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Thursday, April 23, 2009

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Prepare for a few reality checks among the top position prospects.

Adam Eaton to Baltimore reporters after getting crushed again.
""This is a new year," he said. "That's last year, and if you guys want to talk about last year, I also won a World Series ... but that's not here nor there. I'm a Baltimore Oriole now. That's where our concerns lie. I like what we have here. I need to obviously step up and throw the way I'm capable of throwing. We'll see what we do next outing."

No question, the pitching in our system is far above the hitting. I think most people were surprised Dom Brown was rated No. 1 by BA, and that ranking appears to be a big wish based on his tools.

It also doesn't surprise me that Taylor and Donald are off to slow starts. Both probably aren't as good as they appeared last year, and maybe now we can start to slow down on the Donald as 3rd baseman of the future talk. He needs to hit a lot more to justify that. He's probably a more likely big league 2nd baseman. Taylor is 23 and only in his first year at Reading. He needs to pick it up soon to be considered a top prospect.

Eaton is a bigger jerk than I took him for.

From the last thread . . .

No thanks on Vizcaino. He stinks against left-handers and, with only 7 spots in the bullpen, I don't think we can afford to carry 2 one-out specialists.

Aside from Lidge -- who isn't going anywhere -- the real problems in our bullpen have been Durbin & Taschner. Durbin is coming off a strong year and has far more upside than Vizcaino. You certainly can't pull the plug on him after a few bad games. But Taschner is a guy who serves no real purpose in our bullpen. He's ineffective against right-handers but he's not a LOOGY, since he's just as ineffective against left-handers. And, even if he is slightly more useful against left-handers, we already have 2 other left-handers who are better than he is. I really don't understand what he's doing on our roster. Vizcaino is definitely better than Taschner, but so are Walker, Majewski, and Koplove, who are already on our AAA roster.

kells: haha nice find. "I won a world series last year" and people got mad he was boo'd?!

@Eaton -- I imagine Eaton walks around the Baltimore dugout and his bullpen with his WFC ring. And asks that the PA announcer introduce him as World Champion Pitcher Adam Eaton.

Donald, frankly, reminds me of Kelly Johnson on the Braves. A guy who is an above-average 2nd baseman offensively, but who doesn't really profile at 3B or the OF. Both broke out with big seasons at age 23 and shot up the prospect charts. Donald's numbers at age 21 and 22 were better, but was playing at lower levels.

I think Kelly Johnson is a fair comp for Donald, as he profiles to be around his .280/.350/.450 style line.

Durbin has pitched well in 3 of his last 4 outings. 5 G, 4.1 IP, 1.219 WHIP, 1 R, 5 SO.

He basically got blown up once, in COL, and has been okay otherwise. Coors game aside Durbin has pitched 5.1 innings and given up 2 R, inheriting 4 runners and allowing none to score. We've seen some good things from him.

Lakewood 3B Travis Mattair is the one hitter off to a nice start. But the best thing he's done thus far is control the strike zone: 18 walks (almost half as many as he had in a full 2008 season) against 9 Ks.

Still, it's something. He's a big kid whose power hasn't manifested yet, but is expected to show up as he gets a bit older--he's just 20.

"It also doesn't surprise me that Taylor and Donald are off to slow starts. Both probably aren't as good as they appeared last year."

Or a more plausible explanation . . . Donald IS as good as he appeared last year (and the year before), but he's off to a slow start. Imagine that! A good hitter having a slow start!

I also profess not to understand this notion that Donald's bat plays at 2nd base, but not 3rd. When a 3rd baseman hits a homerun, does it count more than when a 2nd baseman does so? Let's say you've got a beautiful painting in your living room and a hideous one in your bedroom, and someone offers to give you a nice painting. Are you going to turn the painting down on the grounds that it fits better in a living room and you've already got a far more beautiful painting there? Or are you going to put the painting in your bedroom, where it may not fit perfectly but it's a lot better than what you have?

The idea is to put your 8 best players on the field. If Donald can adequately field third base, he would very likely be an overall upgrade over what we have right now and he would cost next to nothing -- thereby freeing up money to spend on starting pitching. It's utterly ridiculous that the Phillies still have him playing SS at Allentown.

I can see both sides of the whole "Donald's bat doesn't play well at 3B, but does at 2B" argument. However when you already have a 2B (Utley) whose bat plays more like a traditional 3B bat, you can get by with a 3B who hits like a 2B.

The fact that Donald is playing SS for the IronPigs, seems to say that the Phillies have decided that Donald's GLOVE doesn't play at 3B. So instead of having him try to learn a new position which could affect his offense, it seems they are letting him play his natural position to allow him to hit well in order to keep his trade value up. He seems to be trade bait for now, which could be good for the Phillies in the near term.

BAP: Thank you. I find that whole 3rd baseman has to have power thing very annoying. It makes no sense. Especially when your 2nd baseman is a power hitter. Sure I'd like everybody to have some power, but for the forseeable future this team should hit it's fair share of homeruns. Who cares where they come from?

More thoughts on this utterly ridiculous notion that Donald's bat would play at 2nd, but not 3rd. Does Adrian Beltre's bat play at 3rd, with his .327 OBP and .784 OPS? Does Chone Figgins', with his .386 career slugging pct.? Or Michael Young with his .741 OPS last year? Or Bill Hall, with his .225 batting average? Or Casey Blake, with his .449 career slugging pct.? Or how about the most pertinent question of all: does Pedro Feliz's bat play at third base, with his .302 OBP and .705 OPS?

Jason Donald's OPS last year was .888. That would have been the 5th highest OPS among all major league third basemen. His slugging pct. was .497 last year. That would have been the 6th highest of all major league third basemen last year.

Hmmm, some minor league hitters aren't putting up numbers in April's cold. And that means their status as prospects should be questioned.

Beerleauger never ceases to amuse!

On another matter: why on earth is Chris Coste in the starting lineup? Did Cholly turn lineup-writing duties over to Davthom today?

BAP - Donald played in AA last year. Those major league third baseman played against major league pitchers.

Donc and bap: Chase Utley is 30. How long do you see him being a power hitter for? The point is that, despite the Phils' lack of ability to do so recently, you can get a better bat at 3B, so to committ to a future of below-average offense there is a misallocation of resources.

Just because you're above-average at 2B, does not mean you should settle for being below-average at 3rd. The Phillies should be actively looking for an upgrade right now at 3B, and I think it's reasonable to want a better upgrade at the position than Donald would provide.

Clout: It's plainly obvious that these guys can't play.

Hamels + day game + long sleeves = Trouble?

RE: Eaton

Priceless. "I" won a World Series last year? Um ... OK. That guy has been on my sh*t list since he reacted like a little bitch to being left off of the '07 postseason roster. Interestingly, the Phils 2008 DVD Yearbook ('The Perfect Season') gives Eaton a nice little "Screw you" in the form of his *only* mention being that he started out really bad, & never got any better. :-)

Nice day today. I should've gone this afternoon rather than last night -- what a miserable game that was. :-(

@bap -- day game after night game. pretty standard really.

bap: If you think Jason Donald is an .888 OPS guy in the majors, then yes, he is a legit 3rd baseman. That OPS was put up as a 23 year old in AA, which, as Sophist points out, is slightly different than facing major league pitching.

bap: Coste is starting because day game after a night game. Catchers rarely start those back to back.

Nice throw by Coste ...

Oh, crap. I complimented the board pariah. Maybe I'll need to change my name to "G-Town Davthom" now ...

Only listening on the radio, but certainly seems like a nice start for Hamels. 2 Ks. If it matters, gameday had him at 90 with his fastball a few times in that inning.

Wes: Considering that he doesn't have the range to play SS, that's a pretty bizarre explanation.

It's about damn time. I'm surprised the fans haven't been throwing @ Jimmy after the egregious start he's had. :-[

sophist: But we are evaluating whether Donald's bat "plays at third." You do that by looking at his minor league numbers. You don't start with the built-in assumption that those numbers are going to go down in the majors. When a developing player is on a sharply upward learning curve, it is not uncommon for his numbers to actually improve when he gets to the majors, as happened with Chase Utley, for example.

I don't know if Donald's numbers will improve, go down, or stay the same at the major league level. But in projecting whether his "bat plays at third base," you look at his actual numbers. You don't start making projections about what you think will happen to those numbers when he gets to the majors because, the fact is, there is no way to know.

The Wit & Wisodm of Wheels: When opposing batters swing & miss, it's a *good* thing! :-o

Time to switch to the radio broadcast ...

bap: Yes, and you also go by what scouts say. And I haven't read a single scouting report that argues for Donald having enough hitting to be an above-average 3rd baseman.

PA Announcer: "And on the mound for your Baltimore Orioles this afternoon, formerly with the World Champion Philadelphia Philliies, Aaaaaadam Eeaton!"

Crowd Noise: Thunderous applause and cheering.

OOps . . . When I wrote that post, I was thinking Coste started last night. That's why I was so puzzled that he was starting again.

Looks like Cholly's calling out certain players worked for Hamels.

Question: If Jason Donald or Dominic Brown etc. get 6 or 7 hits in the next few days, do they rejoin the list of prospects? I am surprised there aren't more injuries to the bandwagon jumpers.

Mortimer, Hamels is back!

Edit:

PA Announcer: "And on the mound for your Baltimore Orioles this afternoon, the pitcher sent down & summarily released by the World Champion Philadelphia Philliies, Aaaaaadam Eeaton!"

Crowd Noise: WTF?

Jack: Well, most of those scouting reports came out when Donald was first drafted out of college. Since he has become a much better hitter in the last 2 years, I think many of those scouts would probably reconsider that assessment. Besides, minor league performance, not scouting assessments, is the best predictor of future major league performance.

Hamels looking good so far, so of course the Phils will fail to supply him with runs.

Bush is one of the game's more underrated pitchers. But those first 2 innings were just pathetic. He is on pace to throw a 68-pitch complete game.

bap: From BP's prospects report a few months ago:

The Good: Scouts are universal in their praise for the way that Donald plays the game. He has a big-league approach, a fundamentally sound swing, and he drives balls into the gaps with ease. He's an excellent baserunner and a solid defender.

The Bad: Donald has average tools that play up due to his effort and instincts. He plays three infield positions, but does not profile well as an everyday player on the left side; he lacks range at shortstop and the arm or power profile for the hot corner.

Perfect World Projection: He'll be a solid everyday second baseman.


By no means am I saying this guy's word is God, I'm merely pointing out that it's not just me who doesn't see him as a 3rd baseman. And this also indicates that he might not have the arm to play there defensively.

Clout--

Maybe Donald does not have the range to play SS, but it is his natural position where he is comfortable playing. I was pointing out that they don't want his learning a new position to hinder his offense progress. If he continues to hit like he did last year, he will have trade value to some team regardless of his defense. If he plays at third, and is poor defensively, which then affects his hitting, where is his trade value then?

I think my thoughts on Donald are pretty free of any bizarreness. It is even possible that I am wrong, but I do think it is a fairly rational thought.

What is your explanation for why Donald is still playing SS?

Bush stymied the Phils bats in the NLDS in October, IIRC. That's why I had a bad feeling about this game.

Donald and 3B

This is an age-old argument. There's an old belief that each position has a range at which a player's offense must fall. I'm not sure why that's the case.

Now, more than ever, the athletes emerging can deliver tremendous offense at any position. CF, 2B and SS are no longer positions for the offensively-challenged.

I reject the concept that a player's bat must exceed some artificially determined minimum level in order to play at a certain position.

Jack: I agree with that report (and especially about him not having power) but the arm question is a new one to me. I haven't seen any other report that said he didn't have the am for 3B. All agree he doesn't have the range for SS.

Hamels' checklist:

1. Fastball consistently hitting 90 MPH - Check.

2. Locate the fastball well including his 2-seemer down in the zone - Check.

3. Changeup with some nasty break on it and dropping down out of the zone - Check.

4. Curveball dropping in a for few called strikes - Check.

All systems go. Just need the offense to show up here.

Donald doesn't have the arm for third?

Were there any issues with his arm as he played 3B this spring training? I, frankly, can't remember any.

With the exception of that pinch-hit HR, JRoll has been a complete zero at the plate so far this year.

Nice two pitch at bat there by Jimmy with a runner in scoring position.

"All agree he doesn't have the range for SS."

With the notable exception of the Phillies' own scouts. As a SS, Donald will clearly never have the range of a Jimmy Rollins. But there have been plenty of good hitting SSs who lacked great range but relied on consistency and sound mechanics to provide adequate defense (i.e., Derek Jeter, Cal Ripken, Robin Yount, Hanley Ramirez). The Phillies seem to think that Donald fits into this prototype.

WTF?! Rollins. He isn't hitting anything squarely. Weak groundballs and lazy popups. We need table-setting Jimmy back pronto!

I recall Charlie and Schmidt saying his arm was impressively accurate and powerful.

You need a stronger arm to play SS than 3B. This is a fact.

If a player has a strong enough arm to play SS, he has a strong enough arm to play 3B.

Tough play. At least it wasn't an XHB.

It's very nice that the alien abductors have returned Cole and taken that imposter back into the ship.

Wow. Nice play by Happy. Shame he didn't get him. (But Hart IS surprisingly fast.)

That's 100% accurate Jeltzie. And you should know.

Ugh. That was a mistake pitch but Braun is a beast. Only guy you really can't make a mistake right now to in this Brewers' lineup.

F@ck.

UHoh

Braun should get the IW every time he's up. Dude simply MURDERS the Phillies.

Oh, great ... now Cole may be hurt.

Just great.

Oh great.

hamels drilled by a pitch. out of the game....

Anyone watching tv? Was it that bad?

Long day for Happ? We can't blow out the bullpen before the Marlins.

The Phillies' starting pitching was outright hideous the first week. For the last week, it has generally been better but they continue to get absolutely killed by the homerun ball. The end result is that they still haven't had a single comprehensively good outing all season.

correction to albert: he was drilled by a hit - a line drive from fielder right to the left arm.

14 games played. 14 games a homerun(s) were surrendered. This is hideous. Pitch like an ace Cole.

Anybody watching the game that can give somewhat of a description of what it looked like? Not getting a good pitcher from the radio broadcast.

Ugh.

Ugh. Hamels was finally pitching well and then gives up a mistake to Braun and now he might be hurt of that line drive off his shoulder.

At the best he will be very sore the next few days and be day-to-day. Just hope that it is a bruise though and didn't break/severely bruise anything.

Matt: He looked ok, but the ball hit him squarely in the arm. Don't blame the Phils for taking him out. Probably will just bruise up, but no point in having him throwing and making it worse.

Awful luck.

Figure's it'd be the left arm, eh?

It drilled Hamels right on the top of his shoulder/arm. He is going to be day-to-day at best and it wouldn't surprise me if he misses his next start or has it pushed back.

Matt - Line drive right at his left shoulder. Looked to be at least 100 mph. It did appear to hit below the shoulder on the arm, and Cole didn't fall over but...yecchh.

Myers would of caught that ball in his teeth.

I thought having Happ on this roster as a 12th pitcher was largely useless since he wouldn't get used much. Never thought that Happ would get so many appearances/innings in April but it tells you how crappy the starting pitching mostly has been.

Sharp line drive that struck Cole below the shoulder and above the elbow. Hit pretty flush. Looks to be more precautionary than anything. Glad it didn't hit higher or lower. Biggest fear would be a broken bone... that seems to be worst case, obviously.

Tough luck. Cole seemed to be on a roll as per MG's checklist, and then to have the HR, followed up by a line drive that knocks him out of the game.

Keeping collective fingers crossed.

Many of us have been waiting for Happ to get his shot in the rotation. Hope this isn't the way he gets it.

A K to Cameron would not surprise me. He nailed someone in the face a week ago and was shaken up.

Hoping not, but let's say Hamels has more than just a bruise and will miss a few starts. If this happens, is Happ in the rotation or do the Phils bring up a hot arm from the minors such as Carrasco? If Happ goes into the rotation, who fills his bullpen spot?

Was it that bad of a hit, or is Cole really that fragile?

i think i'm cursed today. turned on the broadcast. checked the boxscore. noted that we hadn't yet surrendered a homerun, but that Braun was up and it would likely happen and -poof- it did. and then hamels was subsequently drilled. probably because i thought that thought about the homerun.

i should go back to writing my paper.

Mac T - option (a). It was a rope.

NCPhilly - That is a no-brainer if that is the case. Happ to the rotation and you call up somebody from Allentown.

At least it was his arm and not his face....

Mac: It's not about Cole being fragile, it's about the training staff and Charlie taking no chances with their ace pitcher. Right move to take him out. It's April.

Phils need their offense to step up this inning. Bush hasn't had dominant stuff they are just taking their share of crap swings again today just like last night.

Anyone think Bastardo will be ready for a tryout in the bullpen this season?

Did anyone “hear” the sound it made when he was hit? Sounded like bone to me!

MyersATB - and now we will blame you for everything bad that happens today.
It.Is.All.Your.Fault.

Left shoulder contusion. In order words - it definitely is bruised and we need to do an x-ray/MRI to determine if further damage.

Wes: I think BAP's explanation is the correct one. The Phillies either disagree about Donald's range or don't care. Although BAP's comparison of Donald to Hanley, ripken et al on defense is, I'm sure, tongue in cheek.

Howard power? Would be nice right now.

Gotta love being no-hit by Bush. F**K!

GMC - One might even say that this is kinda a "bush" league performance. (If one was prone to making stupid puns.)

Carson - Especially since his control hasn't been great so far (2 BB, 1 HBP) and he offspeed stuff hasn't had sharp break today.

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