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Monday, May 12, 2008

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NCPhilly in the prior thread suggested the Phils sign another minor leaguer, Abe Alvarez, who was cut loose by the Red Sox. Alvarez is a classic example of what happens to so many finesse-lefty prospects.

He was a 2nd rounder, top 10 prospect on the Red Sox list, who allowed no runs in 19 IP at Low A after signing. They jumped him to AA where he discovered that finesse pitchers require not good, but great command of their pitches in the zone. His numbers were still pretty good, but he was hittable.

He moved up to AAA the next year and was just as hittable and especially prone to the long ball. He's spent the past 2 years trying to master Triple A. The Red Sox have had him up 3 times and he got burned like a marshmallow at a Girl Scout Jamboree (which is a line I use about what would happen to Brian Mazone who some here want to give a shot.)

Bottom line: Alvarez won't make it unless he improves his command at age 25.

OT: What's the deal with the new-look Philly.com? Second overhaul in six months or so. I liked the last version much better. I don't care much for the Wacom tableted "Sports" header.

JW - Philly.com

The data from ComScore and Nielsen/Net Ratings shows the most important number is up (unique visits) but other important ones were flat or down (page views, average stay). Basically advertisers don't like to see that at all.

The new site is horrendous though. Intro page would look poor for a site circa 2000 or 2001. Poor visual layout, difficult fonts to read, and some questionable changes to the navigation. If Philly.com paid a firm big dollars for this redesign, they got hoodwinked or had some idiotic graphic designer come who doesn't know enough about basic on website layout.

Boatload of changes already at Allentown. I wonder if there is going to be a single starter who was in the Opening Day lineup that makes it through most of the season with the Iron Pigs. My money says no.

This week coming up is going to be a really interesting one. 4 opposing lefty starters in a row and then the Phils have to enter Interleague play (where they almost always manage to play poorly).

My biggest complaint about the new philly.com is that it now takes me about 25 seconds to load the page. Too many colors, too many styles, too many graphics. It used to be almost instant. Yes, I'm using satellite bandwidth in the middle of nowhere in East Africa, but still. And the other strange thing is that I no longer seem to have any interest in any of the content on the front page. I thought that it might just be me, but then I read the reader comments... ouch.

To me, it seems like they're really trying hard to position philly.com as something other than the web presence of the DN and the Inky. Which means they're about, what, seven years too late.

Speaking of minor league prospects and middle infielders, has anyone been paying attention to Freddy Galvis this year? His glove was getting a lot of attention last year as a shortstop in the low minors, but there were questions about his bat. I haven't heard much about him this year.

laramie:
Freddy G. has been drowning in Lake(wood) this year (BA, OBP, SLG): .168 .234 .192

He's the starting SS so those are significant # of ABs. The concerns over his ability to hit seem well-founded. Too bad, he's supposed to be able to pick-it cleaner than a pack of turkey vultures.

As much as I do not cheer the injuries of other teams' players, I'm not too choked up that Teixeira might be unavailable for a game or two.

Andy,

I like the turkey vulture analogy.

I remember Larry Bowa as a young, pretty slick fielding SS who couldn't hit but could run. It seemed to me like over time he learned to chop the ball and use his speed rather than hitting weak pop flys. As best I can recall he matured from about a .220 hitter to about a .250 guy which was adequate for that day and age. Maybe I'm wrong on this but that was my perception at the time.

Phillies interleague records:

2007 - 8-7
2006 - 5-13
2005 - 7-8
2004 - 9-9
2003 - 8-7
2002 - 10-8
2001 - 7-11

Interesting that the best year they had in interleague play - 2002 - was the only year in this stretch that they weren't in serious playoff contention (though 2004 - despite 86 wins - they finished 6 out of the wild card and 10 out in the division, so you probably wouldn't consider that serious contention, in fact they had to go 21-8 in September to even reach 86 wins)

Sorry - I have no idea where that name came from...

Phillies interleague records:

2007 - 8-7
2006 - 5-13
2005 - 7-8
2004 - 9-9
2003 - 8-7
2002 - 10-8
2001 - 7-11

Interesting that the best year they had in interleague play - 2002 - was the only year in this stretch that they weren't in serious playoff contention (though 2004 - despite 86 wins - they finished 6 out of the wild card and 10 out in the division, so you probably wouldn't consider that serious contention, in fact they had to go 21-8 in September to even reach 86 wins)

Bob - Bowa was a little bit better than that. He came up about .240 - .250 ish, but then had some better years. He hit .305 in 1975 and spent a lot of time in the late '70s batting second. For those of us who grew up grimacing at Bobby Wine's inabilities, Bowa was proof that some people could field SS well without being complete holes in the batting order.

I do not believe Galvis will ever be as good a hitter as Bowa was, though (with hard work) he might be able to surpass Wino in that capacity.

I think we should have a pool. Four LHPs in a row and Ryan Howard in his "downturn." ("correction?") How many Ks between now and Friday midnight?

I'd take 11, but since I suggested the idea, I'll wait for others to grab their numbers.

I'll be an optimist and say 6.

A better analogy to Freddy Galvis would be someone like Mark Belanger. Belanger hit like Abraham Nunez but he had a long career as Baltimore's starting SS because he was the best defensive player of his day. But that was a different era, when shortstops weren't really expected to give you anything on offense. If Mark Belanger were playing today, he'd very likely be a utility infielder. And, compared to Freddy Galvis, Mark Belanger looks like Ted Williams.

B-A-P: "I'll be an optimist..."

That quote probably belongs in the same part of the "memorable statements" archives as:

clout - "I am often wrong..."

In re: optimism
I'm not as interested in Galvis as I am in seeing how Naylor will react to AA. On the one hand, he has no "super-sized" pitches. But he has, evidently, excellent command of three or four above average pitches.

I also hear that Happ has added an effective cutter to his repetoire.

Even if we see Eaton all season in '08, he oughta at least ride the BP pine in '09.

Larry Bowa was one of the best defensive SS I've ever seen. In fact perhaps only Ozzie Smith was better. No one was more surprised than me when he hit .305 that one year. He also hit .275 or better a few times.

Unfortunately, he was involved in perhaps the worst trade in Phillies history: Bowa AND Ryne Sandberg for Ivan (the stiff) DeJesus. It took the Phils an entire decade to recover from that one although the Cubs didn't win anything (except a division title or two) with Sandberg.

Bowa's problem wasn't batting average. As Andy notes, he hit .250 from the get-go with the Phillies, which was just fine in 1970 (and about equal to .270 today). And, in his first year as a pro, he hit .312.

Bowa's problem was a complete lack of any pop in his bat at all. He was a speedy guy so anything remotely hit deep he could leg into a double or triple but even so he never managed more than 14 doubles in a season throughout the minors. We're talking sub-Nunez power, sub-Bourn power. In two of his first 4 seasons as a Phillie his SLG was .292 and .249. That's slugging! I don't think it is humanly possible for an everyday player today to play a full season and end with a slugging pct of .249. He improved from there and ended up with a career SLG of .320. Lower than Paul Bako, by the way.

Andy: I will make a bold prediction: Freddy Galvis has a better chance of seeing time in The Show than Drew Naylor.

James L: We've discussed that trade here before and concluded that the Fergy Jenkins trade was worse because the Phils did get to the World Series in 1983 with DeJesus as the shortstop, but it was truly in the top 3 or 4 worst ever trades by a team that probably leads the majors in that department.

Don't remember seeing any talk here about him, but Boston's DFA'ed Tavarez. I know that there are some folks on here who've watched more Red Sox games than I have, but does he have any of those groundballs left?

@clout -- lets not forget that while his pop was well below average even for that time, it wasn't really considered a liability given his speed and number of hits in a year (even if OBP wasn't as valued then) singles and stolen bases were. The guy finished 3rd in the MVP vote in 1978!!!

In today's world, even the Eric Bruntlett's of the world given 550-600 at bats would hit 10 homers in a year. Sure Bowa's numbers look Nunez-esque today. But I'm not entirely sure that would be the same today given the state of today's pitching and the ballparks.

Wow, Nelson Figeruoa is god-awful. Worse than Eaton!

phils fan: On Tavarez, gently put: No. He stinks now.

@Malcolm: that's what I thought, but like I said, I haven't watched that much of him the Sox yet this season.

Being from Ohio, I saw Rouse with the Indians.

Hope he never needs to play for the Phillies at any meaningful point in 2008. Or 2009. Or ever.

Side note:

Senor Out is exactly hitting and driving the ball pretty well right now. Feliz always has been a pretty streaky player and here is hoping that Cholly take advantage by putting him in the lineup frequently.

One of the bogus things though is the supposed power infusion that Feliz was supposed to give the Phils. Yeah he has hit 5 HRs and on pace to hit 21 HRs but that is with nearly 550 ABs. A ratio of 26 or 27 AB/HR is just that impressive and pretty pedestrian.

I still bet I win my bet with kdon that Feliz doesn't finish with more than 20 HRs this year.

For all of the talk about the first 40 games, there really hasn't been much talk about what a dud Jenkins has been so far. The Phils are near last offensively in almost every category among RF and this is largely due to Jenkins.

He isn't hitting for average or power. Hell, he isn't even getting on base much at all. Plus, he been useless with runners on base. Almost would rather see anyone else up there right now.

Thanks for the Bowa insights, I had underestimated his hitting a bit. I also perceived him as an awesome fielder from watching him play, but I know Bill James had a couple of articles about range factor in the Baseball Abstract where he discussed Bowa's relative lack of range and referred to him as an "average" or "mediocre" shortstop, I forget which. And I do remember the bottomless hole in the order that was Bobby Wine. I remember listening to the radio as a kid and dreading it when he would come up to bat with runners on base.

This might have been posted already, but if not here's some comments from Baseball Prospectus Furture Shock.

Drew Naylor, rhp, Low-A Lakewood (Phillies)
Don’t know the name? Maybe you should, because he’s suddenly the new minor league strikeout leader. A 22-year-old Australian, Naylor entered the season a bit of an unknown, but he’s putting himself on the map with six straight quality starts, including an 11-strikeout performance last week, and then his best start of the year on Saturday night–-a complete-game two-hitter with 12 strikeouts against just one walk–-lowering his ERA to 2.04 in 53 innings with 62 strikeouts and just 34 hits allowed. Naylor is an interesting player from a scouting level, as he has no dominant offering, but plenty of good ones. His fastball has average velocity and good movement, his curveball and change are both above average, and all of his pitches play up because of excellent command. His relative baseball inexperience makes him a little old for the level, but he should be in the Florida State League soon.

Michael Taylor, OF, Low-A Lakewood (Phillies)
During his high school days at Florida, Taylor was a monster, standing six-foot-six and 250 pounds and featuring plenty of athleticism for his size; only a firm commitment to Stanford prevented him from being drafted. His college career was disappointing, but many in the scouting industry didn’t put the majority of blame on Taylor, they put it on a Stanford program that has a reputation for creating hitting clones, forcing most players into a quick, single-plane hitting mechanic that frankly just doesn’t work for everyone. Still in love with his potential, the Phillies made him a fifth-round pick last year, and allowed him to return to his natural swing. So far that’s more than paying off, as the monstrous right fielder has homered in four straight games to raise his averages to .333/.410/.524 in 33 games for the BlueClaws. When you are looking for sleepers in the minors, you’d be best served by betting on tools, so put some chips down on Taylor.

Bob: With all due respect to Bill James, if there's a more worthless stat than range factor, I don't know what it is. Most defensive stats are near-worthless because most of what happens is determined by things other than the fielder.

That said, what made Bowa so great wasn't his range as much as his smarts and sure-handedness. He knew exactly where to play each hitter and he almost never made errors. But the speedy, concrete-hard carpet of the Vet in those years would totally distort range factor stats.

clout -
In re: Naylor, Galvis, the Show...

They're both remote. But if Galvis keeps his SLG below .2, he's even remoter. If Donald keeps hitting, as well, even his defense will not get Freddy the September placement.

BTW - Naylor has been on that slow Aussie track that keeps him, age-wise, behind a level or two. He is, however, catching up. If he makes it to Reading and continues to perform (I'm not holding my breath, incidently; though I am interested), he may be seen in 2009 as an "OMG, we forgot to get enough pitchers!!!" call-up.

P.S. What's your take on the aforementioned Michael "The Monster" Taylor?

ACI: Thanks for the post on Taylor, who isn't much mentioned here. He is an example of a raw tools guy who, unlike raw tools guy Greg Golson, seems to be a quick learner. He's 22 so he needs to move up to Clearwater soon and he also needs to improve his strike zone judgment a bit as he's on pace for about 115 Ks. But he's already good in the field and shows a learning curve with the bat.

Andy: IMHO, Donald doesn't have the glove to play SS at the major league level.

My thinking on Galvis is that he's 18 years old and already has a major league glove. The odds are greater than Galvis will learn how to hit a tiny bit over the next 6 years than Naylor developing the command he'll need to win in the majors with his stuff over the next 2 years. Galvis' glove is so good, if he learns to hit .200 he'll have a job as a utlity guy.

I always take these low A stats with a grain of salt, that being said, I agree at his age he needs to moved to Clearwater for the second half of the season. I'm a big on letting a player have some success in a low level and not rush him too fast, let him get that confidence and go to clearwater ready to excel. So I'll keep an eye on him and hope for Clearwater in the second half and Reading next spring.

One other marker worth noting on Galvis: As bad as that average is, he doesn't strike out much. In fact his K/BB ratio is pretty good. That's a great sign for future development.

ACI: I agree 100%.

Splitting hairs a bit here: Naylor is actually 21, but does turn 22 at the end of the month.

Re: Galvis, I know little about him but was he the SS profiled in the Philly papers in spring training? I recall an article basically saying that if Rollins was injured long term and the Phillies were out of the race, he would be the guy to get the call up? Something about defensively he is the best in the system and his hitting was below average?

Saw somewhere that Swindle struck out 4 in 2 innings for the piggies the other night?

Why do the Phils thing Ruiz is a major league catcher? He can't catch anything in the dirt, has a lousy inaccurate arm and can't hit a lick.

A few guys at Lakewood hitting well. Michael Durant has 9 HR's already (last years team leader had 10 for the entire season). And Dominic Brown looks pretty solid.

Someone correct me if I'm wrong but isn't the Sally league pitcher friendly?

About Larry Bowa he would have won about 9 or 10 gold gloves if it wasn't for the writers voting for Concepcion on the big red machine in the 70's his range was 2 feet left or right but he hit better, Bowa was twice the shortstop he was.
on Ryan Howard if you notice how he always leans back at the plate this year it's all that money in 1 pocket it's so heavy he can't swing fast enough.Who drafted all these stiffs that are playing for the ironpigs? All the Phillies minor league teams are awful.

Bowa was very good for his day - probably the best until Ozzie Smith blew him away. However, I am only reminded of him when I watch Rollins and many other contemporary shortstops field a ball in the hole behind the 3B and fire it to first for an out. Bowa never had the kind of arm of many of the guys playing the position today show with regularity.

Did anyone read Conlin's article today?

Jenkins has been a let down in the power department. Listening to opposing announcers via Extra Innings, you'd think that the guy was Cecil Fielder the way they glow about his ability to hit long balls in big spots. Haven't seen it yet. Not writing him off, but with the additional PT with Vic out, I was hoping for a bit more.

4 lefties in a row. Howard will get maybe 2-3 AB's off of each on average. 11 K's sounds a bit far-fetched to me. 6 isn't exactly "optimistic" (that would be about 1/2 his AB's); however it does sound somewhat realistic considering his pace. Call me crazy, but I think the "turn around" is coming even off of the lefties. I think he'll K no more than 4 times off of the 4 straight lefty starters.

Conlin, as always, is an idiot. What a stupid article.

Cholly is a hitting coach. Milt T. is a hitting coach. Both have done tremendous jobs with Utley, Rollins, Burrell, etc. Coincidently, all of them are also at the same batting practices and games and they're free to offer their own hitting advice as well (after all, they're facing the same pitchers). There is no shortage of "advice" going into Ryno's ear. Conlin's assertion that some drill that worked for Duke Snider should help Howard is assinine.

Again, Conlin's an idiot.

Jerry: "He can't catch anything in the dirt, has a lousy inaccurate arm and can't hit a lick."
Quickie Quiz: Name an everyday catcher who finished among the top 5 among NL catchers in OPS last season? Hint: His nickname is Chooch.

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