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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

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Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, aka Good Myers and Bad Myers. He's a rollercoaster that will never quit.

By most accounts the team's collective weight is down this spring. And much of that is Howard and Myers. This can only be good. I say the Myers that shows up will depend on how the team can galvanize after an epic year. When he has a mission, all's well. Although playing in the bigs should be enough of a mission, this guy needs more. Why not set out to repeat as WFC, Brett.

The last time Myers showed up slimmed down was the season he got sent to the bullpen. His few starts before becoming closer weren't very good if i recall. But he was good at being a closer that season so i guess there is no correlation to his previous weight loss.

As a reminder, in those ten games from July 23 to September 14, Myers had an ERA of 1.97, a WHIP of 0.97, posted a BB/9 of 1.7, and a K/9 of 7.5. He gave up just 4 HRs in 73 IP and threw 2 CGs.

He pitched a couple bad games after that, but then came back for the post-season.

This is for NEPP, hh (and others).

And my comment to the Rosenthal article is "Well, duh!"

Even the commentors allude to Ken as Capt. Obvious.

He says Rollins is defensively superior but I notice he stops short of the offensive argument...even though Rollins has been on fire at the plate, too.

Biggest question mark on the team. Defenders will sight his weight loss, contract year, and 2nd half numbers as reason for a very good year. Criticizers will point to his poor 1st half performance, questionable work ethic, and as RSB would say "2 cent head."

If Hamels does miss some meaningful time this year, this is the only guy in the rotation who could significantly step up.
My bet is that he won't though and this is Myers last year in a Phils' uniform.

If he can keep the BB/9 under 3 and HRs to a reasonable rate, he will be okay. Myers is always going to give up the long ball because he likes to pitch over the plate but it was like HR-derby last year against him in the 1st half.

One thing to watch early is Myers' fastball. In the first half of the year last year it was topping out at around 88-89 instead of 92-93 in his previous years as a starter. Most times by the 3rd or 4th inning it seemed to be around 86-87.

Part of it was likely conditioning in the early going but it also quickly became a confidence/mechanics issue too. Myers' basically stopped throwing it because he lost confidence it his ability to hit a decent velocity to challenge hitters at 91-92 and he knew he doesn't have the control needed to make a 86 MPH fastball effective most times.

Instead, starting throwing more offspeed stuff including his slider and his useless cutter (85 MPH pitch that doesn't drop much).

In the 2nd half, Myers' fastball was back to the 91-92 MPH range on more regular basis and he was able to throw it for strikes with better regularity. Also seemed to go back to his curveball a bit more too. Basically made Myers a much better pitcher.

I would love to see some actually use the pitch f/x data to bare this out and would be really interested to see what pitchers Myers' gave up his HRs on last year.

My bet is that Myers' isn't as good as the 2005/06 years because he doesn't quite have the same fastball velocity anymore but he still should be able to give the Phils something like:

12-9, 4.35 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, around 200 IP

Not bad numbers but nothing to write home about either.

I can't wait for Clout to jump in with "Myers needs to use his curveball to set up his fastball" argument that he loves to throw out there ad nauseam.

MG: Myers' best pitch, unlike what many posters on here delusionally think, is his curveball. If he has command of his curveball, he pitches well. While some ignorant idiots on here focus on fastball velocity, baseball savants like myself recognize that it's all about his curveball. If he is locating his curveball, you see good Myers.

Was that a good enough impression?

But Myers does have one nasty curveball when it is working. And I think he'll put more of a respectable ERA up this season as a whole, say around a 3.89 and he should get to 200innings no problem as long as he doesn't lose his head in the 3rd or 4th innings.

Like I said in the other thead, not to sound superstitious but we won the division the last two years when Myers started on opening day. I have no problem putting him out there on ESPN on Sunday night to kick things off.

One thing that impressed me with Myers is that he seems to have really learned from the first half of last year and has shown a new maturity in the few interviews I have seen him do this spring. This gives me hope that he's primed for a great year.

I also don't think that it hurts that if he has a good year he'll be a top three free agent starter and could be looking at AJ Burnett type money from someone. No matter what he says that has to be on his mind.

I would take 3.89 and 200 innings in a heartbeat. He hasn't done that since 2006 though.

Len39 - Maybe Myers is focused for an entire year (motivated in part by potential dollars and age) and has that real break through year where he wins 15-16 games and posts an ERA under 3.50. I wouldn't bet on it though.

By the way, I saw one column suggesting that Myers was also a candidate for arm trouble this year because of his steep increase in percentage of breaking pitches thrown last year.

Jack: So you think your mere imitation is an adequate substitute for the real thing? Breathtaking.

Tony D - exactly, '06 was the last time we had him starting for an entire year with his head focused on starting as well. We have that again this year. '07 he got moved to the pen and '08 his head was still in the pen. Now we have his body and head both in the rotation (not to mention his wallet) and the last time he had that was '06, and he did pretty well then (198IP, 3.91ERA) and in '05 he was even better (215IP, 3.72ERA). I think he's finally realized he's going to be starting and is going to prepare as such, like he did in those other yrs.

Distractions are among the most menacing realities that confront any team. They force players and coaches to lose the concentration and focus necessary to play at personal best levels.

Brett Myers has had a number of distractions that have forced him to lose his focus and play at levels far below his capability. The highly publicized personal problems with his wife were distractions as were his being moved from the closer position to that of starter. Coming to spring training this year lighter and in better shape makes me think that Myers has not been as distracted and should have a great season.

I think that Chris Coste played below his highly competitive level last year because of the distractions inherent in publishing and promoting a book during the season and awaiting the arrival of a new baby. The imminent birth of a new baby may have also weighed on Geoff Jenkins' concentration.

Ryan Howard was distracted by contract issues at the beginning of last season. Not having to deal with contract issues this year may be one reason he is off to such a great start.

Team management realizes the impact of distractions on team performance and frequently makes decisions based on perceived distractions that may not be appreciated by most fans. A team may trade, release or refuse to sign a valuable player because of the distractions such a player may bring to the organization.

The Phils seem to have fewer distractions this year than last which may translate into a quicker start toward another world championship. From what I saw in Clearwater last week, the talent has improved over last year, and barring any unforeseen injuries or distractions, the Phils should be the masters of their own destiny.

Stay well.

He needs his fastball to be good so he can setup that wicked curve...

I always thought Myers' dip in velocity was a bit overblown. Whenever someone moves from a starter's role to the bullpen, there's likely to be a 2 to 3 MPH uptick in velocity. The converse is true when the person moves from the bullpen to a starter's role.


Before he moved to the bullpen, Myers' fastball clocked out at around 91 or 92. As a closer, it went up to around 95. Last year, after he returned to a starting role, he was throwing around 88 or 89. So there was definitely a dip in velocity there, but it was only a 2-3 MPH dip, as opposed to the huge dip that everyone made it out to be.


clout is right that Myers' first-half problems last year had little to do with his drop in velocity, and everything to do with his terrible command. The proof came in the 2nd half, when Myers was lights-out again, even though there was no meaningful increase in his velocity as compared to the first half of the year.


That said, just about ANY pitcher would be improved by adding a couple MPH to his fastball. The harder Myers throws his fastball, the more contrast there is with his curve and the trickier it will be. So, if he is back throwing in the low 90s this year, it would certainly be helpful.

After I returned home from a week in Clearwater, I looked at a few of this site's older threads. One thing that must be corrected is the notion that team's go into spring training with the goal of having the best record. Teams go into spring training with the goal of evaluating players and preparing each player individually for the coming season. For example, if the Phils were really intent on beating the Pirates last Friday, they wouldn't have sent Neal to the mound in the top of the 9th with a 5-3 lead to close the game. They sent him to the mound in the 9th because that was the game plan that was constructed long before the game even started.

Typical game plans in spring training call for players to play a pre-determined number of innings, take a pre-determined number of bats or throw a pre-determined number of pitches or innings. Since one team has no control over the game plan of another, games frequently turn around in a hurry.

The Phils have a mediocre won-loss record this spring but management has had the opportunity to evaluate, prepare and showcase for other teams many different players. Their record is not a precedent. The Yankees of old that were perennial world champions usually came away from every spring traing with the worst won-loss record.

One final observation has to do with the Phils' pitching. I was at the game when Cole Hamels pitched 2 superb innings and then started getting hit hard. It was obvious that something had suddenly happened and tendonitis in the elbow seemed like the most likely diagnosis, mainly because Hamels continued to pitch but with obvious difficulty. A cortisone shot in the elbow, rest and PT should get this under control quickly.

In the event Hamels is not the opening day pitcher, the Phils are still in very good shape. Happ and Park both looked impressive during spring training and could both start the season as starters. I would give Happ the edge if only one of the two could become the Phils' 5th starter because he has better control of his pitches right now and better velocity. Park throws most of his stuff high and hard but he does have a very nice change up. I think that Happ is not geared to becoming a reliever while Park has been a very effective long reliever who could also give the Phils an emergency start at the drop of a hat.

At any rate, I'd rather see Hamels healthy and ready to repeat his 2008 season than being forced to open the season for the Phils at anything less than 100% efficiency. Happ and Park can get the job done in Hamels' absence and their comparative performances in regular season games will give the Phils a better idea of who should be their 5th starter.

Stay well.

Well, here's AWH doing some fence sitting:

Myers needs to throw ALL of his pitchers well, primarilly the fastball and curve.. He needs to locate the fastball so hitters don't sit on the hook, and he needs to get the hook over so they don't sit looking for fastballs.

The two pitches compliment each other and are EQUALLY important.

Everybody does get caught up with Myers' fastball velocity but the truth is that he couldn't even throw it for a strike consistently last year in the 1st half at 86 MPH. You can make a living in the league at 86 or 87 MPH but you need to hit those spots pretty damn well.

One of the reasons that the Phils are likely dubious of giving Myers' a long-term contract after this season is that I don't know if he can make the adjustment as a successful starter whose fastball tops out at around 87 or 88 MPH because of his shaky control at times.

I believe that Hamels is a real head case. I doubt that he comes anywhere close to last year. jmo

Thanks for the update, Doc. A nice dose of reality.

I would take 3.89 and 200 innings in a heartbeat. He hasn't done that since 2006 though.

Well, to be fair, in '07 he was moved to the 'pen and '08 was his "transition year." '05 and '06 were solid years before the switch.

I think an ERA+ between 110 and 120 from Myers is a realistic goal. CHONE, Zips, and Marcel have very low IP projections, however (153, 147, 132). Bill James says 210 IP. ERAs stretch between 4 and 4.5.

Here's the link: http://www.fangraphs.com/statss.aspx?playerid=962&position=P

I probably shouldn't reveal the exact figures but PECOTA is somewhere in between for IP with stronger ERA and WHIP figures than those listed. PECOTA's weighted mean is very close to the James figure.


don, when Hamels threw 230 innings in the regular season with a 1.082 WHIP, and then threw 35 more innings in the post-season (1.80 ERA), winning a nice MVP trophy, was he a head case then too?

don: ALL good pitchers are headcases, much like goaltenders in hockey. They are weird, oftentimes divas, and have very strong opinions about how they should take care of themselves and when they should throw. I can't think of one that is completely normal--maybe Moyer, but no one would put him on the level of a Hamels, Santana or even a Schilling.

I think if Hamels an remain healthy, he's going to be a beast this year and years to come. Last year was his breakout year.

Point is, if Hamels doesn't pitch well this year it will *not* be because he's a headcase, but because he's actually injured due to the Phils mis-managing his innings last year.

If the Phils slide out of competition for the division or even the wildcard as a result, it will be on management for creating the situation and not bringing on viable alternatives in the relatively likely event that their ace goes down.

Hamels seems to be the most rational actor among the group.

don: Yeah, nothing screams "head case" like a 4-0 post-season record with a 1.80 ERA, and MVPs of both the league championship and WS.


And nothing screams "fluke" like a career winning pct. of .623, a career ERA of 3.43, and 3 straight seasons of improvement to start your career.


Obviously, you are either a Mets fan who is just trying to yank people's chain, or you have decided to throw your hat in the ring with mikes77 and MVPTommy in the race for 2009's Most Blithering Poster award. My guess: Mets fan.

No audio today?

BAP - The velocity was a big deal because Myers was topping out at 89 MPH. More often than not it seemed that he was around 85 or 86 by the 3rd inning with his fastball. Notable difference between 85-86 vs say 90-91 especially if you are challenging a hitter up in the zone.

Happ gets through the first inning easily, no hits.

JR - If you go to Scoreboard on MLB.com, there's an audio link.

Let's see- a pitcher who has had stiffness, soreness and inflammation gets it checked out by the team medical staff during spring training when the games don't count and he is therefore a head case.
Makes sense.

Hamels won 2 MVP trophies...dont forget about the NLCS.

Hamels could dump live puppies into boiling water and I wouldn't criticize him after his 08 campaign.

Sophist - "Mis-managing"? I know that we wouldn't want to lose Cole forever at such a young age, but we did win the World Series. As of right now, I'd say they did the right thing.

Happ has faced the minimum through two. Walked lead off man in first but Paulino erased him caught stealing.

Utley, 2B
Cairo, SS
Dobbs, RF
Werth, CF
Stairs, LF
Feliz, 3B
Coste, 1B
Paulino, C
Happ, P

Utley in the leadoff role again...

Interesting what happens when Jimmy and Shane arent around.

Hooters girl hit by a fair ball... then she picked it up, handed it to a fan, and gave the fan a high five. Ground rule double for Werth.

Yeah, I agree it's not "mismanaging" if you win a WS. While it may be probable, or at the least possible, that Hamels suffers somewhat injury-wise this year, unless for some reason the injury is career-threatening, it will have been worth it to win a title.

NEPP, i think part of utley in the leadoff role maybe to get him more ABs before they pull him out of the game

Probably...he's not exactly the prototypical leadoff guy.

Feliz up with a runner on third and 1 out. Midseaon form? We'll see.

king myno - I'm not analyzing this with that background. It's too difficult to tell if things would be any different had they moderated his IP (is it your contention that if they kept him on a lower pitch count for certain starts, the Phils would not have won the WS?)

But, yes, I think having a 24-year-old throw 260 IP is possibly a form of mismanagement.

Woo hoo! Pete Happy gets a sac fly. 1-0 Phils.

I think I'll take the WS Trophy that came with that "mismanagement". They never pitched him on short rest and they never gave him excessive Dusty Bakeresque pitchcounts...what do you expect them to do? Bench him in the playoffs to save him for 09?

b-a-p: You think don is a Met's fan.

Interesting.

Happ runs into trouble in the third. Allows a double and then a long home run. 2-1 Blue Jays. Third home run of the spring for Happ... the long ball will be his big issue.

To put it in perspective, Roger Clemens pitched 281 2/3 innings in his Age 24 Season...though he did drop off to a mere 271 in the following year.

Lots of pitchers have survived this amount of use at a young age so its not a definite that Hamels will suffer long term becuase he pitched deep into the playoffs.

I think don's point is that Hamels is a bit of a prima donna and I wouldn't necessary disagree with that assertion. Doesn't mean that he isn't by far the best pitcher on this team.

Sophist does bring up an interesting point. Amaro supposedly had three goals this offseason he wanted to address:

1. Find a RH-bat
2. Acquire more pitching
3. Become better defensively

He didn't meet Objectives 1 or 3 and Objective 2 really solely depends upon what Park brings to the table. Resigning Burrell vs. Ibanez wouldn't have really given the Phils really that much money to spend on pitching this season though so kind of off the table for this offseason.

If Park makes the rotation, this team's bullpen for the first 2 months of the season will be:

Lidge
Madson
Eyre
Durbin
Condrey
xxx (Happ/Majewski/Koplove)

Brought it up before but a middle relief of Durbin/Condrey/Eyre/xxx and another xxx looks to me like a rather average bullpen that won't be necessarily able to carry this team like they did last year in the early going.

Here's Hamels no. last year. 33 starts

7th or more: 9
7: 15
into the 6th: 6

His Pitches/Start:

fewer than 95: 4
95-105: 16
105-115: 10
over 115: 4 (over 120 3 times)

NEPP - Who said anything about benching Hamels in the playoffs?

Happ comes back after the home run to strike out two in a row. Through 3.

MG: Ibanez is an upgrade defensively in LF. It was the only open position in the lineup with Burrell leaving so I'd suggest he upgraded defensively in the only place he could! ;-)

****NEPP - Who said anything about benching Hamels in the playoffs? ****

Nobody...but what were their options really? He didnt ever go on short rest ala Sabathia and UC didn't really abuse him pitchcount wise...he just happened to stay healthy and pitch effectively in most of his games and then pitch 5 more starts in the playoffs...there's not much UC or upper management could do about it.

re: Hamels

Its simply a case of sacrifice. Of course you don't want your 24yr old ace pitching 260IPs, but if you can win a WS while doing it, then you make that sacrifice.

I think it is pretty obvious that it paid off, even if Hamels misses significant time for the rest of the year. And the idea that they could be WFC without him throwing that many innings is impossible to prove. As NEPP said, they refrained from making him go on short rest and never hung him out to dry to save the bullpen.

If your IPs are the quality of Hamels, then expect to be throwing as many as you can.

NEPP - I think you're misunderstanding my point. Verducci effect says that pitchers under the age of 25 who have 30-inning increases year over year tend to underperform, and that pitchers who break the "Rule of 30" tend to get injured.

Hamels

2006 - 22 - 132
2007 - 23 - 190
2008 - 24 - 260

Hamels may have violated the rule no matter what. I do think that having a 24-year-old ace, who's twice violated the rule of 30, may be a form of mismanagement.

MG: Actually several posters did link to Myers Fx data last year. You'll be shocked to learn that he threw may more curveballs after being recalled and way fewer sliders. Imagine that.

I am well aware of that study but again, there's nothing to be done...both times it was "abused" were due to playoff runs...there was no way they could have really limited him last year other than making him skip starts (something he says makes his back tigthen up). Its the price to pay for a WS championship unfortunately as that adds a month to the season.

Also, at what point is too many? No one knows. If Hamels pitched 259 innings, is that better managed? 220? 200? 180? Its impossible to say he threw too many innings because there is no specific number that dictates which is too much.

re: Phillies, Masters of Their Destiny

Just because the Phillies have more talent in camp this year than last year doesn't mean they're "in control of their destiny."

The Phillies had losing records against only two NL teams last year. Guess which ones.

vs. Mets: 7-11, 39% winning pct.
vs. FLA: 8-10, 44% winning pct.

The Mets are much improved this year with Putz and KRod despite their holes in catcher, second base and back of the bullpen (despite what people say, I don't think their rotation is significantly worse than the Phillies rotation... Santana>Hamels, Maine=Myers, Perez=Blanton, Pelfrey=Moyer).

The Marlins starting rotation has another year of experience under its belt and could be scary good this year; the team is much better this year overall.

And there's no way the Phillies are going to dominate the Braves like they did last year.

Bottom line: There's more parity in the NL East this year than last year. And last year, there was definitely no semblance of consensus as to how the season was going to turn out with people predicting the Phillies to finish anywhere from 1st to 4th.

I think the Phillies will have a poor year because of pitching injuries in both the rotation and bullpen, which will be a shame because Utley, Howard and especially Rollins are on the down slope of their peak performance years. The offense has a lot of overcompensating to do this year, but you can't win without consistent pitching and I just don't see that happening this year with the Phillies. Hopefully, Utley, Howard and especially Rollins will stay hungry. I expect Utley and Howard to go crazy and garner some individual accolades at the end of the year, but I don't expect the team to make the playoffs. Maybe wildcard - if they can get ahead of the Fish.


Happ gives up a solo shot to Jason Lane. 2nd HR of the game allowed.

Sophist: So to properly managed Hamels, he would have to only throw 162IP in 2007. Then in 2008 he could only pitch 192.

Are the "properly managed" Phils WFC if you take away 70 innings from Cole Hamels in 2008? I highly doubt it, I even doubt they win the East in 07.

It is nice work by Verducci to try and find trends in one of the most impossible things to predit(injuries), but to cite that research as reference to when things are 'mismanaged' is incorrect.

thephaithful, I think the study says that about 30 innings over is too much.

You don't need to skip his starts; you can pull him early in his starts. I'm confident they could have pulled him an inning early here and there, and gotten his regular season IP down near 200 or 210. If that were the case, I'd agree with you about the postseason. Violating the rule bc of the postseason doesn't bother me as much. But Hamels was close to 50 innings over his previous season before the playoffs even started.

In any case, I defer to Hamels and the medical staff on this number. I don't see Hamels being happy with management not letting him go past the 7th when it's an option. The guy is a competitor.

My feelings on the matter are known now. Let me just say I don't like the situation. Hamels missing significant time is high on the list of likely injuries in my mind, in which case you're left with Myers-Blanton-Moyer-Happ-Park/Kendrick.

Re: "Managing" Hamels

The "Verducci" effect does not lead to injuries to ALL pitchers. Only a percentage of them.

Also, new studies look more at increases in pitches thrown as opposed to innings because it's a much more exact indication of a pitcher's work. Hamels lowered his pitches/inning, I believe, so the effect isn't quite as pronounced.

b00b: While that may be true, can you also predict that the Mets, Fish and Braves remain completely healthy? I can't. Seems the Mets are already running into health issues in their starting rotation. Lindstrom, the Fish's closer, was injured in the WBC, which could push back his availability to start the season. Chipper's always hurt.

Bottom line: health is an issue for all clubs.

Stairs is having a nice spring. Just hit a ball deep into the gap for a double and then...

TAGGED UP! And beat the throw to third on a fly ball. Flashing that speed!

HAS ANYBODY ACCOUNTED FOR HAMELS' INTENTIONAL WALKS?
HOW ABOUT PICKOFFS?
HOW ABOUT SIDE BULLPEN PITCHES?
HOW ABOUT TOSSING POOR QUALITY BALLS BACK TO THE UMPIRE?
HOW ABOUT INFIELD ASSISTS?
HOW ABOUT THROWING SOUVENIR BALLS TO FANS?

Yes, I believe it is Condrey's job to keep track of all of these things.

b00b: Both Philly and Met fans can make their cases pretty well of who is better. Its hard to argue with most of what you said, as it is a prediction with decent points to consider.

But to draw your conclusion that the Phils are likely to be worse or on level with the Marlins is pretty off. Of course anything can happen, but I'd like to see your roatation evaluation and talent comparison that you put together for Mets/Phillies, and do the same for Fish/Phils, and draw your same conclusion.

thephaithful, I don't think the rule is that strict, and you're right to say that they shouldn't have limited him to 160 IP in 2007. I think 180 was not drastic. And, this is partly my fault, while 260 is relevant to understanding how many total IP he threw, it is outside the realm of what numbers they could have controlled. My contention is that Hamels didn't need to throw 230 IP in the regular season. That, I admit, is hard to defend esp. given Hamels' tame individual starts (rarely more than 105 pitches, rarely more than 7 IP).

The other area I think the Phils could have done better in is planning for the contingency that Hamels misses significant time in 2009.

bap, sophjist, bubba et. al.,


don't worry about don and his headcase comment.

Worst case scenario is we make room in the Sir Alden Trio and call it a Quartet.

CJ - I never said it was a sure thing.

Sophist: I do agree there. knowing that a sacrifice was being made to put Hamels at a higher % of risk, there should have been more done to 'cushion the fall' if Hamels does miss time.

Looking at this offseason, I do think there could have been plays to get more pitching depth, but I can understand why the Phils may have avoided signing additional arms since they have/had faith in KK Happ and Park. That is a total of 7 starters, with Carrasco as very close to MLB Ready. So they do have some cushion, but obviously finding someone to replace Hamels IP at such a quality that Hamels gives is very rare - and therefore expensive.

Going over Hamels' gamelog, you MIGHT be able to shave off a couple innings (2 of his 120+ outings werent by definition exactly necessary for him to be in there in the 9th but he had shutouts going both times from what I remember). But again, there were no 130+ outings or short starts. Luckily Dusty Baker isn't our manaager.

thephaithful, Hamels threw 49 minor league innings in 2006. So he actually threw just over 180 IP that year. Something of a sigh of relief for everyone.

Regular season IP

2006: 181.3
2007: 183.3
2008: 227.3

And just think, Thanks to Verducci - Hamels is good for 290IP this year!

In re: Verducci effect

It does not apply to Hamels going from 2006 to 2007, since in 2006 he also pitched 49 innings in the minors, bringing his 2006 total to just about the same as his 2007 total. Actually, he could have, strictly speaking, pitched 25 - 30 more innings in 2007 and avoided the base level for the effect.

Nuts. Sohpist got there first.

Incidently, thanks for the Marcels on Myers.

It is inarguable that an abrupt increase in IP for a young pitcher significantly raises his chances for injury. More than verducci has studied this.

The question is whether it is mismanagement. I would say for that fact alone, no. It depends on the pitcher how efficient he is, his health history, how important the games were etc.

Thats good for about 37 regular season starts and 3-4 more playoff starts...WOOHOO!!!

You asked for it, you got it:

I don't know what the lineups are going to be, so I'm going to compare by position.

C: Baker >> Ruiz
1B: ??? (MacPherson?) <<<< Howard
2B: Uggla < Utley
3B: Cantu >> Feliz
SS: Ramirez >> Rollins
LF: Ross < Ibanez
CF: Maybin < Victorino
RF: Hermida > Werth
Bench
Marlins << Phillies (Dobbs, etc.)

Pitching:
Hamels > Nolasco
Johnson >> Myers
Volstad >> Blanton
Sanchez > Moyer
Miller >= Park/Kendrick

Lidge>Lindstrom
FLA Bullpen << Philly Bullpen (read: FLA bad, Philly average until Romero gets back)

If you tabulate all the <'s as a point each, FLA is way ahead based on the strength of their rotation.
You could argue that Ramirez is NOT 2>>'s better than Rollins, but offensively, I think he really is that much better. More speed, more power, more contact.

"Bottom line: There's more parity in the NL East this year than last year. And last year, there was definitely no semblance of consensus as to how the season was going to turn out with people predicting the Phillies to finish anywhere from 1st to 4th."


boob, no kidding? Really?

If you read Conlin's column this morning he admits he picked the Braves last year to win the PENNANT.

Predictions are fun, but I think it's really hard to predict an upcoming season with nearly three weeks in ST still to come.

We don't even know what the final rosters are, so making a prediction no is a less that futile exercize.

hh is correct - all teams are subject to injuries and even players' ineffectiveness (see: 2008 versions of Myers, Kendrick and Eaton, and Taguchi at the plate).

My point is, no matter what a team looks like on paper there are lots of variables, and at this point in ST there are many more questions that still needs to be answered.

"If you tabulate all the <'s as a point each"

LOL

CJ, Stairs wants a spot on this roster, and is doing his best to make the Phillies think about eating Jenkins money.

The fact that Hamels has lowered his #P/IP for 3 staight years while increasing his IP/GS suggests he has become quite efficient at pacing himself.

Combine that with his previously stated goal of working deeper into games and you get his 08 season.

b00b - When did we trade Lidge and Hamels for Nolasco and Lindstrom. And, really, only one ">" for Hamels over Nolasco? Really? And, mostly, show me a metric by which Hermida is better than Werth.

Myers is Kenny F'N Powers.

The Verducci effect in a nutshell: "guys tend to get hurt as they accumlate innings." No kidding, Sherlock. They also tend to get hurt as they get up in years. Previously injured guys tend to get injured again. Etc. etc. Get back to me when you can tell me who will actually get hurt, and when. Otherwise, healthy guys play.

boob, are you going for membership in the Sir Alden Quintet?

That post was bizzare. Since when do we evaluate baseball teams by < or >?

Besides, just in your evaluation of Ramirez/Rollins and Uggla/Utley you left out one very important factor: Defense.

Ramirez and Uggla are marginal in the field (at best), and that offsets some of their offense.

The Phillies have GG calibre defense up the middle. The Fish do not(though we'll have to see how Maybin does).

That alone is a significant difference in both teams.

curt, you're a genius. Let's shut down BP.com and all of the advanced metric dept. housed by MLB clubs. baseball is so obvious now.

Has Jenkins become the invisible man this spring?
Every time I look at a box score it seems to Stairs .
Just me not following closely enough or is this a trend?

Jenkins actually has more plate appearances this spring than Stairs coming into today (31 to 24). Stairs has gotten on base far more often, though.

b00b breaks it down scientifically:


1. The Phillies will have injuries in their rotation. The Mets and Fish won't -- even though exactly the opposite was true last year.


2. Utley, Howard, and Rollins are on the down slopes of their careers -- even though their respective ages are 28, 28, and 30.


3. Hamels is only a tick better than Nolasco, even though there is a 24-point difference in their ERA+ of 2008, and even though one guy has been excellent for 3 straight years and the other guy has been rotten in 2 of his 3 seasons.


4. Jeremy Hermida -- he of the .729 OPS -- is better than Jayson Werth -- he of the .861 OPS.


5. Cody Ross, a career journeyman, is just a tick worse than Raul Ibanez, an All-Star caliber player over the last decade.


6. Chris Volstad, who has pitched all of 84 innings in his career & had unspectacular minor league numbers, is not just better, but significantly better, than Joe Blanton, an established starter who won at least 12 games 3 years in a row.


7. Best of all, Anibal Sanchez -- he of the 5.57 ERA last year -- is better than Jamie Moyer -- he of the 16 wins last year.


AWH . . . I think you need to make some room in that quartet. It's now a quintet.

"I would say for that fact alone, no. It depends on the pitcher how efficient he is, his health history, how important the games were etc."

I think that's right. It's hard to claim "mismanagement" without investigating the exact circumstances of each of his starts.

Prima Facie mismanagement is pressuring the pitcher to pitch, against the pitcher's better judgment. I don't get the sense that the Phillies behaved as such with regard to Cole.

"But by and large, it was mental. It had to be"

I don't think we can conjecture about mental states as they relate to baseball performance with any kind of certainty.

Sophist- Thanks for the comparison.
This pesky job gets in the way of following day games some times.
Gaotta work on my priorities.

Prima Facie mismanagement is pressuring the pitcher to pitch, against the pitcher's better judgment.

Not sure that's an exhaustive definition of prima facie mismanagement, although it may be one form. I'd say having a 24-year-old throw 50 more innings in the regular season than the year before is prima facie mismanagement in the sense that it puts the burden on those who want to defend it to rebut the contention (which I think is exactly what happened here).

If those extenuating facts were otherwise (if, say, Hamels pitched for the Royals last year), then I think he would have been mismanaged. In that case, I think that in pointing out that a pitcher egregiously broke the Verducci effect making a prima facie case.

If he was the best pitcher in a playoff race, or if he had very few 120+ pitch starts, or if he showed few signs of fatigue and a lowering pitch/IP figure and hates being pulled early, then the case has been rebutted.

Bubba - NP. I'm on vacation (I go to Clearwater tomorrow), which is why I'm spending so much time on here making barely defendable arguments today. It's spring training for all of us.

sophist - the next time you come across a ML team that shuts a healthy guy down because of fear of the Verducci effect, let me know.

curt - so you don't think teams worry about the IP increases of their young pitchers? you don't think they should? and, on top of that, you think any attempt to quantify how many innings (or pitches) is too many is a waste of time as a matter of common sense?

AWH: The Sir Alden Quintet. Didn't they do "She's About a Mover"?

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