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Friday, March 13, 2009


I posted this as the thread was changing. I feel it bears repeating because I totally disagree with the headline comments on Feliz.

Greetings from beautiful Clearwater. Returning home tomorrow with memories of yet another great week in the sun.

On the mound today, Blanton and Mosebach did what they had to do. Madson and Nestor picthed at a higher level and had especially nice outings. Neal got shelled.

Ruiz appeared strong defensively and had a long double. Coste also appeared strong, throwing out a runner at third and flying out deep to left.

Howard continues to be playing in a very rare zone and whacked another 2 run homer today. Donald went 2 for 5 and tripled off a hit that missed the bullpen by 2 inches. He made a lot of nice stops deep in the hole at SS today but was unable to get enough on his throws to make the outs. Feliz made an impressive comeback defensivley, bringing down a line shot over his head and turning a would-be double into an out. His throws were all on the money and his back did not appear to be an issue. He hit the ball hard.

Of the reservists, Cairo had another nice hit, Giles and Ozuna were hitless and Bruntlett continued to tread water. The spring performance of the reservists thus far can be ranked in that order.

In the outfield, Mayberry and Werth had nice games with hits. Stairs lined out hard and tried to make a diving catch in right. Ibanez, who DHed, was 1 for 5 with an RBI but he continues to hit the ball hard.

The Phils are so deep this year that I would not be surprised to see a number of current non-core players being traded in the near future. I think the Phils would really like to have Mayberry and Donald on their major league roster and may try to bundle players in a trade or trades that would allow them to justify keeping both rookies on their roster. Mayberry and/or Donald may or may not be on the team's opening day roster, but there is little question that their performance this spring has earned them a place in the Phils' future plans.

Stay well.

"Heading into his last 7 starts, KK was 10-5, 4.37."

The problem with arguments like this is that you can just arbitrarily pick whatever cut-off point you want in order to get the optimum results for the argument you're trying to make. If KK's ERA had been in the neighborhood of 4.37 for most of the year, then I might buy into the notion that he was having a good year until his last 7 starts. But for most of the year, his ERA was pretty close to 5.00, and sometimes above it. That 4.37 ERA was his high watermark for the year, achieved after his only really effective stretch of the entire season: an 8-start, 49-inning stretch in which his ERA was 3.28. Throw out those 8 starts and Kendrick's ERA in his remaining 22 starts was 6.52.

Even if you throw out BOTH his 8-game good stretch, and his 8-game nightmare at the end of the year, that still leaves him with a 5.06 ERA in his remaining 78.1 IP. A starting pitcher with an ERA over 5.00 is not doing his job.

Without his last seven starts, Eaton was 12-13 for his Phillies career. That's almost a dead .500 average, which would be the practical definition of a 3rd starter (with 1-2 being above average and 4-5 being below average). Since the Phillies were better than average during this time, perhaps we should consider .500 to be the benchmark for a 4th starter on a good team. Therefore, during his time here, ignoring his last seven starts, Adam Eaton was a fine 4th starter for the Phillies.

Do they have a radar gun there and if so how did Madson and Mosebach look?

Dave X, I disagree with your premise of a #3 starter being .500. On a winning team that is not acceptable.

Dave X: In assessing a pitcher, W/L is almost as weak as your judgment. What was Eaton's ERA?

Obviously Eaton was not good... it's making fun of the people who ignore Kendrick's last 7 starts and then point to his W-L to show that he was a good pitcher.

I agree about Feliz doc. I listened to most of the game today. the Franske and LA were raving about his defense. not sure what the correspondents were watching

Just for fun, let's see what the typical 5th starter in the NL is like. Here's last season.

PHI: Kendrick, 11-9, 5.49
NY: Martinez, 5-6, 5.61 (6 other SPs also filled the role each with 3-4 starts)
FLA: Hendrickson, 7-8, 5.45
ATL: Morton, 6-8, 6.15
WAS: Balester, 3-7, 5.51

CHI: Hardin, 5-1, 1.77
MIL: Sabathia, 11-2, 1.65
HOU: Chacon, 2-3, 5.04
STL: Pineiro, 7-7, 5.15
CIN: Fogg, 2-7, 7.58
PIT: Dumatrait, 3-4, 5.26

LA: Kershaw, 5-5, 4.26
ARZ: Owings, 6-9, 5.93
COL: Reynolds, 2-8, 8.13
SF: Correia, 3-8, 6.05
SD: Baek, 6-9, 4.62

sorry, I meant Franske and Sarge

The chart above is slightly misleading in that Sabathia and Hardin wete 5th in IP but obviously not true 5th starters. they came over in mid-season trades, bumping the 5th starters out of pre-exisiting rotations.

The guys who got traded/bumped were Gallagher, 3-4, 4.45 and McClung, 6-6, 4.02.

It's really too bad that a player as talented as Jason Donald faces a worst case scenario of being sent to the minors and a best case scenario of sitting on the Phillies' bench watching the uninspiring Pedro Feliz continue to hit into DPs, or otherwise find ways to kill a rally. It isn't that Donald needs to beat out Evan Longoria, Aramis Ramirez or David Wright. By any rational analysis, the player who has the best chance of helping the team should be in the lineup. Conventional wisdom says this ain't gonna happen. But why should it be so? Just because Feliz has a bigger contract is immaterial. His contract won't change whether he plays or not. No doubt he has a great glove, but what the Phils need even more is offensive consistency in order to avoid those dry spells that plagued them throughout last season. Given Donald's great OBP and Rollins problems in this regard, an argument can be made to bat Donald leadoff. I recognize that it is only spring training, but what more do we need to see of Donald to conclude that he is the real deal? Given his recent success in the minors, he does not appear to be a fluke.

Donald needs more work with his glove...and thus will go to Allentown to work on being a 3B...His bat is likely ready but his glove needs work...remember he has NEVER played 3B before now and a little bit in the AFL. Its a little much to ask him to step into a starting role at a new position on a defending World Fvcking Champion.

AWH - You're right. I failed to read very well. Sorry. While that difference 5.1 k/9 vs. 3.8 seems, pretty small, it is important in that no successful major league pitcher possesses a rate less than 4. The difference in SLG is pretty substantial, as well. But I'll set these aside in favor of a different conclusion. Pelfrey may not be as good going forward as the Mets expect. Of course, he has not had a year as bad as the Kendrick's first 14 games of 2008; so maybe he is better.

CJ - I recognize the importance of results. But when you're looking at the kind of results which predict versus those which describe, W-L is not a great measure. As for ERA, well, it's okay, but FIP is better.

clout - Just cause other teams had sucky options doesn't mean we have to have them. More critically, my question is why all the Kendrick defense? Happ is clearly better in both performance and peripherals. If Kendrick had not yet pitched in the majors you would not be calling for his promotion; what's wrong with demoting him? That's the part I don't get.

5th starter on most teams is completely overrated. More often that not it is usually filled by 3 or 4 guys during the course of a season due to injuries/ineffectiveness. You just want a guy who isn't horrendous or gets shelled early/has trouble making it beyond the 5th inning most nights. Phils likely will be no different either. Means we will see starts by Happ, Park, and KK before the season is out.

If Utley/Feliz are healthy enough to start the last week in camp every day, I don't see how Donald makes the roster out of spring training even if he keeps smoking the ball. Basically leaves one spot for a middle infield and you have to figure that Bruntlett wins it because:

1. He has a guaranteed contract at a decent dollar value
2. He is the only credible defensive SS among the Ozuna/Cairo/Giles/Donald mix

If the Phils do send Donald down to Allentown to start the season, it will be interesting to see which of the Ozuna/Cairo/Giles mix they hold on to and if these guys accept a starting gig at AAA.

NEPP: Do you know for a fact that his defense at third base needs more work, or are you just citing the general assumption that, if he has only played a handful of games there, he must need more work?

There really isn't much nuance to playing 3rd base. He has been playing SS at least since college, and 3rd base is considerably easier. Besides, he has played 2d, SS, and 3rd this spring and hasn't been charged with an error yet -- which doesn't necessarily mean he hasn't made mistakes, but it does suggest there have been no glaring ones.

Donald won't cause opposing hitters to shudder in fear the way they do when they see Pedro Feliz playing 3rd base. But there isn't much not to like about Donald's bat.

NEPP: Donald won't play 3B as well as Feliz, but Feliz won't help the offense nearly as well as Donald. Take your pick. I vote for Donald.

Feliz didn't play poorly, it was just the way he was moving between plays that made it clear he was far from mid-season form. I would be surprised if he is starting tomorrow, I think they are going to take it slow with him this spring.

One funny note from this game, at one point Stairs was mis-announced as "Center-fielder Matt Stairs", which led to some fun discussions of how bad the guys in the other two OF spots would have to be to force Stairs in to CF. It would have to be something along the lines of Chris Coste in Right Field and Charlie Manuel in Left.

bap: You seem confused. I'm arguing that Kendrick's first 43 starts are more indicative of KK's career thus far than his last 7. That's me picking FORTY-THREE starts and others picking 7 starts. Of course pitchers have ups and downs.

I'm not cherry-picking. I think 43 starts is a fairly good sample size. So what happened after those 43 starts. Well, there is certainly evidence to suggest that something happened to his mechanics and he lost his release point affecting his control.

Andy: Who is arguing against KK going to the minors? Find the argument, anywhere. Clout and I are arguing aginst those knee-jerkers who have decided KK is destined for the glue factory and will never again have any kind of major league success as a starting pitcher.

BAP: NEPP: Do you know for a fact that his defense at third base needs more work, or are you just citing the general assumption that, if he has only played a handful of games there, he must need more work?

Not at all...I'm banking on the fact that UC won't play him enough to get the reps he needs and he needs everyday reps for at least a couple months to get down the nuances of the position...his instincts aren't there yet as he's shown so far in ST. He hasnt' been horrible but he still needs a little bit of polish. I could see him up in the 2nd half with no issues personally.

I'd rather him learn the position in Lehigh than in CBP where the fanbase will butcher him after his first error.

FWIW, I vote for Donald too, just not yet. He'll be a regular before we know it.

Also, Donald's bat is not quite as good as he's looked so far in ST. He's got a very servicable bat and he will likely produce at the MLB level but I highly doubt he'll bat anywhere that much above .300 once the pitchers start throwing more breaking stuff. Still he's got good peripherals and has shown a knack for coming up in big spots (the Olympics) and has the work ethic. He's far closer to Charlie Hustle than Manny on that scale.

NEPP- Agreed. If Donald only hits .260-.270 at 3B with spotty power and defense, he shouldn't be starting if Feliz/Dobbs are healthy.

Well, CJ, I guess I don't get it. If his first 43 starts were so good, and these first 43 starts are more predictive of his future than his overall numbers, then why should he go to the minors?

In fact, it wasn't his first 43 starts that were good. It was his first 20, plus about 8 games in the middle of 2008. Since the Phillies have a long history of flash-in-the-pan rookie pitchers, I'm not sure why you and clout so readily discount the possibility that his 2007 season could have been a fluke. I especially don't understand it when all of his peripheral numbers -- WHIP, BAA, FIP, LD % -- overwhelmingly suggest that that is precisely what it was.

Again, I'm not "declaring" that he can't ever be any good (what would be the point of such a declaration?). I'm merely observing that he isn't a viable major league starter now and, unless there is some fundamental improvement in his command or a change in his assortment of pitches, I rather seriously doubt that he will ever be a viable major league starter in the future. As Andy astutely points out, if KK had posted these same peripherals at AAA last year, clout would be declaring him a non-prospect & posing rhetorical questions to anyone who argued to the contrary.

Feliz is ready to go. He has looked very fluid in the field. Saw him play Weds. at DiMaggio in the intrasquad game and today. On the other hand everytime a ball is hit to Donald I hold by breath. I have seen him play 2B,3B and SS for the last 2 weeks in ST. And it has not been pretty! Part of the problem is he may be pressing defensively still learning two new positions and the other part may be we have been spoiled by just how good Rollins,Utley and Feliz are in the field.

BAP: "Well, CJ, I guess I don't get it. If his first 43 starts were so good, and these first 43 starts are more predictive of his future than his overall numbers, then why should he go to the minors?"

I can't believe I have to repeat myself so much... but here I go again:

"I'm not cherry-picking. I think 43 starts is a fairly good sample size. So what happened after those 43 starts. Well, there is certainly evidence to suggest that something happened to his mechanics and he lost his release point affecting his control."

I guess I'll never understand why so many people here want to complete discount KK's success and are ready to delcare him done, finished, washed up. Makes absolutely no sense at all... but that hasn't stopped people here before.

Why the debate on KK? At this point, he is slated for Allentown and frankly I really am not interested in him until he has 7 starts under his belt again at Allentown to see how he is doing.

bap: Oh... and one major distinction. He didn't post these peripherals at AAA. He posted actual real numbers in two seasons of pitching at the ML level.

I can't believe that people can't recognize the difference.

Moratorium on KK until he actually pitches again in another spring training game. Talking about a guy who won't even make the Opening Day roster this much is massive overkill.

MG, what else are we gonna talk about?

Just for something else to talk about. What are the chances that the 2B of the future is Donald and the 3B of the future is Utley?

CJ: Just to clarify . . . I am sort of agnostic about KK's future prospects. He is still only 24 and has pretty good control -- which is more than can be said of a lot of 24 year olds. He certainly has time to improve his command, develop another pitch to strike batters out, or hone his ability to induce ground balls (which right now is only modestly above average). If he does any of these things, he can still be a serviceable starting pitcher and possibly better. Where I differ with you and clout, however, is that, I do NOT think KK has the ability to be a serviceable big league pitcher with his current repertoire. I know he had some early success, but that means little to me. The Phillies have had a ton of flash-in-the-pan rookie pitchers who were never again able to repeat their rookie success.

If KK pitches well at Allentown this year, he'll get some spot starts and he'll probably be given an opportunity to make the 2010 rotation. If he doesn't pitch well, I could see the Phillies moving him to the bullpen, which would probably enable him to add velocity to his fastball & some bite to his sinker. If he could do both those things, he could have a pretty decent career as sort of a poor man's Ryan Madson.

"If the Phils do send Donald down to Allentown to start the season, it will be interesting to see which of the Ozuna/Cairo/Giles mix they hold on to and if these guys accept a starting gig at AAA"

Yes, that will be interesting, to see how that works out.

I do think, Donald gets sent down, if Feliz is ready. He has shown, a lot of good things so far, but he needs to play every-day and maybe, start playing 3B, every-day as well. That will happen, at LV.

Of the 3 you mentioned, I think one will make the big club to start the season. I noticed Giles playing at least one game, in the OF this spring. Never remember him playing any OF, with the Bravos. If he showed he could handle that, does he get Bruntlett's super-utility spot? Giles, obviously, if anywhere close to old form, has a much better bat, then Bruntlett. And, he has shown he can steal a bag too, this spring. I just see Giles, as a "Cholly-type" of player, that just might win his way onto the roster to start the year. May not still be there in June. But, Cholly loves reclemation projects. Its what he has done well at, as a coach/manager. Giles, fits that bill, doesn't he?

Now, can you keep both Bruntlett and Giles? I don't know. They seem way too similar to me, to keep em' both. Does Bruntlett have a guaranteed deal? If he does, that probably helps his cause.

Cairo, likely would be picked up somewhere else, if released. His post-season experience and big-game experience, will get him a major league job with someone. It just doesn't appear it will be here. So, he wouldn't likely accept a AAA role at LV.

Ozuna, might though. He is more of a "4A" type of player anyway. Always, on the fringe of sticking in the majors. Maybe, he goes to AAA at LV, thinking he could be in line, to play, if Utley has another injury (and Giles shows, he has nothing in the tank; once the real season starts). Of course, in that case, Donald might be called into action, leaving Ozuna with nothing. So, maybe he leaves too, if not on the major league roster.

More Hardball wants to know who has the hottest fans in baseball. We've be running a set of posts over the past month or so featuring images of each teams' hotties, with a voting poll to crown a champion. Each division in each league has been decided so now it's time for the playoffs. In both the American and National League we have Los Angeles versus fight! Also featured is a good old fashioned ho-down between Beantown and Oakland. Lets not forget about the City of Brother Love against "Houston we have a problem"...let the games begin!


Expect more NY fans to be in a tizzy, if they read the Saturday NYPost...

Mets and Yankees on Jimmy's Hit List

BAP: You keep saying this "The Phillies have had a ton of flash-in-the-pan rookie pitchers who were never again able to repeat their rookie success" as if it has any relevance to KK.

It doesn't.

And then to support it you mention Combs, Rivera, Ruffin and Tejeda, whose careers not only bear no resemblance to KK but have no resemblance to each other, either.

"MG, what else are we gonna talk about?

Posted by: AWH"


Cannot wait for clout day.

Also interesting that everyone ignores how KK's horrible performance compared to the rest of the league's 5th starters last year. If KK didn't deserve to be in the majors last year, then I guess a lot of other guys didn't either, huh?

Anyone who pays even a little attention knows that 5th starters tend to put up shabby numbers for the most part.

denny b: Bruntlett has a guaranteed contract and will be kept no matter how bad he is in ST.

Sophist, they tried Utley at 3B in the minors, when Polanco was still here.

He apparently couldn't make the switch.

Had that worked out Polanco might still be the 2B here.

Would'a been a pretty damn good infield.

Why would you move the best 2B in the game off his position?

The whole 5th starter bit is a pretty weak argument. Either a pitcher belongs in your rotation or he doesn't - not to mention I'm not sure how Kendrick gets the "5th starter" label over Eaton. Eaton had less IP, a worse ERA, and even was the 5th pitcher to start a game in the season - one day after Kendrick started the 4th.

NEPP: You wouldn't move him.

It was tried before Utley got called up. Apparently it didn't work.

Case closed.

Yeah, I know that. It just seems that every few months someone comes up with the "brilliant" idea to move Utley 2B. Lets trade Howard and move Utley to 1B, lets trade Feliz and move Utley to 3B and bring up Donald...etc etc. You DO NOT move the best player in the game at a certain position off that position.

re: Feliz/Donald

I dont see how posters can criticize others who say that "Donald needs works at 3B" is a general assumption, but then go on to say how much better Donald's bat is than Feliz's. Talk about a general assumption, the kid blew up in the AFL and has had a good couple weeks in ST, along with some respectable minor league stats - yet no ABs vs MLB pitching.

I wouldlike to see Donald make camp and have a great year, but to appoint he kid as an upgrade at the plate already is more of an assumption than disregarding his glove.

Dave X: Eaton began the season as 5th starter but was replaced by Blanton in early July. I don't think anyone would claim Kendrick is a 4th starter although if it makes your argument look better, go for it.

thephaitful: If you think Donald is a stretch, just how much do you think it would take to be an upgrade at the plate over Feliz vs. RHP?

clout: A couple days ago, I wrote a whole list of the Phillies flash-in-the-pan rookie pitchers over the last 30 years. It is not just the 4 guys you mention. There have been about 10 of them. Some of them faded away due to injury, but most faded away due to sheer ineffectiveness. Why is that relevant to KK? Because you and CJ keep pointing to his strong start as irrefutable proof that he has a future in the majors.

BTW, I understand that the threshold for being a No. 5 starter isn't very high. But most of those ineffective 5th starter types are young pitchers who are in the rotation because their team believes they have lots of upside. There aren't too many low-ceiling pitchers around who post 5+ ERAs year after year, but still manage to find steady employment as a major league starting pitcher. KK does not have a high ceiling and, for that reason, there is little incentive for teams to stick him into their starting rotation if it means having to endure a 5+ ERA or worse.

I think we've about beaten this subject into the ground, so maybe it's time for a new topic. I see Pedro Feliz started his first ST game yesterday. Does anyone have any thoughts on whether his defensive excellence outweighs his meager bat?

NEPP: Alex Rodriguez was the best SS in the game and he was moved to third. Of course Jason Donald is not Derek Jeter, but I think that if it's the case that 2nd baseman tend to wear down more quickly than average, then the idea of moving Utley *at some point in the future* makes sense.

As it happens, Utley may well be the best defensive 2nd baseman in the NL, and I think defense is absolutely crucial to the success of the ballclub. But in three or four years, if Howard is traded or signed away, a move to first might be in order.

bap, I'm not one to defend clout, but you either, one) obviously have reading comprehension problems, or, two) haven't been reading what clout has written.

I'll summarize:

'Kendrick is having his problems, but the available evidence indicates he is not a lost cause IF he can sort out mechanical problems, regain his command and master another pitch.'

I wouldn't characterize that as saying he "HAS[e.m.] a future in the majors".

Yo, new thread!

"Donald needs more work with his glove...and thus will go to Allentown to work on being a 3B...His bat is likely ready but his glove needs work...remember he has NEVER played 3B before now and a little bit in the AFL. Its a little much to ask him to step into a starting role at a new position on a defending World Fvcking Champion"

... calls to mind a similar bit of grooming for our current second baseman. Seems to have worked out okay.

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