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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Comments

Do the Phils still own the rights to Tad Iguchi, or was a free agent after this past season?

Iguchi is a FA, but he really had a poor season last season and was also hurt.

The Phillies have plenty of time to figure it out. Plenty of time. If Utley can't go, I think it's a nice opportunity to see what Donald could provide at second. I would go Donald over aging mediocrity Iguchi.

I wonder if this increases:

A: The chances of resigning Burrell, or adding someone better (Manny?) to guarantee some offense at the position.

B: The chances they will look around for a 3b.

So we'll see Utley back with the Phillies in playing shape towards the end of June?
So do we start the clock on Donald or get a 3-month fill-in like Iguchi (who is a FA; the Phillies outrighted him to the Minors last week).

Dobbs had some injuries, too, but they weren't reported on and he didn't spend time on the DL. I think it was also a bad back ... around the time when Bruntlett was getting all the starts at 3B and we were wondering what Cholly was smoking.

Not spring chickens anymore.

In previous years, this kind of information would send panic through the streets and on here.

I'm disappointed. And I'll await the return.

No panic here.

We're still World Ph***ing Champs.

End of May according to the six-month worst case timetable.

@Johnny Goodtimes -- we still have Tad Iguchi's rights.

So do we have an ETA on the Mets fans visiting Beerleaguer?

Yes - Cunningham is correct. I am incorrect. Phillies sent infielder Tadahito Iguchi outright to Triple-A Lehigh Valley, thus taking him off the 40-man roster. I don't know if he refused or not. Maybe he's interested in sticking around because of Utley's situation.

Considering they'll be playing losing baseball in April no matter who is out there, this isnt too much of a concern. The biggest effect this will have on the 09 season is the MVP voting where Utley's numbers wont be as gaudy as others.

And actually, I consider this good news. It would have been worse to hear that his second half decline was due to strictly his ability. Now we can look forward to the healthy Chase of early '08 to return for the summer of '09, instead of wondering how is struggles will carry over from last season.

this news sucks but i could be much worse, WORST case is June, and if every thing goes well he could be back by sometime in april, and knowing utley he will do all he can to be back early

Is a hip injury at his age a sign for serious concern? Is that the kind of thing that becomes consistent? I am unfamiliar with the human hip and its response to playing baseball.

Bad news all-around but not totally unexpected. Few thoughts:

1. This is the opening for Donald. If he has a good spring training, it is going to be hard for Cholly to hold off not starting him at 2B.

2. Upgrading the middle utility INF becomes much more of a priority. Bruntlett got exposed this year when he played a lot and I wonder how much he can contribute offensively anymore at the big league level.

3. Actually much more worried about Feliz than I am Utley for next season. Several times I have mentioned that 35-year old athletes with bulging discs suddently don't improve. I would be surprised if Feliz is on the field much next year or contributes in a meaningful way. His offensive numbers in the 2nd half were just putrid and he doesn't hit for power he is useless offensively. Plus, it is likely his defensive take a slight hit too.

Luckily he is only signed to a 1 more year but acquiring a 3B should become a priority although my bet is that the Phils won't largely because of payroll issues.

4. Timing of this is no shock either. At least 2 weeks after people received season ticket renewal notices and probably ponied up to the large increases but I can't really knock the Phils. Most teams would do the exact same thing.

5. More and more it looks like the Phils' management are going to be content to ride off the World Series win next year.

"5. More and more it looks like the Phils' management are going to be content to ride off the World Series win next year."

Huh?

Hip injuries can be very severe but unlikely that is the case if Utley was cleared to play. Then again I have heard from friends who work at UPenn Hospital that there are mixed things about Ciccotti as an orthopedic surgeon. His credentials are impressive but I would want to speak to some fellow orthopedic surgeons to see what they think.

Curious to see if he does the procedure and someone else does it even though HealthGrades states that Ciccotti doesn't normally do hips.

Have to wait for more details but the Phils are usually pretty sparse with exact details.

It was obvious that Utley has been nursing this since mid-June. Nevertheless, the chatter about the hip specifically didn't heat up until Pat Gillick referenced it later in the season.

Although Pat's frankness was appreciated by a fan base that lacks patience with a tight-lipped FO, it may not have been fair to Chase or the team. The one argument is that - yes it was a smart thing to do, b/c his frankness bought Utley some patience from the fans. The flip side is that his frankness could have helped opponents exploit Utley's injury at the plate.

In a sport such as ice hockey, disclosing specifics regarding an injury is taboo (see: "upper body injury"). But what's the protocall in baseball? Do you think Chase was pissed at Stand Pat

BB - If Burrell walks (and I would be stunned if he resigned), Feliz and Utley are question marks next year due to health, and their only moves offseason this year are to resign Moyer and Eyre, how is this team better or going to duplicate their performance from this year?

MG: Do you really think people would not have bought season tickets knowing Utley was having hip surgery? You're more cynical than I thought.

we could be seeing alot more of dobbs next year and im happy about that, and after chase comes back, he will put up the numbers he did before his hip injury

"BB - If Burrell walks (and I would be stunned if he resigned), Feliz and Utley are question marks next year due to health, and their only moves offseason this year are to resign Moyer and Eyre, how is this team better or going to duplicate their performance from this year?"

Again, let's let the offseason continue further before we consider it a failure.

Man, think about that play he made in the cold in Game 5.2 now.

Ranging to his right, bending down to snag the ball, jumping in the air and pump faking, then planting his feet and throwing cross body to home.

Filthy. They need to redo that gatorade commerical where Jeter flips the ball home and the guy is safe instead of out...and put in Utley's play.

Can someone please tell me why everyone assumes Donald can play 2B at the major league level when he's never taken an inning there in the minors? Is it that easy a position? Just a few sessions and you're ready?

Well, not unexpected news. I have even more respect for Uts than ever in light of it, though. Regardless of who's playing second in April, the key thing in this situation is Ryan Howard. This is the year he needs to mature into a full season batter. We cannot afford another slow start from him next season. I think the other thing is that it may actually force the Phillies to pursue a better RF replacement than they have been looking at so far. Just a hunch, but if I was a top Phillies prospect, I wouldn't be looking into buying a house for a few months. :)

1) Perhaps Utley's celebration comments can now be written off as the results of mixing pain meds with alcohol!

2) Does this impact the amount of time Jason Donald spends working at 3b this offseason?

3) Does this make Atkins more attractive?

I'm sure he's not going to be the best defensive 2nd baseman in the majors by Opening Day, but ss and 2b are very simliar positions. A groundball is a groundball. He'll take cutoff throws from right field instead of left. Learn to throw from the other side of 2B to turn two. Shouldn't be a hard transformation.

Jason: Has Iguchi accepted his outright assignment? If he refused, he's a FA. Last I read he said he would return to Japan if he could not land a major league starting job. One thing's for sure: He won't be starting at 2B for the Iron Pigs next season.

"And actually, I consider this good news. It would have been worse to hear that his second half decline was due to strictly his ability."

Every cloud has its silver lining!

lorecore: "A groundball is a groundball."

Well, no. They come from different directions depending on what side of the INF you're on. But that's not nearly the biggest issue. Turning the DP is.

"4. Timing of this is no shock either. At least 2 weeks after people received season ticket renewal notices and probably ponied up to the large increases but I can't really knock the Phils. Most teams would do the exact same thing"

Why even bother mentioning it then?

The timing is what it is.

"Again, let's let the offseason continue further before we consider it a failure."

I don't disagree with this sentiment but, so far, Amaro has said all the wrong things. He has said that they don't need a No. 2 starter because they already have one in Myers. He has said that if they can't resign Moyer, they'll look to add a No. 4 caliber starter. He has said they can make due in LF with a platoon combination involving the players already on their roster. And I believe I even read something the other day where he dropped Adam Eaton's name as someone who could compete for the 5th starting job (i.e., the job that should already have been won by Happ). Plus, most of Amaro's comments seem to suggest that he regards the bullpen as off-season priority No. 1 -- which, if true, is flat-out ridiculous.

clout: Well, no. They come from different directions depending on what side of the INF you're on. But that's not nearly the biggest issue. Turning the DP is.

Which is exactly what I typed the next sentence in my post, turning two from the other side fo the bag. And not that I'm aruging its importance, but a 6-4-3 DP happens on average... once a game? maybe 1.3?

BB: I've been pleading with MG to let the offseason play out for weeks now. I believe he declared it a failure the day after the World Series. He's already prepared for a 4th place finish next year.

clout: I raised that last thread. Lots of assumptions for Jason Donald considering there are questions about his defensive ability at the only position he's ever really played in the minors.

Oh Sh!t, that all I can say right now.

Well after watching the Pigs play ball last season who could blame him for going back to Japan, clout? Although there is some decent sushi to be had in town. :)

As far as it goes, while interchanging SS and 2B requires an adjustment, it is a shallower learning curve moving to 2B than from it.

@JW -- was more right than I was. I missed the outright assignment. Stark mentioned in his article that Iguchi would be on the Phillies "free agent shopping list" along with Nick Punto. With Donald an outside possibility.

Iguchi does not want a back up role according to another article and clout is right that he would consider returning to japan.

MG and AWH this one's for you, from Todd Zolecki:

"I asked Ruben Amaro Jr. about Utley's hip last week. He said, "There's really not much to say about it, other than we're monitoring it." Asked about any scheduled surgeries, Amaro said: "Not at this time. At least at this time we don't view it as an issue."

There is a difference between being cynical and how you run a business. I have seen firsthand enough through my last job and current job companies try to "spin" things (this happens all the time with publicly-traded companies in a big way). You try to control news and specifically control how negative news is released and when.

If you don't think the Phils withheld this news for a few weeks on purpose, you are just being naive. Phils sent out season ticket increases to people of 15-20% in incredibly difficult economic times. Why would you possibly do anything additional to make their second-think their decision to spend up to $7k dollars on a season ticket.

bap: How many times will you be fooled by what a GM says? When have you found any GM to be truthful about their offseason plans. Why tell the rest of the league what you want to do?

Clout: Thank you for inserting some common sense into the Donald speculation. Question for the pollyannas: How long did it take Chase Utley to learn to play 2B as well as he does now -- even after playing his college career there?

Where do folks come up with some of this stuff? Have you all forgotten what the defense was like during the Marlon Anderson years?

Jason, you should know better. The Phillies will not start Donald at 2B in the regular season unless he shows he can handle the DP -- simple as that.

lorecore: I'm no expert but my eyes tell me playing 2B isn't easy, even for an experienced SS. Obviously, a lot depends on how skilled the player is with the glove in the first place. Lots easier to shift a Cesar Izturis, for example, than a Garciaparra. But Donald's glove is not his strong suit.

Clout - Thanks. Most teams would follow a typical policy of being vague on injuries so you can't knock the Phils there. Way any MLB team would opeate. I do think though that the words "candor and truth" will be pretty much lacking from any of Amaro's public comments or stories during his tenure.

MG: You dodged my question. Do you honestly believe a potential ticket buyer would reconsider buying tickets because Chase Utley needs offseason hip surgery?

This isn't like the NBA where one player is the draw. These are the World F-in Champions. They were going to get huge ticket sales with or without this injury.

Clout - Valid concern about starting Donald at 2B but if you don't think he can play there then what exactly is his position? Likely the Phils put him at 2B in spring training (unless they plan on keeping him at 3B and seeing if he is the solution there).

Clout-

I agree we shouldn't just assume that Donald can play second. But specifically, what problems do you foresee?

Clearly, getting acclimated to ground balls on the right side will take some time, as will working on footwork. But second is generally considered to be a slightly easier defensive position than short, which ought to at least bode well for this hypothetical transition.

Is there something specific that concern you?

This GM being "truthful" stuff is too funny. I think some people need to step back and stop reading into every word. When it comes down to it, baseball is a business and your competing against all the other teams. You don't always reveal your cards.

I hate sounding like such an Amaro apologist: i'm no fan of the guy (until he shows he can do the job), but this is ridiculous.

Donald isn't being asked to be catcher for a full season. He MAY be asked to play 2b for a month. Hopefully, he'll be able to remember how to turn a double play. Fingers crossed!!!

I regret that for the second time in three years (or if you credit his bad hip, the third time in three) Utley is unable to post a full, healthy, year's worth of statistics. How many MVPs is he costing himself: two, three?

CJ - Your right I am negative and biased on Amaro. I think he is a corporate BS who got where he got because of his pedigree/connections and not because of what he has actually accomplished. Yeah, we have to see how the offseason and next year plays out but BAP is right.

So far Amaro has towed the typical line and it appears the Phils are pretty content to ride their WS win. Maybe I am wrong and they do something else besides resign Moyer and bring in a few Value Village guys (an OF and a veteran bullpen arm) but that is pretty much publicly what they have been stating they are goign to do.

Not that this is sufficient, but Donald has played a number of games in the AFL at 2B. Remember that Reyes bounced back and forth for the Mets too. It's a possible option, but it's definitely not an absolute solution.

MG: His position is in AAA. I still believe he should be learning 3B to prepare for a full time role there sometime in 2009 or, at the latest 2010. I think a diversion to 2nd base would be a mistake unless there is a belief that Utley's recovery will be worse than we think.

Clout, you're right, playing 2b isn't easy. However, if you are going to move there from another position then SS is the easiest transformation. Do I think Donald has what it takes to be our 2b for a while next year? Not really, no, but it's also not outside the realm of possibility, either.

MG - how can you (and others) say that it looks like Amaro and the Phillies are content just to ride out the WS win? It isn't like 300 moves have been made this off season and the Phillies are the only ones who haven't done anything. Patience...

"how can you (and others) say that it looks like Amaro and the Phillies are content just to ride out the WS win?"

Some people are determined to see the glass as half-empty.

MG and bap: I seem to remember hearing these same kinds of complaints about the FO and the off-season last year. Perhaps you both forgot about that little World Series thing we won.

I understand... you guys are pessimists. The sky is always falling. I get it.

CJ a few months of playing 2b and trying to compete there at the MLB level could do wonders for his fielding ability, long term. The fielding skills required for 2b is a much higher mark than 3b. A few months of working on the glove to that degree may have a carryover effect in his defensive work habits when he would (I hope) move back to third at the AAA level.

"MG and bap: I seem to remember hearing these same kinds of complaints about the FO and the off-season last year. Perhaps you both forgot about that little World Series thing we won."

It's easier to bitch and moan. Didn't we have a "be postive day" type of thing last year, and there was nothing to talk about?

More and more I do think the economic conditions are giving baseball teams a slight hesistation about launching fully into the FA market until they see what their season ticket renewal numbers begin to look like.

I am willing to give the Phils until about mid-Dec but by then the FA market and offseason will pretty much have wrapped up except for some real minor parts the Phils may acquire like a veteran bullepn guy who doesn't get picked up or some guy they view as a potential filler type at AAA/MLB level.

Lazarus: I guess the issue is that there's not much time between now and spring training to work on playing 2nd base. He's going to need a break or he won't be much use to us next year anyway. I just don't think the Phils will entertain handing a guy our starting 2nd base position based on 2 months of 2nd base practice.

My headline for this would be:
Utley Hip to Surgery; Pete Happy Too

What a b**ch but at least now we definitely know he was hurt and wasn't suffering from an early onset Alomar.

CJ and BB - I do think (contrary to what you guys seemt to believe) that the possibility of a major star missing a potentially large part of the season/affecting their competitiveness will potentially make some people less hesitant to renew season tickets. Is it a significant %? Certainly not but how can you say that it won't liekly effect it a little bit?

While I agree with clout, Alby, et al. regarding the difficulty of the move from SS to 2B, I'm willing to move Donald there now and see how he does before I go spend money on a 2B and/or use Bruntlett. What does it hurt? I don't see the harm in giving him a shot in the remainder of the AFL and spring training. However, under no circumstances do I think he should be given the job outright without playing there first.

Also, if one thinks that Donald has no place in MLB other than a utility infielder (especially on a team with Rollins and Utley), shouldn't he get some innings at 2B? I think the AFL and spring training are the appropriate times for these experiments. Not during the season when you're back is against the wall.

Let's say it effects even just 500 season ticket holders who are on the fence because of the economic uncertainity. If they even spend just $40/game (which is incredibly conservative given parking, concessions, merchanise, and the ticket price), then that means the Phils don't get to recognize $2M before the season begins.

May not seem large in the grand scheme of things but with the likelihood that walk-up ticket sales take a decent hit next year, I am sure that every MLB team is trying to make sure they can grab as much money as they can now to reduce the impact of that uncertainity.

MG: It's so magnaimous of you to give the Phils all the way to Mid-December before officially declaring 2009 a lot cause. I'm sure Amaro is breathing a sigh of relief now ;-)

"how can you (and others) say that it looks like Amaro and the Phillies are content just to ride out the WS win?"

I can understand BAP and MG to this extant: what irritates about Amaro is his smarm, the contemptuous offhandedness--he gives the impression that he'd go ahead with a LF platoon if only as way of saying to the fans, FU. It's like he'd do it because he can.

No, not really "less hesitant".

The points on Donald are valid. Scouts are optimistic that his best position will end up being second base however. Should have checked, but I'm surprised he has not taken the field at 2B at all. I assumed he had. My mistake. Plenty of time to weigh the options, but I think having a clunky fielder who might be able to handle MLB pitching in Donald is an option to consider as they start to make plans for ST. Take a look. Maybe Utley is good to go in four months instead of six and all of this is academic.

Can't find where it breaks down the average of certain DPs per game played. I did find:

a 6-4-3 and 5-4-3 DPs combine to make a total of 48% of all GIDP. 32%(most common) are 6-4-3 and 16% are 5-4-3.

Opponents have hit into 127 GIDP vs Philly in 2008, take 48% of that and divide it by 162 games: A 6-4-3 / 5-4-3 DP happens .37 times a game. or roughly a little more than once every three games.

So if Donald plays 60 games at 2B next year, he'll have to turn about 20 DPs.

MG: You're entitled to your opinion regarding the timing... but there's absolutely no evidence to support it... and it makes absolutely no sense. Based on those factors, it's my opinion that you're wrong.

All of the articles I'm reading on Utley suggest that his injury is similar perhaps to Mike Lowell's in that there could be a spur that needs to be shaved down. It's not good, but it could be much worse.

As tough a nut as Utley is, I would expect he will do everything in his power to be back on that field closer to the 4 month timeframe than the 6.

It makes his defensive plays in the postseason that much more impressive, no?

CJ - When did I say ever say 2009 was a lost cause?

My point was that if this team doesn't resign Burrell, Feliz/Utley have injury concerns, and they only resign Moyer/Eyre/Value Village types, it will be pretty tough for them to repeat as NL East contenders although they will remain a playoff contender.

If you think otherwise, great but I think that is being overly optimistic.

Alby "Have you all forgotten what the defense was like during the Marlon Anderson years?"

Chills ran down my spine when I read that!

CJ - Your dead wrong. Go back and look at the last several offseasons. The Phils make their primary offseason moves by mid-Dec (as do almost every other team in MLB). After that they fill in some very minor pieces.

"I can understand BAP and MG to this extant: what irritates about Amaro is his smarm, the contemptuous offhandedness--he gives the impression that he'd go ahead with a LF platoon if only as way of saying to the fans, FU. It's like he'd do it because he can."

Klaus: What exactly gives you this feeling?

MG: My comment about being wrong about the timing was in reference to the injury announcement... not the off-season manuevers.

Laz: I agree with this:
"Do I think Donald has what it takes to be our 2b for a while next year? Not really, no, but it's also not outside the realm of possibility, either."

My problem was with posters on prveious thread who just automatically assumed it won't be a problem (i.e. most posters).

For the record, this news cements Chase Utley as my favorite athlete of all-time, Philly or anywhere.

CJ - If you can find a notable offseason move the Phils made after say Dec 17-18 in the past 10 years, let me know because I can't remember one.

MG: See my last comment.

However, this season, as much as any other, may present more options later in the off-season because of the economic situation.

CJ - Maybe because it is just pure conjecture as we will never get the true story behind why it was released today vs. say maybe a 1-2 weeks ago.

stjoehawk: "Some people are determined to see the glass as half-empty."

I am determined to see the glass shattered in pieces on the floor with flecks of blood.

CJ - Agreed on that. It would be nice for the Phils to sign a guy like Cruz but it is also very likely that a veteran RHP reliever who can help them next year will shake loose late and an upgrad to the likes of Seanez.

Klaus' boy Sheridan has an update after a call with Amaro, says they expect Utley to be back by Opening Day, and that is more of a "condition" than an injury.

http://www.philly.com/philly/hp/news_update/Utley_could_miss_four_to_six_months_with_hip_surgery.html

"If you can find a notable offseason move the Phils made after say Dec 17-18 in the past 10 years, let me know because I can't remember one. "

Just for fun, I figured I'd take a look. The first two weren't notable at the time, but they turned out to be significant moves.

1/15/07 - Selected Greg Dobbs off waivers from the Seattle Mariners.

12/19/06 - Signed Jayson Werth as a free agent.

1/27/06 - Traded Jason Michaels to the Cleveland Indians. Received Arthur Rhodes. (No, not notable to the Phillies, but at a bar that night, a girl asked me if the Phillies had traded Jason Michaels yet. 2+ years later, I married her. So I'd call it a notable move.)

12/20/2002 - Traded Johnny Estrada to the Atlanta Braves. Received Kevin Millwood.

From David Murphy:

"The GM said he thinks the Phils are covered with veteran utility infielder Eric Bruntlett and rising prospect Jason Donald. So in spring training, while Utley is out, it sounds like Donald could get some significant playing time. That said, the Phils won't shut their eyes to available free agent infield options. But they don't feel the need - at least not publicly - to scramble to find a starting-quality second baseman."

Let's not sugarcoat this- losing Utley for any amount of time sucks. I know many people strongly dislike Pedro Feliz, but he's important part of next year's team too, and having him questionable health-wise only compounds the problem. What we're looking at is a hodge-podge in the outfield of a bunch of lefthanded batters and no Burrell, and now our 3-hole hitter is out until June and may never be the same player again. Rube needs to get creative and work with the budget he's been given and put out a team that can still compete in the NL East next season, because as currently constructed (minus Burrell, Moyer, and Utley- for a few months) this isn't going to be nearly as good.

Donald is our best infield prospect, and he's being asked to play in April, not September...I would prefer him to some washed up retread, unless that washed up retread is Iguchi. Love that guy.

Why does the GM think Donald can play 2b if Utley is hurt?!?

I havent read all previous threads, but what is the general consensus on Ibanez? I just think he's a less expensive, 5 yr older Burrell.. To me it's a lateral move. I prefer Baldelli or working a trade for Hermida. The trouble is, Hermida is LH too.

Sorry to get off topic but, as MG and some other posters have mentioned, the uncertain economic conditions are going to make this the most fascinating off season ever. If I were Hank Steinbrenner I think I would be hopping mad at CC's delay in signing that huge deal. He's obviously stalling to see if he can get others into the game. I'm sure Hammerin Hank won't do it, but a real hothead might pull that offer to be spiteful. There seems to be more tiptoeing around with the bigger FAs, no doubt because of the economy. Think about it. If you're the Mets or Yankees you would normally expect to see record attendance next season with the new ballparks and all. But now, I'm not so sure. New York is likely to get hit hardest of all by the damaged economy. Combine that with the stratospheric prices that are currently being asked for season tickets, and something's gotta give. Put simply, the 2 New York teams couldn't have picked a worse time to be opening new stadiums. Couldn't happen to a nicer bunch. I would have to think even those two filthy rich franchises have to be hesitant about writing those big checks now. Think back to the day the Rat went down ( I get misty just thinking about it). At that point, is there anyone that didn't think that the Mets would sign K-Rod about 15 minutes into the free agency signing period. I know I thought it was a foregone conclusion. Now, of course, they still may. But the longer these things drag out, the more unexpected things can happen. It seems that even the wealthiest sports franchises are being confronted with the new reality that most, if not all, of us are facing. Frightening and fascinating all at the same time.

Rob: Not much enthusiasm here for Ibanez.

MG: But if the Phils knew Utley needed surgery, wouldn't they have scheduled it weeks ago so he could be ready for the season? Does it make sense that they would hide this and wait until now to go forward with it at the risk of missed games in the regular season? I just don't think it makes sense.

Get well soon Chase.

Question:

Free agency is open... but have players been offered arbitration? If CC Sabathia signs with the Yankees tomorrow, do the Brewers get draft pick compensation?

I think the 2 week "delay" conspiracy is a bit nuts. If it were a month or more, I'd say whoever is making the decisions should be fired, but 2 weeks to figure out what the problem is? Nuts.

Hows this predicament for the Phils. Donald play 2nd for the month of April - hits 400 with maybe 8-10 homeruns and plays flawless 2nd base. What do Phils do?

I know it won't happen but it could.

8-10 HRs? Can't and won't.

When is the Rule 5 draft? It is like Christmas morning for Beerleaguers. A good solid week of analyzing the walk rates of Jim Ed Warden and Lincold Holdzcum!

fljerry: That's a "problem" I'm dying to experience.

A few months ago someone wondered why the Phils would let Utley play injured. Now that we know he was, in fact, playing hurt for a significant portion of the season, it isn't a bad time to return to that question. If for no other reason than to show just how good he is.

Let's just peg June 3rd as the date Utley peaked this year (.325/.408/.684 with 21 HR (60 G.)) He had plenty of streaks from that point until the end of the year (e.g. .233/.333/.408 in 28 games from April 25th to May 24th, followed by .286/.390/.631 in 22 games from May 25th to June 17th), but hit .272/.362/.446 with 12 HR (99 G) the rest of the way.

He lost a fair amount of his ability to get to first (~40 point OB drop) but most of the loss was in his power. .298/.385/.612 with 48 XBH in his first 80 games, .285/.374/.456 with 30 XBH in his last 78 (the OBP hit is smaller in these time frames.) He also struck out at a slightly higher rate (from roughly once every 7 AB to once every 5 AB.) His swing lost that compact power. It went long.

That's still a lot of production (and we're just talking offensively here - Utley played GG-caliber defense this year, IMO) from an injured second baseman. No team got more production - as measured by OPS - than the Phils got from 2B in 2008. Utley's (non-park-adjusted) OPS post-June 3rd (.808) would still be better than what 13 NL teams got from 2B in 2008 (only FL and CHC got more.) Only 3 AL teams had higher 2B OPS than .808 in 2008, as well (BOS, BAL, TEX.) A 6-month replacement, say, Tad Iguchi or Jason Donald, would not have provided adequate replacement.

He also had a .391 OBP in the playoffs, hitting 3 HR and scoring 10 runs. And that unassisted double play in LA. And that fake-throw to first move he used to get Bartlett out at home in the World Series. And also the Phillies won the World Series. It seems playing through pain may have been a good decision.

MG: You could probably make an argument that season ticket buyers would've been up regardless of when the Utley injury was announced.

I would guess there are a core group of season ticket holders who buy every year. After that group then you have a swing group who do it off and on. After that group there are those who buy a ton of single game tickets but have always been on the fence about season tickets. I would assume the latter two groups will have an uptick this year.

Even in a down market, which may or may not get worse by summer, people don't act fiscally responsible.

Also, I think it was a given the ticket prices were going to go up. That's just the way it works. The only team that I've heard so far that have kept prices the same is the Red Sox and they can afford to stay at the same level considering the amount of income they generate which is well above their operating budget.

On the moves after Dec 17th debate I'm with you

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EST. 2005

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