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Sunday, March 29, 2009

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Wow. Damon Hollins is gone.

Just when I was about to admit that Nunez was a disaster, too.

I follow the Phils' pretty closely but this list generates a bunch "Who? and "Really?"

Speaking of No-Hit, any word on what camp he got invited to this spring?

Not Ben Pfinsgraff!

Ya probly coulda saved room by just saying:
Some Dudes were freed.

Change subject but wasn't Hamels supposed to pitch today? Was surprised to see Blanton who really pitched well.

Add one more with ML experience. Yoel Hernandez appeared with the big club in 2007. His line: 14 games, 15.1 IP, 20 H, 9 R, 9 ER, 2 HR, 13/1 KK/BB, 5.28 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, .303 BAA. A typical bullpen desperation filler.

struther4d: I was referring to action with the club this spring. There's a whole chapter in our archives dedicated to Yo-El,

clout: You often bring up the Thome trade as an example of a bad trade because we didn't get equal value. But you can't grade these trades in a vacuum or in hindsight. At the time of the trade, Thome was a high-salaried player with a bad back & a no-trade clause. There weren't many places we could trade him, & any team that got him would be making a risky deal. Meanwhile, we had a low-salaried player who played the identical position & was even better than Thome. If you're going to criticize the Thome trade as being unequal, then you also have to ask: if we didn't make a trade, where would Jim Thome have fit in our 2007 lineup? Would you rather have a $14M per year backup first baseman who can't play any other position, or would you rather upgrade at another position, acquire a pretty decent pitching prospect, and have enough money left over to address another area of need?


If you have two 10s at one position, and a 3 at another, it might well be a good idea to trade one of those 10s to get a 6 who plays that other position.

jason: if you do go back & delete those archived posts, please delete the ones where I ripped on the Blanton trade. You'll find them in the July, 2008 archives & there are at least 100 of them.

BAP: So the Phils couldn't possibly have gotten more for Thome?

Clout: I don't know and neither do you. My guess: probably not.

MG -

From the last thread -

I'm not sure Ibanez will be batting 6th this year. If you watched today's game, you saw first hand something I've been saying from the first time I recommended to this board that the Phils should acquire Ibanez. The something is that Ibanez hits lefties very well. That being the case, Werth doesn't have the bat 5th to break up the string of left-handed batters. The only reason you'd want to break up the string is to make it more difficult for opposing teams to insert relievers. When you have a guy like Ibanez, who can hit righties and lefties alike, the move becomes moot.

The real question here is who is the most valuable RBI man to follow Rollins, Victorino, Utley and Howard? Last year, Werth had 67 RBIs in 134 games while Ibanez had 110 RBIs in 162 games. The clear answer is Ibanez who is an extremely talented defensive hitter and extremely prolific RBI producer.

The next real question is who would you rather have lead off an inning? The clear answer here is Werth who got many innings started for the Phils last year and who is a constant threat to steal a base or two in any given inning. If the inning ends, Rollins through Ibanez, the next inning starts off with Werth.

So, after the experimentation finally comes to an end, I'm confident the Phils everyday lineup this year will look like: Rollins, Victorino, Utley, Howard, Ibanez, Werth, Feliz, Ruiz/Coste and Pitcher. However, pending early season peformance and teams being played, Werth and Victorino would swap positions in the batting order.

As I said before, I'm confident that Ibanez will have at least 100 RBIs this year.

bap-From the last thread,where can I find those $500. muscle cars. I'll take all you've got,sight unseen.

Thank God spring training doesn't count because the Phils have been one of the worst teams so far. The offense is almost nonexistent.

BAP -

I agree with clout about the Thome trade. I never saw the logic in paying millions of dollars for multiple years to allow a player of Thome's caliber to hit homers and drive in runs for another team.

Howard was eager to move up to the Phils from Scranton / Wilkes-Barre but the Phillie front office lacked the imagination and communication skills to be able to bring Howard up and keep Thome at the same time.

The rookie, Howard, could have been persuaded to play the outfield instead of first base while Thome was still a Phillie. To be sure, Howard could not have been as bad a defensive outfielder as Manny Ramirez. Alternatively, Thome could have been persuaded to play his original position in the pros, third base, instead of first.

Critics of such an arrangement can correctly argue that the Phils would not have been as good a defensive team with Howard in the outfield or with Howard at first and Thome at third. However, with a lineup that had Thome and Howard batting back to back, defense might not have been so critical an issue. What's more, with the megabucks that the Phils would have saved by not paying Thome to play for the White Sox and not having to spend more money on Rowand, the Phils could have bought some decent pitching - the kind that makes defense irrelevant.

Abreu, Burrel and Bell would have been ultimately traded any way, so if they were traded to make room for Howard in the outfield or Howard at first and Thome at third does not negate the premise of the argument at hand. What's more, such earlier maneuvering by the Phils might have created a better scenario to keep Polanco whose trade in retrospect has to be included in some of the Phils' most serious recent miscalculations.

Myths are amazing in their persistence.

"Ibanez hits lefties very well."

You know the drill:
R.I. vs. LHP (career - inc. 2008)
.268 .322 .411 (.733 )

E. Bruntlett vs. LHP (career)
.269 .358 .396 .754

"If the inning ends, Rollins through Ibanez, the next inning starts off with Werth."

Well, yeah, but if the inning ends Rollins through Howard then Ibanez leads off. Your premise that Werth will leadoff a bunch of innings is based on RBI machine Ibanez ending a bunch of innings.

Regardless, I think Werth is hitting 5th unless he falls into a slump.

fljerry-Hamels was to pitch in minors game today that was rained out. He is rescheduled for monday.

Right, put Howard in the OF! Good idea.*

They signed Thome b/c Howard was still years away(and it's not like a prospect never faded away/failed before) and they needed to put butts in the seats of CBP. They were limited in teams to trade him to b/c of his no trade clause.

*Didn't they try that in the minors and it failed miserably?

Andy -

If you saw Ibanez get two hits off Lester today when Utley and Howard were unable to do the same, you wouldn't have to question if Ibanez hits lefties very well. He does and he will.

I consider the Thome trade one of the truly amazing feats of the Gillick administration. Jim was blocking Ryan Howard's path and had no real trade value because of his bloated salary and how many teams are really in the market for a 1b/DH anyway. When we got Rowand and a couple of former first first rounders I thought it was a dream and didn't want to wake up.

Then Gillick made the unfortunate trade for Freddy Gonzalez, giving up Gio and Gavin Floyd. It was a mutually beneficial deal, the first one, but we got fleeced in the second.

Steve - You're right. But if the inning ends with Utley, Howard leads off the next inning. I based my observation on today's game in which 2 different innings ended with Werth and with runners on base.

Ibanez probably won't hit lefties very well, I think that's the safe and obvious answer. But I don't think anyone denies that he brings something to the table. At the very least, I'd still rather have him than Milton Bradley (for character and injury reasons).

Doc - Maybe Ibanez well hit lefties. But past performance and age dictates otherwise. Same with Park being successful in the rotation.

Reality is that Ibanez likely is going to struggle to generate many XHBs against LHP, stink defensively in LF, and be plodding on the basepaths.

If hit .280-.290 again with moderate power and a decent amount of 2Bs, then the Phils got what they were expecting.

Ibanez isn't going to hit 43 doubles again this year (especially playing in CBP which is doesn't the generous allies that Safeco does) and you have to hope that he can offset that a bit with maintained/couple more HRs since he is playing CBP.

"Reality is (he will) stink defensively in LF, and be plodding on the basepaths."

Hmmm. That sounds a lot like Pat Burrell, MG.

Yoel Hernandez. I was actually at his MLB debut in SF. Giants' announcer broadcast his name and we are like "who?" Just one of the many legions of middle relievers who pitched inadequately for the Phils in '07.

Two years the Phils had the worst bullpen in the NL for most of the season (only a lights out Sept boosted their numbers) and last year they generally had the best bullpen in the NL.

My bet is just like the bullpen will dictate the Phils' season and whether or not they make a 3rd season in a row to the playoffs.

I saw Ibanez run the bases today and earlier in the spring during games. he's not plodding at all. he's a very good baserunner actually

and the Phils didn't give up a 1st round pick or pay him 3 yrs/$32M either.

Frankly I could care less if Ibanez hits .280 or .290 if his SLG drops by 30 or 40 pts this year due to a falloff in XHB.

LF is a power position and the Phils aren't paying Ibanez for his defense deficiencies or his baserunning limitations.

Is Ibanez better than Burrell defensively and on the basebaths at this point - yes probably. The question is though how is he compared to other LFs and Ibanez does not help the Phils in LF with his defense or his baserunning abilities.

Saw this on a lighter note in the Baltimore Sun today after a friend who is an O's fan mentioned Eaton during our fantasy draft this afternoon:

“Adam Eaton became the first Orioles pitcher to throw five innings this spring, though he struggled somewhat in Baltimore’s 10-6 win over the St. Louis Cardinals in Jupiter, Fla.

Released by Philadelphia last month, Eaton earned the win despite allowing five runs on nine hits and four walks in his third start for the Orioles.

“I struggled — I didn’t have everything working at the same time, ever,” Eaton said. “At the same time, I still got five innings and 90 pitches. In that regard, it’s mission accomplished, but I still fell an inning short of what I wanted to do.”

You have to love Eaton being proud of getting through 90 pitches in 5 innings. So far he is 1-2 with a 6.75 in 4 games (3 GS) and this guy is going to be the O's 4th starter going into the season.

Looks like the O's are in hot pursuit of the Pirates as they go for their 11th or 12th straight season of losing baseball.

re: winning a job in ST

The Cubs named Gregg their closer over Marmol. The situation is sort of analogous to the competition between Park and Happ (and KK) for the 5th spot in the rotation. Gregg gets signed in the off-season and is promised a chance to compete for the closer spot that Wood vacated. Nobody takes this seriously as Marmol's career numbers are much stronger than Gregg; Marmol has the reputation as a shutdown reliever and closer-in-waiting while Gregg was a run-of-the-mill closer with FLA. But in ST, Gregg has performed lights out and Marmol, coming after the WBC, has not performed lights out. So Piniella goes with Gregg as his closer. If I were a Cubs fan, I wouldn't feel comfortable with this decision despite the ST performances of both reliever.

Although the situation is slightly different in that the ST performances haven't been that different between Happ and Park, and there isn't as much of a track record on Happ as there is on Park (as compared to Gregg v. Marmol), but the Gregg decision has made me reconsider my sentiment that Park should get the job as the 5th starter.

Obviously, it's good to have depth at your marginal positions and the Phillies will likely need all of that depth this season. But for the first month, I'm thinking that Park and Happ should be rotated depending on the team. April opponents ATL, FLA are worse against lefties than righty pitchers based on their lineups from last year. COL, MIL, and WAS are worse against righties (not really a concern either way against with WAS). Of course, this is if they need that 5th pitcher at all. And this is, of course, based on last year's lineups, which, depending on the team, are dramatically different this year; for example COL lost righty Holliday and lefty bats Helton and Steward have been raking in ST.

In any case, I wonder how much roster flexibility there is for Dubee and the FO to extend this 'competition' through April/mid-June given that the 5th spot in the rotation isn't going to be used every 5th day.

Bottom line: I've been impressed with Park's ST performance and based solely on that performance I thought he should get the job as the starter given that Dubee/Amaro Jr./Manuel all said that it'd be an open competition and that Park would be given an opportunity to win that job. However, the rubber hit the road when Piniella made Gregg his closer over Marmol largely based on ST performance and has made me rethink this whole ST vs. career numbers thing. Basically, at this point I'm not sure whether the Phils should pick a starter and run him until he can't run no more, or continue the Park-rejuvenation v. Happ experiment through the first months of the season as matchups dictate.

MG said, "The question is though how is he compared to other LFs and Ibanez does not help the Phils in LF with his defense or his baserunning abilities."

How is he compared to other LFs?

He had the 4th highest OPS of all American League outfielders. And nearlly equal in OPS+ to Burrell. (125 to 124)

Excuse me. I meant to say 4th highest OPS of all AL Left fielders.

Chris Walker who was released today also saw action with the Phillies as a non-roster invitee.

Chris Walker who was released today also saw action with the Phillies as a non-roster invitee.

re: Ibanez or lefty bats

Was taking a look at the teams' batting splits and came across the phillies' splits last year. Guess which split was their glaring weakness? RHB vs. RHP

With Burrell gone, you expect that 86 OPS+ split to go down; but the number of ABs would go down as well with Burrell being replaced by Ibanez.

Interestingly, the Phillies had more trouble (or did less well) with righty pitchers than they did with lefty pitchers last year. The splits are remarkably close with the exception of SLG, where the Phillies slugged 40 percentage points higher against lefties.

I think this actually proves a good reason why the Phillies were successful last year. As a team, they were extremely balanced. We've talked how there was a balanced and well managed workload between starters and relievers. We've also talked how there was a great overall balance of defensive prowess and offense in the everyday players.

Hopefully, Ibanez and the other new pieces don't tip that balance in a negative way.

Bert Blyleven on NBCSports.com today has the Mets at 95 wins and the Phils at 92,giving us the wild card. Any opinions on his track record ?

Goody - I personally have no opinion on Mr. Blyleven's predictions because his guess is as good as anybody's.

On "experts":
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/26/opinion/26Kristof.html

Wayne: Did Walker get into any games? I don't have anything on him ...

Defensive statistics show Ibanez being league average. Didn't like the signing myself, just trying to find out the truth about his defense.

Ibanez actually had a very good RangeF for LF. Pat Burrell had the worst RangeF ofall regular LFs. Ibanez had terrible +/- last year, ALMOST as bad as Burrell's.

Yikes. Let me be clear on Ibanez. I think that the Phils will do well offensively with Ibanez because the majority of the pitchers out there are righties. RHPs will sometimes get slaughtered by the Phils offense this year (you know, probably).

But Raul Ibanez has shown almost no tendency over his career to "hit left-handers well." Last year his OPS against lefties was .866. (Yippee!!) Before that his highest seasons against LHP were .783 in 2001 (less than 100 games) and .780 in 2004. While those .780s are neither abysmal nor formidable, there are a few other years (2007 - .650; 2006 - .663; for instance) where he has struggled - definitely, downright struggled against LHP. So, okay, he had a great day against Lester. If he faced LHP every day, however, his career numbers suggest that his batting average would rival that of the Gnome.

I'm okay with Ibanez. I'm looking forward to the Phils offense this year. (And defense.) But, please, do not perpetuate this myth that he's a lefty killer. He may have been for one year of his career; but I wouldn't assume that he will be ever again.

MG - Maybe Ibanez well hit lefties. But past performance and age dictates otherwise.

Doc - His BA in 2008 was higher against lefties (.305) than righties (.288). He also had 2 hits against Lester, one of the game's toughest lefties, in today's game. That takes care of your past performance claim. I'd like to respond to your "age dictates otherwise" assertion, but what does age have to do with hitting lefties?

MG - Reality is that Ibanez likely is going to struggle to generate many XHBs against LHP, stink defensively in LF, and be plodding on the basepaths...If hit .280-.290 again with moderate power and a decent amount of 2Bs, then the Phils got what they were expecting.

Doc - If you ever watched Ibanez play before he came to the Phillies, as I have, you'd know that he hits well to all fields and that he hits a lot of liners in the gaps and down the right field line for doubles against both right and left handed pitching. He is a definite upgrade defensively and on the base paths over Burrel who, with the exception of his arm, was only adequate defensively, and who ran the bases with motivation but with obvious physical difficulty. Ibanez will hit over .280 with a decent amount of doubles but that is not why the Phils acquired him. They acquired him for the 100+ RBIs he will have this year. If the Phillie fans make this guy feel at home, he is capable of hitting .300 with 30 HRs and 100+ RBIs this year, but it is for the 100+ RBIs that Ibanez was brought to Philadelphia.

As I've stated a number of times before, I always rooted for Burrel, even when what seemed like the majority of Phillie fans were booing him. For a number of years, I listened to sportscasters talking about how the Phils would love to trade Burrel but couldn't because of his exhorbitant salary.

Burrel always seemed like a class act but he hit for only one-half season every season and he was chronically plagued by foot problems that hurt him defensively and on the bases. I'm sure the Phillies management liked Burrel too, but more as a person than as an integral part of a defending world championshp team.

The decision to let Burrel walk when he turned down a new contract with a pay cut has turned the man into a martyr with Phillie fans who probably now wish they hadn't booed him so loudly and so often. The decision to acquire one of the best available left fielders to replace Burrel has turned Ibanez into a pariah. What ever doesn't work out for the Phils this year will be Ibanez's fault in the eyes of many fans and something that would have surely been avoided if Burrel were still playing left field for the Phils.

The 2009 Phillies team promises to be much better than the 2008 world championship team. Raul Ibanez is one of the reasons. So, don't worry about a player's age determining how well he will be able to hit left-handed pitching. Just give the guy a chance.

Andy -

Give the TV station a call and see if they can edit out Ibanez's two hits against left-handed pitching from today's game tape. That may make everyone who has criticized Ibanez without ever seeing him play feel a little better about things.

I was in Clearwater a few weeks ago and watched Ibanez get hits, including doubles, and RBIs against both righties and lefties. He is a seasoned pro who knows how to adjust to different kinds of pitching and different kinds of hitting situations. Greg Dobbs played with Ibanez in Seattle and he has gone on record as saying that Ibanez was his mentor in Seattle and that he learned a lot about hitting from Ibanez. So, don't believe what I say about Ibanez, but at least give a listen to what one of the premier pinch hitters in the game has to say about the man.

Well, I learned two things on this thread: Ibanez is a fast baserunner and Gregg was just a run of the mill closer last season.

Amazing.

Wow, I also learned that Ibanez is a pariah.

Not against RHP he isn't.

Not sure Ibanez has reached "pariah" status yet. Give him a few months.

Goody: By BL terms, Blylevan's track record is "very good", but not quite "great".

Going a bit back to the topic at hand for the moment - for the life of me, I can't imagine why somebody who has the chance to play for the Yomiuri Giants but has no real big league prospects would even consider going back to the US minor leagues. I'm in Tokyo on a business trip at the moment (a city I know well).

Tokyo is the most modern city in the world and to play for the Giants, who are sort of like the Yankees only more so, is to be an instant celebrity.

How this could possibly be any worse a career choice to somebody compared to playing in Scranton or Hershey is absolutely beyond me. Of course, maybe he was asked to leave the Giants, but, I've heard over and over about how players don't want to come to Japan. In my mind, unless somebody has real major league prspects, that's crazy, even if you end up playing for a marginal team like Rakuten or Lotte (the equivalents of Kansas City and, oh, I dunno, Milwaukee).

/ by the way, "Mr. Baseball" is an excellent movie.

I haven't posted for a while, but I had to post to say that this "Ibanez got two hits against Lester" argument is very specious. A baseball season is long. Ibanez's contract is three times longer. Two at-bats don't tell you much of anything. Eric Bruntlett is 3 for 5 lifetime off Randy Johnson with two doubles and a home run. Abraham Nunez had great career numbers against Greg Maddux (12 for 28, 3 doubles, .984 OPS), but hit like he was Vicente Padilla against Shane Reynolds, Jamey Wright, and Brett Tomko. What does that tell us? That Nunez steps it up when he faces a Hall of Famer? Come on. Ibanez is a professional hitter, a very smart hitter, a great character guy, and I don't think that anyone disputes that. I'm sure someone like Dobbs could learn a lot from Ibanez, more than he could learn from Burrell. But Burrell had more power, vastly more plate discipline, and he hits lefties a lot better. And as it turns out he's cheaper, and of course he's younger. Ibanez vs. Burrell may turn out to be a wash the first season, but I see very little chance that this switch made us better.

Dickie: It's possible the Giants didn't want him back. I'll have to check.

re: Gregg is a run-of-the-mill closer

Clout - by saying that Gregg was 'just' a run of the mill closer, I take it that you think he did pretty well last year.

Well, based on last year's stats, Gregg was:
11th (out of 30 closers)in Innings Pitched
21st in ERA
16th in saves
30th (worst) in blown saves
23rd in Save Pct
29th in K/BB ratio
25th in K/9
23rd in WHIP
10th in BAA

So maybe saying run of the mill was stretching it a little bit. Gregg was pretty bad relative to other closers.

Is Ibanez a better runner and fielder than Burrell this point - yes and I won't argue on either point.

However, he is still generally a liability in the field and on the basepaths and his current abilities in both areas are only likely to decrease (including the real possibility of a notable decline) given his age. This is a real issue because the Phils play in the NL.

Rays valued some of Burrell's offensive skills (particularly his OBP and power) but realized he was one of the worst LFs in the game so made him a DH. Burrell's defense really isn't relative this year or next.

Phils don't have the option of moving Ibanez to DH or 1B and this contract is likely to turn out very badly at end.

Still, the Phils are clearly in "win-now" mode and if Ibanez can produce similar numbers to what he did the past two seasons, then it wasn't a horrendous signing.

If Ibanez .SLG slips 30-40 pts due to a drop in XHB (primarily 2Bs), then it likely will have a poor investment this season and that $8.5M this year likely would have been better spent on other areas.

Thon - Simple. Besides the large cultural differences, Tokyo has one of the most expensive costs of living in the world and income taxes in Japan aren't cheap either.

I will recant.

Based on his hits against Lester, Ibanez should hit third in the line-up.

Oh, and based on his Spring Training, Bruntlett should start at 3B.

I like Doc's comments, very optimistic. And its the appropriate time of the year for optimism, after all.

If the price is right, the Phillies should take a flier on Tyler Walker who was just released by the Marlins.

The guy could eventually be more effective overall, and especially against righties, than Condrey once he gets healthy. Could be useful for about 30-40 innings worth this year; especially against righty-heavy teams like FLA.

Too bad for Yoel Hernandez. before he got hurt he was a potential bullpen canidate and future closer just a couple of years ago. I guess he never regained his prospect status.

"If you saw Ibanez get two hits off Lester today when Utley and Howard were unable to do the same, you wouldn't have to question if Ibanez hits lefties very well. He does and he will."

Wow. Talk about your small sample sizes.

"Reality is (he will) stink defensively in LF, and be plodding on the basepaths."

Hmmm. That sounds a lot like Pat Burrell, MG.

Yes -- a more expensive Pat Burrell, and one who bats from the wrong side of the plate besides.

Today, I get to hear the Houston radio broadcast of today's game. On Friday, I heard innings 2 through 8 while driving from Houston to New Orleans. The detail that Houston announcers gave to the Phillies during Friday's game was minimal. All I heard was how great the Houston fielder's were. I was lucky to hear who was pitching to the Houston batters. I guess its ST rules. They are better during the regular season.

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