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Monday, November 17, 2008

Comments

Can't wait to hear how bad Proefrock is. C'mon, let's hear it.

proefrock? really?

I know nothing about Proefrock except that he has a great name for BL purposes. :-)

Congrats to Pujols. Cruz would give the Phils a genuine, bonafide set-up man to preceed Lidge. I'd hate to give up a pick, but he would be great to see.

David Weathers and Russ Springer? Those guys are still around? That makes RJ Swindle not look too bad anymore.

Its almost as if the Phillies base all of their front office and coaching decisions on expected salary.

Signing Juan Cruz is cheaper than resigning Madson long-term.

Congrats to Pujols. As great as Howard was in September, Pujols deserved it.

I'm not too sure about those middle relievers. I'd hate to give up a draft pick for a marginal player with the state of the minor league system.

Cruz is the best non-closer available, and the only guy among them they should be considering signing, as he may or may not be worth giving up the draft pick and paying a good amount for- the other guys certainly are not. The only downside on Cruz is that his walk rate has been going up, but he's still been very effective.

Bill Dancy let go by the team, according to Lauber.

I am in theory against giving up 1st round draft picks for relievers.. but in practice I would trade Anthony Hewitt for Juan Cruz.

Alby -

"But you really ought to read up on it before declaring it "completely off base."

What, studying at the clout school of arrogance?

Apparently you didn't understand what I meant by my statement. First, I did not say that VORP is "completely off base." What I said is that people who assume that VORP, or any other SABRmetric is an objective measure of a player's value are completely off base. Maybe there was some ambiguity there. Although, as I said, I think that VORP is a useful measure - I should clarify my earlier statment. What I meant was that anyone who thinks that VORP is a sufficient measure to objectively measure a players "value" is off base. Once again, "value" is an inherently subjective evaluation. It depends on what one values - which is inherently subjective.

The truth of that statement is self-evident. All one needs to do is look at the fact that 29 out of the 30 players on your VORP list received fewer MVP votes than Howard to see that my statement is true. You may think that VORP is the single best way to evaluate a player's value. If so, you are in a tiny minority of the baseball-watching world.

Sign Cruz (our first round draft pick won't be great this year), sign Gordon to a minor league, incentive laden contract tied to durability, trade Madson, and offer Burrell arbitration (recoup draft pick if he leaves) and I think we'd be cooking with gas.

MPN: Cooking with gas is expensive... which should cook with electric.

Give Hewitt a chance. Everyone said he'd struggle for a couple years, even in a best case scenario. Hewitt was in line to replace Pedro Alvarez at Vanderbilt and a lot of scouts thought he had the biggest upside in the entire draft class. I'm not projecting anything, but its far too early to dismiss Anthony Hewitt.

Why trade Madsen other than financial reasons? What are we getting back for him? Just when the guy fills out and learns how to throw 97 mph gas we want to trade him?

I should have put the Burrell signing/let walk prior to the Madson trade. If Burrell walks then Madson should be able to deliver us a young, talented OFer, etc.

flipper: I think the reason posters seem arrogant to you is that so many of your own posts are ridiculously uninformed.

Saying that VORP is a subjective measure and then using MVP votes as your proof is absolutely hilarious.

If your point is that VORP is a poor criteria for MVP, I can agree, depending on how you define MVP. If you define it as "player at his position having the best season" then VORP is perfect. If you define it as "the guy whose leadership skills and league leading HR and RBI totals got his team into the World Series" then VORP is worthless.

control13: Quite frankly because Madson's stock will never be higher. Also, I was at game 5, part 2 and saw that meatball HR he gave up. I'm not convinced that Madson's strong finish was the real Madson or not. So, if Burrell leaves and we sign Cruz and Gordon, then Madson is a useful trade chit. With Cruz the bullpen would set up:
9 Lidge
8 Cruz/Romero
7 Durbin/Eyre
5/6 Gordon/Condrey

Cruz at the expensive of the 30th overall pick in the draft. Hmm... I think I can deal with that. :)

I will now remind the remaining hysterical posters than Juan Gonzalez won not one but TWO (TWO!) MVP awards in the 90s. Congrats to Poo-holes, one of the best players of his generation.

baxter: I agree. I even think it's too early to dismiss Golson. But the signs are looking ominous.

P.S. Is it too early to dismiss C.J. Henry?

*expense

CJ Henry is the next Danny Ainge clout!

...or maybe the poor man's Mark Hendrickson if he was as "effective" in the NBA as he is in MLB...

Like Cruz but likely he wants a multi-year deal at around Romero numbers (say 3 yr/$10-$12M). If so, I don't see the Phils biting and they will fall back to a secondary option like Weathers.

MG: That will be cheap compared to what Boras will want for Madson.

i don't know about giving up a 1st round draft pick for Cruz. Cruz is going to cost more to sign than Affeldt, who signed for 2 years, $8M with the Giants. Would you really be ok with adding such a sizeable contract onto the payroll with the cost of forgoing control of a player for 6 years of MLB service at a significant discount, for the benefit of a setup reliever whose performance declines after 40 innings?

of course, the onus is on the scouting dept to make sure they find talent (and the FO to sign that talent), but I'd rather forgo a 1st round draft pick for a player that's going to have more of an impact in the short-term (as in over the next two seasons).

Don't trade Madson and sign Cruz. Then you can let Madson walk next year. I doubt Madson would be a type A free agent but he should at least be a type B.

MPN: Ryan Madson's ERA+ last year was 151. This year it was 144. He has 4 losses and 3 BS (one of which was a loss) in 114 relief appearences the last two regular seasons.

In his last 18 regular season games, he posted a 1.93 ERA with a 1.125 WHIP and 19 strike outs with JUST ONE WALK in 18.2 IP.

In the postseason, he was 1-0 with 2 blown saves and 5 holds. He had a 2.13 ERA, 0.868 WHIP, and 12 K's to just 1 walk in 12.2 IP.

But, you're probably right... based on that one "meatball," we should dump the guy before he's exposed as not the "real" Madson.

and yes, Madson was throwing out of his mind for most of late-September/October. however, it's obvious that his 97mph gas is not a sustainable thing. By the time the Phillies faced the Rays, his velocity was back down to 92-93mph.

"MG: That will be cheap compared to what Boras will want for Madson."

I think the Boras thing is overhyped. Because his salary is paid on commission, he probably spends most of his resources trying to get huge premiums on his biggest clients at the expense of his smaller clients, especially clients that will have a hard time ever topping $7M/yr. With this economic environment basically blasting the budget for 2010, Boras is going to have to account for weak demand for second/third-tier free agents like Madson. that said, i would like to see what Madson could fetch on the market these days when his value is at its so-called peak. i doubt it'll bring back anything worth his value to this particular bullpen.

CJ: What were Madson's ERA+ for 2005 and 2006? He was pitching out of his mind good at the end of the year, so that helped his ERA plus and had shades of 2004.

Regardless of your sarcasm, I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree regarding what Madson will do moving forward. I just happen to think that I'd rather have some cost certainty with a Cruz rather than have to play with Boras next season.

Oh, there they are: 106 ERA+ and 82 ERA+, respectively, for 2005 and 2006.

Juan Cruz (from 2004-2008) posted ERA+ of: 157, 57, 113, 152, 176. His K rate is much higher than Madson's, too. He's thrown more strikeouts than innings pitched in 3 out of those 5 years (missing by 6.7 and 2 Ks in those years). Madson has never thrown more strikeouts than innings pitched in the Show.

MPN: Well... since you asked...

Madson's ERA+ in his rookie season was 192 in 52 games. He came back down to earth in 2005 with an ERA+ of 106 although he still had a solid WHIP of 1.253.

In 2006, Madson was yanked back and forth from starter to reliever. It was, by far, his worst season with an ERA+ of 82. It's clear Madson is not a starter.

In 2007, he became a full-time reliever. In 2008, it's clear he's settled in to the set-up role for which he's most suited.

And against Tampa, according to MLB.com Gameday, Madson's fastball topped out at 97 with the majority falling between 94 and 96. Perhaps that's not fast enough for you.

MPN: Ryan Madson is already a Phillie at a reasonable cost and won't cost us a first round draft pick. Juan Cruz will cost a large multi-year contract and cost us a first round draft pick.

Where does that factor into your ERA+ computations?

You pretend as though Juan Cruz is the only set-up man in the free agent market for the next two years!

It's not about the speed. Sheesh. Point to one example of me using that as a metric above. You can't. Parse the data however you'd like. I'd rather examine the data alongside observation. Obviously our opinions diverge.

I'd like to have BOTH Cruz and Madson for 2009.

A. Cruz is available now. B. We will have the last pick in this year's amateur draft. C. We control Madson this year, but not next, and his value will never be higher. D. See above.

clout: Yes, I am not opposed to having them BOTH if Burrell re-signs. If Burrell doesn't re-sign though, and you want to go a non Value Village route on filling LF, however, then Madson is the best chit to get a solid return on IF we sign Cruz.

MPN: My apologies, that was bob pointing to a problem with Madson's speed, not you.

How much do you think Cruz is worth?

I really think all the Boras-fueled Madson is the new Rivera hype is just that--hype. he says this about all his clients, just look at his comments about the (utterly done) Jason Varitek this offseason.

assuming Madson pitches well in 2009, he'll get a solid payday as a free agent. but he's not going to pull down some enormous contract, simply because he's never been a capital-C Closer. I'm trying to find an example of a guy who was always used in a setup role and then signed a big contract to close for someone else, but it simply doesn't happen that often.

my guess is he gets 3-4 years for $5M, maybe $6M if he's lucky. maybe that's still too much to pay for an 8th inning guy, but I really doubt that he's getting closer money in 2010.

3 years, $10-12 million probably.

also, I don't think Madson really has that much value in a trade for exactly the reasons that posters like MPN want to trade him: he's a FA next year, and he's "only" a setup man.

I don't know that you'd get a better deal for Madson than, say, the Nationals did for Jon Rauch. (you could maybe even argue that Rauch was a more valuable player than Madson because of his history as a bullpen horse and his lack of injuries.)

3 years, $10-12 million probably.

yeah, no way. none.

I mean seriously, $12M/year? for a guy with five career saves*? if that's what you're worried about, relax.


(* not that I put much stock in the idea of saves as something really special, but GMs do.)

ae: Yes, obviously Boras is hyping up his client, but it is hype in a two steps forward, one step back type approach that will cost more than he'd otherwise go for. If he can improve his K/9 rate this coming year, then maybe Madson might be worth that kind of resource outlay. But again, if we re-sign Burrel, then I am happy to take both Cruz and Madson for this year -- but then Madson probably slips back to the 7th inning.

MPN: Madson has a better career ERA+ than Cruz. Madson has a lower career WHIP than Cruz. And although Cruz has a better strike out rate, he's also much wilder. In the last two seasons, Madson gives up about 3 walks per 9 innings pitched while Cruz gives up 5 walks per 9 innings pitched. Finally, Madson is two years younger than Cruz and just hitting his prime.

I guess I don't see the sense in dumping Madson for Cruz at this point.

MPN: I'm confused... was the 3 years, 10-12M for Cruz or what you think Madson will command? And is that 10-12M per year or a total contract?

3 years, $10-12 million for Cruz. Madson, I think, will command about $4 million in arbitration/raise this year. That price will probably go up. ERA+ is nice, but I'd rather have a high K/9 rate to compliment it.

ae: 3 years, $10-12 million means 3 years at $3.3-4 million per year, not $10-12 million a year.

CJ: You don't seem to get it. What difference does it make whether I think the Phillies would have scored more runs with McLouth than Howard? (based on the stats I do, by the way, but of course that assumes he would have exactly the same stats with the Phillies that he had with the Pirates, which is ridiculous).

You can look at any web site that tries to combine offensive statistics into a single number. Whether you go by VORP, win shares or OPS+, McLouth ranks higher than Howard. Howard had more HR, RBI, walks and total bases. McLouth had more hits, doubles, triples and runs scored.

And that's just one of the semi-anonymous players in the 29 (or 15, if you prefer win shares; not sure where he ranks in OPS+, but it's not within 20 points of the top 5 in the NL) who outranked him. And that's not even adding in his dreadful defense.

As to Phlipper's point: Sure, if you want to argue in a circle, whatever the MVP voters value is proved by whoever finishes first, second, etc. The problem with your argument is that this voter-gauged "value" doesn't even hold true from year to year -- one year it's RBI that are most valuable, one year leadership, one year a burst of excellence in the pennant race. You're essentially saying that nobody's opinion but the voters' matters, which, in regard to the real-world trophy, is absolutely true. If that's your point, why bother discussing anything?

thanks for the clarification MPN. apologies for my overreaction...

MPN: You do realize that Jeremy Affeldt just signed for 2 years, $8M and Cruz is likely to see much more interest. I'd be shocked if Cruz settles for 3 years, $10M-12M.

By the way, Howard's comment about the link between playoffs and MVP awards sounds incredibly graceless, coming as it does from a guy who won his MVP for a non-playoff team.

And yes, CJ, given their skills sets, ages, defensive positions and salaries, I would prefer McLouth long-term to Howard. I would think neither long nor hard about it before making that trade.

Alby: No need to get so defensive. If you think the Phils would have been more successful with McClouth in the lineup in place of Howard, than so be it. I think you're crazy, but we're entitled to our own opinions.

Alby: That was a joke. That was Albert Pujols' comments about the MVP award in 2006.

Whoops... keep mis-spelling McLouth.

Alby: I'm re-reading your last comment. You'd trade Ryan Howard for Nate McLouth straight up?

CJ: Well, you can see my humor-meter isn't functioning today.

By the way, I think the best argument to be made for signing Cruz and trading Madson would be that they might think it's easier to sign Cruz for the next 3 years than it will be to sign Madson. If that's their thinking, I can't say I disagree. It's the same reason I'd rather have McLouth than Howard (I'd put McLouth in LF and move Burrell to 1B).

I'd be interesting in hearing why you think Howard is so much better than McLouth.

Alby: Nate McLouth just had a career year and posted an OPS+ of 126. Ryan Howard just had his WORST season and posted an OPS+ of 124. Howard's career OPS+ is 34 points higher than McLouth's. McLouth's defense makes him a bad defensive center fielder and a solid defensive corner OFer. I can't see as how that difference in defense makes him significantly more valuable than Ryan Howard given Howard's MASSIVE edge in offense. And it's not like Howard is about to become a free agent. He's under control for the next two seasons. From what I can tell, McLouth is only a year behind, right?

Alby - Show me an offensively improved line-up based on McLouth rather than Howard.

Why would we have to trade Madson if we acquired Cruz? Really, as much as I argued that Condrey is one of the best mop-up guys out there, wouldn't it be nice if he only ever got used for mop-up duty?

Lidge
Cruz
Romero
Madson
Eyre
Durbin
Condrey

That bullpen would be the best one we'd had in years. Enough to offset the loss of Burrell? Maybe not. But closer than with the either/or.

Andy: I'm not a big fan of spending a first round pick on a middle reliever... that's my only resistence to going after Cruz. I also wonder what the bidding for him might bring. I'm fairly certain it will be more than what JC Romero got (3 years, $4M per) considering Cruz is a more reliable commodity than Romero was going into last off-season.

You really can't determine Madson's value on the free agent market until we see what kind of year he puts together this year. If he pitches the entire year close to what he did in the final month of the season and post-season, he will be long gone. If he goes back to being average Ryan Madson then he might not be so tough to sign.

I still would not trade him unless another team blew us away with an offer. The more research I do on Cruz, he looks like he would really cement the bullpen. We can't expect the same year from Durbin or for Lidge to be perfect again. I definitely like the idea of putting another good arm out there that can strike people out.

I'd sign Cruz if it is at a reasonable number and I'd keep Madon too. I don't want any of the other relievers they are targeting. But I would try to-resign Gordon to a minor-league deal.

I'm more concearned with the OF situation if Burrell laeves. I surely do not want a value village platoon in left. But I have no problem in moving Werth to left and them bringing in a quality (and that's the key word here)RH bat for right to platoon with Jenkins.

Congrats to Pujols. He absolutely deserves the MVP. Can't argue with his year. I must say a lot of phans here are showing a lot of class in congratulating him. Howard's got the WS ring instead. I'm sure that means much more. On the good side of things (if you can call it that), by finishing 2nd in the balloting, Ryan should ONLY get 15 mil in arb instead of 18.

Cruz is going to get paid around $4M a year to a multi-year deal. Phils basically set this rate when they resigned Romero last year to a 3 yr/$12M deal. Cruz is a guy who found his niche as a power righty out of the arm. Considering he is only going to be 30 and has never been an injury risk, you have to pay for these guys.

I would love for the Phils to sign Cruz and use Madson in a package for a bat that will be an upgrade over the Rivera or Mench type the Phils would likely sign. In fact, I wouldn't mind seeing the Phils sign Cruz, move Madson (hopefully for more than a 1-yr solution in LF but unlikely), and still bring in a guy like Mench or another veteran bat.

If Golson was ready for a shot this spring, I wouldn't mind him being the 5th OF but he is best served by more seasoning to begin the season at T-AAA. If the Phils have an injury in the OF (and they likely with Vic out there at some point), Golson might be one of the guys you consider calling up first later next year.

Golson in a MLB uniform next year....Hmmm...~thinks about it~...

...~pukes violently on laptop~

Yeah, that's all I have to say about that.

Given that Durbin is likely to see a pretty big fall-off next year (all the signs point to it including his heavy workload/number of appearances), get a righty like Cruz would be very nice.

This bullpen looks pretty nice next season:

Closer - Lidge
Righties - Cruz, Madson, Condrey, Durbin
Lefties - Eyre, Romero

That arguably would be the best and deepest Phils' bullpen going into a season that they have ever had or at least as I can remember. Even if Lidge, Condrey, and Durbin fall-off to their career norms, that is still very solid with multiple options.

I still find it hard to get around this notion of a Phils' team built primarily around pitching and defense (although they do hit their share of HRs too).

Hell, if the Phils did sign Cruz (and my money is that he ends up in a Mets' uniform next year) they could even let Condrey walk if they don't feel like paying him $700-$800k. I would rather have that money be used on a quality arm like Cruz if that is what it comes down to.

"Show me an offensively improved line-up based on McLouth rather than Howard."

What in the world does that mean? Are you one of the posters who gets his jollies by posting the Phillies' imaginary lineup? I can hardly imagine a bigger waste of time -- but then, the onanism on this board seems only to have increased since last off-season.

You folks can circle-jerk all day long, but you haven't posted a thing that shows Ryan Howard as any better than the 15th-best offensive player -- or, I would contend, the 30th-best offensive player -- in the NL this year. Not your imaginary lineups (imagine, Andy, a guy who had only 40 fewer total bases than Howard, but also led the league in doubles and stole 23 bases while being caught 3 times -- basically, another Utley. Tell me you couldn't figure out where to bat him. I think you have more imagination than that).

Meanwhile, he has earned only $1.1 million FOR HIS CAREER. Yes, he's only one year -- and $10 million per season from here on out -- behind Ryan Howard. The difference is you could probably sign him for Utley-like money over the next several years. Howard, on the other hand, is gone the moment he reaches six years of service.

As for McLouth having a "career year," you don't know that three-and-change years into a guy's career. Especially when he hasn't reached age 27 yet, and, unlike Howard, has not declined offensively in each of the past three seasons. In fact, he's improved markedly in each of the past three years.

Look, I don't know the guy from Adam. One of you clowns pulled out his name from among the many, many players whose offensive output exceeded Howard's in 2008. That the Nate McLouths of the league put up better stats than Ryan Howard says all that needs be said about Big 6's "MVP-caliber" season.

Check out this article on Chutley and how badly he was overlooked in this year's voting.

http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/chase-utley-is-good

Pujols won the MVP and he deserved it more than any other player. He had a Historically Great season...not just a good season like Ryno. 190 OPS+ for godsake. I dont think we all quite appreciate what we have in Pujols. He's easily the best player in baseball right now and the best hitter by a good margin. His blend of power and average is unique for this Era in the sport and rare even if you go back through history. He's a Lou Gehrig/Mickey Mantle type of player. We are privileged to watch his career. Case closed.

On Cruz: I suppose signing him wouldn't be the end of the world but I'd hate to see Maddog throwing 97 for another team next year. That would be painful after all the effort we've put into him over the years. Cruz AND Madson would be nice though.

Amazing Stat: Pujols has finished in the Top 3 in MVP voting in 6 of his 8 seasons in the league...his other two "off-years" had him finishing 9th and 4th respectively. 2 1st, 3 2nd, & 1 3rd place finish.

I mean damn. His stats are so disgustingly good and he's so steady you forget how amazing his stats are.

Alby -
"Are you one of the posters who gets his jollies by posting the Phillies' imaginary lineup?"

No. And though I might ask something like "Are you one of those posters who gets his jollies by trading Howard for imaginary dreck?" Let me stick to my question. If you replace Howard in the Phillies line-up and place Burrell at first, where he's never played in the majors, who bats fourth? Burrell? Then who hits fifth? McLouth? Victorino?

Moreover, even if McLouth's 2008 approached Howard's 2008, do you actually believe that the Phils would have even made the play-offs with McLouth instead of Howard this year? I think that you are over valuing a 5' 11" speedy outfielder who hit a HR once every 50 ABs in his minor league career; and undervaluing the player who is the fastest to hit 100 HRs in major league history.

They are not remotely comparable in value. If Pittsburgh offered a straight up trade of the two in a meeting of all baseball GMs there would be about thirty guys rolling around on the floor in hysterical laughter with tears running down their faces.

I am sure that I could find 100 guys in baseball history who had a year greater than, say, Lou Gehrig's worst year. That doesn't mean that they were better ballplayers.

I dont think there is any question Pujols deserved it. Just look at his OPS. Congrats to him.

I like Cruz and Madson if that's possible. You can't have to many good arms on the staff and I believe that we all saw what an advantage a good bullpen can be. For me, the bullpen was the main difference between this years Phils and the teams that barely missed the playoffs or got swept.

Perhaps I am oversimplifying, but I think going for cruz is a great idea. consider this scenario:

i) phils sign cruz, give up 30th overall pick in draft. Madson has great season, phils can't/won't pay for him next year, madson walks and phils get draft pick back.

ii) phils sign cruz, give up 30th overall pick in draft. Madson has awful season, and phils can't/don't want him back. Phils get low draft pick in return.

If madson pitches well, we get the draft back when he walks, if madson pitches badly we have effectively traded the 1st round draft pick for his replacement. Beerleaguers overvalue draft picks, but even conventional wisdom on this blog would trade a pick for a proven major leaguer like cruz.

Either way, we seem to think he is gone next year. I say champion teams try to solve problems which they may not yet have, but which are coming down the chute.

All of the above assumes cruz is not a total flop, so in that respect I am oversimplifying.

clout - agree we want Madson and Cruz.

Several random points:
= F*&k Scott Boras. He's not reason enough to make any trade. I'd ride Madson next year as a default choice. Gotta get something special for Madson - that year he has left could be anohter crown.
= Phils could use one year of Nate McLouth more than we can use another 3 years of Pat Burrell. Too bad they don't have that decision to make.
= Pujols is an historically good player. He deserves this MVP - not close. Howard deserves plenty of 2d place votes.

No way Madson suddenly turns into a guy who throws 95 or 97 fastball consistently. He was amped up for the playoffs and let it ride a bit more. If he is going to hold up over the course of next year and give the Phils a heavily workload (75-80 innings), then his fastball will likely be back around his career range 90-92 MPH which is still fine.

CJ: Who knows, but how many NL West Division pennants will Jeremy Affeldt win? Maybe Cruz wants to win. It's not exactly like 3 yrs/$12 million would be an insulting offer. Of course, the Mets may drive up his price. I'd like him for our bullpen, but I'd also like to keep him out of Flushing Meadows, too. Signing him would accomplish a twofer.

Alby-

" The problem with your argument is that this voter-gauged "value" doesn't even hold true from year to year -- one year it's RBI that are most valuable, one year leadership, one year a burst of excellence in the pennant race."

Which only further supports what I was saying before. "Value" is a subjective determination. That doesn't lead to your illogical conclusion that there's no point in discussing the merit of subjective viewpoints. That misconception is obviously disproven by the simple fact that "value" is subjective and people do argue about it. And it doesn't mean that VORP isn't a useful measure that you can use in those discussions. It only means that anyone who thinks that they can determine value, as some absolute quality, by measuring VORP, is wrong.

But by virtue of any comprehensive scientific analysis, it's clear that VORP isn't sufficient to determine an objective measure of value. Since you seem to have trouble with the concept, I'll repeat it for the fourth time. The only thing I've said is completely off base is the the notion that you can use VORP as some kind of objective determination of how to "value" a given player's contribution to his team in any given year.

As far as I'm concerned, RBI is clearly an extremely useful measure of a players value to his team in any given year. It can be offset by negative measures, such as errors. But the number of runners a player knocks in is, simply, a measure of how much he contributed to his teams wins that year. That fact stands true irrespective of any evaluation of what any other player MIGHT have contributed had they been hitting in the exact same at bats. What someone else MIGHT have done doesn't negate what someone DID do. Knocking in runs is a contribution - and there is no statistic that can change that simple fact. In that sense, Howard was a huge contributor to the success this year of his team.

MG: Is Madson at 90-92 good enough? Ryan didn't seem to have better control of his fastball, he was just throwing it ALOT harder and could get away with throwing more to the plate rather than to the corner. Without that overpowering fastball he can't do that. I didn't really see a big improvement in his secondary stuff either. I guess what I'm saying is that we have seen the Phils bullpen with the overpowering Ryan Madson, and it's very good. We have also seen the pen when it features the 90-92 mph Madson, and it's not as good. Can they get away with that until Sept.-playoffs Ryan shows up?

Vonderful - Why not? Madson is never going to be an elite setup man but he a guy who can give you 75-80 innings of with an ERA around 3-3.50.

Is that worth closer money - no but it will ensure that Madson still gets a nice payday next year if he puts up his typical numbers out of the pen.

MG: My question is, do you think that is good enough to fill his post-season role (8th inning) in the regular season? I'm not so sure. Charlie likes to have a paint-by-numbers pen (insert x-pitcher in the 7th etc.) and I'm not sure Madson will be able to fill that role for the entire year. Romero? Maybe, but his knack for the untimely (2 out) walk scares me too. I'm not worried about the Boras factor. When the time comes, the Phils will either pay him, or they won't. The bullpen was the most consistent aspect of the team as well as it's most vital (in my opinion) and a drop-off in production (which is something you have to expect) will be tough for this team to overcome. Signing Cruz would be a great idea. I hate giving up the pick, but to be able to add to the pen would have a great benefit for the team. A strong bullpen is essential to winning and last season showed that.

It would be more fair to look at the "replace player X with player Y" argument from both angles. Of course when you replace Howard with McLouth, McLouth looks bad. Trying to replace McLouth with Howard, however, puts the center fielder in a much better light.

Dave X - So if you were Pittsburgh and the Phils offered you Howard for McLouth, how long would you hesitate before turning them down?

Madson (and the team) said his increased velocity was due to a change in mechanics and better strength/conditioning training that Jamie Moyer got him into during the season. Thus his velocity very well might not drop back down to 90-92. He could very well stay in the 94/95 range that he was in for the 2nd half.

Phlipper: So in other words, the only valid conversations are about what players DID do, and any attempt to make comparisons is useful but ultimately futile? I'm asking, not trying to mischaracterize. My point being that EVERY such ranking system puts Howard well down the list of top NL players in 2008. YOu can try to spin that all you want, but that's what the numbers say.

Andy: They can roll and laugh all they want. So can you. I'd still make the trade. And it's not about McLouth's best season vs. Howard's worst -- it's about a declining player vs. a rising player, one who can't play defense vs. one who can, one who's expensive and will be gone in three years vs. one who's affordable and could be here for much longer.

Keep something in mind about Howard: A good part of his on-base percentage comes on walks, and a good part of that comes on intentional walks. That's exactly where he fell off last year -- teams stopped pitching around him as much once they realized he can't recognize an inside breaking ball.

I will see if a friend of mine can run one of those computer simulations plugging in McLouth for Howard (which is well beyond my rudimentary computer skills). If he can, I'll let you know the results. I believe they'd be closer than most of you seem to think.

I keep seeing people post that they would move Werth to LF and fing someone to platoon with Jenkins in Right.

Is this because Jenkins is a better RFer than Werth or that the market is deeper for a value village right handed RFer?

I just don't see it. Why wouldn't you keep Werth in Right and find a LF platoon partner? Seems like that would result in a better defense and I would think that LFers are generally cheaper than RFers.

Semi-off-topic, but I was sort of expecting some sort of leak with details regarding an Utley injury post World Series. I understand that the team, and Utley in particular, would try to keep this close to their chests, but I haven't really seen many people ask the question, which is somewhat surprising.

Add J-Mike to the list of potential outfield targets. I liked Jason Michaels when he was with the Phils, but I honestly don't see him helping the '09 team much if signed. Yes he's righthanded, but his #'s have slipped considerably the past 3 seasons.

DP - I think there was a leak about it almost right after the Ws in an interview. It was posted on here. Utley was in fact injured and he will be fine by next season. It wasn't too detailed as I beleive it came from a radio or TV interview

I'm not all that excited about Pujols winning the MVP. I just don't like him. He has great stats, but he doesn't lift his team on his back and carry them into the playoffs. I'm sure he won't get any Christmas cards from Brad Lidge either.

I'd love to see this opinion backed up by facts: Madson is only good when he throws his fatsball in the mid-90s.

This is kind of like: Myers is only good when he throws his fastball in the mid-90s.

Zero factual evidence to back up either opinion.

CY - I keep wondering the same thing about Werth. In the end, the Phils will need a corner OF to replace Burrell, if he leaves, and I figure one with a lesser arm (i.e. LF) will be easier to find.

But whatever. Remember this is BL where some people believe that a player with a four year career OPS+ of 109 (who compiled an OPS of .789 in 2000 ABs in the minors) is better than one who has a five year career OPS+ of 143 (and had a .929 in 1850 ABs in the minors). It is an astounding bizarro universe of alternative views.

I just read that "The Phillies announced yesterday they had fired minor league field coordinator Bill Dancy. He was replaced by Mike Compton, who filled that role while Dancy was the team's third-base coach in 2005 and 2006." What does a minor league field coordinator do? I keep reading about all these hirings and firings in the front office. They seem to have a lot of positions. The office seems to be top heavy. Who has the position of the Assistant to the GM in charge of GM a$$ wiping?

Alby: I agree with almost every one of your posts and your analysis of Howard on the MVP issue is solid.

But if you think McLouth going forward is going to have a better career than Howard, you're nuts.

Comparison is difficult, because they're different kinds of players, but there is absolutely nothing in McLouth's performance to suggest he can hit 40 HRs, much less 50.

You minimize the importance of HRs and maximize the pessimistic outlook for Howard.

McLouth is a very nice player, but he's a classic line-drive gap power guy with solid strike zone judgment and a good glove for corner OF (but below average in CF).

He is 27 years old so there might be a tad more upside, but no way do I see 40 HRs in his future. His best comp by age is Reggie Sanders, but Reggie didn't have nearly as good strikezone judgment, and I think McLouth will end his career with a better BA and OB, although fewer HRs than Reggie.

Because Howard has had declining numbers past 3 years, you're assuming the decline will continue. I think you're wrong for 2 reasons: 1. His numbers started higher than his minor league stats projected. His current numbers are more in line. 2. He's 29 years old. It would be quite rare for him to be nearing the end of his peak at age 29.

In sum: Look for McLouth to have a fine career with stats ranging 35-50 doubles, .275-.295, 15-30 HRs and .460-.510 SLG. But look for the Big Man to give us .250-.275, 40-55 HRs and .520-.600 SLG over the next several years.

Does that look like an even trade to you? Not to me.

re: Madson

We can spend all day digging up stats to prove people right/wrong, but anyone who actually watched the phillies for the past years knows that he pitched better than he ever has in the end 08 and the postseason.

The phillies' bullpen is better with him in it, but with his contract situation, i think they need to at least shop him around and see what offers are there. As MG was saying, his value is as high as its going to get, and Madson repeating that 2008 stretch is not guaranteed(or likely in my opinion).

thephaithful: "Madson repeating that 2008 stretch is not guaranteed(or likely in my opinion)."

What is your opinion based upon?

On Madson, I am favor of listening to offers on anyone who is in the final year of a contract, but it would have to be a pretty great offer for me to let him go. I think he is going to be really good this year. And calling the Baldelli homer a 'meatball' is absurd. It was a good fastball up and in. Baldelli pulled his wrists in so far they were up against his chest. It was a phenomenal piece of hitting to get around on that ball like he did. I think Madson could throw that pitch 20 times and the other 19 would be swings and misses or foul-offs.

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