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Thursday, January 08, 2009

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Baseball America's new black?

What reference am I missing?

Impressive.

Cue Sir Alden.

well i guess i need a new screen name now...

As one of the first posters to mention Dom Brown as a sleeper on Beerleaguer (in 07) I'm happy to see this. Now if only Edgar Garcia will have a breakout season I'll be 2 for 2 on sleepers.

mikes77's bizarre rant on Slayden got just about everything wrong as usual, but he was REALLY wrong on the Mayberry thing. Go back and look at what I, sophist, BAP and TI posted on the day the Phils made the trade for Mayberry.

Haha, yeah JW - the fashion reference to the color Black being the "it" color really doesnt look too good ontop of a picture of someone with such a dark complexion as Brown.

I think it's worth noting that Baseball Prospectus' Kevin Goldstein pointed out in a Phuture Phillies interview:

"I think the Straw comparisons were always misunderstood. Many scouting reports require PHYSICAL comparisons, solely for the purpose of painting a picture of the player. PHYSICALLY, Brown is lefty, long, lean, wiry strong, and therefore the comps to Strawberry were made. I don’t think anyone was saying he had nearly the same tools on Strawberry, who truly had some of the best tools in my generation."

thephaithful: haha, yeah, I initially just read it the way JW intended but when you go back you can definitely read it differently if you want to.

As for Brown, you gotta love that .291/.382 at this point. And of course it's only in low A, but a 64/72 BB/K ratio is always nice to see for someone as athletic as him after the Greg Golson experiment.

FWIW, Goldstein/BP rated Brown 7th in the system.

bap: On your rant from the last thread, I don't have any strong opinions on the Phillies "breaking guys in strategy", but I'm not really sure what you're complaining about. Hamels was brought up after VERY few minor league innings, Myers was pretty much rushed. Utley was brought up about as soon as he had one full good minor league season under his belt. And Gavin Floyd was thrown into the fire probably sooner than he should've been. They didn't exactly hold back Marlon Byrd either.

Any shot Brown or Drabek make appearances at Spring Training? Seems like Michael Taylor is a good bet to get an invite. It is pretty amazing that this recent high point in the Phils minor league system coincides with the WFC. Good job Gillick.

Brian: I guess Floyd was one of the few young guys who was given a legitimate chance to win a job, but I must disagree with the conventional after-the-fact wisdom that Floyd's troubles were a result of being rushed into the fire too soon.

When a guy is a blue chip prospect (as Floyd was), has had proven success at AA or higher (as Floyd did), and wins the job out of spring training (as Floyd did twice), it is NOT rushing him to give him the job that he has earned. Plenty of pitchers make the jump straight from AA, and plenty of them do it successfully. Plenty don't but, then again, plenty don't make a successful jump from AAA either. The only way to find out which category a player fits into is to try him. The Phillies did not rush Floyd. They gave him a job for which he gave every indication of being ready. Like many young pitchers, he struggled -- maybe because he wasn't ready or maybe just because young pitchers struggle. Considering he won 17 games last year, it doesn't seem like his struggles as a young pitcher left him permanently scarred, as some seem to think can happen.

I saw the Dominic Brown item a few days ago, and had meant to post something about it. He's obviously an excellent prospect, but I think it's a stretch to rank a guy at Lakewood as the No. 1 prospect in their entire minor leagues.

JRoll on 610 now

JRoll echoes Hamels' "choke artists" line. "That's what it was".

Don't think Eckstein would've said that.

offtopic: Tony Bruno is back on ESPN950, does the show out of LA still, but supposedly is an all philly sports forum. 9PM-Midnight i believe.

Not the biggest news in the world, but for fellow sportstalk fans out there, he's got a nice perspective/angle that is worth a listen.

Bruno is back on the radio out of the ESPN and while he mentions pretty of other topics, he is also heavily on the Philly sports stuff especially after the Birds killed the Boys two weeks ago.

Lets hope Dom doesn't repeat Strawberry's habit of snorting the baselines.

If dom repeats the EXACT same career as straw i'd be completey thrilled.

i.e. 86 mets and a sweet cameo on the Simpsons.

They outweigh any of drug and law problems.

Farm system should be better because the Phils have had their share of higher round picks and actually made more of an attempt last year to sign more of their mid-to-later round picks who might have gone to college instead.

Farm system is also likely to play much more of a role this year than last year too. Even though their really aren't a ton of spots that will likely be open in spring training (maybe one bench spot and possibly two spots on the pitching staff). Unlikely though the Phils go through the year so relatively healthy as they did last year especially in the bullpen where no key arms missed a large amount of time (and yes this includes Gordon who was not a key arm last year for this club).

dommmmmm-uhniiicckkkkkk....
dommmmmm-uhniiicckkkkkk....

Two things I wonder:

1. What player from the farm system is mostly likely to get a shot to help the club this year? I have to figure the pitching staff is going to have some more openings this year due to injuries and ineffectiveness than last year when most of the staff stayed healthy for the entire year.

2. Is Amaro going to be as willing as Gillick to trade prospects or tinker during the season. One thing that Gillick did seem to change a bit was his willingness to move away from something that wasn't working a bit quicker on the roster than Wade did.

"You play right field."
"Yes."
"I play right field, too."
"So?"
"Well, are you better than me?"
"Well, I've never met you, but... yes."

Hopefully Freddy Galvis continues his offensive improvement. He improved a bunch last year to a still miserable .588 OPS, but if he's as good defensively as some say the bar is quite low (Adam Everett).

MG: It turned out that Gordon was a key arm for us last year... but going into the season, he was slated to be a key setup man for Lidge. He had 34 appearances into July before getting injured. It's revisionist history to suggest the team wasn't counting on him. It just turned out that the rest of the bullpen was much better than we could have imagined.

phaithful/Jeltz: If he can leap 50 feet into the air to catch a fly ball, I guess I'd be OK with him.

For maximum effect I would have phrased it "[For Baseball America,] Brown is the new Black." But that's just me.

I really like the idea that, after all these years of truly mediocre CF prospects (i.e. Roberson, Berry, Golson, and even, to some extent, Bourn), we finally have some corner OFs in the pipeline. Yippee!

(c: I, too, await great things from Edgar Garcia.)

CJ - The only people who truly believed that Gordon was going to be a key arm in the bullpen going into the season last year were the Phils' PR people. Everybody with a passing interest in the team knew that Gordon was going to break down and give the Phils a minimal contribution.

If you look at the stats, Gordon gave the Phils about a stretch of 5 good weeks. He struggled the first couple of weeks of the season, struggled again after June 1, and was a complete non-factor on the DL the rest of the season by early July.

Seanez and Condrey were much more important pieces last year than Gordon. He won't be missed.

In fact, Gordon generally stole money while he was here. Between his time on the DL and general ineffectiveness, he basically gave the Phils about 5 1/2-6 decent months over the course of 3 seasons (18 months). The only reason his signing doesn't look as bad is because Wagner completely blew out his arm and miss will this year entirely. Otherwise the Mets would have gotten more value for the dollars on Wagner's deal than the Phils' got for Gordon.

A) Incidentally, I didn't mean that as a criticism. It's actually a funny headline.

B) I forgot, on my list of medicore (read: marginal) CF prospects D'Arby Myers. I probably didn't think of him because I'm not sure he's even "marginal."

Dave X - Keep Freddy's age in mind, too. His hitting has a long way to go, but he's very young - which means that he has some time to develop AND he's been playing against a lot older, more developed guys.

He might turn out to be no more than Bobby Wine-ish. But he's also got a shot at being Ozzie Smith-ish.

Great SS defense means you don't need much of a stick at all. If they can keep him from trying to become a kind of hitter he's not... maybe he can develop enough of a stick to make it worth it. Just don't swing for the fences!

a bit overlooked on this site I think: Smoltz out of the NL East.

Not that he was scheduled to make a huge impact in 2009, but can't say that I'm upset that the Phils wont have to face him a few more times.

But can Galvis do a backflip?

On an unrelated note: given recent developments, this season is going to be all about Howard. With Utley and Romero missing time to start the season, we really cannot afford another incredibly slow start from the big man. And without Burrell's right-handed bat, Howard is going to have to improve against lefties. His ability, or lack thereof, to correct these problems will go a long way towards finally answering whether Howard is closer to Babe Ruth or Dave Kingman.

"Great SS defense means you don't need much of a stick at all."

To a degree, yes -- although in this day and age, I think it's fair to expect some semblance of offense from your shortstop. If Galvis can improve his offense to Ozzie Smith/Omar Vizquel levels, he'll be a very valuable starting shortstop. I'll grant that he is very young, has good strike zone management, and made a big improvement last year. There is a lot of upside there and it is within the realm of possibility that he could attain that upside. But, even with the improvement, his final numbers last year were still terrible at a very low level of the minors. At this point, he has far more chance of becoming the next Adam Everett than the next Omar Vizquel.

Darryl Strawberry? such a lazy comparison

By age 20, Dom Brown hit 14HR in 855 career AB in low A/rookie ball.

At 21, Darryl Strawberry hit 26HR in 420AB for the Mets.

So, next year Dominic Brown should hit 25-30 home runs for the Phillies.

Darryl Strawberry was an aggressive power hitter who struck out a lot. Dominic Brown is a patient singles hitter who walks frequently.

You mean Dominic Brown LOOKS like Darryl Strawberry? in that they're both about 6'5", skinny, black and lefthanded?

to go waaaaay out on a limb, I'm going to predict that on a scale between the Babe and Dave Kingman, Howard's career will be closer to Kingman's.

A pretty safe bet that Howard's past early season struggles will hurt the Phils much more than it has in the past.

I think spring training has been a pretty accurate measure of how Howard will be hitting in April. I believe in both 2007 and 2008, he was mightly struggling in spring, while he led all players with homeruns in 2006(im pretty sure).

Also, Dong Lien should be fired beacuse he is a worthless fool who shouldn't even be allowed to teach elementry school gym class.

I don't think you can possibly compare Howard to Ruth. Ruth had athletic skills and a hitting eye that Howard can't hope to match. I'd say the scale has to be Stargell/McCovey to Kingman/ Deer.

CJ: I bet the thought of a Galvis-Feliz left side has your mouth watering.

The kid looks a little like Soriano. Can't wait to see him at Reading this summer.

Any reports on what Baldelli is getting from the Sox? I'm disappointed that they Phillies didn't make him an offer. He would have been fantastic as a 4th OF here (which is presumably the role he is accepting in BOS).

baxter: "You mean Dominic Brown LOOKS like Darryl Strawberry? in that they're both about 6'5", skinny, black and lefthanded?"

That's exactly right. Stat-wise there's no comparison, as you correctly note. A better comp is Milton Bradley, although he's a switch-hitter. But the combo of good OB, glove, speed and decent pop is a fair projection.

Spitz: Baldelli signed for base salary of $500,000, with up to $1.75 million in bonuses if he stays healthy

The contempt for Ryan Howard on this blog sickening. Howard is this generations Willie Stargell, but so called fans of the Phillies have nothing but negative comments about him. And that would be fine if not for the fact that this blog has sacred cows(Utley, Hamels, Moyer, Dobbs and Burrell) that can do nothing wrong.
Howard could hit 60 HRs and drive in 175 and all you would hear is he doesnt hit lefties and struck out close to 200 times.

Clout: Those #s make it even more disappointing. I would have loved to see Baldelli get the occasional start for Ibanez against a tough lefty, and be the first RH bat off the bench. Marcus Giles be damned.

58HRs and 149 RBI isn't bad, either. No need to go 60/175 for me. I'm not hating Howard. If he puts up 5 more seasons similar to last year, I'd say he's better than Willie Stargell. I just said he's no Babe Ruth. The guy hit something like .340 for his career, if I'm not mistaken.

it looks like the Baldelli deal gives up to $5.25M in performance bonuses as well.

"If Baldelli were to make 600 plate appearances — a highly unlikely figure, to be sure — he could earn as much as $5.25 million in performance bonuses in addition to the roster bonus."

http://www.bostonherald.com/blogs/sports/red_sox/index.php/2009/01/08/baldelli-contract-details-emerge/

mikes - i think this is one of the last places that cares about Howard's K%.

I think Hamels is a bigger story perhaps than Howard next year, if we need to compare narratives that will determine the season, especially if the possible rotation is what we have currently. Not to mention Myers in his contract year (starting the season with the resolve that he's a starter).


60/175? I'm going to go out on a limb and say Howard couldn't hit .224/.294/.451 against LHP or .213/.307/.457 for the first 80 games of the season and still hit 60/175.

Good to see some Galvis love here-----remember he would only have matched up age wise with high school seniors this past year. He has a gun and makes incredible plays and came on after a dismal start at bat.

mikes77: You record for never getting anything right remains intact. No player has been as viciously attacked on this blog as Burrell, who you claim is a "sacred cow." All the others on your list have also gotten heat on this blog at various times, although not as much as Howard and Burrell. I think the reason they are given a greater share of grief is because so much was expected.

I wasn't aware that anyone has ever bashed Freddy Galvis. From what I understand (having never seen him in person), he could defensively be an average to above average SS in the majors right now. If he fills out and adds a bit to his offense, he could easily step into Jrolls spikes in 4-5 years.

On Howard and his criticism: A big part of it (IMHO) is that he did so well his first 2 seasons and has seemingly gone downhill since the MVP campaign. That frustrates people that expected him to build in the MVP year. He very well could have peaked at Age 26...it happens all the time even if its not the most common thing. Had he not peaked (if he indeed has) he would have been looking at a HoF trajectory career instead of a Phillies Wall of Fame type career. Anyone agree or disagree with that theory?

Here's an interesting debate: Who will get more for their $10 million this season?

The Phillies with Raul Ibanez or the Red Sox with Rocco Baldelli & John Smoltz?

My opinion only, but Usually when a guy declines it's because of eroding physical skills and I don't think htat's Howard's problem. I think he needs to work harder at his craft and adjust to how pitchers are attacking his weaknesses.

Don't forget Brad Penny, whom the Sox also signed for $5M. Between Penny and Smoltz, that's a LOT of upside potential at a very modest price, with little risk.

Looking at his base salary, Baldelli is much cheaper than $5 million...That's one thing I really respect about Epstein & Co, they won't spend money just to spend money. He lost Teixeira but has made some smart small moves that could pay off bigtime.

Here's the breakdown of the Baldelli deal:

$500K base salary
$1.75 million in roster bonuses
$5.25 million in performance bonuses

That's pretty freaking reasonable all things considered.

NEPP: I'd vote the Phillies. I don't expect Smoltz to provide anything and Ibanez is more of a sure thing that Baldelli. But I don't disagree with those moves for the Red Sox. And of course they're paying that to fill out the backend of their roster, whereas the Phillies spent that to fill a major cog.

To be clear, I wasn't advocating that the Phillies would have been better off doing what the Sox did instead of Ibanez...just pondering the huge "what if" there.

Aren't the Smoltz and Penny signings just more expensive, more risky, higher upside versions of our Kris Benson signing last year? Thanks, but no thanks. I'll take Ibanez and his 100 RBIs every day.

If I was a Red Sox fan, I'd be pretty angry with what they've done this off season. Don't forget that they gave up the greatest righthanded hitter of our generation (and his $25M contract) at the end of last season, and have made no move to replace his production.

clout: Ha! Galvis/Feliz.

More like Galvis/Donald in 2012!!

****have made no move to replace his production. ****

You know they did get back Jason Bay in that trade...its not like they just lost him in FA.

They lost out on Teixeira so they're buying up some complimentary parts...not the dumbest plan on earth.

Spitz: Well they probably did the best they possibly could to replace his production when they actually made the trade with the acquisition of Jason Bay, who's no slouch.

Spitz
In the no win position that the Red Sox faced with Manny last season, I think that they made their move when they replaced him with Jason Bay. Name a player, through either free agency or via trade, that the Sox could have gotten this off season to replace his bat.

I posted this late last night, not sure who did or did not read it. Well worth another post, however.


Kind of off the topic, but I read an article the other day that absolutely blew me away. It's an article about the current situation of baseball in Cuba. It was written by Michael Lewis, who also wrote the book Moneyball. Here is the link - an interesting read.

http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2008/07/cuban_baseball200807

Up until that Ramirez trade, I had hoped that Bay was the Phillies target to replace Burrell. He's a nice player, albeit unspectacular.

Career OPS+

Pat Burrell - 119
Jason Bay - 131 (I was surprised it was this high actually)

One disturbing (and most likely coincidental) factoid: Jason Bay's most comparable player at Age 28 and Age 29 were Geoff Jenkins..does that mean we're gonna overpay for Bay in a few years so we can watch him fall on his face?

Before some people start slamming the Phillies again it's important to keep this in mind about Boston. They get a ton of extra revenue because they have ownership in the regional sports channel there. They can afford to throw contracts out there to take chances.

If the Phillies gave Smoltz the same type of deal and it flamed out they'd be getting eviscerated by posters in no time. Boston has the money so they can throw it around on chances.

In re: the comparison to Darryl Strawberry

It is completely because of appearances. That kind of comparison is purely for scouts to have a mental picture of the player; it has absolutely nothing to do with skills, abilities and projection. Because of his size and current skill set, I think I'd look to compare him more to Jason Werth than Bradley.

I really hope the ibanez signing works out because he is a great player and looks like a good pick up. However doesnt it seem like most high profile free agent signings over the last few years by the phillies never seemed to work out right away. I am just really tired of the first year let downs by the phillies free agents.

Pops - Read some of it and saved the link. It looks like a good article (from a source I'd not normally check out - what are you doing reading Vanity Fair?). Thanks.

The upside of the Sox signing Smoltz is that Lowe may go to Atlanta. I could live with that.

Andy: The Brown-Werth comparison isn't bad, but it collapses when you get to strikeouts. Werth struck out in 24% of his minor league ABs. Brown's K rate is 17%.

In regard to the Smoltz/Baldy/Penny etc by the Sox comment; Plainly they have the freedom to make the best of it because 1) They have an enormous revenue and the "few" million they threw out to make it happen is chump change to them, and 2) they have the advantage of already having a) an entire outfield and b) an entire starting rotation so even if they are all busts it costs them small change and maybe four games, the upside, on the other hand, is pretty big. Given the circumstances it's hard to argue against their moves.

From David Murphy at the Daily News:

Since the start of the 2000 baseball season and proceeding though the subsequent NFL, NBA and NHL seasons, Philadelphia teams have played 315 regular-season games against New York teams, or about one every 10 1/2 days.

The Sixers are 20-13 against the Knicks during that time span. The Flyers are 53-39-2 against the Rangers and Islanders. The Eagles are 11-9 against the Giants and Jets. The Phillies are 84-84 against the Mets and Yankees.

Pret-ty good.

Thank you EFF, I love factoids like that!

Phils are interested in Gabe Kapler..they have competition..but he if they get him..he would make good RH/5th outfielder/backup CF. Stay tuned.

clout - I don't mind if he's better than Werth. I was just kinda implying that he's more like Werth than Strawberry. He probably does have more upside than Jason.

Drew - I would edit your statement:
"...he would make [a] RH/5th outfielder/backup CF..." and add "Just don't let anyone with a fork near him."

Andy: I didn't mean to imply that he's better than Werth. Just different. Werth strikes out a lot and Brown doesn't. At this moment in time it also looks like he won't have Werth's power, but we'll get a better handle on that this season.

The Phillies last season were 8th in the NL in Ks and 5th in BBs and I'm guessing both those numbers go down with Ibanez replacing Burrell. I believe OB and runs scored will also go down unless Howard and Rollins repeat 2007.

clout - This is not a big deal. But as a 20 year old, Werth's K% was 17.6. As a 21 year old it was 18.1.

As a 20 year old, Dom's was 16.2.

I do agree that he looks, from his previous years and Werth's, that he will strike out less. I still think the comparison is more apt than either Strawberry or Bradley.

In re: team OBP
Maybe we'll luck out and Pete Happy will get traded/benched/etc.

Yes, but he doesn't LOOK like Jayson Werth.

Kapler isn't bad as a right-handed bat off the bench but, if we sign him to anything other than a minor league contract, it pretty much closes the door on any chance of Jason Donald's making the roster.

Donald should be getting everyday ABs anyway and if he won't get that in Philly he should be in Allentown. There's no point to have him sit the bench and watch Pete Happy play 3B.

NEPP - I stand corrected. Strawberry it is.

b-a-p: I might even revise my editing -
"...he [is the last remaining even mediocre FA] RH/5th outfielder/backup CF..." and add "Just don't expect him to come anywhere near his 2008 production."

Besides, he doesn't look like Pat Burrell.

Now I want to edit NEPP, too:
"There's no point to have ... Pete Happy play 3B."

(Creative ellipses, eh?)

"If [Howard] puts up 5 more seasons similar to last year, I'd say he's better than Willie Stargell."

Howard's OPS+ in 2008 was 124. Willie Stargell topped that number 14 times in his 21-year career -- 16 times if you include the years that he posted an almost-identical 125. Howard's OPS+ in 2007 was 144. Stargell topped that 9 times. He had 4 seasons above the 167 Howard posted in 2006, and another just under that.

Defensively, Stargell started out as an outfielder, and might have played RF on some teams. The Pirates, of course, had Roberto Clemente, but Stargell filled in for him occasionally and for longer stretches during Clemente's injuries. He played outfield full-time until his age 35 season, except for his age 32 season. That first year he made 15 errors, his career high at 1B. Last year, Howard made 19.

So, strictly speaking, until Howard has at least three more years like 2006, or 8 more years like 2007, he's a good bit short of Willie Stargell.

****Now I want to edit NEPP, too:
"There's no point to have ... Pete Happy play 3B."****

Well, yeah if I were their manager...

I'd give Feliz the respect of allowing him to still be the everyday guy against leftys and let him "lose" his job to a rookie. As a veteran and key guy in their WS win, he's earned that much respect. Let Donald learn how to be a 3B from a great defender like Feliz and he can get spare ABs off the bench, at 2B spelling Utley, at SS spelling Rollins and maybe in the corner OF spots. Donald was an All-American in HS, he can probably learn how to be a competent utility guy while he's waiting for a spot to open up. It has happened before on teams.

Of course, resigning Bruntlett curtails this theory greatly.

For Example, see Jed Lowrie in 08. He played SS, 3B and even a little 2B.

Having veterans like Bruntlett and Dobbs hurt his chances but they should try to start working Donald in next year so he can step into a starters role at 3B in 2010.

NEPP - But Bruntlett will be starting in LF against LHP, right?

Lets get something straight: Ryan Howard DOES have a good eye. His OBP has been decent-to-excellent throughout his career, even with pitchers going after him.

baxter - So he swings at all those low and away sliders in the dirt because he thinks he's gonna hit'em?

IMHO, a big reason Howard gets raked over the coals here is that he's asking to be paid like Albert Pujols without putting up the same kind of numbers. Not to speak for others, but I've gotten the impression that most of us think he will test the FA market in three years, and won't be staying in Philly. To an extent, I think the lack of love is preparation for when he jumps ship.

Andy: I have a bigger problem with the inside breaking balls he can't seem to either lay off of or hit.

Odds of Charlie Manuel sitting Feliz to give Donald ABs: Zero.

Odds of Donald sitting on the bench for the first 6 weeks of the season with minimal ABs and few starts: 100%.

Conclusion: Unless Rollins gets hurt in ST, Donald should open the season at LV.

Actually, Alby, I was thinking that's the exact comparison to make. Pujols has a good eye. People should compare Howard's BB/K ratio to Pujols before asserting that Howard walks a lot.

The obsession with Howard K's largely made little sense in 2007. Just Philly fans doing their usual though and harping about something.

2008 was a bit different though. Howard clearly struggled mightily into well into May and his numbers declined across the board.

In fact, for arguably the first time in his career you knew that teams with good scouting reports and an even an average lefty arm out of the pen could pretty easily handle Howard most nights.

Everyone always points about Howard's numbers with RISP or "high leverage" situations but that is missing the point a bit.

I don't have the time to go down and breakdown every one of his ABs against a lefty reliever in late situations but just look at his overall splits from the 7-9th inning:

177 ABs, .141 AVG, 9 HR, 25 RBI, 27 BB (and 8 IBB), and 76 K

.141/.263/.316 for an OPS of .580

That is really poor and a big falloff from 2006 and 2007.

I would bet that it is because most teams in the NL now have plenty of tape and scouting reports on Howard.

Doesn't mean they can shut him down completely but they do know the playbook on him well enough late - bring in a LOOGY and likely finish him inside with an offspeed pitch. I would bet that a bunch of those 76 Ks came on pinches on the inner third of the plate or clearly inside up to about 4-5 inches inside.

Of course Cholly doesn't help matters by continuing to insist that Utley/Howard bat back-to-back in the lineup and he will likely go with a Utley/Howard combo again this year when Utley comes back healthy. Plays right into an opposing manager's hand late and forces him to make one less move.

It got to the point last year that I pretty much hoped that Howard just got a BB last year against a lefty late and that generally seemed to be the sentiment here on Beerleaguer as well.

For Howard to remain an elite slugger, he is going to have to make some adjustments this offseason or my bet is that opposing teams will continue to have pretty good luck against him late if they have a lefty in the pen yet.

As has been noted here numerous times before, Howard's big problem last year was the dropoff in walks. This happened because he swung at more bad pitches. He got more bad pitches because righties preferred to face Burrell and the Black Hole.

Conclusion: Howard is going to have to quell his frustration, lay off bad pitches and take 200 walks if pitchers won't throw him strikes.

And if Howard doesn't do that, then we are looking at a low-OB, high strikeout cleanup hitter for the foreseeable future.

Red Sox might have overpaid for Smoltz with his base but not like they don't have the cash to burn. Even if he gives them 25 starts with an ERA around 4-4.25, it was a solid signing.

As for Baldelli, who could you not love that contract. For a base of just 500k (almost the veteran league minimum), the Red Sox get a bat who could really contribute in a meaningful way if the Sox don't overuse him and limit him to say 200-250 ABs.

Would you rather have the Phils give Jenkins or Baldelli 200 ABs this season?

MG: John Smoltz is 41-years old and coming off surgery for a torn labrum. He'll be 42 by the time he's ready to return to pitching sometime in June. If the Red Sox get 25 starts out of him this season, it will be a miracle worthy of sainthood.

CJ Thing is that they don't need 25 starts out of him. They have a #4-5 platoon of Bucholtz, Penny, Wakefield, and Smoltz. Wish the Phillies had the money to do that.

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