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Thursday, March 26, 2009


From the last thread:

Some really good comments. The playbook on how to handle Howard is out:

- Extreme switch in the INF (even move the LF and CF a bit left)
- Don't IBB. Go after him late in games especially if you have a lefty with decent control on the mound/in the bullpen

Doesn't mean that Howard still isn't a dangerous threat because of his power but he is clearly easier to deal with than 2 years ago.

In fact, Utley was IBB last year 14 times (up from just 1 IBB in '07) while Howard dropped to just 17 IBB. This basically tells you that a bunch of opposing teams walked Utley to go after Howard.

The thing I am most interested in this year is how Howard does late in games. His numbers here last year were horrendous.

In 7-9 innings last year, he had a split of .263/.316/.580 in 177 ABs. He hit a miserly .141.

In his 209 PA in innings from 7-9:

- 37% of the time he K
- 17% of the time he BB or IBB
- 4% of the time he hit a HR

So Howard struck out, walked, or hit a HR in just about 60% of his PA appearances late in games. This is really high and it is pretty fair to say that Howard didn't vary that much from one of these 3.

I look for more IBB to Utley and less to Howard especially if Ibanez is hitting behind him. I do hope Howard improves late because your cleanup hitter shouldn't be a liability offensively late in games.

2-0 Yanks. This is the first time I've actually been able to WATCH Carassco, but he looks like he has good stuff. He is a little wild, so he definitely needs some polish time in AAA.

Utley, yardski

Howard, yardksi

One of the interesting analysis I haven't seen done is how hitters fair now late in games vs. say 30-35 years ago. Basically today hitters late in games are much more likely to see somebody out of the bullpen in the late innings (7-9).

Starters used to go deeper into games (even into the early/mid 1990s it wasn't uncommon for a pitcher to have at least a CG a year) and the bullpen weren't yet hyperspecialized although managers still did try to matchup late when possible even years ago.

I would be willing to bet that there has been a large dropoff in OPS late innings today from hitters as a whole vs say 30-35 years ago but it would still be an interesting exercise to see if the hyperspecialization of the bullpen really has paid dividends or not.

Every time there are multiple pitching changes in a single inning to get a better matchup, I have this overwhelming urge to bludgeon Tony LaRussa to death with a baseball bat.

MG, I've thought about that myself.

One thing to keep in mind, though, is that the mound got lowered.

I'm not sure that any data from the era of the high mound should be used.

Seems though that data from the '70s would be just fine.

Carrasco touching 93 on the gun.

I missed Utley and Howard go back to back? Reminds me of when i went to Chickie and Petes for WS Game 3 and they gdamn cable went out and the entire bar missed chase and ryno's homeruns.

AWH - Yeah. So you use data from '69 (first year mound was lowered) onward. It would probably be difficult to partition the offensive numbers into periods but you should just look at the data points on a year-by-year basis to see if you could group years together or just establish some arbitrary cutoff points.

Howard's was to left. Good patient AB.

Carson, Howard has a homer and an error. He just needs the K to record his first "Howard" of the spring.

Well, Carson's almost got himself his first "Howard". Just need a SO, which I'm sure we'll see before game's end.

Carson, you need to get on Retrosheet or baseball-reference game logs and get some hard stats about a "Howard".

I am very curous who is the all-time leader and how many more does Hoawrd himself need to get to take over the lead, haha.

Not sure if this was mentioned, but you can watch the game today for free on

It is a free preview of their online tv service.

Vic just strained his right hamstring.

Happy birthday, Harry Kalas.

Andy: B-R's pitch data isn't updated for 2008 yet...the 4.19 P/PA number is for 2007.

although I did find on Fangraphs that Howard was more aggressive at the plate last year. his out-of-strike-zone swing percentage was up in 2008 (26.7% vs 25.8% & 25.6% in 2007 & 2006), as was his overall swing pct (48.7% vs 45.4% & 46.3%).

what's kind of odd though is that while he didn't make contact as much as he did in 2006, he made more contact than he did in 2007. not sure what that means, but draw your own conclusions.

ae - On pitch summary data: oops.

Carrasco's change up and curveball are really tight, they look great. His change up is almost on the level of Hamels. His only problem looks to be location.

And there you have it, Howard's first Howard

Thanks for the tip, Jonesman.

Vic's straining/pulling a hamstring or calf isn't surprising one bit. Given that he always seem to have these problems, I wonder if he takes measures to adequately stretch including maybe doing yoga.

the boxscore says Vic is still in the game. so this is not a serious hamstring pull?

he didn't strain anything. someone is trying to yank your chain

Tool >>> TNA

Clarification on hamstring strain.

I saw him clutch his hamstring after stealing/running on a two-out 3-1 pitch, which Utley flied out on.

Perhaps it wasn't a significant strain, but it looks like it was bothering him a little while on the field. He isn't a "smooth" runner in general, but he definitely looked herky-jerky while tracking down fly balls in the few innings afterwards. Glad to see him out on the field and what not, but I'd rather he didn't push himself too much before the regular season if he's not 100%.

And Doohickey, love the immortality you're giving to a guy (gal) who, as far as I've counted, has posted only twice on BLer.

if he strained his hamstring, he'd be out of the game. plain and simple. it's spring training for god's sakes.

Albert: "His only problem looks to be location."

That's like saying the jet that crashed in Buffalo's "only problem was location."

Eyre with the bomb to Swisher, who's a switch-hitter.

Yep, he's strictly a LOOGY. I miss Romero already.

If nothing else, this Spring Training has immortalized the extremely scientific b00b rating scale, which I hope to see used copiously throughout the season. What pure genius!

congrats on the morbid reference clout, but c'mon you know thats not true.

You make it seem that Carrasco is worthless because he can not locate. The better your stuff, the bigger margin for error you have with your pitches. Of course you want to have location, but if you can snap off that slider a few inches high, it still can be effective if it still has the movement/deception needed.

Yuck, Eyre not looking good today. 1/3 IP, 5H, 5R, 5ER, 2HR.


For the regular season, we're going to upgrade to =, =<, and < which will make the rating scale even more precise! i love sabermetrics!

Preacher, I've always been confused as to whether I should type "boob" or "b00b".

clout and phaithf, maybe CC was working on that new grip on his curveball?

hh, better for Eyre to get the bad outing out of his system before the season starts.

I thought Kendrick's problem was location?

AWH: So long as today was the exception and not the rule.

Apparently, there's been some scuttlebutt in the Mets lockerroom over Oliver Perez', shall we say, lack of focus in his particular skill set. An "unnamed Mets player" has said he doesn't take anything all that seriously.

Time's yours.

that's not just scuttlebutt. their pitching coach Warthen basically said the same thing along with he's out of shape and behind this spring

I was shocked to hear the Mets pitching coach rip their #2 starter already. What's that say about John Maine who's pitching even worse this spring!?


I don't know if you watched the game today, but Carrasco's "stuff" is really good. If he can locate his pitches better he will dominate. Where as you have a guy like Kendrick, who if he can locate his pitches will get outs, never DOMINATE. I'm just saying the kid looks promising...

If I threw my 64 mph fastball up there low and away it would still get hammered. Catch my drift?

JW: big ups on the playlist on the side. mastodon, thin lizzy and pinback!

the new mastodon album is amazing.

thepahithful: I agree that good stuff gives you a greater margin of error on location. But it's worth noting that Carrasco isn't in the major leagues yet because of his location, not his stuff. And that the minors are loaded with pitchers with great stuff but less than big league location. I think Carrasco will eventually be fine, but location is, whether you admit or not, his problem. And he's got a ways to go.

Eyre got clobbered? How is that possible?

Harry Kalas and I share a birthday. I am ashamed I didn't know that until today.

Albert: Moyer doesn't have that problem with his 64 mph fastball. Why do you suppose that is?

Catch my drift?

CY: You don't celebrate Harry Kalas Day each year? I question your fanhood.

i dont think its Carrasco's fault that he still has some ways to go. I believe he is progressing pretty well for his age and has developed a nice breaking ball to pair with his original fastball/change arsenal. I'm pretty high on him and think that his control will come with more experience.

Albert: I don't believe you can throw a baseball 64MPH.
I want stats to prove it!!!!

Not to nitpick but Moyer's FB is in the 80-83 range usually.

Moyer >>>>>>> Albert


Moyer moves in and out with pin point location and movement. He also can changes speed well. He knows how to "pitch".

I've been known to touch 65, but with very little movement. My curve is a work in progress. I'll be in the majors by 2020.

I used to be able to throw in the low 80s with no I'd be lucky to break 60.

Rick Ankiel had some great stuff........

John Maine allowed 6 hits and 3 walks in 5 innings today, but only 1 of the 3 runs allowed was earned.

They say he's working on a new stride and grip, blah, blah, blah. No reason to be worried, nothing to see here.

I love the Mets rotation right now!

CJ - I think John Maine is the quintessential Spring Training stats don't matter guy.

He's fresh off of shoulder surgery, so comparing him to Ollie is misleading.

And, I wouldn't say Ollie's the #2 starter either.

thephaithful: "I dont think its Carrasco's fault that he still has some ways to go. I believe he is progressing pretty well for his age and has developed a nice breaking ball to pair with his original fastball/change arsenal. I'm pretty high on him and think that his control will come with more experience."

I agree with this 100%

And the reason KK's sinker wasn't working last Spring was because his arm wasn't tired enough yet, blah blah blah.

Pitching coaches sometimes say things to keep their guys from getting hammered by the media...these things may not necessarily be true.

At CBP I was clocked at 62mph, but then the rest of the day I had to drink left handed because I couldn't lift my arm anymore.

drew: Um... who would be the #2 starter in NY. If you say Pelfrey, you're crazy.

And I'd think a guy coming off shoulder surgery would absolutely need some good spring outings to prove he was healthy. Besides, Maine's last 9 starts before surgery were pretty bad with only one getting out of the 6th inning.

CJ: why is Pelfrey as the #2 crazy? He's certainly more consistent than Ollie.

And, I don't think Maine needs to prove he's healthy to anyone except himself; and also, if a guy needs surgery, doesn't it stand to reason that his outings prior to it will be less than stellar?

I'm concerned about Maine, don't get me wrong, but today was pretty solid for him.

drew: There's $36M reasons why Ollie is the #2 starter in NY. If Johan Santana isn't ready to go Opening Day, who do you think would get the ball? Not Mike Pelfrey.

And, you're right, for John Maine, 6 hits and 3 walks in 5 innings is pretty solid. That just doesn't say much. He managed to drop his spring ERA to 8.00!

Sophist - I saw that Feliz took another 0fer today. Did look terrible at the plate?

As for Ibanez he now has gone 62 ABs without a HR this spring. Not that I am that concerned but I do wonder about Ibanez's power this year. Would he be a disappointment if he hit .280/.285 but only had 15-16 HRs with 70-80 RBIs?

One of the more interesting numbers this season will "200" Phils have hit more than 200 HRs every years since moving into CBP in 2004:


2004 - 215/.443/840
2005 - 167/.423/807
2006 - 216/.447/865
2007 - 213/.458/892
2008 - 214/.438/799

Only season the Phils didn't hit 200 HRs was in 2005 when they had a big dropoff in power numbers from 1B due to Thome's injury.

I am willing to bet that the Phils narrowly miss 200 HRs this year unless JRoll ticks back up to the 20+ HRs range because Ibanez replaced Burrell and it is unlikely to expect more power from anybody in the lineup this year.

Hopefully the AVG and OBP will uptick a bit to compensate because otherwise they likely will will score around 800 runs which will make it tough for this team to win the NL East again unless they get pretty good pitching again.

In re: 64 mph.

When I throw my fastball the worms duck. When I throw my curve the people behind me duck.
In 2020, if I'm not ready for the majors, I'll, at least, be ready for a nursing home.

Reverend: You shouldn't be drinking in public,haha.
MG: I expect an increase in HR from Utley. He led the league by a wide margin before his injury last year. Of course, if he gets off to a hot start,they will just walk him to get to Howard as posted many times today.

re: Ibanez

Quote from Ibanez, last year:
READY RIGHT NOW: Left fielder Raul Ibanez said he was physically ready for the season to start a week or so ago.

He said he wasn't mentally ready until the past day or so.

Now that he's there, he said it wouldn't be a problem to hold that mental edge. It's one of the advantages of having kicked around the majors for a decade.

"Everyone you see wants to build up to March 31 (Opening Day)," Ibanez said Tuesday. "But when March 31 comes, then what's next?

"What needs to happen is you build up for the whole season. It's six months long, and if your preparation is just for March 31, you'll be gassed when you realize you've got to play in April, May and June, too."

That said, here are his ST stats from 2007-2009:
BA:.375/SLG:.750/OBA:.446 AB: 56 TB:42 HR:5 BB:6 K:9

BA:.314/SLG:.500/OBA:.355 AB:70 TB:35 HR:2 BB:5 K:10

BA:.250/SLG:.383/OBA:.308 AB:60 TB:23
HR:0 BB:5 K:11

Again, this is spring training and Ibanez needs time to get in rhythm with a new club. However, he had a relatively bad start to the year in 2007, but a strong start to 2008. Hopefully, there's no correlation between how he swings the bat in ST and how he does over the course of the year.
That said, given his age, I am also slightly concerned about a decline in power regardless of his shifting from Safeco to CBP. I guess we'll wait and see how he fits in the 5/6 slot.

Pelfrey's been named the #2 starter. Mets say they want to alternate L/R in the first four slots. And Pelfrey's so bad against the Marlins they wanted him #2 to avoid Florida in their first go around at the start of the season.

EFF: There's a big difference between starting after Santana and being the #2 starter. Rotations vary throughout the year. The "explanation" alone tells you who the Mets really think is the #2 starter in this rotation.

The Mets are like many teams, 1 clear #1 (who is pretty darn good at NY prices) and a bunch of other guys. They certainly sound down on Maine and Perez so Pelfrey's not only starting as #2 it sounds like he's their actual #2.

TNA - Interesting stuff on Ibanez including the background quote.

Goody - Yeah I have seen that too reasonin too but the reality is that asking Utley to hit more than 33 HRs this year. He hit 32 in '06 in 658 ABs and 33 last year in 607 ABs. Don't think it would be a stretch for him to hit around 30 HRs if he stays healthy all year but don't see him hitting the 35-40 HRs that some are espousing on here.

I wouldn't be surprised if Utley hits 45+ HRs this year.

If everybody stays healthy, the Phillies are primed for a monster, record-breaking, offensive year.

Unfortunately, I have serious doubts that their pitching is going to hold up unless they get another front-line starter sometime during the year due to injuries/ineffectiveness. I have doubts that Moyer is going to be anywhere near as effective as he has been over the past 1.5 years; an ERA around 4.40, a relative ERA+ around 105. However, I expect that to be somewhat balanced out by Blanton and a good year from Myers. Unfortunately, I think Hamels is in for a rough year because of injuries and an inability to get in a sustained groove, which is when he's effective.

45+ HR? And i thought i was utley's biggest fan

lol. just saying I wouldn't be surprised if Utley hits 45+ HRs. I do expect around 37.

My guess is around 35 for utley...and a high average. That's if everything goes well for him.

35 HR, .330 AVG, 120 RBI is my shot in the dark. I think this will be his "career year" finally.

Only way Uts jacks 45 is if he starts using Romero's vitamins.

I'd rather see 28 HRs from Utley but get his avg back up around .330 or so. Remember the doubles machine he was a few years ago? We need more of that.

If Utley hits .330, he's going to hit way more than 28HRs.
The question is whether Utley becomes a Manny-esque hitter.
I think this is possible.

doubleh: I agree on the Utley doubles. Everytime he doubles in front of Howard,they can't use the shift or he can walk to third.

doubleh: I agree on the Utley doubles. When he doubles in front of Howard,they can't use the shift or Utley could walk to third.

Sorry about the double post to doubleh about doubles. WEBTV is giving me problems lately.

45 from Utley would be Brady Anderson-esque.
I prefer 50 doubles and 22 HRs. plus a ton of extra bases on fielders choice, etc.

My sense is home runs will never be utley's best stat, even if he compiles 20 per.

How 'bout those Pitt Panthers? Atrocious FG %. looking forward to playing Nova for the East Regional and UConn in the finals. Setting basketball back 4 decades.

The Mets are going to struggle this year. Wouldn't surprise me at all, if they finish 4th in the division. They have no pitching and are getting old, at some key spots in their lineup.

And, I think K-Rod will implode in NYC. His stuff, is nowhere near as good, as it was a few years ago.

I like the Braves and some of their young players and really like the Marlins starting rotation. The Mets? They look like a 81-81 type of team to me.

Did TNA just say Utley could be a "Manny-esque" hitter? What?

I think it's very, very likely that the Mets make a push for Holliday in 2010.

Jack - As a hitter, Utley has the potential to get on base .400+ and have a slugging percentage close to .600. If he can increase his walks by 40-50%, while striking out at about the same rate as last year, he'll be in Manny territory. He's got to be a little bit more willing to take walks, which is against his nature.

Do you not think Utley can improve his OBA?

I'm surprised no one has posted this, or maybe someone did and I missed it . . .

KK made his minor league debut tonight against the Yankees AAA team. His line: 3.1 IP, 5 runs, 8 hits, 2 strikeouts, 3 walks. He allowed a 3-run homer to Eric Duncan in the first inning. That's about all I know but that should be enough to generate at least 100 posts tomorrow morning.

If you can find me a 30-year old player who improved his walk percentage by 40-50%, I'll believe it.

Look, Utley is a great hitter. But he's a .300/.375/.535 career hitter. Which is fantastic, especially for a great defensive 2nd baseman. But Manny is a .315/.410/.600 hitter. Which is in the discussion for greatest right-handed hitter ever. So it's not quite an insult to say Utley isn't "Manny-esque".

Utley with 45 HRs or even 37 HRs? Asking an awful lot. As for the 2Bs, Utley hit 7 less doubles last year but hit more 11 HRs. I am willing to bet the Phils (and Utley) would take the tradeoff between 2Bs and HRs anyday of the week.

I am just glad Utley is back and apparently ready to start the season. It will go a long way to making sure this team isn't sub .500 in April.

Less than 10 days to go. Time to get ready for another season of complaints about Ryan Howard from MG and the like. 'Howard is terrible in the late innings' yet the opposing Manager kills his bullpen the 1st game of every series, trying to avoid sending in a RH to that same Ryan Howard.
Thank goodness Pat Burrell is in Tampa, so the Howard haters (MG, BAP, Alby, etc) can have Ibanez to complain about too.

Zo got a great quote from Charlie today on his blog:

"Charlie Manuel today was talking about bench players, and how even the most secure bench players should never feel completely secure about their jobs:

"When you're a bench player, you goddam better think you're competing. Just as soon as you think you've got it made, somebody will come along and sniff you right off the bench. That happens all the time. Don't ever assume anything. ... We want hardnosed, winning players. If you think you're going to short cut us, some dumb guy like me will trip you up."



Say what Mike? I could care less about Howard's Ks and his defensive deficiencies are overblown on here.

How you argue though that Howard was anything but terrible late last year? Just look at the numbers. A .580 OPS is brutal. That is Bruntlett facing RHP brutal.

Doesn't mean he is a terrible player but your cleanup hitter shouldn't be able to be largely neutralized by a LOOGY. Howard was last year.

Ex-Phils update:

Adam Eaton was right about getting released and starting for another team. He looks like he has a very good shot at opening as the No. 4 starter in the O's rotation which is looking to be epically bad to start the season.

These were the recent quotes by Eaton after he gave up 3 homers in a single inning vs the Twins during his last spring training outing this week on Tues:

"Obviously, the wind was blowing out, but it doesn't discount the fact that those pitches weren't where I wanted them," said Eaton.

"When you give up homers, it's tough to minimize damage. They are what they are. You just have to bear down a little bit more and get the ball down in the zone."

You have to just love the excuses and nonchalance that Eaton exudes in his post-game comments. One thing I won't miss in 2009.

The only thing missing from that Eaton quote is that he forgot to preface it with, "I don't want to make any excuses, but . . ."

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