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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Comments

Durbin will not repeat his success.

There's a book on him now in every NL team's scouting guide. He'll be lucky to have an ERA under 4 in 09.

Red flag. He reminds me of the heavy workload that Geary experienced in '06 that made him no ineffective for much of '07 except for the stretch run in Sept. when he was recalled and had a relatively fresh arm.

Couple that with the scouting reports would should be better on him this year and it wouldn't surprise me to see Durbin revert back to a very mediocre reliever (4.25-4.50 ERA) who can give you multiple innings but isn't a guy you generally want to see in high leverage situations in the 7th and 8th innings.

Makes Park that much more important and if he struggles, then it is likely this bullpen will give the Phils some pretty mixed results the first two months of the season with Romero out too.

Problem with Durbin this year is that I see him filling the role that Condrey does - a guy who can give you multiple innings and save your bullpen on certain nights but not a guy who want to see used regularly in close games.

I'd love for Durbin to repeat his success, and so would he, but it's unlikely nonetheless. He seems like a genuinely nice guy, but that won't help him from giving up hits and runs. I hope he remains useful though, as I'd hate for him to turn into the pitcher that came here (5+ era pitcher that is).

Durbin's contract is basically a bonus for last year's completely unexpected effort...can't really complain about it.

Perhaps all these points have been made, but if not:

"Please explain why you think the players the Phillies got in that trade were better value than Thome at half price."

It's uncontroversial to say that Thome - (1/2 his contract) is more valuable to the cause of winning baseball games than Rowand+Gonzalez+Haigwood+(1/2 of Jim Thome's contract). But to say that the White Sox got the better of the deal isn't to say necessarily that the Phillies made a bad deal.

Suppose you bought a stock, at price A, that turned south, and that you had the foresight to realize that it was only going to fall further and quite possibly never recoup. If you were then able to resell it, at price X, making less than what you originally paid but avoiding the prospect of future declines, does it make sense to say that the sale was a bad one, just because it reaped less than what was originally paid? But the alternative was holding, leaving you with a stock worth Y, with Y

When clout uses the word "objective" in relation the value of the trade, he actually means "ideal". Ideally Thome is worth quite a lot, more than Rowand+Gonzalez+Haigwood, and the ideal trade reaps goods equal to(or better than) what Thome is worth.

But it seems to me that in the real world it's necessary to evaluate things by their "real" value. Thome's "real" value, as opposed to his ideal, platonic one, was conditioned by the fact that he was A) injured; B) expensive; and C) standing in the way of Ryan Howard. As such it's not clear to me that R+G+H is all that much less in real terms than Thome, or, more to the point, that the Phillies could have engineered any trade that would have reaped value more approximate to Thome's ideal. And in that case, with the alternative being holding on to Thome, retarding Howard's progress and leaving center field to whomever, it seems to make sense to say that the deal was a good one, even if it eventuated in the White Sox getting better value.

We have a useful parlance for scenarios like this: "making the best of a bad situation." It admits that the solution isn't ideal (price X is less than price A; R+G+H is less than Thome) but good enough in the context of the alternative (price Y; or holding on to Thome (and his all of his money)+Howard). It also make plain that what was "bad" wasn't the solution but the situation, or, implicitly, the happening that caused it. If you think the Thome for R+G+H deal was a bad one, I suggest to you that your real beef isn't with the trade but with the signing that brought Thome here, at the cost that it did (just as the bad deal wasn't selling the stock at a loss but buying the stock to begin with). But of course, unlike with the stock, it's far from clear that our signing Thome was indeed bad, given his production and, as clout mentioned yesterday, the fact that he helped revive interest in the franchise.

Wow. Not a lot of love on BL for a guy who was very valuable for us last year. Unfortunatley, I think you guys are right. I'll be happy if he can be serviceable. Hope we're all wrong though. BTW anybody hear that Jimy Williams quit over a money dispute?

I'm not bashing Durbin...I just don't have high high expectations of a repeat performance on his part.

I'm not bashing him either, I just think it's unrealistic to think he'll repeat last year's numbers, although it is possible, just not likely.

What you guys said. I think you're both right on the money.

Nobody bashing Durbin either. In fact, you could argue that he was arguably one of Gillick's better pickups during his tenure because he was paid peanuts last year and the only other team that was going to offer him a MLB deal was the Pirates. Gillick (or somebody on the Phils) saw some potential value their and they were right.

The Phils need him to give them 70 innings of decent baseball again if they are going to have one of the stronger bullpens in the league.

Basically the Phils in '07 went from having one of the worst bullpens in the league due to ineffectiveness, injuries, and lack of attention to having one of the strongest ones in '08. Durbin was a key part of that.

Gaaaaaaaaah, somehow a major chunk of a paragraph was left out. It's supposed to go like so:

"Suppose you bought a stock, at price A, that turned south, and that you had the foresight to realize that it was only going to fall further and quite possibly never recoup. If you were then able to resell it, at price X, making less than what you originally paid but avoiding the prospect of future declines, does it make sense to say that the sale was a bad one, just because it reaped less than what was originally paid? But the alternative was holding, leaving you with a stock worth Y, with Y

god...

I think with Park on board, he may only need to give 60 IP. And I think he may surprise some people. Before last year's break out purely as a reliever, his numbers as a RP were already pretty good. I think an ERA right around 4 is completely reasonable; and he might be better than that.

oh, I see, the program deletes everything that comes after a less than sign.

"...with Y less than X less than A. If that's the case, then I'm obliged to say that the sale was a good one--and I wouldn't understand someone who said that it was bad, simply because X was less than A. Such a person would be leaving out half the equation, making his analysis fatally incomplete."

I'm sorry to bugger the board like this. I guess, don't employ less than signs.

Yeah it's easy to overlook the 6th and 7th inning guys but they are extremely important. Durbin is a perfect example of that. I think that position is where the dominos start to fall. If you don't have a guy you can trust for those innings, starters tend to be left in a little longer than they should. That, of course, leads to the low fuel light coming on later in the season and in the worse case scenario injuries. The more you think about Durbin's contribution, the more you realize how big it was. If Park can contribute this year (a big if IMO) maybe Durbin can stay fresher longer. That is the one way I can see him coming close to duplicating last year's performance.

obviously declined, but i'm not writing him off yet

I must disagree with some of you regarding Durbin, and Carson, you, who run your own blog should know better.

Take a simple trip over to b-r.com and check out Durbin's splits between starting and relieving.

His relief ERA is 3.88. He has not been very good as a starter.

That said, I don't expect a sub-3 ERA this season, but I don't expect an implosion either. I'll bet his ERA winds up somewhere in the mid-3's.

Why, he pitched 127+ innings in 2007, including 19 starts, so I son't think overall workload is an issue.

Short term 'overuse' might be, but I think he'll be fine.

What does running one's own blog have anything to do with an opinion?

It appeared to me that Durbin had thrown almost unhittable pitches with lots of snappy downward angular movement for strikes in the first half of the season.

Durbin was probably over-used in his 1st season as a reliever. Now he has the arm strength to go through another campaign. At times, he was unhittable. Let's see if he can do it more often in '09. Especially in the post-season.

From Buster Olney's blog:

Chad Durbin agreed to a one-year deal with the Phillies. After that was announced, I e-mailed him and asked about his offseason activities, and how his winter preparation has been different, after his season extended a month longer than normal.

His response: "It is a humbling feeling to know that the game I love has given me the ability to take care of my family if I make the right choices with the money this year," he wrote. "Now that the negotiations are done, though, it's time to ramp it up heading toward Spring Training!

"The approach to my preparation for 2009 did take some new turns. I usually give myself a month from the end of the regular season to start working out regularly. I typically start throwing and running outside around Dec. 15. I pushed those dates back, and took Jamie Moyer's advice in seeking out a physical therapist to work with three days a week to strengthen my weak spots. Jamie told me he started at 30 with a similar program and recommended I take part in an offseason program with a PT. It's hard not to take that type of advice from a man who's still playing at [46] years old, right!??"

"Other than that, I spend as much time as I can with my wife and little boy … because as the season creeps closer, that time with them gets less and less. I also put a lot of my energy into a business; I'm co-founder of www.ShowcaseU.com. It's a Do-It-Yourself Recruiting solution for student-athletes who aspire to play at the next level. We launched our Beta site in late May and pulled that beta tag in late August. I'm proud of how far we've come, but have a long way to go, too.

"A quick offseason is a good problem to have, right!!?"

http://insider.espn.go.com/espn/blog/index?name=olney_buster

I like Durbin, and wish him well. I'll leave it at that.

I'm not overly worried about Durbin. The Phils will have a problem if they try to use Durbin in too many high leverage situations. He's a 6th and 7th inning reliever. He can also give us some multiple inning appearances if needed.

The 8th inning should be left to Eyre (in L vs. L situations), Romero when he returns and, primarily, Madson.

I was expecting a low BABIP or some other small sample size noise while looking at his (Durbin's) numbers from last year, but the only thing that stood out was a real low HR rate. It definitely looks like being a reliever is much better for him than being a starter, although it's pretty unlikely he'll post a sub-3 ERA again.

Durbin is a keeper. I really wonder how many phillie players are taking Moyer's practical advice on baseball player life. It is nice that the phillies have a Saint with balls on their team.

I am in the minority and think Durbin can replicate his success in 2008. If you look at his pitch selection on fangraphs, moving to the bullpen allowed him to become the two pitch pitcher he is -- fastball / slider. As others mentioned, he was unhittable for long stretches last year while missing a lot of bats; he has good stuff. I recall a 6 strikeout performance against the Mets. His 2008 FIP ERA was 3.77. I would expect similar this season for a pitcher in his prime at 31.

Durbin doesnt do well on no rest...his ERA splits are clear enough on that point...he'd probably hold up far better if UC trys to make a conscious effort to not use him back-to-back or especailly 3 days in a row.

I don't know if this was mentioned, but Cole Hamels through more pitches than anyone last year Brett Myers was third (including minors). Only Sabathia seperated them.

http://www.rotoauthority.com/2009/01/the-3400-club.html

Once again the Moyer presence filters out to the bullpen.

Quick Durbin story...

After Game 5... Durbin, Condrey and Eyre headed to the bullpen with kids and wives and family in tow, taking pictures and clowning around. The players signed stuff thrown down to them and rubbed bullpen dirt on rally towels. I thought that was pretty cool. What struck me was the camraderie that develops among players. As you would expect. But it's always interesting who gravitates towards each other.

The 93 team had that macho row mythos and the "us against them" pitchers versus hitters thing. This team never developed that kind of personality... But even in the "cliques" on the team... you can see that people genuinely liked each other.


Anyone see that Keith Law ranked each organization's farm system (ESPN Insider Access only).

Here's the NL East:

4. Atlanta Braves: Still one of the best and deepest systems in the game despite the trades for Mark Teixeira and Javier Vazquez. Scouting director Roy Clark and his staff are among the game's best, with a knack for finding talent beyond the first round while they remain quietly productive on the international front.

8. Florida Marlins: Something of a top-heavy system, with six or seven excellent prospects, but pitching injuries and a few graduations to the majors have thinned out the system. The Marlins sent one of the more interesting contingents to the Arizona Fall League, with top prospects Logan Morrison and Sean West (still coming back from 2007 shoulder surgery) and lower-profile tools players John Raynor and Scott Cousins.

11. Philadelphia Phillies: This system has improved dramatically in the past year, in particular because of the emergence of two tools guys, Dominic Brown and Michael Taylor, who weren't really on the radar last winter. The system could make a big move up if a few high-risk/high-reward picks from this year pan out.

17. New York Mets: It took a few major trades, but their system finally has thinned. Their international scouting department has saved the system, with three of their top six prospects (Fernando Martinez, Wilmer Flores and Jefry Marte) all coming via that route. Keep an eye on Brad Holt, a potentially fast mover from the 2008 draft whose curveball is improving.

29. Washington Nationals: Ross Detwiler and Josh Smoker, two of their top three prospects at this time in 2008, took huge steps backward this past season, and the Nationals' botched negotiations with first-round pick Aaron Crow were just more of the same from Jim Bowden's reign of error. The consistent failure to convert veteran big leaguers into any sort of prospects and questions about their practices in Latin America will leave them stuck down here even if they have a successful draft in 2009.

Moyer is gonna be the best pitching coach in baseball when he retires.

NEPP, my point was, that as someone who runs his own blog, I expect Carson to be better informed.

He posted:

"I'd hate for him to turn into the pitcher that came here (5+ era pitcher that is)."

He must not have looked at the SP/RP splits I referenced.

I RESPECT Carson, but, as someone who runs his own blog, I also EXPECT more from him.

That was my point.

If Durbin locates his pitches he will be fine. His stuff is solid.

Taking Moyer's advice never hurts. I don't think he will be a problem. Hopefully he and Park will both have success.

"The consistent failure to convert veteran big leaguers into any sort of prospects"


This quote from Olney above [Thanks, CJ!] in reference to the Washington Nationals entirely illustrates clout's point about needing to get something of value back in a trade, even in a salary dump.

'nuff said.

CJ: So here we go with the Keith Law again, eh.

I agree with him on Dom Brown being a "tools"
player gone right. He was essentially a football player changing sports. Michael Taylor, however, was a polished college player out of Stanford. His trasnition was a little rough at first, but he didn't show the stat markers that you'd see from a tools type guy even then.

AWH: Re: Carson. He thought the Abreu deal was good trade when it happened. You could look it up.

Good Lord.. I take a few days off to mourn the Eagles' latest NFC Championship choke job and the Phillies go out and do exactly what I was praying they would. Namely signing every arb eligible player except Howard.

That's it. I have officially left the BAP doom and gloom train and purchased my ticket for NEPP's cautious optimism line.

They keep this up and I'll be riding in CJ's Homer Enthusiast's car in no time.

Clout: I agree with your premise. But, Taylor is a tools guy as well: Power, arm, (pretty good)speed. The common phan sees power numbers and lumps him in as a power corner OF prospect type, but he offers a bit more. If Brown keeps developing and adds some power, he's not much different than Taylor(minus the lbs).

****NEPP, my point was, that as someone who runs his own blog, I expect Carson to be better informed.****

Fair enough...LOL, you must have a really low opinion of me though. granted my "blog" is more of a once in a while thing usually.

"...illustrates clout's point about needing to get something of value back in a trade, even in a salary dump"

I think you could say that the Phillies got "something of value" in return for Thome. Rowand may have been over-rated, but his contributions in '07 were I think significant to our winning the division.

One thing about the Phils you don't generally hear much on is the International Front where it seems the Phils still spend a very meager amount. That is one thing Gillick said he was going to change and you certainly didn't see much during his tenure on an increased interest in acquiring or developing International Talent.

Not sure what to make of Durbin's Home/Away splits last year.

in 152 PA away: .285/.373/.362

Re: Thome Trade

Are we not considering Gio Gonzalez to be something of value we got back for Thome? He was a top prospect at the time and, as clout points out, he could still be a #2 starter in the next year or so (if everything breaks right).

So we got an All-Star CF who played a huge role for us in 2007 with huge numbers. And we got a top pitching prospect.

Are we not giving Gonzalez consideration because we then turned around a dealt him in a bad deal? In Gonzalez were in line to be a #3 starter for the Phillies next year, would we be looking at the Thome trade differently?

CJ: I asked that question, as well.

Still talking about the Thome trade? really?

Keith "Clout" Law has some interesting tidbits on the Phillies. Law ranks Jason Donald as the Phillies top prospect(#48 overall) and says "he's major-league ready and could be a solid-average shortstop in 2009 if he had the opportunity."

The problem is it's hard to define a "tools" guy from a "polished" guy. Clout seems to assume anyone who played in college is not a "tools" guy, which may be true in many respects, but I don't think fits with Taylor. They basically had to re-work his swing coming out of college, which is why he's behind the curve age-wise. He's also a 6'6, 250 monster athlete, which no matter what is going to make people think of tools.

Brown actually has shown much more consistent plate discipline than Taylor through their careers, which is usually the trait people use to differentiate between "tools" guys and "polish" guys.

Mike Cunningham wrote about the players of this Phillies Team generally liking each other...a rare team quality.

Being wrapped up in the Christmas WFC souvenir stuff, including the bid 8-DVD set, I went on a second wave of spending and bought the The Phillies: 1980 World Champions - 25th Anniversary Box Set DVD. After watching the first DVD of this set, I learned that the players on the 1980 team really didn't like each other very much or enjoy what they were doing. They credited Pete Rose for kicking their butts into a winning team.

Another thing I learned was that the MLB rules at the time prevented the local broadcast team from broadcasting WS games. All the 1980 WS highlight films with Harry Kalas describing the plays were recreations. I was living in Denver, Colo. in 1980, so I never knew this 1980 WS fact. Were you all able to listen to Harry et al during this WS live? I'd hate to think that the Phillies broadcast game soundtracks on my 2008 8-DVD set are recreations.

MG: Agreed, that was going to my two cents as well after reading the post about the NL East farm systems.

I always found it odd that the Phils found a way to bulk up on Australian prospects while the entire league was showing success in developing latin america.

Walking isn't the only measure of "plate discipline". K.Law says Brown frequently mistimes his swings, which results in a lot of weakly hit ground balls.

Maybe el Ruben Suave can dig back to his roots and pump out some nice foreign prospects.

AWH- I admit, I only looked at overall era instead of starting/relief splits. I didn't take any offense from your comments.

Clout- I honestly don't remember my gut reaction to the Abreu trade, but in hindsight I think it was horrible. In fact Bobby Abreu is in my Top 10 favorite Phils of all-time, but I'd love for you to email me my response to the trade. weshouldbegms@hotmail.com

MG, I agree. The number of international talent to come through our system or in the high levels of our system leaves a lot to be desired.

I really hope the Rube changes that.

Some of my observations & some quotes from the BL favorite Keith Law (I know he's not highly regarded here but I always like reading reports on our farm hands regardless of the source: BA, BP, or the 4 letter network)

Marson & Drabek left off the list. Donald #48, Carrasco #60, Brown #84 , Taylor #100.

I think Keith Law really has something against our farm system. I know his organization rank doesn't put us in the basement but his top 100 didn't include Marson. I also was kind of expecting for Drabek to be somewhere in the very back of the list even coming back from injuries. I can understand the hesitation of not putting Drabek in the top 100, but your telling me that Marson doesn't crack the top 100?

I also saw these question/answer in his chat today:
"You seem to be in the minority rating D'Arnaud ahead of Marson in the Phillies system. What makes the former the superior prospect?

Keith Law: (1:21 PM ET ) Call me when Marson hits something in the air."

"Since the Phillies we're 11th, can you tell your next 5 on their top 10? I'd assume its 5 out of these 6: Knapp Collier Savery Drabek Marson and Happ?

Keith Law: (1:26 PM ET ) d'Arnaud and Drabek were the next two. Then Marson, just by default because he can catch and makes some contact; Collier; Knapp."

"Actually Marson did hit one in the air (a home run in the final game of the season). ANYWAY what kind of major league player do you project D'Arnoud at at this point?

Keith Law: (1:42 PM ET ) Solid-average big-league catcher with average power, makes contact, good defender, no one area that's plus. He could become more than that if the bat develops, but he's just out of short-season ball so I'm offering a realistic projection rather than an optimistic one."

"Keith, do you see the Phils draft philsophy changing (toolsy guys) now with Amaro replacing Gillick and Arbuckle gone?

Keith Law: (1:56 PM ET ) The scouting director is still Marti Wolever, so I assume the philosophy will generally stay the same unless Amaro insists on changing it."

"If I'm not mistaken don't you have Carrasco ranked 60th? Isn't that the potential of a 2 or 3 on a good team?

Keith Law: (2:01 PM ET ) He has upside, sure, but he's not there right now. I also consider performance, and he did pitch well after his little episode with the shoulder."

"No Anthony Hewitt?
Keith Law: (2:07 PM ET ) That's funny."

"I didnt see Lou Marson Catcher for the Phillies on the list of 100. How far off the list is he?

Keith Law: (2:11 PM ET ) He's in the rye."

Did they include their Seattle Mariners roster when evaluating our farm system??
(Just Kidding, Mr Gillick)

My Alzheimers prevents me from remembering exactly my feelings about the Abreu deal. I think I felt about Abreu much like I do about Burrell. A big part of me loved both of these guys, but a different part of me recognized that they needed to go. We got bamboozled by the hated Yankees in that deal, especially by adding a decent starting pitcher in Lidle. We got nothing in return.

It's like when you go fishing and your favorite lure gets hopelessly tangled on some unseen object deep below the murky waters. You hate to cut the line, but you do; then you tie on another lure with bait and cast out again hopeing for success on your next effort and never revisiting your lost lure. Why does BL constantly dredge up the Abreu deal? We must all be psychotic!

I actually expect Durbin to repeat some of the success from '08 - I don't think he'll have an entire season in '09 like the way he pitched in April/May/June of '08 but I don't expect a major drop-off from what we experienced last year.

I think what people tend to forget about Durbin was how horribly mis-managed he was in August and parts of September, until Madson caught fire and began holding down the fort as the "bridge to Lidge."
I recall a game in Chicago in August when Durbin came in in the 8th inning to face Derrek Lee, A-Ram, etc. and gave up an eventual game-winning grand slam to Ramirez at Wrigley. I think taking a pitcher out of his comfort zone is as big an issue as any in terms of his confidence and pitching performance.

If you have a guy dominating in the 6th and 7th innings and suddenly force him to be THE guy in the 8th inning, you're going to have issues. I don't foresee that scenario repeating itself in the coming season, so I don't necessarily see the repeat nosedive in statistics that he experienced towards the end of 2008.

My initial reaction to the Abreu deal was as follows:

"WOOHOO, WE GOT CJ HENRY!!!!!"

http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/baseball/2009/01/21/2009-01-21_jay_mcgwire_pitching_book_detailing_brot-1.html

Wow...what a prick thing to do to your brother. Jay McGwire is trying to sell a "tell-all" book detailing his brother's steroid use.

Jack: I agree that not all college players are polished. I disagree that Taylor was all "tools." His last 2 years at Stanford he had OPS of .877 and .979 witrh OB near .400.

His first year in the minors, when he intially struggled, his K/BB was 23/53, which is not bad at all for a first year pro who's a power hitter. Last year it was 50/89 while hitting 19 HRs.

Taylor is toolsy in the sense he's got all the tools, but the term toolsy is niomrally used to mean guys who have tools but not skills. Taylor clearly had skills.

In re Thome:

Clout,
I faithfully read this blog for your contributions, Weitzel's, Sophist, CJ, MG, BAP, and Carson's Campaign Cheer. I'm down with your critique of the Abreu and Padilla trades, I hate Pedro Feliz as our 3b against RHP, I think it is reasonable to ask if race plays a factor in fan treatment of Howard, and I am pleased to see results after the F.O. invest sufficiently in the bullpen.

But your insistence on assessing the Thome trade in a vacuum is not only inane, it also undermines your critiques of the returns from the Abreu and Padilla (and Schilling and Rolen...) trades which were not conducted in similar atmospheres in duress.

Of course, in your fantasy vacuum world, Rowand and Gio and the salary buy back was not fair value for Thome. But Gillick could not undo the Thome No Trade Clause and could not wave a wand and make Jim Thome play third again or put Howard in LF. In order to make room for Howard, he had to move Thome. And he could only move Howard to the Chisox because the other Chicago team he would approve a trade to had Derrek Lee and no DH.

Given Gillick could only "negotiate" with one team, the return actually looks good. If you do not believe the return was sufficient, then you would have preferred one of these three alternatives:

1) Throw in another prospect to the Pirates to get them to accept Ryan Howard for Kip Wells

2) Try a lefty-lefty platoon at first with Thome and Howard

3) Make Thome a $14 million/yr Del Unser, (bonus -- without the ability even to pretend to put him in the outfield)

I await your response on which alternative you would have advocated.

"My bringing the truth to the surface about Mark is out of love," Jay McGwire wrote. "I want Mark to live in truth to see the light, to come to repentance so he can live in freedom - which is the only way to live." -Jay McGwire

No...its about cashing in.

I just finished reading the previous thread. Cy says he looks like Blanton and clout says he looks like Bill Conlin. They are two good looking beefy guys. We still need to find out if phargo looks like Jessica Biel!

I'm just waiting for the Dan McGwire book. In fact, I'm surprised the Phillies didn't offer a McGwire brother a contract, since they always get the wrong brother.

Everyone in my family says I could be a double for Ryan Madson...though he's a couple inches taller than me...and his 96 MPH fastball is about 14 or 15 MPH higher than I was ever able to hit. The similarity is eery.

kevmac: I think that chat log crystalizes what problem many of us have with Keith Law. I find it hard to believe that a catching prospect who is either ML-ready or very close to it can't crack the Top 100 prospects in all of baseball.

But... too each his own, I suppose.

JJG, after reading your comment, I can see now that the Phillies were "racist" in trading away a popular player, such as Thome, under less than ideal terms in order to allow Ryan Howard to become their regular everyday first basemen. It now is very clear to me.

I'm okay with K.Law's list, but don't understand how Carrasco dropped from #53 to #60 after his best pro season.

Working off memory and not stats here, but didn't Carrasco somewhat struggle in AA only to perform better in AAA?

kevmac: For Law to have Donald rated way higher than Carrasco is laughable, to say the least. It is also a sign of his ignorance that he thinks Donald can be a major league shortstop defensively right now. Nearly every other report says he doesn't have the range there and will have to shift positions.

clout: "Brian G: Were you out of the country in 2006? Victorino got a chance because Aaron Rowand ran into a wall. Abreu was replaced by a platoon of Conine/Dellucci.

Isn't there anything you can do to keep yourself from looking like a smacked ass?"

After the Abreu trade, Victorino replaced him in RF. It was only after Rowand broke his ankle (not his face) that Vic moved to center(where he filled in part time but went back to a bench role after the fenceface incident), and the Conine/Delucci platoon took over in right. But the point (and it was a friggin joke, btw) was that Vic officially became a full-time player when Abreu was traded.

If I was familiar with the insult "smacked ass" I would probably call you one for your uninformed comeback.

Law was down on Donald's range until watching him in the AFL last fall. He was much more positive after that. His comments prior were "He doesnt have the range for SS" or "Below average range". Now he's saying "average range at SS" and the above "solid average SS at the MLB level".

kevmac: I think it's still to think Law has something personal against our farm system. Who has a personal vendetta against a friggin farm system? And he did rank them 11th.
He mentions that he places a lot of value on Major League readiness, which is why Donald is ranked so high. And Donald is a middle infielder who had a near .900 OPS last year at AA, so he's not exactly chopped liver.

Jack: Brown was out of HS and his #1 sport was football. His first year as a pro his K/BB was 12/30, which was worse than Taylor's. He struggled mightily, but took to instruction and made a huge leap forward in his second year, improving his K/BB to 29/49. He's good speed, a good arm, can hit for average, improving plate judgment, but the power tool has not yet blossomed (9 HRs,.417 SLG). I think Law is a bit closer to the mark on him.

CJ & Clout, agree on both points about law.

Question:
Is there a site that has the amount of money in guaranteed payroll for future years? I know if you take the time to add up the individual deals you can come to the numbers on your own, but I was wondering if anyone had a good link that includes or discloses buyouts and money owed to other clubs?

The best site for that type of info is Cots but I don't believe it has the specific thing you're looking for.

Didn't the previous doubts concerning Donald's range come from...Keith Law?

Is "smacked ass" an insult unique to Philadelphia?

A couple of things have become clear in recent years: If you're trading a high salary, you can get the other team to absorb the entire cost (Abreu) but you get nothing back, or the trading team can swallow some of the cost (Thome) and get decent players in return.

That was actually an overt demand by the Dodgers when they were talking to the Pirates about Jack Wilson in November. The Pirates wanted a better player in return; the Dodgers demanded they pick up salary to get one, and Pittsburgh backed off.

JJG: Let me repeat once again since some folks need to hear it 7 or 8 times before they get it. The subject of the posts by MG and myself were quite simple: Which team got the better value in the Thome trade. The subject was NOT why Thome was traded. You can post what we all know 40 times, but that doesn't change the subject.

LF,

Your tongue in cheek comment about the Phils management's appraisal of Ryan Howard is as non sequitur as Clout's critique of the Thome trade.

No one believes that *management* has undervalued Howard. But it is clear that fans -- in the stands and on this site -- more easily get on the back of Howard and got on the back of Abreu than the unimpeachable Utley.

While the idea provokes reflexive opposition on this site, it is still worth consideration.

It's obviously not the overt racism of the 50s and 60s. If it exists, it is far less caustic and more subtle and subconscious. I would liken it to paraphrasing the undearly departed George W. Bush -- in this case the soft bigotry of high expectations.

I think fans perceive superior athletic ability on the part of Howard and Abreu, and when they fail to live up to them, they express more immediate and vocal displeasure. Utley, not perceived to have quite the same gifts, is a gamer and hard worker maxmizing his gifts so when he strikes out or flubs a double play, he was trying his best.

I believe this dynamic also affected the expectations of Schmidt and Burrell, so it isn't exclusively racial. Just as Adam Eaton's and Shawn Bradley's race and a host of other white athletes did not shield them from booing.

So it's complex and not easy to pin down. But to deny any discussion of it is to deny what Clout accurately pointed out a number of occasions during the last couple of years on this site. In a few close games, Utley made some terrible throws on double play relays to Howard that cost us games and there would not be one word criticizing Utley's defense, or offseason commitment to working out, etc.

In those cases, the only criticism was again leveled at Howard for not coming off the bag.

Alby: Sounds like an example of a team making no trade at all rather than a bad one.

I have yet to ever see Utley make one of these "mistakes" as you call them in any of the games I've watched in the past several seasons. Utley doesn't make mistakes.

Clout: So you would have kept Thome rather than make the deal Gillick made? What would you have done with Thome and Howard in the 2006 season?

"I'm just waiting for the Dan McGwire book. In fact, I'm surprised the Phillies didn't offer a McGwire brother a contract, since they always get the wrong brother.

Posted by: Bedrosian's Beard | Thursday, January 22, 2009 at 02:52 PM"


Ummm, BedBeard, I believe Cole Hamels has a brother. I think they did pretty well there. As I understand it Ryan Howard has brothers also. Check! :)

Jack: I'm not sure what I would've done. I am sure of who got the better of that deal, however. Are you?

NEPP: You saw him walk across the Delaware too, didn't you?

JJG: Or Howard habitually screws up simple plays, Abreu was afraid to go within 10 feet of an outfield wall, while Utley, like every other player, effs up once in awhile.

And for the record, I remember being furious(along w/a few other posters) when Utley jogged on a long fly ball that hit off the wall and missed getting to at least third on it in the 9th inning of a close game (I think against the Cubs). I also remember Jason devoting a header to being annoyed with Utley, while adding something like "if he's not going to admit being injured, I'm going to assume he's not." Not to mention plenty of criticism of Utley failing in "late and close" situations, to the point where it was developing into one of Jason's themes.
But please, feel free to try and decipher the complex and hard to pin down subconcious traces of racism in a gaggle of online bloggers who criticize baseball players to different degrees.

JJG, your analysis contradicts its own hypothesis that racial components have something to do with how Phillies fans treat players. Big strong looking guys like Burrell and Howard are more expected to hit homers than little guys like Utley. So they get more boos. Mike Schmidt received much worse fan treatment than Ryan Howard ever has. He was neither big and bulky or black, yet the boos rained on him big time. It can't be racist.

I think some fans are interviewed by the media more often than others and I do feel that latin players with poor English skills get less quotes in the media and fans can perceive those players as being aloof or indifferent. I don't think those negative fan feelings are racist.

For Abreu, the biggest knock I heard on him was his fear of outfield walls. His unwillingness to really challenge the walls was perceived poorly by the fans. I don't think that negative fan feelings on Abreu about this are racist, either.

****NEPP: You saw him walk across the Delaware too, didn't you?****

Of course...how else would he get to the stadium on game day? (assuming for some weird reason he lives in NJ)

I think Durbin will be okay. He got overused in the first half of the season because the bullpen guys were still kind of figuring out their roles. I think he'll be successful this season as long as they limit his innings a bit more than last year.

Yeah, the Phillies quite obviously got more value because I consider giving Ryan Howard a full season (in case you don't remember, he hit .313/.425/.659 that season with 58 homers and an MVP) as part of that trade. I do that because without the trade, it wouldn't have happened. You obviously leave this out because it so clearly ruins your contention that it was a bad trade. The White Sox did well to get Thome from us, he helped them out as well. Obviously not all of Howard's value that season counts, just what he did above Thome's value, which is still significant.

Even if we ignore Howard, which so obviously is stupid to do but you insist on it, let's just look at value gained from Rowand vs. Thome in 2006 and 2007 in a complete vacuum. We'll use WARP, which is Wins Above Replaecment Player, which measures a player's "value" using offense, defense, baserunning, and positional value.

Rowand: 3.7 WARP in 2006, 9.7 in 2007 (13.4 total)
Thome: 7.3 WARP in 2006, 6.2 in 2007 (13.5 total)

So, using this measure, even if we totally take Ryan Howard out of the equation, even if we completely ignore the context of the trade, Aaron Rowand and Jim Thome were of almost exactly the same value in 2006 and 2007.

I'm sure you'll go ahead and discredit the reasoning, but it seems pretty straightforward to me. We also received a compensatory pick for losing Rowand last season, which ought to be included, and he turned into Zach Collier (I believe), who is now a consensus top 10 prospect in our system.

Lake Fred...

There were WS home radio broadcasts this year, no recreations in '08. Listened to them out of market on xmradio.

Some thoughts after reading everyone's posts:

1) Durbin's our 6-7th inning guy right now, and I hope he's not overworked, because then he'll post an above 5 ERA. I'm anticipating a step back from his 2008 numbers, but I don't think he'll be awful. I'd say around 4 is my best guess, mainly because I think he'll make a few adjustmests to his pitching mechanics/style(he's fully aware that every NL team now has their scouting report about him).

2) The Abreu trade was a bad trade from the get go. Everything that it classified as a salary dump is. Even though the Yankees took his whole contract, we got nothing of long term value. That being said, when you have a full no trade clause and only allow yourself to be dealt to the Red Sox or Yankees, it does tie the GM's options.

That's something I thing needs to be especially emphasized when talking about the Abreu and Thome trades. Teams know that they've got the GM over a barrel and can dictate better terms for themselves when the market is bearish for the selling GM. Wouldn't you try to take advantage of Gillick and offer him less than good value, knowing he's only talking to you and maybe one other team?

My impression of both situations was that the Phillies had to deal both Thome and Abreu, or at least were under strong pressure to. The Yankees and White Sox used that to their advantage to get the better of the team in both trades.

re: utley can do no wrong

I know it was just joking around but,

how about the beginning of 2008 when he hit a spurt where he couldn't throw the ball to first base? I was getting Chuck Knoblauch nightmares.

clout: Given the ability to look back at a trade with current results, I believe the White Sox got slightly more "value" out of the trade.

I also believe that given the circumstances (limited no trade clause, Thome's injury, Thome's contract), that the Phils got a pretty solid return in Gonzalez and Rowand.

Finally, I believe this deal's benefit extends to the emergence of Ryan Howard who has been an essential part of two division crowns and a WFC.

Anyone disagree with any of that?

Jack: My BB Ref tells me that Howard was not part of the Thome trade. In any event, you know what the discussion was about. But feel free to pretend it's about something else.

From MLBTR- Chuck Hixson of PhillyBaseballNews.com recently asked Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. about free agent starters Braden Looper, Jon Garland, and Randy Wolf. Amaro responded:

"I'd like to think that we're at the point on our payroll, where those guys wouldn't fit. We're really kind of looking more for bullpen help. We are looking at some guys from outside the organization to add some depth and experience for us in the bullpen."

CJ: Other than the word "slightly" I agree with your post.

I have a quick question - after next year, do we have ANYBODY in our system projected to be able to play 3rd after Feliz hits the road? I'm sure Dobbs will platoon with somebody - but will we really need to rent another 3B? Can Jason Donald make the cut at third?

Clout: I showed that the Phillies got equal value in the Thome trade. However, everyone, including you, knows that evaluating the trade must include the opening for Howard. It's simply useless to evaluate it otherwise.

Let's say, in a surprise, you don't agree with my reasoning on equal value between Rowand and Thome. Congrats then, on being right about the question of whether the White Sox got more value exactly in the swap of Thome for Rowand and Gio. It is, of course, a completely irrelevant question, akin to Al Gore winning the popular vote in 2000. That's nice and all, but has no bearing whatsoever on who actually won. The opening of a spot for Howard is what matters in that trade, just like it's the Electoral College that mattered in the 2000 election.

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