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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

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I do agree that the Phillies are certainly not a young team but they sure as hell aren't old. MLB players can be very effective well into their late 30's. A guy like Utley would be someone I would expect to play till he is at least 40 and be an excellent player the next ten years. Someone like Rollins or Victorino may be more affected by aging because he could lose some of his speed which is something the Phillies are already way short on.

It has been pretty apparent that the Phils have relied way too heavily on the longball all year. However, I don't see this causing them to lose the division. They play 162 games so to not expect them to have a really bad week, like they just did, is idiotic. If the pitching can hold up, I would expect the Phils to have enough bats to win the East. However, when it gets cold in October and the pressure starts mounting, they have to start playing more small ball. The homers are not as regular in the playoffs when the weather is bad.

Well said, Jason. After setting the world on fire in terms of runs scored last year, I think that the "all or nothing" lineup just continues to show that the peaks will be higher than your average team, but the valleys will also be much lower. This isn't a team that can use a couple of infield hits to 'steal' a few runs and break out of a slump. It's a squad that relies on pitching mistakes to tag a few balls off or over the wall.

On a related note, I had absolutely no idea that Pete Happy was as incredibly slow as he's shown. I'm often shocked at how often his GIDP's are not even close bang/bang plays at first.

I'm tempted to say the offense takes the shape of their leadership, as Manuel was himself the type of hitter they embody. But I recall problems like these even before Manuel.

It was the same for Abraham Nunez. I expected decent speed; he had very little speed.

Jason: Those facts make a good case why PG should go all in this season for a World Series run. The window of opportunity may be a lot narrower than some of us think.

I wonder if Happ's good year might be the key to making something happen before the trade deadline. He's exactly the kind of player that selling teams look for.

P.S. I'm still waiting for the chattering mice to show me one sabremetric Web site where K rate is expressed in terms of PAs rather than ABs.

It's strange, but Howard is faster than he looks.

Clout: I'm with you on Happ. He's not ever mentioned in trade rumors as a trade chip, but I think he'd be a guy teams want. You'll need to add something with him to get quality, but he's gotta have some value.

They might be a little stale, but it's not the speed. It's the BA. You cannot drop .025 without a loss in production. (I am wondering if something has happened in the team approach to hitting over the past couple months.)

Incidently (and I know this is cherry-picking of a sort), with three specific games, they have scored 343 runs in 74 games, for a runs per game of 4.63 - sixth in the league. Good thing we've beaten some people up, or people would be starting to wonder about this team.

unless i'm off-base on my recall, many posters feliz's shortcomings and lamented the waste of payroll on a meager upgrade over wes helms when other needs were far more glaring. did anyone really think he'd suddenly start getting on base here when he never has before? isn't he giving us just about what was easily projected?

ruiz is definitely having a disappointing season offensively, but given the overall lack of production from catchers in the league, it almost seems like nitpicking to complain about his struggles. he is very low on the list of phillies problems in my opinion.

as for the team's low average and inability to consistently get on base...well, looking up and down the lineup...is there a single player hitting above their career average? i don't have the stats in front of me, but after utley's slump, i'm thinking burrell might be the only one. i have to think the team average is bound to come up.

likewise, i have to think the team's pitching is bound to come down, so IMO that has to be the focus. still would be nice to have a kenny lofton or similar type of player on the bench in lieu of the ineffective taguchi.

clout: Most sites, to my knowledge, don't express strikeouts in terms of either PAs or ABs. They just tell you the guy's strikeout totals. And even if they DO express strikeouts in terms of ABs, so what? Doesn't mean it's a better index.

Every time Howard comes to the plate, it's an event. He is striking out in a higher percentage of those events. Period.

If Victorino gets traded, do we sign Lofton?

Good piece Jason- although the little ending notes were a little too close to sounding like a Carrie Bradshaw piece

:)

BedBeard: I agree. Age-wise, experience-wise, I think he's ready for The Show. But he could be a key chip in a deal for someone like Sabathia. Him, a lesser prospect (Golson?) and Myers would be a respectable offer to the Indians.

BAP: Whiff rate is based upon K/AB, so if that was calculated as K/PA that rate would go down. That metric as it stands (K/AB) seems more productive than the alternative.

Still, 32.7% of Ryan's walks were IBB last year (and 34.25% were IBB in 2006) compared to 20% (8/40) this season. Of course it is still early and if Howard heats up those IBB will increase, but if he doesn't teams might be more willing to pitch around Howard in tight spots rather than give him a free base and that could increase his K rate if he is pulling off pitches.

j: I'm definitely on board with the notion that batting average is still a significant stat. Walks are great, but: (1) they rarely drive in runs; and (2) I also want to know what a player is doing when he isn't walking. Batting average remains an infrastructural statistic which tells you about a player's overall efficacy as a hitter. Assuming equal power numbers, a guy with a .400 OBP and a .300 BA is a far more dynamic offensive player than a guy with a .400 OBP and a .270 BA.

Truth: Thanks for ruining my day.

Clout: Fax that offer to the Indians and let's get this done.

Ha. Yeah the "Are the Phillies becoming stale?" definitely reeks of SatC. But it's a provoking piece. I was worried with Feliz and Jenkins that this team was going all-or-nothing, which really isn't that bad an idea at the bottom of an order (Rather these two or Lieby/Bell? Easily these two.)

This is where we miss Rowand. He seemed to be the different kind of hitter that balanced them at least somewhat. Maybe the Phils take a flier on a utility type guy who can hit for contact.

MPN: Well . . . this isn't a debate that's worthy of being carried into Day 2. Whether you cut a sandwich into halves or quarters, it's still a sandwich. I say, Howard's strikeouts per PA are up this year. You and clout say, Howard's strikeouts per AB are the same as last year but his walks are down. Either way, his strike-zone management has been worse than it was last year.

Clout: You're employing the argument of baseball people 15 years ago saying, "Show me one general manager that uses this "OPS" to measure a guy's offensive output instead of BA, RBIs, and HRs."

Hippo: What other "glaring holes" would you have replaced, and how? The issue isn't where we tried to upgrade(3B and RF), it's with whom and for too many years.

Love the insight, however I disagree with the age thing. The Phillies to me are still a young team I think Chase and Ryan can play at the level they are at now for another 4 - 7 years. I think you'll take hits with Rollins and Victorino but they can be replaced with Cardenas and Golson.

Speed is lacking which is why im surprised Golson isn't called up yet... I'd like to see how he plays instead of Jenkins over the next month and it will make either him or Victorino a Valuable trade chip to what I feel is more important than any of this Pitching!

It seems like J.A. Happ has learned how to throw a cutter and has been mowing people down so you could offer a package of him Golson or Victorino & Myers for a solid Pitcher... I know giving up a pitcher to get a pitcher is dumb but I'm starting to believe Myers may need a change of scenery especially if he is going to continue to keep his fast ball up in that band box of a ballpark.

We are talking about age and a plodding offense being a problem. The article in the paper today mentioned Vic and Werth as trading chips. Getting rid of either of these guys would only seem to compound the age, home run reliant problems. It seems there is no short answer to the trade question. If we sure up one area we weaken another.

I know the team batting average can be a bit worrying but is that the team batting average overall for last year or up to this point? Because I have a feeling the team batting average at this point last year wasn't .280, though I don't know if it was as low as .255 I just doubt it was .280 with their slow start and all.

Golson is hurt and needs more AA time. As a Sept callup for speed/Defense, fine, but right now isn't the best idea.

Quick question, while the team BA is a bit worrying is the .280 avg the end of year avg or the avg at this point last year? I think at this point last year the team BA may have been closer to .255 then .280 Just wondering.

On team BA.. Utley and Howard are both hitting 40 points lower this year. That's got a lot to do with it.

@brian g: most of my answer is simply pitching, pitching, more pitching...

So what happened to those plucky, lovable Phillies of last year?

I am sure you will correct me if I am wrong, but I think I recall that one of the secrets of their success last season was playing "small ball". So why did they stop? Jimmy's not the only one I have seen strolling the bases on pop-ups, he's just the only one who was called out for it.

Are they all suddenly swinging for the fences now, and missing? I wonder if the change in hitting isn't attitude/objective as much as technique. I wonder if the early lead has messed with their heads or something.

I think they have a good chance to snap out of it with Moyer pitching; they seem to back him up pretty well most of the time.

I hope so anyway...


P.S. I'm still waiting for the chattering mice to show me one sabremetric Web site where K rate is expressed in terms of PAs rather than ABs.

OK, clout. Baseball Prospectus expresses strikeout rate in terms of plate appearances. I am done with this topic, which is well past providing anything useful to the conversation on Howard's struggles at the plate.

Truth Injection,
please.
I have to hear that name (the "C.B.") from my spouse and on beerleaguer? What's next, ads for pumps?

Not just pumps, Andy, Manolos.

Sheesh.

BAP: I was just pointing out the "whiff rate" stat. But I in general agreement that not making an out is better than making an unproductive out (K or GIDP). High K numbers generally correlate with high power numbers, so that is generally not a concern, but I agree totally with you that strike zone management seems to be a bigger issue with Howard and am concerned, thus far, that he is making a lot of outs on balls hit on the ground rather than on fly balls. Some of that has to do with the shift, but some of it has to do with pitch selection.

phargo -
Thanks for the, umm.... "statistically relevant" update.

Brian G: And yet sabremetric sites use K rate based on ABs not PAs. Looks like your analogy fails.

I don't hate clout's proposed trade for Sabathia, however giving up some of the Phils future potential (albeit meager, by comparison), especially starting pitching (an area that will only be thinner next year) gives me some cause for pause if its only for a rental player.

clout: More talk about K rate and arguments about PA v. AB. That's what I was talking about the other day regarding the overuse of stats. Not attacking you, or stats, but jeez, is it gonna change anything? Do we make Howard memorize the stuff so he doesn't whiff next AB? Stats won't help him, people will. Is he thinking about career norms on that 1-2 pitch? I hope he's not thinking at all, but relying on the training and coaching and muscle memory and hand-eye coordination. Someone said you can't hit and think at the same time.

Myers, Happ & Golson for Sabathia?

I agree that would be about what it takes to get Sabathia (if he's available which I still say he won't be). I don't hate the trade either. But I wouldn't do it. If you win the WS, great. But you probably won't, and then you've just traded away 2/5 of our 2009 starting rotation.

One thing I guarantee you. If we DO make this type of trade, Beerleaguer 2009 will be filled with posts which retrospectively rip PG for making it. Many of the posts will come from the very same people who are advocating this type of trade right now.

BAP: Fangraphs expresses K rate as per AB and so does The Hardball Times. But I do agree this issue is not worthy of a second day of debate.

squatter: One point that I, and Dave X, I believe, was trying to make is that the story of Howard's bad season has nothing to do with his strikeout rate (which is down if you use AB). The story of Howard's bad season is what he is doing when he is not striking out or hitting safely: He is walking LESS and he is hitting into groundouts a LOT more than he did last season. THAT is a subject worth investigating.

I think you have to do Myers/Happ/Golson for Sabathia, if somehow the Indians accepted. As has been pointed out on here countless times, Golson probably won't develop into a legitimate starting outfielder, and the Phillies don't seem primed to give Happ a chance. Add to it that Myers makes an exorbitant amount of money for a struggling pitcher who has never lived up to his potential, and that we have an older team (as Jason noted), and you have to take a chance on a 2-month rental for a top 5 starter. IMO.

BAP: If you think the Phillies will resign Burrell & Lidge and add an impact player over the offseason then you definitely do NOT want to trade Myers & Happ for a rental.

If on the other hand, you DON'T think they will resign both players and maybe neither or make a wise personnel decision about who they add, then your chance is now.

Myers/Happ/Golson for Sabathia makes sense if you're planning to re-sign Sabathia.

Anyone think the Phils' FO would be?

My analogy was fine. It had to do with using the "everyone does it" argument. And not worthy of a second day of debate? I thought that was the whole point of off days. Otherwise Jason starts writing like a menopausal woman. (I jest)

I'm all about the "go all in this year" line of thinking. But only for a Sabathia level upgrade. I would be willing to essentially give Carrasco straight up for him. I really can't imagine the Indians having any interest in a struggling, weaker throwing Myers for 12 mil next year. I also can't see why any competent GM would see Golson as a valuable piece.

Myers could be the Indians closer next year, but it is a lot of money, of course. I'm not saying he'll amount to anything, but just b/c some beerleaguers don't like Golson doesn't mean another GM might not want him.

clout: I agree that, without Burrell and Lidge -- or reasonable facsimiles thereof --the Phillies will not likely be serious playoff contenders. And if the Phillies' FO has already decided to let these guys walk, and to replace them with, say, Golson & Gordon, then, yes, I agree that this year is it and we should do whatever it takes to rent Sabathia.

But, the thing is, I have no idea if the Phillies plan to resign Burrell and/or Lidge, and I have no idea who the replacements will be if they don't. Since I have no idea, I'm not willing to make the assumption that they will be gone or inadequately replaced.

"Jason: Those facts make a good case why PG should go all in this season for a World Series run. The window of opportunity may be a lot narrower than some of us think."

clout, this humble correspondent has been saying this very thing since the beginning of the season.


Jason, very nice post.

The "window" argument is becomming much more crystalized for any of us who are paying attention. Simply, the Phillies "oxymoron" weighed in this morning in the form of Mike Arbuckle. His comment from Jim Salisbury's article on philly.com:

"We have to balance going for it now versus the future," assistant general manager Mike Arbuckle said. "We have to keep in mind that this is not a club that is all-or-nothing this year. We have to be careful about absolutely wiping out the best young players in the system to do it now. That is not to say we don't want to win now and won't move good players if we feel the deal is right. It's just something we're looking at carefully."


I'll translate that for you:

"Winning the World Series, for the Phillies' organization, is really not the ultimate goal, the way it is in NY and Boston. We're happy just to be competitive every year, so we can sell tickets and TV ads, and, of course, merchandise. It's all about paying down the debt we took on to build the new ballpark.

We're not going to trade away young cheap talent who we think can help us in the future, just to win a World Series for one season. After all, we probably wouldn't be able to resign the guy we traded for (we won't spend the money), so if we are just competitive for the division or wild card every season, that should be enough to fill the ballpark and sell some season tickets.

Let's face it, Ed Wade didn't do that bad a job, but he got fired when the season ticket holders rebelled. Remember, it's all about marketing and the money! We only care about having players we can sell to the public and being good enough to sell tickets every season."


AWH's opinion is this:

2008 is THE year. The window closes after this. 2009 will bring no Pat Burrell and really hurt the lineup, Brad Lidge will probably test the market, and if he continues to pitch as well as he has, he will get Wagner and FCordero type of money and years, something the Phillies will not match. (The Phillies will attempt to replace Burrell with Golson and a combo of others. That will be a complete joke.)

Jenkins and Feliz will probably both decline further, and, as we can see, Rollins, Utley, and Howard can all have varying degrees of performance.

Durbin will get a Romero type offer from another club with bullpen issues (NYM?), the Phillies will be hard pressed to match it. Gordon is no lock to be back - neither is Seanez.

Vic will probably be the one player on the team who may improve, because of his age.

The "oxymoron", with Amaro or Arbuckle at the helm in 2009 and beyond, does not have the track record of being able to put the pieces together.

And, as Arbuckle indicated, it doesn't appear that they'll actually attempt to win it in any given year.

In short, this is it.................. and I hate that about this ownership group.

If Myers is off the books, Lidge can get his money. If Burrell is off the books, CC can get his money(+ more). They'll need an OFer, but I'll let them figure it out. The pitching staff if a question mark now (b/c of quality) and will remain so next year w/Moyer's contract up and I can't imagine the Mets will not add someone big to the staff (again). The Phils will need to resign whoever they get.

AWH: surprised you didn't put it oxy"morons".

I was intrigued by the earlier post about where the Phils "regulars" are this year vs. their career averages. As discussed many times, career averages (with some nuances, age, etc.) should be fairly indicative of what to expect.

Here's where they're at:

Player 2008 Career Difference
C Utley .291 .299 -.008
R Howard .220 .279 -.059
P Feliz .261 .253 .008
P Burrell .271 .259 .012
S Victorino .270 .273 -.003
J Rollins .282 .278 .004
G Jenkins .249 .276 -.027
C Ruiz .226 .250 -.024
J Werth .266 .260 .006
E Bruntlett .252 .250 .002
C Coste .307 .308 -.001
G Dobbs .347 .278 .069
S Taguchi .206 .280 -.074

So, just over 1/2 of the players are hitting below their career averages. Taguchi excluded (limited AB's, role has changed), the largest "expected upside" (my polite way of saying they're sucking this year vs. career) is obviously Howard. Jenkins and Ruiz are next in line, by about half the margin. Other than that, I'm not sure that you can safely say that we should expect bats to get hot if everyone is to revert to their highly publicized "career norm." Again, this is just using Batting Avg., by no means the best indicator of things to come, however it does shed a little light on the topic.

BB, nice pickup. That is exactly the point.

Credit, however, must go to Morty, who used the term "Phillies braintrust" in one of his posts, and gave me the idea.

That term is, indeed, an oxy"moron"!

BB, you're missing the point:

The Phillies will NEVER give Lidge and Sabathia the years they'll get elsewhere. Never.

Why not trade Myers and Eaton with a prospect (not Happ) for Sabathia, then call up Happ to replace Eaton and have Sabathia take Myers' spot???

Lake Fred... are you like a rotisserie junkie or what? Do you really believe the Indians will take Eaton, Myers, and a prospect for Sabathia? Get a grip.

You'll have 5 teams lining up for Sabathia and that offer won't even get the indians to return a call. Why not offer them Feliz, Moyer and a carcass while your at it. Its amazing that someone could seriously think that offer of Myers (who sucks), Eaton (who sucks) and a prospect could get it done.


The Phils will never win a championship with this current ownership. They will not pay 'over slot' to sign prospects. They will not pay decent salaries to be competitive. I doubt they will sign Lidge or Burrell. In short, they don't care about winning. AWH was so right. The only way the Phils even get close to a championship is with a team like the current one. Even with what we have it would take an incredible amount of luck to win it all. 1993 is a perfect example of a lucky team. Look what happened in 1994. They fell flat. Translation: They ran out of luck. Like my name says, I'll always be a fan but.......

Sorry Jason.

I caught the tail end of an episode the other night and it stuck in my head.

I said it was a great piece.

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