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Monday, February 16, 2009

Comments

From the last thread:

From the last thread: "Cody Overbeck may be the better third base prospect behind Donald anyways, he has more power and seems to hit with a similar average. "

Overbeck is a 3B in name only...he's a butcher in the field (no range, trouble with balls he gets too, etc)

Marson was a HS 2B before he broke his collarbone playing football (where he was a QB).

I get the feeling that we're gonna really need our supposed pitching "depth".

Kinda like a couple years ago when we supposedly had 6 legit starters going into the season with guys like Lieber and Garcia.

If memory serves, the addition of Garcia prompted the Phils to aggressively market a trade for Lieber.

That is correct...ironically both players got injured too quickly to make that happen.

I'm not sure our "depth" is as real as it sounds.

Happ and Carrasco are the only ones I have real hope for and I'm not Happ's biggest proponent. Majewski can be a good asset if he's recovered from his injury. Kendrick can be a good asset if he gets his head right/maybe a 3rd pitch. Koplove-seriously? It sounds like Chan Ho is really working hard to prove himself, but his recent track record is alarming.

I know it was never going to happen, but i kinda wish they had Garcia as the fringe guy. Don't like saying this, but he could prove to be a good signing for the Mets. Hope not, of course.

NEPP- In regards to the Mattair/Overbeck debate, if we are debating between a third baseman with plus power or plus defense, I am prone to take the player with the power. I think defense is something that can be taught and developed much easier than power.

I'm very interested how the Phillies starting pitching depth chart shakes out. Let's presume Happ wins the 5th starting spot, Park goes to the pen, and Kendrick and Carrasco are in AAA. If we need a spot start it would make sense for Park to take it. But what if a starter goes on the DL? Do they give Park a starting spot and bring up a reliever from AAA? Do they call up Kendrick, keeping the pen intact? Or if Carrasco is tearing it up, do they promote him over Kendrick and Park.

My bet is that while the rotation is actually a tiny bit better this season a slightly more consistent Myers and Blanton instead of Eaton, I bet the bullpen takes a couple of steps back.

Some of it is just reversion to the norm. Lidge won't go a whole year again without blowing a save. In fact, it is likely be blow at least 3 or 4 this year.

Madson also isn't going to be throwing 95+ MPH either during the entire season either. Likely is solid again but he threw nearly 95 innings last year between regular season/postseason. Wouldn't surprise me at all if Madson doesn't end up on the DL at some point this season or go through a dead arm period particularly if Cholly works him really hard through a stretch.

The interesting part of the bullpen is going to be the middle relief of Condrey/Durbin/Seanez vs. Condrey/Durbin/Park. This is me is the weak spot in the Phils' bullpen.

Condrey and Durbin just seem like 2 guys who were rather lucky last year if you look at their peripherals. Wouldn't surprise me if both guys don't have an ERA well north of 4 this year.

That said, Park is going to play a huge role for this team this year. He might be the 5th starter out of camp (I still bet he is). If not, they are counting on him to give them at least 65-70 innings out of the pen this year in the middle innings.

Guess the question is who do the Phils use in a high leverage situation in the 6th or 7th inning this year? Eyre is obviously the guy for a lefty-lefty matchup but I just don't have a bunch of confidence in Park/Durbin being solid this year in these situations.

Phils are also going to miss Romero too in a big way for the first 2 months. Not only did he give them a fair share of innings since Cholly used him at times as a setup guy but Cholly likely won't be able to mix-and-match in the 8th inning since it is likely that Eyre will have be used earlier in the game.

Lord knows this bullpen is better going into the season than say 2007 when the only "sure things" were Geary, Madson, and Gordon and that turned out to be a clusterf@ck real kick as Gordon broke down and Geary was largely ineffective. At least the Phils do have some depth this year and options particularly when Romero returns.

5th starter spot and Coste/Paulino are the only real interesting roster battles in all of camp. Can't remember the last time a Phils team actually this many settled positions going into spring training.

I'm not too high on Mattair or Overbeck at 3B. Personally I think Overbeck ends up in a corner OF spot.

Despite the bear market on baseball salaries, I still think the Phillies will find a taker for Stairs at $1M per year, If not, I could see them releasing him outright. It would be outright insanity to have 3 left-handed hitters on the bench, none of whom can hit right-handed pitching at all -- especially when the Phillies already have an all left-handed middle of the lineup.

From Last thread:

Lake Fred: "Hey Baxter, since I have never "heard" the pronunciations of either version of "Ibanez", since I am living here in the hinterlands, can you give the phonetics of both? Thanks."

I'm not Baxter, but the baseball player is "eee-bahn-yez" and the guitar company is pronounced "eye-buh-nez."

My baseball knowledge is not up to par with some other BLers, so the least I can do is try to phonetically write out names. Unless I'm wrong.

All of these guys will get there chances this year. The biggest risk is Hamels going to the DL. His usage last year alone puts him in the high risk category this year.

Of course, if he spends any amount of time on the DL it won't matter who the 5th, 6th or 7th pitchers are.

The notion that the Phillies have great starting pitching depth is a myth. Kyle Kendrick stinks. Chan Ho Park stinks. Neither player should be the 5th starter on a good team. Kendrick was a flash in the pan. What we saw in August and September last year, is the real Kendrick. 2007 was a mirage.
The Phillies have to hope JA Happ is the real thing. The Phillies won't bring Carrasco north for fear of starting the service time clock on a 21 year old too early.

I tend to believe that Manuel has Happ pencilled in to start the season in the bullpen to add another lefty there, instead of in the rotation.

Speaking of "outright insanity," that's a perfect description for this idea that Chan Ho Park could be the 5th starter. The last time Park had a league average ERA+ as a starter was 8 years ago. In his last 6 seasons as a starter -- 6! -- his ERA+ were: 83, 66, 93, 77, 84, 27.

So the guy has been a horrendous starting pitcher for 6 straight years, yet the Phillies actually think that, at age 36, he has suddenly added 3 MPH of velocity on his fastball & become a good pitcher? Park added 3 MPH on his fastball for the same reason that Brett Myers added 3 or 4 MPH of velocity in 2007: because he was pitching out of the bullpen & throwing 1/5 the number of pitches he would throw as a starter. It doesn't take rocket science to figure this out.

Fortunately, chances are pretty good that the Park-as-a-starter experiment will fail miserably in ST, thereby putting the idea to rest forever. But who knows? ST is a small sample size & numbers can be skewed by the fact that many of the opposing hitters are minor leaguers. I shudder at the possibility that Park could actually win the job in ST and be in our opening day rotation.

BAP - I agree that the Park as a starter experiment will largely be a disaster too. Still, I bet that he posts respectable enough numbers that he gets the nod coming out of the camp. The only way he doesn't is if he stinks up the joint. I honestly don't think Happ has much of a real shot unless Park's performance is below average or worse.

As for Kendrick, no way he opens camp with the team. Not unless another starter goes down with an injury. Frankly, he would be better off at T-AAA working on his changeup to start the season because it is almost inevitable he will get a least 1 or 2 spot starts in the rotation this year.

is it possible that kendrick is considered the leader for the 5th spot in the rotation, because they are thinking of happ as another lefty out of the pen?

I'm not in the camp that believes KK is completely hopeless, but I agree with MG that both he and the Phillies would be best served if he starts the year at AAA. Basically, if anyone other than Happ wins the 5th starter's job, the Phillies are in big trouble.

I think that Happ and Kendrick have very little trade value.

Sure, there are many other teams with holes in their rotations. But most of those teams have a list of in-house candidates with potential roughly equal to that of Happ and Kendrick.

KK needs a 3rd pitch to succeed as a starter

~glances around for clout~

Didn't we just do this?

I also find it odd that Dubee would characterize KK as the front-runner for the 5th starter's job. Dubee was the very same person who, late last year, said that the league has caught on to KK & that he won't succeed unless he comes up with another pitch.

I know a lot of people on here want to pretend that Kyle Kendrick's success in the majors thus far has been nothing but an accident, but I'd caution you against hitching your wagon to mike77phillies.

Through his first 23 starts last year, Kendrick was 10-5 with a 4.37 ERA. Over his next 6 starts, he was 1-4 with an 11.35 ERA.

If you want to believe that that 6 game stretch is more indicative of the kind of pitcher Kendrick can be than his first 43 starts, then you're crazy.

Kendrick has been strictly working on offspeed pitch since August 2008, I dont see how much more time he really needs in the minors to develop it.

I agree with others who do not want to see chopark in the #5 spot. Had a great year out of the pen last year and bad years as a starter the handful of years prior.

I think the best thing for the Phils as a team in 2009 is that KK mixes in his offspeed stuff well and becomes a basic bend-dont-break starter - a nice 6IP 3ER average which comes to a 4.50 ERA - that will keep the Phils close in all of his starts.

If Kendrick had a change-up he would have already developed it before last year.
It doesnt matter anyway, because the guy is afraid to throw strikes with any of his pitches to LH hitters. Fear is his problem, more than types pitches.

Why don't we look at KKs K/9 ratios before we get out that anointing oil.

2007: 3.67
2008: 3.93

Usually, anything under 4.5 is unsustainable for a legit MLB career. Under 4.0 is near impossible.

So yeah.

His K/BB ratio isn't that great either:

2007: 1.96
2008: 1.19

Those ratios don't exactly make him look like a legit option.

I love the fact that so many are ready to give up on a 24-year old pitcher who's already won 21 games in his major league career.

Yep, lost cause.

I don't know if I think KK is a lost cause, but it sure did appear that the rest of the league caught up to him last year. Maybe it was just in his "head", but if his head isn't right and his stuff isn't perfect, he's AAAA.

NEPP: What about Kendrick's sparkling .704 OPS against vs. righties? As long as he can bring down that OPS against vs. lefties, he'll be a more than adequate 5th starter.

When some Phillies pitchers of the past would come into the game I'd get a queasy feeling in my stomach (think Geoff Geary, Joe Table, Alfonseca etc.). When Kyle Kendrick enters a game I wanna grab a bat.

NEPP: I think the logic is that his K rate will improve with a offspeed option, as well as improving his control that he lost last year.

Walks are more hurtful to him as others, as he's not good enough to give up free bases. His best ABs are when he can get ahead of the count and not allow hitters the benefit of sitting back on his sinker.

I've been a big KK supporter since he came up, so I'm probably more stubborn and holding onto his upside than I should be, but I still think he's got some more Ws in his future.

Bed Beard: You mean caught up with him in August of last year? After 43 career starts the rest of the league finally figured him out?

That just doesn't make sense. Kendrick developed a problem, that's clear. In a stretch of 6 starts, he had four TERRIBLE outings vs. the Dodgers, Padres, Nationals and Marlins... and two okay starts vs. the Dodgers and Mets.

Are those 4 TERRIBLE outings evidence the entire league has caught up with him?

I'm not saying he didn't have bad starts otherwise, but all pitchers do. But prior to that stretch, Kendrick was still a more than capable fifth starter.

CJ: I'm with you on staying positive on Kendrick, but I think it is fair for others to say that Kendrick's margin for error diminished once hitters were able to sit back on his sinker.

CJ: I'm not endorsing the view that KK is a lost cause. Problem is, without a third pitch, he has absolutely zero margin for error. He needs to have nearly perfect command just to be a No. 5 starter. With a third pitch, he might be able to succeed without his best command.

One thing I can guarantee you: I'm sure not hitching my wagon to Mikes77. For instance, the following statement by mikes77 is one of the more ridiculous statements ever posted on BL: "If Kendrick had a change-up he would have already developed it before last year." So it's never been heard of for a 24-year old pitcher to develop a new pitch? Jamie Moyer developed a new pitch at age 45 last year, but KK, at age 24, is incapable of doing so?

Mike - Pitchers (even a bunch of veterans) typically modify or add an extra pitch to their arsenal during their careers. Most starters coming up today are primarily fastball/slider pitchers and to a lesser degree fastball/changeup pitchers.

Still, they generally need to have at least average 3 pitches to have long-term staying power as a starter. Lots of reasons why you hear this but generally pretty widely accepted.

Maybe "fear" or a lack of confidence is part of the issue but Kendrick was generally missing badly August acorss the board with nearly every pitch including his fastball.

As for his development on the changeup - he really hasn't had much of an opportunity to throw it against live competition. Big difference between using that a bit more T-AAA games and tossing it in stimulated work this winter or last Sept.

No one on the Phils really knows how the changeup looks against live competition including Dubee. If it is apparent that Kendrick can't throw it for a strike with consistency (particularly against left-handed bats) then he likely is going to be a pretty marginal starter at best.

I do agree with Bonehead though that both Happ and Kendrick don't have a ton of trade value right now either. Phils would be better off just keeping both players right now to give them some options in the starting rotation.

Kyle Kendrick's wins don't make him a good pitcher. NEPP has been getting it right for almost 2 years. His K ratio and K/bb ratio says it all. Stop with the Kendrick won 10 games nonsense. Eaton won 10 games in 2007. Does'nt mean anything other than Kendrick gets run support.
With Romero out the 1st 50 games, the last thing you want is Kendrick out there throwing 5 inning starts(when he is lucky). He is a one man bull-pen killer.
A lot of people root for Kyle cause he seems like a nice young man. And thats great. I would like for him to succeed too. But we should be realistic about his ability.

I think it's absolutely fair to say that Kendrick's margin of error is small. And, in fact, starting the season in AAA certaintly won't mean his future is over.

Kendrick was called up much earlier than planned because of significant injuries to our pitching staff in 2007. He never really had the time to develop the changeup.

Kyle Kendrick had a TOTAL of 12 starts above A ball before reaching the majors... all 12 at Reading. Brett Myers had 42 starts at AA and AAA. Happ has already had 61. Carraco has already had 40.

CJ, my point isnt that KK cannot succeed as a MLB pitcher, just that he probably won't given his current secondary numbers. If he improves his secondary pitches and control, then yes he can be a passable 4/5 starter. If he stays like he is (and he's not really a "young" prospect at this point) then he won't be a starter on a legit playoff team...as he proved last year.

Name a succesful MLB starter that had a K/9 ratio that low.

BTW, you can't because there aren't any.

Also, KK's detractors invariably argue that the reason he lost his command late last season was because his pitches got hit so hard that he became afraid to come over the plate. But this is like the old argument that women have higher pain-tolerance than men, since men could never deal with the pain of giving birth: it's a catchy theory which is totally incapable of being proven.

Seems to me that, for the first year and a half of his career, KK was getting pretty good results by coming over the plate with his pitches. So why would he suddenly become afraid to throw strikes, when he was getting perfectly good results by doing just that? This theory really doesn't make any sense, but KK's detractors keep throwing it out there because it sounds plausible.

I agree with your latest comment CJ...my above comment was in response to ones made by you earlier in the thread.

NEPP: Are you saying that for his first 43 starts that he wasn't a passable 4/5 starter? Or are you saying that in the 6 starts after that, he proved he could no longer be a passable 4/5 starter?

Are peripherals more indicative of a pitchers ability to be a passable 4/5 starter than ERA?

These are all serious questions and not meant to be snarky. I'm honestly interested in your thoughts on this.

Not at all, CJ. I'm saying that the past 100 years of baseball statistics pretty much conclusively show that you need a k/9 ratio of at least 4.5 in you first couple seasons to survive long term as a MLB starter. This doesnt mean that guys can't have a couple seasons of moderate success below that margin (many have) but for any length of time, that low of a K rate does not portend for a long career. Bill James did a really good study on this that had loads of statistics to back it up.

CJ:It sure looked like it.

Hey, I hope he gets his mojo back.

I also think many people around the league might also be thinking "Kendrick has 21 career wins?!?"

mikes: Some of your comments are beyond ridiculous. KK won 10 games in his rookie yeaer because he had a 3.87 ERA. And he won 10 games through August 6 last year because his ERA as of that date stood at 4.37. And that strikeout:walk ratio didn't look so bad at that time, because it wasn't til August that he started walking 5 batters a game.

Depth. Rhythm. Focus. Peaking late.

Depth to hedge against injuries and ineffectiveness. The phillies thought they had depth two years ago. The key though is having the depth provided by young minor leaguers who have been ready for the show for at least a year or two, a la Happ. not sure having former major leaguers being disgruntled and feeling entitled as your backup plan is good for either your team or for their own performance when they are called upon.

Rhythm. Like "hitting season" in the early part of last year, like the most stable the rotation has been in years, like the late part of the year when the bottom of the lineup did a decent job of turning the lineup over, like what the bullpen had for all of last year. The Phillies need to be in rhythm, especially after the AS break.

Focus. All year, the players were focused on taking the next step and getting past the DS. With the exception of Eaton, it's rare to see and read about a sports team with such dedicated and team-oriented professional focus on winning games.

Staying steady and not peaking too early as a team. I think this was the big change from 2007, when the Phillies seemed spent going into October; having battered the league senseless in July and August. This past year, you always had the sense that after the glimpse of the utterly dominant lineup in the early part of the season, the phillies knew they were always a threat of breaking out and simply running roughshod over everybody; and the pitchers pitched every inning with confidence knowing that even if they gave up leading runs, their team would pick them up more often than not. And while they never quite dominated offensively like they did in July 2007, their timely and 'judicious' use of their artillery the second half of last season and on their way to becoming WFC was exactly what they lacked in 2007.

Guys hit .280 against him his rookie year and .304 last year...you can't allow that type of avg against and have long term success.

Oh and on the ERA thing, Brandon Duckworth posted an impressive 3.52 ERA in 2001 in 69 IP...and then reality struck.

Thanks for the Ibanez pronunciations, Ftl John and R. Billingsly.

I think Dubee tipped his hand in his answer. Dubee wants another left handed option on in the 'pen, i.e.Happ. Dubee could care less about KK, he's a righty. If KK doesn't win the 5th starter slot, he'll be an iron piggy. Happ will be black balled in this 5th starter slot competition because he throws lefthanded. That's the way I see it.

On MLB Success and K/9 Ratio: Many baseball experts claim that strikeout rate is not that important. They argue that a strikeout is just another out, and no different than a groundout or fly out. Noted baseball analyst Bill James has found much evidence that strikeout rate is important, however. The ability to "trick" or overpower hitters make up a good part of a pitcher's ability to be successful over a long period of time. James has noted that a pitcher with a K/9 rating of below 4.50 is very unlikely to have a long, successful career. He notes that several pitchers have had success slightly above this mark (such as Tom Glavine, Tommy John, and Jimmy Key), but that below that threshold, it is very rare."

James has a great article on this in his "Historical Baseball Abstract" if you're in Borders and feel like reading it. Its located on page 289 in the Baseball in the 1970s section of the bookl

In KK's first 43 starts, Kyle Kendrick was 20-9 with a 4.13 ERA. He had about a .285 BAA, a 3.9 K/9 and a 1.64 K/BB ratio.

His K/9 actually improved from his rookie season, but he walked more in his 2nd year to keep his K/BB low.

Through his first 23 starts in 2008, his K/9 ratio was actually 4.15.

I'm not saying those next 6 starts didn't happen, because they did, and they were disasterous. But I have a hard time believing Kendrick is more likely the pitcher from those 6 games than he was the pitcher from the first 43.

I'm saying that regardless of those 6 starts, I wouldn't project a long career for KK...unless he improves those secondary numbers. Pitchers don't tend to massively increase the K totals during their career though.

KK has a very very slim margin of error for success in the Majors.

"Guys hit .280 against him his rookie year and .304 last year...you can't allow that type of avg against and have long term success."

NEPP, while not doubting your assumptions, I think Kendrick is a funny case. He is, no doubt, walking a fine line, but his career is short and his numbers look worse because of how poorly he played in his last few appearances last year.

2007, 121 IP

K/BB: 1.96
K/9: 3.64
WHIP: 1.272
OPS: .774
v RHB: .241/.277/.354

2008 to Aug 6, 127.2 IP

K/BB: 1.44
K/9: 4.17
WHIP: 1.493
OPS: .803
v RHB (all year): .271/.335/.423

2008 last 8 games

K/BB: .563
K/9: 2.89
WHIP: 2.178
OPS: 1.070

NEPP: I'm wondering what happened to KK in those last 6 starts. Did he lose focus? Did he tire?

If he could improve his K/9 from 3.64 in his rookie season (age 22!!) to 4.17 through his first 23 starts in his 2nd season (age 23), are we to assume he can't continue to improve that K/9 ratio?

This is still a YOUNG pitcher. I understand that his peripherals aren't great... or at least don't suggest a long career at this point... but I reject suggestions that he shouldn't be considered for our 5th spot this season. (I'm not saying you've made that suggestion.)

TNA - Interesting post. Rhythm has played a big part in the Phils making the playoffs the past 2 years because without their dominant performance the last 2-3 weeks of the season, they would have been sitting at home. I don't think this year will be any different.

It has really been though about the pitching coming together though in Sept though. In 2007, it was a bullpen that featured Myers, Gordon, Romero, and a renewed Geary (a guy I really liked while in Philly yet got plenty of crap while here) that largely lead them to the postseason with some dominant Sept. numbers. In 2008, it was a starting rotation that featured a renewed Myers and a steady Blanton along with a bullpen that was rock-solid again after some shaky August outings.

Question is - do the Phils manage to get the pitching they need again in Sept to make the playoffs the last 2-3 weeks of the season? The answer to this question is what determined if the Phils made the playoffs the last two seasons and I bet is the No. 1 question in determining whether or not they make the playoffs again.

If you want to see a large part of Kendrick's limited success, I'd think you'd look at to his splits as opposed to these all around K/BB, etc. numbers. Kendrick's K/BB against RHB in 07 was 5.17. His numbers against LHP weren't that much different between 07 and 08. He walked a few more of them.

Most decisive opinion's on here right now are clearly Kendrick and Feliz. No other two guys generate nearly the amount of opinions (pro and con).

Anyone look at JC Romero's stats in Bill James new abstract? I glanced through it in the bookstore over the weekend.

Romero was HUGE to the Phils success last year. Much more important than I thought. He was in the most back-to-back appearances (by a long shot) and had really good numbers in those high leverage situations.

He's be a rather big loss for those 50 games!

Not surprising...I do remember Romero pitching 2 days in a row and even 4 out of 5 days quite a few times last year. I'm not too surprised to find out it wasn't just a feeling on my memory.

In 5 starts last year, Park went 1-0 with a 2.16 ERA and 30 Ks in 25 IP.

Yeah JC was a workhorse last year. Now that he is missing the first 50 games, i wouldn't be at all surprised to see that workhorse factor come right back into play, with Romero being (over)agressively used the entire remainder of the year.

And he'll probably love every pitch of it.

thephaitful: Yeah, the silver lining? Fresher for the last 112 games, I suppose.

If Park is the No. 5 pitcher coming out of camp and remains in the rotation all year, he likely would be "Comeback Player of the Year." Chances of this happening are about as great as JRoll's ridiculous prediction of 112 wins this year.

Under/Over 59IP for Romero in 2009. Whatchya got?

JC threw 59IP in all of 2008 in 81 games. I wonder if having Eyre will cutdown his 1-2 batter only appearences.

Meant 50IP, not 59.

The main reason for KK's rookie year success was that, despite a high OBA and an extremely low strikeout ratio, he had a spectacular walk per 9 inning ratio of just 1.86. In the first 4 months of last year, KK's walk/9 inning ratio was not spectacular, but was still a very solid 2.65.

The bottom line is that, if he throws strikes, KK can be a decent pitcher and, when his command is really on, even an above average one. Nonetheless, I share NEPP's concern about KK's incredibly low strikeout ratio. There are a handful of starting pitchers who have had productive careers with similar ratios, but it is a very small number & most of them have extreme ground ball tendencies that KK doesn't have.

KK's lack of an out pitch, & lack of extreme ground ball tendencies, means that he's always pitching out of trouble, and has zero margin for error when it comes to throwing strikes. While I don't doubt that he can have an ok career as sort of a lesser version of Paul Byrd, I think he's always going to be susceptible to sustained implosions like the one he had last August. For that reason, I regard him as a pretty decent guy to have on-hand as your sixth starter in case someone goes down. But I wouldn't feel very confident beginning season with him in my starting rotation.

Baxter: I admit to being surprised that his numbers were that good in his 5 starts. But that's a small sample size & he only lasted 6 innings in 2 of those 5 starts. I would certainly give more credence to his 6-year track record between 2001 & 2007 than to 5 games over a 2-month period last year.

BAP said, "But I wouldn't feel very confident beginning season with him in my starting rotation."

Then what's all the argument about?

NEPP believes that Paul Byrd's career did not actually happen. A pitcher whose K/9 rates are around 4 ( and even below) year after year cannot possibly have a career in the big leagues.

I don't think Kendrick is a lost cause but I don't think he is the frontrunner to be the 5th starter despite Dubee's comments. I think Happ will win the job, Park will pitch from the pen and be a spot starter if needed, and Kendrick and Carrasco will start in AAA.

arf, some debates never die on beerleaguer.

BAP said it best: "The bottom line is that, if he throws strikes, KK can be a decent pitcher and, when his command is really on, even an above average one."

There's no mystery here, folks. KK is a righty finesse pitcher and like all finesse pitchers he lives or dies by his command. A finesse pitcher without excellent command is worthless.

His sinker, when thrown to the right spots, is really tough on righties, hence his huge split. No argument that he needs a 3rd pitch to use against lefties. Hopefully, the changeup will continue to improve.

Clout, for every Paul Byrd out there, there's 1000 other guys that didn't make it as a MLB pitcher.

And honestly, Paul Byrd is a perfect example of what I'm talking about. Byrd didn't start off his career with that low of a K rate...here's his first few full seasons:

1998 - 6.16
1999 - 4.78
2000 - 5.75
2001 - 4.53
2002 - 5.09
2003 - Did not play
2004 - 6.22

So again, Paul Byrd is absolutely no comparison to KK's numbers. He is well above that 4.5 line for much of his career...as his 4.94 K/9 career numbers will show.

So you were saying?

NEPP: Byrd's K/9 has been below 4.5 in 5 of the last 6 seasons.

You were saying?

Not only do I recall Romero pitching lots of back to back games, I recall him being more effective when he was used that way. As for the myth that Kendrick got afraid of the strike zone last year, count me as a believer. I don't think his problem was a mere loss of control - he was nibbling.

Yes, and what I've been saying from the start is that when you START OFF your career that low, you dont have long success...why is this hard to understand?

Byrd has seen his rates decay to that level over the course of 10 years...and Byrd is posting numbers in those 5 seasons that are above KKs.

KK was UNDER 4.0 K/9 in both of his seasons, Byrd has never posted a number that low. 4.10 last year was his lowest ever.

Bryd was also buying human growth hormones and syringes under a "doctor's care" for 4 years.

Re: "doctor's care" - at least he didn't have Brian McNamee stick it in his ass in the broom closet. (that sounds bad,huh?)

NEPP: OK, let's look at that. First, you need to toss out your silly measures of seasoin when he pitched 50 innings. That's not comparable to KK (who pitched 121 and 155 IP in his first 2 seasons).

In Byrd's first two 100+ IP seasons, his K/9 was 4.78 and 4.53. That isn't remotely "well above" 4.5 K/9.

I think Myers is going to have a huge year. He's lost a lot of weight and will be pitching for a new contract.

Interestingly... Carlos Silva had four seasons (from 2004-2007) in which he failed to post a K/9 rate above 4. In 2005, he posted a 3.44 ERA and a 3.39 K/9. His walk rate was PHENOMENAL that year, however (0.43 BB/9). Of course, Silva has suddenly decided to suck, so maybe he's not a great person for Kendrick to emulate. Besides, for Kendrick to match Silva's modest success in those seasons (and 2006 was NOT a success for Silva), Kendrick will need to keep his walks down. I think we all agree with that.

CJ: There are a fair number of pitchers who have been successful with low K rates. I'm NOT saying it's common. It isn't. But I disagree with NEPP and others who say it means KK can't possibly be successful or have a decent career.

Fascinating blog post on 20 risky pitchers for 2009.

Here's a snippet on two familiar names:

3. Gavin Floyd


2008 Curve/Slider % - 39%
2008 Total Pitches: 3,235
Difference From 2007: +2,082 (est. +383 if minor league pitches included)
2008 First Year With 2,700+ Pitches - YES

Floyd was a top prospect that had trouble shaking injuries early in his career (54 IP in 2004-2005) to pitch two injury-free seasons in a row. While his 2,000+ MLB pitch spike can be downplayed because of 106 IP in the minors in 2007, throwing 39% breaking balls (split close to even between sliders and curve balls) is extremely high for a young pitcher. Here is the list of starting pitchers with 3 or less seasons of 2,700+ pitches to throw over 35% pitches in a season from 2005-2007: Casey Fossum (47% - 2005), Tony Armas Jr (36% - 2006), Ramon Ortiz (35% - 2006), Ian Snell (37% - 2007), Boof Bonser (39% - 2007), and Adam Wainwright (35% - 2007). All six of these players fell back hard the next year - either missing significant time or pitching less effective.

The moral of the story is that a pitcher who throws breaking balls at this high of a rate is running up a debt on their arm that will be paid in the next year (and, possibly, beyond). I will call it a Faustonian Bargain after the Oriole pitcher (and longtime Cub broadcaster) Steve Stone who blew his arm out throwing 50% curve balls during his 1980 Cy Young year.

Throw in the fact that Floyd had a super-low BABIP (.268) and the safe bet is that he is more likely to be useless in an AL-only league than be useful in a mixed league.

4. Brett Myers


2008 Curve/Slider % - 42%
2008 Total Pitches: 3,739 (est. 442 in minors)
Difference From 2007: +2,078 (est. +2,520 if minor league pitches included)
2008 First Year With 2,700+ Pitches - NO

The demands of a World Series run the year after a season with 48 of 51 appearances coming in relief does not bode well for Brett Myers in 2009. He started featuring his slider more in 2006 when his breaking pitch % jumped from 25% to 37% - so perhaps the move to closer in 2007 was a fortuitous one. But then he goes and throws more breaking pitches in 2008 (est. 1,500-1,600) than total pitches in 2007 (1,193). Since this effort helped the Phillies win the World Series, they shouldn’t boo him too loudly when he gets slapped onto the DL for an extended period in 2009. And in case you have a short memory on the dangers of pitchers who are coming off a relief season + full starter season, take a look at the stats of Wainwright, Carmona, and Gaudin in 2008.

Byrd probably had a better career, with a higher peak, than KK will ever achieve. At his best, he struck out a few more batters, yielded way fewer hits, and had way better control than KK. During Byrd's peak years -- between 2002 & 2005 (he missed all of 2003) -- he had ERAs under 4.00 each year and had a remarkable walk/9-inning ratio of 1.40. KK would have to improve dramatically to ever have a 3-year period that is anywhere near that successful. That's why I called him a "lesser version of Paul Byrd."

Here's another fascinating bit of info talking about K/100 pitches. This site argues that stat has a much higher correlation to runs allowed than K/IP. In case you're wondering, Kyle Kendrick was the 2nd worst in the majors last year in K/100, ranking just ahead of Livan Hernandez. Hamels was 19th and Myers was 27th. Joe Blanton and Adam Eaton were also in the bottom 30.

CJ: I agree with your "don't give up on the guy" point, but at the same time share the serious reservations other posters have. That said, his low K rate doesn't worry me too much, bc his BB rate was low as well. I think the story is that, when he was successful, he would handle righties well but get wrecked by lefties. However, when men got on base, suddenly he would handle EVERYONE, both lefties and righties, equally well. So I think the questions for Kendrick is whether the ability to "bear down" is really a sustainable skill? Or did he simply have a 40 start streak of good fortune in that regard?

This isn't an argument for anything, but I just ran a B-R.com search for ERA+ ranks for pitchers with K/9 under 4.5. Cy Young is third (137, 4.25). Mordecai Brown is second (138, 3.90). None of the pitchers in the top 50 pitched after WWII.

Here's the top players since 1970.

http://www.baseball-reference.com/pi/shareit/N8Rx

Some current names: Chien-Ming Wang, Aaron Cook, Aaron Laffey, Kendrick, Horacio Ramirez, Jeff Karstens.

MG - I think it's hard to isolate one driver of the Phillies' September success over the past couple of season...for one, it could be a relatively exogenous factor like the Mets' internal combustion. That said, it's obvious down the stretch that pitchers like Lohse, Hamels, Myers, Blanton, and Moyer have simply elevated their games in terms of stats. But I think some/a lot of that comes from elevated defense, the confidence that comes with the likelihood that Howard was going to hit a homer every third at-bat, and the never-surrender let-it-all-hang mentality of the bullpen (both years).

Regarding injury concerns to pitchers, I am quietly hoping that Hamels and Myers get some forced rest by alternatively suffering minor muscular leg injuries that are not debilitating, but enough to keep them off the mound for about a month/about 6 starts.

Having said that, I have a feeling Myers is going to start off dominant, and then pop something after a couple months, while Hamels takes all precaution in avoiding injury, but in doing so takes some time getting up to his usual steady excellence by early July.

Sophist: Ha... I just came across Aaron Cook looking at fangraphs. Cook was 16-9 with a 3.96 ERA last season despite having a K/9 of just 4.09. Of course, he walked just 2 batter per 9 innings, which helped. He was also a much better ground ball pitcher than Kendrick.

Wow!

Johan Santana had just 7.91 K/9 last season, down from 9.66 the year before. Since becoming a full-time starter in 2004, Santana's lowest K/9 was 9.25.

A reason to be concerned about Johan?

(Disclaimer: Johan's K/9 last year was still better than Cole Hamels' K/9 of 7.76. Cole's rate has dropped every year since his 9.86 in 2006.)

Kendrick gets better with RISP when pitchers almost universally do worse. When this started to revert last year, he changed into an extremely mediocre pitcher. The major-league wide pitching split sees OPS increase 35 points when moving from bases empty to RISP, Kendrick has seen a 162 point drop for his career.

Some may attribute this to him letting left handed batters on but bearing down when righties come to bat, but this is false. He has actually spent more time facing lefties with RISP than righties. It's just that his BABIP with RISP drops to .255 - below his average for only righties. He was getting rather lucky when men were on, which led to this myth of some epic bulldog mentality that let him win all these games.

Dave X: I get all that. But he was simply lucky for his first 43 starts and the luck went away for the next 6? Did his BABIP with RISP revert to "normal" for the last 6 starts?

And is BABIP simply a function of luck? Are there things a pitcher can do to affect that number? I'm asking seriously because I'm not that up on BABIP. Thanks.

****(Disclaimer: Johan's K/9 last year was still better than Cole Hamels' K/9 of 7.76. Cole's rate has dropped every year since his 9.86 in 2006.)****

The difference for Cole is that he's become a more efficient pitcher as a result...despite that drop in his K/9, he's decreased his #pitches/innings and increased his IP/GS. So Cole has gone for some easier outs rather than striking the guy out.

On Santana...yeah its a bit concerning but he's still the best pitcher in the NL (unfortunately for us).

On KK and K/9: You can count on both hands the number of pitchers that have been successful with a K/9 rate that low...under 4 is almost non-existent...as Sophist and others have shown.

He had 43 starts where he was a decent 4/5 pitcher(kendrick) and 6 starts where he was horrible. Until further proof, I am banking on the 43 starts of results.

I understand all the stats against his success but fact is he was successful. Until he proves otherwise for more than 6 starts I say he is the pitcher we saw for 43 starts.

Maybe Dubee knows something we don't, like maybe his changeup is finally useful? I woudln't know, Dubee could be just trying to give him some confidence indirectly.

I'm gonna bank on the 100 years of statistics that say he's probably not gonna be around long.

Personally, I'd love it if he proves me wrong.

I will say I think Happ is going to have to really outpich everyone else to not end up in the bullpen for 50 games as the 2nd lefty.

NEPP: Lies, damned lies, and statistics!

I'm not sure that anyone is suggesting that Kyle Kendrick will become a great pitcher with his current peripherals. But I think it's naive to believe he won't be able to improve those peripherals... he's 24 years old, after all. And, in fact, he showed improvement in that K/9 from his first 21 starts to next 23.

I hope he has a great start and the Phillies are smart enough to trade him for a good prospect.

NEPP: You mean he'll disappear after just a couple years like Byrd did, oh, wait...

KK is 24, Byrd was 28 when he had his first full season in the bigs (when he had a K/9 of 4.78). I'd say the odds were more stacked against Byrd having a career.

P.S. That first full year was with the Phillies, who claimed him on waivers from the Braves. After winning 15 games that year (1999), he was bad in 2000 and they took NEPP's advice and traded him: for Jose Santiago.

Santiago was OK for a half year for the Phils. Byrd went on to win 17 games for the Royals and later put up 15, 12, 10 and 11 win seasons as a 4th and 5th starter. His career ERA is 4.38.

Analogy:

davthom:Chris Coste::clout:?

a)Pedro Feliz
b)J.A. Happ
c)Kyle Kendrick
d)none of the above

BABIP is not completely luck-based, but it's more the fact that Kendrick - with unremarkable stuff - has managed to do what few if any other pitchers have done before him, which is to pitch significantly better with men on than with men off. Now, there may certainly some explanations for it, but the SABR reading of it would probably come off as a lot, although not all, luck.

Random Fact - Kendrick's OBP against is lower than his BA against with the bases loaded.

Here's a shot in the dark for an explanation: Luck.

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