If the game went into extra innings (it was 5-4 when he took Pat out), they would've lost his bat in the lineup. I know Bohn got a 2 run double, but he made a horrible defensive play in the 8th that could have cost them...not to mention, Pat wasn't even the lead runner when he was taken out for a pinch runner. what is Manuel thinking in that situation???

I thought the same thing when Pat was pulled, Bohn seems like a defensive equivalent. Nice to see some runs scored without the long ball.

I almost forgot sbout Vic with Werth in the lineup. Great win on a cold windy night.

3 things I would love to see done...

Dobbs get more starts.
Coste get more starts.
Burrell not get pulled in the last 1/3 of the game.

The phils are gonna give up runs, I think we've accepted that, so why take out or not play our better bats?

Has the Burrell switch had the desired effect ONE time this season? It's hurt them on several occassions...At least Bohn made up for his Bohner (yes, i know its not pronounced that way) but Pat has to be a little angry about being removed from the game in favor of a jeff spiccoli/owen wilson wannabe....

great win, nonetheless...especially on the heels of a flyer meltdown...

What made this game for me was the Utley play at second. The guy eimply saved the game. The team seems to be playing cohesively without two of their prime starters - role players are filling gaps nicely. April is better than last year and when Howard starts contributing regulary and the Rollins and Vic are back, I'll feel even better.

Utley's diving play was ridiculously good. It was probably the difference in the game too b/c if he doesn't make it, Phils are down at least 5-0. Makes up for some of the bad errors he made earlier this season.

I'm going to make a bold prediction here:

Jason Werth will start more games this season than Victorino.

WIth that in mind, I'm not sure that it is a bad thing. Victorino's speed is great, but Werth is plenty fast himself (As evidenced by the IP-HR last night). On top of that Werth is much more polished as a hitter than Victorino. While Werth's career numbers have suggested that he is something of a hacker, he has been the model of patience at the plate since joining the Phils. I really believe that at age 28 (peak years are usually 28-31/32), he is really coming into his own. I note again that Werth was a 1st round draft pick. Werth has thus far exhibited all of the objective manifestations of being a good baseball player since being in Philly. He has also demonstrated a great deal of intangible baseball intelligence (Stealing two bases against the Mets with Wagner napping). As far as pure speed, Victorino has Werth. When comparing their games in terms of who is the better "Baseball player" I'm going with Werth.

Knocks: He can't hit RH pitching. I think this is the most trite argument about any hitter ever. It is worth noting that Utley had the same knock against LH. As did Prince Fielder, Carlos Pena, Ryan Howard and a host of other All Stars. It is my opinion that the only way that you get better hitting against any type of pitcher is to get more at bats. Werth, thus far has proved much more valuable than the contract he signed to be a member of this team.

Quick Hitter:

Hit or Miss: Ron Mayhay has now pitched 10 innings this year. He has given up 12 hits, but K's 13 in those innings. I just thought that was an interesting stat.

Parker: I agree with you about Werth being a better all-around player than Victorino. And I agree with you that he would probably improve against right-handed pitching, if given more opportunities. Besides, he's not quite as bad as everyone makes him out to be. He hit .257 against right-handers last year, which is respecdtable, and he posted an excellent .371 OBP. But he clearly isn't the power hitter against right-handers that he is against lefties.

Much as I like Werth, though, I think Vic's defense in CF is invaluable, & I would still have him as my starter -- and, for sure, I want Vic starting whenever Moyer & Kendrick are on the mound. But I would definitely try to get Werth 400 to 450 PAs, by occasionaly starting him in CF (when Hamels or Myers is on the mound) & by giving him some starts against right-handers in place of Jenkins.

Longer term, I would resign Burrell, put Werth in RF, & try to trade Jenkins -- who I am starting to view as yet another Gillick mistake.

The Giants have DFA Rajai Davis. He started out really badly this year and probably wouldn't fit on the team but it would be interesting to see if he gets claimed by a team

one potential problem with Werth is his reputation as an injury-prone player. that hasn't really been the case in his time here (especially compared to Victorino), but in the long term it could be an issue.

agree on Jenkins...I was fairly optimistic about him as a signing, but he really has not looked good.

Who the hell is Rajai Davis?

BAP:

The gap in CF defense is wide. Vic had been sensational before his injury.

Agreed with your strategy for Werth. He has really exceed the expectations of probably everybody here on Beerleaguer.

Two things...Werth gets too defensive early in the count vs. RHP. He wants to put the ball in play then take a good hack at it but that should get better with more playing time.

One thing that hasn't been talked about is Tom Gordon. He looked really good last night with quality velocity and location. I was pleased with his contribution.

Jason: Our bullpen has been much better than "normal" so far. Has it been a fluke? Maybe. But up to this point I'd have to say they've been at least "very good". Of course, the domination of Chad Durbin has been the main reason for that, and is unlikely to continue at this rate.

"Workman-like." They've done a good job doing what they're supposed to do.

Extra Innings provided the Rockies announcers (anyone surprised?), who claimed that the Phils have "an excellent bullpen," - noted when Condry entered the game. It's often interesting to hear the opposing team's announce crew's insight into the Phils. Not sure if it is the lighter air out there, or if in reality we think this 'pen is a lot worse than it really is. Sure, the names on the roster don't scream "excellence," but not many 'pens in MLB do.

BTW, when this team is hitting, there is flat out no more fun team to watch in all of baseball. I can't wait until Ryan Howard's corpse begins to turn the corner and Jimmy comes back.

I think limiting Gordon's innings is key. If he's used to setup 5-7 days a week, he'll be DL bound in no time. Somewhere around 3-4 times a week might be sustainable. Contrary to past Phillies medical practice, they need to be proactive about that if they want him to contribute into Sept.

Everybody is going a bit too overboard with Werth. Solid corner OF but he is miss caste defensively as a CF (makes some nice plays but also takes some bad routes due to his inexperience there). Plus, Werth will get exposed against good RHP due to a swing which can be a little slow and long at times.

One of the things I love about Werth and have been really surprised by is his patience at the plate. Averaging a ridiculous 4.7 P/PA right now and really making pitchers work. Compare that to hackers like Feliz or Bruntlett who are only averaging 3.4 P/PA.

It is nice to have Werth down at the bottom (6th or 7th hole) of the lineup since it gives you a guy who will make pitchers work and just not swing at any crap a pitcher throws up. Phils are just giving pitchers' way too many easy innings right now at the bottom of his because guys are struggling and they are poor selective hitters. Knew Feliz was like that but didn't know Bruntlett was just a hacker too.

I dunno Jason, I think you have to give the bullpen more credit than that. their 2.84 ERA is best in the NL and second-best in the majors (behind Tampa, surprisingly). the .205 OBA, .602 OOPS, and 3 HR allowed are also best in the NL.

admittedly, there is reason to think that their performance won't hold up - especially the so-so 1.29 WHIP and poor 1.34 K:BB ratio. but it's hard to criticize the relievers' performance up to this point.

ae-Agreed. The peripheral (WHIP, K/9, BB/9, K:BB) numbers suggest that this bullpen has been pretty lucky so far but they generally have pitched pretty well.

The key though is that everyone they were counting on thought to start the season is healthy right now. I don't think that will last though as the innings start to pile up and 1-2 injuries to this pen would really expose them.

I can't believe TJ Bohn (failed porn star turned MLB player) actually got a hit.

The "Burrell Rule" needs to be re-evaluated by Charlie Manuel, or someone of more competence.

AE- This is Philly sports. There is always something to bitch about. The Phillies could throw 4 no hitters in a row and people would complain about pitch counts.

Tony- Rajai Davis is a guy who was a highly looked upon prospect for a long time. He was the key part in the Matt Morris deal a few years back. Hits around .275 with a .360-.370 OBP. Is fast and can steal a ton of bases. Great fielder too. He was going to be the Giants left fielder this year but started 1 for 18 and was dropped way down the depth chart. He has no power so would basically be a 4th or 5th outfielder. IMO he's better than TJ Bohn and maybe even Taguchi. He'd be much better than bringing Roberson back into the organization because there is at least some upside with Davis.

Going back to "THE BURRELL SWITCH" for a minute.

Last night's pinch running switch was about as sensible as the Rockies leaving Bucholz in the game to face Utley. Yes, it worked out better for us, BUT WHAT GIVES?! In a one run game is it at all sensible to silence one of our loudest bats (so far) by choice? And with T.J. "Hooker" Bohn?! The guy couldn't touch Triple-A pitching (.180 BA or somewheres around there, I believe). Risky move on Charlie's part to say the least. I don't wanna detract from what the kid did. It was a beautifully hit slicer of a double that help secure the game. Bohn didn't luck out though, Charlie and the rest of us did. The Phils' outfield is pretty uniformly equal, statistically, anyway, in terms of its defensive. Werth WILL see as much time as Victorino and Jenkins by the end. And a left-field fielding error is nothing surprising for a guy with almost no time in the bigs. It's a hell of a position to play, arguably the most difficult if ya think about it. No one on our roster is golden out there, no matter how you cut it. I just don't understand the strategy behind pulling Burrell every time he reaches in late innings. Which he continues to do. Speedier runners have yet to work out for Charlie; and, with the exception of Bohn's two-run double last night, the substitutions have yet to help us at the plate, except for costing us games.

ERA is not an entirely valid measurement of the bullpen's effectiveness, since it doesn't measure how the pen has fared against inherited runners (which, in the Phillies' case, has been not so good).

Still, the Phillies' bullpen has unquestionably been better than expected. The only one who has really been consistently bad is Madson, who I continue to think is injured. I agree that there's good reason for skepticism about whether this can keep up. Guys like Durbin & Seanez are bound to come back to earth, & Gordon and Condrey are total wild cards, who are capable of pitching effectively, but also capable of allowing 5 runs in .1 inning. But, to this point, there is really no grounds for complaining about the bullpen. The Phillies' early-season mediocrity is the result of lousy hitting and lousy defense.

Sorry if previously posted and I missed it, but has anyone seen any update on Davy Lopes?

Pulling Burrell is just dumb. Manuel seems to have a habit of chewing up bench players like there's no such thing as extra innings. I can't even fathom how many times he blatantly misused the bench. It's like he comes to the NL and gets infatuated with double-switches, using two PHs in one plate appearance, etc.

Burrell is an average fielder...above-average arm with sub-average speed (probably more like sub-slow speed). But there's no significantly better defensive replacement and you can't replace his bat off the bench.

The Bohner

On the Burrell replacement subject-
I think last year that was generally a pretty solid move as Michael Bourns' speed and defense were remarkably better than Burrells'. However this year I think its quite apparent that Taguchi is no Bourn in terms of defense or speed so the potential benefits of replacing Burrell are not nearly as great.

That's what's so stupid about Manuel's treatment of Burrell. It's not like he's the worst fielder in baseball. But you would think so.

By the way, Pedro Feliz committed yet another error last night, his third of the season. Only 9 regular third basemen have more errors. His fielding percentage and range factor are pretty much middle of the pack.

So to go along with this "stellar" defense, we have the third worst OPS in the National League at the position. He makes an out more than 7 out of every 10 plate appearances. Amazingly, his BB/SO ration is almost 1-to-1. Imagine what his OBP would be if that ratio was closer to his career average!

"But he hit the game winning home run against the Mets!" you'll say. Great. And I cheered him for it. But a handful of big hits are going to come from lots of players this year. Greg Dobbs had a pretty big one himself just a day before.

I know some people think I'm beating a dead horse here, but every game continues to show just how bad of a signing Pedro Feliz was. If he's not bringing gold glove defense to the position, he's a waste of a spot in the batting order and a waste of money.

CJ, let's not forget that before the Feliz signing, everyone on this board (and even the FO publicly) was clamoring for more bullpen help. If/when this 'pen falters, the Pete Happy signing should face even more scrutiny.

In 4 games with the IronPigs, Steve Kline has pitched 3.2 innings giving up 1 H and 0 ER. Small sample size, I know, but when someone inevitably goes on the DL, I feel much better calling him up than Bisensius/Darensbourg/etc.

I wouldn't have guessed it before the season began but the bullpen is really the thing I'm least worried about right now with this team.

Now that the subject's come up again, I'd like to repeat something that Mr. Weitzel had mentioned a while ago that I thought was a good point:

Since Manuel starting pulling Burrell late in games.....Burrell's gotten better. It doesn't mean there is a definite correlation, it may be coincidence. But if you were the manager, you'd at least have to acknowledge the coincidence and the risk you'd be taking by leaving Burrell in there.

Steve Jeltz: Yeah, Kline has certainly had his problems recently, but he's a veteran arm with real game experience. If he comes up and flames out... so be it, we've still got those questionable arms in the minors. But if we need him, and he can give us half of what Seanez has given us, it was a good signing.

Burrell has looked better in the field this year no doubt but the last 2 years he has been one of the worst LFs in the game. Last year he might have been the worst with the exception of Manny Ramirez (who is largely shielded in Fenway because of the Green Monster in LF).

Not really why Burrell looks so much better in the field in the early going. Honestly hasn't shown this much range in 4-5 years.

A note about the Colorado broadcast team:

I currently live in DC and watch the Phils via Comcast's MLB Extra Innings package, and often times have to suffer through the opposing team's broadcasts.

I wanted to point out that the Colorado Rockies' broadcast team spoke about the Phillies with a such level of insight and fairness, it was almost as if they covered the team full-time. They seemed to know about the players, transacations, and inherit frustrations as much as we do. (That is a stretch, I know, but it was impressive, to say the least) I mention this here because it was a real pleasure to watch a game and not have to endure offhand references to cheese steaks, booing Santa Claus (seriously, can we stop hearing about this already?), and "rabid" nature of Philly fans.

Thus far, the Cincinnati and Washington broadcasts were particularly painful on this issue.

CJ:

I was OK with the Feliz signing given the existing power in our offense and the reports of his stellar D. But you're right, if his D is just average or worse, he looks awful.

The Phils committed 3 more errors last night bringing the season total to 20 errors in 20 games...that's really f'n bad. The Phils only made 89 errors all of last season and are already a quarter of the way to that total.

Well he is in a "slump" even for his standards.. his career BA is .250, he's hitting .203 now, we'll see if he gets back to that.

Maybe it's just the effect of two hard-earned vistories in a row, but certain things have me feeling optimistic this morning (yeah, still morning for me), particularly as I view things in contrast to the previous April(s).

1. The Phillies, despite devastating losses at the top of the order (and a near total loss of team speed), are for once not burying themselves in April. They have been buoyed by, of all things, their pitching, and are well in tow with the competition (Florida's strong start notwithstanding).

2. The bullpen. The Phillies have really straightened themselves out here. Whether you want to use the word 'sensational' or merely 'workmanlike', there's no denying it has been very solid and effective, and a considerable improvement from the keystone korps that was a daily question mark early on last season. And the weakest link (other than Condrey) has been Ryan Madson, who was probably their second-best reliever going into last year. Gordon and Durbin have been better than expected, Romero has remained a pillar, and Seanez was perhaps the missing link. The middle and the late inning relief has been extremely dependable for this team.

The most prominent source of caution remains Kyle Kendrick, and by extension the rotation after Hamels/Myers. Moyer and Eaton are shaky at best, and Kendrick has largely been bad. The rotation has performed pretty well as a whole to date, but getting these lousy performaces from Kendrick every fifth day is not what the Phillies were counting on (though it is what many were fearing), and eventually is going to its toll on an over-extended bullpen; using 5/6 inning pitchers like Moyer, Easton, and Kendrick on consecutive days means a lot of back-to-back outings by multiple relievers.

PB: I listened to some of the Sunday Night broadcast on the radio with the ESPN national team, and Jon Miller worked in the requisite booing Santa comment.

If Benson can ever get himself into pitching shape he'll likely replace Kendrick, unless the kid finds that magic that worked for him last season again (and I hope he does!).

Joe Morgan and Jon Miller implode chode! Seriously, I put the games on mute sometimes because I can't stand their know-it-all banter and worthless commenitary.

"Amazingly, his BB/SO ration is almost 1-to-1. Imagine what his OBP would be if that ratio was closer to his career average!"

I'm curious about that... I know that it's still early, but looking at his pitch data on b-r.com, so far this year, Feliz has been much more patient at the plate. He's at a career low for strikes swinging & foul balls, and he's at a career high for called strikes. He's also well below his career numbers for time swinging at the first pitch of a PA.

That might be something to keep an eye on as the year goes on, since most of that is under his control.

On the other hand, his BABIP is at a career low. I'd wonder which will give first: His patience at the plate or his low BABIP. If it's the first, we may be looking at a new low for 3B production (which would be an amazing achivement). If it's the second, he could end up having a decent year.

The fielding, on the other hand, is just really bad.

RSB: You touch on the lingering problem... with the 3rd, 4th and 5th starters going 6 innings at best on a regular basis, it's hard to imagine this bullpen maintaining this level of performance, especially with the age of Gordon and Seanez, and the injury history of Madson and Lidge.

The 'booing Santa Claus' commentary in reference to Philadelphia is truly ubiquitous. Gary Thorne mentioned it to on the ESPN radio broadcast. Every opposing broadcat team says it at least twice a series. It's so damn tired. They boo just as loud and as often in New York. But Philadelphians are known for self-deprecation in general. There was actually a civic ad campaign in the 70s that used the slogan "Philadelphia isn't as bad as Philadelphians say it is."

My biggest concern by far is Kendrick. Everyone in the organization has made a big deal about his "10 wins" in 2007, but let's by honest, a lot of those were "cheap wins," buoyed by stellar defense and run support. He lives and dies by the groundout, but has shown a frightening propensity this season for giving up the long flies. I don't think he lasts two more outings at this rate seeing as Chad Durbin is making a very convincing argument for a shot as a fifth starter.

On 'booing Santa Claus':

It seriously has become so tiring to listen to the Philly bashing from sports broadcasters. Philly has a bad rap, but I often ask myself, why does every other team get a free pass. I mean, a Boston Red Sox fan misses a foul ball and someone hurls a slice of pizza at him. And I want to scream to these announcers, 'have you ever stepped foot in Yankee stadium?'

Wouldn't a simple solution to saving the bullpen from burning out be to separate Myers and Hamels in the rotation? You'd probably have to wait to the all star break, but afterwards why not start Myers the first game after the break, then Moyer/Eaton, then Hamels in the third game? That way you don't have your three "short inning" pitchers together three games in a row.

Couple of points on Feliz:

- Feliz has tried to be more patient at the plate to start the season for the past 2 years. By May, he starts to regress to the free-swinging hack machine who tries to pull every pitch with 6 inches of the strike zone. His P/PA is still 3.4 this year which is very near his career norm. This is perhaps the best overall indicator of Feliz's patience (or lack of).

- Feliz's BABIP number is low which means has been a bit unlucky. This should rise a bit as the season goes on but what is really worrying me is his %LD on balls in play is a ridiculously low 9.8%. This means that Feliz isn't hitting the ball hard and he isn't getting it in the air either (50% of balls in play are GB). You have to wonder if his bat speed is really start to slow and that he just can't get around on as much stuff anymore.

- Feliz has actually been the best INF defensively to date for the Phils (which isn't saying much). If you look at his overall stats compared to the NL 3B, he is among the upper third in most categories but his defense hasn't been as good as advertised either. What strikes me is how many relatively average to poor fielding 3B there are right now in the NL in general though.

Diagnosis: Dobbs should be starting a minimum of 2-3 weeks at 3B. No problem with Feliz starting against LHP but he isn't hitting at all and his defense hasn't quite been up to par either.

Steve Jeltz:

I've thought that the rotation could even be broken up to give batters a kind of different look. Hamels/Myers - Moyer - Hamels/Myers. The kind of pitcher Moyer is, I think he gives batters a different look than Hamels or Myers. Teams would have adjust twice in a short series.

PB: Durbin has been phenomenal in the bullpen so far and huge attribute there. Moving him wouldn't make sense right now and would weaken our team overall. Kendrick has been shaky but could still be a very serviceable fifth starter. While certainly lucky, you can't completely right off everything he did last year. Although he might make a great ROOGY out of the bullpen.

Jeltz: That's actually an interesting idea. And we could do it as early as next week by moving Myers up a day after our day off next week as it comes between Myers' and Hamels' starts.

Brian G:

Don't get me wrong, I want nothing more than for Kendrick to find his groove and contribute 5-6 solid innings every fifth day. And you're right, losing Durbin for long relief would be difficult for the pen to weather. However, Kendrick's 0.72 K/BB ratio is a serious concern, and he's simply not going to make it long term without developing another pitch or producing more strikeouts. If you look at his starts last year - yes, he didn't strike out a lot of batters, but he also didn't give up a lot of walks. A lot of balls were put in play and the defense simply made the outs. All the while, his FIP ERA was a 4.90. As such, he was fourth in the NL last year in "cheap wins..." But what concerns me most is his walks.

Correction: I meant Gary Thorne on the radio, not Jon Miller, who referenced booing Santa Claus.

Quirky stat I just read in the DN. The Phillies are 2-2 in each of their five starters' starts.

If they'd bring Kline up today (let's say), who goes down...Madson?

I saw Durbin start vs. Detroit in late March Spring Training. The Tigers had their starting nine in there and Durbin moved them down nine straight before the rains came. It was pretty impressive. I'm not too surprised in how he's coming along in the bullpen these days. Thank goodness.

I remember Burrell haing average running speed his first 2-3 years but he really plods along now.

I have DirecTV in South Florida so I don't get the Philly announcers often. I miss hearing Harry Kalas. Listening to the Colorado announcers last night, it was a pleasure. The broadcast was done fair-minded and enjoyable. Jeff Huson does the color.

You would have to think Condrey would go before Madson.

Why would they bring up Kline today? I can't see any reason to. Condrey has been solid so far.. .I wouldn't trade that for a wildcard. IF they felt the need to bring up Kline soon, I would only really support seeing Harman or Bohn go bye-bye.

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