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Friday, December 26, 2008

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I know hindsight is 20/20, but with the market for Manny to be appearing to dry up besides the Dodgers, does anyone else think we really could have gotten him for at least a year or two. Even a two year deal where he could opt out of the second could might have been able to land him now.

The Phillies would never take a guy with Manny's baggage, and I don't think Ibanez's high character was a small issue in their decision to get him.

A point that always manages to get lost in the debate about drafting toolsy players with unrefined skills: Vic was with his third organization when he finally blossomed. Werth was with his fourth. On the rare occasion that toolsy players do hit pay dirt, it's almost never with the team that drafted them.

If the Phillies want to collect toolsy players with unrefined skills, they would be better off acquiring them by trade or minor league free agency. Those courses not only involve little risk and little money but, in the off chance that the guy pans out, it might actually be with the Phillies, instead of some other team.

Agreed. The Phillies have a good thing going, and I can't see them adding an unstable element like a Manny to the mix, no matter what he brings to the plate.

bap: From last thread... were you satisfied with the Phillies payroll last year? You seem to delight in denegrating the "12th largest payroll in the league," and then pretend that it's "all about winning." This team won with the 12th largest payroll in the league. Seems to me they spent the right amount of money in 2008.

Werth was pretty good with the Dodgers before he hurt his wrist...it was more that than anything else that slowed him down. He posted a 115 OPS+ at Age 25 with them. So it was his 1st MLB organization and 3rd overall. I see your point though.

CJ: Since we're referencing last thread, this excerpt sort of summarizes why I think it is fair game to call ownership to task for their unwillingness to spend money:

I would probably complain a lot less about ownership's "cheapness" if they would dispense with this false pretense that they are "players" when it comes to signing big-ticket FAs. They haven't signed a big-ticket FA in 6 years, yet they always want their fans to believe that they are actively pursuing every big-ticket FA who comes along. By acting in this manner, they are actively inviting the "cheapness" label. What else are fans supposed to conclude when their team flirts with almost every big-name FA available, but never signs any?

bap: Where is the false pretense coming from? You seem to think it's the Phils FO that puts out rumors their interested in guys like Derek Lowe, but every time the rumor comes out, Jayson Stark shoots it down. Why? Because he's got ties to the FO. If you don't understand that Scott Boras leaks lies, then I don't know what to tell you.

We do know that the Phils had the best offer on the table (in terms of average salary) for Mike Lowell, but he turned it down. In hindsight, I'd say we're lucky. Raul Ibanez was clearly one of the most sought after corner OFers judging by the interest he had generated. And the Phils sign him.

Just because they aren't players in the CC Sabathia sweepstakes, I guess we're to declare them cheap.

I'll say it again... it's smarter, not more. You can have all the Barry Zito-Jason Schmidt contracts you want. Signing the biggest name on the block does not win you a WFC.

In your own explanation, you are defending calling a team cheap because of the perception when it comes to "big name" free agents.

I thought it was about winning?

We do NOT know that the Phillies had an offer on the table for Lowell. And how is it that the Phillies are mentioned in the "other potential suitors" column about 10 times more than any other team? Because it's the FO that's encouraging that rumor.

bap: Well, I'll consider you one who would rather win in the offseason than in the regular season. The Mets and Yankees win a lot of offseasons.

"According to ESPN.com's Buster Olney, the Phillies engaged the free-agent third baseman in a conference call on Sunday night, where the framework of a four-year, $50 million deal was discussed. After Lowell spoke with general manager Pat Gillick, assistant GM Ruben Amaro and manager Charlie Manuel, there was a period of about an hour or so where it looked like Lowell was going to sign with the Phillies. The offer would have been formalized if Lowell had agreed to the deal. "

I guess it's semantics.

"On the rare occasion that toolsy players do hit pay dirt, it's almost never with the team that drafted them."

Good point, bap. I wonder who is driving the decision to give these types their 3rd or 4th chance, with the Phillies?

maybe the word isn't cheap for this offseason, but in the case of perhaps obtaining a level A/B pitcher, the phils are not using their money smart.

given that eaton's $$ is part of the part of the total, some of those 2008/09 payroll $$ are not smart investments. would a lowe or a someone similar to lowe be smart.. every makes dumb investments, ask cashman about pavano.

correction: every team makes dumb

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the wpc: The Adam Eaton money is spent. We can't take the money he's making and instead spend it on Lowe. And time will tell whether the investment a team makes on Lowe ends up being smart.

Our rotation is Hamels-Myers-Moyer-Blanton-Happ. I think Lowe would be a nice upgrade to our starting staff. The Phils FO has apparently decided they like their starters and don't want to spend the money on him.

Some here have decided to call that being cheap. Perhaps it's being smart. The people here, however, don't have the patience to see. It's more fun, apparently, to criticize.

CJ: Here is a common Beerleaguer statement that I agree with: "It's not about who makes the splashiest free agent signings. It's about who makes the smartest ones."

What I disagree with are the 2 common Beerleaguer spins on that statement: (1)
"Splashy free agent signings are inherently dumb;" and (2) "Not making splashy free agent signings is inherently smart."

We can argue all day over what it means to be cheap but, if you put aside any reference to money and contract length, just ask yourself: will the Mets be an improved team if they sign Derek Lowe? That question has an easy answer, and it doesn't matter whether Lowe costs $1M or $15M. Same goes for the Yankees and Sabathia, Teixeira, and Burnett. Whether the Yankees overpaid or not, there's no debating that their pitching is going to be way better this year, and that Teixeira will provide a big boost to their lineup.

As for the Phillies, will they be better off for bringing back a 46-year old Jamie Moyer, instead of pursuing Derek Lowe? Will they be better off for choosing a 37-year-old left-handed bat over Pat Burrell? Maybe they will, but I wouldn't bet on it.

BAP~

Your last comments are dead-on correct. What I've been saying (and people here just don't listen as I am not one of the clique), is that cuireently the Mets and Yanks are clearly better based on what they've done. Period. End of story.

The Phils on the other hand are not at this point better than they were when they won Gmes #5. So far they've basically stood pat. Due to what the Mets have done, the Phils have gone backwards. Many here just don't undersyand that. The Phils are the hunted not the hunters.

The Mets have clearly improved themselves. By how many games remains to be seen. But the Phils are still and 85-90 win team. ANd that won't be good enough next season. Do I think they'll do some things to get better? Possibly. But a guy like Willie Bloomquist doesn't make a difference to the positive side.

Have the Phils upgraded their starting pitching? No. And they won't if they don't wanna pay the going market rate. The ONLY way they get a top-notch starter to pitch in that ballpark is to overpay which they will not do. They have upgraded their OF defensively. For one year at least and maybe 2. Ibanez saves money over Burrell and that's the reason why he's here. Have they upgraded the bullpen? No. Have they brought in a RH hitter who can actually hit? No. And you won't hear much noise about them at all for the rest of the winter.

So for all of the posters out there who think they can hold off the Mets if they don't make furhter improvements, think again. Look I am as happy and thrilled as anyone thet they won the WS. NOBODY is a bigger phan than me. NOBODY. I talk baseball and about this team all year. Probably even in my sleep.

Now, it does pay them to be frugal sometimes. You can just throw money at every player available. That's financial suicide. But for the most part you can't get the better players availbale when you want to pay below-market rates.

"The Mets have clearly improved themselves"...don't know how anyone can declare that without knowing who is in their starting rotation. We're all assuming they replace Perez with Lowe but it's possible they replace him with someone like Randy Wolf.

Mets HAVE significantly improved themselves compared to the team they had in august and september. No doubt about that. That Mets team also sucked, so they have a lot of improving to do. I would argue that the mets have not improved their team so much compared to the team they have to begin the 2008 season.

The phillies have not improved much (if at all) since the end of the 2008 season. Of course, they also won 18 of 21 or something like that to end the season. So it's not the end of the world if the Mets get Lowe.

Let's keep this discussion on point and skip the polemics. If Lowe signs with the Mets, they will have greatly improved their pitching, while the Phils stood pat.Unless some pathology in your personality compells you to disagree with those facts, what is there to debate?

The complaint that the Phillies are often mentioned as interested in big name FAs but never sign any is interesting. What's the complaint, that the FO is teasing everybody and trying to create false excitement?

Those rumors could have been started by anyone, including the FO, but also the media and the FA himself or his agent. It simply creates the impression that the FA is more in demand, raising his bargaining position.
Even if the rumors are started by the FO, and they have no interest in signing the player, it makes sense to raise the cost for competitiors. Will the Mets pay more for Lowe if the Phillies are frequently mentioned as interested in him? Sure, if they want him. (It's also possible, although less likely, that the Mets are playing the same game with the Phillies)
Finally, it's simply prudent to check out all the FAs as a matter of due diligence if there is even the remotest chance you might want to sign one. How else can you find a bargain? How do you gauge market value? How can you judge how likely your rival might sign them?

For the Phillies, their ballpark means they have to pay artificially high prices to land top FA pitchers. So the FO prefers to go after pitching through trades and through their own system. I think that overall philosophy is sound.

Most likely the Phillies would not have been able to sign Brad Lidge as a FA, even if they offered a very fair market salary or perhaps even a little more. He would almost certainly have opted to pitch elsewhere. They acquired him in trade and were more than willing to pay him top dollar when he showed his worth and his interest in staying here.
Might a pitcher like Joe Blanton have a better 2009 than Lowe? Very possibly. If Blanton has a very good season would the Phillies be willing to pay him market value to stay here (assuming Blanton wanted to stay)? I think they most certainly would. In fact the Phillies have not lost many good pitchers to FA because they wouldn't pay them. They will usually secure them before they hit FA. Once a Phillies pitcher hits the FA market, the Phillies have already decided they will not compete there for him.

For the Phillies, FA is the last, worst option for getting pitching, even if you are willing to pay top market value. For example, trading for Jake Peavy makes much more sense than bidding for Sabathia or Burnett or Lowe because Peavy's price has been set without the CBP inflation factor. If the Phillies had the pieces to make that deal, I feel certain they would do that before going after a big-name FA. Not because Peavy is cheap, but because his salary more closely reflects his true market value.

(That the Phillies have to pay more for FA pitching due to their park is an ASSUMPTION on my part. Does anyone have any data that being a hitter's or pitcher's park really effects FA pitching prices?)


DPatrone is correct! couldn't have said it better!

also the FO made a poor investment with AE, so it appears to me that, in the FO's 'mind', the AE money lessens the amount available to make a 'good investment'.

It appears at least to me, the FO philosophy is that previous bad FA signing(s) can have budgetary implications for years to come. So AE's signing may affect the ability to sign a needed starter.

BTW- i love the phils - i live and die on every pitch and it will kill me if they lose the division to the mutts by a 2 or 3 games, because our starters might get injured or are not as effective as they were in 2008. i question the self imposed $$ ceiling - i mean don't do the cashman panic, but at least kick the tires and provide yourself a little insurance just in case, something happens. we have the $$ & can afford that safety net.

"i'm just saying..."

Few points:

- Phils won the World Series last year because they had their best pitching staff in arguably the past 15-20 years. Probably since the '93 team.

Now granted they didn't lose anybody but they also haven't upgraded either. Actually think the starting rotation has a decent shot at replicating their stats next year even if Moyer backtracks.

Big wildcard is that Hamels stays healthy enough again to make 30+ starts and give them 200+ innings. If he doesn't come close to these numbers, the Phils will have a below average starting staff.

Bullpen is likely to be decent but experience a dropoff. Everything (and I mean everything) feel into place this season for the bullpen from a pitching and health perspective. Likely to not happen again.

- In 2009, we should start to see some dividends from all of the picks the Phils had in the 2006 and 2007 drafts. If the Phils are going to remain a very competitive team after 2009 (they have a ton of FA next year and will likely face even more difficult decisions next year when Werth, Madson, Myers, and others are FA), they will need to see some of these picks from 2006 and 2007 start to emerge as useful components on the MLB team by the end of the 2009 season.

What did the Phils get from their starters in 2008?

33 starts and 227.3 IP of 142 ERA+
33 starts and 196.3 IP of 118 ERA+
30 starts and 190 IP of 96 ERA+
30 starts and 155.7 IP of 80 ERA+
19 starts and 107 IP of 75 ERA+
13 starts and 70.7 IP of 104 ERA+

this doesn't include Happ's starts. I don't find the above all that unreplicable. Yes, Hamels is a big part of this team's success but that much is obvious (although the idea that so much is on a just turned 25 year old (11/27) whose IP in his career goes like 132.3, 183.3, 227.3 is worrisome) but Moyer's numbers don't need to be replaced by Moyer himself. Kendrick, after all, made 20 starts in 07 and notched a 119 ERA+.

That last part wasn't to say that Kendrick is a likely source of Moyer 2008 production, but only to say that Kendrick's 2007 production (and then some) were replaced by someone other than Kendrick.

I honestly don't mind level headed criticism, but it's mindless statements like this that drive me crazy...
"It appears at least to me, the FO philosophy is that previous bad FA signing(s) can have budgetary implications for years to come. So AE's signing may affect the ability to sign a needed starter."

What team's bad signings DON'T have future budgetary implications? Isn't that the whole idea of being careful who you sign? I guess I just don't get where people on here are coming from sometimes.

In other news, mlbtraderumors.com is plugging this new fangraphs thing that gives a dollar value to each player based on his wins above replacement. However, it has Willie Harris being worth about $15 mil last year, and Pedro Feliz being worth $7.4 mil... so yeah.. they may want to double check to find whatever the giant flaw is in their calculation.

The Phillies might be the most secretive team in baseball. Anything that happens you will find out in the last minute.

99% of the time those rumors are from Agents, media and blogs. Most is 99% bullcrap in the end.

Highly, highly doubt anything comes from the Phils. Not with Gillick around.

"If Lowe signs with the Mets, they will have greatly improved their pitching, while the Phils stood pat."

This assumes that everyone pitches their best. Lowe, Pelfry, Maine and unknown mystery 5th starter have all had some shaky times in the past (like most other players) and there is a tiny little chance that one or more of them does have an offseason in 09.

The Mets want to go Lowe without going too high on the price.

A team official said yesterday that discussions are ongoing to bring free-agent pitcher Derek Lowe to the Mets, but reports in recent days suggesting a deal was almost done are untrue.

Lowe, who is represented by Scott Boras, tops the Mets' wish list to fill a vacancy in their starting rotation, with Oliver Perez the clear-cut second choice and Randy Wolf third.

More uncertain is if the Mets have the stomach to give Lowe upward of $60 million over four seasons, as he is believed to be seeking.

NYPost

Happy birthday to our World Series MVP young lefty ace Cole Hamels who turns the ripe age of 25 today.

Some really awful arguments on here. Just ill-informed and misguided anger.

A comment on the thread header: I don't mind the Phils taking high-risk/high-reward players. What I do not agree with is taking them ALL of the time. With the success of college players like Utley, Howard and Burrell I think it would behoove the FO to take a few less projects early in the draft.

What's bizarre about the Phillies draft philosophy is that none of their core players from the Championship team was a toolsy draft pick. None.

By definition, a toolsy player is someone who has tremendous raw talent: Good speed, good power, good arm, good glove. But does NOT yet have the skills to be baseball player: Plate judgment, base-stealing, hitting for average, hitting for power, fielding range, fielding reliability, and throwing accuracy. Toolsy players almost always take several years to develop these skills in the minors.

Every single key homegrown member of the championship team: Howard, Rollins, Utley, Burrell, Hamels, Myers were SKILLED players when drafted, most of them at the college level.

Even Victorino was a skilled player, who showed excellent plate judgment in HS. Right off the bat in Rookie league he displayed an excellent K/BB ratio and base stealing skills (altho both sagged later at higher levels and required more polish which is why he bounced thru 3 teams) as well as the ability to hit for average. Furthermore, he's a little guy who didn't show much power. So that was a tool he lacked snd probably why he was a 6th rounder.

The top toolsy picks the Phillies have made or acquired in recent years -- Golson, C.J. Henry, Reggie Taylor, Jeff Jackson, Trey McCall -- have all been failures.

Maybe Moose Mattair, Hewitt and Collier will be different. I hope so. It's too soon to tell. But the Phillies track record on these kind of players is poor.

If you look at the pitching staff for the Phils on the playoff roster, I can only count one guy who came over in free agency. The rest were developed in the system or through trade. Unfortunately, true or not, the perception is there that CBP is bad for pitchers and guys don't want to sign here. George makes a great point above saying that guys like Lidge and Blanton were unlikely to sign here as FAs, but bring them in and have them experience it for themselves and, in the case of Lidge, you get them to commit to a contract. Here's the rundown:

Starters:
Hamels - System
Myers - System
Moyer - Trade w/SEA
Blanton - Trade w/OAK

Relievers:
Happ - System
Condrey - Conditional Trade w/SD
DURBIN - FREE AGENT
Romero - Waivers
Eyre - Waivers
Madson - System
Lidge - Trade w/HOU


If you ask me, there are far too many whiny sniveling bit-ches that post on this comments
board

"In other news, mlbtraderumors.com is plugging this new fangraphs thing that gives a dollar value to each player based on his wins above replacement. However, it has Willie Harris being worth about $15 mil last year, and Pedro Feliz being worth $7.4 mil... so yeah.. they may want to double check to find whatever the giant flaw is in their calculation."

They had an article up there that put Jayson Werth's value at 22mill, which seems very high. It was that high largely because they said his defense was so much above average for a RF. My guess is the reason why Willie Harris is so high is that compared to other LFs his fielding ability stands out. While Feliz is good with the glove at 3B, there is better fielding competition there.

It would be nice if they had dollar value just based on hitting instead of the combined hitting/fielding.

Nobody asked you.

eh this toolsiness smells like the "donovan isn't a true pocket qb" nonsense.

Phils have a number of guys in their minor league system but the guy I am most intrigued by this year is Drabek. His health status aside, I wonder how much he has matured.

Sure he gets advice from his old man from time-to-time but very interested to see if his progress at Clearwater and eventually when he gets up to Reading. Also very interested to see if he can develop a decent 4th pitch (changeup) which he has been fiddling with supposedly in Hawaii.

If he can develop his changeup this year to where it approaches an average pitch (his 4th pitch to go with a 93-95 MPH fastball, decent curve and slider) and ends up the year in Reading after putting up solid numbers, I quickly think the Phils will have their next highly-rated starting pitching prospect.

I wouldn't be stunned if Drabek ends the year in Reading...assuming he stays healthy and continues to develop.

His pure "stuff" is supposed to be better than Carrasco's...who tops out as a #2/#3 type guy. So you figure he's a top of the rotation guy if everything pans out (a rarity with pitching prospects.).

We drafted a kid named Cole Hamels a couple years back. He had great stuff, some injury problems and a questionable attitude. Like Drabek, I believe he also fell in the draft.

What ever happened to that guy?

seriously, pops? so you think just because Hamels hit his optimistic projections, the Phillies can do no wrong with pitching prospects?

MG,

I am a fan of your posts but slightly disagree with your last one.

Drabek's arm is of more concern than his maturity at this point I would speculate.

Correct me if I am wrong but there really has not been any suggestions of an entitlement or immature behavior since being drafted.

Also I would say Drabek currently IS one of their highly-rated starting pitching prospects.

Maybe not this year it will be fun watch the anticipation and perhaps overblown progaganda of his arrival with some strides made by Drabek this upcoming season in the minors.

It has been awhile that the fans had a bona-fide pending superstar only a phone call away to the SHOW.

You can say Hamels, Howard, Utley, or Myers but Burrell was probably the last true cannot miss farmhand.

Hamels was a quicker rise with more of an injury concern which did not allow for the build-up and hype (along with the pedigree and incredible stuff) that will accompany Drabek if he continues to make progress.

A key distinction between Hamels and Drabek is that Hamels's injury came in high school.

A lot of people are sleeping on Michael Stutes, a 2008 11th rounder with 1st round stuff and the best numbers in our system. If he pitches well in Reading, we'll see him sooner than Drabek. Stutes is basically a talented version of Kyle Kendrick. Both are aggressive sinkerballers from Washington state, but Stutes throws 92-95 with a nice curve. Stutes led Wash St to a National Championship, but fell in the draft after a terrible senior year.

JB - Agreed but Drabek has shown that he has gradually been building back arm strength and velocity since the middle of last season.

When I meant maturity, I guess I was talking more about mental composure. It does seems like Drabek has worked very hard coming back from his arm injury.

Still, I want to see how he responds to more challenges like trying to master a changeup which is important for several reasons because he doesn't apparently throw many variations of of a fastball and there usually is a difference between a starter with at least four average or better pitches vs. three average or better pitches.

Plus, pitchers get more swings and misses on changeups than on any other pitch. If you can even develop an average one, it is a nice change of pace pitch if you are trying to get a K.

Also want to see how he responds/adjusts to the better hitters in the Eastern League when he likely gets here sometime this summer. Unlike in the lower minor leagues, hitters at AA and above can generally get some good swings about just any kind of fastball with velocity.

btw- "Reached" for Anthony Hewitt isn't really accurate. A lot of teams liked him and some mock drafts had him going earlier. According to PG Crosschecker, he was the best bat in the Northeast, on any level, and the best athlete in the entire draft. The kid will need to adjust, but you can't kill him for going to prep school. After all, he did hit like .700 at that school. If he ever learns to hit a breaking pitch, we'll have a 40hr guy who can play any position. Who can do that? A-Rod and who else? I wouldn't have taken Hewitt, but I like what the Phillies did in this draft.

On the thread header topic, I'd rather the Phil's draft the "sure thing" type pick, rather than the "sky's the limit toolsy" player. We'll never see these players.

ae

I was stating that Hamels and Drabek have some striking similarities - THAT IT IS. Drabek has a long way to go before we can label him a success story. Where you get your assumptions from is beyond me. Chillax....

A lot of the "experts" had the Phillies taking Anthony Hewitt. Our fetish for "toolboxes" is well known of course. Though most of them had us taking a flier on him at #34 instead of #24...and those same poeple had us taking Zach Collier at #24...so its pretty much a wash.

From Phillies Insider- The Wild Thing is moving up in the media world.

Mitch Williams, a closer who pitched for the Phillies from 1991-93, has joined the new Major League Baseball TV Network that launches at 6 p.m. ET on January 1.

Mitch will be one of several studio analysts as MLB Network rivals ESPN's Baseball Tonight Show.

Mitch has been involved with the electronic media in Philadelphia, as a post-game analyst on Comcast SportsNet's shows after Phillies games, a 30-minute talk show on WPHT radio before Phillies games and an occasional guest on WIP radio.

*I'm happy for Mitch, but it sucks losing him because I thought he did a good job.

baxter: What was the level of competition that Hewitt faced at his northeast prep school? I happen to agree that Hewitt might've been the best athlete in the draft, most scouting reports say that, but to use those stats as a reason to think he'll make it is just bizarre.

NEPP: That's exactly right. Hewitt and Collier were considered two of the best tools players in the draft. Those commentators who described the Hewitt pick as a "reach" were refrring to the long odds against such a player making it, not that he was picked too high among all the toolsy players in the draft. I don't have strong feelings one way or the other on toolsy players, except that if you've proven over and over again that you can't pick 'em well, then you ought to try another approach, especially when you have a good record with college players.

Clout - Agreed. I bet most teams have mixed records with developing "tools-oriented" vs "baseballs skills-oriented" players with high-draft picks but the Phils are like a kid who repeatedly places his hand on the stove and keeps getting burnt.

Plus, you can't state that is it because of the huge turnover in the minor league development team because it has really been the same group of guys in place over the past 15 years.

clout- I never used Hewitt's HS stats as a reason he'll make it, I'm just saying he did as well as he possibly could've at that level. His low level of competition is the reason everyone hates this pick.

also, i'm not sure Gillick, Woelver, Arbuckle can't "pick 'em". Gillick might be the best pure judge of talent in all of baseball. Gillick is literally a HOF judge of talent. That doesn't mean Hewitt will work out, but the "if you can't pick 'em well, try another approach", doesn't apply to Pat Gillick.

Stutes went to Oregon State, not Washington State.

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