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Monday, July 14, 2008

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Clint Hurdle just refuses to add Phillies to the all star team. Yesterday he picked Cubs reliever Carlos Marmol to replace Kerry Wood. Marmol is 2-3 with a 4.15 era. Yep, that's a lot better than Romero and Durbin. Romero and Durbin's era's don't even add up to 4.15

Well, Marmol had been really good until some recent troubles. Lou has just refused to give him any kind of rest.

But, the main reason he got in was because he was the highest relief pitcher on the player's vote.

Hibachi: That's exactly right. Hurdle went strictly on the vote. It doesn't hurt that Marmol was one of the best relievers in baseball last season (ERA+ of 326).

Funny but doesn't it seem like the Phils are exactly where almost everybody on blog thought they would now during preseason - a decent yet flawed team on pace to win in the high 80s yet again this year.

Still think if the Phils don't win at 90 games and win the NL East outright, they will be home again come Oct.

Overall, I would give Gillick a "B+" for the first half. Lidge has been better than anybody thought he would, Durbin has played a huge role in the pen, and even Feliz has played better than slightly expected.

Only Jenkins has been a bust and Phils probably should have realized that counting on Myers to return to the rotation was a problem.

Futures game:
Carrasco 1 IP, 2 K, 1 BB. Got credited for the W, FWIW.
Donald 1-for-2, throwing error
Marson 0-for-4
Golson 0-for-2, 2 Ks

Perhaps I was being blindly optimistic when I had visions of A.J. Burnett walking through that front door of the Phillies.

Biggest problem for this team though continues to be Gillick's "mistakes from seasons past" - Gordon and Eaton. Because the Phils are paying each of these guys decent money, they were being heavily counted on to fulfill one important roles for the Phils (set-up man and No. 4/5 starter).

Really to no one's surprise, Gordon is on the DL yet again (and the Phils are kidding themselves and their fans if they Gordon can be counted on to really help this team in the 2nd half) and Eaton's overall performance at been below average yet again.

I keep hearing talk of Carrasco being a "fireballer" and yet i see he "only" throws 90-93.

Last comment - I have to give credit to the bullpen. They were the MVP of this team in the first half. Utley is having a great first half and even Burrell is posting some fine numbers too.

Still, if it weren't for solid performance by the pen in the first half this team wouldn't be in first place now. Hell, I am willing to be that if they had anywhere near last season's performance from the pen, they would be at best .500 coming into the break.

It's a shame Donald and Golson weren't studs yesterday. Those are players the Phils would probably consider dealing.

MG: You need to pace yourself, brother. We have until Friday to dissect the first half.

JW - The biggest problem is the Phils took the discount bargain rate approach to the 2006 draft. If they had spent some more cash, they might have had a package that would have gotten them a Harden or Sabathia.

Instead, they have to settle for a guy like Burnett and just roll the dice that he comes through for them.

In an ideal world, I would love to see Eaton lose his rotation spot but given the Phils' rotation issues already that is not going to happen any time soon.

If the Phils had this year's bullpen and last year's offense they'd be 15 games above .500

JW - Baseball withdrawal while I was on vacation out of the country for a few weeks.

I'm sure that everyone thinks that I have some sort of man crush of A.J. Burnett, but the truth of it is, I just can't think of any other available pitcher that would help the Phillies win a title.

Can anyone else think of somebody that has the talent to shut down a playoff teams lineup (i.e. Cubs, Brewers, N.L. West default team)?

Obviously most of the N.L. West teams have some substantial flaws, however, if the Phils make it to the playoffs, they are not likely to draw that pairing anyway. I just cannot think of any other pitcher that is available, who could help this team. Maybe I've got tunnel vision with Burnett, but I'm failing to see any other viable option.

I have no faith in Bedard for 2 reasons. Primarily, I have no doubt that the Phillies don't have what it takes to get him, or at least not what Seattle will ask. Secondly, I'm not sure that Bedard's injuries make him even worth it unless you look past this season. I think Bedard would have value next season and after that, but he looks like a mess right now.

Anyone else got a dark-horse candidate? Please don't say Brandon Backe.

Parker - Yeah you are probably right but I just wish the Phils would have had a package to go after Sabathia. More and more it feels like the Phils' window of opportunity the past few years is closing just a bit. Would be a shame if the Phils didn't manage to put together at least one decent postseason run with this core of players.

BedBeard: I'd say someone who routinely throws 90-93 mph is a fireballer. Carrasco also has a good changeup. His other pitches, and his command, need work. He should not be rushed unless the Phillies want to ruin him.

Parker: If you want to get deep into the playoffs you have to pay a high price. The Mets went out and got Santana, the Cubs went out and got Harden, the Brewers went out and got Sabathia, the Phillies went out and got, um.....

If you are looking at playoff match-ups in terms of seeing if the Phils have enough to beat this team to advance, then you obviously have to look at Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Louis. You can't play the East anyway and it is extremely unlikely that the West would supply the wild card. So if the Wild Card comes from the Central, the Phils would obviously get one of them. As presently constructed, the Phillies would have little chance of beating the Cubs (I'd say Cubs in 4), only a slightly better chance to beat the Brewers (I'd say Brewers in 5) and a reasonable chance to beat the Cardinals (I'd say Phils in 5). I also do not think the Phils can beat Arizona, LA or the Mets in a playoff series without another pitcher of significance. Even getting a guy like Burnett could get them past St. Louis, Arizona, LA or even the Mets. I still am not sure, especially in a Best of 5 Division Series, that they can beat Chicago or Milwaukee.

Keith Law's takes on the Phillies prospects in the Futures Game. Not good on the Golson, Marson, and Carrasco fronts, according to him. Donald makes his top 10 most impressive.


Jason Donald, SS, Philadelphia. Donald could probably play shortstop every day for somebody in 2009, and certainly could handle second base. He's not going to hit for power, but has a good approach and squares balls up well. He has an average arm, which might be stretched on plays to his right at short, but handles the 4-6-3 double play very well.

A handful of players didn't live up to advance billing. Lou Marson was fine behind the plate, but didn't square balls up and repeatedly hit balls on the ground, even in BP. … Regular-season teammate Greg Golson showed again that his approach at the plate is atrocious, with a very long swing and poor pitch recognition, and he had two very bad reads in left field during the game. …Nate Schierholtz's approach wasn't much better, and frankly, he wouldn't have been my first choice to get four at-bats in the game among U.S. hitters. … Will Inman's delivery drew a lot of laughs in the scouts' section -- he looks like he's "doing the pigeon," for you old-school "Sesame Street" fans -- and he throws severely across his body with a fringe-average fastball and a big, slow-roller curveball. He'd have a hard time being a fifth starter in most parks, although Petco Park might make him a No. 3. … Carlos Carrasco was 90-94, throwing slightly across his body with poor command, and he didn't throw a breaking ball in his inning of work. He did come out of a July 1 start after two warm-up pitches, complaining of shoulder soreness.

http://insider.espn.go.com/mlb/allstar08/insider/columns/story?columnist=law_keith&id=3485508

There's the URL for above. Carrasco's line looked good, so who knows. Law's picks/analyses are not always universally proclaimed. Still, his take on Marson seems to track with clout's analyses, which on prospects at least, always seem to be grounded in reality.

90-93 for a starter is a fireballer. As a closer, he'd dial that up to 97+ for an inning or so.

clout, you nailed it. You have to spend money to go deep into the playoffs (where the team would get a few more gate pay-offs, coincidentally-perhaps this isn't in the FO ROI calculation???). The Phils simply haven't done enough. To expect this team to go any further than last year's is the definition of insanity.

I hate the idea of Utley in Home Run Derby tonight. Phils should just give him whatever the prize money is and tell him to keep his nice line drive stroke intact.

Is Law basing that on one game?

MPN: There are some things you can tell from one game and some you can't. I don't think Donald can play SS everyday at the big league level. I also think there are questions about Marson's defense and Law is making too much of his grounders. Everything I've read says his bat is for real. The rest of his analysis seems on the money.

"Only Jenkins has been a bust and Phils probably should have realized that counting on Myers to return to the rotation was a problem."

I'd add So to the bust list. And deciding to rely on Benson instead of going and getting Loshe after his price fell ridiculous amounts.

Clay, good idea.
I also like the idea that during the next four days:
*Hamels rests
*Burrell rests (doubtful)
*Lidge doesn't hurt himself in NYC
*Gillick reads Moneyball

clout: I've not seen Donald play, so I'll defer to your expertise there. On Marson, you are probably also correct.

JW: That's the million dollar question. From the column it seems to be simply impressionistic from the game. As Carrasco had thrown two innings on Friday night, not sure if Law's analysis is that telling. Alternatively, it could say something about Carrasco's makeup for stepping up without his best stuff and punching out two in a clean frame. The subjective stuff I keep reading is that Carrasco has unlimited potential, but lacks confidence. His performance yesterday on a nationally broadcast game, one hopes, added some confidence.

Carrasco can throw 96mph 4 seam fastball on any given pitch, but dials it down to 93mph for command, control and durability reasons.
A lot of major league pitchers had HOF careers using a similar approach, so I wouldn't worry about his velocity. Greg Maddux is known for keeping an extra 2-3mph in the "reserve tank"; its called "learning how to pitch".

Starting Pitchers don't normally throw every pitch as hard as they can, unless they need to because their stuff isn't good enough(07-08 Brett Myers) Carrasco's fastball consistently sits around 91-94, but he throws harder when he needs to, like on a high fastball with two strikes.

In the post-steroid era, a pitcher who can throw 96mph occasionally, or 93mph consistently with movement, is considered a "flamethrower".

Theory - Yeah So has been a bust but he is the 24th/25th man on the roster. As for Benson, his signing wasn't a bad one. The problem is the Phils didn't sign Lohse to a one-year deal instead when his price finally came down and give him a shot at winning a job in the starting rotation. This rotation right now with Lohse in their would be upgraded. No one can really argue that.

One thing that is going to be an issue though come the second half is the strain on the pen without Gordon around. In particular, Seanez (age) and Madson (usage and track record) are prime candidates to hit the wall sometime in August.

JW: My bigger concern is that a column like this will not go unnoticed and could drive down external opinions of these players and hence affect trade discussions.

Do you seriously think a Baseball book came out in the past 50 years that Pat Gillick didn't read as soon as it came out?

I'm so sick of these Moneyball fetishists- as Peter Gammons keeps saying; most people who are still referencing Moneyball never understood what the book was about. Billy Beane doesn't even follows most of his own rules from that book anymore. It was an interesting concept 5 years ago, but those ideas apply more to business than baseball. Beane is a good GM, but not the genius he's often made out to be. For example- draft Picks Beane hated in Moneyball: Prince Fielder, Scott Kazmir, BJ Upton...

Sabermetrics are not the same as Moneyball.

"Jason Donald, SS, Philadelphia. Donald could probably play shortstop every day for somebody in 2009, and certainly could handle second base. He's not going to hit for power, but has a good approach and squares balls up well."

Completely disagree with his assessment of Donald's ability to hit for power. He has a VERY quick bat (a little like Utley), and has hit 11 HR's so far this year in AA. As he matures as a hitter and moving into a good HR hitters park, if Donald played everyday, he could easily be a 20 HR guy in the big leagues for the Phils. He has a lot more power then some might think he would have.

Donald would be a guy I would hold on to, if at all possible. He could be a very valuable bench player/#1 righty pinch-hitter for this team in 2009; and could even help in September this year, should he not make the Olympic team. Plus, he has that athletic "confidence" on the field and seems to have a real engaging personality. He could be a guy, the Phillie fans really grow to like, when he comes up.

I wouldn't get too worked up over "The Futures" game anyway. I think the US team only got 3 hits, so its not like anyone did much with the bat.

And, Golson basically has missed a month, before he came back last week. One of his AB's came against this Hernandez guy in the Oakland organization, who NO ONE could even touch, in his 1 inning of work. He struck out the side, and made it look easy, with his 99 MPH gas.

Golson is a guy that the Phils will probably look to move, with Toronto or Seattle the possible destination, if Burnett or Bedard get traded to Philly.

Marson is a good hitter, with the build to get much stronger. He doesn't drive the ball as well as he will need to and is a very average defender. If he puts in the time in the offseason, he would have a chance to stick in 2009, as a backup catcher in the big leagues. But, realistically, he is probably at least a year away; which is fine. He is just a kid, remember.

Carrasco has a ton of movement, and is tough to square up. Has a very good changeup, but is a fastball pitcher. With the movement he has, has trouble with his control. Again though, still very young and probably will be given a shot in spring training next year, to earn a big league job; with a more likely destination being AAA in 2009, to help harness his control. Could even get a September callup this year; but no real need to rush him. Has a bright future, but still needs to start dominating minor league hitters more consistantly.

I have to disagree with teh assessment that Gordon is a "Gillick mistake". How many games did he pitch last September? Probably more than Myers. They don't make the playoffs without him and his status this year is as big an issue as Myers'. The guy was a warrior and remains one. yet, he gets maligned like Mitch Williams.

denny: Agree with you whole-heartedly about Donald. I would hang onto him too. His defensive position will take care of itself -- although, in the near term, it might be a good idea to start teaching him to play third base.

On Marson, someone the other day posted a stat that Marson has hit only 13% of his balls for line drives. I have no idea if that stat is true, and I have no idea about how the stat-keepers are definining "line drive." But, at least on its face, it sounds concerning to me and it sort of dovetails with Law's statement about Marson only hitting ground balls. The other thing that sounded concerning to me was Arbuckle's statement that, if he came to the majors now, Marson would not hit much better than Ruiz. I realize he's only in AA, but he's no more than a year removed from the majors, and if he hits no better than Carlos Ruiz right now . . . well, that is fairly scary.

Based entirely on his numbers, I've been advocating Marson's promotion for awhile now -- and I would still like to see it. But you need look no farther than Carlos Ruiz to see that minor league stats can lie. Not saying I have changed my opinion about Marson, but these 3 items have all been mentioned in the last week. They're all consistent with each other -- and all send alarm bells that maybe we're in for a huge disappointment with this guy. It won't matter, though, because Travis D'Arnaud is a much better prospect and should be ready any day (yes, that was sarcasm).

From BAP's comment in last night's chat thread:

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

With all this talk about acquiring a pitcher, one name I'm surprised we haven't heard come up is Justin Duchscherer. If the A's traded Harden why wouldn't they think of trading Duchscherer too? Billy Beane loves to trade guys before their walks years, so they have more value. Like Harden, Duchscherer will be a FA after 2009 -- and his value could not possibly be higher than it is now.

I wonder why this guy hasn't gotten more national media attention. I guess it's because he plays in Oakland, has an unpronounceable last name, doesn't throw 95 MPH, and, until this year, had spent almost his entire career as a reliever. However, Duchscherer has been, far and away, the best pitcher in baseball this year, and a careful look at his career stats tells me that, while he may be obscure, he's no fluke.

Not only has Duchscherer been the best pitcher in baseball this year. If he can sustain his current numbers -- an ERA+ of 215, a WHIP of .86, and a BAA of .186 -- he will literally have had one of the best seasons in baseball history (his current ERA+ would be the 21st best in history - going back to the 1880s). While I suspect there's going to be some fall-off in the second half, I also suspect that he is going to finish with fantastic numbers. It's funny we haven't heard his name mentioned as a trade possibility. There isn't a player in the Phillies' minor league system I wouldn't trade for this guy.

Posted by: bay_area_phan | Monday, July 14, 2008 at 01:08 AM

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BAP, it sounds like you might have been folling the A's some this season. and yes, "duke" has been stellar all season. Amazing to watch, really. He pitched a complete game, two hit shutout (in 1 hour and 49 minutes) on the same day the A's dealt Harden. Perhaps some of the reason Duke's gem of a game was seemingly overlooked by much of the national sports media.

Being a lifelong A's fan, I'd like to keep him for awhile.

So....shhhhhhhh about Duke.

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