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Saturday, January 24, 2009


And I was so looking forward to seeing what Giles had left.

I like Manuel's take more so than Amaro's- "We're cautiously optimistic that he'll be ready at some time close to Opening Day, but we're not pushing him, and we're making sure that he is completely healthy once he's ready to go. Opening Day might be what his goal is but, again, we're not going to put him on the field until he's completely healthy and we feel that there's no risk for re-injury."

I would think the main concern right now is whether the injury will be chronic or not. Hip problems have a tendency to keep on flaring up, no matter what you do to treat them. It's kind of a "Once you've had it, you got it," deal (I got it, so believe me, I know).

This is good news. I hope they don't let him rush it though--once he's back, he needs to be fully healthy.

This sounds like a case where that you may need to hold a player back even if against his own wishes for his own personal good in the more longer term.

Utley's surgery wasn't a minor outpatient procedure and frankly an extra 2-3 weeks on the side on the caution probably wouldn't hurt.

vendor71 - Yeah I wonder if it affects Utley in subtle ways too including his range on defense and the mechanics of his swing which really curtailed some of the power he was able to generate.

I would have to imagine that Utley did compensate for the injury in the 2nd half last year and changed his mechanics slightly. Wouldn't be surprised if he struggles to find his timing a bit when he comes back either.

This is very good news.

That said, I will make this prediction, assuming they are bothe healthy and play 150+ games:

Chase Utley and Albert Pujols will "battle" neck and neck all season for the MVP award.

And then Phil Sheridan will write a column at the end of the year proclaiming that the award belongs to Howard.

AWH - Hahaha, not the boldest prediction, but probably very accurate.

Your Majesty:

Yeah, I know, big risk taken by me putting that out there!!!

Chase, don't be a hero. If you're not ready, don't rush back and hurt yourself or the team in the process. Look at the Flyers debacle with Briere as your shining example of what not to do.

That being said, I fully expect him to play sometime in April.

Not sure if I'm behind on this one, but Zolecki is leaving the Phils beat at the Inky? Weitzel, get your application in already! Can we start campaigning for him? Perhaps petition the paper that the "Best of Philly" sports writer belongs at the Inquirer?

Ricky, the idiots at Phila. Newspapapers, Inc. might want him to give up this blog, or would want a piece of it.

Way more people post here than on Zo's blog or at high cheese. BL is far more interesting and, IMO, valuable.

If I were JW that would be unacceptable.

I'd look like less of an idiot myself if I'd proofread my spelling of "Newspapers", wouldn't I?

Awh and ricky: No offense to JW but I don't think zoleckis beat writing position if he is leaving is the job for him. Because a blog writer that transitions over to newspaper writers usually doesn't work out. Just look at Gonzo at the inky, he is the worst IMO and many others.

Leave newspaper writers to doing that and bloggers to do what they do.

Smart move by Zolecki. Going to an enterprise (MLB) that isn't going to have the economic viability that is likely to plague the traditional Philly papers for the near future.

Still, Zolecki was arguably the weakest beat writer who covered the Phils in town. Competent writer who was able to produce a decent finished product but I generally never read anything in his articles that were really insightful/though-provoking on the issues that were going on with the Phils.

Zolecki does have some good sources within the Phillies Organization though. He has broken some decent stories so far this off-season where others were totally off.

Granted I'm not the biggest fan of his "writing" but he does report what he gets not offering arbitration to Burrell and Moyer. I believe he was the only one to call that.

On Eaton:

Amaro was asked if Eaton had any chance of making the team as the 5th starter and the answer was a resounding "NO!"

From David Murphy: "Asked today whether Adam Eaton had any chance at establishing himself as the Phillies' No. 5 starter, Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said, well, no.

"Based on what we've seen, it is a four man competition," Amaro said, "and he is not involved in that competition."

The four men who are involved: Righthanders Kyle Kendrick, Carlos Carrasco and Chan Ho Park, and lefthander J.A. Happ.

MG: Didn't MLB recently lay a bunch of people off around the country?

Clout - They did but it was mostly editorial staff and more senior writers. Every team still appears to have a beat writer and that is apparently the role that Zolecki will fill in covering the Phils.

Reality is that did a shitty thing employers do when the economy turns bad - layoff more senior people who command higher salaries with less experienced and much cheaper salaries even though the company is supposedly making a very good profit and had strong revenue growth.

"MG: Didn't MLB recently lay a bunch of people off around the country?"

I think MG's point is pretty sound. Newspapers are staring at institutional death. Whatever highs and lows MLB might have from cycle to cycle, it isn't going anywhere, and neither is the internet.

I think Zolecki was ok--certainly he was right on the subject of Burrell's arbitration, (about which I was dead wrong), both as a matter of fact and as advocacy (although Zolecki wasn't really advocating for it). His writing could have been meatier, more analytical, but perhaps that wasn't entirely up to him. Certainly in the paltry pantheon of Inquirer sports writers--Bill Lyon, Claire Smith, Phil Sheridan, Al Campbell, Frank Fitzpatrick--he's front rank.

Klaus: And the Internet gets its information from?

"And the Internet gets its information from?"

for acting like a smart person you sure ask a lot dumb questions.

Certainly in the paltry pantheon of Inquirer sports writers--Bill Lyon, Claire Smith, Phil Sheridan, Al Campbell, Frank Fitzpatrick--he's front rank.

Tallest midget in the circus?

Phaithful: What clout means is that without those sources that have access to the clubhouse and who travel and are around the team day in and day out, we'd not have a full picture of what goes on. So, until the teams start giving press passes to bloggers, there will still be a void. And even if bloggers had a press pass, without a paper paying salary and travel, could they offer the same type of coverage? Blogs are good for looking at statistics and analysis, but not full-time active collection of behind the scenes news, etc. What makes this blog different is that JW actually does do some active collection and analysis, but that's different than being the full-time beat writer.

Not all of us used to be able to sit with the MLB scouts behind the plate at the Vet like clout...

"Not all of us used to be able to sit with the MLB scouts behind the plate at the Vet like clout..."

He's pulling a pretty neat trick if he's at the Vet. Besides, he needs all that extra time to Google sabermetrics and make things up.

David Murphy is reporting that the Phillies are in on Wigginton.

The minute the inquirer and/or daily news go under, if not before, the phils will be spreading their news thru the blogs/ internet. The sports page should have a huge disclaimer that it is for entertainment purposes only - it is the major leagues' best advertising and they will not suffer any loss of exposure. They're already adjusting.

Ty Wiggington is 31 and made 4.8 milllion as a starter last year. Why would he sign with the Phillies to back-up Feliz and Ibanez?
Unless the Phillies have somebody that will take Feliz off their hands, thats not happening. The Phillies are'nt going to spend that kind of money on a back-up.

Hugh: Yeah, because sports teams always tell us everything we want to know... Editorial independence is the key.

mikes: Probably so, Murphy just reports to add Wigginton to the list of RH bats we are looking at. Some players do want to win though... And we may still have some money left in the budget for this year.

MPN: My point exactly

Wigginton would be perfect. Bats righthanded, plays outfield, 3rd, and 2nd. PERFECT!

Carson - He'd be perfect as the RH bat. You should put some of "plays outfield, 3rd, and 2nd" in quotes.
As in
"plays corner OF, and "plays" 3rd and 2nd."

Still, if Utley's not ready until May an April line-up with him at 2nd would be easier on the (offensively oriented) eyes than one with the Gnome or Giles.

Of course, I have a feeling he wouldn't crack phargo's top ten...

Wigginton made $4.4M last season as an everyday player. I have to guess the Phillies will not be offering a contract remotely close to that. I will also take a wild stab and guess that Wigginton wants to play every day. He had a pretty good year with the bat and is passable at 3B with the glove (no range, but decent arm and low errors.)

Conclusion: Chances of the Phillies signing Wigginton=Zero.

P.S. Wiggy is a far superior player to Feliz even with the dropoff on defense, but we know Beerleaguer's most popular Phillie is quite safe in his job.

MPN: Good job! Perhaps you can act as regular interpreter for some of the dimmer bulbs. That one is barely flickering.

donc: Nobody in this town is better than Conlin.

Utley in close contention for MVP? I seem to be missing some kind of Beerleaguer Utley-love chip or something. Has he won MVP in previous healthy years? How close has he come?

Dont get me wrong, I think Utley is a tremendous asset to the team. One who can be replaced for months by Tad Iguchi with no real harm done.

That came out a little harsher than I meant it to, but I do think Utley is excellent and at the same time overrated.

phargo: NEPP saw Utley change water into wine.

"Klaus: And the Internet gets its information from?"

Well presumably in MLB's case it'll be getting its information from its employee--Zolecki, who'll be gathering his information I believe from his sense faculties.

At any rate, if you have an argument showing that newspapers are not contracting and shedding themselves of features and personnel, that the technological and social climates are in fact situated exactly in the newspaper industry's favor, and that the average young journalist can look forward to a newspaper career arc--from beat to analysis to a nice column sinecure--exactly like that of his predecessors in ages past, well, rather than being Mr. Glib, please, in consecutive sentences, make an argument!

You got that right clout.

klaus: Why would I make an argument like that? In any event, you didn't answer my question, which wasn't about where mlb would get its information after it hires Zo.

If the Phils are so interested yet in getting somebody who can play 3B let, it leads me to believe that the Phils' FO doesn't have much confidence that Feliz's back will prevent him from being healthy/productive. Big shock.

A 35-year old with a bad back who has to play a pretty demanding defensive position (3B) rarely suddenly get 100% healthy again.

MG: That thought had crossed my mind this morning, too. That might help the playing time argument that clout raised. Of course, this also reinforces the need for editorially independent active collector reporters... otherwise our colons will be as sunny as southern Florida from all the sunshine being blown up our asses....

No question the team still has a few needs, but in view of the current payroll is it realistic to think that the Phillies will spend any more money? I'd certainly love to see it but they're already on the hook for more than $130,000,000. I don't see anymore signings unless they can get somebody to pay a portion of Eaton's salary. And that is wishful thinking.

donc: If the MLBPA would allow it, which they wouldn't, the Eaton case would be a perfect test case of an old Bill Simmons' idea: make Eaton show up with the team every day, even when the team was on the road, but never play him or use him in any way and wear him down until he quit or allowed himself to have his contract bought out.

MPN: I don't know why you couldn't do that. As long as you are paying him you should be able to let him gather dust. That's why they'll probably cut him. While they are obligated to pay him he's unlikely to see much if any playing time. He's just taking up a roster spot. He probably wouldn't care anyway as long as the checks cleared. After every shelling he took the last two years he would walk off the mound looking as if he didn't have a care in the world. Infuriating.

"In any event, you didn't answer my question, which wasn't about where mlb would get its information after it hires Zo."

Your statement--or your meaning, since you're so charmlessly glib--is akin to that of a canal builder circa 1850, saying that railroads will never eclipse canals because canals deliver goods to railroad depots.

Honestly, I don't know if your concept of the world is that static--if it's your belief that, if newspapers deliver information now, then they shall deliver information forever--or, more precisely, if information is delivered by newspapers now, then it shall be delivered by newspapers forever. That would seem to be an argument by the way, for the permanent viability of the newspaper industry, and as you say "why would I want to make an argument like that?"

Here, let me put it to you, do you want to contest the notion, put forward by MG and me, that the problem of industry viability may have played a role in Zoleki's decision to leave the newspaper?

You seem to want to, but all you've offered in reply is a fact: the internet uses information generated by newspapers. If that's supposed to have some sort of pertinence to the discussion, it would seem to entail the notion that the internet shall forever be beholden to newspapers for content. Otherwise, as a reply it's a non-sequitur.

Unless you're merely making conversation:

Clout: a lot of the content used on the internet is generated by newspapers.

Me: yes. And the sky is blue; but one day the sun will explode and the sky will cease to be so.

This front office is still nowhere near perfect, but we are going to have a $130 million payroll AND they seem 100% willing to cut loose Adam Eaton and eat almost all of his exorbitant salary. If you had told us all that three years ago, we'd have laughed in your face.

Plus, we won a World Series. That was fun.

Actually, let me revise what I said.

To wit: "And the Internet gets its information from?"

People. As it happens many of those people publish what they've gathered in newspapers. As the years go by, fewer and fewer will.

klaus: You're making progress on my point, I see. You could probably add that much of this Internet content that comes from newspapers comes via newspaper Web sites. Thus, when you talk about the "viability of the newspaper industry" you probably ought to be more specific: Is the dead tree edition plopped on your driveway going away or is going away?

I am far, far from an expert or even a good novice, just an observer who relies on the Web for my information. But my guess is that isn't going away and will continue to be an on-line newspaper that employs reporters and editors that cover things like the Phillies.

King: I completely agree. My post was not meant as a complaint. It looks like our payroll will rank somewhere near the top 5. I would not have believed that a few months ago. I just have a feeling they won't go any higher and I will not critcize them for that. Though if Rube does have a few loose scheckels lying around, I wouldn't be totally pissed off he offered an incentive laden one year deal to Ben Sheets. Just a thought.

klaus: Oh, and one more thing. Towpaths make wonderful jogging trails.

donc: Hey, I'm right there with you, I'd love to see a team that didn't cap themselves at all when a clear opportunity exists to improve. My point was only that, if you got in a time machine and told a Phillies fan in 2004 that we'd have a $130 million payroll, they'd crap their pants. So we got that going for us, which is nice.

King: Nice Carl Spagler reference.

Clout, I made progress, can you?

"do you want to contest the notion, put forward by MG and me, that the problem of industry viability may have played a role in Zoleki's decision to leave the newspaper?"

I see that you...don't. That's wise.

It's not enough to say that that the company will simply phase out its paper edition and switch entirely to the internet. It will, but doing so doesn't solve what is the endemic issue, which is the ratio of debt to market share. Philadelphia Media Holdings is saddled with an increasing (and already enormous) degree of debt and a declining degree of readership, both online and off. Eventually the investor pool will dry up, capital will relocate to start-ups, and the institution itself will enter bankruptcy. Will continue to exist? Perhaps, as a domain name, owned by an entirely new kind of entity--with a corporate structure and employee plant perhaps far different from that of the newspaper of today (if the internet delivers information spontaneously, why should multiple web-sites field their own reporters?). Is that something that Todd Zolecki wants to bank on?

And what was the point MG and I made? "That the problem of industry viability may have played a role in Zoleki's decision to leave the newspaper?"

And what was your reply: "Didn't MLB recently lay a bunch of people off around the country?"

Yes, you're far from an expert.

"Oh, and one more thing. Towpaths make wonderful jogging trails."

On that we agree.

king myno - Agreed. Frankly I am surprised that the Phils' FO really did open their wallets this offseason to keep the team intact. Then again, I think they realize that having a team that makings the playoffs (let alone wins the World Series) is a dramatic boost to revenue streams that season and next season.

Even if attendance does take a real hit in some baseball cities this year as unemployment hits double digits, Phils will likely remain a pretty hot ticket.

In the Inky this morning they reported that the season ticket base is up from 20,300 to 24,000. That's a nice bump. And throw in the extra cash that the Phils made during an extended post-season they certainly should be flush. It's nice to see them parting with some of it. It certainly does seem that they see a real window with this group to establish themselves as one of the premier organizations in baseball. If the prospects that we've been hearing about are as advertised, the Phils could be setting themselves up for a nice long run.
On a related topic I heard the baseball writer for Newsday on the Fan yesterday. He sounded a little skeptical that the Mets were going to be able to fill Citi Field in this economy. He didn't provide specific numbers but intimated that prices were going to be in the stratosphere. In this economy, that'll be a tough sell. If I'm not mistaken the Mets payroll looks as if it will be in the same neighborhood as the Phillies. That alone makes me think that the Hated Letsgos are already feeling the pinch.

A 20% bump on the season tickets base? Definitely explains why the Phils have been more willing to spend some cash this year.

And I almost forgot the small matter of price increases too. Still nice to see those increases show up in payroll.

Yes, take a look at the limited season ticket plans. Tickets are starting out in the 200 and 300 levels. I bought a 6 game pack fairly early on and have tickets in the 300 level for a Red Sox game (expected), but also for a Mets game (perhaps expected) and also a Tuesday night Cubs (!!!) game.

Klaus: Um, my comment about MLB laying people off was not a reply to your comments about the future of the newspaper industry. It was a comment about MLB laying people off and then hiring more a few weeks later.

But on all matters media, I agree that I am far, far less than an expert. I bow to your superior intelligence.

Someone posted last week that Rubes spending spree regarding arb eligible players seemed like a bonus for a job well done. That makes sense to me. Maybe the jump in season tickets is the fans bonus to the FO for a job well done too. At least that's one way you could look at it. Either way the FO did buy a lot of good will. I'm sure it will last until the first 3 game losing streak. :)

MPN: How did you get 300 level? I bought a 6 pack the 2nd day they went on sale- May vs. Mets, vs. Red Sox, two September games vs. Mets, vs. Cubs and Brad Lidge bobblehead night and the best they had were 400 level.

"I bow to your superior intelligence."

How gracious! I accept the gesture.

****phargo: NEPP saw Utley change water into wine.****

This is true...he often does that when he walks across the Delaware on game days. I freely admit that I think Utley is one of the best players in baseball and the best 2B in the game right now.

NEPP: Is that 130 Shiraz he's making... not to be confused with 548 Zinf... he can also turn soft pretzels into Schmitters....

Len: Luck, I guess. I think the Muts ticket packs (you can buy ticket packs entirely for 6 of the 9 Phils-Mets games) may be suppressing availability. Of course, damn New Yorkers and central and north Jersey folk probably jumped on board those ticket packs, too....

Utley is definitely a nice bold Zinfandel...a true red, not one of those blush winecooler "zinfandels".

I would get six packs every year to secure Opening Day tickets, and I always was able to get seats in the 140's, but since they made opening night into a lottery, i skipped. That sucks you cant even get better than 300 level this far in advance.

If Phils win arbitration with Howard we have an additional 4mil that they may have put aside.

Re: Ty Wigginton

Scouting reports say that he's an average fielder in the Burrell mold - makes plays on balls he get to; but unfortunately has poor range. Which means, he's an average 3B/1B, below avg. 2B (can't turn the double - but perhaps he can get more reps in and improve that), poor corner outfielder (mostly LF; he has played 6 games in RF). His immobility was worsened last year by nagging groin injury.

As a hitter, he'd be a good addition; especially as a RH PH in late game situations against fastball throwing relievers. The book on him is that he is hyper aggressive and can't hit off-speed stuff - sounds like Werth (up until the full count pitch, when Werth is patient to a fault).

Culturally, he's known as a lunch-pail guy who plays aggressively on the bases a la Vic and Utley; perfect for philly, although the Phillies have become more "professional" lunch-pail guys in recent years - the loss of Burrell detracts from that a bit.

Is he worth $4.5M? That's an awful a lot to pay for a PH, insurance and occasional sub. Even with above average injury risks at 3B and 2B, there's only an outside chance he'll get to 400 PAs (429 PAs with Stros last year). Even if that turns out to be the case however, I don't think he's he's worth $4.5-5M guaranteed. Maybe $3M with large playing time incentives a la Smoltz/Baldelli. I think that's a good draw for Wiggington - if he can't beat out Feliz, he'll at least be getting paid a good amount of money for a chance to win the World Series, which ups his value the following year. If he's as lunch pail off the field as he is on the field, perhaps he'll take less guaranteed money and sign on for glory?

I don't think the Phillies will look at winning the Howard case as having an extra 4mm to play with. They probably didnt even consider that Howard would submit a figure that high. If the Phillies lose this one, they will be 3-4mm OVER budget more than likely.

bob: Nice report on Wiggy. On the money.

Now that I have my pic with THE trophy, my thoughts turn to WFC rings.
1. Do the players still get their rings at the home opener?
2.If so, is the design a secret till then, or has it been shown already?
3. Has/will someone make a cheap knockoff that crazed fans like me can buy?
I don't wear any jewelry but I would wear this proudly, even if it turned my finger green!

I think I saw somewhere that the ring ceremony is on Wed. the 8th.

Thanks Matt, it is on the 8th now that I thought to look at my schedule.

Also, it would be great if they gave Burrell his on the 3rd or 4th, but that won't happen.

Wigginton has hit 20+ HR 3 straight seasons and last year he ranked 5th in all of baseball in OBP vs. LHP. He would be a GREAT fit for this team despite his lack of defense. I would love to get Wiggy.

**OPS not OBP**

Rich Lederer published a list of the top pitchers in baseball in terms of K/100 pitches. 2nd to last in the majors : Kyle Kendrick. Also low on the list was Adam Eaton. Hamels and Myers are both in the top 30. The study is here :

This is a good sign for a Myers rebound in '09. This is also a good sign for a Happ / Park / Carrasco 5th starter as opposed to either Kendrick or Eaton.

Conlin has an interesting article where he handicaps the odds for our 5th starter..

He has Park with the early inside track. He also states that Park still "sits at 94" on his fastball. He was only that hard out of the pen last year and before that was usually in the 91/92 range. Perhaps he will sit at 94 and be a very good 5th starter. I have a scary feeling that we'll gonna need some pitching depth this year. If Park can go nuts, that would be great.

Dav X: Good stuff. Of course, it is not without flaws, unless you think Jorge de la Rosa is a future Cy Young winner and Fausto Carmona is a bum.

It's been baffling that posters here since his name first came up have doubted that Park would be the 5th starter. He's repeatedly said that the Phils brought him in as a starter, that he signed here because of that, and Amaro has confirmed this. Unless he blows up in ST, he's the 5th starter.

clout you were absolutely right when you asked Klaus: "And the Internet gets its information from?"

The answer is newspapers. You can go to numerous sites and see the same AP article over and over. When people say that newspapers are dying, it is the actual "paper" versions that are thrown on your lawn in the wee hours. Aside from the occassional time when Jason gets a taped interview, all the information discussed in BL ultimately comes from newspaper reporters articles or eyewitness game decsriptions.

So if Happ and Park have similar success in ST you think that Park will win the job? I know that Park was brought here to compete, but I would hope that in-house guys that are under our control for longer would have the inside track rather than Park who is here on a 1 year deal and had his most recent success as a reliever.

I hope that one pitcher just takes the lead in Spring training and Cholly goes with that person out of the gate regarless.

I hope that person is Happ

new thread

I think it would be unwise to rush a player like Chase Utley back because his health is a high priority for this team. If he comes back prematurely he risks aggrivating the injury and it could sideline him even longer then anticipated. I think the smart thing to do would be to be patient and let him get back to 100% so he can be the productive player he has always been.

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